The first time I knew about pen-and-ink drawing was the period of my studies at the Art College in Ekaterinburg. Listening to the lectures on the History of Art and looking at the photos from the artworks of the nationally recognized and world famous artists and turning the glossy pages of art albums, I admired of these masterpieces They gave me the incentive to try this technique myself. Apparently, it is very easy to find the tools for this activity: a sheet of paper and pen with ink, have always been at hand. However, passing from words to deeds wasn’t as easy as it might look. Drawing with pen and ink requires from the artist to be very focused on their task. Nevertheless, your drawing should look like the artistic improvisation. Eventually, some of my attempts had proved to be successful, and this small achievement inspired me.
At that time I knew that not only steel pens were used in drawings: pen and ink drawing has a very interesting history. As far back as in the Ancient Egypt people worked with pens and brushes when drawing on the papyrus rolls. A copper pen dated back to 79 A.D. was found during the archaeological excavations in Pompeii.
My next experience in the pen-and-ink drawing I gained when I studied at the St. Petersburg Art Academy in the studio of People’s Artists of the USSR Andrei Mylnikov. Then, we, as the four-year students of the Academy of Arts worked on the drawings of the nude male models under the guidance of Professor Alexander Korolev. That task was a part of our curriculum. I must say that we had visited the Academic Library with the purpose of studying the best drawings of the classical artists before we started doing this task. Our library has a great collection of the facsimile reproductions of the ancient drawings. Alexander Leonidovich Korolev himself was a great admirer of the Renaissance artists, who worked in this genre, especially Michelangelo. He had always tried to pass on this the highest culture of drawing to his students. He also was of the opinion that pen as a tool plays an important part in eye training. As he said, this technique disciplines the eyesight. The line should be very precise because it is impossible to erase it afterward.
At the same time, another method of teaching this technique is often done. Those students whose hands are not trained enough are supposed to use a preliminary pencil drawing. Then, these lines should be outlined in ink. In the modern pen-and-ink drawings, a wide variety of pens are used: from the traditional pens, which are inserted into a handle to the more updated pens with the filling system, felt markers, ball pens, and roller ball pens. However, I have to say that when we use these facilities, we lose the sense of improvisation and the creative attitude to such artworks. Admittedly, many artists while drawing with pen and ink, searched for the right proportions of the objects depicted. We often can see auxiliary lines in their drawings. Those thin lines, which are drawn very close to the contours of the objects, illustrate the search of right proportions made by artists. We can see those so called misses in many designs of Michelangelo, which, so naturally form the entire ornament of the whole work. It’s known that Michelangelo often used the pen when he drew the Ancient Greek or Roman sculptures. Looking at these masterpieces, we consider these strokes not only as the part of the drawings, but like the attempts of a sculptor, who uses the pen like his chisel to cut out the shapes in the surrounding space.
The curriculum of the Faculty of Architecture includes the task on pen-and-ink human figure drawing. It is held for the four-year students every second semester. Most students are eager to do this task, which is for them the work on attention and concentration. For more successful students, teachers give advice not to make a preliminary drawing, but go ahead, beginning and ending this task with the pen only. Apart from the vast knowledge in construction and architectural design, a future architect needs artistic skills to add aesthetic features to their architectural sketches and designs. Undoubtedly, the handling of pen-and-ink drawing helps the artists to elaborate the precise and exquisite line, which enriches their architectural designs. During their studies, the students do different tasks, learning how to use different techniques and art materials.
It goes without saying, every objective requires its methods of expression. The summer practical training sessions give the students of the future architects an excellent opportunity to polish their skills after the third year of studying. Our mentors help students to choose the right materials according to the task objectives. For example, pen-and-ink drawing is better for the depicting the texture of a tree trunk, ornaments of cast-iron grills, and cracks in stone masonry. The combination of different materials in the graphic art gives the new opportunities for implementation of new ideas. For instance, brush, China ink, sepia, and watercolour are widely used when depicting dark places. In this case, the shadows become more intense. On the contrary, when shadows are hatched without the underlying tone, they look lighter and more transparent.
I have always admired the Renaissance architectural designs. Being made by using various techniques, they draw viewers’ attention neither their sizes nor the vast scale of their ideas, but liveliness, vibrant tones, and elegance. All these features require great mastery; thanks to that the seemingly ordinary architectural sketch turns into a great work of art.
Nowadays, we are hesitant over choice, being able to purchase any art materials; rarely artists use such an outdated tool as a goose quill. To some degree, a steel-pen is also considered as the thing of the past. Admittedly, these instruments almost replaced by more up-to-date tools, such as a fountain pen, ball pen, ball pen and felt-tip pen. Needless to say, despite its disadvantages, the traditional pen, not convenient, though, is very suitable for drawing by making thick and thin lines. Contrary to the drawings made with a ball or roller pen, which look like the well-done exercises, these pieces of art are fascinating and full of life.
More and more skilful pen-and-ink drawings can be spotted year at the midterm and final exhibitions of the students’ artworks. In the opinion of many students who do the outdoor and indoor tasks, there are many places and moments, where such or such a technique of pen-and-ink drawing is suitable for each work. In the end, I would like our students to be enthusiastic about their work and studying at the Institute, and wish them more discoveries and more compelling creative artworks.