Thursday, January 12, 2006

old-school pen and ink

Until recently, I never really worked in pen and ink. That is, whenever I drew in black and white, I worked mainly with brushes. I was never a fan of modern cross-hatching styles and was always more interested in artists who drew 1 precise line over 50 little hatched ones. One time a friend of mine who was very good with pen and ink tried to teach me how to use nib-pens and was horrifed to find out I didn't even know how to hold one correctly.

However, a couple of winters ago, I re-discovered the work of some old-school pen and ink masters and I was absolutely floored. I had seen some examples of work by guys like Joseph Clement Coll, Charles Dana Gibson and Franklin Booth years before, but at that time I didn't even understand how the work was done. I thought it was some form of print-making or something. When I saw it again recently, I GOT it. These guys were just incredible artists, and treated pen-and-ink work like oil-painting -- only they just built up their tones using lines not colour. My favourite of the old masters is Orson Lowell, and I discovered his work mostly through the fine "Illustration" magazine put out by Jim Vadeboncoeur. If you like pen-and-ink illustration, especially from it's glory days in the early part of the 20th century, I highly recommend you try and find his work -- its unequalled.

The above sketches are my attempts to play around with pen-and-ink. I don't do much of it, still prefering to use brushes, but I have at least learned to hold a pen correctly. They were all drawn from an issue of "Slam!", an NBA basketball magazine. See if you can guess which players I've messed up the likeness on...