Pen and Ink Basics – Wednesday and Saturday

It’s been a busy week. First of all, I’d like to welcome new followers and thank those of you who’ve taken the time to comment. Now, to the matter at hand.

I gave a workshop called ‘Pen and Ink Basics’ twice this week; on Wednesday and Saturday. The students did three drawings and followed a step-by-step approach. Each drawing was started with pencil and completed with pen. Pigment ink or pigment liner drawing pens were used.

Our first exercise was started by drawing a triangle with pencil. We then added a curve to the bottom corners of the triangle, converting it into a cone. We created an arbitrary light source from the upper left of the cone. Step One shows swatches of pen strokes that create an overall tone in the core and cast shadow areas. It looks a bit like a parquet floor, doesn’t it?

In Step Two, the cast shadow and the cusp area of the cone are darkened by cross-hatching. New swatches overlap the earlier ones.

The final step shows a broken line on the left edge of the cone. The cast shadow has been darkened at the ‘point of contact’ with the surface plane. It’s not easy to ‘blend’ gently with the pen and it takes a lot of practice. I’ve tried to blend the left and right edges of the dark cusp to make the cone appear natural and three-dimensional.


For our next exercise, each student received their own small still-life; a bowl with a walnut, an almond and a pecan. Two steps of my demonstration are shown below. We started with hatching (parallel strokes) and used it to develop the light and shadow. Gradually and patiently, darks and detail and texture were developed.

A sleuth of bears joined us and volunteered to pose for our third and final exercise. We used a very similar process but tried different variations of cross-hatching.

Everyone was pooped by the end of each day. The exercises were challenging. Each had three basic components.

1) TECHNIQUE: Variations of hatching and cross-hatching were the key techniques. Stippling (dots) and line weight were also explored.

2) LIGHT AND SHADOW: The students did not have lamps to light their subjects. A single light source had to be imagined and applied consistently to each drawing. A sense of three-dimensional form was the goal and this was probably the most demanding element of the workshop.

3) PROCESS: We started with the big shapes in order to establish a convincing sense of light and shadow. As mentioned above, darks were developed with patience. Detail and texture are very important but great care was taken to preserve the areas of direct light.

The students selected their favourite drawing of the day for our critiques. They did good work but, more importantly, I hope they’ll take these ideas home with them and practice often in their sketchbooks.

Wednesday Critique

Saturday Critique



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5 Responses to “Pen and Ink Basics – Wednesday and Saturday”

  1. trishleacock Says:

    Thanks Barry! Love the pen and ink and such great work to show for the critique. Bravo.

  2. Carol King Says:

    I love this post. I have to go back and read it again and look at all the wonderful pen and ink drawings. Thanks, Barry.

  3. Lois Says:

    Barry, thanks for this lesson, I will give it a try. I love Pen and Ink!!
    Appreciate it All!!!

  4. malvikajaswal Says:

    these are incredible!

  5. Carolyn McMurtry Says:

    To all of my painting friends on Tues & Sat, I want to thank you for the lovely card and I’m looking forward to coming back soon.


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