Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Grandmother Time, drawing in pen and ink and on the computer about 7x8”  by Ruth Zachary

Last week I planned to try more experiments to draw into abstract background compositions, and hopefully to produce a combination of abstract design and realistic imagery, so that they could serve as illustrations for poetry chapbooks.

My reason for wanting to do them in color was that even though black and white is more economical to publish, having a larger colored version would allow the work to serve double duty. A second black and white illustration of each piece would meet the second goal at the same time.

My color layering experiments did not work for two reasons. Black or white do not work in the layering process very well. Also realistic imagery does not work well either. The boundaries of realistic shapes would have to dominate but be compatible with the underlying layers.

I have since decided to work in a new way. I am making black and white background drawings, designed in a similar way as my approach with designing colored compositions.  The drawings are sometimes done using technical pens on white paper, and sometimes I also create a composition directly on the computer. I expect the optimum size of images will range from 9x12” down to 4x6”. In some cases I will use parts of drawings done in the past for card designs. I expect they will do double duty again as new designs for note cards.

I use three or four major tools for drawing in black and white on the computer. First I establish shapes, geometric or organic in solid black and whites with select tools. Next I place a layer under the first design attempt, and fill it with solid black. Using the eraser tool in a very fine size, I begin to draw by shading and scribbling with the eraser on the white areas of the design to create black textures. Sometimes I use a large uneven brush. This creates contrast and variety.

To reverse the look, I try using the pencil or paintbrush on the black shapes with white to create more textures. It is best not to have wet edges, as this will not create totally black and white sharp edges, best for reproduction. Also a sharp edged point on the pencil will have a jagged rather than natural look.

Another great tool is to select areas of the composition and go up to Image> adjust> and then go t o invert. This will reverse black to white, and white to black. It is easy to make a very complex drawing in a couple of hours using just these tools.

My plan now is to draw figures, people, faces, landscape elements and animals to be scanned into my computer, and cut them out, and place them carefully over the background I have made, and to continue to draw into the background to reconcile the appearance of the subject with that of the background. This process is much more simple than layering. The modes are not used. The top layer is merged with the background.

To have consistent drawing textures and qualities to tie the series together, I will take parts of the backgrounds previously created and include bits of them into new drawings.

Writing and Images are the© Copyright of Ruth Zachary.

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