Pen and Ink

I recently took a six-week course in pen and ink by Ron Peter, found here, to brush up on my techniques and renew my pleasure at this very special medium.

Although watercolour has always been my first love since art school, I dabble in alkyd oils and pen and ink, but I had been away from pen and ink for some years and needed to get back to basics. I posted some of my stuff on the pen and ink section of Wet Canvas, and much to my surprise found it seemed to be an exclusively a male domain.

Ron Peter is a superb teacher and he took us through basic pen and ink techniques, composition, perspective, and the use of India ink wash. I was used to working in colour and it was quite a shock to discover how dramatically different the classic grey scale was when you removed the colour from your chosen subject. Suddenly you were left with blank white paper and the need to render texture, light and dark, distance and mood, with a variety of limited techniques.

Pen and ink illustrations have a long and respected tradition many years before the age of offset and rotogravure, but the digital age has reduced this delightful artistic form to a niche market. The patron saint of pen and ink appears to be Franklin Booth  whose style and approach reminds me of Normal Rockwell. 

Try pen and ink as I did. The upfront costs are quite minimal and you can be guaranteed many hours of creative pleasure.


This lovely old thatched cottage lends itself well to pen and ink techniques. Image size 7” x 10’’ on Arches 140 lb. hot press paper. I recommend hot pressed paper for smoother lines and better techniques. I move to 300 lb. hot pressed for larger projects.


This old barn door is from one of my watercolour paintings and shows some of the techniques of cross-hatching and dry brushing a larger graphic brush pen across the surface. Image size 5” x 7” on Arches 140 lb. hot pressed paper.

Rusting Truck-full

How to depict a rusting truck in pen and ink? I decided on the stippling technique. Image size 5” x 7” on Arches 140 lb. hot pressed paper.


This is a section of what is known as “Little Portugal” in Toronto, and is based on a photograph kindly supplied by Doug Danter. Pen and ink projects are best shown after scanning the art into a computer rather than photographing it, but my scanner wasn’t big enough for this 10” x 14” image on Arches 300 lb. hot pressed paper.





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