“Making art is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.” Gene Fowler
“The lawyer and the doctor practice their callings. The plumber and the carpenter know what they will be called upon to do. They do not have to spin the work out of themselves, discover its laws, and then present themselves turned inside out to the public gaze.” Anne Truitt
“To see far is one thing: going there is another.” Constantin Brancusi
Above is my copy of the Edgar Degas work titled “Combing the Hair” (La Coiffure), 1896 (top). I really liked working with these different tones of orange and the contrast of the purple in the dress of the servant girl on the right really tied everything together.
The next one copied was a painting by Amrita Sher Gil titled, “Bride’s Toilet” (top). I love the abstracted figures, the composition and the colours used in this work. It has a mystical other worldly look that I found impossible to capture.
I had some difficulty with this work and in the end, went my own way and did not look at the original at all. My copy does not have the mood of what seems to be a candle lit room as seen in the original. Copying this work helped me to accept various aspects of my figures that were out of proportion.
The third one copied was “Wild Flowers”, 1916 by Pierre Bonnard
The unusual shape of the vase, the use of blue and brown together and the red reflected in the background and flowers combine to make this a great painting. The subject is simple yet it speaks of majesty and wonder.
My copy is on the right. I used potato cuts for the flowers to get some random shapes and went over them in detail later. For the stems I used string dipped in acrylic paint and pressed into the paper.
Copying great masters can be fun. You can learn a lot by by imagining what the artist may have been seeing and feeling all those years ago. These three copies were painted in acrylic on paper.
With this subtle hatching style of drawing, the artist uses the white of the paper and the black of the ink or biro to create different tones between the lightest light and the darkest dark.
Individual lines of ink (or biro) are laid over one another in various directions creating a mesh-like effect to show shadow and depth. Working in pen and ink limits you to the use of line alone for developing tone and look at the fantastic result. A limiting media forces you to compromise the end result can be something quite magical!
Here is an exercise:
- Choose a subject that appeals to you, it can be something from around the house or a well lit photograph will do.
- Sketch in the subject roughly with a 2B pencil keeping your marks light.
- Put in the general outlines with ink or biro.
- Establish which direction the light is coming from (in this case the top right.)
- Begin to hatch in the mid-tone shadow areas keeping the pen on the paper and using one hatching stroke at a time. It is preferable to use three tones only and to work from light to dark as below:
Continue to create the rough outlines as you go then proceed with hatching in the mid- tones.
Use a hatching stroke to define muscles.
Working outside the figure put in broad strokes for the background shadow working in one direction.
Leave areas of white paper to define where the light hits the subject.
Change the direction of the hatching line to put in the middle tone shadows.
Cross-hatch again over shadow areas to create the darkest and densest tone.
Here are a couple of really interesting line drawings which are nothing without the magic of hatching.
Notice how the curved hatching on the horse above gives a three dimensional effect and creates the rounded form of the animal
Reference Books were: “How To Draw and Sketch” by Jenny Rodwell, New Burlington Books 1987, “Drawing in Pen and Ink” by Angus Scott, Guild Publishing 1985