When you think markers you are probably put in mind of those old Berol felt tips you had at school, those red and blue horrors that would start the year as a shiny new set no one could wait to get their hands on, and by the end of the first art session would be found snapped under chairs, their lids having mysteriously vanished into the Void.
But, in fact, felt tips can be a wonderful and delightfully simple medium to work with! In my two years of *sob* periodic unemployment after university I tried my hand at comics. Not writting them, you see, but illustrating them. I told myself that I could easily finish a 100 page graphic novel, no problem, yet partway through I realised that, actually, comics really were not for me. I get bored of doing the same thing for two long, and included in that was drawing the same character over and over and over. On the plus side, however, I invested in a decent set of fine line blacks as well as a couple of choice Letraset Promarkers. I was in love! A product that needed no water, left no mess, and that I could get really creative with. Sweet Rattery Illustrations itself started purely with Promarkers, and it became sort of the trademark of my work. Before long I began to appreciate just how versatile these markers were, working well alongside gouache paint, easy to blend with one another, and with a layering quality that allowed me to create the sort of depth that I wouldn’t have imagined you could achieve with felt tips.
I suppose the huge benefit of Promarkers is that there is no fuss. Before long you will find yourself with an entire drawer dedicated to these pens, which I’m pretty sure eventually start breeding and nesting in various places in your house, and with that drawer open, a pad in hand, you can scribble and blend to your hearts content. They are perhaps the most addictive of mediums … I have found myself buying several colours that I’m all but certain I’ll never use just because I don’t have them yet, and many a dull evening has been brightened by ordering them by hue. Truthfully, they are fun. Going crazy with a brush can be every bit as enjoyable, but there’s something … childish about them. It brings me back to my days as a child, scribbling away with the few coloured pencils I’d managed to salvage from under the sofa, imagining to myself that I was some big shot artist working for Disney. Characters come to life before you as you layer on the impossibly perfect skin tones (seriously, the days of colouring people in pink because it’s all you have are over!), and I now find it very difficult to do a pencil sketch without grabbing one of my colours, grabbing my right wrist with my left hand, trying to fight back the urge to just add ‘a liiittle bit of colour here’.
The only issue I have found, personally, with Promarkers is that they do tend to run out quickly. Despite the impracticalities, I adore working on Bristol Board, and it very quickly sucks the life out of my pens. But the smoothness of the finish is just too good to sacrifice for the sake of saving a few pounds. They are the stable of my portraits, and still the most popular of the products I offer.
I get the feeling that Promarkers are one of the products that, the more you use them, the more you continue to learn about them. I suppose that much in itself is true about all other mediums, but the range of different techniques and results you can get from a simple felt tip is insanely satisfying.