My Thoughts on ‘ZEN’ Drawing


Drawing a face in pen and ink is always tricky, especially when using lines only to do the drawing. This is because a pen line, by its very nature, doesn’t provide a continuous tone, like what is achieved when doing shading with a pencil. Pen line is great to bring out the wrinkles and crevices of an old face but it gets very tricky when attempting to use pure pen lines to draw a smooth face. This is why faces in pen are usually done either draw with stipples (dots) or usually with an ink wash. With stipple and wash, smooth tone can be easily obtained which is needed for depicting a young face.

It gets more complicated when attempting to draw a face close up with lines only. Face at a distance can be illustrated using simple marks for facial features. Finer facial details are not present and simple suggestion of eyes, lips etc. is enough to depict faces that you usually see in comic books.

In my drawings, I like to capture the intensity of my subjects. Face is a canvas of our soul and the thoughts, desires, feelings that we engage with in our heart and mind find their way and express it on our face. Such deep emotions are sometimes barely perceptible, and some times they overflow on our face like a dam that can’t be contained any more. Every face tells a story, however subtle. I attempt to capture these stories in my drawings.

In this drawing, I wanted to capture the serenity and peace that glows on our face when our soul is content and our mind is at rest. This does’t come from any material achievement, though some may try to convince you of that. This peace is inside all of us. We just have to find it with in us by removing the clutter of uninvited thoughts that plague our restless mind.

Technique wise, I did a base layer of fine cross-hatching to lay the base tones of the face. This is similar to how a painter would lay a base layer of colour except that when using pen, there is no brush to yield uniform tone. Instead, each line has to be individually put down and when done correctly, together the lines give the ‘illusion’ of a uniform tone. On top of this cross hatching, I added directional contour lines to bring the features in prominence. Finally, darks were added to shaded part. Lot more went in the drawing, but this sums it at a high level.

As I use only fine lines for all shading and texture, my faces might have a certain ‘roughness’ compared to a very ‘polished’ faces done in pencil or colour pencils. As an artist, it is the ‘roughness’ or the ‘abstractness’ of pen lines and the feeling they impart that really makes this medium so special to me. I attempt to give the faces their own personalities and in their ‘roughness’, you can feel the stories they are telling us.

Hope you enjoyed the drawing and please do feel free to leave comment about any feelings, thoughts or emotions this work aroused in you.




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