a little light penwork

marbling is easy.  just get in touch with your inner fingerpainter and go.  when  i left the work last night, it looked pretty horrible, but the fairies had a go at it, and this morning it looked great.  the camera doesn’t do it justice.

what really did it was mixing up a dark bluish gray this morning and going at it again.  i didn’t even half mix it properly.  just a dab of the raw umber and a smidge of ultramarine, and a knife-load of white, and only half mixed; very streaky.  i dabbed a finger into the surface and smeared it around the head until it was dry.  this being acrylic, there’s a marked color shift when it dries, and you just have to wait and see.  but this stuff went on great.  the raw umber was already on its last legs, all clotted and drying out in the jar, and when i smeared it around, the lumps of pure umber formed long streaks.  likewise the bits of blue that hadn’t dispersed.  and so now it looks a lot more like marble.  yay.

i mixed up a gray, using a dollop of black and a blade of white.  it reads as black even tho it’s not.  then i colored in all the windows.  it looks really stark now, but it always does when you put in the first darks.  not to worry.

i got out a bottle of india ink and the smallest brush i could find.  i would have used my kolinsky sable watercolor brushes, except that ink clogs things up, and i’m not sacrificing my best brushes on a bottle of ink.  so i’m using a synthetic liner brush and a steady hand.  which i don’t have any more, because i’m getting old.

i started with the lines i could actually see after throwing three different opaque colors in on top of them.  i can’t overemphasize enough the importance of a good drawing.  if it’s not right and you go ahead, you won’t be taking the time to correct it before it’s too late – you’ll just blindly ink in whatever line you put down in the first place.

i went around the dolphin again and again, drawing in the same lines in the same parts of the structure.  that way i would notice where things were off.  and in fact i’d made one of the window lines too wide most of the way around, and had to come to the inside of the first lines with the ink.  now i’m almost to the point with the ink that i’d gotten to with the three types of felt tip.  the really precise lines, say for the ornamental head and the lettering, will have to be done again in pencil before i ink them in.

i’m not trying to put down perfect lines.  my hands shake now and then, and i’ll erase any really bad lines with a damp fingertip; but i don’t want this to look like it was done by machine, i want it to be hand drawn, and to look like it close up.  from a distance, the eye will do the work, and it’ll look close to real, if you can ever make that claim.  but close up you’ll be able to see my progress and brush strokes.

maybe i’m going to have to go in and correct the slant on the door, because it pops at the top, and i kind of want it looking straight.  which would mean sandpaper.  and remarbling.  and redrawing the areas next to the door.  we’ll see if it’s really necessary tomorrow.

i’ve got printouts of most of the books i’m going to be painting in on his legs, and probably tomorrow will start drawing in individual books.  i think i ran the printer out of ink.

when i got tired of going around and around with a brush and ink, i went around and around with the cosmetic sponge and another layer of alizarin crimson.  it’s way splotchy now, but eventually it will be a rich, deep, textured fabric, and i’m not worried about it.

it’s late enough; i can go back to bed and get up refreshed.  you wouldn’t believe how cool a basement studio can be even in the hottest of summer weather.  trouble is, if i turn the overhead fan on to stir the air, i will dry out my ink.  so my drawing is a fine balance between my arm beginning to ache, my eyes beginning to resist focusing, and my body breaking out into a sweat.  this makes me take frequent breaks, which is good because it’s summer and we all need siestas just to stay alert.


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