Friday, October 16, 2015

Copying Gorey

The complete opposite of working with charcoal, or at least the way I work with charcoal, is to do cross-hatching with pen and ink. Somewhere along the way I decided I needed to work small and compact and easily manageable and mess free and clean and black and white so I thought I must at least try pen and ink. I decided not to use a dip pen yet and brought out my nice Lamy fountain pen with its fine nib. I decided to copy technique from BW drawings I had collected on Pinterest in order to teach myself, so first I drew this skull which I was rather pleased with. Naturally I instagrammed it.

Then this
I decided that wasn’t so bad either so I got more ambitious. I must learn technique from the best I thought so I brought out a book by Edward Gorey and decided I was going to copy technique from there. After flipping through the pages and feeling rather taken aback by the complexities of what I saw, I settled on what looked like the easiest drawing.

Somewhere along the way, when you copy drawing and technique from great masters, a cloud of humility descends on you and envelops you; not just because they draw as well as they do but because while you are following their lines in an attempt to recreate their image you come into a realization of how they solved a problem in the best possible manner while you laboured through it with gritted teeth. While copying Gorey, it begins to occur to you why this man's work is so much more superior to the rest. You also realize that 98% of all illustrators are bull-shitters who bluff their way through and it is only a miniscule 2% who not only really know how to draw but also know the art of illustrating well. These 2% are almost always grouchy bearded men who have a bottle of wine welded onto one hand while they draw ceaselessly with the other. Thirty, forty drawings a day I am told. They all swear. They are all atheists. Here, one of those bearded blokes has instagrammed Ronald Searle’s collection of pen nibs. After seeing this I want to bury my head in my hands that I attempted to copy Gorey using a Lamy. 

But still in the spirit of being positive and that kind of thing, I have promised myself that I will do at least one cross-hatched image a day so that in about a decade from now I can draw extra small size. Okayfine, now where did I keep that stick of charcoal?


Tororo said...

Dear Priya, keep your pen next to one hand, and your charcoal stick next to the other one (the wine bottle is optional, nothing more): it's obvious to this grouchy bearded man that you are able to do wonders with either, or both (as you'll feel convenient).

Priya Sebastian said...

Thank you Tororo. I will do so.
I am glad to see you here once more :-)

cristina said...

Oh, I know this one so well! I had my moment of utter humiliation when I copied a few of Horst Janssen's gorgeous flower drawings.

Well, when I look at the body of work he left behind I know why he was perfect in what he did. He was one of those obsessive artist who drew like crazy while abusing alkohol and a variety of ladies.

It was a good exercise, though, even if I skipped the booze and the women.

Priya Sebastian said...

Well Cristina, thank you for reminding me about Horst Jannsen's gorgeous flower drawings. While I won't be attempting to copy any of his work any time soon I did google his name after reading your comment to ogle at his work once more.