Category Archives: Pigment liner

Goodbye Drawing August

And so the second year of Drawing August slips away. For me it really has been a challenge. Despite keeping strictly to my self-imposed time limit of 15 minutes per drawing, getting the time at weekends has still been whisker tight. Honestly, I think I’ve acquitted myself OK with my set of pen portraits of work colleagues. Admittedly there are one or two horrors in there, but by and large all have carried something of the sitter. I was tempted to leave some out of the succession, but that would defeat the object. This has been about exploring an area of drawing which is outside my comfort zone.  It’s simply not possible to turn out a corker each time; I’m wide of that goal by a very wide country mile at the moment. By and large I have stuck to my guns and produced only pen line drawings, although on Day 16 I went off piste a little with a set of Winsor and Newton watercolour markers. Well they were sitting in their shiny new box beckoning to me; would have been rude not to use them… Before I leave you with a gallery of all thirty one sketches here’s a summary of the key things I’ve learned:

  • Warm up first. Coming straight from an intense analytical mind set at work and expecting to produce a great sketch in 15 minutes was never going to be the best work practie. You may be able to spot the days when I was most agitated.
  • Line up other people to model at weekends. I got a little tired of knocking out selfies.
  • A thicker pen is both more impactful and encourages greater and more immediate expression.
  • Maybe a little variation wouldn’t have been a bad thing after all. By sticking rigidly to my brief – the drawings have taken on a similar quality and tend to merge one into the other.

Finally, a bonus side effect  of Drawing August is that now several of my sitters are very willing for me to continue beyond August, just to keep my hand in.  Thanks everyone for being such willing and accommodating sitters. Without you this page would be blank.

The Portraits

My personal favourites are Days 1, 2, 6, 7, 21 and 23, which are yours?

Nearly through Drawing August

Well I’m certainly getting practice at portraits with this Drawing August Twitter malarkey. And I’m sticking to my guns having chosen a set of three self imposed restrictions, all of which are personally challenging:

  • portraits only – because I mostly suck at drawing people
  • pen only – all marks will remain on show
  • time limit of fifteen minutes maximum – to focus the mind
Day 12 Drawing August
Day 12

Now, after completing twenty four days of the challenge, I am starting to notice an improvement over my earlier attempts. My line is more confident, and I’m starting to get a memory for the curves which make up a face.

Day 11 Drawing August
Day 11

Progress however is definitely jerky and not a smooth curve, and I do often make the same mistakes. Even when I can see where I’m going awry I often plough on regardless and regret it later. But at least I know where I’m falling over; things will get better. Wouldn’t be a challenge if it wasn’t difficult!

Day 21 Drawing August
Day 21
Day 23 Drawing August
Day 23

I’ve also noticed an improvement since I stopped using my fine 005 Pigma micron (the nib split) and jumped up to a 03, a thicker nib. I think the harder, darker mark forces clearer thought and analysis. It seems to have made me work more economically using fewer lines to better effect.

An added bonus is that my colleagues, who have all been so generous in sitting for me, are now less wary of how their faces are going to fare when rendered in pen by me…

With only a few days left I’m looking forward to seeing what my final set of drawings will be like. How about you?

Pen Portraits for Drawing August

Just over a week into Drawing August and I may be starting to regret my self-imposed choice of subject: pen portraits…

Drawing August is a Twitter challenge in which artists commit to produce a drawing every day during August – any subject and any medium. This is it’s second year, and following my difficulty last year in finding subjects, I made the decision to draw a pen portrait every day. Pure pen, pure line; no wash or any other tonal jiggery-pokery.

My figure drawing is an area which could really do with some work, and so I started in the hope that I would see a noticeable improvement over the month. And I’m determined to Tweet all my results, stinkers as well as roses.

My lovely work colleagues have been very generous in coming forward as models. Fortunately for them, I’m also determined to work to a self-imposed time limit of 15 minutes.  No pressure! Weekends are going to be tricky, and I can see a few self portraits creeping in; not narcissism, necessity.

Drawing August Day 7
Day 7

So after the first week how’s it going? ‘Mixed’ would be a good description. Every day is different. Some days I’m very confident and sure of my line, others I’m a dithering, uncertain wreck  – as in these two drawings.

Drawing August Day 5
Day 5

Thinking about it, a big factor has to be state of mind. All these pen portraits are made during lunch break, and switching instantly from an intense work mind-set to a creative space can be a wrench. Sometimes the work bleeds over and I don’t pay as much attention as I should. On a few of the portraits I can see where I’ve resorted to drawing what I think should be there rather than  being guided by careful observation.

Drawing August Day 1
Day 1

Another factor I’ve noticed is that the portraits of my two male colleagues are far more confident than those of their female counterparts. Some sort of gender split going on?  Well, I don’t think so. I have a theory that it has to do with hair.

Drawing August Day 6
Day 6

I reckon when I’m confronted by fluffy or flowing long hair I lose track of the structure underneath.  As a result all the key bits of a face may be there, but not necessarily all in the right places.

Drawing August Day 8
Day 8

Both my male models so far sport minimalistic hair do’s (…) and while I may have blessed them with a couple of extra pounds, largely their likenesses aren’t too bad. And today’s drawing of a female colleague with her hair tied up seems to support my hypothesis. More of her face is visible, the resultant drawing is more confident and more accurate.

An interesting start, now, how many days left in August?