Category Archives: Pen & Ink

Eye Candy for Today: Canaletto drawing of Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle: The East Front from the Courtyard, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal), pen and brown ink, gray wash
Warwick Castle: The East Front from the Courtyard, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal)

Pen and brown ink with gray wash over black chalk; roughly 12 x 22 inches (32 x 57 cm).

Link is to the J. Paul Getty Museum, which has the original in its collection. The Getty’s page has both a zoomable and downloadable version. There is also a zoomable version on the Google Art Project.

I found the Getty’s downloadable image, though it is nicely high-resolution, to be over saturated. I’ve corrected it here to be more in line with the Google Art Project version. Though I haven’t seen the original, my instincts tell me it is likely a better reflection of the appearance of the actual drawing.

The drawing is evidently a preliminary for the painting shown above, second down, that is in the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery in the UK.

I use the word “charm” a lot when referring to Canaletto’s ink drawings; largely because I find myself charmed, it not transfixed, by them. In particular, it is his use of wavering lines in place of straights for his verticals and horizontals that amaze me (most easily seen in the larger scale crop I’ve shown above, second from bottom).

The lines don’t waver far to either side of an imagined rule that keeps them true, but the effect is one of a casual sketch-like quality over rock solid draftsmanship. I find the combination to be consistantly delightful and fascinating.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Léon Bonvin still life

Still Life on Kitchen Table with Celery, Parsley, Bowl, and Cruets; Leon Bonvin watercolor
Still Life on Kitchen Table with Celery, Parsley, Bowl, and Cruets; Léon Bonvin

Watercolor over pen and ink and graphite; roughly 7×9 inches (17 x 22 cm). In the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore which has both a downloadable and zoomable version of the image. There is also a zoomable version on Google Art Project, and a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons.

As he often did, 19th century French painter Léon Bonvin started this piece with a pencil drawing, drew outlines of the intricate forms in pen and ink (dark brown iron gall ink) and filled in the outlines with delicately applied but definite washes of watercolor.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Arthur Rackham illustration for Götterdämmerung

Arthur Rackham illustration for Gotterdammerung
The ring upon thy hand — / … ah, be implored! / For Wotan fling it away! (from Götterdämmerung)

One of the many beautiful and sensitively realized illustrations the brilliant “Golden Age” British illustrator Aurhur Rackham did of the stories from Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” series of operas.

From this set on Wikimedia Commons. For more see the “Operas by Wagner” links at the bottom of this page on Wikimedia, and my previous posts, linked below.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: John Hamilton Mortimer pen drawing

Reclining Female Figure in an Italian Landscape, John Hamilton Mortimer, pen and ink drawing
Reclining Female Figure in an Italian Landscape, John Hamilton Mortimer

Pen and black ink on cream paper; roughly 9 x 12 inches (22 x 32 cm).

Link is to original in the Yale Center For British Art, which has both zoomable and downloadable versions on the website. There is also a zoomable version on the Google Art Project and a downloadable file of that version on Wikimedia Commons. The latter two are somewhat larger, but my instinct is that the color of the ink and paper are truer on the Yale site.

This 18th century drawing classically posed figure has some of the feeling of Renaissance figures, particularly in the elegant pose of the hands. In areas where the ink is applied more fluidly and is semi-transparent, there is an additional feeling of delicacy and softness.

I find it interesting that Mortimer has augmented the hatching lines with small areas of stipple in the modeling of the face and hands.

 
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Mars Huang (B6 Drawing Man)

Mars Huang (B6 Drawing Man), watercolor and ink sketches
Mars Huang is an artist based in Japan (I think — most of the pieces are labeled as scenes from Japan and Taiwan). Though he signs his work “Mars”, his Tumblr blog credits him only as “B6 Drawing man”; it wasn’t until I followed a link to one of his process videos on Vimeo, that I came across his actual name.

His blog is filled with delightfully loose and gestural ink and watercolor sketches of architecture, interior spaces, and, in particular, quirky vehicles like scooters and small cars — often loaded down with luggage.

He excels at reducing complex subjects down to their linear essentials, highlighting them with just enough touches of color to give you a sense of texture and presence.

Be sure to follow the link trough to the larger images on his blog, the small example images I’m posting here don’t give an adequate feeling for the work.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: James Montgomery Flagg ink illustration

She Sailed Majestically Past the Wretch, Followed Meekly by Septimus, James Montgomery Flagg
She Sailed Majestically Past the Wretch, Followed Meekly by Septimus, James Montgomery Flagg

Pen and ink, roughly 22×29 inches (56×74 cm); original is in the Norman Rockwell Museum, larger here; also slightly larger zoomable version on Google Art Project, and downloadable version of that image on Wikimedia Commons.

It looks as though the Google Art Project version has been brightened to give an approximation of the original before the paper yellowed with time, and the NRM version reflects more accurately the current state of the original drawing.

Flagg was a master of pen and ink at a time when it was a primary medium for popular illustration. I particularly admire the astonishingly casual and free nature of the lines in the woman’s hat and dress, and the remarkably gestural modeling of the men’s faces.

 
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