Pen & Ink Drawings

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Drawing - Pen & Ink

Aside from pencil drawing, pen and ink drawing is probably the most iconic form of drawing. One reason for this is the long-lasting nature of pen and ink drawings; they aren’t as likely to fade and disappear as drawings made from various forms of coal. There is also the unique, graphic look that you get with ink. Ink reaches a level of black that you can’t get with charcoal, and black ink against a white backdrop creates a kind of bold contrast that speaks to the deepest aesthetic instincts that humans seem to possess.

What ink is Made From

Ink is one of those things that we tend to take for granted. It’s just there, it always has been and probably always will be. That might be how it feels, but once upon a time, there was no ink. It had to be invented. The most basic “recipe” for ink is similar to that of paint. There needs to be a colourant that provides the colour and a vehicle that holds the colourant and keeps it wet in the bottle while allowing it for bonding properly to paper when applied. The earliest records we have of ink creation in China and India shows that they made ink by mixing natural colourants extracted from plants, animals, and minerals. They then mixed the colourant in with water and applied it using a brush.

Pen & Ink Drawing Around the World

One area where pen and ink art has reached unique heights is in Asia. In countries like China, Korea, and Japan the highest forms of visual art were traditionally linked to ink. You might not consider calligraphy to be drawing but when you watch a calligrapher take their brush, dip it in ink, and make masterful slashes and swoops across their paper to write their message in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible you feel the profound connection. Today the basic idea is similar, but the exact ingredients have changed.

Now many inks are made with oil rather than water to give it thickness and make it more resistant to water. Also, the colourants are more often synthetic rather than natural to save money. If you were to break down the ingredients of the ink in your pen, you’d probably find that it is made from a mixture of half dye and half oil-based binder. Ink might seem simple, but when you look closer, you’ll find that even the cheapest pens are the result of thousands of years of art and science working together.

Famous Pen & Ink Drawing Artists

Leonardo da Vinci is an artist to look to if you want to see some masterful early examples of pen and ink art. His “Five Grotesque Heads” is an early bit of caricature that shows what he can accomplish with his ability to capture anatomical details in ink precisely. Ralph Steadman is an illustrator who managed to unlock the full expressive power of pen and ink using a combination of precise details and expressive flourishes.

Browse and collect original Pen & Ink Drawings artworks directly from independent artists from around the world on Artailer features 1000s of original graphite drawings, pen and ink drawings, and charcoal drawings. Filter and select the art drawing you love by category, style, subject, colour, mood, decor styles and gift ideas.