Do You Realize What Will Happen To You?

6 Nov 2012

It's strange how sketching and drawing are such old and established practices—pen and ink drawing has been around since ancient Egyptian times!—and yet no two draftsmen are ever really the same, and each one's pursuit can lead to very different results. Perhaps that comes from how many materials you can use to create sketch drawings: pencil, pastel, charcoal, ink—and all of them give you a different range of handling and control.

You can make linear drawings or an outline drawing, with forms taking shape through contour. Or you can go in the complete opposite direction and practice how to sketch with layer upon layer of shading or tone.

Untitled by Christian Johnson, 2012, charcoal and graphite on paper, 25 x 19.
Untitled by Christian Johnson, 2012,
charcoal and graphite on paper, 25 x 19.

If working with the former, I've found the best way to practice my linework is to use a dip pen. It was super frustrating to learn how to sketch with it, though, because it only holds a small amount of ink and I had to constantly go back, back, back to the ink pot. But once I got into the rhythm of working with the pen and became sensitive to the amount of pressure I put on the nib, I learned to create very different lines. It's like I had gotten a whole new lease on sketching. To get comfortable with pen-and-ink, you have to embrace spontaneity and just go with it—continuing to add lines and marks to make your statement.

 

Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888.
Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888.

But it is worth it, as the 14th century artist Cennino Cennini's words ring in my ear: "Do you realize what will happen to you if you practice drawing with a pen? That it will make you expert, skillful, and capable of much drawing out of your own head." It's what I aspire to every time I pick up the pen for sketching!

If I needed more proof that drawing is incredibly dynamic and "young" for its age, I need to look no further than Drawing magazine for confirmation. In every issue, it presents the deep and wide range of exploration within medium, which is exciting to the many of us who understand that drawing is a gateway to both technical mastery and artistic inspiration. Enjoy your subscription to Drawing!


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Comments

on 10 Nov 2012 10:41 AM

I have enjoyed this wabsite for your comments and the exposure to other artists.   But. . .  it is danger of becoming just another webmarketing conglomerate:   selling ,selling, selling  anything and everyhing by lost of sub-distributors proporting to be art.  Don't try to be everything to everybody.  It dilutes your unique voice.