Plein-air pen and wash on paper

Staying Indoors

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On the first day of snow, Vancouver Island’s inhabitants seem to be so disappointed that normal life comes almost to an end. Many offices and all schools are likely to close.

For us, using the car or bicycle is out of the question so we go on foot and shuffle through the snow and over icy surfaces to our downtown studio where it is safe, warm and comfortable.

That’s where I spend most of my time during the past week to make four pictures based on the same photograph of the “Great National Land Building” an iconic heritage structure in downtown Nanaimo. Every picture is different in colour and value schemes, except that I started out more or less with the same drawing every time. The various stages as the work progresses of the second edition looks like this.

It takes about a day working leisurely to get to the final result. What attracts me to this scene is the dark glazing of the building in the background and the lighting on the subject building. The organic shape of the trees provide a contrast with the stark contours of the buildings.

I use a grid system and a dip pen with brown ink to copy the photograph to my paper. A finer grid is applied locally to transfer the curved lines at the top of the building more precisely.  A nib pen glides nicely over the paper surface and allows you to vary the line width.

I am never content with the result and thus try to identify what needs to be different on the next edition. However, after four “renderings” of one photograph it is time to move on, and maybe come back to it some other time.



Author: John Hofman

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