Ballpoint Pen Art: Sketching with Pens


ballpoint pen sketch

Use whatever you have handy–in this case, a ballpoint pen!

Last night, I had a meeting with a couple artist/maker friends of mine, and I arrived at the pub a bit early.  Instead of breaking out the smartphone and wiling my hour away texting and surfing the interwebs, I politely asked my bartender at Caldera Public House if he might spare a piece of paper, and I set to work!

I’ve always liked sketching when in a class or waiting.  I find it to be so casual and I use whatever I have available to me.  In this case, I had one of my absolute FAVORITE sketching tools, a cheap ballpoint pen.

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Why do I love ballpoint pens?  Because, you can get exceptional levels of pressure and flow on them, and you can achieve great detail with only one drawing implement.  In this sketch, I decided to focus on what was closest to me, my silverware.  I had a wonderful martini (or two) as well, but I figured that I would need to repeatedly move my still-life subject as to make it difficult to properly draw it. Bottoms up!

Critically, I kind of wish I had kept the highlights in mind a bit better–because a good, crisp white highlight (or shiny spot) can be that one touch that makes a drawing completely POP off the page.  Another fun thing about sketching with pens is that you have to leave your lines–there is no erasing–so, you have to make things more “sketchy” and it sort of takes some of the pressure off to make it look “just right.”

Either way, I had a good time, and I didn’t even need my electronic devices to entertain myself.

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Jason Sipe Jason Sipe (68 Posts)

Jason Sipe is an artist, craftsman and writer. He has spent the last 20 years working in the art and media fields. He now turns to this blog and helping others learn about creating art as his main focus.

2 thoughts on “Ballpoint Pen Art: Sketching with Pens

  1. Pingback: Eddie

    • Eddie,

      I have a couple posts about how to build a diy cnc machine, but nothing (yet) about Laser cutters.

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