Pen Drawing eBook

Charles Donagh Maginnis
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 59 pages of information about Pen Drawing.

If we turn to the brush, we find its capacity such that a high light may be brought down to a minute fraction of an inch with a few swift strokes of it; whereas the tedious labor, not to speak of the actual technical difficulties, encountered in attempting such an effect of color with pen and ink, indicates that we are forcing the medium.  Moreover, it is technically impossible to reproduce with the pen the low values which may be obtained with the brush; and it is unwise to attempt it.  The way, for example, in which Mr. Joseph Pennell handles his pen as compared with that in which he handles his brush is most instructive as illustrating what I have been maintaining.  His pen drawings are pitched in a high key,—­brilliant blacks and large light areas, with often just enough half-tone to soften the effect.  His wash-drawings, on the contrary, are so utterly different in manner as to have nothing in common with the others, distinguished as they are by masses of low tone and small light areas.  Compare Figs. 1 and 5.  Observe that there is no straining at the technical capacity of the pen or of the brush; no attempt to obtain an effect in one medium which seems to be more naturally adapted to the other.  Individuality is imparted to each by a frank concession to its peculiar genius.

[Illustration:  FIG. 2 MAXIME LALANNE]

[Side note:  Examples of Good Style]

I have said that the chief characteristic of pen methods is Directness.  I think I may now say that the chief element of style is Economy of Means.  The drawing by M. Maxime Lalanne shown in Fig. 2 is an excellent example of this economy carried to its extreme.  Not a stroke could be spared, so direct and simple is it, and yet it is so complete and homogenous that nothing could be added to make it more so.  The architecture is left without color, and yet we are made to feel that it is not white—­this subtle suggestion of low color being obtained by a careful avoidance of any strong black notes in the rendering, which would have intensified the whites and lighted up the picture.  Fig. 3, by the same artist, is even more notable by reason of the masterly breadth which characterizes the treatment of a most complicated subject.  A comparison of these with a drawing of the Restoration House, at Rochester, England, Fig. 4, is instructive.  In the latter the method is almost painfully elaborate; nothing of the effect is obtained by suggestion.  The technique is varied and interesting, but the whole drawing lacks that individual something which we call Style.  In the Lalanne drawings we see foliage convincingly represented by means of the mere outlines and a few subtle strokes of the pen.  There is no attempt at the literal rendering of natural objects in detail, all is accomplished by suggestion:  and while I do not wish to be understood as insisting upon such a severely simple style, much less upon the purist theory that the function of the pen is concerned with form alone, I would impress upon the student that Lalanne’s is incomparably the finer manner of the two.

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Pen Drawing from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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