Posts Tagged ‘toned paper’

The Dramatic Pen at DVSA!


I was at the Dundas Valley School of Art yesterday, joined by a full studio of enthusiastic art students. The title of the workshop, the Dramatic Pen, refers to the use of black and white ink on a toned or tinted paper. This practice goes back a long way. We looked at a book of German drawings and I’m showing a few here from the great Albrecht Dürer.

The paper colour in the German drawings varied from grays to blues, greens, deep reds and exciting purples. The tone of the paper, regardless of colour, acts as a middle tone. The colour of the paper often dramatized and enhanced the subject.


The tools of our trade were fairly simple. Pigment ink pens in black and white were used. The white pen is a Uniball Signo broad. I would have preferred a somewhat finer nib but it was unavailable at our local art supply store. The black pen is a #8 Pilot drawing pen. Our paper is Canson pastel paper, purchased in a pad.

We kicked off with a discussion of basic volumes and principles of light and shadow. This gave us a chance to try out the pens and work on our cross-hatching technique. Note that the white is reserved exclusively for areas of direct light.

Our next project was of a garlic and each student was issued one. The creases in the skin of the garlic helped us decide on line direction. Here are two steps of my demonstration:

The students selected the paper colour of their own choice. They did a great job with their garlics. If you click on any of the critique images, you’ll see a larger version.

Garlic critique a

Garlic critique b

Our final drawing was of a beautiful Henry Moore sculpture. Wait a minute! That sure resembles a dog chew. No offence intended to the great Henry Moore. The organic quality of the dog chew made it a good subject. Have a look at two steps of my demonstration. I added a bit of stippling to this study.

Once the comments about dog chews died down, everyone applied themselves to the task at hand.

I’m offering one more workshop this spring; Introduction to Portraiture in Pen and Ink on Thursday, June 14. Stay tuned!


Drawings and Paintings by Aleda O’Connor


My partner, Aleda O’Connor, is currently exhibiting drawings and paintings at the Core Realty Group in Toronto. The Opening Reception was a few weeks ago and a huge turnout made for a lively and enjoyable evening. Aleda was mentioned the following morning on CBC’s Metro Morning radio show.

This solo exhibition has been extended until March 8, 2012 so there’s still lots of time to see her work.

FLOODPLAIN by Aleda O'Connor

Aleda’s paintings are done in oil pastel on wood panels. The drawings are completed with pen and white charcoal pencil on toned paper.

WOODWARD'S COVE by Aleda O'Connor

The exhibition can be visited seven days a week between 11am and 4pm. Core Realty Group is located at 747 Queen Street East (just east of Broadview) in Toronto. They can be reached at 416-406-0000.