I’ve drawn a bunch of ink cards over the last few days. They are baseball card size (2.5×3.5 inch cards) drawings that I make spontaneously with ink and a brush. I made twenty four of them over three days and over the last three years I’ve made over three hundred ink cards. The odd thing is that I really don’t know what to do with them. They don’t have a place in my process as the small ink drawings in my ink book do or a place in my “Drifting and Dreaming” comic strip as my regular art cards do.

I draw my ink cards in two different ways. One way is with my busted brush technique. That’s when I use a brush that is old and doesn’t come to a point anymore. The brush spreads out and has four or five points on it. That makes it hard to control but that’s the point of using it: to work in ink with a brush that’s hard to control is to give up the idea of making a perfect drawing. Of course I try to control the outcome of the drawing the best I can but it’s not like using a pencil and an eraser. I have to make the best of what marks I make. It’s a good way to loosen up my drawing and discover new ways to make images.

The second way is with a regular pointed brush. When I do this I tend to hold the brush straight up and down. That’s how Chinese calligraphy is done and if you ever have seen video of Eastern brush masters it’s amazing to see. I’m not quite that good. I usually hold the brush more horizontal and pull it across the page. That’s the European way. That’s how I make thick to thin lines but that’s not what I’m looking for with these ink cards.

It’s funny but I often have a tougher time making these cards when I use a good brush. With the busted brush I accept that things can be out of control and try hard to adapt to that. With the good brush I have to stop and think what kind of mark I want to make. That’s what I have to get over. That stopping makes me hesitate and I don’t want that. Usually the drawing that fail are the ones I do with the good brush. I make a few marks, try to make a decision, end up painting myself into a corner. Oh well, they’re small and I can start over.

One of the things about drawing this way, in a spontaneous style, is that you have to make a lot of drawings in order to get some good ones. Since the goal is not “To make a good drawing” but is “To make a drawing of a new image that I may no be able to consciously think of” good drawings don’t always happen. Out of the twenty four drawings I made, I’d say, that four of them are real winners. It’s not that the other twenty are terrible but they only succeed in part. It takes the ability to deal with frustration to draw this way.

It also always takes longer than I think it will to make a bunch of these drawings. Any individual drawing might only take ten minutes to draw but as a whole I can only get a few of them an hour done. That’s because things don’t always go my way and I often have to slow myself down and concentrate. It actually might be more like finding a place between concentration and distraction. It takes a mindlessness that’s hard to achieve. I have to concentrate on clearing my mind so I can try to draw with few preconceived notions and pull images out of the back of my mind.

Though I end up with many different types of images on these cards I can break them down into a few different categories. The first is tiny little full figures. I can do these with either the good brush or the busted brush. I draw a person or persons from head to toe and they’re usually an inch or two high. I also like to draw an environment around the figures. I’m torn as to which brush is better for this technique. I try to keep the figures loose and sketchy. Sometimes that’s easier with the busted brush but not always.

The second type is the waist up figure. This makes the face a little bit bigger and is all about the head and arms gesture. Though I’ve made plenty of them with the good brush I think I prefer the busted brush for these. It’s a little more gestural and that’s what I need. I sometimes tighten up with the good brush and end up drawing like I was working in my ink book . That’s not what I want. With the busted brush I can keep things looser.

The third type of drawing is the head and shoulders type. This one can be broken down into sections too. First is the monster heads. This is pure busted brush. I make my five by seven and ten by fifteen inch monster drawings with the busted brush so it naturally follows that I make these small drawings with it too. Lots of scratchy marks and crosshatching with the spread out bristles. The busted brush is good at scary drawing.

Finally there is the non-scary head and shoulders type. They might still be a little weird and scary but they’re not monster faces. The good brush works for this type. The busted brush can work too but I tend to want to make monsters when that one is in my hand. It requires restraint to make a regular face with the busted brush so why not just grab the good one? So that’s what I end up doing.

After I do the drawings I scan them into the computer in case I want to do something with them later. I still haven’t managed to turn one into a bigger drawing but maybe someday I’ll figure it out. Until then I’ll keep posting them on my Instagram and Twitter. What else am I going to do there?