Another art commission finished! I am very proud of this work. The brief was very specific, a little child, in the style I call my ‘potato-sack people’, asleep tucked safely in the buttress roots of a large tree. All line work with no shading, all black no colour.
I tried several different inks and papers before settling upon a watercolour paper and Noodlers Heart of Darkness ink. This ink is a gorgeous true black with no grey tones but excellent deep rich colour with no tonal variation at all. (ie you don’t get different shades and tones within the pen stroke – highly desirable in some circumstances but terrible looking in others) It has not only a lovely poetic name but is a bulletproof ink, meaning it will last extremely well without fading etc, and has been engineered to absorb as much of the light spectrum as possible, making it a beautiful intense black.
I researched trees with buttress roots and found one in particular I felt was perfect for this situation. My drawing is inspired by the Tulip Kurrajong tree (Fransisco dendron laurifolium),which is found in tropical rainforests in Queensland. The roots on this tree are ribbon shaped with lovely striations in colour that appealed to me and translated well into the line drawing.
I did a number of studies (test runs) until I was happy with the composition, agonised over adding in the leaves or not – but decided that they gave that touch of fine detail that really finished the work, and the single leaf on the child gave a sense of time passing and peace. It’s always risky when you go outside of the brief, sometimes they love it and sometimes they don’t. The fine details are often what anchor a work, little clusters of leaves evoke eddies of wind and the breath of air that brings the work to life.
This work was done with one of my new fountain pens, the Noodlers Flex. All of those lines are made with this one pen and none are worked over more than once. That variation in thickness is due to pressure on the pen, forcing the nib to flex open and creating a thicker line. I love this pen for line work. I’ve been having to play with it a little to break it in. I have never worked with a flex nib before so I’m still learning. I was having trouble with this one occasionally blobbing ink onto the page. Fountain pens with a very ‘wet’ writing style are occasionally prone to this. I did some research online and ended up carefully adjusting the feed myself, slightly bending one of the fins in the process, but it seems to have fixed the problem beautifully! I adore inks, I am planning to purchase some fine French papers to try next.