I have been fortunate to have been inspired by a number of pen and ink masters and to pass along some of that knowledge in teaching and encouraging +100 students and mentees to explore and embrace the art of pen and ink.
My pen work displays rendering in the areas of information with an emphasis on outlines and a combination of refined realistic and casual strokes. Stipple and squiggles are freely intermingled as I strive for freedom of style and stroke. The importance of finding and developing your own style must be stressed. In the beginning it is advisable to view as many artists and their unique approaches as possible to find those which are suited to your present abilities and future desires. In time you will develop a palette of pen strokes from which to choose, keeping some styles as your own, casting off a few while developing others. Your proficiency will improve as you gain confidence. It will necessitate experimenting with a variety of pen nibs, points and paper surfaces to discover which are best suited to you. This also applies to digital media and pressure sensitive brushes.
As you become more comfortable with the media you will loosen up with “casual” or more spontaneous strokes and marks. The casual approach is successful when it provides definition to the intended subject’s meaning – conveying the look of the growth lines of turtle’s shell, a toad’s warty skin, and an owl’s patterned feathers and still expressing aesthetically the illustrator’s abilities as an artist and educator. If enough information is given and implied, then the drawing will be successful. As you become more comfortable with pen and ink, this looseness will emerge. Your visual vocabulary will broaden as well, as you depict a structure and its meaning in a limited number of strokes. Some of us are natural renderers, while others of us say the most with the least. Pen and ink can be both frustrating and rewarding at the same time, but it is well worth the effort.
The best examples of pen and ink display the artist’s touch- a sense of the artist’s hand and personality–a vigor, vitality and confidence with the medium. Undaunted and unafraid to express through the stroke of the pen the intensity of black and white, pen and ink demands that you express yourself freely and develop your own voice and become comfortable with it. Don’t be afraid; savor the opportunity to venture into a new media. Enjoy these moments of chaos tempered with creativity.
You can find the following: Eastern Box Turtle and American Toad and Great Horned Owl as pen and ink prints in my shop. Wander with wonder in nature with sketchbook in hand and bring nature into your heart and mind.