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Landscape in Pen & Ink

March 14, 2016


Hidden Shed, 5×7

Rendering in pen & ink has always been a favorite for me. I’m experimenting once again with pen & ink landscape sketches, and with drawing directly with the pen without any preliminary pencil work. It forces one to stay aware of what’s happening on the page to avoid “mistakes”, but sometimes those mistakes add to the quality of the drawing. Construction lines are there forever, but they show the method and the process that brought the image to life.


Williford House, 5×8

Along with a lot of other people, I loved this old house for years. It sat behind a Dairy Queen in Fairfield, Texas. I’ve done a couple of paintings of it, and hope to use my reference photos to do some pen & ink work. In acquiring my photos over the years, I never took more than three or four steps onto the property, so I have no idea what the back looked like, nor the interior. The house has been gone for a while, but I still hear from people who either remember seeing it, and others who spent time in it in the past. You can read more about it here.


Riverside, 7×5

“Riverside” was an experiment in rendering heavy foliage in pen & ink. I have a bit more study and a lot more practice ahead to achieve what I want, but it’s a start. Studying the etchings of James McNeill Whistler and the pen & ink illustrations of Franklin Booth is a real education in black and white drawing. Booth had actually studied etchings as a young man and thought they were pen & ink drawings, so he developed a drawing style that mimicked the etchings.

galveston roof 1at400

Galveston Rooftop, 8×5

“Galveston Rooftop” represents a completely different way of drawing for me. It takes me back to my college days, experimenting with Speedball pens. Today, I work with Sharpies and Microns. I have mentioned before my interest in the Urban Sketching movement, and this drawing is influenced by that. I hope to develop a consistent style and approach that will allow me to do on-location drawings quickly, drawing directly with the pen without taking the time to do a tight pencil sketch first. I love the loose, storybook feel of this. I think it might help me describe places we find in our travels in a more interesting way.

So there are a few beginning pieces as I head off on yet another tangent. Next, we’ll add a touch of color to some new ink sketches.




4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathryn permalink
    March 14, 2016 12:41 pm

    Well-observed and whimsical at the same time. You are a fine artist and illustrator combined. You may think you’ve gone off on a tangent, but this fits with your body of work. Your buildings fit into and echo the organic nature of the landscape. The angles of the roof lines echo the angles in the tree limbs. Thanks for sharing!

  2. March 14, 2016 12:49 pm

    This is great. Leaving for the Oregon Coast and now I know what I want to bring. My Microns and Sharpie’s. Nice work.

  3. March 14, 2016 12:54 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing these, Ralph! I adore pen and ink sketches! Yours have an organic feel to them. I have found a new love for drawing with ink as well, mostly portraits. Have you ever tried the Staedtler pigment liners? They are very smooth, and the ink is permanent. I like them a little better than the Micron. They make a wonderful 0.05 nib that is awesome for getting tiny scribble marks. Keep drawing, and keep sharing!

  4. MARSHA LAYMAN permalink
    March 14, 2016 1:57 pm

    Nice! Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

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