Since 2014・Volume 6
illustration by Susan May for The Ballpointer
Missing the Ball Point
Dimes-to-donuts there's a ballpoint pen within reach of you right now. Reliable friends, always there when you need them; on standby to scratch a Hitler mustache onto The President or blacken the teeth of the covergirl dujour. Your grade-school composition books were probably filled with more stream-of-conscious creative filler than actual studies. But this proletarian tool is no longer just for signing checks, writing postcards or doodling sweet nothings.
The origins of ballpoint artwork echo the humble origins of art itself. Caveman roots; the universal, instinctive urge to create. For some, an irresistible force; to express oneself, to leave one's mark, to teach, using whatever tools are available. All that's necessary is the will to do so, pressed by a bit of creative curiosity, aided by ingenuity. ''Let's see what happens when I do this.'' Galleries, museums and art critics enter the equation much later.
There you sit, a dozen-thousand years later, surfing through the daily barrage of viral news. A headline grabs you: Starving Artist Illustrates The Bible on his Bedroom Wall Using Ballpoint Pens. Well, ''starving artist '' doesn't mean much anymore; with the amount of aspiring artists art schools churn out every year its a miracle anyone goes onto a career. ''Illustrating the Bible ''? Hasn't that already been accomplished in any number of formats any number of times in any number of languages ? ''On his bedroom wall ''? Children cover walls with masterpieces daily, to their parent's dismay, worldwide. And ''using ballpoint pen''? Now there's a story, right ? Well…
News outlets worldwide still report about artwork created using ballpoint pens as if, in the half-century since its invention, the pens have never been given any artistic consideration. Prior to the advent of the internet and social media, their ignorance could be forgiven. Nowadays ballpointers are everywhere, in every corner of the world, and the so-called ballpoint Wow Factor in and of itself carries less weight. The internet and social media are these days awash with ballpoint art blogs of every stripe, although with varying content. Ballpoint art classes may already be part of a curriculum somewhere. But the birth of the internet didn't mark the beginnings of ballpoint innovation; if anything, it merely serves as proof of how commonplace it has become, or how it has been all along ・・・
The Ballpointer shares a bit of how-to ballpoint magic, as explained from behind-the-curtain by master hyper-realist ballpoint magician Nathan Lorenzana in a recent social media post...
PICK PIECES The Ballpointer staff choose the artwork and let the artist explain it in their own words ・ Vol 7 No 1 posted January 18, 2020
Nathan Lorenzana・Guatemala City, GuatemalaITLE ・DATE ・MEDIUM ・SIZE
RECAP originally posted in installments throughout 2015
Andy Warhol @ Christie's online auction series, 2015
Portrait commission ・ January, 2020 ・ballpoint pen on paper, work-in-progress
''The skin tones (as shown) have being made so far with the ballpoint pens in the picture for this adorable commissioned artwork. The colors I'm using are part of the ochre/orange palette, along with some purples and blues for shades and layers of skin tones.
Many ask how I achieve skin color, and is a complex answer because it depends on the particular lighting and skin hue of the person. One thing that is always surprising at first is learning about the green and blue hues, because they're very counterintuitive. I mean, there's a reasoning that could say the people drawn would look like The Hulk if you use green, right? But actually when an artist does not include green, the person drawn looks like it's made out of plastic or rubber, there's a fake quality to it. That's because we have layers of veins that do have tones of green and blue underneath the outer layers of the skin.
Actually, skin is not like a layer we have protecting our body that is painted on with "skin color", but rather a collection of tones made from the different layers we have, which include muscle, arteries, capillaries and veins, fat, and translucent tissues, to name a few. You'll notice in future posts the difference when the yellow tones are softer in favor of more alive looking skin as the work progresses''・
Read TB's June 2015 PICKabout Lorenzana's Holographie 01 ・Artwork © Nathan Lorenzana