I ended up doing something different today. I recently bought a Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen in black, and have been longing to use it. While browsing Google searches for ink art, to find some inspiration, I stumbled upon the work of Charles Dana Gibson.
Specializing in inked images of figures, particularly women, he is widely regarded as a master of pen and ink. If you search his name in Google images you can see why. His characters feel alive and real.
As I learned at the Library of Congress website, his design of women in the 1890’s became known as the ‘Gibson Girl’. In fact, it became a cultural icon that set fashion and beauty standards for many years.
The particular illustration I studied is simply known as Head of a Girl, and dates to somewhere between 1893 and 1914. I followed his example of doing a loose graphite underdrawing and then inking.
To be honest, I didn’t do much of a sketch first. As you can see, I have been using an “Inktober Practice Apple” sticky note to warm up and play around with techniques. I did a little thumbnail there, a sketch of the basic face on the right, and went in with my Pitt pen.
The end result is okay. Gibson’s girl looks alluring in her blasé expression, while mine just looks bored. But the important thing is that I learned a lot from this study. It was a fun experience to give structure to the face with simple diagonal lines, and an updo through carefully placed yet loose swoops.
I did get overconfident and less careful by the time I reached the neck, which is why it is, well, a bit tree-trunk-ish. I tried to fix it, but gave up since it just seemed to make it worse. Anyways, I look forward to studying more of Gibson’s work to improve my own inking.