grey pens

Wawel Cathedral, Krakow

Before setting off for Poland, I asked fellow art blogger, Outside Authority, what they would take as a lightweight art kit. Their advice included “something you can make quick bold lines/shapes with (e.g. sharpie/gel pen/ink pen), something to make smudgy lines/forms/shadows with (e.g. soft pencils/ink with water, conte)”.

Inside the courtyard, Wawel Castle, Krakow

They also reminded me to match my drawing equipment to the size of the paper. I had selected a moleskine watercolour pad 13x21cm that neatly fitted my coat pocket, to minimise what I was carrying. Separately I had a carry case with A3 paper in various tones.

Bastion and cobbled walkway, Wawel Castle

So before leaving I bought a pack of double ended fine marker/brush pens in shades of grey from very light to black. My plan was to use these to make the bold lines, and, as they are very water soluble, also to use these in washes.

Statue of random dignitary, Krakow

I supplemented these with my india ink fountain pen and water brush. I used the first day in Krakow to experiment with these tools, and also get my eye and hand back into drawing.

stone image of the crucifix, St Mary’s Basilica

The interior of St Mary’s Basilica, incorporating a millennium of evolving building styles and with fantastic painted inner surfaces, overwhelmed me. I didn’t know where to even start (I should have remembered, “bold lines, smudgy shapes”). I ended up sketching the crucified Christ, but even this went awry with the arms out of alignment.

I doodled another version later.

Façade of St Mary’s Basilica across rooftops, evening

I developed an approach that built the sketch mainly in grey tones, only at the end putting in selected detail with black fine pen, or the tip of the brush. It worked better for some sketches than others.

I finished this day’s drawing by the Vistula, with the city’s iconic dragon, and went back to collect my rucksack to get the train to Oświęcim.

10 responses to “grey pens

  1. Excellent. You know I’m going to like no.1 and 7 especially. I like the sound of these soluble grey pens too. The unaligned arms of the first sketch has the merit of not making him look to comfortable up there.

    • Thanks. As always I was disappointed with 1 and gave up. Actually it set the framework for how I drew: using the greys to block in the picture then just picking out a few details with a fine pen. I was pleased with 7 I have to admit.
      Having looked at your latest post I now think I understand how I could have approached the interior of the Basilica. Next time …

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