Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Step by Step, Line by Line

A couple nights ago I began two more Halloween cards, with the vague idea that I should do a harvest scene to take advantage of the bright fall fruit colors. I've been having a lot of fun lately working in ink, which is the perfect medium for bold hues. It sounds very professional when I say "working in ink," but if I was more specific, all pretense goes out the window when I call it what it is: working in Sharpie! You'd be surprised how well these pens meant for labeling boxes stand up to their more expensive competition.  I thought it would be interesting for any beginning artists out there to see the stages even a simple 5 x 6" illustration goes through to reach completion, so this entry is lined with shots of just that.

Getting back to the pens: I've added to my Sharpie collection over the years to expand from the basics onto hues like fuchsia and sea foam green, and I do own a few nice sets of "real" artist pens.

Lately as my Sharpies have run out and I've had to spend money on trivial things like food and the electric bill, I've switched to my set of Bic felt pens--so the pieces you see below weren't even created with the respectable Sharpie brand, but with its off-brand cousin, instead!

One thing that's both damning and refreshing about ink is how carefully you have to plan out your moves, from start to finish, to avoid catastrophe.  It's almost like a chess game!

When I decided to photograph these two pieces in stages, I really became conscious of a previously subconscious process: how many steps I actually take in line work, inking, choosing colors, blending shadows, and refining details. There have been times when I've just plugged into music while beginning much bigger pieces and I've been surprised when, hours later, a fully formed face or completed background appears seemingly from nothing but white paper. It's nice to step back and really pay attention to how each detail evolves.

See the completed "Jack-o-Lantern Harvest"


  1. Great that you are providing a little instruction to accompany your blog. It needs to reach a bigger audience. I wonder how you could do that.

    1. Being able to do that would be great! Tell your friends...