Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Black Lines

I only dabble in it. For me it’s a hobby. Pen & ink is rare today but it is not a forgotten art. Even though I’m writing about other artists all these pictures are mine. I’m sure you’ll see the influence. Links to the other artists’ works are in the text.

With all the options out there for making pictures why do anything with just black lines on a piece of paper? Heck, you can use your computer to make entire landscapes, people, machines and cityscapes all in 3D full color, animate it and put it to music.

In contrast, how can manually putting black ink on a surface be useful? Especially when you can turn any picture into a line drawing with a simple filter.

The answer to that is easy. Go look at the work of Orson Lowell, Charles Dana Gibson, Joseph Clement Coll, Daniel Vierge or Norman Lindsay but that’s just the tip of the crow quill – a drop in the inkwell.

There are a number of great books on pen & ink art. I recommend Jim Vadeboncoeur’s Black and White Images. Clearly low-tech in a skilled hand can accomplish true wonders.

A surprising thing about ink lines is how the various textures they create can take the place of color. Franklin Booth is the best example of the great range pen & ink has. Compare his work the wild lines of Heinrich Kley. It shows you power and versatility of the line.

I was thinking about all of this the other day when I was goofing off. For no reason I was pulling out little idea sketches and using a Pigma pen to ink them. I’m using them plus a few older things to illustrate this essay.

Every now and then I try to do a detailed pen & ink piece but it’s really just a pastime. A lot of the time I like to work directly in ink but I’m not a master at this either, so it’s a matter of keeping the ones that work and chucking the ones that don’t work.

Roy G. Krenkel did drawings directly in ink all the time. I have one of these little gems. It’s worth taking a look at his work. Most of what he did was for the fun of it and that’s the case with most of what you see here today.


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5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to say : "Wow!!!" I'm quite impressed by your post. All the pen & ink pictures you did are really nice, and a lot show the pleasure you have to do them. I have a preference for the P&I (Rockwell influence?), the Various Elephant Forms (very funny!) and the illustration for Weird Tales. This one make me think about Gustave Doré engraving, no?
I'm agree with you about the necessity to perpetuate pen & ink art.
Thanks a lot for this very interesting post! :)

3:24 AM  
Blogger Tom Kidd said...

Yes, I can see Gustave Doré in the Weird Tales drawing but what you're seeing is likely a bit of W. Heath Robinson whose work I also admire. Doré was an amazing illustrator, a great sculptor and he did a number of fantastic paintings as well. On top of that he was inhumanly prolific. Most people are just familiar with his illustrations (actually copies of his art done by engravers) but I've been lucky enough to see his sculptures and paintings in my travels. One of my favorites is in Paris. It is a tribute to Alexandre Dumas. This link, unfortunately, is a bad picture of a small portion of the multi-figure monument.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your answer! :)
And thanks to my education, I know the tribute to Dumas you are talking about. It's also one of my favorite ;)
I don't know W. Heath Robinson, but be sure I'll search a lot about him!

2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This stuff is amazing!. . .your work is fantastic.


8:28 AM  
Blogger Tom Kidd said...

This website is a little awkward to navigate but worth it: W. Heath Robinson. He had two brothers who were very accomplished illustrators as well: Charles and Thomas.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great P&I work, Tom. Of course, I immediately fell in love with the Gerbilphant :)

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff-great to see some inks by you. So many of my favorite artists (you listed many here) such as Heinrich Kley, Winsor McCay, Arthur Rackham all were excellent with ink, yet I have never really pursued it. This post of yours makes me really want to get into it- at least as a 'hobby'. I recently just got into the works of Franklin Booth and Joseph Clement Coll- amazing with ink. Also, Edwin Ausin Abbey's inks are as impressive as his oils.

I'd like to see more ink works of yours anytime you are willing to show them- thanks for sharing!

4:18 PM  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

I love line and especially ink work. Robinson (Heath and Charles) rank up amongst my favorites. Also love Rackam - and any number of contemporary children's illustrators who use ink line mixed with color (Maurice Sendak, Mercer Meyer, Trina Schart Hyman for starters).

Thanks for sharing!


7:37 PM  
Blogger zigory said...

I love the pen and ink look, it's very pure and straightforward. Similiarly, brush and ink can be beautiful. As examples, I would mention the simple but expressive style of drawing that newspaper cartoonists Chic Young (Blondie), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Walt Kelly (Pogo) and Al Capp (Li'l Abner) accomplished with pen or brush and ink, or the intense shadowy world of Batman in the comic books of Carmine Infantino and Bob Kane.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous viagra online said...

Wow i love the draws did you use just ink or a very fine pencil ?
Thanks for sharing.

3:57 PM  

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