Fortunately, in an old book by John Ruskin there are some very simple drawing exercises that you could easily do at work or at home. They were printed as if they had been drawn with a dip-pen and ink. This could be just what you need to sharpen your drawing skills.
An added benefit of getting familiar with dip-pens is that you can substitute fluid watercolor paint for inks, allowing you to strengthen your paintings without a paint brush.
Although dip-pens and fountain pens are less common than ball-point and fiber-tip pens they can be great to use. When used for hand-writing you find that your writing quality improves because you need to be slightly slower and more careful. If you rush or accidentally touch the wet ink it can easily smudge and spoil. Not only that but you get the same kind of damage if you don’t let the ink dry after you have finished writing.
This might sound incredibly negative. For most people in their busy working day this would be true. When you are being rushed you can’t afford to wait.
With art it is different…
What the pen and ink gives you is a reason to slow down and be precise with what you are doing. This is exactly the kind of approach a new starter should take if they want fast success. Silly as it might sound you may find quicker progress from working slower.
With pens you are restricted to drawing simple arcs, curves and lines. Unlike pencils, pens do not allow normal shading. Although this sounds a problem, with patience you can turn it into an advantage. Instead of graded shading you learn to use hatching and cross-hatching to develop tone. This involves nothing more than lines at various angles to create tonal effects.
It can be surprising to see how simple hatching can be used to quickly give the impression of density to objects.
This is exactly what an expert artist wants…
“To create the impression of solid reality with the simplest and easiest to produce marks”
So, imagine yourself in one or two weeks time, with a pen in hand being able to draw a simple cube. This wouldn’t just be a basic outline shape, as if you had used a ruler or straight edge. Although drawn on flat paper it appears solid. It seems as if it could be picked up and turned around to see the bottom and back faces. All this can be done with nothing more complex than drawing a few straight lines.
It might sound as if it is an unrealistic expectation. Yet, by choosing to draw with a fountain pen you could be doing what seems improbable. And, by making the sensible decision of learning what appears to be most difficult first you are likely to progress faster and better as an artist. Often what looks difficult is in fact quite simple.
If you don’ want to spend money on wet-ink pens, the drawing exercises work just as well if you have a ball-point, biro or felt-tip.