Monthly Display - July 2020

Drawings Using Biro Pens

All of this month's drawings were produced using biro pens on paper. Using biro pens on paper is a way of doing more time-efficient outdoor studies.

I have always enjoyed using biros for drawing. Once the ink is dry (usually very quickly), it doesn't smudge like pencil marks do. I don't have to keep sharpening the point of a biro. The point doesn't get slowly blunt and produce thicker, softer lines. One can still achieve a range of marks and lines with a biro - light lines, heavy lines, deliberate lines, quick lines, dots, dashes, shading using hatching and squiggles, etc. Biro doesn't erase very well, so I have never bothered with any eraser. Therefore, my materials are fairly minimal - a piece of paper, a firm support (usually a portable drawing board) and a biro pen.

I started using blue coloured biros for all of my biro drawings, probably because I used blue biros for most of my writing when I was at school. I found the quality of the blue ink to feel better to work with for some reason than the black, red, green or purple biro inks.

While living at West Beach in South Australia between 1982 and 1986, I found some smooth grey A4 sized paper that worked very well as a base for my biro drawings. I usually drew on-site, outside in bright light and the grey paper was far less blinding to use than white paper. I also found the combination of the blue ink on grey paper to be aesthetically pleasing.

One of Many

When I wanted to work on larger drawings, such as "Self Portrait", I had to revert to using white paper.

A few years later, while living at Glenelg, I found grey paper more difficult to get and so I got used to working on white paper for most of my biro drawings. When working outside, it was essential that I kept and worked with the paper in the shade; white paper is just too bright for my eyes when it is in the sunlight.

A few years after living at Glenelg, I was travelling to work regularly, wanting a convenient way to do some small drawings. I came across some convenient A5 sketchbooks, and even started experimenting with watercolour pencils over the biro drawings. I realised that black biro lines would work better with colour pencil work than blue biro lines. I made a reluctant switch to black biros but now continue to use black biro for almost all of my biro drawing. I am now used to drawing in black biro ink.

I have found more recently that grey or softly coloured canson paper can provide an excellent base for biro drawings that might be worked on with watercolour pencils or (usually) pastels.

With most of my biro drawings, I find myself trying to express the forms that I can see (and feel). When looking at the world around me, I am often inspired by the way that things are illuminated and coloured by sunlight, and inspired by the 3-dimensional structures that can be enjoyed using the excellent 3-dimensional stereoscopic vision most of us have. It is easy to take our stereoscopic vision for granted, because it works so well, even when we are moving quite quickly through the world around us, or turning our head, but the 3-dimensional understanding of the things around us is extremely powerful. If you walk slowly around a small tree, you can use your 3-dimensional vision see that its branches and leaves are connected and structured in very complex organic ways, but the overall form of the tree is often much simpler - kind of like a 'spheroid' (an elongated sphere) or a cone. I have found that all trees are amazing sculptures that can be enjoyed using my 3-dimensional vision! I have also found that my 3-dimensional vision gives me a much better understanding of the spaces around me and the other objects that may be in a landscape.

The pieces in this month's display are generally presented in chronological order, so that the earliest drawings from this collection are presented first, and the most recent work is presented last. In this display, I haven't included pieces that are already displayed in my web gallery, but have links to some of these on the last page of this month's display.

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