I remember during the trip to O’ahu, we spent most of our time hanging around the usual tourist places in Honolulu. On the last day, thanks to a late flight, we drove around the island for some adventure. We came across some really good viewing spots on the North Shore of O’ahu for watching both surfing and sunset. There were some pretty handsome roosters too.
It’s vacation time and I dug out some paintings from previous Hawaiian trips.
I couldn’t remember if this was sunset or sunrise, or maybe it’s just a feeling or memory. One thing I hope this blog would achieve is better documentation of my efforts.
I’ve seen many people doodling and sketching with ballpoint pen before, but I never tried. I like the flow and the fineness of a micron or sharpie better. A ballpoint pen is just something you use for it’s conveniency and economy, right? How far can you push it as an art tool? Well, according to British artist James Mylne, this far:
Look at the range of values a single Bic Cristal could deliver!
No, I am not going to attempt that. I have neither the skill nor the patience. Mr. Mylne’s drawings average 60-100 hours per piece, with the longest 310 hours. While photorealism is probably always time-consuming regardless of the medium, ballpoint pen is extremely tricky because it’s a one way street. You can only go from light to dark, no erasing, no lifting, no painting over.
Still intrigued, I decided to at least give sketching with the Bic a try:
And here’s what I learned:
Compare to micron or sharpie, the touches are closer to those of using a graphite pencil. Especially in shading, with good control, you can go lighter than an ink pen, and build up a wider range of values.
Just like a micron or sharpie, since you can’t erase, it exposes all the weakness in your drawing. You need to be mindful about each mark throughout the working process. Scary, right? But also good learning opportunity. If there’s a unwanted mark, the only remedy is to work it into the drawing somehow. This is challenging, may not be possible sometimes, but lots of fun. A few missteps can lead to something unexpected:
Don’t forget to keep a tissue paper handy because you need to constantly remove the buildup at the tip.
By the way, do check out James Mylne’s gallery. It’s not just photorealism, but also a lot of humor.
I did some cleaning today and found a few old paintings. None of them was dated and my memory is just a blur. The only thing I could say is they were done around or before 2015. Lesson learned: date your artwork.
This one is after a photo I found online. Here’s the link, but I don’t know how to find the photographer’s information. (Google image search leads me to furniture stores and all sort of club chairs.) So, whoever took the beautiful photo, thank you. You can see back then I wasn’t able to go beyond the reference.
Now some flowers for the holidays:
Cézanne’s original is packed with details, there’s subtle changes of color and value on every plane of the house. The trees are built with expressive but economic strokes. I got lost among the leaves.
Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) is probably the most influential Post-Impressionist artist, and definitely the most inspiring for me. His colors are layered and strokes deliberate. It takes a lot more work than it seems. In this study I copied only a small section of the original painting.
I only recently came to know there’s such a thing called ink resist, and was pretty impressed by some of the artworks with this method. So I gave it a try. The result is a meh, but I l had fun and learned something.
So these are the steps I followed:
- pencil drawing;
- painting with gouache but leave some area blank; (some people leave only the pencil marks uncovered to achieve neat outlines)
- after the painting is completely dry, covered the whole page with sumi ink;
- again, wait till it’s completely dry, wash off the ink (I used the garden hose, no kidding.)
- and again, wait till it’s dry, and went back to fix here and there. (This step is optional, but I wasn’t that lucky.)
And here are the things I learned:
- Like drawing on black paper, this method is a bit counter-intuitive. The areas left blank in the first painting round will be the darkest after the wash. So planning ahead is important, which I didn’t do. In my painting, the blacks serve more like random texture than an organic part of the value pattern.
- The paint should be thick, to “resist” the ink and also because gouache is easy to wash off.
- This process asks for a lot of patience. 😜