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Paul Hogarth’s Creative Ink Drawing

Review of Paul Hogarth’s Creative Ink Drawing…

Continuing with my reviews of the late artist Paul Hogarth (1917-2001) I now turn my attention to one of his ‘how to’ books, the quite wonderful Creative Ink Drawing (Studio Vista 1968) a follow-up to Creative Pencil Drawing published four years earlier by Studio Vista in 1964.

Len Deighton described Hogarth in his book Len Deighton’s London Dossier as “One of the best illustrators in the world” praise indeed from not only a fine author but a published artist in his own right. This companion volume covers all aspects of drawing with pens in all of their mediums and whilst it is now close to its fiftieth anniversary, it is still a book any inspiring artist would do well to read.

Hogarth looks in detail at fountain and ballpoint pens, felt and fibre tip markers, ink brushes, papers and sketchbooks. There is also a wonderful section on making one’s own reed and quill pens to copy those masters of a bygone era.
Hogarth’s own pieces combined a number of mediums in any given piece and one must look closely to appreciate the intricacies of his drawing in what often looks like an almost casual piece. That, for me, was Hogarth’s great strength and gave his art such a unique and distinct character.

But this is not a standard ‘teach yourself’ book, Hogarth offers a fascinating insight into why he became interested in specific pens and inks. In his chapter on brush drawing he writes: “The idea of drawing with a brush occurred to me during my travels in the Far East. I often watched the street scribes manipulating their pointed bamboo brushes with enviable fluency, enlivening sheet after sheet of snow white paper with the crisp imagery of Chinese calligraphy”

The book features drawings from his previous books and commissions he undertook for various publishers and media outlets. America is of course, well represented because of his two classic books with the writer Brendan Behan in which both artist and author brilliantly capture life in downtown America in the early sixties. I particularly like his work on New York, the bars and places of work for everyday Americans is fascinating and if you can get a copy it is well worth buying.

Looking at his 1962 drawing of Sheehan’s Bar in New York City reminds us of the rich heritage of Irish immigrants into America and the subsequent influence on the overall landscape of the city. Hogarth described how “the monumentality of New York called for a big brush loaded with jet black ink and for a good, strong, steel pen giving close support”.

Hogarth’s other great love was Majorca and in 1963 he drew this marvellous recreation of an art nouveau gravestone in Palma de Majorca’s municipal cemetery. Of it he wrote: “The incredible variety of period ornament to be found in cemeteries make them ideal places to work in. This bizarre specimen was drawn in Higgins India ink on Daler Cartridge paper” This, of course, taken from his remarkable collaboration on Majorca with the writer Robert Graves in Majorca Observed (Cassell 1965) The detailing is quite wonderful and symptomatic of how  Hogarth looked beyond the obvious in all of his travelogues to give the reader a more intimate portrayal of a foreign land to really capture the essence of its history and people.

But it’s not all black ink plates! Hogarth loved to paint in colours too. The cover drawing above of Marrakesh, Morocco from 1966 was drawn with diluted India ink wash and markers of yellow, orange, green and brown, drawing his trademark figures using a soft graphite pencil to give a taste of the rich, bold colours of Middle Eastern architecture and local life. Returning to America and opposite is Hogarth’s drawing of the Westinghouse Plant in Springfield, Massachusetts published in Fortune Magazine in December 1963. Hogarth Wrote: “Driving along St James Avenue, I discovered all sorts of frame houses of a vaguely 1920s vintage. All were scattered and unrelated both to each other and to the plant they all depended on” Hogarth loved early American houses and was prolific in his portrayal of them in Philadelphia, Boston and Old Washington.

I shall finish with this charming drawing of Russian ice skaters taken from the cover and inside illustration for Use Your Russian (1963) which was drawn using a bamboo reed pen. It is a typically fun piece by Hogarth and a quite beautiful reminder of book illustrations from a golden age.

Creative Ink Drawing is a treasured book of mine, Hogarth and his art lives on and rightly so.

Paul Hogarth’s life and bibliography can be found here

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