Visual research: Robbie Bushe (b.1964) – narrative in ink

A further suggestion from my tutor was to look into the narrative work of Robbie Bushe and his usage of ink and pen.
Robbie Bushe, a figurative artist from Scotland and currently working as a lecturer at the University of Edinburg, showed in his childhood great interest in cartoons and comics. He has a degree in graphics as well as in painting. He tells about himself as being very into storyboard without taken the language too much into consideration. Although some clarity or interpretation comes from the titles he uses for his pictures. This is clearly visible in his works, either in his older paintings or in his more recent series of line drawings. In those recent line drawings Bushe is capturing hIs environment and the stories around him in his sketchbook. Some stories not so serious. Quite often he uses just a ballpoint pen, for some pictures he combines with gouache.
There is a huge amount of work on display on his webpage ( I just selected a few as they kept my attention and they show the variety of his techniques.

GOUACHE AND PEN NIB. Available from: [Accessed 16 January 2013]

Stefan513593 - learning log - ©Robbie Bushe - ECA sculptures and daleks with picnic tables, 2013

Stefan513593 – learning log – ©Robbie Bushe – ECA sculptures and daleks with picnic tables, 2013

A line drawing, a snapshot from an urban environment. It looks like being outside, but than the location seems more like a mall. A liner perspective, a few people, a typical situation. There might be story to be told (the title indicates it already, ‘daleks’ are creatures from the science fiction TV serie).
Bushe applies ink lines, mostly outlines, no toning, no shading. Some outlines are drawn with multiple lines (thicker lines, more solid lines). The background and side buildings, structures seem solid, no hidden lines are shown. Compared to the umbrella with its transparency. There are three interesting elements in he drawing:
– the kind of transparency: gives more depth
– usage of two colors ( background, and middle section): gives more differentation
– spotting all over the picture: gives a certain ‘messy’ appeal, like a wall in a city
I feel that these three elements give the picture it’s own touch and appeal, a special meaning, it opens up also questions.
Well than there are these three drawn creatures, where I think the artist wants to give a certain interpretation to it.

GOUACHE AND PEN NIB A3, 2013. Available from: [Accessed 16 January 2013]

Stefan513593 - learning log - ©Robbie Bushe - The trams will come', 2013

Stefan513593 – learning log – ©Robbie Bushe – The trams will come’, 2013

A but different is this work, also done with pen and gouache. Here depth is created through either different sizes of people, or from the liner perspective visible from the background buildings. Most of the focus is at eye level on the group of people in the front, with color washes and darker negative space around. The title reveals that these people are waiting for the tram, which is visible with fine outlines, transparent in the form. The buildings appear more solid as no hidden lines are drawn. Also in this picture Bushe applies over the picture a spotted pattern of color. Perhaps hits was done at the end of at the beginning of the drawing.
Again three elements ( color spots, some transparency, and color washes) give the line drawing an overall expression of a story from an urban environment. With the title Bushe indicates a certain interpretation of the story.

3) ‘RED STUDIES’, 2013
MIXED MEDIA, BALLPOINT PEN, A4. Available from: [Accessed 16 January 2013]

Stefan513593 - learning log - ©Robbie Bushe - Red studies, 2013

Stefan513593 – learning log – ©Robbie Bushe – Red studies, 2013

Quite different is this picture. It is drawn with a regular ballpoint pen and some mixed media (color washes, a textured pattern). The picture seems to be split in two halfs. To the left a standing person with a cabinet and red colored wash. To the right a sitting person facing outwards of the picture with lighter red wash and a couple of line drawing of people overlaying. With different techniques Bushe experiment inside the drawing.
Colors washes for background expression, scribbled marks for a kind of graffiti at the back (perhaps for finding the right composition), textured pattern (looks like made in the trendy Zentangle® manner or collage?) gives a variety, blue color spots at the left (wall paper pattern?), multiple lines for outlining and searching for form or indicating movement of the two people.
This work is called ‘Red Study’ and there are quite different markings visible, different techniques. A good picture to study further.


Robbie Bushe expresses with different drawing techniques a narrative picture:
– outlines with multiple lines for thickening or finding a form or indicating movement,
– scribbled marks to sketch in some ideas,
– solid and transparent drawn objects,
– color washes for background and light toning,
– color spotting for expressive overall impression,
– textured patterns ( collage) for differentiation,
– different colored lines for differentiation and layering.

For me also without the titles quite good to study technique especially for sketchbook drawing on the go. I feel by these pictures encourage to experiment further with media.

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