Tagged: fountain pen drawings

Practice. It must be done. I was a weekly regular at area venues for drawing from life. For various reasons, I haven’t pursued the practice of drawing nude figures from life and it shows in some recent sketches. This 25 minute ink drawing in one of my many ledger books, was executed at a time when I was as relaxed while drawing as the model was during the pose. When figures are bundled in clothes the challenge is to indicate a figure beneath the cloth, and I always feel a little leeway in proportions so I tend to attack the page with more abandon. When the clothes come off, if I haven’t been drawing regularly I typically fret the proportions and contour accuracy and the drawings sometimes suffer from self consciousness with evident stiffness. I thought this would be a winter where I would concentrate on life drawing but……..things don’t always work out as planed.

Drawn with fountain pen filled with Iroshizuku ink and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen.

What an evening of music! Went to the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on Northwestern’s campus to hear the Contemporary Music Ensemble perform music by Steve Reich with Mr. Reich performing in the first piece, Clapping Music, accompanied by Co-director Alan Pierson and members of the ensemble. Also performed, City Life, and the trance inducing Music for 18 Musicians. Perfect to draw along with.

  

Back working in a Seven Seas Tomoe River Paper sketchbook. Brought along the usual suspects, a couple fountain pens gassed up with Platinum Carbon ink, and the full range of greys by Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens.

I’ve been thinking about derivative images lately as I’ve been working on some commissioned illustrations based on prior work and concepts. Often times I tell students to whom I show my sketchbook drawings and concepts,( a practiced that used to be quite guarded and still horrifies some of my artist buddies), to steal whatever they choose. As long as they steal it rather than borrow implying a transformation of concept or design or technique wherein their personality and temperament stomps all over it. I use the example of how Hendrix takes Dylan’s song All Along The Watch Tower and lights it up! Even Bob Dylan said Hendrix heard and found stuff in the song that no one else did. Now there are artist and those in the poetry community that embrace literal appropriation and one poet teaching a class on creative plagiarism at Penn. Many roads to Rome.

So the above page is a collage (in a repurposed diary from 1931) from 25 years ago and is a reference to an image that has cropped up over the centuries. Below are some of it’s predesessors.

  

Of the three preceding images, the first two are by Luca Signorelli who had many like images of demons carrying away sinners to be inspired by. What I love about Michelangelo Buonarotti’s version from the Last Judgement that I’ve copied above in ink is how he rotates the sinner further disorienting the poor soul not to mention has the wretched person’s nose directly above what would have to be the demon’s sulfurously flatulent hind quarters.

So above are more meat sketches drawn during the same period as the top image of the brawny man lifting the pig carcass.. While I have drawn from photos, I also drew from the butcher stalls in he Reading Terminal Market located in the heart of downtown Philadelphia.

Following are sketchers where my varied influences are evident. In the first, clearly Georges Remi’s valiant hero Tin Tin is obvious from the book Red Sea Sharks. A direct lift of Tin Tin yielding an AK47 tho I’ve given him more of a tuft of locks on top. Drawn with a fountain pen, it is faithful to G. Remi’s clean, uniform line with just enough detail and forms that while they are slightly simplified and generalize, also are telling of specific objects and still manage to show the effects of weight and pressure on the forms. With good reason, he was influential of generations of artists. My enamourment began in 1966 and continues today.

Next at up is a drawing wherein I appropriate a figure from the brilliant illustrations in Brer Rabbit by Arthur Burdett Frost, and install him as an exhausted logger atop his challenge. Ballpoint in the same ledger book/ journal as above. A relic from 1936 that took ink like a champ. I always loved ballpoint for it’s wet line, slightly weird ink of odd blues that when layered on sufficiently dense, appeared to have an iridescent sheen on top. I looked for the broadest, and most gooey points I could find. If they blobbed and bled, so much the better. Notice that I have started smudging and smearing the ink while it is still moist to enhance the mediums atmospheric character.

Okay, the pig in shorts is a tribute to the great, great drawings by the cast of superb animators at Walt Disney Studios. Most notably, The Nine Old Men, wh gave us amoung other gems, Fantasia, in which is the lovely dance routine of the hippos. Easy to see the influence.

The two drawings that follow are based on the work of pioneer Milt Caniff of Terry And The Pirates & Steve Canyon fame, and the under appreciated George Wunder who took over the strip Terry And The Pirates after Caniff left. Both combines pen and brush work and let the ink flow, capturing film noir drama with dense, abundant shadows.

The next 2 images are examples of how I’ve pushed to get a better balance between light and dark, having been swayed by the work of  the above mention duo Caniff & Wunder plus the powerful work in Dick Tracy by Chester Gould. The top image of the street tiffs is not ink but scratchboard and the following image of the wood cutter is an ink rich linoleum cut print. It was in looking at wood cuts and the bold line work of so much graphic work and reductive prints that I put the ballpoint down for fountain pens and  the broad swath of brush work.

 

 

Now we come to a sketch for a scratchboard drawing I completed that owes so much to that expressionist granddaddy to artist likeCharles Burns and Frank Miller and scores and scores more,  the great Chester Gould.

The small drawing may suggest any number of sources but it comes from the suit of The Flight From Egypt etchings by D. Tiepolo, Giambattist’s equally talented son who languished in many historians minds under the shadow of his father’s genius. I love ’em both.

For me, I have needed to resolve many of the characteristics of scores of influences from 19th century French, Sears and Roebuck illustrations and technical drawings to Pan Asian greats, to mid-20th century American illustrators, comic books and funny pages, graphic work, contemporary trends and folk art.

For so many years as a kid and even after getting into art school in college, I rarely turned off the lights and let the inky dark flow. Some examples of charging the page with heavy values are:

As a youngster, conture and getting shapes correct was an obsession, and I’m not sure if it was because I was such a skinny kid that linearity obsessed me, but I loved line. That flow, that running, snaking, twisting, smooth, quick, nervous, steady, writhing stream of ink and consciousness that held me in it’s tensile grip. And maybe, it was later, as I gained some muscle and mass as much as impatience and an urgency to capture the idea, that I bulked up the line weight. Ir remember how enthralled I was with Chester Gould’s orchestra of marks and how he bathed the page in darks and then adjacent to those black scars, sliced the light to reveal a wisp of the darkness within. It was years before I would violate the luminosity of the sheet.

 

 

 

 

Cali Zephyr

Passengers on the Fall Trek. Above, a very nice gentleman gets his first look at the Rockies.

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Amtrak, Metra, CTA, Megabus, Trailways, Uber….as long as my hands aren’t glued to a steering wheel, I’ll make my way around the country and fill my sketchbooks. Fountain pens, juiced up with Platinum Carbon, Pitt Artist Pens, grease pencils, aka the white China markers, ballpoint, the rare color pencil, gel pens, whatever, in ledger books, watercolor pads, Stillman & Birn, Strathmore, Clairefontaine, Tomoe River Paper and then some. Drawing from life, from nudes, landscapes, urban environments, transit passengers, dead animals, cemeteries, laundromats, drawing out of my head and out of my mind….just answering the calling and feeding the obsession.

MSP airport

For the 5th year, I will head out across the country, this time trekking down the middle, from the mountains to the Mississippi, over the Oglalla and amber waves of grain, to sketch and share craft and discoveries with a whole mess of folks. To follow my journey, go to: doncolleysroadtrip.com.

Little Big Horn Battlefield image image image image image image image image

The trek began with an 8 hour layover at the Twin Cities airport and  a late arrival in gorgeous Bozeman. From there I made it to the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument. Go. Hallowed ground. The markers indicating where the combatants fell give and amazing sense of the raging and rambling nature of the battle. From there, Sheridan, Wyo, and a long bus ride to Fargo, where the biplane was drawn at the Fargo Air Museum. The West has to be experienced by bus by car and by train with frequent stops.

All drawings executed with various fountain pens, Lamy Accent, Graf Von Faber-Castell Classic Ebony, using Platinum Carbon ink, grease pencil, and a ide array of F-C Pitt Artist Brush Pens in several types of sketchbooks: Strathmore toned sketchbooks, Moleskine landscape formate watercolor sketchbook, Stillman & Birn Epsilon, Tomoe River Paper sketchbook, and a ledger book from the 1950’s.

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