Check out a lovely post about picking the right pen by Joe Nevin.
I especially like his observations about the living nature of certain kinds of pens. I think that’s why I like dip pens so much, they are willful and collaborators in my art. They make it more difficult and that’s what I like the most. Every line becomes an adventure and you never know what’s gonna happen.
It was so nice to draw in watercolor again to layer and adjust and tweak and blot these vivid, glowing colors. And the proportions of my subject led me back to my watercolor moleskine with its broad horizontal dimensions. If you want to see a masterful use of this shaped page, check out Ian Sidaway‘s blog. He often draws in a wide landscape book and I learn so much from his compositions.
Ironically, last weekend I was looking through my very well-thumbed, thirty-year-old copy of How to Draw and Paint and realized that many of my favorite pieces in this wonderful book were done by Ian. Cooler still, he’s going to be in my next book “An Illustrated Journey”!
I’ve decided that, while I like gouache in many ways, for intense lush color, there’s nothing like my Doc Martins. So I laid down a few layers of watercolor, coat upon coat of three different shades of purple and blue, then let it dry long enough for the paper to flatten out again (an uncharacteristically patient act that meant I couldn’t upload this drawing yesterday morning as I would have liked). Then I sketched in my keys with a yellow pencil and painted it in with gouache. Finally, I labeled it with a dip pen and white paint.
What the drawing lacks in the sort of character and quirk my recent painting of the Jefferson Market had, this one makes up for in careful observation and realism. Me like it.
I painted this yesterday but tried to take my time in developing it rather than rush to scan and upload it. I made it with gouache and drew (most of) it freehand with a brush. I am replacing my habits developed over years of watercoloring with the approach I used when I was a teenager and first started painting in acrylic. I find gouache quite challenging because I can’t layer color which so often helps me hid my mistakes. With this opaque medium, I have to lay down the color and be satisfied with it before adding the next and it can be quite annoying. I’ll try to explain more about this by showing you a couple of steps I took.
First I painted my vestibule, using flat colors and with little indication of lighting. This was fairly straightforward once I had a grip on the perspective and I just mixed up a color and then created a lighter version to make the lighter part of the wall or floor. Probably the hardest color to mix was the parquet floor in lower left just because I had to figure out how to make a darker brown using only yellow and an ochre and blue.
When it was good and dry, I lightly sketched in the bicycle. Then I painted it in with black and white gouache. As you can see, the red wall started to leach into the white of the tires, so I let it dry and added another coat of white which helped a bit but not completely. I wanted to add a bit of the shadow that the bike threw on the wall but didn’t want to paint around the bike to add a darker red so instead I tried to lighten the rest of the wall with a bit of watered-down white.
I don’t know if this painting is done completely. I should go in and erase the white pencil lines, darken the tires and hit the white one more time to get rid of the pink — and maybe I shall. I also fought the impulse to scrawl a caption on the floor with my dip pen (both Jack and Tommy Kane urged me to just leave the damned things as it is) and I remain of two minds about it.
Before I began painting, I spent a fair amount of time looking at the work of Taliah Lempert, an artist I have always admired, who does nothing but drawn and paint and make prints of bikes. Her work is really lovely and instructive.
Sorry, for the self-congratulation but I’ve never drawn this before. It was nice to be sitting in my air-conditioned studio with all my gear around me. I drew it with both Lamy safari nibs, then painted it with Dr. Martin’s and did the background in gouache and the writing with a dip pen and white ink.
I love seeing people’s versions of my work. Below is a lovely rendition by Matthew Midgeley.If you’ve ever drawn one of my books, I would so love to see it.
By Matthew Midgeley
Love this one by Jinho Jung: