Tuesday, November 6, 2012

AD Marker Demo: John Carter of Mars visits Dick Blick

I recently was asked to do a demo of Chartpak's AD Markers at Manhattan's Dick Blick Art Supply on Bond Street. Blick has a great store, staffed by friendly, knowledgeable people and visited by a colorful range of customers. I saw a few well known celebs shopping alongside NYU students and professional artists and hobbyists.

My demo began on a Saturday before Hurricane Sandy had a chance to reach us. I was provided with a spread of markers in all colors, grey tones, and blenders. I decided to eschew the traditional marker paper and use 16 field animation paper that I had purchased from Cartoon Color a few years ago. One of the reasons I love this paper is because it not only fits on my studio animation disk but it is sturdy, travels well, and fits on my mobile Plexiglas peg board.

Over the summer I had been rereading the John Carter novels, and had produced a pen sketch in my small sketchpad. I figured this was the chance to develop it in color. I redrew it big scale (the anim paper is around 17"x11") with a Sakura Micron waterproof pen. This served as a "holding line" for me to block in my color. By no means an expert water colorist, I know enough to share the watercolor approach here. I worked from light to dark, starting with light greys, and then layering the colors over for richness. One thing I like about the AD markers is the way the colors may be layered to create warm and cool tones in the composition. I finished the piece in a little under two and a half hours, including the time it took to show the markers to any interested customers.

AD Markers are non-toxic, but a bit smelly. I recommend using them with plenty of ventilation. Even though I sat near the entrance of Blick, halfway through I needed to get some air because the smell was bothering me. With the range of 130 colors and a stash of warm and cool greys, Chartpak offers plenty of possibilities. I would caution buying too many markers, it may be overwhelming at first.  I recommend a small selection of 10 greys to start out with, followed by no more than 6 of each color. A few blenders come in handy to bleed some of the edges together. You will find it useful to do some tests on you favorite paper as well as the special marker paper, which I find too flimsy to embrace on a regular basis. I've been working professionally for years and am confident experimenting, but beginners may feel safer with it. I don't like the tabletop cube holders or spin trays, because I prefer to grab my markers from a pile in a pencil box or spread out on the table.

I am by no means master of traditional "marker comps" as utilized in the 60's and 70's. I never embraced the craft of marker technique perfected by many of the great unsung artists and art directors who came before me. However, I found it refreshing and playful to step away from my digital work and design on paper with these markers. I can see practicing and using the marker studies to prepare for final paintings in any media, as well as another means for visual development.

My main advice to curious artists and those daunted by these markers and methods is to grab a small selection and experiment. You will be glad you did.

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