Artist Q & A
1. How long have you been drawing? Why did you choose pen & ink?
I've been drawing for well over 50 years. When I was around 10 years old I saw an illustration in a book from an engraving done by Gustave Doré. To me, it was the most fascinating and miraculous thing I had ever seen and from that moment on I knew I was going to learn how to draw with lines like that, no matter how long it took me. I am still learning how to this day.
2. What kind of materials do you use? Do you have any favorites?
I typically draw on 67pound 8.5 x 11 sheets of archival quality vellum which is reasonably inexpensive. I occasionally also use more expensive illustration board and hot pressed cotton water color papers.
My favorite workhorse pen is a fountain pen I purchased over 35 years ago at a Barnes & Noble bookstore for $1.79. Nearly all my drawings are done with that pen. Last year I thought I had lost it and was inconsolable - luckily, about 6 months later I found it wedged into an obscure sketchbook.
I use a number of water proof and water soluble fountain pen inks, including my own in-house developed, "Dead of Night" fountain pen ink.
Depending on line width needs, I also employ various vintage Dip Pens, Sakura Microns, UniPens, Rotring isograph pens, and refillable Japanese brush pens.
As far as pencils, I use a wide array of different sized mechanical drafting pencils for sketching and very soft, deep black 9B graphite for shading. I also have a number of different eraser types, my favorite for really small areas is the Tombow Mono Zero and my favorite for adding textures are Kneadable Erasers.
As a young child my very first pencil was a Ticonderoga #2HB and I have always kept a box on hand in my studio to remind me of just how magical drawing can be and how one simple pencil and your imagination can take you to endless worlds and adventures.
3. Did you go to art school? How did you learn how to draw?
Other than elementary and high school art classes, I received no formal education in art. But I have consistently pursued my own education in art over my lifetime by reading books, watching tutorials and taking classes. I am currently enrolled in a distance learning program at the University of Oxford where I will be studying the European History of Art Nouveau.
Two books I highly recommend for learning how to draw are - Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards and How to Draw by Scott Robertson
4. How long does it take you to do a drawing?
Depending on the size and complexity, a drawing can me take anywhere from 2 hours to 80 hours to complete. A recent Tiger portrait took 52 hours, where as a small, 5 x 7” spot illustration for a book may only take a couple hours.
Also - I do not always draw at my drawing table. I have a small portable drawing board in the living room where I can work comfortably on the couch while the TV is on in the background. This is especially good for long tedious cross hatching sessions.
5. 2 questions combined - What is the first process you have to go through. Do you have to draw freehand? What do you use as a base for your pictures as, especially noticeable in the picture of the tiger when I see a work in progress it appears that you're tracing something.
All my drawings start with me gathering reference materials, creating a loose sketch in pencil and it evolves from there. I’ve employed many different methods over the years for base drawings, including projection tracing and using a pantograph.
The tiger drawing was used as my process example where I discuss how it was made in detail.
6. How do you preserve your drawings? do you use spray varnish of some kind?
I use Krylon Workable Fixatif and Matte Finish Fixatif. But in a pinch, I have also used cheap aerosol hair spray from the Dollar Store.
7. How many times would you say you 'finesse' a piece before you feel it is finished?
The short answer is – FOREVER. I truly have an extremely difficult time finishing a drawing. This is probably my weakest area as an artist and something I constantly work on to improve. I become obsessively hyper-critical of my own work and struggle to let it go out into the world as a finished piece. I am never satisfied with the outcomes I produce.
For an example – I recently pulled a “finished piece” from my online store several times and reworked it before I finally allowed the final iteration to be sold.
8. Could your drawings be etched into glass with the equipment you have?
Not by hand, the way I engrave glass. Because the detail is too great. However, my drawings could be laser engraved onto glass given the technology now available.
9. Do you sell your originals?
Very rarely. Typically, my originals are given away as gifts. If you read the Step by Step Process post you’ll see that many of the “original” images go through several scanning and reworking steps which involve both my hand with pen and ink and the computer.
10. I would like my portrait drawn. Do you do commission work?
No, I do not draw humans. It’s because I absolutely suck at drawing people and have zero interest in doing so. I currently am not taking on any commission work because I’m working through my own backlog of projects.
Thank you for submitting your questions. I hope I have answered them in an easy to understand fashion. If you have a question that was not covered here please feel free to email me and I will answer you to the best of my ability.
Until next time ...
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