Tag Archives: pen and ink

Things To Do With A Seagull

4 May

Quill and ink life drawing.

I’ve been on a two-day course in Renaissance-style drawing at Swansea Metropolitan University – which used to be the Art College. It was very thorough and we used the sort of paper and drawing materials that were available back in the days of Leonardo and Michaelangelo. Paper was scarce and expensive so they tended to make little drawings, using both sides of the paper and cramming as much on as possible. There were no pencils [check out the history of pencils at the Most Excellent British Pencil Museum] so they used silverpoint instead. They drew in ink using nib pens and quills made from bird feathers. Swansea, being a seaside city, has an enormous population of seagulls and their feathers are a very good size for quill pens. And so we were supplied with a pile of seagull feathers that had been bleached to get rid of any lurking lurgis and cut with a scalpel and off we went. The quill was surprisingly soft and almost brush-like, flowing across the paper with a free and easy, albeit blotchy, line. It wasn’t possible to do any detail with it but it’s good for rough sketching and blocking out a composition. I used white chalk to add highlights to the drawing above.

Sketch with quill, dip pen, ink and chalk.

Our teacher asked us to do a drawing with different media, using a rougher medium for the overall drawing and focussing in on a detailed section with a finer medium. I used a seagull quill and sepia ink for the main drawing above and a fine nib pen and chalk to develop the detail in the left hand. The local seagulls are a nuisance who rip open bin bags, cover cars with guano and steal food from small children, so it’s good to find something they’re useful for.

Pooped at the Printfair!

25 Oct

Ink sketch: Manhattan at night.

 

A drawing in my Tate Postcard sketchbook from my trip to NYC to see the International Print Fair a couple of years ago. We had been walking around Manhatten for days, going to exhibitions, talks and demonstrations of printmaking and we were pooped! We holed up in this very modernist cafe near the Bloomsbury Auction Rooms, where we were going to a fundraising auction for the Manhatten Graphics Studio and I drank tea and nibbled cake and did this drawing. It combines two hard things – drawing the night and drawing through reflective glass. I could have chosen something easier to draw, like the cafe interior and its customers!!!!!

However, it gave me a reason to break out my Faber Castell Pitt pen set of 6 greyscale brush tips that I hardly ever use. I enjoyed drawing it and I should do more nightime drawing, but once I’m holed up in my little house, I rarely want to go out again.

A Watercolour Gorefest!

4 Oct

 

 

Watercolour sketch: The foetal warrior.

I don’t usually paint, preferring pen and ink, charcoal and chalk. Now and again I bring out the watercolours in life drawing sessions and have a bash. The received wisdom is that watercolour is a gentle, refined medium where you build up layers of pale delicate glazes. Some of the artists in the group do beautifully modulated watercolour studies with exquisitely executed skin tones using gently graduated brushstrokes.

Not me. I wield a brush like Thor’s double-headed axe, chopping at the poor defenceless little blocks of watercolour paint in their tiny little pans and then stabbing the unfortunate brush at the cringing paper. It’s a bit of a gorefest, like the forces of Asgard unleashed on the Frost Giants of Jotunheim via a small sable paint brush.

This is a pen and ink drawing into an A3 180gsm watercolour sketchpad, attacked with lashings of Windsor and Newton Artist’s watercolour.

My Cat’s New B.F.F. – the Kettle.

28 Aug

Ink sketch: My Cat's New B.F.F.

We have a big boiler in the kitchen and for the past seventeen years it was ruled by Bobbit, our recently deceased tortoiseshell [calico] queen. It’s been five weeks now since she died and in the past week Ming the Merciless, our next oldest cat, has grabbed the space and made it her own. For the first week or two after Bobbit’s death, she and Sparta took it in turns to sprawl on the boiler top, but after a few scuffles, Ming asserted her dominance and the coveted boiler is hers. It’s covered in cork tiles so it’s exceptionally warm and cosy but she has to share it with the bread maker and the kettle. No problemo. The kettle is warm as well and she’s happy to cwtch up next to it and even curl around it. The kettle is her new Best Friend Forever. I think this is one relationship that’s going to last and last.

Unless we decide to change to a small wall-mounted boiler.

No! NO MING! I didn’t mean it! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

My Cat’s New B.F.F. – the Kettle.

26 Aug

Ink sketch: My Cat's New B.F.F.

We have a big boiler in the kitchen and for the past seventeen years it was ruled by Bobbit, our recently deceased tortoiseshell [calico] queen. It’s been five weeks now since she died and in the past week Ming the Merciless, our next oldest cat, has grabbed the space and made it her own. For the first week or two after Bobbit’s death, she and Sparta took it in turns to sprawl on the boiler top, but after a few scuffles, Ming asserted her dominance and the coveted boiler is hers. It’s covered in cork tiles so it’s exceptionally warm and cosy but she has to share it with the bread maker and the kettle. No problemo. The kettle is warm as well and she’s happy to cwtch up next to it and even curl around it. The kettle is her new Best Friend Forever. I think this is one relationship that’s going to last and last.

Unless we decide to change to a small wall-mounted boiler.

No! NO MING! I didn’t mean it! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Minus 15 and still drawing

24 Jul

Melvyn in Berlin in the snow

Minus fifteen in Berlin and I’m drawing in the snow. I carry my sketchbook and draw all over the place and it went with me to Germany in January 2010 which was one of the coldest winters in a generation with two feet of snow and temperatures dropping to minus 20ºC at night. I’ve never been so cold and I wore a balaclava, fake fur coat and fingerless gloves so that I could do my street drawing around the city. Berlin didn’t stop. There was no ‘wrong kind of snow on the tracks’ nonsense. Schools didn’t invoke ‘Elfin Safety’ and close for the day; we saw tiny little kindergarten children wrapped up warm in the playground, building tiny little igloos with their teachers.

 

My drawings of Melvyn are often from below because he’s so much taller. We had a break from the extreme temperatures when we went on the metro and I did this sketch while we were travelling, using Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens and a sanguine conté crayon. I think you can see his Viking ancestry in this drawing.

 

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