Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Pen and ink is a medium with a long history, but despite some modern revival in interest (as evidenced by the current internet-wide exercise of Inktober), its importance has faded from its time as a major drawing medium for Renaissance and Baroque masters, and its strong popularity as a medium for illustration during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Pen and ink is a medium with unique characteristics — in linearity, texture and tone — that have a visual charm shared only with similar techniques in printmaking.

From the waning years of the medium’s heyday as a staple of book illustration, we have a classic volume that is simply the best book on pen and ink I’ve ever encountered: Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

The original version of the book was published in 1930 as Drawing with Pen and Ink, and versions of that volume are still available. The edition titled Rendering in Pen and Ink was created in 1976, leaving out a few of the original illustrations, adding many others and condensing the area devoted to text while enlarging that given to images.

This is a from-the-ground up treatise on drawing with pen and ink, starting with materials, basic marks and methods of making tones — hatching, cross-hatching, stipple and freeform textures — and going on through methods of rendering trees and landscapes, architecture, still life, people and more.

Much emphasis is given to making and controlling tones and suggesting light and shade, something that those learning pen and ink often struggle with, as well as conveying the textures of natural and artificial surfaces.

Many of the illustrations, particular those explaining the basics of ink drawing and rendering, are by Arthur Guptill himself, and he is no slouch at pen drawing. The book is also profusely illustrated with plates by some of the best pen and ink artists from the turn of the 20th century, a high point for the use of pen and ink in books and magazines.

The drawing may strike some as “old fashioned”, in that it has a character of classic illustration — but to others, myself included, this is a Good Thing — a welcome grounding in techniques taken from masters of the medium.

The current 60th Anniversary edition of the book, which is huge, both in page size and number, is available for under $30 on Amazon U.S. For my money, a single chapter would be worth that! (I’ll note that I have an older, well-worn hardbound edition that I’m using for my review, and I can’t speak to the binding and paper quality of the current printing.)

I’ve had the book since I was in my early 20s; I considered it a gem then, and the years have not dimmed my enthusiasm for its value. Rendering in Pen and Ink is highly regarded as a standard must-have book among illustrators and comics artists, but is less well known to other contemporary artists.

There are a lot of books available on drawing in pen and ink, but if you have any interest in working in, and hopefully mastering the medium, this one should be on your shelf.

 
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Yuko Shimizu (update)

Yuko Shimizu illustration

illustration

Yuko Shimizu is an illustrator who I first profiled in 2007, mentioned again in 2010, and featured prominently in the article I wrote on contemporary illustrators for the Summer 2013 issue of Drawing Magazine.

Shimizu (not to be confused with the Japanese designer with the same name who created “Hello Kitty”) is orignally from Japan and now based in New York City. Her illustration style is a fascinating blend of influences from Japanese traditional and pop culture, American pop culture, comics, classic illustration, woodblock prints, and probably a myriad of other sources I haven’t picked up on.

She works in both traditional and digital media, often drawing/painting with ink and traditional Japanese calligraphy brushes, and then taking the drawing into Photoshop to apply digital color.

She also frequently will take her brush and ink line and translate it into color, producing a distinct and fascinating contrast with the more traditional ink line and color fill common to woodblock prints and other illustration techniques.

Shimizu’s line work is full of energy and verve and her color choices are frequently unexpected, particularly in the way certain colors are juxtaposed against one another. I very much enjoy the way she plays with floral and animal forms in her images — sometimes as subjects, and sometimes as design elements in the composition.

The gallery on her website can be filtered by genre to a degree, but I find it fascinating to simply leaf through, enjoying the contrast between subjects.

You can also find her work on Behance, Instagram, Tumblr and her Online Store.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Van Gogh pen & watercolor sketches

Van Gogh watercolors
Gate at the Paris Ramparts, Entrance to the Moulin de la Galette, Vincent van Gogh

Pencil, pen & ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, roughly 9 x 12″ (24 x 32 cm) and 12 x 9″ (31 x 24 cm), respectively.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts on “Not the usual Van Goghs“, in a dedicated art career that barely spanned ten years, Vincent van Gogh was prolific, leaving over 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings. Yet art book publishers and museum curators often feel obliged to show you the same few “greatest hits” over and over.

Not only are his wonderful drawings often passed over, Van Gogh also sketched in pen and watercolor. The two examples above are in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

They have a freshness, immediacy and feeling of location that would be the envy of many contemporary “urban sketchers”.

I think they also show the influence of the Impressionists he encountered in Paris, as well as the Japanese prints that were popular among French artists of the time, and which Van Gogh collected and sometimes emulated.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Samuel Palmer ink and watercolor drawing

Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer, pena nd brown ink drawing with watercolor and gouache
Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer

Pen and brown ink, with gouache an watercolor on toned paper, roughly 12 x 18 inches (30 x 47 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, NY. Use the “Zoom Image” or “Download Image” links on their page to view larger.

I love the way that Palmer has used a variety of seemingly casual but wonderfully effective marks — squiggles, dots, dashes, calligraphic strokes, blotches, hatching and stipple — to define his textures.

The Morgan’s website indicates that the handling of the background is also quite interesting. The light through the distant trees is indicated with yellow watercolor, painted over an area defined with white qouache and then coated with gum arabic, which would impart a sheen to that area. I assume that this effect would be more noticeable in person, and might resemble the effect of spot varnish as used in modern commercial printing.

 
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Jérémy Soheylian

Jeremy Soheylian, French artist, urban sketching in pen and watercolor
Though he sometimes works monochromatically, when I first came across the ink and watercolor architectural drawings and urban sketches of French artist Jérémy Soheylian the majority of his work at first registered to my eye as full color.

It then dawned on me that they were actually remarkably effective use of simple warm and cool tones — a muted sepia (or perhaps burnt sienna) and a cool, low chroma blue-gray. Soheylian is wonderfully adept at using the power of color temperature and value relationships to suggest distance and variety, with deft touches of pen work adding texture and a sensation of detail.

He occasionally also works in more colors, greens and higher chroma red-browns and blues, but still with a very limited palette. Some of his work is more sketch like, other pieces are more refined and finished. All of them evidence solid draftsmanship and a firm grasp of architectural form.

His website is in French, but is easily navigable by non-French speakers. “Peintures” are his watercolor paintings, “Dessins” are drawings in various media including urban sketches, and “Illustrations” are his more formal architectural drawings.

Soheylian also has a blog, which includes some step-throughs of his process. It’s also in French, and has more text than his website, but you can access it through Google Translate if you want a rough translation.

There is also a step-through of his process on Canson Studio. In addition, there is a brief interview with Soheylian on the French version of the Canson Studio site, Google Translate here (scroll down).

If you do a Google Image Search, you’ll find a number of his images from other sources.

There is a brief video about Soheylian on YouTube that is in Russian, but has a view of him working.

 
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