James Hobbs’ Pen and Ink

[Book review by Tina Koyama] “It is a medium that encourages a confident approach. . . .
It is a medium that is a constant reminder of our failings, and yet it arms us
to find our way around them.”

London-based urban sketcher and journalist James Hobbs has
written a book devoted to that medium – Pen and Ink. With the subtitle Contemporary
Artists, Timeless Techniques
, the book is a wide-ranging collection of
works from artists around the globe. Whether using a commonplace ballpoint, exotic
fountain pen or no pen at all but, in fact, a twig, these artists have
mastered their tools with the confident approach Hobbs refers to. Ink,
indelible and usually permanent, has a reputation for being unforgiving, but
that unchangeable mark left on the page also gives full expression to the unique
hand making it. Pen and Ink is a
celebration of that individuality.

 

Example of a wide-angle view by Swasky

Divided into sections such as Line, Tone, Color, and Texture
and Pattern, the book examines various approaches to using the medium. (Shown at top of post is Marina Grechanik’s example using line from a fountain pen.) Each drawing
is shown on one page while the facing page is Hobbs’ description and analysis
of the artist’s technique or approach. Often the artist relates inspiration for
the drawing or insights about methods. In the final Fundamentals section, the
author introduces various types of pens and related materials.

Example of contrasting patterns by Cynthia Barlow Marrs

While a few works were made from imagination or based on
photographs, the vast majority of the drawings were made through direct
observation, and readers will recognize many names from the Urban Sketchers
community. I was awed by each drawing and inspired by the collection as an
annotated gallery of some of the best contemporary artists working in pen and
ink today.

Example of texture and pattern by Ch’ng Kiah Kiean

Pen and Ink has been translated into German and French and is forthcoming in other languages. It can be purchased on Amazon.com (US) and Amazon UK.

Opinions expressed by
our correspondents and guest contributors don’t necessarily represent an
official view of UrbanSketchers.org.

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