In the second exercise I made a single gradation on one sheet, again with a conté stick. I've worked from lightest to darkest tone, and my hand movements got faster as i progressed and used more pressure.
At the end I used toilet paper to smudge the gradient and it took me completely off guard - the paper gained a deep, dark tone. I was shocked to find the darkest value become even more dark, too dark in this case as i just went ahead and freely smudged all over the A4 sheet.
I've repeated the exercise once more, this time with a softer hand working towards the darkest tone while smudging. I worked with circular motions towards the darker tones gently. I love this effect and think it's genius.
I wish I'd known this when I did my "Mystery" life drawing figure and broke all those sticks in search of the right tone. It would save me lots of trouble but most of all the drawing would be what I intended it to be.
Immediately after this exercise I went to research Georges Seurat and made a couple of drawings.