Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Making Marks – Classical vs. Modern

If you’ve been visiting my blog recently you will have noticed that I have been doing a focused study of pen & ink work. Although many people today use pen and ink in their sketches or artwork, most do not use it in a classical style. That classical style is really not popular today for more than scientific or perhaps technical illustrations. From the 19th Century back to the Renaissance the classical form of pen and ink marks were an artistic staple. I call them “classical” marks as they mirrored the marks seen in engravings and woodcuts (woodblock prints) which were also popular in those times. Relatively linear, these classical marks created very solid-looking images, where the details stand out in high-relief. Modern marks, on the other hand, are more airy, varied, and generalized.

Howard Pyle is a master of classical marks. His pen and ink illustration style is very reminiscent of woodblock marks and reminds me strongly of the work of Albrecht Durer. In fact, I’m sure Pyle studied Durer when he was learning. As I struggle to copy his marks, I find that the marks really do tell the story of the artist. They are very much like the brush strokes of a painter and you can as easily learn as much from them. It’s like holding the original artist’s hand as you draw. A fascinating process.

Here is my newest pen and ink exercise. A knight copied from Howard Pyle’s “Otto of the Silver Hand” (Dover Books). I have shown you my progress in four pieces. The final piece is approximately 6.5” x 4” clearly much smaller than Pyle’s original piece. If I had chosen to work bigger, as he had, I would have been able to be more accurate in many of the smaller marks. All the same, I did my best with it and think it turned out pretty well. These drawings were created with a Namiki Falcon on Stillman and Birn Epsilon paper with Noodler's Bulletproof Black ink and a Superfine Zebra Disposable Brush pen.

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