Digging Around

I was digging around my desk the other day for a pen or pencil that might give me a looser line than I can get with the fine-nib pens I typically use. I unearthed a brush pen, stuck it in my sketch bag, and pulled it out today when sketching again at the Pember Museum of Natural History. I’ve spent a lot of time with the museum’s bird nests and eggs, but in all my years there, I’ve never drawn from its mammal collection. I also have never looked closely at moles, shrews, or hedgehogs before. Somewhere between ugly and cute, their probing snouts and large forefeet are perfectly adapted to rooting around for earthly treats like worms and insects. And the brush pen? It’s graphic, imprecise, unforgiving, and sort of fun. I won’t give up my Micron pens, but it was good dig into the toolbox and try something new.

Tips and Techniques– A brush pen produces a very graphic line, which tends to flatten the form you are drawing. To counter this, I left the white of the paper and graded the paint from light to dark, which helped the rounded forms become more dimensional. You can do this whether painting moles or mushrooms or potatoes. Push the values to make your work more dynamic.

19 Comments on “Digging Around

  1. Fun to see this different work of yours Jean. Not one of my favorite creatures but now I kinda like them 🙂

    • I don’t give them much thought except when stepping on raised earth in our yard. But its sort of fascinating to know more about what’s under there. I suspect hedgehogs are the European version of opossums and skunks.

  2. Other than the hedge hog 🦔, the rest of them look sort of like a rat. I’m sure your Aunt Jean would be the first one climbing up on top of a table if she ever came across one. Lol.. Happy Drawing..
    Cousin David….

  3. “Moles or mushrooms or potatoes” – a few of these guys do resemble potatoes! You gave them amusing faces – maybe bemused. Yes, they’re bemused that someone has come to draw their likenesses. The hedgehog is wonderful! Now do you think the next time you draw with the micron, you’ll see things slightly differently?

    • I think I’ll appreciate the subtlety that can be achieved with a Micron and that is lost with the brush pen. But I do enjoy the mark making that comes with a more flowing line.

  4. I also love the funny faces!
    The hedgehog reminds me of Ernest Shepard’s Winnie the Pooh drawings, with the rabbits and hedgehogs and all… I have always loved those.

    • Thanks Marguerite. I didn’t really try for personality with the faces, but as soon as I started sketching I thought these would make good characters for illustrations.

  5. Awesome Jean! You never cease to amaze! This is a great page of mammals, prickly to cuddly. Thanks so much for the tips on using brush pens …. I have a set and they scare me. Ha!

    • To lose the fear I think you have to give up the notion that you’re going to create something great with the brush pen on a first (or second or third) go with it. I had to set aside wanting to make a great page and jump in. The process was more important than the product here. I wanted to see what it would really FEEL like to use one.

  6. Love the loose. Every try a fude pen? I have two by Duke, a Confucius and a Ruby, there are times when they are my go to for even fine sketching. Love the little critters.

      • That is the beauty of a good fude, I can get as fine of a line as I get on an 01 or 02 Micron, or my EF TWSBI. The Confucius is quite a heavy pen in weight, the ruby is much lighter, though the Confucius is my favorite. I have a Kuretake Brush pen, real boar bristles, I do love it, but oh it is so hard to not make it too thick, I have dabbled a bit with Sumi and i watch folks use a brush for thé super fine lines and am awe struck at how they do it. I love all the choices we have, thanks so much.

  7. I love the idea of a brush pen more than the actuality! Those lovely variable lines are so beautiful in doodles but can often look contrived in a more intentional drawing. You have managed it so beautifully in these drawings – maybe I need to get mine out again!

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