The fact that the word evocative brought a black and white image to mind, led me to wonder what changes in our perceptions when colour is absent. Monochrome commands very specific responses. Perhaps the most obvious of these, since technicolour processes and colour photography were rare and expensive before the mid-20th century, is an evocation of nostalgia. Old family photographs and flickering newsreels cannot fail to suggest past times. However, monochrome is not simply the soft-focus and vintage charm of a bygone era. Stripped of colour: line, tone, form and composition become somehow more individually substantial. It is as if the simplicity of black and white offers an articulacy that a 'full-colour' experience lacks. Perhaps this is why terms such as 'classic', 'minimal' or 'sophisticated' are often associated with black and white photography.
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls.”
― Ted Grant
I have always loved the experience of putting black ink to paper. I love the dynamism of the graphic line, the way it instantly animates the empty paper's surface. Without question this love affair stems back to childhood and the illustrations of Pauline Baynes, Pat Marriott, Edward Gorey, Boz and Phiz. I spent many a long hour tracing comic strips and characters from Beryl the Peril to Snoopy.
It wasn't until I began to draw with pen, sometime in my mid-teens, that I felt even slightly in charge of the act of drawing. I think this is largely because pen can't be rubbed out and so, instead of endlessly correcting and adjusting my greyish pencil studies, I had to be decisive. Every mark I made was there to stay, I had to make them work.
The virtue of pen or brush and ink is that they produce such direct images. Small wonder they are still favoured by cartoonists and graphic novelists. Paul Klee famously said that a drawing is "simply a line going for a walk", as if it is the line and not the artist who is in charge. On a good day, I find that my pen lines do seem to do exactly what they want.and find I am drawing with an assurance that is not entirely mine. Perhaps it is the will power of the line?
1.The black and white choice you face is to make the mark, or leave a space. Blank areas are
every bit as active as drawn, so be aware of their shape.
2. Doodle at all times. It is very important, whatever your teachers told you.