Yes I use a brush (Windsor Newton series 7 sable 1,2 and sometimes 3) on a lot of my ink work. And various pen nibs (hunt 22s, drawing nibs, nothing too thick, not the teeny tiny kinds and not penmanship/calligraphy nibs). It really depends on what I'm feeling like and what the picture calls for and whether my brushes are "working" that day or not. Or if the piece of paper I sketched the drawing on has too much watercolor paper-type "tooth" I can't use pen on it because the lines will etch/scratch into the surface and the ink lines will seep, bleed and spread, etc, which is not good for fine work. (Although I bet the seeping lines can be a cool effect on something more Dulac-esque, using sepia or light gray ink for instance.)
The brush has so much more versatility but is much harder to control. When I have the brush working and I can draw with it and do cross hatching and the fine linework I love so much, you won't see me use anything else.
The pen is a much more intellectual instrument, not nearly as expressive (unless you exert 40 pounds of pressure per square inch on it.) and when the point sticks into the paper it's like scratching your fingernails across a backboard. It also blobs up sometimes and the nibs get crudded up quick. And if the instrument isn't easy to use, forget it. The work's going to come out labored looking because you are struggling with crummy tools.
The pen is also harder to make "fresh" because the strokes accumulate and start to dirty up the page. And if your hand shakes its like a seismograph needle. You can see every little tremor. When I'm doing some fine work and I feel my hand about to shake, I'll extemporaneously design into the line a place where I can pirouette or dance the nib on purpose, so at least I will remain in control of the design.
Any false move makes the pen line look indecisive, like I'm searching for the right lines and guessing about the edges and forms. Art greatly suffers from a lack of conviction in any part of it.
Pen also tends to work best for outlining, which flattens forms. In order to use it in a more painterly fashion, I have to think of the drawing more like a painter, which means doing a lot more form drawing and light thought.
Whereas with the brush, it's so much easier to create a silhouetted edge with one sweep and thus begin to establish the form of an object.
The big thing is decisiveness and integrity shows right through the strokes. It can't be faked or hidden under the carpet, no matter what the medium. One sure stroke does the work of forty indecisive ones, except much better!
Aristotle in Poetics says, use nothing more than is needed and nothing less. If one stroke says it all, why waste people's time with two? (or forty two for that matter!)
Anyhow, the real secret to inking for me was gleaned from Harvey Dunn's great lecture notes from 1934. Essentially the advice was not to think about the brush strokes, whether its pen or brush, ink, oil, crayon or pastels. The real secret to inking, wood for instance, is to "think wood". Don't think pen strokes, or "how would my favorite artist do this". But imagine you are drawing the real thing and interpret "wood" through the implement you're holding and the medium it broadcasts. See through the technique to what is actually important; the drawing and design and the spirit of the thing.
Hope this helps (for those pen and inkers out there who are interested...)
P.S. I took a look at your site, Max... Nice Pro Stuff!! Really fine work. Congratulations!
Last edited by kev ferrara; July 6th, 2007 at 05:26 PM.
Here's an unfinished panel that isn't going to make the cut because of a story change. I like the way the Indian sprawls over the cross (The metaphoric meaning of which may be a bit too obvious.) I may turn it into a painting someday.
Anyhow, I'd love to hear your comments...
Last edited by kev ferrara; July 6th, 2007 at 04:41 PM.
Thanks so much for sending us the link to your awesome pages. You blow my mind with your talent!! YIKES!! Ok this is Jane, Paul's hanging in and will write something later. Congrats on all the beautiful work.
WOW to post #30 with that in depth writing, I'll say you have a great way of expressing the feeling of the thing with words, I can really feel almost everything you described in that post, Great explanation of your technique in art. And your pencil and ink work is great!
great work, i gotta say its refreshing to see that seventies style back in the mix. great life drawings and paintings too. there are however a couple pieces that get quite confusing with so much going on, but that might be what your are going for. either way beautiful work man.