I love the boldness and the incredible subtlety you can achieve with pen and ink renderings. I completed Ready At Six in 2006. Instead of crosshatched lines, the image is comprised of tiny ink dots made by a mechanical drawing pen.

The nib of this pen is a .05mm hollow tube with a hair-like wire that acts as a plunger to deliver the ink to the paper. In terms of size, this is one of the smallest nibs you can use for this work. I chose it because of the velvet quality of the transitions between light and dark tones it produces.

Art magazines geared to beginners state that this technique, known as stippling, is generally reserved for small, simple drawings that seldom exceed 5×7 or 8×10 inches in size. The image area of my rendering measures 11 inches wide by 15 inches tall. My memory will be faulty here but I seem to recall putting in at least 50 to 100 hours of time on this image. I also recall loving every minute of the work. I also had to give it up because of a nervous tremor that was developing in my left hand from the repetitive motion the technique requires.

In a time when shortcuts, multitasking and efficiency are worshipped without question, expending such time and effort is considered insane. You don’t use this technique to crank out pieces on a production line. You do it for love. You do it because you enjoy the process for its own sake and because it returns something greater than the effort required. You do it because not doing it feels worse. It’s how God designed my wiring.



  1. Simon

    Good grief, Mike. That is wonderful.

    “You do it because not doing it feels worse.”

    That is wonderful, too.


  2. Chris Mears

    That’s just a beautiful piece of work, MIke. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Equal to the beautiful drawing is the post you wrapped around it. There’s quite a lot of passion in both and that makes for some very enjoyable reading.

    Too right there is a joy waiting to be found in the work itself. That alone should be reason enough “why?”

    I know those pens very well from my drafting days.

    Thank you.


  3. Trevor

    That’s a delightful image, Mike – and a wonderful explanation of why you do things the way you do them. Thanks for sharing!
    – Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64)