After completing three ink on paper pieces and starting a fourth, I think I can safely say I have found what I had wanted to find: a way forward. Something old and something new. Old in the sense that I sought to recapture how I thought in my 20s. Simple. Fast. Graphic. Minimal or no color. Paper. I cannot stipple anymore because I no longer have rapidograph pens and I lack the patience. But I still love ink. I can draw with it and I can use it like watercolor. I have used ink off and on over these last 40+ years, so there was no contemplation about that. Finding the right paper has been more of a challenge, but it has now been resolved (thank you Strathmore).
I paint because I love birds, their shapes, their feathers, the patterns within their feathers. It is a primal response. I will continue to be fascinated by the sensuality of light and shadow, of plants, water, mud and skies. But it’s time to dispense with anything that isn’t serving the primal purpose of why I want to paint birds. Others can do landscapes so much better than I, so it finally hit me. In looking for a way forward, in asking myself why I want to paint birds, I realized: why not keep it simple and focus on two things: the medium of ink itself and the shapes, patterns, and lights and darks of feathers?
I know for certain I will go back to oil and watercolor. Those mediums are ideal for visions that are not strictly about birds and feathers. But there is something about ink that draws me back again and again. It plays on my well-developed graphic design skills. It forces me to focus, to draw very carefully, and strong draftsmanship is one thing I am attracted to in all art. Using ink as I do forces me to respect the paper. The paper, the surface, the white, the emptiness are equal elements to the ink. There is some degree of forgiveness in the Strathmore Illustration board, but not much. I can use ink a little bit like watercolor, in washes, in building up the darks. But I cannot be uncertain and only marginally tentative. I cannot erase or paint over. It is a level of pure vision, of direct expression that has taken me many years to achieve.