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The Art of Drawing
Essay by Frederic Taubes
Pen and Ink Drawing
by Frederic Taubes
Published by Putnam, 1962Contact_Us_at_Frederic_Taubes_Gallery.html
Frederic
Taubes

Pen and Ink Drawing

essay

The Art

of Drawing

see below

"As compared with the complexities of oil painting, drawing employs simple and direct means. Its beauty reveals itself to the beholder without the help of an involved analytic approach. The draftsman’s powers,  their understanding of the function of forms,  their sensitivity to the flow of line, their mannerism or originality- all these are revealed on the surface of the paper grain.
Several cardinal conceptions can be found to underlie the art of drawing: one deals with a faithful representation of nature; another analyzes a natural phenomenon by extracting its innermost characteristics and then by emphasizing and distorting these characteristics in a meaningful fashion; still another involves, “free improvisation,” or non-objectivity, the nature of which can be quite diverse. As to representation of nature, the drawing that seeks this end will of course adhere strictly to observable, “facts,” and will shun any deviation from these facts. 
Despite this objective attitude of the artist their interpretation of nature can still be personal. The research into anatomy, botany, zoology, as pursued by the great masters- Durer, Leonardo, Pollaiuolo to mention but a few- remained always an imaginative expression of the artist-researcher.
A draftsman whose preoccupation is the “analysis” of forms will not be concerned with “facts” as they appear to the eye, but rather will attempt through emphasis and distortion to dramatize these facts so as to make them more expressive.
The character of a drawing depends to a considerable extent upon the materials used, specifically on the nature of the drawing tool, and also- though to a lesser degree- on the quality of the paper. Through the agency of the tool, the personal handwriting of the draftsman expresses itself directly, whereas the surface of the paper, itself, will contribute toward the effect of texture. In extreme cases the paper surface may actually influence the working of the drawing tool.
There are two main categories of drawing: one in which the drawing tool registers its mark through abrasion, and the other in which the marks are made to flow onto the paper. The basic difference can be observed in the media of crayon and ink. Crayon is capable of producing a variety of shades ranging from the lightest gray to the deepest black, all appearing predominantly as a solid mass. Ink, on the other hand, produces one tone only, and all other, “effects,” are achieved by means of detached lines.
The qualities of line in a drawing can be compared to the melodic line in music: it can be lyrical, like gentle cadences; circumlocutious, carrying us to dizzying heights; erratic, leading to agitation; or bold like bombast. Nulla dies sine linea ("Never a day without a line") was the standing phrase in the workshops of the old masters; and to put it in the words of the great painter and draftsman Ingres, let us remember: “Drawing is the probity of art.”
Excerpted  Art Plates and Text
from Pen and Ink Drawing by Frederic Taubes
Introduction
As compared with the complexities of oil painting, drawing employs simple and direct means. Its beauty reveals itself to the beholder without the help of an involved analytic approach. The draftsman's powers, his understanding of the function of forms, his sensitivity to the flow of line, his mannerism or originality-all these are revealed on the surface of the paper grain.
The Nature of Drawing
Several cardinal conceptions can be found to underlie the art of drawing: one deals with a faithful representation of nature; another analyzes a natural phenomenon by extracting its innermost characteristics and then by emphasizing and distorting these characteristics in a meaningful fashion; still another involves "free improvisation," or non-objectivity, the nature of which can be quite diverse.

As to representation of nature, the drawing that seeks this end will of course adhere strictly to observable "facts" and will shun any deviation from these facts. Despite this objective attitude of the artist his research and interpretation of nature can still be personal.
A draftsman whose preoccupation is "analysis" of forms will not be concerned with "facts" as they appear to the eye, but rather will attempt through emphasis and distortion to dramatize these facts so as to make them more expressive.

Materials
The character of a drawing depends to a considerable extent upon the materials used, specifically on the nature of the drawing tool, and also-though to a lesser degree-on the quality of the paper. Through the agency of the tool, the personal handwriting of the draftsman expresses itself directly, whereas the surface of the paper, itself, will contribute toward the effect of texture. In extreme cases the paper surface may actually influence the working of the drawing tool.
There are two main categories of drawing: one in which the drawing tool registers its mark through abrasion, and the other in which the marks are made to flow onto the paper. This basic difference can be observed in the media of crayon and ink. Crayon is capable of producing a variety of shades ranging from the lightest gray to the deepest black, all appearing predominantly as a solid mass. Ink, on the other hand, produces one tone only, and all other "effects" are achieved by means of detached lines.

The Pen
We may differentiate here between the semi-rigid and the rigid instrument. To the first category belongs the pen point, which shows numerous characteristics. Depending on the width and elasticity of the point, lines of great thinness and delicacy, thickness and strength, lines of even or variegated width, and so forth, can be produced.
Pen points are made of several different materials, including gold, steel, quill, reed, and felt. The point, or nib, may be used in a handle, or we may prefer a fountain pen specially made for the use of India ink. The fountain pen is of great value to us, for it eliminates the necessity of dipping the nib into an inkwell every few moments, thereby interrupting the work. But since the pen point cannot be easily changed in such an instrument, a number of fountain pens would be needed, each having different properties, in order to permit a large variety of strokes. In my estimation, about four such pens, in addition to a few steel-point pens, will answer every possible demand.
Fig. 1 demonstrates a rather hard, thin point of a fountain pen. It produces fine strokes showing little variation in thickness.
A similar point, but somewhat softer, creating lines of greater versatility, is shown in Fig. 2.
In Fig. 3 we see two fountain-pen points that have been conditioned by bending their tips inward. This can be done best by pressing the tip down on a hard surface with a screw driver and bending it to the desired angle. Such an operation can be done successfully on gold pen points or on nibs made of a softer material. Steel points tend to break easily or spread apart.
As can be seen from the delineations (Fig. 3), the effects produced by these versatile instruments are prodigious. By turning the pen around, or by holding it sideways, lines and textures of the most diverse character can be produced with one and the same pen.
In Fig. 4 marks were made with a reed pen, which is most effective when used on large surfaces. However, it empties itself quickly of ink, and this is quite inconvenient to the artist.
Fig. 5 demonstrates the marks of a ballpoint pen; its swift run makes the strokes appear "facile."
In Fig. 6 India ink staccato marks made with a wire nib are shown on a slightly grainy surface.
Perhaps the most versatile instrument is the felt-point pen, inasmuch as it combines, in a sense, the advantages of both the "abrasive" and the "flowing" media (Fig. 7). Depending on the amount of ink discharged, tones ranging from pale gray to the darkest black, and which appear either as lines or as solid surfaces, may be achieved. They can be made indistinguishable from crayon or charcoal marks, and when the nib becomes saturated with the ink its marks will resemble those made by a brush.
The pen seen in Fig. 8 is made of steel, and it is fairly rigid. It produces powerful strokes with very little pressure, and although it allows only two markings of rather mechanical appearance, it can at times be employed to great advantage.
Fluent calligraphic lines can be most easily produced with round sable brushes (Fig. 9). In this instance, however, we cannot refer to "pen and ink," for the brush strokes condition the working of one's hand in a different manner from that of a pen, and on the whole brush strokes possess entirely different characteristics.
Lastly, three more brushes should be mentioned (Fig. 10). The first represents a worn-out bristle brush, useful for producing so-called dry-brush effects; very little ink is used for this purpose. The second is known as a script liner; it holds a large amount of ink and thus is excellent for rendering long, uninterrupted lines. The third, a stiff, stubby brush, is efficient for spattering.

The Paper
Identical paper can be used for pen and ink as well as crayon. However, certain surface qualities have an affinity for one medium, more than the other; some surfaces favor the wet medium, others are better suited to receive the abrasive material. The paper surface can range from a perfectly smooth, semiglossy finish to one having a relatively coarse grain. Also, the paper surface is absorbent to varying degrees, or it may be entirely nonabsorbent, depending on the amount of size used in its manufacture. If made exclusively of wood pulp, its quality will be inferior; if cotton rags are added to the pulp the quality will improve with the increase in the proportion of the cotton content. Paper made exclusively of cotton is referred to as hundred percent rag. When manufactured abroad, it will consist solely of' linen fiber; as such, the paper will be of the highest quality, especially if it is designated "handmade."
Rag content is responsible for the strength of a paper, but it is the quality of the surface that influences the general appearance of a drawing. In what manner do these characteristics make themselves felt when using the liquid medium? Let us consider first the paper which is semiglossy, nonabsorbent, and quite thin. As such, it will not be suitable for work with ink, for it will wrinkle and will not stay flat; however, it can be effectively used for work with all kinds of pencil.
A slick paper, even when heavy, will not favor the pen, because the slick surface will offer no resistance to the touches of the touches of the pen, and hence the nib will tend to slip over the surface. Similarly, hard-pressed surfaces will not allow the pen to penetrate the fiber. Penetration should occur to just the right degree. In this way, the artist's hand is able to feel the surface upon which it works.
A paper which is too soft will act like a blotter. Moreover, the sharp point of the pen will snag in its surface. The softness of the fiber may also be unsuitable for abrasion even with a crayon. However, a soft-fiber paper will be sympathetic to the touch of the brush (the Chinese wash drawings are done on such a material), and it may also be used for drawing with the ball point.
As to it medium-hard or -soft paper possessing a medium–roughness or –smoothness, a theoretical consideration of these characteristics is impossible, for their variations are so numerous, and the appearance of the paper grain so varied, that without an examination of the material in question no definite judgment can be made as to its usability.
Figures 1, 2, and 3:

Figures 4, 5 and 6:

Figures 7, 8 and 9:

Figures 10:

Figures 11 (a) and (b):
In Fig. 11 a selection of characteristic surface appearances is shown. The surface (a) is best for pen-and-ink work-it is neither too rough nor too smooth. The surfaces (b) and (c) have a more pronounced grain, and the paper (d) is unsuitable for our purpose because of its roughness.
(a) A fine-grain paper suitable for all types of pen and ink work.
(b) A somewhat coarser surface, but still usable for most techniques.

Figures 11(c) and 11(d):
In both examples the coarse, mechanical grain of the paper will impede the draftsman in his free expression.

One more quality of the paper remains to be mentioned — namely, its suitability for making erasures, especially when using India ink. Some papers allow such erasures without suffering ungainly scars; others by contrast will be vulnerable even when one tries to erase minor pencil marks. Since an unsuccessful mark of the pen could, under certain circumstances, mar an otherwise satisfactory drawing it is well to examine the paper for its erasability before the drawing begins.
Thus far, the papers under discussion were all of white color. However, tinted papers may also be used with any of the techniques mentioned. As to the choice of a specific color, it depends entirely on the draftsman's predilection.

The Ink
For graphic renderings, waterproof India ink comes ahead of any other material. It possesses a dense, heavy body and is not readily miscible in water. Once dry, India ink becomes water-insoluble, and its marks, if not made on hard-surfaced paper, cannot be effectively erased. It can be used only in a special type of fountain pen, the so-called barrel pen, since it would clog a normal fountain pen. Even the barrel pen, when not emptied of the ink between drawing sessions will become clogged. However, a special cleaning agent made by the Higgins Ink Company and sold in art supply stores can be used to dissolve the clogged residue of ink.
Figures 12 and 13:

Other inks suitable for work with pen or brush are water-soluble ink (black or colored), bistre (brown), and sepia (bluish). All these, however, do not have the force and authority of the water-insoluble ink, for they lack its density and its heavy body.
Media other than ink are the dyes found in ballpoint pens and felt pens. The former can be obtained in colors that resemble light and dark graphite (Fig. 12). Besides black, these seem to be the only useful ball pen colors. The highly volatile material used in the felt pen comes in a large range of colors, which for all practical purposes would concern the water colorist more than the graphic artist. The black color used with the felt point is-when allowed to flow freely-the most powerful staining ink we possess (Fig. 13), but a semidry felt nib can also render delicate grays.

Drawing Techniques
In Figs. 14, 15, 16, the simplest technique-namely, a pure line drawing employing one single contour definition-is seen. The word "simplest" is of course deceptive, for the apparent simplicity, if the drawing is successfully executed, can only be the result of a perfect command of the medium. The second example was produced by means of a ball pen which is especially well suited for curvilinear definitions (Fig. 17).
Figs. 18 and 19 show ample use of the staccato technique. The drawings were made up of disconnected, abrupt marks produced with the bent-away pen point, which in the process of drawing was continuously turned around to leave lines and dots of various textures. Such an operation requires great speed, which rules out premeditation. The dots are, as it were, the points of rest, where the pen hesitated for a small fraction of a second before progressing on its rapid flight. Fig. 19 demonstrates the use of a felt-point pen with the staccato technique.
Figures 14:

As demonstrated in the foregoing examples, delineations were created by a solid and a broken line. The first can be thin or thick, rectilinear or curving. The second may be airily spaced or densely interlaced. Thus the black ink of identical density will produce lines that appear gray and others that impress us as black, and both these effects will depend solely on the thickness or thinness of the lines. The thinner the lines, the grayer their appearance; even when interlaced densely, thin lines will tend to look gray. This is due entirely to an optical phenomenon, for the white of the paper bordering the thin lines tends to reduce the impact of the lines. On the other hand, a sufficiently thick black line will be able to overcome the strength of the white border by asserting its intrinsic blackness.

Figure 18 and 19:

Figure 18: Staccato technique using pen point number 3. Figure 19: Staccato technique using an ink-saturated felt point. Some shading by means of parallel pen point lines.

Figure 27:
Pictorial effects which make ample use of tonal differentiation can be better achieved with the felt point than by means of the metal pen (Fig. 27).

Figure 27. A felt-point drawing simulating the effects produced in crayon drawings.

Figure 28, 29, 30 and 31:
There remains a drawing technique, related to watercolor, which employs a brush and which deals with so-called washes (Figs. 28-31). The greatest master of this medium was, indubitably, Rembrandt. In a drawing, the washes are kept in monotones (gray, bistre, or sepia being the principal colors), and the linear definitions are, as a rule, produced by a pen, not a brush. In Rembrandt's wash drawings a goose quill was used. In classic Chinese drawing only a very soft brush comes into play, held in a position perpendicular to the paper surface. This accounts for the principal difference in the appearance of the Chinese works as compared with those of Western artists.

Figure 28: A wash drawing by Rembrandt combining pictorial as well as graphic effects.

Figure 29. More than any other draftsman, Rembrandt understood how to obtain the most dramatic effects with the simplest of means. In this instance pure contour lines are boldly combined with dark ink washes.

Figure 30: This Rembrandt drawing was rendered entirely with a round sable brush possessing a short body of hair. (See Fig. 9). For the halftones, the brush was almost dry thus producing gray demarcations.

Figure 33:

Figure 33. In this drawing the paper went through various stages of wetness, which in turn produced a range of wet effects some quite blurred, others clearly defined. Here, blotting paper was used to prevent the ink from spreading on the dripping wet paper.

Figure 34:

Figure 34. On wet paper a variety of tools was used: pen points, ball points, and a felt-point pen — all of which contributed toward the creation of rich textural effects.

About the Author
Frederic Taubes' record as an artist-educator-writer is without parallel. His paintings are in twenty-six museums and public collections in the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, William Rockhill Nelson Art Gallery, San Francisco Museum of Art, etc. He has had more than one hundred one-man exhibitions in museums and galleries, twenty-seven of which were held in New York City.
He is the author of twenty-two books on painting techniques and esthetics.
Mr. Taubes is the American Editor of THE ARTIST magazine where he conducts the famous TAUBES PAGE. He was formerly contributing editor to American Artist, the Encyclopedia Brittanica Yearbooks, and the Pacific Art Review; he has contributed articles to many other publications.

Mr. Taubes has served as Carnegie Visiting Professor of Art and Resident Painter as the University of Illinois; Visiting Professor, University of Wisconsin; University of Hawaii; University of Alberta, Canada; Colorado State College, Greeley, Colorado; and has taught at the College of the City of New York, Cooper Union, the Art Students' League, and many other institutions.
In 1948 Frederic Taubes was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, England. He lectured at the Royal College of Art, the Slade School of Art, London University College, The Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, the Royal Society of Arts, The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, the Edinburgh College of Art, and other institutions.
In the field of painting materials, Mr. Taubes is the formulator of the internationally-known Taubes Varnishes and Copal Painting Media.

The Art of Drawing


This article first appeared in Pen and Ink Drawing, (Putnam Publishers, 1962)and was later republished in The Quickest Way to Draw Well (Thomas Crowell Publishers, 1958)

 

Excerpted

Art Plates and Test


Selected pages from Pen and Ink Drawing, with accompanying text

 

excerpted

Art plates

and text

see below

excerpted

Art plates

and text

see below

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