Sunday, 3 July 2011

Modelled Drawing in Ink

Sunbathing Frog
Modelled Drawing - 29 June 2011
Ink on Paper
29.5cm x 39cm (11.5" x 15.5")

The modelled drawing in ink is a continuation of the modelled drawing exercise from the Natural Way to Draw (see Modelled Drawing).

The instructions are the same. The only difference is this exercise uses a pen instead of a lithograph crayon.

Now, I can see what a pleasure it was to use the crayon. It is the perfect tool for the exercise. It lends itself to the sculpting metaphor. It is easy to imagine that as I rub with the side of the crayon I am adding clay to a sculpture or altering the surface.

In comparison, the narrow nib of the pen is a nightmare. All you can do is scribble. Even the choice of pen is difficult. The instructions say not to use a fountain pen, but don’t specify the right pen. I tried a variety (including a fountain pen) and eventually settled on a Staedtler pigment liner.

I shouldn’t complain too much because I have benefited from the exercise. It has helped me to learn more about observing the subtle changes in direction on the surface of an object.

Both of the drawings are from Elaine and my recent holiday in Canada - we got back yesterday. We started and finished the holiday with friends. We spent the first few days with Lori and Peter in Toronto and the last few days with John, Petra and Jane in Guelph. We enjoyed our visits and are grateful to them for their generous hospitality.

The sunbathing frog is an ornament in John, Petra and Jane’s garden.

The second drawing is Elaine reading on our balcony at the Queen and Albert B&B in Stratford, Ontario. We spent a couple of nights in Stratford. The Queen and Albert has comfortably spacious rooms, excellent breakfasts and a friendly host (William Broad).

On the Balcony
Modelled Drawing - 27 June 2011
Ink on Paper
35.5cm x 23cm (14" x 9")


  1. Hi Mark!

    I'm slowly getting through the TNWTD and soon will be doing this exercise (and then - the dreaded watercolour modelling). Could you tell me - why have you settled on the Staedtler pigment liner for the modelling in ink? What is important for the tool for this exercise? Why can't you use a fountain pen?

    BTW, your advice regarding wax crayons for weight drawing and crayon modelling helped a lot. I've also tried the dry medium pastel and it's actually worse - very messy and adds nothing to the experience.

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Michael

      I’m glad you are progressing and the wax crayons worked.

      The main reason I chose the Staedtler pigment liner is I’d already bought a few.

      I think Nicolaides advises against a fountain pen because their nibs tend to be fragile. This is another scribbling exercise and with a fountain pen, you are likely to continually gouge the paper and then break the nib.

      If I were doing the exercises again, I would use a normal ballpoint pen with the thickest point I could find.

      I’ve reread Nicolaides’ instructions and I still don’t understand what he means by an ordinary pen and penpoint. Given he advises against a fountain pen, I suspect he is referring to an old-fashioned dip pen, but I can’t be sure. I think he died before ballpoints, but they seem like the perfect tool for the exercise.

      All the best,