Cross-hatched Henna Doodle
back to an old, old, old technique...

f2tY's friend kindly gave me a fresh, brand new Japanese diary (after I requested old, half-used up ones, but you just don't do that in Japan...) and I have been trying to honour this gift by using it.

technical pen ink on paper. Roughly 11x14cm of the page is shown. /LumixDMC-LX100/2020LX100/20200519LX/P1140260adj.JPG rotated, cropped, brightened.

I didn't date this drawing, unfortunately, but as it's drawn on pages for the last week of April/first of May, I certainly wouldn't’ve created it before then, (nor after the 19th, when I photographed it, of course). I was probably inspired by the IG account of my artist compatriot Frances, who enjoys working with pen and ink as well, and has been exploring hatches.

Cross hatching is a very old technique, and reach its zenith in the late 1800s, at the peak of engraving, just before photographic reproduction took over. During my college years I was fascinated by a couple of problems relating to ink: one was smoothly grading the even shading of pencil (a sort of analog) to the crisp, digital on-off quality of pen and ink. Ink, however, is matte, and pencil is shiny, complicating the problem to the point that I was never able to combine the two in a satisfactory way. Nor get the infinite shading of pencil with ink, though, inspired a brilliant fellow student in 9th grade who drew photorealistically with the smallest dots I'd ever seen, I surely tried.

Not being nearly as disciplined as this girl (who among other things was a fellow Narnia fan, and quite a bit brighter than I was)[1] I wondered if I could at least blend cross-hatching to dots in a smooth fashion, as I had seen in some truly gorgeous scientific illustration (most notably in Scientific American, to which my parents subscribed, at least during my youngest years, though there's some very beautifully drawn pieces originally published in the...you guessed it, 1800s.)

Mastering that still interests me, nearly 40 years later, though sometimes I just sidestep the whole issue by drawing zones of texture, as seen here. It's still fun to do, and honestly, all I really have had the energy to do since the COVID19 lockdown started.

[1]A better artist as well: our splendid art teacher entered our class pen and ink projects into a local newspaper's contest, and my friend won the Grand Prize. I and bunch of others won blue ribbons, which never would've happened in my case but for teacher's having me give some oomph to my black and white ink on brown board pen and ink landscape via the addition of large, dramatic, rather organically shaped triangles to the piece. I wish I could remember my friend's name. I wish I could remember the teacher's name...