The Alchemy of Drawing

Many of you out there wonder how it is that an artist takes a blank page and turns it into a fascinating drawing*. Simply put, it’s magic. Actually it’s alchemy which is a branch of magic. Mostly I just spill some pink or watercolor and wave a few pencils and pens around to make my drawings.

Or something like that. I really do believe it’s alchemy, however and don’t want to remove any of the magic by explaining my process.

But I’ll go a head and explain anyway. I start out with a pencil drawing, but not too tight; I leave plenty of room to improvise later. After the structural details are done, I do all the value stuff directly in pen.

I tend to finish section by section when doing pen and ink work. This is not how I do watercolor or straight pencil drawing.
This close-up is to show how I do hatching and cross hatching. I love hatching to an unreasonable degree. It may be the perfect method of showing value. It builds value, gives texture, and adds interest all at the same time. It’s the swiss army knife of drawing.
After the pen work is done, I go in with watercolor. It goes down in transparent washes (as watercolor should) so I don’t usually have to touch up pen work after painting over it.
I erase any stray pencil marks and add a few touches of opaque white ink here and there and then I’m finished.
This is how I do a big chunk of my drawings – especially in Dreams and Visions. Now you know.
*”Drawing” you say? Isn’t this a painting? Here’s the thing, whether a piece is a drawing or a painting is pretty arbitrary. Since I spend far more time on the drawing part than the painting part, I just call it a drawing, or a colored drawing at most.

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