Pen and Ink

“Coney Island”/ pen and ink/ 4” x 6”/ 1978

“In Remembrance of FREEZE (one of Ellard “Moose” Boles’ platform shoes)

Pen and ink/ 4” x 6”/ 1980

“In Passage: From One to the Next”/ pen and ink/ 6” x 4”/ 1980

“Old City/ New City”/pen and ink/ 4” x 6”/ 1978

“Tryst in the Shadow of Columbus Circle”/ pen and ink/ 6” x 4”/ 1978

“Untitled”/pen and ink/ 6” x 4”/ 1978

“Coney Island Bound”/ pen and ink/ 4” x 6”/ 1978

“Arlene’s displeasure knew no bounds (just as she thought it couldn’t get any worse), as the evening continued to spiral downward with the malfunctioning of a rented carpet shampooer”/ Pen and ink/ 4” x 6”/ 1978

“4:17 AM: Look! She got the damn thing working” Pen and ink/ 6” x 4”/ 1978

“ Secrets”/ pen and ink/ Approximately 8” x 11”/ 1973

“Masks Behind Masks Behind Masks Behind...”/ pen and ink/ 9” x 12”/ 1973

“Family Shadows”/ pen and ink/ 11.5” x 8.5”/ 1973

Detail from “Family Shadows”/ pen and ink/ 11.5” x 8.5”/ 1973

“67 Danforth Street”/ pen and ink/ 18.5” x 24.5”/ 1972

Details from “67 Danforth Street”/ pen and ink/ 18.5” x 24.5”/ 1972

“Untitled”/ pen and ink/ 22.5” x 17.5”/ 1970




This particular drawing was never completed (there are faint traces of un-inked pencil lines), which, most likely, is the reason it was never titled. Some of the luminaries mentioned between the lines throughout this drawing include Tim Buckley, Tom Paxton, The Band, Traffic, The Byrds, The Flock, Cream, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Al Cooper, Steve Winwood, and of course- Janis Joplin.

“Joni’s Garden”/pen and ink/ 22.5” x 17.5”/ 1970




This drawing was inspired, and, subsequently, named after Joni Mitchell’s lamentful refrain, “...and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden” (from her famous composition, “Woodstock”). The motley list of personalities, musicians, and politicians noted in this drawing include Totie Fields, Leonard Cohen, Dick Cavett, Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Gordan Lightfoot, The Flock, Grace Slick, Ed Kennedy, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Kate Smith, Ringo Starr, Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Gene Autry... and, of course, Joni Mitchell.

Detail from “Joni’s Garden”/ pen and ink/ 22.5” x 17.5”/ 1970

“And Janis Joplin died today (Oct. 4th, 1970)”/ pen and ink/ 11.5” x 8.5”/1970




I still quite vividly recall the day I did this drawing. I adored Janis Joplin. She was truly one of a kind. Janis, Jimi, and Jim (Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison) all died of drug overdoses during my senior year in high school).

“Hanging Gardens”/ pen and ink/ 22.5” x 17.5”/ 1970





This drawing was heavily influenced by my first trip to Europe. Amsterdam, with it’s free wheeling, unconventional youth culture at that time, was, in particular, quite an inspiration for me. “Hanging Gardens” mentions popular bands of the era like 10 Years After, Blind Faith, The Who, Country Joe and the Fish, and The Who. And singer/songwriters and performers including Tom Rush, Grace Slick, Joe Cocker, Joni Mitchell, Ginger Baker, Gordon Lightfoot, Marianne Faithful, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan.



Detail from “Hanging Gardens”/ pen and ink/ 22.5” x 17.5”/ 1970

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William Arthur Mills

Prepare yourself for some bona fide Hippie Art! After a good deal of persistent persuasion from a few different friends, I finally decided to include these drawings from the “Yellowing Archives”- they even smell old! Also, taking in to account that there seems to be a widening interest in this particular genre recently, I conceded. These pieces also marked the beginning of my decade-long love affair with pen and ink, so they truly are part of the story. Reflecting on the era, as filtered through a typical bewildered teenager’s eyes, all of these drawings tended toward the introspective and nebulous.


The year was 1970, and being a 16 year old at that pivotal time in history, my eyes and ears were wide open to the fresh and turbulent counterculture reflected everywhere. My experience of high school was (at best) rather indifferent, so, for the most part, I spent most of my time in the art room (often skipping other classes). Aside from making art, the other major attraction to the art room was listening to music. We had a an old stereo that seemed to never get a rest, as we each took turns playing favorite albums that we brought in to share.


With the nonstop background of popular music at that time, any one of these drawings could very well have been entitled, in lament, “If Only My Parents Allowed Me to Go to Woodstock”. As I now recall (quite vividly, actually), watching in deep teeny bopper pain, as Sally, a freshman college student who lived across the street, backing out of the driveway in a very FULL car, heavily weighed down with friends, tents, and food rations - all en route to Yasgur’s farm (without me!). So... anyway, perhaps these drawings were, in part, a vicarious trip to that legendary three day music festival.

Detail from lower right corner of “Untitled”/ pen and ink/ 22.5” x 17.5”/ 1970

 

And once upon a time...

Throughout the decade of the 1970’s I often found myself repeatedly returning to drawing in the traditional India Ink and pen medium. The deep richness and versatility of the medium was, perhaps, the reason why I took to it from the very beginning. And, interestingly, as mysteriously as pen and ink evolved as a tried and trusted medium for me, it all but disappeared from my artistic vocabulary as the 1980’s rolled in. This page is dedicated to the thousands of contented hours spent patiently dipping a pen into a bottle of ink.