Ink & Brush Study for Improving Line Quality

Ink & Brush Study for Improving Line Quality

Han Dai-Yu, Art and Art History

Drawing students often struggle with the concept of line quality. Their lines may be broken and appear sketchy, or they may rely too heavily on outlines, describing their subject in a very technical way rather than expressively. Students may have trouble recognizing what a good quality line is or may have trouble incorporating this concept in the application of their own work.

The Ink and Brush Study for Improving Line Quality concentrates on two areas:

  1. The demonstration and analysis of good line quality
  2. The application of this knowledge through dedicated practice, relying on ink and brush as a medium uniquely suited to rapidly building good technique and control

In this project, students will be introduced to master artwork and taught how the weight, contour (shape/gesture), and texture of an artwork's lines can affect the aesthetic and expressiveness of the work. The study will focus mainly on Eastern artwork. Through purchases made with grant funds, students will have access to large, high-quality printed reproductions and books containing quality prints of master artwork.

This project will be implemented in the fall figure-drawing workshop course. This course is well suited to this type of study because it is drawing intensive, and the subject, the figure, is organic and calls for an expressive, not simply technical, approach to drawing. We may consider incorporating some ink and brush sessions in future courses as well.

Ink and brush is an excellent medium for improving drawing technique because it is extremely sensitive to pressure, and being a permanent medium, requires very confident strokes. The very unique behavior of the medium will easily force students to discontinue any bad habits, such as very tentatively hatching the contour of their subject. Students will learn to carefully control their gestures and create expressive strokes that describe their subject.

Currently at Loyola Marymount University, and at most art schools across the country, the pedagogical approach relies primarily on dry drawing media, such as graphite or charcoal. However, students can quickly develop good techniques through ink and brush drawing that can take years to develop otherwise. Once learned, these techniques can be transferred across all drawing and painting media.