Sketch of a cat called Cody in ballpoint pen

Sketch of Cody the cat in ballpoint penHere’s the photo of Cody that I used. Cody hangs out over at “Cat Chat with Caren and Cody” – Caren is also the owner of Dakota the Sheepdog that I drew a few days back.
Each time I point out something in my drawings that I’m not too happy about, all my wonderful readers immediately insist on the contrary! I’m really glad that everybody seem to like my daily drawings, and your encouragement and nice words is a great motivational factor in getting my daily drawings done! However, I mostly consider this blog a learning experiment! Everything I do, I do in order to get better. I suppose my approach is all about quantity. I do at least one per day, so I tend to see my progress and improvement in very general terms. Sometimes my latest drawing is better than the one before that, sometimes the progress doesn’t show as much, but the improvement is in the overall picture. Anyway – since my main goal with this blog is to log my improvement and progress over time, I’ll always criticize my own work. Not to put it down, but rather to reflect upon what I need to improve. I also point out what I’m happy about, so it’s not all auto-bashing (is that a word?)

This sketch is a good example of that, because there are parts that I’m happy about and parts I want to improve! I think the “look” in Cody’s eyes turned out nice, but there are some problems with the proportions of the face. I did draw it quite quickly, so that might be the main reason. I also would have preferred the front paw to be in the picture, but I got a little carried away with the head before I got to think about the rest of the composition!
The drawing is quite rough – and that’s pretty much all I know how to do with a ballpoint pen. I’d like to get a little more experience in drawing more “minimal” or “suggestive” lines where I draw the whole thing with small notations like a “short hand” and where the brain gets to fill in the missing pieces, rather than having it all on the paper.. People who do that are really artists!

I’ve noticed that even though these drawings only take 15-30 minutes to make, they still seem to pass by different phases. For me, the first one is the blank paper. I usually just jump right in, and do the first line really quickly. With the cats, it’s always the ears for some reason. There’s somethingย  a little scary about white paper, because it has all possible potential to become a great drawing or something only worthy of the trashcan. (Or maybe lighting up the fire in some lonesome cabin in the woods…?) I never throw sketches out, and I publish everything I do on my blog – this has helped me a lot with this initial white-paper-anxiety, because with the quantity of sketches, each unique sketch somehow get less important. Maybe it’s an exaggeration to use such words, but on the other hand, this is perhaps what keeps a lot of people from drawing. When I’ve got the first lines down, it’s already clear if it’s proportionally “correct” or not. I spend some time in trying to manipulate those first quick lines into something that resembles my reference photo a little more, and then the rest of the time is just a question of adding hatches, scribbles and so on, until you feel it’s enough. And then the last phase is probably the reverse of that “fear of the white paper”- thing.. Because knowing when a drawing is finished is just as difficult as knowing how to start. It’s strange to imagine handing over my blank paper and ballpoint pen to the ghost of Rembrandt, and just observe. It’s the same paper, same drawing tool, it’s even the same anatomy (although I’m not sure what a great master’s ghost is really supposed to look like) – the only difference is that secret ingredient that can be found somewhere in the brain or the soul. The accumulation of an individual’s complete experiences and thoughts.. People who look at abstract art always say “i could have done that” – myself included. But what is funny about it, is that when you dissect a drawing by Rembrandt, it’s only a lot of individual lines drawn one after the other. The same applies. Everyone could have drawn each of those individual lines, but they didn’t. And even if you sit down and draw lines like Rembrandt drew lines, you don’t draw the same combination of lines..

This has turned into a long and strange thing so I think I’ll stop and go grab some breakfast. I suppose that what I want to say is that art is fascinating. It can appear really simple when you think of it, but it’s all but simple! I want to do more ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks to Caren for requesting that I draw Dakota and Cody!
That was my 452th drawing.

16 thoughts on “Sketch of a cat called Cody in ballpoint pen”

  1. One of my drawing teachers, when I was overthinking my drawing, had me use brush and ink on rice paper. You have to use minimal lines and you can’t overdo it (or do it over), or it turns into nothing but blobs of ink, so it’s a good exercise that I still use from time to time.
    I think you articulate well here the ups and downs of the drawing process. Two steps forward, once step back, but you learn from it all.

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  2. Oh I totally “get” everything you say about drawing/sketching. I always thought of it as a learning process – it helped me to move into oil painting although my obsession with detail when I WAS painting was a reverse of loose sketching. I want to return to that “loose” thing and have thought lately about taking a sketchpad out to my front porch and sitting there doing bits and pieces of the front yard………..ANYWAY, about your sketch of Cody – I think you did a great job with him except for one thing – the left side of his face is a bit disproportionate to the right. You captured his fabulous jaw PERFECTLY though – that’s his “signature” !! Cody and his Mom are good friends of ours and I think she’ll like this drawing of her Cody boy.

    Pam

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    • I hope she’ll like it! Yeah i also noticed that the face was slightly asymmetric! But it was too late to do anything about it ;). I’ve never spent a really long time on one single painting/drawing, but i can imagine that it would kill some of the joy i find in sketching.. Doing things loosely is fun, but if i were to really make an effort – like those 20-hour photo-realistic drawings you sometimes see, i think i’d loose interest.. I wish i had a front porch to sketch on.. the weather is beautiful here in Denmark !

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  3. We really like this drawing of our friend Cody! Thank you also for sharing part of your process with us. Fascinating!

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  4. Sketches in ball point pen??? Are you freaking kidding me?! You’re like those annoying people who complete their puzzles quickly in PEN rather than pencil, aren’t you? Seriously, drawing in pen is quite remarkable and I am so jealous. Kudos. If I don’t use half an art gum eraser on every drawing, I consider myself totally blessed-still lousy but blessed I didn’t use the whole thing up on one crummy sketch that will end up being thrown away. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • Haha, thanks.. Well it took me a while to work up to courage to do it, but it’s actually not that bad once you get going.. You just need to be careful! I usually go hard on the eraser too when it’s in pencil, but in ink there’s no way back!

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