Monday 16 April 2018


I'm going to be doing a few more Pen & Ink drawings soon. The big one I'm working on will be ready this week. Many people forget, or didn't know, that in art Pen & Ink is my strongest 'suit' and that painting came later.

I have often been asked where I learnt to draw and it might come as a surprise to know that I never took an art drawing lesson in my life. I began my working life as a shipwright apprentice and as part of a 5/6 year apprenticeship I had to learn to read technical drawings. 

The ingrained need to draw was in me though, and in the evening I would draw as a hobby, but not artistically. From engineering drawings I would draw the object in 3D (an Isometric view). Whilst clearing my drawing storage I unearthed a really special specimen of my hobby drawing; a turbine:

You may notice the drawing is unfinished! The reason being, I was drawing it in a small top story apartment in Cologne, Germany on the night of 13 August 1961!! Two things happened that day, my second son was born in a German hospital ...and ... they began to build the Berlin Wall. I said I would never finish it, and 57 years later I still haven't.

The second drawing I want to show you is my most treasured drawing. In the last year of my apprenticeship, aged 20, I had to spend a few months in the Drawing Office with the draughtsmen (draftsmen). Here I was to witness what went on ... make the tea, and do all the odd jobs. 

Being me, I found myself a spare drawing table and began to draw  what I wanted to draw, from boat plans I found laying about. Here it is, finished in January 1959.

It's a big drawing, over 36 inches wide.

When I show you the tools available back then, you will see why I find modern drawing pens absolute effortless luxury

Here is THE Pen of the day. The thickness of the line was obtained by tightening the screw, which moved one blade in or out. Ink was placed between the blades by an eye-dropper.

Happy Days! Nostalgia's not what it used to be!


  1. Your drawings are great. Those strange pens look dangerous. Looking forward to seeing your new drawing! Hugs, Valerie

  2. Hooray I can comment again! I love to see these old drawings with the stories attached to it.

    1. Would have missed your comment old friend. Glad you liked the post.

  3. Wow, your drawings are superb. When I was 18 I worked in a Engineering Dept. of a local factory copying blueprints on these huge machines that used ammonia. I got to look at all those detailed drawings and was amazed. I was also in charge of the filing of them all and took great pride in keeping everything in order. Funny, I haven't thought about those days in a very long time.

  4. Glad I reminded you then, Carol. How's your dog painting on the black background coming along?

    Thanks for the visit

  5. You are probably a perfectionist, I guess one has to be to draw so accurately. The new painting and drawing tools that are available today are wonderful not to mention all the different and new mediums, not enough hours in the day to try them all out!

  6. An amazing drawing John....and an amazing life you have!!! It's difficult to believe you never had formal training for your art. If anything you should teach!!
    I look forward to seeing your future pen and ink.... I haven't visited you in awhile.. Believe it or not I was having SO much problems finding you..everything looked different SO my Nephew had to show me how to get into your blog (don't ask!!) lol

  7. How did I miss this? I think I was on the wrong site. This is an absolutely beautiful drawing and the apparatus you drew with - well, I certainly couldn't do it - no telling how my drawings would turn out! I really look forward to seeing more of your work - you are such a wonderful artist!