|10/10/15 ink, colored pencil|
Yesterday I complained that Inktober was
making me crave color. Nothing in Inktober’s rules says that color can’t be
added to an ink drawing, but using only ink in drawings I tag with #inktober is
a self-imposed rule to keep myself
from doing the same ol’ thing of making a line drawing and then adding color.
(Actually, I’ve already broken that rule by adding colored pencils a couple of
times. No point in having self-imposed rules if I’m not going to break them! 😀)
I have to say, though, that despite the color complaint, I
am genuinely enjoying the challenge of focusing on ink this month. Although ink
can be applied with a brush (and I’ve done that, too, a couple of times), the
easiest way to use it is with a pen, and a pen by its very nature emphasizes
line work over shape or color. I’ve known for a long time that drawing and line
work are the elements that interest and engage me most when I’m sketching. I’m
a draw-er more than a painter, so even when I miss color, I’m not necessarily
It will come to no surprise to you when I say I have plenty
of pens to choose from, and I’ve inked up an entire arsenal of fountain pens
for Inktober. My favorite Sailor fude pens are working as hard as ever, and now so are the Pilot Parallels. I’m also trying a pen with a new-to-me nib (no
spoilers here – review coming soon!) that is quickly becoming a favorite.
I’m dusting off some techniques this month, too. For
example, after my ink-drawing class
ended in June, outdoor sketching weather began, and I couldn’t see myself hatching on location, so I haven’t done any since. But hatching is ideal
for a rainy day like today, so I gave it a shot with the red-eyed tree frogs, above (from a calendar photo). My technique is rusty, but I haven’t forgotten how
much I enjoy that kind of seemingly tedious work.
During my first couple years of sketching, I thought that
making a line drawing was only the preliminary step to ultimately painting or
adding some other color medium. Yet many times I felt that I had ruined a
relatively good drawing by adding mediocre watercolors; I should have left well
The past year or two I’ve gradually come to realize that a
drawing isn’t always a preliminary to something; if it’s strong, it can and
possibly should stand alone. (In fact, a weak drawing will not be improved by
the addition of color.) Of course, all I have to do is look at the drawings of Frank Ching, Paul Heaston, Don Colley,
Van Gogh, Raphael and many, many other masters to know this, but somehow this
plain truth hasn’t always been apparent to me, especially about my own work.
While sketching pine and fir trees with paint has been an
ongoing struggle for me, with a pen (especially those funky Parallels), it’s much
easier to express the graceful (even if asymmetrical!) delicacy of their
branches. For me, a pen is the right tool for that job.
When sketching people, I’ve long avoided adding more than
spots of token color to hats or other clothing. That’s because early on I
discovered that the more time I spend trying to get accurate skin tones with
watercolor, the less I pay attention to drawing well and getting delicate
facial and other contours right. And it didn’t take me long to realize that I
wanted to focus on drawing people well,
not painting them. Again, a pen is simply a better tool for what I want to
express when I sketch a person.
|10/8/15 inks, colored pencil|
None of this is to say that I can live by pen alone (didn’t
I start this blog post with a complaint about craving color?). It’s just my
homage to a tool I’ve come to understand, use and respect more over time as it
has helped me to express certain things I can’t express with other media. It’s
not the only tool, but for me, it’s often exactly the right tool.
Your ink lines are getting better and better. Love that tree frog and the shading you did with the ink.ReplyDelete
Fountain pens rule! Your frogs are cute, TIna. I really like your small people sketches. No color required. --- LarryReplyDelete
Love your frogs. I agree about simplifying application of color. Just reread article in The Artist magazine from 2017 sharing technique of Robert Liberace who uses TROIS COLOURES, crayons or charcoal to suggest tonal changes, he used Sanguine, Black, and White His work is super!ReplyDelete