The last time I had done any highlighter art was two years ago for my final project in my Drawing 4 University class. I first had the idea the previous the previous year, three years ago now, when I drew highlighter fruit in my Extended Practices class. I’ve always really liked the idea, and it came about because I had to do something that was really conceptual, and more abstract. Well, I didn’t like that, so to combat that, but still follow the guidelines of the assignment, I wanted to find a way to draw something detailed and technically challenging to me, and so I chose to draw birds out of highlighters. Rather, I wanted to use mechanical, unnatural, manufactured colours (Highlighters) that are also not commonly (or ever) used for artwork, and create a highly complex, realistic, ‘high-art’ piece to elevate the medium to something it isn’t…
I’ve decided to come back to this project and chose to draw a Macaw Parrot. It was really quite challenging, especially figuring out how to correctly layer my inks to create the bold red. There is a lot of trial and error going on my mixing page next to my real work. I find myself wanting to say that I ‘painted’ the picture rather than that I ‘drew’ it as I find that working on this was a lot like painting a watercolour picture. Then again, a lot of people seem to not consider watercolour a painting, but actually a drawing… not that I do, but…It’s also a lot like painting because you’re bleeding the ink onto this paper that soaks it up, and you layer the inks and try to mash them together, mix them with a dead feathered highlighter end, or lightly dust the colour on with a dry tip to give it a lighter tone. Light than highlighter is harder to make then darker than highlighter. It’s just such a bold concrete utensil, it’s hard to do. I often have to invent new ways of using them on the spot to achieve what I want out of my picture… or to correct a mistake I’ve made.
A lot of this piece is fooling the eye with trickery. Remember, I only have yellow, orange, pink, blue, green, and black indian ink to create this entire piece. To make the red I had to create a layer of purple (blue/pink), orange, pink, orange, and a bit of green somewhere in there if it’s really not working. Why I say I’ve tricked you is because there are a lot of parts in the red that are actually brown, and that I’m trying to fool your eye into believing it’s actually red. As well, the red is still more orange than it is red… but hey, if you can’t tell, it just means that I was successful.
So, here it is: