I just finished another big ink drawing. 22×30 inches. I think this is the 12th one I’ve finished in 2020. I’ve gotten about one a week done. I can’t remember if it was the Fall of 2019 or the Fall of 2018 but I was getting two of them a week done during a two month period. That was the most into drawing them that I ever was. They usually take two or three days a piece so I was working on one nearly everyday at that point.

As I’m writing this we’re nearing the end of week two of COVID-19 lockdown. I’ve not been commuting and have been preparing to do remote teaching but it’s been hard getting things done. I’m used to being self motivated and making art on my own but I bet we’re all finding it tougher to get things done these days. I think part of why I’ve been working on these big ink drawings is momentum. I’ve been doing them for a while and it seems easier to continue doing them rather than trying to come up with something new. So I guess I’ll just keep going.

This new one is called “Mystic Barber.” I usually name these randomly but this name was purposeful. That’s because for the last two I came up with stories to go along with them as I was drawing them. This one became “Mystic Barber” because of the hair of the main character. It takes up a good portion of the picture. The smaller guy also has some wild hair so I figure they both must walk the Dreamworld and connect with it through their hair. They’re superheroes in the Dreamworld and make suer that everybody’s hair is working for them and not against them. When your hair turns on you it’s not a pretty sight.

I used quite a few techniques in this one. The blocks on the side were done with my Haff hatching machine and markers. That’s how I get those parallel lines. I used my regular Copic marker plus a Copic marker that I replaced the regular tips with flat calligraphy tips. That way I can get two more thicknesses of line. It gives those parallel lines a little bit more variety.

The wavy part of the background was done with India ink. The thicker lines are done with a brush and ink. I put those in first, near the beginning of making the drawing, but then wasn’t quite satisfied with them. I knew I has too much white space in that part of the background but I didn’t want more brush lines. I pondered it and at the very end of making the drawing I went in with a dip pen and India ink and put in all the thin wavy lines. The dip pen gave me a thin and consistent line. That’s something a marker can’t always do consistently as marker in sometimes bleeds a bit.

After I transferred the drawing to the paper I inked in the outlines of the figures and the shapes in the background. That’s how I usually do things. After the basics are in I figure out my patterns and techniques. The first thing I dealt with was the main figure’s hair. I thought if I could get that right the rest of the drawing would fall in line behind it. I think I was right. The big thick strokes were made with a big #6 round brush.

That was the easy part. I knew I wanted some smaller brush strokes too but I had no idea what kind. After much contemplation I decided on my busted brush technique. That’s when I use one of my old worn out brushes that no longer comes to a point but has many points. It puts down a bunch of thin lines all at once. I don’t usually use that technique in these big ink drawings but it was perfect for here. I like the way it came out and took me longer to figure out what to to than to do it.

The next thing I did was the black pattern on the main figure’s face. That was kind of odd because I usually save that for later on but I wanted to tackle it right away with this one. That may have been because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I usually have 90% of the drawing figured out in a small pencil drawing that I then transfer to the bigger paper but for this drawing it was more like 70%. I took out a pencil and drew right on the face. Since I used a jagged edge for the strange ear horn I decided to use a jagged edge in the face designs. Coming to that decision is what got things rolling. After that it was easy enough to execute.

Maybe that 70% number I mentioned before was really closer to 60% because I had to do a lot of drawing on the main figure’s body too. I had the basic shapes of his shirt but none of the patterns were there. I had to figure out the scales on his back, the stripes on his chest, the boxes on his stomach, and the coils on his arm. That took longer than I expected. I kept thinking that I was close to being done but then there was always more to figure out.

The smaller head at the bottom was the last thing done. At least most of the details. I did the glasses early on but his neck and shoulders weren’t done until the end. After taking so much time with the big guy’s shirt it took me it surprised me how little work it took to finish off the little guy. It shouldn’t have surprised me because it’s so much smaller an are but somehow it did. I was used to things taking a long time by then.

In looking at the finished drawing the little guy’s stare really jumps out at me. Partly it’s the glasses but mostly because it’s the largest area of white in the drawing and hence it’s the brightest part of the drawing. That really draws me to it. I also tweaked the lips on the big guy’s face to give him just a little bit of a closing mouth/crooked smile. It’s a weird expression. Weird is my forte though. I think I’ll go with it. And keep on making some weird big ink drawings.