Chandana excels in ballpoint art | Sunday Observer

Chandana excels in ballpoint art

It was in the mid-20th century that ballpoint pens proved to be a versatile art medium for professional and amateur doodlers. In comparison with traditional art mediums, ballpoint art is accessible to all at a low cost. As ballpoint pens are available everywhere, artists do not have to visit distant places to buy their requirements.

Ballpoint pens come handy for quick sketch work. Some artists use them in their mixed media art work, but ballpoint artists solely depend on them. The new medium has its own limitations. For instance, colours are limited to black, blue, red and green. You cannot do shading with them. However, ballpoint art is flourishing with the help of websites and occasional exposure in newspapers.

Well-known artists of the 20th century such as, Andy Warhole and Alberto Giacometti used ballpoint pens in their art work. Others exhibited ballpoint drawings in the 1970s. Chandana Ranaweera, a self-made artist, says he got used to ballpoint art because of the classroom boredom with traditional art. As a student he used ballpoint pens for doodling in his leisure time. According to him, anybody with a passion for art can learn how to use ballpoint pens quite easily. The world-renowned ballpoint artist Lennie Mace said he learned the basics of anatomy and perspective in his youth by tracing over photographs published in newspapers.

In the 21st century ballpoint art has gathered momentum with many people practising it. Some of them receive media exposure and hold exhibitions. Ballpoint artists say theirs is an art movement. However, some art critics do not consider ballpoint art as a recognized medium.

The Korean artist Lennie Mace created many ballpoint art works from 1980 to 1990. He called them ‘PENtings’ or ‘Media Graffiti’. British artist James Mylne created photo-realistic art work using only black ballpoint pens. Juan Francisco is another ballpoint artist who received international recognition.

According to Chandana Ranaweera, ballpoint art requires no preparation. There is no problem of colour mixing or finding brushes. He creates ballpoint art while travelling or spending a holiday in a remote area in the island. He believes that certain effects not generally associated with ballpoint pens can be achieved by ‘stipling’ (drawing or painting using small spots or marks) and ‘cross-hatching’ (two groups of parallel lines which are drawn close together across each other). However, he knows that ballpoint pens have to be held upright in order to properly dispense the ink.

Chandana Ranaweera sketches what he sees or imagines with dexterous lines. He uses blue, red, black and green ballpoint pens. In his Muhude Oru (Boats in the Sea) he depicts two boats floating on placid waters. In Mayura (Peacock) he draws a god on the back of a peacock. In Hamuduruvo he draws a Buddhist monk carrying an umbrella. In ‘Geval’ (Houses) he depicts the relative ugliness of flats and apartments coming up in the city. All his drawings confirm his individual and independent style. However, art lovers do not get an opportunity to see his latest creations because he lives away from the city. 

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