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Drawings that have been wrought with pen and ink have a cleanliness to them. When drawn with ink and pen, artwork carries a starkness and simplicity that no other medium manages. That same cleanliness, however, can leave an artist feeling vulnerable. Line drawings with high contrast give the artist nowhere to hide. Each line communicates something, whether it is power and knowledge or uncertainty and timidity. The following tips and techniques will assist in making the art of ink drawing less nerve-wracking and more accessible.

Using the Tools of the Trade

The art of drawing in ink requires the pen, its nibs, and the ink. Ink that is waterproof when dry is preferable if there is a desire to paint over it afterward. This will also help prevent smudging. When using pen and nibs, it is important to remember that the nib should only be pulled or dragged in order to make marks; a pushed nib creates spatters. Also, remember that even a slight change in pressure will create a change in the thickness of the lines.

Different Strokes

Different pen strokes are used to create the illusion of a gradation in value with the use of white paper and high contrasting black ink. Squiggled lines, hatches and cross-hatches, lines that vary between thick and thin, and quickly-dashed circles are all used to fill in white spaces and create shading. Solid black is used for deepest shading.

Take Hold of the Pen

A change in the way the pen is held can add a new dimension to drawings, making them unique and special in order to stand out in contrast to the works of other artists. Try holding the pen at the top to create an unexpected looseness of line. For an artist whose work is generally tightly controlled, this method can create happy accidents.

Relax and Enjoy

Finally, remember that art is meant to be fun. Don’t take it too seriously! When an artist worries too much about mistakes or obsesses over each line, the joy of creating art can be forgotten. The bigger picture should be remembered. Mistakes and missteps are part of each journey. This is fine; it is completely normal. Remember that every line is in service of a greater whole that leads to a final image. When you are feeling frustrated, just remember what television artist Bob Ross, once said, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents”.