So what did I do today? I inked a piece. I wasn’t expecting to but I had no art plans and wanted to get something done. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of art cards, 5×7 cartoon art cards, ink book drawings, and positive affirmation cards. Small stuff. I’ve been wanting to work on bigger stuff but I haven’t had the motivation lately. I still don’t quite have that motivation just yet but I went over to my box of unfinished work to try and find something to ink. It was surprisingly empty.

I usually draw up a few things and have five or six drawings near the ink stage in a box but I think I had inked all of them over the last couple of months. Except I inked them so slowly that I don’t notice the box got empty. That and I still have a bunch of drawings in there to be colored so it wasn’t empty-empty. There was only one drawing left in the box too be inked and it was a doozy.

Sometimes I like to draw, or especially ink, with a marker/technical pen/ink pen and a French curve (or straight edge). It’s a mechanical process compared to inking with a brush. I line up the French curve with the line I want to ink and draw the ink pen across the curve. If I want a thicker line I drop the curve down a fraction of an inch and draw a second line. If I’m in the mood to work that way it can be very meditative. My mind gets to rest and my eyes and hands do the work. If I’m not in the mood that type of drawing gets really tedious.

I must have really been in the mood to use the curves when I was drawing this one (named “The 39 Dollar Charge”) because it had a lot of complicated lines and shapes in it that were all drawn with a French curve and a pencil. I just checked the date on the original drawing and it’s dated September 4, 2014. I inked it on May 9, 2018. That’s almost four years this one has sat around unworked on. That’s a long time. I must have really never been in the mood for such a complex French curve drawing. I still wasn’t today.

Normally when I ink a drawing I’m searching for the perfect line. If I’m using a brush I use a steady hand and drag the brush across the page going from thin to thick. I want it to be smooth and pretty. When I’m using the French curve and ink pen there is no thick to thin but a perfect even weight line. I didn’t want to use either of these techniques on this picture. Too much searching for the perfect line can get boring and tedious.

What made me pick up the drawing today and finally work on it? I decided to try and use my rough-line side-of-the-brush technique. That’s a technique in which I don’t try to make a thick to thin or even line but draw the side of the brush across the page to create an uneven line. Sometimes I don’t concentrate enough and make the line too even so I have to go back and rough it up. The opposite of how I normally work.

The funny part is that I somehow think this method of working is easier. It’s not. It’s different but it’s not exactly easier. It may not take the same type of concentration as my normal method but it does take mindfulness. I looked at the drawing and thought I could finish it over three or four hours in the morning. I was wrong. It took me all day. There are a lot of lines in this piece.

I started with the figure on the left on top. It took me a remarkably long time to finish that one figure. There are a lot of lines in it and I was still figuring out what I was doing with it. Line weight isn’t always easy to figure out with this technique. The texture of the line also takes some doing and is directly related to the line weight.

The figure was made up of shapes that were all drawn with a French curve so they were all flat. It was a very geometric two dimensional space. There wasn’t a lot of distinction between the background and the foreground. I had to figure out how I wanted to create that distinction and how I wanted to make the characters look.

The key to pulling this drawing together was the little ticks of texture around the edges of the figure’s forms. It’s nothing I haven’t done before, usually with neater little tick marks, but it added just enough form to the figure to make it real for me. Most of the shapes were extremely flat in a way that didn’t work. That could have been another reason this drawing sat around unfinished for so long.

That’s what got the drawing going but what pulled it together in the end are the textures in the background. The diagonal lines of the fence at the bottom were indicated in the pencil drawing but I added the lines in the mountains at the bottom, the lines in the mountains at the top, and the wavy lines in the sky at the top. The clouds in the middle of the page were also there but I tripped the amount of lines to beef up the cloud texture.

Besides those line and texture decisions most of my time was spent on this drawing just doing it. Dipping the brush in ink and making lines. There are a lot of lines. I somehow completely underestimated how many lines there were. I would ink one area, say a shoulder, and it seemed to barely make a dent in the overall drawing. Even after inking the two figures the background seemed overwhelming. It really took determination to finish this one.

Since I just finished this drawing a short while ago I’m still having trouble judging it. I think it came out fine but I still don’t know what it means to me. I look at it and mostly what I can see is the work I put into it. That’s how things usually go with finished pieces and me. I’ll give it some time and see what it looks like in a couple of weeks.

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