August 2017 start with pencil...
Now is the time to draw what I imagine.
I begin one day in August (failed to write which one).
Armed with an H and HB pencils, kneeded and white erasers, erasing shield and a sheet of Strathmore 500 two ply 23"x 29" illustration board, I'm ready to start.
Photo (A) below showing the background of circus tent and banners were some of the first objects I drew. Then I placed the elephant who was pulling a clown holding on to it's tail.
Character by character the composition starts to build and take on a life of its own as little character situations add fun stuff to look at as you can see the progress in photo (B) below.
With the addition of more characters photo (C), it became difficult to find room for the clown/tail as originally intended. An area would have to be made clear for the clown/tail action to be seen properly without compromising the entertainment value of the whole piece. So, the clown was out. The three characters, photo (D) below the elephant's rear end, made a more interesting composition.
Decisions like this are made regularly as one character or group of characters are added or moved around seeking a better composition.
|(Detail in pencil)|
After five months, the pencil work is completed photo (E) below.
Now, on to the inking process.
04/03/18 the inking starts...
Why almost two months passed between the end of penciling and the start of inking escapes my memory :-). There are two ways artists use ink on paper. One is lines in various lengths and the other is dots. I have chosen lines as my method commonly referred to as cross hatching.
The examples below illustrate this technique.
These (above examples) were purposely drawn larger to explain the technique.
The more lines and the closer together they are will produce a darker image. The circle above with more lines takes on a three dimensional form.
The vertical lines (lower left corner) are pen nib widths. The two thinnest (far left) are what I used for Circus 1930, koh-i-noor mechanical pen point sizes 4x0 and 6x0.
Never, under any circumstances would I recommend using ink straight from the bottle to represent a black form or object. The solid black circle to the right (above) appears as a hole and does not describe form when combined with cross hatching.
The first inking (below) was to establish the darkest area. This enables me to gauge how intense other shades of grey should be in contrast.
Detail (below) of clown in pencil and ink...
Detail (below) banner and flags...I used names of family members on the banners:-)
Story within the composition...
Detail of jumping clown (below right) scaring the wits out of the twin girls who are holding onto Dad for dear life. It's obviously the girl's first circus and they can't handle the clowns, much less this one who has come much too close.
Our worst fears are bigger than life.
Looking at the composition it appears that this clown is huge. The clown's placement causes an optical illusion. Measured from head to foot the clown only comes up to the girl's father's shoulder. Nothing to fear :-)
I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel as the inking starts to reach the half way point and the scene begins to come to life (below).
At this point my biggest challenge and concern is how do you make an elephant's butt interesting? The rear end is the focal point. The first thing seen as you gaze upon the happenings in the picture. Shades of grey, a triangular shape, character sizes and gestures are all used in directing the eyes into the center of attention...an elephant's derriere :-).
Saving the best for last...the most challenging characters requiring the most attention are the last to be inked.
The lion (above) was the very last character to receive his ink. I wanted to capture the look and feel of the lion's skin texture and mane. I had used a 4x0 pen point to this juncture. The finest pen point, koh-i-noor makes is the 6x0 and I had never used that fine a point before. I ordered the 6x0 and waited a week or so for delivery. After practice strokes to build up my confidence in using such a fine pen point, I took on the lion.
01/24/2018 at 6:30 pm...
The final pen stroke on the lion is made.
Similar illustrations usually take a year to complete, Circus 1930 was the exception at about a year and a half. As the saying goes, a labor of love.
Scott Williamson of Art Works Fine Art Inc. in Highland Park, CA utilizes the gilcee method to reproduce my works. This will be an edition of 250. My daughter Melissa and her family have #1/250 hanging in their living room in Hawaii.
Until next time...