These pen and ink drawings were my submissions for the February and March issues of the Wood Duck, the magazine of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The monthly feature is called Barry’s Birds.
Archive for the ‘Sketching’ Category
NUTS! The students screamed in unison when I showed them the subject for our pen and ink drawings yesterday at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Well, I’m exaggerating. They always wonder what will emerge from my bag of tricks and they’re forever keen to test their skills.
We covered a lot of ground yesterday. Let’s start with my demonstration. I drew a dish in pencil.
Next, I added some nuts. Two in the dish and one in front of it. I decided on a light source coming from the upper right. Look at the little study on the bottom right of the sheet. This helped me simplify the light and shadow pattern on my subject.
Those messy pen lines on the upper sheet are a result of another demonstration. The students asked me for my thoughts on using a traditional metal nib with a bottle of India ink. We’ve been using disposable sketching pens for our drawings in class. No muss, no fuss! The traditional tools can be messy. Spills. Heartbreaking blobs in the middle of a drawing you’ve spent hours on. So, the disposable pens are fine for our learning process. However, the metal nib, used thoughtfully and with care, can give a drawing a special quality.
The next image shows my setup and tools. The paper is Strathmore Bristol, vellum surface. The nib is a School 56 and it’s in a wooden holder. My ink is Speedball Super Black India Ink, my favourite! The wide mouth and base help prevent spills. The white tester card helps prevent blobs. I test the pen every time I dip it in the ink before I touch my drawing. I also clean my nib every 5 minutes or so with paper towel and an organic nib cleaning fluid (spit). Oh, and there’s my demonstration again with most of the ink work completed.
The students enjoyed the nuts.
Before I sign off, let’s take a moment to look at some of the personal projects. The sunflowers are a work in progress by Vicky. This is a full sheet of watercolour paper and she’s using calligraphy dipping nibs. I took this photo at the start of the class yesterday so there’ll be a lot more to see next week.
Here’s another drawing by Val. It’s a small piece, approx. 9 x 12″, and she’s combined pen with watercolour.
That’s it, in a nutshell! There’s one more week of Pen and Ink Studio at DVSA. I’ll be offering four one-day pen workshops this spring and they’re already posted on the DVSA website. Join us!
Last Thursday afternoon was Pen and Ink Studio time at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I brought in my collection of milkweed pods. Natural forms are a very rewarding subject and the students enjoyed drawing them.
I showed a few different approaches to studying the milkweed. This is a demonstration from a past workshop. I started with a pencil drawing before adding a light wash of a sepia-like brown. When it dried, I added a second darker wash of the same colour. Once again, I waited for it to dry. The pen work was my final step.
The next study is the one I worked on during the Thursday class. It was developed with local colour and then I explored it with the pen using mostly the technique of cross-hatching.
Some of the students elected to use colour and others stuck with values of sepia. One of our students devoted the afternoon to her personal project and it’s coming along very nicely. I hope to post some of these projects soon!
I dipped into my treasure trove of drawing subjects yesterday and found an entire ancient realm of castles. Albeit, castles with the names of American resorts. They offered a great opportunity to discuss ideas about handling architecture with pen and ink.
Step one of my demonstration shows some a wet-in-wet wash over a pencil drawing. The wet wash was a combination of Raw Sienna and Cobalt blue, mingling in places to create a grey. The red roofs were added after the first wash dried.
I did a lot of work on the demo with the pen. Note that before I spent time on any details, I tried to establish the main shapes of light and shadow. We didn’t have table lamps available to light our castles, so we all tried to imagine a single light source. I decided upon a light source from the upper right.
The castles look complicated but they were a lot of fun to draw. The students did very well. We’re still missing a few holidayers but expect them back in the studio at the Dundas Valley School of Art next week.
Don’t wake up the cats! Yesterday, at the Dundas Valley School of Art, we focused on stippling and the cats were perfect models.
Have you ever tried stippling? I call it the personality test. Some people love it and find it very relaxing. Others…. Stippling is done with the tip of the pen. Basically, it’s an accumulation of tiny dots that gradually become shapes of ever-darkening values. It requires patience and it can be time-consuming. Also, one needs to preserve the white of the paper for the light areas. Stippling can be combined with other techniques. Yesterday, we concentrated on stippling on its own.
The students all did a drawing of a cat. They also continued working on their personal projects. It was a good pace and the projects are coming along very well. We have a small Pen and Ink Studio group this term and a few are on their winter holiday at the moment. Maybe, the quieter studio was a bonus. The cats slept through the entire afternoon.
The strangest things turn up in a pen and ink class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I started off our second day of Pen and Ink Studio with a presentation on various papers and their suitability for pen on it’s own or with wash and watercolour. One of the students launched into a personal project and the rest of us attempted to come to grips with an invading herd of very small elephants.
I focused on the head of one of the creatures and began with a pencil drawing. I painted a few watercolour washes over the drawing and allowed it to dry. The paper is Arches, Hot Press, 140lb on a block.
Once dry, I used the pen to refine the drawing. My first consideration was the development of shadows. Definition and detail came next. I’m very careful about how I handle edges. I rarely, if ever, outline with a solid line. Look for the gaps in the pen line around the edges. Also, look at the slightly bumpy underside of the trunk. I didn’t indicate that with the preliminary pencil drawing; just with the pen.
It was a challenge but the students did well with the elephants. Over the next few weeks, we should be able to see progress with their personal projects.
This pen and ink drawing of a Snow Bunting is my submission for the January issue of the Wood Duck, the magazine of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The monthly feature is called Barry’s Birds.
Snow Buntings visit windswept and snowbound rural fields in our region every winter. This individual had a kernel of corn in it’s beak.
I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art yesterday afternoon to teach Pen and Ink Studio; the first of eight afternoons. The course is designed to allow participants the opportunity to develop their personal projects under the guidance of the instructor. For the first class, I brought in a selection from my collection of bones and we all started with the same exercise.
I used cross-hatching and a bit of stippling in my demonstration. We discussed the basic pen techniques and followed a sound process as the drawings were developed.
We also discussed the personal projects and they’ll get underway next week. However, our shared experience of drawing bones was a good way to kick off the course. Would you like to join us? If so, contact DVSA. We’ve got room in the class for you.
My hobby is birding. As such, I’m a member in a few clubs and organizations. One of these is the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The club produces the Wood Duck magazine nine times a year, from September to May. I recently submitted a pen and ink drawing of an American Kestrel for the December issue. The editor liked it and suggested we make it a regular feature. Barry’s Birds has hatched and taken flight!
I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art yesterday for a day of pen and ink drawing. We combined the pen with watercolour and our theme was ‘drawing people’. I rarely use photographs when I teach but they’re perfect for this lesson. I brought in the photo reference for the students.
We started the day with a discussion about proportions of the figure and head. That proved to be very helpful with the two exercises that we completed. Our first drawing was of a little boy and I demonstrated in three steps. The first step was the pencil drawing. Following that, we got out the pens. The final step was the watercolour although, once the watercolour was dry it was possible to go back in with the pen, if desired.
We varied the process with our second drawing. Pencil first. Watercolour second. Pen third. Be careful with that pen! You can’t erase it. I might have been too enthusiastic and unintentionally gave this poor woman a bit of a moustache. Oh well, it’s Movember, after all.
As always, some of the students were faster workers than others. We didn’t have time for a third drawing but, near the end of the class, I gave one more demonstration. I started with pencil and then applied a ‘sepia’ wash mixed from Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. I did the pen work once the wash had dried.
We wrapped up the day with a look at the student work. They did very well and should be equipped with a sound process for their own projects. Have a look at their work and, if you’re in the area, join me this winter at DVSA for eight weeks of Pen and Ink Studio on Thursday afternoons.