Long before I was an oil painter I worked in pen and ink. I used it in my graphic design and illustration business, for medieval and celtic calligraphy and illumination and for sketching. In the last year I’ve kind of gone full-circle back to my beloved black and white work. I’ll still be painting in oil and watercolor, but I’ve taken up my dip pens again and now, fountain pens also.
I’ve always been inspired by the great pen and ink artists of the past and, over the years, have built up a personal library of books that include their art, both instructional and for illustrated books and magazines. It’s time to share them with all of you.
I’ll particularly be searching out and posting location sketching and drawing, as that is the theme of SketchWild, since many of them considered it a prerequisite for their studio work. Here’s what Frank Brangwyn had to say about that (from my upcoming “A Beginner’s Guide to Sketching” pdf tutorial. “. He mentions a pencil but what he says holds true for pen and ink, too.
“Get some paper and a pencil. Not a beautifully bound sketch book – they’ll be afraid to spoil the paper! I often sketch on the back of an old envelope. Fear is the first thing they must conquer. Go for sketching with courage. Regard it as fun – as a natural thing to do – not as a task. Suppose you do muck up a few bits of paper? Think how cheap the pleasure is compared to other amusements…You’re out on your own, facing nature with a few bits of cheap paper and a pencil.” “From “Come Sketching” by Percy V. Bradshaw: He had asked Brangwyn “How would you advise them to start?”
This series will cover artists both famous and not so well known, but in either case, superb at what they did. There will be American, British, French, German and Spanish artists, partly thanks to this incredible leatherbound book “Pen Drawing and Pen Draughtsmen” by Joseph Pennell, in his time a famous pen and ink artist (also etcher) in his own right. It’s 11×14″ and weighs 8.8 lbs.
Next week, we’ll begin with a quintessential American artist, Charles Dana Gibson. It will include images from two of his “coffee table” books that I found in an antique shop many years ago. Here’s the cover of one of them, called simply “London”.
There will be short biographies of the artists and, when I’ve been able to find it, information on how they worked, sometimes including the model of pen nib, ink and paper they used. And of course examples of their work.
At the top: An illustration from Gibson’s “London”.