Illustration: 2 small ones

After two weeks of yearning I found one hour this afternoon to draw. Initially I wanted to pencil and ink a drawing of the cat of my friend Lieneke. She has a Turkish Van, Mimi. Beautiful! And so funny.

But that didn’t work out.
Instead I inked two drawings I did earlier.



It’s so weird all the things that have to be right for me to start illustrating. Which is one of the nicest things I know how to do.
But there has to be peace. And time. No to-do list. No cats or husband distracting me. Some other things. Weird…

The last time I drew was a couple of weeks back, i did not have the cleaning media with me. The ink got stuck in the “collar” of the brush. That’s a sure way to ruin your brush fast.


After this I cleaned it, with the ink soap. I hope it’s all right.
I used the sable-synthetic blend. I like it best. Next time I’ll buy some 100% sable and see how that works for me. The Kolinsky seems to be too much for me.

Well, I hope to brush some more soon. I see having pencilled sketches ready works well for me so I’ll try and make some in an unclaimed minute.

(I don’t have much of those. It’s still pretty much every day living like a vegetable aside from twice one hour uptime. That’s for dressing, showering, cooking, the lot. I really hate my life at the moment.)
(of course this is pms-week…)

moving towards illustrating

Still thinking about making my life meaningful



somehow rekindled my interest in illustration. Particularly making beautiful ink lines with a brush.

It’s what I love about Sumi-é. And it is what I admire in comics. I have tried before to make beautiful lines but I never found the tool that suited my hand. Well, except for sumi-é brushes but they must be used on rice paper. (I feel).

Laying sick in bed the last past weeks I read a lot of blogs. For example



Entertaining and funny. I liked it so much that I started reading it from the start, all the way back when we were young and the world made sense. There’s so much fun to read in the comments! Lovely past time for the brain fogged. The owner is an illustrator by trade and lets you freely steal and paste the art all over the web. I paste it all over this page, all art today by!




Somewhere in 2007 in the comments they talked about illustrating. And linked to this site called where a guy talks a lot about all the different brushes there are. Finally! An explanation! A map!

That lead me to a search about “Kolinsky” which is some kind of weasel in Russia whose hairs have magic properties.



magic weasel


The hairs of the tail of the male are used to make brushes. Each hair tapers to the end, making for brushes that hold a lot of ink while having a fine point and bouncing back in form every time you release pressure from the paper. They are expensive brushes! 20 to 30$ for a brush!

Which is why lots of other brushes are also called “kolinsky” but may not contain any magic weasel. Magic stoat, magic squirrel but no magic weasel. Even if a “kolinsky” brush really is made of Kolinsky weasel it may not have been made properly. Any stray hair can ruin the brush. Buying any brush without checking its quality is a big gamble.

Learning about “Kolinksy” and wanting to learn how to find a good brush lead to the blog Which is a GOLD MINE for the “love-ink-don’t-know-where-to-start”- people among us. If only this blog provides me with more words to pour into the google and the youtube! Searching for “Ink”, “inking”, “expressive line”, “brush”, ‘”thumbnailing”, “Windsor and Newton series 7 #2”, “dr. Martins Blackstar High Carb”, “calligraphy line”, “cola pen”, “Bristol Board” helps me to hone in on that niche in art that particularly holds my interest. That makes my heart sing (which is a good compass for finding out what makes my life meaningful. But more about that later)

There’s a whole scene of people who have a love for expressive black lines and made it their profession! They are the people that “ink a comic”. They know about the love your hands and eyes feel when a line comes out just right. Or better than you’d expected. The joy of good tools. Et cetera.




Reading the comic-tool blog made things come together for me. Here’s talk of ink! Here’s talk of brushes that bounce back and are able to make a thin line thick and then thin again! Just like I love with my quality sumi-é brushes (which I would never use with commercial ink, only the hand made Japanese ink.) There’s even talk about my experience that seems very common: trying to make beautiful ink lines with an inferior brush -especially an expensive one!- will turn you away from brushes. Stray hairs ruin the crispness, bad brush posture will spread the hairs and make an ugly line.

I’ve found some friends, momma!


Suddenly I saw a line from my past running into my present. I have always loved comics, especially the monochrome ones, with clear contrast and expressive lines. Interesting page build ups. Visual inventions. I bored my fellow students at the academy with them. Without drawing myself!

Before and after the academy I’ve done sumi-é brushwork, experiencing the joy of a good brush and good ink and developing technique. Learning to hold my brush vertical. Which is how comic ink people hold their brush too!

Ahhh… now I have a chance to make those pencil drawings from a few weeks back into something more. But first: the hunt for a good brush.


My local artist supply shop was unfriendly today, they clearly thought I was nuts. And a nuisance. Even though I admitted to be a beginner and having beginners questions. Because I had just learned that to find a good brush you’d best dip it in water, let it soak up all it can. Then tap it once (on your wrist, for example) and then look at the fur. It should have snapped into a perfect shape. No stray hairs. A sharp point. Perfect shape.



“Well, we don’t have water here.” the woman said, shrugging.

“So how do people asses the quality of a brush?” I asked.

“By buying them!”

I’m not buying a 20 to 30$ brush without trying it out when expert users tell me maybe 5 in every 10 expensive brushes are usable! But I didn’t tell her. Instead I asked about the difference between drawing ink, calligraphy ink and east Indian ink. Which was also a stupid question, apparantly…

Well, I won’t be going back there any time soon. (Luckily the lady at the chocolate shop was much nicer.)

Back home I went online and ordered a couple of brushes from Rosemary & Co in the UK. The people over at are no longer enthousiastic about the quality of those brushes but I might get lucky and with their cheap prices I don’t mind to gamble. I ordered some Kolinsky’s and also a couple of nylon brushes. I would like to investigate how well the nylon brushes have been innovated the last couple of years. Perhaps by now they are able to make a brush that’s flexible, retains its form and doesn’t have stray hairs.

The trip to the shop was exhausting so no more playing today nor tomorrow. Perhaps later in the week.



In the mean time:

unclestoatyand I would welcome it too.

Here again is the link for


visual arts: thinking about styles and planes

this picture by LoveAshleyDesigns on :

reminds me of Kay Nielsen: East of the Sun, West of the Moon:

Sure, Ashley Taylor uses a different visual style, it’s more formal, more “clean”, more “now”. But it shows some of the same use of proportions, decorative fields and fairytale atmosphere. (Nielsen is a bit more ‘sharp’ in his atmosphere I think)

A lovely opportunity to think about recreating a loved image in another style, not your own. Just to play with lines, planes, fields, atmosphere.
If I have the time and the energy, I’d love to do that more. :)

Some other art that popped up on my radar is about using two fields of colour to create an image. Using planes and not lines offers a whole range of interesting puzzles to solve.
These puzzles have been played with for centuries in block printing and silhouette cuttings. Last century in comic novels. Nowadays in decals. It’s a dear fascination of mine, only recently in that pop up card I got to play with it again.


Here’s some work by artist Shou:

All the “black” has to connect to each other if these are to be cut out of one sheet of media. The details in the face of the last woman do not. But that’s a detail. I love how with silhouettes and wit the use of concave/curves all kinds of shapes are made and atmosphere is suggested.

I also like the free hand style that is used. It talks to me of Sumi-é, my other fascination. In which I also have a particular taste for expressive, high contrast work. This is one of my own brushings:

In the last century Frank Miller made the comic Sin City. Also quite expressive and full of contrast. (All his work can be found here.)
Some images from Sin City. The comic itself is more brutal, more sexual.

Bill Watterson from Casper and Hobbes also has this expressive use of line. I love it. On more than one occasion I have tried to find out what kind of brush he uses so I could start to play like this too.
I love brush technique but I have yet to find a brush that act like I want. Basically I’d love my fingers to have some sleek tails.

Watterson also plays with the style in which he presents his images, switching them around:

I am in absolute awe, especially because the fun he has doing this radiates from the work!

And I totally support the man in his decision to stop when he was done; to remain a private person and in his views on merchandizing and judging art. See wiki for the synops on that.
Watterson’s publisher

I’ve set up a reasoning to think my way out of feeling useless in life. I’m too tired now to present it to you, this art post took way longer than anticipated. But I will in the near future. At least before I lose my line of thought. Or can no longer read my scribbles…


(don’t bother, I took too poor a picture for you to read. Not on purpose though.)

Basically I first look at “being in existence”, if that yields any purpose. Animals, plants, bacteria, planets. (Nope. But a few interesting viewpoints to try out for fun.)

Then I look at “being human”. This yields results. I follow a few ways of looking at things: how judgement works; how values come into play; what is typical for humans and what is typical for me. This gives a few areas that require more investigation for me personally.

“Typical human” is then focused on some more. I divide it in having this brain and having emotions. Both give interesting clues for leading a purposeful life, as a human being.
Then there’re all kinds of overlaps and connections between intellect and emotion to discover. Quite fun to think about.

“Typical me” is concerned with how I roll (what fascinates me and what boundaries are sensible for me). This would differ for every individual. For me this will ask adaption and adoptation of mental attitudes. I’ll need to learn some new habits of how I look at the world, at life and at my days.

five jobs: Started to draw (no pictures yet)

I have begun to draw. The beginning of my job as an illustrator, I hope. One of my five jobs.

This is a weird job. I can’t sit at the table at 9 in the morning, get my stuff and start working. Drawing for me is done in that minute between other things you want to do. I have to do my day and have a notebook handy and just when I’m about to get up and make some tea, I stop myself and instead draw for 45 seconds.

There has to be absolutely no pressure. Of course I started to dream up future publications and merchandize immediately which made the no-pressure-thing pretty obvious pretty quick. When the world emporium ambitions started, my scetchbook stayed empty or had just a few schematic drawings. “I’ll fill in the details later” is a red flag for me. That means I’m thinking, not drawing.

No dreaming of publications at any time because not only does it kill my drawing I’ll also alter my work to what I perceive to be the publics preferences. Right now I need to draw for fun. Draw something because the subject interests me. Because spacial relations interest me. Because lines interest me. They do, they do, they do.

I’ve been at it for a few days now and some old familiar feelings have sprouted. The feelings I know from back when I was an artist. Things like these:

  1. there’s a buzz. A restlessness. It lingers all day (and night). My mind is preoccupied with art, it is always in the back of my mind. I have to juggle this restlessness with the ones I experience from too much chocolate, too little hormones, too much Copper and the legal procedures about that darn manure factory they’re planning across the road.
  2. I see more. Everywhere I look I see lines and textures and subjects. And beauty. It’s a wonderful eye to have.
  3. The need to adjust the compass constantly. For example, I have to remind myself that not every art that is possible needs to become in existence. It’s ok to not draw something that would be beautiful and/or loved by others. Take a breath, take it easy. Another example: I tend to turn away from things that really fascinate me and go to safer things. These safer things I make into style exercises and I convince myself that that’s important. I need to stop this ratio-cackle and just draw for the fun of drawing. Last example: the inner critic. A well known voice for many people. It looks at what’s in my notebook and finds it appalling. Childish. It probably is. But that’s no reason to criticize it. I’ll need a lot of practice anyway, to find my own style. AND I need to accept my own hand of drawing, not try to draw like some of the artists I admire.

Really fascinating subjects: alternative stories to well known fairytales. Or something weird I saw in Dublin. But they are hard to render onto paper. Because it all has to come from the mind. There’s no model.

Easier and safer subjects and just as much fun: drawing the cat. In various styles. Or taking interesting artists and studying their work (with a pencil).

Well, this is what I’m doing. In between things.

Here’s an artist I’m looking at at the moment: Kay Nielsen

wonderful compositions.

pictures by Amber Case, caseorganic on flickr

ps that inner critic is a drag. It also gives me lip about how this blog is looking. With all the words. When pictures are so much easier to look at. Well….