Friday, April 14, 2006

Ballpoint Pen drawing, circa 1999

>ballpoint pen, graphite on paper, 5.5 x 8.5", 1999.

The Past
During the summer of 1999, when I was living in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, I started a short series of ballpoint pen drawings on grey paper. Though overly sentimental and facile, this particular drawing reminds me of my artistic convictions at the time and the idealism of a teenage overachiever. Actually, the more I look at the drawing, the more earnest and sincere it seems to become, especially compared to my recent work. The mother and her child were discovered deep in a storage closet and will be on exhibit in a show in NY showcasing ballpoint pen work:


Kenichi Hoshine said...

Old school JJ...Reminds me of Kathe Kollwitz in emotion and brevity. Nice.

11:27 PM  
jed said...

"sentimental" very often is used interchangeably with "maudlin" and when it's used in this way it's generally meant as a dismissal. But there is such a thing as genuine sentiment, and when sincere, and honestly expressed, it's can be very much a GOOD thing.

Now this just seems to me, to be, "in the manner of"--Kenichi hit it on the head when he said Kollwitz--and it's a sincere effort to draw well and expressively, there's just not much James Jean in there. So if the sentiment seems false it's not because it's false sentiment, but because it's not in your own vocabulary. But what you do accurately describe as earnest and honest is your intention to make a drawing with feeling. It's not from your own vocabulary, but that's because you hadn't developed one yet.

Now if it's "facile" it's for that very reason, it's not something that happened organically, but was contrived with earnest intentions. That contour is just a little too perfect and clean. But on the other hand, what a beautifully drawn face. Here, from a kid who's just recently discovered a whole world of art beyond Jim Lee and Marvel Comics, is an earnest attempt to make something beautiful.

3:52 AM  
Lee-Roy said...

Though in a different way, another artist that does great stuff with the ballpoint pen is Barry McGee, aka Twist, SF Bay Area graffiti artist. You can get a nice range with those things. Nice work.

3:00 PM  
Shawn Escott said...

Nice! I like this drawing! I've been doing some drawings on canson toned paper. Degas Inspired me to try it out. Really fun.

4:27 PM  
Meghana said...

Your work has been such an inspiration lately. Just ordered your book yesterday. I was wondering if you will be there on the evening of your reception??

7:14 PM  
Process Recess said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Good points, Jed . . . there is a lot of thought that goes into each of my posts, and it's great that you pick up on the stuff between the lines.

Yes, drawing on toned paper can become a guilty pleasure.

Meghana, unfortunately, I will not be at the opening.

7:30 PM  
Jeff said...

I think that ball point pen is very overlooked. I am so happy to hear of a show like this. I have always loved drawing in ball point pen...well, ever since Jr Highschool, but I still love and I love seeing what you can do with it. This composition is amazing and a very emotional piece. It's very beautiful James.

10:56 PM  
josh said...

I'm always a sucker for you pen drawings....more! more!

11:34 AM  
Kathy said...

Awesome!!! Mu is gonna be in the show too!!! That dude is amazing! But I like your stuffs more.

4:42 PM  
jed said...

I also am totally amazed by Mu's stuff, though I've yet to see any of his paintings in person. I don't think it's fair to compare James to Mu though--they're completely different animals, and both have completely different reasons for making things. James' work, both comercial and personal, when it's not an excercise in observation (though in James' case, "excecise" sounds like a serious understatement) , or otherwise just decorative for the sake of being decorative (which is not to say that "decorative" is in any way a small thing--Matisse could argue that point pretty well), is about storytelling and narrative. Mu--is Mu. There are narative ellements in Mu's work, but narative doesn't drive it.

6:35 PM  
Logan said...

Hey James,

Gorgeous drawing. Ive really taken to ball point pen after having seen your use of it. I think it can be both a challenge and a beautifully rewarding medium all on the same page.

I actually had a comment about your painting "Succubus", but wasnt sure where to post it haha. Oh right here? Well ok, if you say so.

It reminds me very much of 20th Century Italian artist Rico Lebrun. Have you seen any of his drawings? He was simply a marvelous draftsman and "Succubus" felt alot like his litho 'illustrations' for "Dante's Inferno". His inventions and expressions of the body, erotic content, and lyrical linework would be right up your alley. The icing on the cake is that he made excellent use of pen and ink on paper.

8:25 PM  
Logan said...

Drawings like this:

8:37 PM  
Process Recess said...

Mu is King.

Logan - Thanks so much for bringing up Rico Lebrun - I had never seen his work before. There is a real power and heft behind his drawings.

10:08 PM  
Rebekit said...

Beautiful. Great that you discovered a piece in a closet, that will now be in a show for all to see.

8:08 PM  
sandra said...

hey doing a batmanpainting right now..but im kinda struggling with the fleshcolor...and i was curious if you could help me out and kinda give me what colors do i ahve to mix to get a nice using
acrylics and watercolor

5:04 AM  
Randy Loveland said...

Hullo James,

I've been an enormous fan of your work since I found out about you (through The Royal - a bit late to the party, I'm afraid).

If you'd be open to being a featured artist in Box Magazine, let me know. It's fairly painless, and I think your work would be appealing to our readers.

Randy (randy at box-mag dot com)

10:47 AM  
Yacin said...

too far for me, but splendide anyway :)

11:33 AM  
jed said...

Yo, Sandra, Scroll down and check out this guy's palette:

It's the famous "Reilly Pallette" that a lot of illustrators used to use, devised by a guy named Frank Reilly. It's a good way to organize your paint if you're having trouble, and it has a tonal scale of conventional skin tones.

But the truth is, there isn't any such thing as a paint concoction that will give you "skin tones", since skin comes in all colors and shades and is effected by the lighting in the room, and such things as reflective color, warm and cool relationships, and chromatic modelling. A skin tone can be anything from green to bright red, to gray, depending on the lighting, and that's if your painting naturalistically and not expressionistically--James for instance, often uses colors based on mood, rather than naturalistic lighting conditions.

There's this thing painters call "local color" that means, basically, the colors we expect things to be--green trees and pink and brown skintones. But fortunately these aren't your only options. Once you've got the whole thing worked out in terms of tone, you can get away with murder, as far as color is concerned. So, you know, go nuts. Don't get so hung up on what color of beige batman's face is supposed to be.

Also, it's true, I'm not James. But I probably have more free time than he does at the moment.

4:21 PM  
sandra said...

hey jed...thank you!! helped me alot...kinda made me realize some stuff...its very interesting though!!!
so yea thank you:)

12:45 AM  
jed said...

No problem! As you can see with Jame's comments above, he puts it a little more eloquently than I do, but I think he's basically trying to offer similar advice--he's just not as long-winded as me. And he definately has more of a grasp of it than I do. I'm more of a line kind of person myself. I'd reccomend checking out other stuff on that site though--you can learn a lot from those old school illustrators who have such classic approaches to rendering.

6:58 AM  

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