Brethren and Ms.

‘Brethren and Ms.’, pen and ink and Sakura Microns on Bristol Board, 9′ x 6″

These pen and ink drawings are coming together a lot faster than my paintings and I like the change of pace. When painting, I usually get to a point where my original colour intentions just don’t seem to be working so I begin to paint over large areas. From this re-paining the paintings start to come together. With the pen and ink drawings though, my process is more straightforward. The pen and ink drawings start with an image and narrative in mind and then I draw a scene in pencil with characters and props derived from my sketchbooks (although for ‘Hello Sunshine‘ I couldn’t wait to do the preliminary pencil sketch so I drew it all in pen in one go…it was sort of like a big adrenaline rush). This image, ‘Brethren and Ms.’ started as a very similar looking image in my sketchbook, as seen below.

Original sketchbook drawing: Brethren and Ms.

After setting the composition and roughing the outlines in pencil I lay out the major forms in a small nibbed pen (size A-6) working from top left to bottom right so as not to smudge any wet ink. Then I go over some of the lines with thicker nibs (size A-5 and A-4) and after this stage is dry I then add detail with both the A-6 nibs and 0.1 and 0.5 Sakura Microns. At the detail stage I usually just make the detail up as I go along to retain some spontaneity.

Sometimes I like the instant gratification of finishing something quickly. At times I don’t really want to paint because I don’t feel like working 3 days on a painting. Usually when I feel this way I still work in my sketchbook, but now I can also create finished pen and ink pieces which feels different than working in my sketchbook. I find that the more I create the more I want to create. When I stop it seems that there’s a certain amount of inertia or something that begins to build up which makes it harder to start creating again. Anyway, if you’re like me and sometimes like to read inspirational article’s to help get you going there’s a good article I read by Keri Smith that talks about recognizing our weaknesses/limitations and how to turn them around into strengths. You can find the article at