Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bringing out the Brush Pen for High Contrast Portraits

Lately, I've been interested in drawings that use larger blocks of black, or thicker lines of black, than I usually work with.  I think I'm interested in the look that comes with the juxtaposition of dark and light--the contrast differences.  I also read Roz Stendahl's blog pretty regularly, and her recent portraits using her brush pen inspired me to dig out my Pentel Pocket Brush pen again and begin to use it in my scribbles!

I used to do creativity training for corporate types, and I often had them play with the notion that creativity and innovation comes from putting together two things that don't normally go together.   I try to do that in my own life, when I'm stuck on a problem, or when I'm thinking about what to draw, or when I'm writing new materials for my classes.

So I was walking through my house thinking about what else I could practice my high contrast drawings on other than buildings and my dogs and cats, when my eyes lit on this book which is currently living on my coffee table.

I just adore, Our World, by the luminous poet Mary Oliver, with photographs by Molly Malone Cook.  I have owned this book a long time and often study the images of people which Cook created throughout her life.  I so admire the book as a creation of both text and image by two different people--again, I am fascinated by juxtaposition!

Anyhow, I know that it is pretty obvious to some people, but it honestly hadn't really occurred to me that I could learn and practice drawing in black and white by looking at fantastic black and white photography.  [Head slap.]  So, for me, that was putting two ideas together for the first time and heading somewhere new with it.

Anyhow, with my head full of Roz Stendahl's portrait style and inspired by Cook's photography, I tried to do a high contrast portrait.

This is W. Eugene Peterson inspired by a photo by Molly Malone Cook, printed in the book Our World, also inspired by the style of Roz Stendahl.  I used my Pentel Brush pen loaded with Platinum Carbon black ink (waterproof) and a wide tip blue acrylic marker (by Liquitex).

I drew the man in under one minute--just a quick capture with thicker black lines.  I really like the results.  To me it feels a bit more lively than many of the portraits I labor over.  There's something quite magic about the results from the brush pen.

I also like the notion that I could draw many of these in a short drawing session, and practice practice practice my portrait skills.  Kind of like doing blind contour drawings--fast and loose!

I highly recommend that everyone pick up a copy of Our World to see more of Molly Malone Cook's spectacular photography (along with the always miraculous writing of Mary Oliver).

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