Brickwork 101 • June 29, 2015
Hey All –
Some folks are curious about how I did the bricks in the power plant picture I’m currently finishing. I’ve written about it before, but this morning I realized I did so in an email update sent out before I began blogging. So, here again is a description my process:
For starters, I wanted a graphic method for portraying brickwork that mimicked its texture and precision without leaving my drawing looking too sterile and mechanical. I also wanted to actually build the building in my drawing. I know it sounds kinda weird, but a good way to tell the truth about something is to find a drawing method in sympathy with it. I needed it here especially; the building being portrayed had great presence, with a palpable sense of age and long use.
I decided the answer was to hand print sections of brickwork, using the same ink I draw with.
Of course, creating an image in sympathy with what it portrays sometimes means being a lot more sympathetic than was expected. It turned out that my first drawing of the power plant really was a technical rendering. It had to be. I needed an exact guide to cut out multiple sections of the building in archival foam core board. These were to become my printing blocks, but it felt more like I was making an actual architect’s model! The top photo gives you a pretty good view of all of this.
In the middle of my next photo (just above) are two cut out test sections. The black one (it turned that way from being inked) printed the brickwork samples on the scrap paper it’s lying upon. The other test section is only partially complete. Because it’s not inked, you can see how I created the morter lines between the bricks by burning/incising them into the surface with a fine-tipped wood burning tool (seen below). I mostly use this tool to melt little indented eyes and whatnot into foam rubber fishing flies and bass plugs. Now we can add brickwork to the list!
What comes next is lovely!
The ink was so liquid – and the paper surface of my foam core printing blocks became so saturated – that the result was entrancingly irregular! Some of the printed bricks squished and bled together. In other areas, the impression was light, or even nonexistent. Add to this that I sanded and scraped portions of my drawing paper’s surface beforehand (and laid in uneven washes of diluted ink too), and the total effect captures the same feeling of spontaneous happenstance that typifies great mark making. It’s repetitive and geometric, yet beat up and charismatic, just like the real building.
My last photo is a detail view from another drawing of same power plant. Though very different in feel, I used one of the same printing blocks to again add a delicate indication of bricks.