Thursday, January 26, 2017

Whisper, Whisper...

-By Scott Fischer

As you develop as an artist, knowledge can be a whisper you can't quite catch. You read things. Are taught things. But they are often grenades, and won't explode in your head till years after the pin is pulled.

Happens to me too. These damn whispers.  In my journey as a painter, I became a texture junky early on. Falling in love with gnarly brushes. Steadfast bristled soldiers that many painters would have tossed long ago. (Hopefully with a salute for fighting the good fight. ) But I didn't know why I liked texture. I just did. I was hearing 'whisper, whisper' in the woods and tip-toeing toward joy.

Later, like a kid fingerpainting, I was digging how the abused bristles would separate, leaving striated drag marks. What would happened if I spun it? Zig-zagged it? Stabbed it on the canvas as if through a shower curtain? That was cool. I was putting energy out of my body and into the work. Giving it mojo. The marks had character. Added a rhythm. A trail. And most important, left a sign that a person was there making them. 'Whisper, Whisper.'

Many paintings later, I arrived at sort of a dry-brush attack with the tools, as can be seen in this early stage of my cover for 'Angel and Faith #2' for Dark Horse. The whisper was becoming more of a mumble, because, I noticed as I altered the direction of the bristles, the brushwork could dictate form. I was no longer making random marks and 'filling shit in'. I was consciously thinking about every stroke before I pulled it, and the consequences.

What was I doing? I was painting light and shadow over FORM, rather than just light and shadow shapes. There is a difference. Conscious stroke direction can do this. (The bonus of which is, if I let the strokes show through, I find I have to do LESS rendering in the final stages- The bristle striations do the heavy lifting.)

In this same cover, I was trying to replicate the etching lines of a USA dollar bill in the background. One line at a time. Not being much of a cross-hatcher back then, (Why do in 12 strokes of a pen what you can do in one stroke of brush?) it occurred to me that if I apply the same logic of brush-stroke-direction-dictating-form, to individual lines, I could get the same results.

Quickly, before the whisper faded, I drew something to cement it in my skull. The lines had little arrow heads and everything. It was swimming. In motion, while at the same time, frozen in time. Cool.

When that thing we've been glimpsing out of the corner of our eye- that thing we were scared would vanish if we looked too long, starts to solidify, starts to form words... we have to listen till our ears bleed.

Many more paintings and one week ago, I arrived at this self portrait. I think I am getting it.

I started with a ball point pen drawing, a road map for what was to come. Blasted it out with white FWink, (which had the happy accident of the ink bleeding.) Then did a crude brushy lay in of color/value to give me a base to build on. The fun came by finessing the hell out of it with Nikko nib/dip pens and more FWink.

The fear is overdoing it. We are told not to add too many lines to a drawing or it will be, gasp, 'overworked'. I've done it in black and white, it is a real fear. Death by a thousand stings.

But I have a theory: If I am working in zones of limited value ranges, I can put as many god damn lines as I damn well please. Life by a thousand lines.

Is it a painting? Is it a drawing? Is it both?

I don't know. I will have to dig deeper.


  1. Nice work Scott. Texture is awesome, something i strive to impart in my own work. I think that is what attracted me to Sam Kieth's work. His use of modeling clay and then painting over it, fabric, etc. Not to mention ridiculous skill with a brush and ink. Your on the right path my friend-

  2. Your like a modern day Mucha! Your able to embrace the art of today and still let your golden age illustration influence seep through, which makes your style ahead of its time. Id love to see you do movie posters you'd nail them

  3. A window into the soul! Looks good. Posting things on deviant art they always have categories and sub categories for things. maybe it's a drawing that ends up looking like a painting. What about coloured pencil, or watercolour pencils? I often wondered at Drew Struzan's art in that sense. It has the best of both, a wonderful painting and very much a drawing, too.

  4. The grenade metaphor really struck a chord with me. It is something that has happened to me a lot. I started doing digital art many years ago but even though i read a lot and watched a ton of tutorials i did'nt improve much. A few years ago i gave away my tablet and went back to basics , and these grenades have been going off daily it seems like. I recently bought a new tablet and i can now draw stuff on it that i couldnt dream of before. Really cool to see how these things still happen to such a great artist as yourself!

  5. Duuuuuuuude....just.....wooooW. it feels great that I, too, am a line art guy and also on a journey for a style akin to yours. I'm trying to achieve something similar aND reading this gave me a revelation to aid in my journey.


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