Thursday, February 08, 2007


Mono Tulips #3
8.5" x 11.5" pen and ink
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

These are drawings I've been doing recently of red parrot tulips in pen and black ink. I really enjoy drawing flowers from life in pen and ink. You can see more examples in the flower drawings gallery on my website.

These pen and ink drawings were done to practice my penmanship and generally limber up for my Van Gogh drawing project this month. I'll be trying to develop new ways of making marks with pen and ink. I thought I'd start by drawing in my own style which I'd describe as loose hatching with form. Is there a better way of describing it?

I'm using a Pilot G-TEC-C4 gel ink rollerball pen with a 0.4mm point which gives a very fine line (0.2mm) and very fluid ink which never ever 'globs'. You know that bit where you've got a great drawing going and then your pen decides to burst a blood vessel all over your paper with a great big inky splurge.............

Anyway, I'm pleased to say that as a pen it's very difficult to find and I am in the process of buying up all the stock I can find and I'm not sharing my sources! A girl has got to have her secrets when it comes to the real pleasures in life. However, in trying to find a link for the pen, Google found the Cult Pens website which is saying that they stock all the colours and ship worldwide!

Mono Tulips #1 and # 2 are on the left, #3 is at the top and #4 is at the bottom - and there are more in the pipeline! These tulips have all been drawn from life. Some have been done during daylight and some were done at night under artificial light. The joy of drawing in pen and ink being that changing the light source may have an impact on values but you don't need to worry about what it's doing to the colours!

What I'm enjoying about drawing the tulips in this particular way is that it produces a rather curious mix of a loose version of a botanical drawing with something which is rather more abstract. I'm finding them very absorbing to look at and think I'll be doing more like this as I love drawing in this way. How about you? Do you find them interesting to look at or just plain confusing?

It's made me think I need to get some good paper out so I can do some more on 'proper paper' rather than in my sketchbook as these are.

Mono Tulips #4
8.5" x 11.5" pen and ink
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Did you know that Tulipmania actually existed? There's an interesting Wikipedia entry all about it.



  1. I do love it when a representational drawing/painting has these abstract qualities. These are lovely.

  2. I really like the Tulip series Katherine.
    They are so alike in style yet so different in final composition, I predict a bright future for them.


  3. I love the unfinished quality of the pen and ink ones, they're just lovely :D And don't think I won't be pestering to find out where you got that pen, just because you don't want to tell :D

  4. I agree 100% with what's been said up til now :).!!!!

  5. Oh, I think this style is MUCH more interesting than a purely representational approach. I love seeing process in artwork and here we see the movements of your hand and of your sensibility in such a direct way. These are distinctive, beautiful drawings. You make me want to go and do likewise :D.

  6. Katherine, the first one is my favorite of these. Why? The swath of dark reaching up to the left is reminiscent of the Sargent studies you just finished. Lovely division of space. These definitely have the feelign of fragile tulips, while making a complete artistic statement.

  7. I so agree, I love seeing the gesture of the hand and your strokes are so fine, quick and lively in these creating the lovely gradations of tone, your explorations spark new directions for me to explore too.

  8. Am loving the curved hatchings. how long are these taking you? Say, the first one?

  9. everything has been said - these are lovely

    are you using a reed pen for the VG project?

    There were some lovely reed pen drawings by him in the Compton Verney exhibition

  10. Thank you all so much for your comments. I thought as I was doing these that there was something quite special happening.

    Pica - the top three I did in one evening. The very top one (#3)took 60-90 minutes and I seem to recall I tweaked the darks the next day before breakfast!

    The main thing is that they have reminded me how much i like drawing flowers in pen and ink and I intend to do some more!

  11. Vivien - I have my reed pen and my goose quill pen and my ox gall ink at the ready!

    I think I might need to go and find a trusty penknife first ( as in pen knife!! ;) )

  12. All the intelligent expressions of appreciation have already been made above! I simply love these tulips and am in awe of your beautiful hatching, Katherine. Also full of envy that you have reed and quill pens - probably, as an almost vegetarian, I'd have to avoid the ox gall ink. Looking forward to more.

  13. Robyn - no need to worry - my spelling mistake it should read oak gall!!! (I don't know where the ox came from?!)

    Here's a link to How to make ink

  14. Hi Katherine,

    Beautiful drawings. The G-Tec-C4s are great pens - nice range of colours, too. Feel free to stock up, but we usually have plenty of them in stock - they're very popular, and, as you say, not easy to get hold of elsewhere.

    (I work for Cult Pens.)


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