My oil paintings start with an on site line drawing. If I am drawing a chair, rather than draw an idea of “chair”, I draw with an eye to where the back of the chair is positioned in relation to the window sill and where the leg is positioned in relation to the other leg, so I am not even thinking “chair”, I am following the shape wherever it leads me. I draw in ink, with no preliminary pencil work. Distortions are sometimes the most interesting part. My proudest most disciplined drawing is The Old, Old Post Office in Columbus,Ohio.
The same technique holds for people or buildings. When I’m really cooking, it can be an almost a continuous line. The line to indicate furry texture is different from the line to indicate a hard surface; patterns of, for instance, brick, will provide a different and interesting texture. It is possible in drawing a person to get tangled up in detail – of the face, for instance – when it is more desirable to move quickly to the body, hands or feet, before turning to the shape of the eye and where it is positioned in relation to the nose and the ear.
The technology of the pen and ink has changed. In college days, we dipped a pen nib into india ink, which gave the drawing a somewhat more raw appearance (Vermont fields, Pittsburgh scenes). Then the rapidograph was developed, so the line became smoother with no differentiation of where the first stroke indicated the fresh ink application. No obligatory pauses to refresh the ink. And now a packet of small throwaway pens fill the bill – no plugged-up nibs, no cleaning required. Different sized nibs in each of the four pens.
The drawing then is translated from line to area and surface when color is applied as I do an oil painting. Anything can happen!