Why I Use a Ballpoint Pen For My Figure Drawings

Geoff Flack, director of the Core Drawing Atelier at the Gage Academy of Art, takes us behind the scenes of his art, including why – and how – he “disrupts reality” in his figure drawings.

BY GEOFF FLACK

I primarily make drawings and work with a variety of different materials. Not all of the materials are considered traditional – from ball point pen and watercolor to charcoal, shellac and ink. I love how mixing materials allows you to explore a huge range of mark making languages.

The ballpoint pen can give me dark, sappy, rich lines or a soft, velvety feel that reminds me of delicate intaglio printing techniques. Mix the ballpoint pen with watercolor and you have a completely different atmospheric feel.

Ballpoint pen figure drawings - RealismToday.com
Geoff Flack, “Stephanie 2,” ballpoint pen and watercolor on paper, 11×15

Layers of materials like transparent washes of ink over rich charcoal lines that are buried under a layer of shellac, can create depth and mess with focus. All of this is super exciting when you get up close and examine the surface.

Ballpoint pen figure drawings - RealismToday.com
Geoff Flack, “Shawna,” ballpoint pen on paper, 11×15

I’m used to teaching methods that force the student to slow down and slowly develop the drawing; most of the current drawings have strayed far from slow. I get lots of satisfaction working swiftly and directly, making bold gestural attempts at different parts of the figure.

Ballpoint pen figure drawings - RealismToday.com
Geoff Flack, “Isis,” graphite on paper, 9×12

Lately I have been doing a lot of drawings that play with focus, though not trying to emulate it exactly, thinking of something like when you see an old 3-D movie without the glasses…drawing the figure or just parts of the figure, then moving my point of view and redrawing right over it. Models are always moving, which I like, but I am doing most of the moving with these, from little adjustments to completely different points of view. There are lots of recognizable forms, but then forms overlap and create new forms of their own. Maybe this is my way of disrupting reality a bit.

Graphite portraits
Geoff Flack, “Preston,” graphite and crayon on paper, 9×12

Figure Drawings in Charcoal and Shellac

Charcoal figure drawings - RealismToday.com
Geoff Flack, “Pete,” charcoal and shellac on paper, 22×30
Charcoal figure drawings - RealismToday.com
Geoff Flack, “Shawna,” charcoal and shellac on paper, 22×30
Charcoal figure drawings - RealismToday.com
Geoff Flack, “Isis,” charcoal and shellac on paper, 22×30
Charcoal figure drawings - RealismToday.com
Geoff Flack, “Pete 2,” charcoal shellac and ink on paper, 22×30

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Geoff Flack is a Colorado born artist currently working and living with his family in the Seattle area.

He is the director of the Core Drawing Atelier at the Gage Academy of Art where he also teaches many drawing workshops and classes primarily focusing on the human figure.

He holds an MFA in Drawing from the New York Academy of Art and a BA in Drawing from Colorado State University.

Geoff’s work has shown in exhibitions in New York and Seattle and has pieces in multiple private collections.

Visit his website at geoffflack.com.


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