This post is part 2 in a multi-part special Project Friday—a mini class for getting used to the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Please view last week's Project Friday for part one.
By now you've been working constantly with your Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (PPBP), at least over last weekend, perhaps for the entire week (I hope so). You have experimented with the different types of marks you can make with the pen by doodling and trying pressure and a variety of strokes. You also were tasked with sketching everything you came across only with this pen.
There may have been some frustrating moments. It may have been love at first stroke. Whichever it was for you the main goal now is to keep working with the pen, for another week (at least for this weekend). Take it everywhere with you, along with your journal. (A 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia was recommended for reasons of consistency explained in last week's post, but use whatever journal you have available if it means you're going to be sketching!)
Your assignment this week is to SQUINT your eyes until all you see of your subject are darks and lights—no midtone values. That's what you are going to draw this weekend (or week).
In the samples above you'll see what I'm talking about. I'm not worrying about getting details with the lines, I'm simply trying to block in the shadow areas allowing their edges to describe the form. It's not always going to work smoothly, but it is always going to be fun to give it a go. So SQUINT your eyes and start moving your pen, drawing those shadow areas. You might want to create some hatch lines in areas of midtone gray as I have done on the necks of some faces, but that's up to you. If you decide to do any hatching think of it as an experiment in mark making and focus mostly on the dark shadow areas.
I've done these quick examples (each 30 to 60 seconds) while watching a TV show. You can squint and draw as the show speeds by you or if you have recorded the show or have the capability of pausing the show's transmission you can choose to stop the action instead.
After you have done a couple pages of quick sketches by using the TV that way, venture out into the world and practice on moving models. (They don't have to be actually moving—you could find some people sipping coffee at a cafe for instance.) Look for harsh lighting conditions, like bright sunlight. And be sure to squint.
Why do this? Because this will help you work on control of the PPBP at the same time it will expose you to another way to use it—solidly, not just making fine or fat lines. And that will give you more options.
It will also help you make quick assessments about the shadow shapes. You will improve your ability to capture the shape of something (which ultimately defines the character of what you're drawing).
You want to work quickly and make bold decisions, but you also want to work deliberately. If you are finding your shapes aren't turning out as accurately as you would like, slow down your mind and hand and feel the pressure of the pen tip as you move it across the page—light and heavy pressure as you need it. The goal is to make a shadow shape with a minimum of fussing. You want to describe the shape by using the tip and body of the brush in a fluid movement, getting in and out, and not restating.
Your internal critic should be turned completely off. You want to judge how accurate you have been so that you can improve, but if you've not been accurate there's no more discussion—you just make another sketch and try to improve based on what you feel went wrong before. Tell your internal critic to shut up.
Concentrate more on whether or not the shadow shapes you've created are pleasing, placed in the general area they need to be, and somewhat indicative of what they need to represent. Don't fixate on whether or not you have an accurate "portrait" of your subject. Get a feel for the face and action of the person, rather than a portrait you could use in a dragnet!
Remember you are still getting used to working with the PPBP.
Left: Sketches using the Pentel Aquash Brush Pigment Ink Filled Brush Pen. Read more about this below. (Apologies to Sarah Shahi who is one of the most beautiful women on TV, with a nose that is pure delight to draw and I have been fascinated with her face since I first saw her in "Life.") Click on the image to view an enlargement.
If the dense black ink of the PPBP is frustrating you and you feel you need a little bit more leeway to deal with your values, pick up a Pentel Aquash Brush Pigment Ink Filled Brush Pen.
It's filled with light black pigment ink that might not seem as stark to you. You can also layer on additional strokes to make the values darker. It might be a good transitional tool for you. See the examples in the second image in today's post.
The ink in the Aquash is also waterproof which may become important to you at a later date (remember I have more of these posts planned).
If you do switch to the Aquash be sure to switch back to the PPBP after a couple days to experiment again with the sold black ink it lays down.
Then you'll be all set for next week!
Either way, keep squinting and drawing those shadow shapes.