Since 2014・Volume 6
Shane McAdams Brooklyn, New York
Ballpoint pen art without the ballpoint pen? That and more from Shane McAdams, artist and closet alchemist, who literally removes the ball point from the equation by "blowing", milking or otherwise extracting ink from ballpoints and magic markers toward artistic ends. Material "deconstruction" distinguishes McAdams from most of his ballpoint peers...
Cloudslinger 2014, ballpoint pen,
oil & resin on panel, 48 x 48'' (shown cropped).
artwork © Shane McAdams
PENNAME Feature Article ARCHIVES
Some say art schools ruin the artist. Whether or not that's true is of no concern to Mr. M.I.Shaikh. ''Undoubtedly self-taught. No lessons, no mentor, no special training or formal classes ,'' proclaims Shaikh. Such is the measure of talent outside of art school meccas like New York or London. Diplomas don't guarantee a prosperous career, even in New York, but not having one doesn't automatically kill ones' prospects. Not when it comes to art. Conversely, being able to draw a pretty picture may denote talent but it doesn't automatically equal 'artist'. Pretty pictures earn the praise of friends and family, but even entry-level art aficionados know pretty pictures are a dime a dozen. Self-taught ballpointers drawing pretty pictures are just as common, but Shaikh's ballpoint penwork demonstrates the combination of talent and 'that certain something' necessary to transcend pretty pictures and diplomas, or lack thereof. His application of those assets, as for anyone, will ultimately decide how far he will go.
Shaikh's family tree has no roots in the arts. ''I am the only person in the history of my family who is engaged in art,'' he explains. Born to parents who ''managed to fulfill our daily needs '', Shaikh's earliest drawings were chalk on slate in grade school. He didn't even have access to a ballpoint pen until he was ''around 10 or 11 years old ''. And although Shaikh won a gold medal in a district level drawing competition when he was 14, his winning artwork wasn't drawn in ballpoint pen. He didn't start using ballpoints ''seriously '' until much later. ''2012 ,'' the artist recalls. And although his fascination for realist drawing had apparently existed all along, until then traditional pen and ink stippling served his purposes. He also painted, but only occasionally, and ''not in any fixed style ''. He earned a black belt in karate, too, winning three consecutive National Championships with it. Shaikh no longer competes but admits ''drawing in ballpoint pens requires lots of patience and my martial arts training proved very helpful in that way''.
Expressing no particular viewpoints through his art, Shaikh nevertheless expresses as much with his black pens as any painter could achieve on canvas. In the 'hand' artwork shared here, sensitive eyes or open hearts can see age, time, fragility, suffering or wisdom all at once. Life . And, in the case of two pairs of hands, perhaps even love. Titling them 'hands' is so inadequate. Shaikh presents them simply as ''Untitled ''. Hands are not Shaikh's only subject but they form a coherent series, and among his finest. ''Change is the spice of life, so I don’t stick to one subject alone,'' insists the artist, who often uses his own or friends' photography as source material but instead found these hands on the internet. ''When I came across those pictures of hands I couldn’t stop myself from drawing them,'' he admits. The breadth and handling of detail depicted imply great size, but these works average only 12-by-18 inches each. Still, 50 to 70 hours of drawing is required to complete any given piece depending on the extent of detail, but he can usually use the same pen to complete several; Montex ballpoint pens, a ''normal '' Indian brand, but he intends to give others a try in the future.
Shaikh's first exhibition was a group show in 2010. Thirty-two artists displayed 5 works each at the Hotel Sayaji in Indore, India. All of his contributions were sold in two days. In 2012 Shaikh was invited to participate in Paint for Justice, a charity exhibition held at the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS) in Delhi. Over 300 artists from all over India were invited to contribute one painting exemplifying 'justice '. According to Shaikh, between the media coverage and VIP attendees ''the show was one of the biggest of the year '' in India. Solo exhibitions in Mumbai followed in 2013 and 2014 at the hotels Trident and Leela, respectively. Shaikh describes hotel exhibitions as uncommon but the venues are supportive of emerging artists, and he distinguishes Hotel Leela as a ''prestigious '' venue which exhibits well known artists. He has yet to exhibit outside of India and has never even traveled outside of his homeland, but local media have been supportive of his work and foreign buyers at exhibitions in India means his artwork is traveling for him — America, Australia, Egypt, Germany, London and more — leading to offers from abroad.
M.I. Shaikh can be reached directly at
Above: Untitled 15 December 2013.
Below left: Untitled 30 August 2014.
Below right: Untitled 9 May 2013.
All artwork ballpoint pen on paper, 31 x 46cm (12 x 18'') © M.I. Shaikh
Andrey Poletaev Lugansk, Ukraine
Essentially confined to his homeland of Eastern Ukraine, no thanks to powers-that-be battling powers-that-wish-to-be, Andrey Poletaev can luckily travel vast distances without ever having to leave his home. Ballpoint pen in hand he can set off in any direction, as he pleases. Call it the luck of The Draw. The ability to use art as an escape to lands known-or-unknown proves how drawing skills and 'vision' are a magic combination. No formal art education or diploma necessary. Imagination plays a part for many artists, but Poletaev's travels are decidedly more terrestrial. He could be logging frequent flyer mileage. And if his visual documentations thus far don't merit a diploma, he can simply draw one...
Kiev January 2015, ballpoint pen on paper, 36 x 42cm
(14 x 17''), shown cropped. Artwork © Andrey Poletaev
Lennie Mace Tokyo, Japan
This must be the wrong exhibition. Lennie Mace is, after all, known for colorfully detailed, elaborately composed ballpoint artwork, but no such artwork is on display here;
only blank sheets of paper,
Goat Gal (Goat 1 of 4) 2014,
ballpoint pen & ''dry'' ballpoint pen
on paper, shown cropped. An example of ''colorfully detailed'' Mace,
showing usage of ''dry pen'' patterns.
artwork © Lennie Mace/THE LAB
PENNAME by R. Bell originally posted July 2, 2015
Shaikh Hands M.I. Shaikh・Mumbai, India
Shaikh may not come from an art lineage but he shows pride as being the potential start of one, with bragging rights to three children who show artistic abilities; an 11 year old son known as an 'artist' in his school and has won art competitions, a 7 year old daughter showing abstract tendencies with drawings uninterpretable ''until she explains them to us '' and another 4 year old who ''colors beautifully ''. Shaikh hasn't broken that barrier that includes quitting ones day job to make art a full-time consideration, but luckily he's just as proud of that day job. As the primary superintendent to a school of nearly 600 students, he is providing education to an area of ''people who strive hard to earn their bread, most of them daily wage laborers or hawkers '' whom, he says, couldn't otherwise afford it. He has been involved at the school, which includes art among its subjects, for 20 years, and insists any success he earns from his own art will be used ''for the betterment of my school ''.
In 2015 Shaikh began utilizing colored ballpoints at the suggestion of friends and fans, and he speaks of experimenting with other mediums as well. Animation seems high on his to-do list. Meanwhile he is preparing new work for his third solo exhibition, which is scheduled for December, 2016, at Nehru Centre in Mumbai. Basing all of the artwork on ''Mumbai City '', Shaikh will this time utilize his own photography as source material, and, he assures us, ''ballpoint art will be the only medium for the show ''. Mr. Shaikh promises The Ballpointer readers first peek・
James Mylne London, England
Britain's premier ballpointer James Mylne has undergone as conspicuous and ambitious a developmental arc as one artist could experience within such a relatively short span of time. Mylne readily admits the "shift"; conscious steps beyond earlier, straightforward photorealism...
Natalia 2014, Torn series
ballpoint pen, spray paint, marker, ripped Giclee prints and Krink on paper, 75 x 93cm (29 x 36''),
artwork © James Mylne
Serhiy Kolyada Kiev, Ukraine
Conflict and corruption feed commentary; key ingredients for intriguing art. Awareness may be the ultimate goal, but one must first actually care enough to spread the word. Serhiy Kolyada cares. His key ingredient is ink, and his Lifescapes serve up a spicy blend of commentary and criticism peppered with politicians and prostitutes. Brothels and consumer brands form his artistic broth, but Kolyada's compositional stew is his strength. Art as something to chew on...
The Theory for Origins 2012, ballpoint pen on panel, 56 x 41 cm (shown cropped). © Serhiy Kolyada
Shirish Deshpande Belgaum, India
In a land of over a billion people rich with artisans and craftspeople, it should come as no surprise that ballpoint pen artwork can be found in India, and, in the atmospheric landscapes, decorative still lives and other stylish compositions of Shirish Deshpande, ballpoint art is also well-represented...
First Ferry 2014, ballpoint pen on handmade paper, 10 x 14''
artwork © Shirish Deshpande
Allan Barbeau Dublin, Ireland
For every artist out on the front lines gunning for art world credibility, there are another hundred going about their business in quiet satisfaction. Overzealous art school grads and masochistic spotlight junkies willingly place themselves in the line of fire for the kind of rejection which comes with that territory. Those with more modest needs and their own barometer of what constitutes "success" could care less. Among them is Allan Barbeau...
Bouche Bisous 2011, ballpoint pen on paper, 23 x 21cm (10 x 8''), shown cropped. artwork © Allan Barbeau