Style Over Substance

Walked through Belle Vue Cemetery on my way to Sainsbury's today. Even though we had a bit of snow in the night there is definitely a Spring feeling to the day. Regretting layering up to go outside, I was sweating uncomfortably on the journey home.

I've been wavering recently over my use of the Parallel Pen. Drawing exclusively with it since last October it felt like my mark making was becoming style over substance. I have spent the last few weeks trying other pens like the Lamy Vista  and the Platinum Carbon Pen. Doodling with them was fine  although the thought that I was taking a step backwards kept rearing it's ugly little voice. Coincidently, today the illustrator Jeffrey Alan Love Tweeted about sketchbooks and I think what he had to say about finding your style struck a chord with me (and the distinction between sketchbook and finished work).

I've written before about how I do draw better with some pens than I do others (and how that goes against popular thinking, that an artist should be able to draw with anything citing the use of twigs in beautiful cave painting). I feel with the Parallel Pen I have found my illustrative voice, the pen is flexible enough with the marks it makes to fulfil a number of drawing styles, I just have to persevere and experiment and not over work it too much.

As well as pens I used a pencil to emulate Chris Riddell's style of drawing characters, just to give it ago. It was fun to do. Someone said when I posted it on Twitter that it's good to see but preferred my work. That was a nice thing to say but it made me question what is my work?

I did another piece using Mangaka Brush Pens and Photoshop. The brush pen bit was fine but colouring in Photoshop is not for me, taking twice as long to do compared to when I use watercolours. The brush pen tips wore down quickly, loosing that lovely fine line. I'm concerned about throwing away plastic pens at the moment, refillable, metal tipped pens are a lot more economical and keep the same line quality over a long period of time drawing.

So with those little forays into other tools I'm back where I started. There's nothing wrong with style over substance on this particular lovely Spring like day.


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