What do I hope to achieve with this blog?

I have always illustrated for other people to suit their needs (it’s a commercial thing), but I’ve never had my own style. I was taught to be versatile, which is still important I guess, but these days, you can be who you want to be and it’s okay. It’s acceptable. Maybe it’s to do with the internet opening up the world to us all, and that individuality is a much needed thing to hold on to. Or maybe it happened when independent culture started having mass market success – music, film, etc. and broke down pop culture mediocracy.

Without getting too philosophical, I need to find a style that’s not only ‘me’, but that I feel is going to challenge me and bring out the best in my skills. At the moment I’m just going through the motions. I can draw and paint, but I don’t feel a certain connection to a specific style, medium or subject matter. I think I’m getting there, I just have to be a little more patient. But I believe having this blog will help me get there, or at least keep pushing me on, even to experiment a bit more. It’s the most public thing I’ve done regarding my work, so hopefully that will stop me from slacking off.

Plus I want to encourage  drawing, sketching, rendering etc. and not just as lead ups to finished paintings. There’s nothing like getting down and dirty with a bottle of ink and pen.

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Just say no to graphite!

Pen art is the love of my life. Even as a kid I never cared to draw with pencils. They’re either too smudgy or not dark enough and the best results only appear on good quality cartridge paper. I think you also get a little too precious with a pencil – you know, start off light, mess about with draft lines then layer up and up and up. None of these things appeal to my nature. Plus I ALWAYS break the lead when I use a sharpener or end up with a lapful of pencil chips after I’ve wittled it down with a knife.

Dip pens are what I am addicted to now, and feeling more and more comfortable with them as I progress. But even your basic artline pen or bank teller biro is great to use – biros especially, because you can press down hard with them! And the smell…

Anyway, I know some people find working with pens very intimidating, because once you make a mark you can’t rub it out [See: “THERE’S NO ERASER IN THE WORD DRAWING” about the evils of rubbing out]. However, with all the experience I have, it’s the best medium to use. Especially if you want to improve your skills. Using a medium that is indelible trains you to make every line count. As guilty as I feel now, when I was a kid I went through mountains of exercise books. If I stuffed up one line then I would start a new page again, and again and again, until I got it right. My teachers must have wondered where all the spare books went from the storeroom, hee, hee. But as a result, you become a lot more confident with your drawing and you just cant go back to pencil. Just say no to graphite!

THERE’S NO “ERASER” IN THE WORD DRAWING

The best use for an eraser, I find, is to prop up a wobbly table. If you’re sketching for fun, set your eraser free! Let it run with all the other wild erasers. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake – some of the most interesting drawings have their mistakes there for all to see. And they dont detract from the finished piece. Even all the old masters kept there’s in, and who’s going to trash Leonardo or Michelangelo for it??

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