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    Ballpoint Pen Art

    I came across a video of a ballpoint pen artist named James Mylne recreating Johannes Vemeer's "Girl With a Pearl Earring" (i'm sure some of you have seen the video already) and I was blown away by what he able to do with a normal ballpoint pen. Very expressive and painterly. Exploring further I stumbled across a video of an outstanding Japanese ballpoint pen artist named Shohei Otomo (whom created an impressive work with a ballpoint pen and a sharpie marker). I didn't know much about ballpoint pen art but it really speaks volumes about how the utensil is not as important as the artist using the utensil. If anyone knows more ballpoint artist or wants to discuss the style feel free to post in this thread.

    See the videos here and here.



    James Mylne -

    http://www.jamesmylne.co.uk/






    Shohei Otomo (aka. Hakuchi) -

    http://www.hakuchi.jp/top.html

    http://www.soultravelmultimedia.com/...-shohei-otomo/



    Last edited by Juniversal; March 29th, 2012 at 06:34 AM.
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    Ballpoint people who work like this show an incredible amount of patience, but painterly? How?

    James Jean's sketchbooks are among my favorite examples of ballpoint pen work.

    Here's a place to start:
    http://jamesjean.com/sketch/2007/Blue/2

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    Ballpoint people who work like this show an incredible amount of patience, but painterly? How?

    James Jean's sketchbooks are among my favorite examples of ballpoint pen work.

    Here's a place to start:
    http://jamesjean.com/sketch/2007/Blue/2
    I was referring specifically to the recreation. Looks like a black and white water color painting to me. And I know of James Jean. Amazing artist. Beautiful pen work in his sketch book. Thanks for the link..

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    You may find this of interest:

    http://ballpointpenart-stith.blogspot.com/

    I often use ballpoint for sketching. One can achieve an attractive etch-like sort of effect with it, or use it as substitute for silverpoint pencil. I actually prefer the more "scratchy" style of drawing with it to those ultra-refined, photorealistic drawings (even though the latter do leave me in awe!)

    Another ballpoint artist whose work I enjoy:

    http://andreajoseph24.blogspot.com/

    And this one:

    http://danielgrzeszkiewicz.deviantart.com/gallery/

    This guy does delightfully humourous drawings in ballpoint (when I tried this site just now some of the images didn't load, but go have a look):

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/p.blackman/

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    OmenSpirits is offline Commercial-Illustrator in-training, NOT an artist. Level 13 Gladiator: Retiarius
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    Gods, wasn't there a guy who posted here that was a ballpoint pen advocate to the EXTREME?

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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    Quote Originally Posted by OmenSpirits View Post
    Gods, wasn't there a guy who posted here that was a ballpoint pen advocate to the EXTREME?
    Yeah I think's in the Worst of CA thread, I was expecting this thread to be the return of him.
    Instead it's something that actually looks quite cool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OmenSpirits View Post
    Gods, wasn't there a guy who posted here that was a ballpoint pen advocate to the EXTREME?
    lol the guy who made this thread? yea I stumbled across that thread when I did a searched before I made this thread. Guy seemed pretty wacky lol...


    Here's some of my favs from Otomo....











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    Quote Originally Posted by OmenSpirits View Post
    Gods, wasn't there a guy who posted here that was a ballpoint pen advocate to the EXTREME?
    It's his blog I link to in a previous post. He also runs a group on Yahoo, and numerous other websites, and is the ballpoint pen's answer to Jehovah Witnesses. Indeed a rather strange guy, but he does have a huge collection of art done with ballpoints. :-)

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    WOw, it's amazing too the breadth of different effects that an be achieved by ballpoint pen. Generally though, I prefer the more immediate ""hatchy" feel. I mean, I can't see much that ballpoint pen can achieve that charcoal or oils can't with much less time in terms of painterly qualities. I mean, the little lines are cool but that's about it. And you're sacrificing so much with this medium. Well, mainly it just takes so much time!

    Pilot EASYTOUCH is the best ballpoint pen I've used BTW, once recommended to me by my teacher Kirk Shinmoto(absolutely brilliant arist).

    Last edited by Aaron_; March 29th, 2012 at 04:26 AM.
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    Eh, what's the (ball)point....

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    I think the point is just sharing. Everyone will settle into something that suits their own voice and personality. Ballpoint is just another choice.

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    I always wonder what's the point of doing such stuff? Is it to challenge the human limits and impress people by using the ballpoint pen to do stuff that it's not naturally designed to do?

    Anyway, these pen drawings are nothing compared to the ones I've seen.
    It's a pity I lost the link but the artist did full photographic drawings of human faces posing with the camera using the ballpoint pen. Not only is it so smooth and hyper-real, but it's mind-blowing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    I always wonder what's the point of doing such stuff? Is it to challenge the human limits and impress people by using the ballpoint pen to do stuff that it's not naturally designed to do?

    Anyway, these pen drawings are nothing compared to the ones I've seen.
    It's a pity I lost the link but the artist did full photographic drawings of human faces posing with the camera using the ballpoint pen. Not only is it so smooth and hyper-real, but it's mind-blowing.
    Perhaps you refer to this sort of thing:

    http://www.birodrawing.co.uk/

    I very much prefer ballpoint work in which a more traditional approach is taken, with clearly visible hatching and cross-hatching, like this guy's work (already posted this link before):

    http://danielgrzeszkiewicz.deviantart.com/gallery/

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    I think the point is just sharing. Everyone will settle into something that suits their own voice and personality. Ballpoint is just another choice.
    Exactly. I don't think it's much more complicated than that. Some try it, love the results they get and it becomes their preferred tool of choice (time consuming as it may be).

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    I always wonder what's the point of doing such stuff? Is it to challenge the human limits and impress people by using the ballpoint pen to do stuff that it's not naturally designed to do?

    Anyway, these pen drawings are nothing compared to the ones I've seen.
    It's a pity I lost the link but the artist did full photographic drawings of human faces posing with the camera using the ballpoint pen. Not only is it so smooth and hyper-real, but it's mind-blowing.
    To answer your question I think (for the most part) it's just a matter of preference. James Mylne simply seemed to be intrigued by it from a young age as he decided to focus on it when he entered college (according to his bio).

    Here's a quote from an interview with Shohei Otomo on why he decided to stick with ballpoint:

    "Back when I was in university, I was just messing around, scribbling stuff on my notebook during my oil painting class," Shohei recalls. "I wasn't very good with colours to begin with. I just had more fun drawing with ballpoint - I felt more unrestricted, or free to express myself. Plus I was broke so it was way cheaper than oil painting. When I was 24 I started focusing solely on drawing ballpoint illustrations. I still did oil paintings every now and then, just when I could scrape the money together to pay for all of the supplies," he continues.

    As for your comment, I actually think his work is pretty mind blowing. I guess it appeals to my comic book, pop culture, sensibilities as well as being fairly realistic in how he renders his characters. I love it. As blogmatix inferred James Mylne would probably be more up your alley. He does amazing things with a pen and generally goes for a photo-realistic look.

    Quote Originally Posted by blogmatix View Post
    Perhaps you refer to this sort of thing:

    http://www.birodrawing.co.uk/

    I very much prefer ballpoint work in which a more traditional approach is taken, with clearly visible hatching and cross-hatching, like this guy's work (already posted this link before):

    http://danielgrzeszkiewicz.deviantart.com/gallery/
    Your first link is from the artist that created the Girl with The Pearl Earring in my op (if you weren't aware). I personally prefer the less hatchy renderings but can appreciate any good artist. "Hatchy" or not the artist in the deviant art page is amazing (I managed to miss the link when you posted it earlier in the thread lol). Thanks for the links...

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    More from Mylne:









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    Don't really see the point in coping a photo in anything and calling it art. I'd be a lot more impressed if they got the same finish in life drawing.


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    The horse is insane! This truly takes an infinite amount of patience, sanity and skill to accomplish. Though personally, I prefer pen drawings to have more of a gestural playful look to it.

    As Sheldon Borenstein says in one of his vid, "If I want my drawings to look like a photograph, then..........why don't I just go take a photograph? Why would I need you (as an artist)?" LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    Don't really see the point in coping a photo in anything and calling it art. I'd be a lot more impressed if they got the same finish in life drawing.
    I can understand your sentiment but I bow before anyone that can achieve that level of realism with a ballpoint pen lol. Shit I bow before anyone that can achieve that level of realism with a pencil or paint brush.

    Call it a study or "non art" if you want but i'm awed by the level of skill required (and exhibited) to recreate something so faithfully....especially with a pen!! Certainly not the most purely artistic thing to do but I appreciate the show of talent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    The horse is insane! This truly takes an infinite amount of patience, sanity and skill to accomplish. Though personally, I prefer pen drawings to have more of a gestural playful look to it.
    My thoughts exactly.

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    I can understand your sentiment but I bow before anyone that can achieve that level of realism with a ballpoint pen lol. Shit I bow before anyone that can achieve that level of realism with a pencil or paint brush.

    Call it a study or "non art" if you want but i'm awed by the level of skill required (and exhibited) to recreate something so faithfully....especially with a pen!! Certainly not the most purely artistic thing to do but I appreciate the show of talent.
    Please don't call this talent, if even talent can be defined. It is patience and a skill of seeing and copying. But Lego city builders and matchstick bridge builders, and those guys who line up dominos for chain reaction tipping have the same "talent".

    I like to believe when you get to the point where you can do this you have just begun the exciting part of your journey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    Please don't call this talent, if even talent can be defined. It is patience and a skill of seeing and copying. But Lego city builders and matchstick bridge builders, and those guys who line up dominos for chain reaction tipping have the same "talent".

    I like to believe when you get to the point where you can do this you have just begun the exciting part of your journey.
    I don't think it's inappropriate to label it a talent. I believe you can acquire a talent through hard work, practice and study. I define talent simply as having ability or capability in a given field well beyond the average person. Anybody can sing. Not everybody can sing good. Anybody can draw, but not everybody can draw good.


    I feel the musical equivalent of what your saying is a singer that doesn't write their own music or a classically trained pianist that doesn't compose their own music. Can one be a talented singer or pianist while not creating their own music? I say Yes. I don't think knocking over dominoes or building lego towers requires a significant amount of skill or talent (especially considering much of the work is done for you when it comes to Lego's via the pre-made building blocks).


    What can I say. I think someone who can recreate something so complex, so faithfully is talented (despite it being unoriginal). Especially with an unconventional tool that makes you pay for small mistakes like the ballpoint pen. We may have to agree to disagree.

    Last edited by Juniversal; March 30th, 2012 at 04:40 PM.
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    Copying takes observation and patience, definitely not things like anatomy, proportion, lighting knowledge etc. Your copying, it doesn't matter what you know because it's all layed out before your eyes.

    The closest skill set it may take is your approach on shading/blending, and just simply well..... copying.... I was going to say it's like Life Drawing observation.... buuuuut not quite ..... since your not defining a 3 dimensional object into a 2D form, your defining an already 2D object and trying to copy that. And the Camera already did a bit of the work and stole a lot of the detail/information.

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    Man, agree to disagree. I really hate that statement. OK, we can disagree as long as you get the point. But a lot of potential "talent" has been wasted because people ooh and ahhw at repetitive technical mastery so those who do it keep doing it to get the oohs and ahhws.

    So in your analogy you are saying that we can equate a talented artist with a talented musician by their ability to execute someone else's work? And the pre made building blocks are precisely what the pre made photos are if you add nothing to it.

    Again, I think someone who can create something so faithfully and patiently is very faithful and patient and can be admired for that. And if you want to call patience and faithfulness talent then I won't argue with you, but if I had a young student who showed potential (some might call that talent) then I would urge them to take another path and really learn to make art.

    Now having said that, Otomo is a different matter. Clearly someone with a personal voice and doing more than copying photos. There are others too. For example, Andrea Joseph is not a photo slave. So again it's not the medium, I use ballpoint a lot, it's the photo slavery that I have issue with when we talk about talent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    Man, agree to disagree. I really hate that statement. OK, we can disagree as long as you get the point. But a lot of potential "talent" has been wasted because people ooh and ahhw at repetitive technical mastery so those who do it keep doing it to get the oohs and ahhws.
    I can understand your aversion to photo recreation but the mediocre artist in me (which I am lol) appreciates the purely technical side of his art. I'm completely fine with the label of "unoriginal", "unimaginative" or even "trite" but it takes real ability to convincingly recreate something and that ability in my eyes = talent. Otomo is my type of artist by far but Mylne has great ability (though I agree photo recreation can be boring and generally requires no imagination).

    So in your analogy you are saying that we can equate a talented artist with a talented musician by their ability to execute someone else's work?
    No. I'm saying if a person spends their career occasionally or exclusively doing other peoples works (Vladimir Horowitz for example), their ability/talent shouldn't be marginalized just because it's not their own work. I'm objecting to the idea that this person shouldn't be considered talented.

    And the pre made building blocks are precisely what the pre made photos are if you add nothing to it.
    No. I think a better artistic analogy for pre-made building blocks would be a stencil, tracing paper or connect the dots. To recreate a photo accurately requires a knowledge and handle of anatomy, light and shade, proportion, drapery, perspective, ect. The same can't be said for stacking Lego blocks or knocking over dominoes.

    Again, I think someone who can create something so faithfully and patiently is very faithful and patient and can be admired for that. And if you want to call patience and faithfulness talent then I won't argue with you, but if I had a young student who showed potential (some might call that talent) then I would urge them to take another path and really learn to make art.

    Now having said that, Otomo is a different matter. Clearly someone with a personal voice and doing more than copying photos. There are others too. For example, Andrea Joseph is not a photo slave. So again it's not the medium, I use ballpoint a lot, it's the photo slavery that I have issue with when we talk about talent.
    Yea I know where you were coming from. It shows a lack of creativity and artistry but a lack of talent? Not at all... I think the definition for the term aptitude is appropriate here:

    Capability; ability; innate or acquired capacity for something; talent: She has a special aptitude for mathematics.

    Last edited by Juniversal; March 30th, 2012 at 08:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juniversal View Post
    To recreate a photo accurately...
    ...means you're a manual xerox machine.

    What would Caravaggio do?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    ...means you're a manual xerox machine.
    Quote Originally Posted by JFierce
    Copying takes observation and patience, definitely not things like anatomy, proportion, lighting knowledge etc. Your copying, it doesn't matter what you know because it's all layed out before your eyes.

    The closest skill set it may take is your approach on shading/blending, and just simply well..... copying.... I was going to say it's like Life Drawing observation.... buuuuut not quite ..... since your not defining a 3 dimensional object into a 2D form, your defining an already 2D object and trying to copy that. And the Camera already did a bit of the work and stole a lot of the detail/information.
    Don't misunderstand where i'm coming from. I'm not lobbying for "copying" as an art form. I personally don't copy and think it's a very amateurish thing to do. I DO study from photo's though and use them as anatomical references. But if I was to challenge myself by recreating a painting I would use the techniques and methods I've learned throughout the years (i.e. start with basic shapes and build from the inside out) and not simply "copy". Let me ask, would you all consider that more acceptable?


    ETA: Added JFierce's comment because my response was appropriate to both comments.

    Last edited by Juniversal; March 30th, 2012 at 11:21 PM.
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    No. I'm saying if a person spends their career occasionally or exclusively doing other peoples works (Vladimir Horowitz for example), their ability/talent shouldn't be marginalized just because it's not their own work. I'm objecting to the idea that this person shouldn't be considered talented.
    Now name a famous accomplished visual artist that does the same thing. I was critical of your analogy. A visual artist is profoundly different than a performing artist. I'm not saying that the person cannot be talented but that the person need not be talented to achieve this level. A very gifted artist could certainly do this but so could one who is not.

    No. I think a better artistic analogy for pre-made building blocks would be a stencil, tracing paper or connect the dots. To recreate a photo accurately requires a knowledge and handle of anatomy, light and shade, proportion, drapery, perspective, ect. The same can't be said for stacking Lego blocks or knocking over dominoes.
    I absolutely disagree. One does not need a handle of those things to copy a photo accurately. I have experience with this having seen too many students who can do this well but cannot draw.

    Yea I know where you were coming from. It shows a lack of creativity and artistry but a lack of talent? Not at all...
    Again, a tremendously gifted artist can do this but so can a hack. I have seen it.

    You can admire this and that's great but when you get there then come back and tell me what you think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    Now name a famous accomplished visual artist that does the same thing. I was critical of your analogy. A visual artist is profoundly different than a performing artist. I'm not saying that the person cannot be talented but that the person need not be talented to achieve this level. A very gifted artist could certainly do this but so could one who is not.
    All good points.



    I absolutely disagree. One does not need a handle of those things to copy a photo accurately. I have experience with this having seen too many students who can do this well but cannot draw.
    Being a teacher you clearly have more first hand experience then I do but it certainly takes a degree of artistic ability to recreate something and use convincing and accurate shading, proportions and the like. I don't know how much of his work is done by photo or if he's an amazing artist without reference but i'm assuming essentially all of his work is from photographs. I'll concede that you don't need knowledge of the things I named to recreate a photo but I find to do it with the level of detail and depth seen in his work you need a solid grasp of anatomy and lighting.



    Again, a tremendously gifted artist can do this but so can a hack. I have seen it.
    Certainly it takes a degree of artistic ability to recreate something accurately like the Vermeer painting no? You can't hand a Bic to random Joe Schmo and expect these results.



    You can admire this and that's great but when you get there then come back and tell me what you think.
    Deal.

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    I know...no big deal...just wanted to throw that point out there. Bill had it all covered pretty well already. Just try to be aware it isn't talent...nor even skill to copy something...just patience and sitting there doing it.

    Some of that is pretty impressive stuff though. I usually have the same reaction as I do when I see over the top colored pencil work...why not just paint? Helluva lot faster to lay in a passage with a brush than with a point.

    But hey...good discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I know...no big deal...just wanted to throw that point out there. Bill had it all covered pretty well already. Just try to be aware it isn't talent...nor even skill to copy something...just patience and sitting there doing it.
    I don't see how one can argue that it doesn't require skill. Patience and sitting there doing it will not allow you to accurately see the proportions or estimate the values or use exactly the right amount of pressure etc.

    I am also skeptical of the notion that it doesn't require talent, for the simple reason that many artists never reach this level of skill, no matter how much patience they have or how long they work at it. Or if they do, it takes them twenty years, whereas some others learn how to do it within a year. The ability to rapidly learn a skill is part of what talent is.

    That said, one can be supremely talented and still not make much of an impact, and that can happen for a whole variety of reasons. I would also agree that once an artist has reached this level of technical skill, it might be a good idea to move on and acquire more: in most art schools, learning to copy accurately is the beginning of your course of study, not its ultimate goal. This guy is in a sense a bit like an immensely promising atelier student who then somehow decides to stick to copying Bargue plates for the rest of his career. :-)

    I suppose it depends where one is coming from. In more than twenty years of art as a hobby, I never got anywhere remotely close to the ability to accurately copy anything. I can't even get the proportions right, let alone subtle variations of tone etc. And rather weirdly, I find it vastly more difficult to copy from a photo than from life, which seems to be the opposite to what most students report (even using a grid, I somehow cannot copy a photo even marginally accurately!). So perhaps it is understandable that I would be more impressed with this sort of photorealism than artists who had learned to do it so long ago they can hardly even remember its frustrations anymore.

    I also suspect that artistic talent is a multi-faceted thing, and that the ability to accurately recreate what you see in front of you is one, but by no means the only, facet of talent. It is perhaps the visual equivalent of perfect pitch in music: most, but by no means all, of the great composers/artists have it, and conversely, many of those who do have it fail to enter the realms of the great. It is nevertheless not a thing that one can casually dismiss, I would think: because I have none of these sort of abilities, I find them rather marvelous. :-)

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    But, in the 1400s, drawing and painting were regarded as tradecraft-- akin to carpentry, masonry, or cobbling-- things people never really seem to concern themselves with much in regard to "talent."

    I'll take the contra-Bill side with this idea: Deviant Art is filled with bad copies of "Sonic" showing that "just copying" 2D images ain't all that easy.

    But, I'll take Bill's side on the idea that it's the artistic vision/personal expression realm where the "talent" lies, not in the "tradecraft."

    Still, people who have a knack for learning basic skills quicker and better than other people in the same time period are often referred to as "talented." But, I'd say that they are "intelligent"-- they have a lot of what the IQ tests purport to measure.

    Last edited by Kamber Parrk; March 31st, 2012 at 03:15 AM.
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