Creating artwork as a child, I usually used what most people do – a common #2 pencil, crayons, or a set of 6 watercolors in a tray. In college, I took a painting and a printmaking course. Maybe something else, but I have wiped that out of my mind for some reason…. While I enjoyed the physical activity of the classes ( if not the teachers) nothing took a really strong hold on me. I couldn’t reproduce the printmaking because I didn’t have a press. I kept the acrylic paints for a long while because they were easy to store in a wooden art box that my mother had given me. However, it was hard to leave the paints and canvasses out in a rental place or after small children came. And I wasn’t passionate about it enough at the time to find a way to make it work.
I had bought a pen and nib set at some time, during or after college and when I decided to start again, that was what I chose to use. It was small in terms of materials and easy to use for repeated set up and take down. And for some reason it appealed to me. I liked the crisp sharpness of the pen stroke and tried out all of the different nibs in the little starter set that I bought. Also, I think it fit my style of animal art quite well. Then, as I said before, came the need for the print work of our new company. I was already using the nib pens, so the transfer to the new subject matter was not a a big deal in terms of my materials. It was obviously more a learning to draw perspectives from blue prints that didn’t look as if a 5 year old had done it. It became too difficult to have to reload a nib pen as often as the detailed architectural required, so in entered the use of the technical pen. I found a great deal on a 6 pen set of Rapidographs when an art store went out of business. I experimented with all of the pens and found the one or two that seemed to work best for me for the projects at hand. To this day I tend to use the same ones, even though I had to replace the nibs repeatedly and finally the base too.
The really surprising thing is how I came to use the hard pastels in my drawing. When I was in my teens, sometime in high school or college, my mother bought me a very large boxed set of 72 Faber-Castell hard pastels. Don’t ask me why she did it. She probably couldn’t tell me now either. I’m sure she got a very good deal because a set that size would have been quite expensive. Anyway,she was always very supportive of my attempts at art, having dabbled very successfully herself. I must admit that I didn’t quite know what to do with the gift at the time. I had no idea how to use them and not a great deal of motivation for it either. I played with my ebony pencils and had a short stab with self taught watercolor. And then I started with the nib pens. To make a long story short, after I started the architectural work and especially after I wanted to branch out into commissions, I needed to be able to color the pen and ink drawings. What popped into mind but the hard pastels. I had never become comfortable enough with watercolors and with a little experimentation, I found that I could successfully blend the pastels over the ink. When sprayed with fixative, the ink would pop back out and the colors of the hard pastel became deeper and richer. After a period of time, I could predict the color shift from the fixative pretty well. I know perhaps in some circles it is bad form to use the fixative over the art, but when you are delivering a piece to a home owner or builder, you can’t trust them to take the care required to ensure against damage. The fixative allows a little leeway for all parties involved. And I like the brightness it gives the drawing. Pieces that I did 20 years ago still look great, even after 3 moves.
Over the last few years, I started experimenting a little again. I bought a nice set of colored pencils to use when I want a little more subtlety. And I have been trying out some watercolors over the ink, too. It’s all an ongoing process. I may try to take another watercolor class this year. I just have been having a hard time finding a teacher I like.
And I apologize for some of the spelling in the last post. Galaxie? I think I have it all fixed now. I’m usually pretty good at proof reading, but sometimes after working a while on a longer post, the brain just processes the idea expressed and not the spelling. Here is one of my first commissioned architectural portrait drawings probably from the mid 80’s. It was a very small square brick home, but I think that I made the house quite appealing with the lower perspective.