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.
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.
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
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!