Tag Archives: ink

Rebirth: Artist Manabu Ikeda Unveils a Monumental Pen & Ink Drawing Nearly 3.5 Years in the Making 

Rebirth, 2016. Pen & ink, 13 x 10' (300 x 100cm). Courtesy the Chazen Museum of Art.

Rebirth, 2016. Pen & ink, 13 x 10′ (300 x 100cm). Courtesy the Chazen Museum of Art.

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan was one of the most devastating environmental events of our time, with its overall impact rippling across the globe for years to come. But just as stated in Newton’s third law—for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction—so too did the people of Japan respond to the magnitude of the destruction in an effort to rebuild their country anew as captured in this staggering new artwork by Manabu Ikeda titled Rebirth. Starting in July of 2013, Ikeda toiled away on the 13 x 10 foot piece for 10 hours a day inside a basement studio at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin. He finished work just last week.

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Manabu Ikeda at work.

A video posted by Colossal (@colossal) on

At its core, Rebirth depicts a tree rising from the debris of the tsunami as enormous waves crash nearby, but a closer inspection reveals thousands of tiny details, the individual stories of anonymous people, plants, and animals as they fight for survival and try to return their world to a semblance of order. Ikeda says that in his work he seeks to replicate the beautiful chaos of life that rarely fits a simple linear narrative. Instead, everything crashes together and interacts in unknown and unexpected ways, an idea that applies directly to his process as he often doesn’t know what each day will bring as he works inch by inch on the near endless canvas before him.

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Rebirth, detail.

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Rebirth, detail.

While Ikeda sketches broad details in pencil on the canvas beforehand, he primarily works with pen and acrylic ink using various forms of cross-hatching and brushwork to fill areas so dense with details, the true nature of the artwork isn’t revealed until staring at it from only a few inches away. Mountains of vehicles, gnarled tree branches, and train tracks sit tangled at the base of a tree, and flower blooms comprised of umbrellas and emergency tents fill the sky above. Everywhere a collision of humankind and nature, for better or worse.

“My goal is to faithfully express my view of the world in my composition, but I don’t intentionally depict detailed images,” he tells the Chazen. “Because I see details when I observe things, rather than the whole, I find pen and ink to be the best tools to express how I see them.”

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Rebirth, detail.

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Rebirth, detail.

Rebirth, detail.

Rebirth, detail.

Rebirth in progress.

Rebirth in progress.

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Rebirth in progress.

Ikeda’s time spent in Madison wasn’t without its own adversity. The artist dislocated a shoulder in a downhill skiing accident which rendered his dominant hand temporarily useless. Unable to stop work for very long, Ikeda began practicing with his other hand and after 3-4 practice drawings continued work on Rebirth unfazed.

Rebirth will be on view only briefly at the Chazen Museum of Art through December 11, 2016. If you’re anywhere near the midwest, this is well worth a trip and I strongly encourage you to stop by. You can explore it for over 30 minutes and still not see everything. You can also read more about it on Wisconsin Life.

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Manabu Ikeda at work, still from Clayton Adams.

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Manabu Ikeda at work, still from Clayton Adams.

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Ikeda Manabu’s first attempt at drawing with his non-dominant hand after a skiing accident.

Film and stills courtesy Clayton Adams.

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Inside the Well-Traveled Sketchbooks of Artist Dina Brodsky 

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Artist Dina Brodsky has many focuses to her practice, painting in miniature on canvas and paper, and recently turning to her family, friends, and Instagram community to submit trees for her to reproduce in a drawn project titled “The Secret Life of Trees.” Throughout both of these processes she remains extremely attentive to her sketchbook, filling its pages with detailed drawings of architecture, wildlife, and scattered portraits of strangers that accompany her looped handwriting. The drawings are often finished with touches of watercolor, gouache, gold leaf, and found objects from her travels, like in one where she pastes a rupee note from India.

An exhibition of her series, “The Secret Life of Trees,” was recently shown at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in NYC. Brodsky sells recently produced paintings and drawings on Etsy, and you can see more of her sketchbook works and miniatures on her Instagram.

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Pen & Ink Depictions of Trees Sprouting into Animals by Alfred Basha 

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In his latest series of illustrations, Alfred Basha depicts a series of images where animals merge with the natural world: trees sprout into the silhouettes of foxes or squirrels, and a forest landscape rests atop a lumbering bear. Basha shares most of his sketches and completed drawings on Facebook. (via Fubiz)

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Dreamy New Ink Paintings of Ghostly Felines and Chickens by Endre Penovac 

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Artist Endre Penovác (previously here and here) depicts mysterious cats and ethereal roosters with a carefully perfected watercolor technique using diluted inks. Instead of trying to control his brushstrokes, Penovac seems to let the medium run amok across the canvas as it bleeds in every direction, and yet even these happy accidents result in precisely rendered paintings. Seen here is a collection of paintings from the last year or so, but you can see more originals and prints on Saatchi Art.

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An Octopus Painted With 95-Million-Year-Old Ink 

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Esther van Hulsen at work on an octopus drawing using 95 million-year-old ink. Photo by Stian Steinsli

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Photo of the fossil on the left by Hans Arne Nakrem, photo of the powder on the right by Esther van Hulsen.

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Image of the completed octopus ink drawing. Photo by Esther van Hulsen

Dutch wildlife artist Esther van Hulsen was recently given an assignment unlike her typical drawings of birds and mammals from life—a chance to draw a prehistoric octopus 95 million years after its death. Paleontologist Jørn Hurum supplied Hulsen with ink extracted from a fossil found in Lebanon in 2009, received as a gift from the PalVenn Museum in 2014. After several millennia Hulson was surprised to find that the color had remained so vibrant, preserved all of this time in the cephalopod’s ink sac. “Knowing that this animal has used this ink to survive is absolutely amazing,” said van Hulsen of the prehistoric ink.

The idea to make such a drawing came from the story of Mary Anning, an English paleontologist and fossil collector who made a similar drawing from a fossil’s ink sac in the 1800s. Hulsen’s replication of the octopus now hangs beside its material origin in the Natural History Museum in Oslo. (via MetaFilter)

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Tiny Ink Drawings Scaled to the Size of Pencils, Fingers, and Matchsticks by Christian Watson 

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All images courtesy of Christian Watson (@1924us)

Christian Watson, illustrator and owner of 1924, posts images to Instagram multiple times a day, pictures that showcase his cross-country adventures, vintage cameras, and sporadically his own miniature ink drawings that are often less than a half an inch tall. The tiny illustrations seem to mimic the rustic adventures found in his photographs—pulling in log cabins, lighthouses, and animals that teeter on the tip of his pencils or crawl to the top of his fingers. Take a look at more of Watson’s hand lettering and micro illustrations on his Instagram. (via Arch Atlas)

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