Pick up any ballpoint pen and you’ve picked up a piece of history. Shortly after WWII, Baron Marcel Bich manufactured a low cost ballpoint pen. It sold for just 19 cents in the U.S.
Matt Rota’s book, The Art of Ballpoint, delves into more than just the history of the ballpoint. Find out how artists starting in the 1980’s combined invention with vision to elevate the mass produced Bic pen to more than a disposable writing utensil. Prior, Giacometti and Dubuffet incorporated the ballpoint pen into their repertoire of drawings.
One of twenty artists represented in this book, Dawn Clements combines ballpoint with watercolor or charcoal to create drawings with exquisite detail. Her inspiration comes from films. She captures scenes on paper, pausing the movie to transcribe the screen images with ballpoint. I like the way she starts with a rectangular piece of paper and adds to the work as needed, growing the drawing to an impressive size, 87 ½ x 240 inches!
Ballpoint may be convenient, but it is not forgiving. Crosshatching, repetitive marks, layered line and patience are needed to fill in larger graded areas when drawing with this medium. But, what’s the hurry? And if you make a mistake, keep drawing! Enjoy the process. Grab a pen and try the exercises designed by Rota, an instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Use one type of mark for your entire drawing, or explore technique with colored pens or toned paper.
If The Art of Ballpoint inspires you and you enjoy experimenting with materials and new approaches to the art elements, I recommend The Sketchbook Challenge: Techniques, Prompts, and Inspiration for Achieving Your Creative Goals. Both books are available at the Virginia Beach Public Library.
I made the drawing below in my sketchbook, using ballpoint pen.
|Library chicks-Darkwing, Henrietta and Beatrix|
Review by Sandi H.