Thursday, April 03, 2008

Old portraits and an ink surprise


The old yearbook that I took apart and filled with splendid drawing paper (see earlier post) used to be full of photographs from 1936 - portraits of teachers and students of The Royal Institute of Technology here in Stockholm. At first, I was just going to throw the whole contents of the book away, but then I started really looking at these photos, and they grew on me. I quite like them. All these men (of course only men were studying to become engineers in 1936) have quite a character to their faces, and even the young students look like gentlemen quite experienced in the ways of the world to my eyes of 2008.

I drew these with a Micron pen, and two waterbrushes filled with diluted Noodler´s ink. A funny thing I discovered (that I probably should have known, since I once cleaned a dried up ink pen by simply soaking it in ink for a few days) is that when I was laying down the washes of ink, the wash solved the pen lines! And Microns are waterproof, and the lines were dry. It took me a while to realize that ink solves ink if they are of a similar kind.

You see how the first guy above has very dark shadows? I drew him first and was incredibly frustrated with the lines getting all mushed up. So I started experimenting with other ways of filling my waterbrushes with shades of gray. Ended up with two different mixes of Neutral Tint watercolour and water. That did the trick. Now I can get pretty much the grays that are in the photos.

I´m not sure why I´m drawing these, but they are quite addictive. Now I´d just like to find a book full of women from the same era.

5,5 x 8 cm, Micron pens and diluted ink/watercolour on Arches Satinée watercolour paper.

26 comments:

anne said...

fantastiskt fina! rolig idé att teckna porträtt från gamla foton så där. du inspirerar ständigt nina! :)

Alan said...

I may have to dig out my old high school yearbooks..they are ancient history now.

Atka Kevlarsjäl said...

This is so cool. Can you imagine that one of those men read this post and recognize themselves? Or when they were portrayed, they didn't expect to end in a blog, of course. That's funny!

SCquiltaddict said...

lovely portraits...

Jason Das said...

These look great, Nina!

Brian said...

Very nice! You manage well to capture that antique, yellowed look. I am pretty impressed in general by the stuff on your blog, e.g. that bit of foot sticking out from the covers in your previous post. Marvelous work; I'll come check back every now and then.

Karina Kuschnir said...

Always wonderful work Nina! But I couldn't understand exactly how you've solved the problem of the ink... What exactly did you put inside the waterbrush?

Margaret Ann said...

Beautiful faces...filled with youthful hopes and dreams...a lovely theme! :)

Felicity said...

I can see why these would be addictive - faces back then seem somehow different don't they? Hope to see lots more!

Bill said...

You just get better and better. You're an inspiration.

andrea joseph's sketchblog said...

Oh, they are excellnet Nina. Excellent. I love each and everyone and they all have their own charachter for sure. This makes me want to go and start drawing portraits immeadiately!

Jennifer Lawson said...

I agree with everyone— these are wonderful. Looking forward to seeing more.
Also, I love the previous post of the foot and the covers. Not being the best sleeper, how many times have I awakened in the night and thought about sketching...

juj said...

I can see why you are addicted to them - they're very compelling. And thanks for the tip about the ink. As I was reading I was thinking - wow, what a great idea - until I got to the part about how it didn't work that is! But watercolor in a water pen - now why didn't I ever think of that? Thanks again Nina!

Yellow said...

These really are fantastic, and they are very much of an era. Just fantastic.

katequicksilvr said...

Nina, now wonderful! I wish the families of these men could see their portraits, you've captured something magic.

And who would have thought about the ink dissolving the lines!?

Arty Velarde said...

these drawings are soo beautiful
I love them!

laureline said...

I didn't know that about ink dissolving ink! Thank you so much for telling us! These are really interesting, Nina---and the foot below is stunning!! You, of course, draw exquisitely.

no way said...

Your drawings are beautiful and have tons of character. Love the range of grey, as well as how you've captured the personality of these men.

Patricia said...

These are simply beautiful! An ingenious idea, with wonderful, fluid handling of the ink. And I love the haunting, emotional quality the faces have ---

Marsha Robinett said...

Love these new drawings...they have the look of a well kept treasure. It's a shame their families can't see them.

Thanks for the tip on the ink...I will remember this. I work mainly in carbon pencil but really like the look you've achieved here. I'm anxious to try it.

Christy DeKoning said...

these are so much fun! I love the way you've rendered them, and well done for coming up with such a great solution to your dilemma with the lines mushing. I found your site through Marsha Robinett's blog.

africantapestry said...

these portraits are so great nina..just love them!
Ronell

Robyn said...

I always get so much pleasure out of your streetscapes, Nina but these portraits are a new delight to me. Wonderful project idea and the faces are beautifully captured.

I too would like to see the women. And I can't wait to try your ink dissolving tip on an old pen - I've tried everything else!

pascal said...

I like the retro-touch of these portraits!

Alison said...

Wonderful - you could create a mock 'dating agency' - yes some women would be great too.

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