Basic 101: Class 30
When BEES Attack???
Nah, let's just stick with ink for now. We will return to landscaping and the creatures that you may encounter while playing in the bushes and trees around your home, but the focus of this particular class will be at once broad and specific.
"How?" you ask? Well, it will be broad in the sense that I want you guys to have fun and have complete control over your subject matter when it comes time to put pen to paper. It will be specific in the sense that ONLY one technique is to be used for your entire drawing. And that one technique will be....
THE DREADED STIPPLE TECHNIQUE!!!
Now, most of you are familiar with stippling, or pointillism, as it were, so it requires no big explanation. The bottom line is that with this technique there is no linework whatsoever. Everything is comprised of dots. Now, that's not to say that this technique cannot be combined with others, but for the purpose of this lesson, consider such a combination absolute taboo.
Stippling can be used to produce both loose, rather heavily textured works, and extremely fine, high-detail pieces of near photographic quality. The means by which the artist controls the outcome are generally limited to two: nib size and pacing. It is important to understand that, whatever the desired outcome in terms of how loose and sketchy or highly realistic the work may be stylistically, the key to value transitions with this technique is the placement of dots in proximity to other dots. Simply put, if you draw a one inch square and place fifty dots inside of it, you will have a light value. Add fifty more dots to that, and you will have a noticeably darker value. As you add more dots, thus leaving less and less space between dots, your value becomes darker. Thus, the smaller the nib used in a stippling work, the more subtle the value transitions that can be achieved. If done in a sensible manner, a fine nib can also be used adjacent to a large nib to effectively create bold tonal and/or textural contrasts within a composition. As most of you do not have complete sets of technical pens at this point, I won't dwell on that point any further.
Working at the appropriate pace for your desired result is also important. Common sense applies in this area. The faster you work, the more likely you are to produce "dots" that are more like "dashes." This is often an effective means of establishing textural contrast between subjects, and in some cases would even be encouraged in order to more closely mimic the texture of the subject being rendered.
However, producing dots that are more like dashes is also a quick way to completely ruin a stippling piece. You must pay attention to your subject and make logical choices as to how each area should be rendered.
Leading up to our foray into pen and ink in this program, I asked that you each make an effort to acquire at least one technical pen, preferably a rapidograph, with a nib size of .30. This is where it really becomes necessary that you have this in order to get the desired result. A felt tip, ball point, or some other kind of pen simply is not going to produce the consistency of marks that you want in order to produce an effective stippling work. So...if you have not picked up a pen of this type, please do yourself a favor and GET one!!! It does not necessarily have to be an expensive rapidograph, but at least get one of those micron pens for a couple of dollars.
Considering the tedious nature of this technique, I was unable to prepare a demo for this class, but I will include scans here of a portrait that I did two years ago. I think this is actually a great example for the class, because it so happens that the entire thing was done with a .30 nib, and it was very hastily done. I could have used much smaller pens and spent twice as much time on this, but I got the point across effectively with a larger nib in much less time. In other words, this illustrates my point that you do not necessarily have to make every single dot perfect on the page in order to produce an effective portrait. Up close this looks sloppy as hell, but hanging on the wall it looks just fine.
Now, in order to see an example of a much more precise, methodical stippling work, check out the following piece recently completed by our very own Ron Guthrie. For those who do not know, Ron is a very well known, accomplished pen and ink artist who specializes in stippling work. I would encourage you to visit his website as well, as there is some amazing work to be seen.
Ron's Ice Skating and Stippling Extravaganza!!!
Draw a picture, whatever you like, but use nothing but dots to comprise the entire picture. As always, I want you to post your reference to help me, you, and your peers better judge your progress. Like class 29, this will be a three week class, so you have plenty of time. Happy inking!