Let’s draw with an ink pen WITHOUT using a pencil first.
Some of you may say I'm crazy. You want me to draw with only an ink pen? Yeah, I know this is scary stuff. I can hear the questions now.
- I can’t draw with an ink pen?
- What if I make a mistake?
- How do I correct mistakes?
- I feel more comfortable starting with a pencil and then using my ink pen.
- This will be nerve ranking for me.
This past class session in my studio (via Zoom), I taught my students how to do something they thought was impossible: draw with only an ink pen. It's been four weeks now, with the last class this week, and I must say the students have done a remarkable job, even outstanding. In this newsletter, I want to share some of the nuggets I passed on in my classes.
For years I've been teaching students to draw with pen and ink. In fact, I hold workshops on the subject. However, I always told everyone to start with a sketch in pencil, getting things just the way you want it, then add ink. If you want to add watercolor, erase the pencil marks and add color. Most people did a pretty good job.
From the outset, I was a bit trepidatious about this method myself. Not only did I have the same fears and questions listed above, I also was afraid I couldn't teach it without making a complete fool of myself. But as they say, I carried on.
Perfection is not attainable,
but if we chase perfection,
we can catch excellence.
Perfection is overrated.
I think the hardest part of drawing with a pen—any kind from
fountain to technical—is fear. For myself, I have always drawn with my pencil
first. My biggest fear was, “What if I make a mistake.” There
are a whole slew of other fears as well. It’s sort of funny, because I’m one of
those teachers who encourages students to “throw it out” and begin again.
But working exclusively with ink to create your sketch is just
learning another skill. Remember when you started out, the hard part was even
putting pencil to paper. Then little by little you learned a new skill. The
same can happen here.
Here are some advantages and/or reasons to use ink alone.
- Sloppy is good. Really? Just ask some of my travel workshop students about using sloppy copies. It’s a great way to just let go and sketch.
- Wobble lines are good; they create lively ones and are more expressive.
- Creating a line without a ruler is a skill and well worth the effort.
- Increases creativity.
- Fast and fun.
- Somewhat representational and full of life.
- When you start, ignore the mistakes and don’t sweat the details.
- Once you begin to master this type of sketching, you discover a whole new sense of freedom.
- Go with shapes first, details last.
- You’re responding to the world around you; it’s like a narrative of your life.
- Learn to “restate” your lines. There are no mistakes, just lines to be restated.