I’ve been doing quite a few of my “Dreams of Things” faux comic book covers lately. So much so I commented that I think I’ve been wanting to live in a dream world. It’s a joking comment but also has a little truth to it. When making dreamy images I have to inhabit the space of a dream world even if it’s just for the little bit of time that I’m thinking about the image. I say a little bit of time because most to the time it takes to make a picture is taken up by thinking about how to physically make the picture rather than thinking about the image. And who wouldn’t want to live in a dream? As long as Freddy isn’t coming after you.

But this week I can say I now live in a world of fear. Or at least I made another of my ten by fifteen inch “Fear” ink drawings. It’s the third one I’ve done in the series as far as I can tell but I haven’t done one in a long time so I only think that’s right. I keep track of the names of my finished pieces by typing them into my calendar on my computer on the day that I finish them. That helps me keep a handle on things. I typed “Fear” into the calendar search bar and only found numbers one and two. The system works pretty well but isn’t perfect so maybe a third snuck by me unnamed. Either way I’m putting number three on this one.

My “Fear” drawing say that right on them. They have the word “Fear” written across them below a monster’s face. They’re meant to be a little bit scary. Maybe they won’t give you nightmares but looking at them too hard could make you uncomfortable. I think the word has as much to do with that as the drawing. Seeing the word makes me a little nervous and I think it has that affect on people in general.

Though I had fun making this third drawing in the series I don’t know if it’s as effective as the first two. I didn’t work out and refine the drawing as much as I did on the others. Usually I work out a drawing at a smaller size than the final size but with this one I drew it at the ten by fifteen inch size. I just didn’t feel like working with a refined drawing. Working in a different way than usual can sometimes help but it’s often tough to tell. Do I just dislike it because it’s different? I don’t know but it’s something to contemplate.

Either way after the initial pencil drawing is done the “Fear” pictures are made the same way. I use a battered old Winsor Newton Series 7 number 3 sable watercolor brush and ink. The brush is so battered that not only won’t it hold a point but it won’t even come to any kind of point. Instead the tip breaks up into about ten different points. It’s impossible to make any kind of single line with so I use it by dabbing the brush onto the paper. It’s almost like using a small stamp except much more flexible so that the pattern in makes changes every time. I call it a “Wet dry brush technique” because it is very similar to dry brush where you drag a nearly inkiness brush across paper but it’s different because the brush is wet with ink. It’s not about making greys like dry brush but is about building up blacks. I can’t work with line when I do things this way so it’s really a different approach for me.

The main problem I find with this technique is that it tests my patience. Usually when I work with line I have a clear vision of what the drawing will end up looking like. The beginning sketch resembles the finished drawing. With this technique the sketch is minimal. It’s some basic lines defining the outlines of a face plus the lettering. I don’t even figure out darks and lights since that’s what I’ll be doing with the brush. As I do that I make marks all along the not-quite-lines and slowly build up the marks all over the drawing. As a result it takes a long time for the drawing to start to look like its finished state.

One of the biggest problems I have with this method is that for the longest time the drawings look comical. Sure there is something inherently funny about a weird monster drawing but when it’s just kind of outlined and not very dark yet it looks more comical than usual. I find it very frustrating when my attempt at fear is funny. Making all those marks takes patience too. I’ve made drawings that take a lot longer to do than these ones but not drawings where I’m working over and over again in the same area. After putting down layer after layer of ink with the spotty brush I always think it’s dark enough but after I put it on the easel and step away from it I can tell it isn’t. I do this five or six times until I get it right. It’s never dark enough until the end.

With this one it stayed comical for quite a long time. I think that’s because the eyes are big. They were even bigger than they appear in the finished one because for the longest time I didn’t really touch the whites of the eyes. You can see the dark pupils and where the color of the eye would be but I also had white around that color. It wasn’t until I blacked that out that I started to like the drawing.

One final thing. The teeth. With these monster drawings it’s always good to show the monster’s teeth. Make them sharp, mean, and maybe a little fuzzy. That fuzziness can make them extra scary. Scary is good in the land of fear.