ATC – City/Stars in pen & ink

ATC - pen and ink - city stars This ATC is typical of the scribbles that decorated my class notes starting around age 12.

Bored out of my mind in junior and senior high school, I only half-listened to teachers. (Yes, I regretted that later.)

Instead, I drew a variety of designs, usually a series of connected images like the one at left.

For me, the squares and rectangles represent the architecture of the city.  The swirls represent the city’s energy, and the stars are the dreams and real-life stars, while the circles are clouds and bubbles of creativity.

Free download

You can download your own copy of this ATC by clicking on the image at left, or by right-clicking here and saving it to your hard drive. Print it at 150 dpi so it’s 2.5″ x 3.5″.

This is one of six ATCs that I created in October 2010, experimenting with a new pen.  (It’s a Size 0 point Koh-i-Noor Rapido Drawing Pen.)

Evolution of this style

When I was a teenager, I sometimes drew these designs in ink and just left them as-is.

Others were drawn in pencil during school.  Later, at home,  I drew over the pencil with India ink and my crow quill pen.

When the ink was fully dry, I’d add color.  My mother had paints left from her years as an air brush artist (Dr. Ph. Martin’s radiant, concentrated watercolors) and I used those because the colors were so vivid.  Generally, my color choices included magenta, turquoise, lime green, and yellow.  I used purple as well, but carefully; it’s a color that can dominate artwork very easily.

One of these drawings — painted with acrylic paints — decorated a residential elevator on Marlborough Street in Boston (MA) in 1970.  I remember showing it to musician Jaime Brockett when he visited me, and he could barely believe I’d created it.

Even then, I don’t think my appearance or demeanor matched who I really am.

Another  of these designs became a wall mural in an office just outside of Salt Lake City (UT) in 1973.  It’s no longer visible, of course, but I like to think that it still exists under layers of paint and tasteful wallpaper.

(Hmm… have I mentioned that I was a rather mobile hippie in that era?)

The art themes

These kinds of scribbles have a lot in common with work by Peter Max, but I don’t think he was popular when I began drawing these.

In fact, I think the art in my class notes (and this ATC) drew upon the same cultural icons that inspired Max and others. (The posters for the Grateful Dead and for concerts in general —  particularly around San Francisco — also featured similar imagery.)

When I adopted elements from any popular art, it was probably from a TV show that (I think) aired in the afternoons when I returned home from high school. It had a title like “The Amazing World of Dr. Silver”, but that’s not quite right. I’m pretty sure it was on PBS and produced in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Does anyone else remember this show?)

Mostly, there was a certain style to the art of the late 1960s and early 1970s.  It was happy but also complex, in its own way.

This ATC reflects that.

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ATC – Desk chair

ATC of desk chair, printable copy linkedThe next ATC (artist’s trading card) in my pen-and-ink art experiments features my husband’s desk chair.

I drew it with a Size 0 (zero) point technical drawing pen.  I’ve been using this kind of pen for art since I was introduced to them by a college friend, Darcy Grimm.

The ink is called Ultradraw, and it’s Koh-i-Noor’s India ink for artists, illustrators and draftsmen.

Once that ink is dry, it’s usually waterproof and I can paint over the ink with watercolor paint or use watercolor pencils with water.

It’s ideal for sketchcrawls and other sketches that might become more formal artwork.

This ATC shows a comfy chair upholstered in a grey tweed, and our cat loves to sit in the chair when my husband isn’t in it.  (Otherwise, the cat likes to sit in HT’s lap.)

To protect the chair from our cat’s long hair, we have a (now somewhat ragged) piece of flannel that’s laundered regularly.  The fabric was on the chair when I drew this ATC.

To print this ATC, right-click on the picture and save the higher resolution copy on your computer.  Then, print the artwork at 150 dpi; it’ll be a 2.5″ x 3.5″ ATC after you trim it to size.

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ATC – Pen and ink, fan

Printable ATC - click here to downloadMy second ATC in this series  of six shows our living room fan.  It’s one of those huge grey fans that, on the high setting, blasts you like you’re in a wind tunnel.

Drawing it was sort of a challenge.  I mean, there’s a lot of detail and shading in the actual fan.  Deciding what to include and what to leave out… that was the challenge.

Scaling it down to ATC size was even more interesting.

There are things I might do differently if I were to draw it all over again, but — of course — this was just an ATC… a one-time sketch.  I’m generally pleased with it.

This ATC was drawing with a Size 0 (zero) Koh-i-Noor rapido technical drawing pen on regular paper in my sketchbook.

I started by drawing (in pencil) the 2.5″ x 3.5″ dimensions of a standard ATC.  Then, I began drawing with my pen.  There was no rough sketch to start with, just the outline of the card so I’d get the size right.

About five minutes later (maybe less), it was an ATC.

Pretty simple, huh?

These are super easy.  A good pen makes all the difference.  Sure, you could use any drawing pen, including a felt-tip (like a Sharpie) or a rollerball pen.

However, I think there’s a different quality to more traditional pens, and I think it shows up in the finished artwork.

ATCs are like miniature works of art.  That makes the materials and workmanship more important, in a way.

(Don’t let that scare you off; if the ATC doesn’t look good, you can always put new/different art over it, or throw it out altogether.)

So, for this ATC and the others in this six-card series, I used a rapidograph with Koh-i-Noor’s Ultradraw black India ink. (The ink comes with the pen.)

Right-click on the image to download a printable copy (at 150 dpi)  of this ATC.

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ATCs in Pen and Ink

ATCs - Umbrella ATC - October 2010ATCs have always been dear to my heart.  From the 1990s when many ATCs were created on 3″ x 5″ cards, to the 2.5″ x 3.5″ size that became more standard, to the smaller variations that have emerged: ATCs are fun, fast art.

Recently, I purchased a new rapidograph, also called a “rapido sketch pen.”  It’s an easier way to create the kind of drawings I did as a teenager, when I used a crow quill pen and an ink well.

My new pen has a Size 0 (zero) point, and it’s a vast improvement over rapidographs from even 10 years ago.

Anyway, to get used to my new pen, I decided to sketch a few ATCs.  My first is shown at right.  (Right-click on the image to download your own copy.) It’s a contour drawing of my silvery umbrella… the one I take with me when I go outside to paint landscapes in nature.

Like all of my recent ATCs, the original of this card is 2.5″ x 3.5″ and — by right-clicking on the image, above, and saving it to your hard drive — you can print a full-sized copy (at 150 dpi).

This is the first of six ATCs I’ll be posting over the next few days, showing my progress with my new drawing pen.

The signature (ais/em 2010) on these ATCs is sort of a segue between my online name of Aisling and Eibhlin (“Eileen”), the (real) name I paint under.

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