Digital Sketches by Paul Pastrone: Stylus Artisan of 2013

Paul Pastrone

Pastrone with daughter, DeeDee.

It is no secret, technology has changed the way we approach art. Art has become more accessible, transferable, and new mediums are constantly being discovered thanks to digital innovation.

Paul Pastrone (Hellertown, Pennsylvania) knows plenty about the tools of digital sketch art. Pastrone is an expressive digital artist that publishes on WordPress under the minimalist pseudonym Boxer Sweeney. Pastone’s works are almost entirely digital, although they maintain an authentic hand sketched medium. This sketch artist has abandoned traditional pencil and paper for the seemingly unlimited possibilities of digital art, and we are glad he has because that is how we found him within the blogging community!

I am always impressed by Pastrone’s ability to capture the human expression. His art is a delight to discover over my morning cup of coffee, and that is why I sought him out to learn a bit more about his process and his relationship with digital artistic forms.
GT: On your blog you have described in detail the tools you use for your digital sketches. Do you mind providing a brief description of how you go about designing and posting a sketch?
PP: I have an iPad 2. The two apps I use the most are Notability and Procreate. Notability is a note taking app, not a drawing app, but it has a figure drawing element I like more for its limitations then its flexibility. It’s like drawing with markers. There’s a very limited palette, no smudging, no brush choices other then size, but it gives me the chance to focus on the sketchiness of a drawing. It doesn’t let me get to fussy. Another big advantage is it saves the sketches as PDFs. I can open them in Photoshop as any size I want.
Procreate has all the options for colors and brushes you’d ever want. It gives me the chance to be fussy. The stylus I mainly use is a Bamboo stylus. For my style of drawing, it has proved to be the best one.
GT: Many Mac users experience an “ah-ha!” moment that converts them to undying devotion to Apple products. Did you have a similar experience? If so, can you briefly describe this initial experience?
PP: Ah-ha! Yes, for me it was the iPad. I have used both PCs and Macs for years. When iPads came out I had a netbook. My iPad changed the way I do many things. It changed the way I draw. My netbook sits on a shelf. It’s dead to me.
GT: You wrote on your blog, “My obsessive search for a frictionless stylus ended when I remembered (not entirely sentimentally) that my pencils were far from frictionless.” Do you still utilize pencil and paper? Or has this search for a frictionless experience completely transformed the way you approach art?
PP: I began drawing on my iPad as a sideline. I thought I would always keep a traditional sketchbook. I still kind of want to, but the truth is I don’t. Digital art seems less real because without electricity it disappears, but it is also more alive in a very real way. I easily publish my drawings online. I can turn them into t-shirts, posters, bind them into books, rework them without hurting them, distribute them. In this medium my humble drawings have been seen by people in Brazil, Japan, Iceland. It’s amazing.
As far as the drawing experience itself, dragging a rubber tipped stylus over glass is a different experience than pencil and paper, just as ink and charcoal and paint are different. I don’t feel like it’s better. The big advantage mechanically is getting as close to frictionless as possible. I think my style benefits from that.
GT: Do you mind telling us about your first digital sketch?
PP: My very first digital sketch would have been years ago, probably in Illustrator on a PC. I also did some drawing in Photoshop. But for me the iPad made it easy. My first iPad drawings are on my blog, if you are willing to click back through that far.  There are even some ancient pencil drawings back there.
GT: Is there a difference in designing an iPad drawing and an iPad painting?
PP: For me, an iPad drawing is quicker, I rarely have an idea what I am drawing when I start, and it’s done in a less flexible app, usually Notability. An iPad painting is done in Procreate or another detail focused art app, I plan exactly what I am doing in advance. Sometimes I do studies, either in another app or underneath the finished “painting.”
GT: Your works, including your pencil and ink sketches, feature human subjects. Tell us a bit about your human muse. Why human subjects over landscapes or other potential subjects?
PP: I have accepted the fact that I only draw people. I assume it is the sign of some deeply embedded psychological quirk. Most times I can’t even be bothered to draw backgrounds.
Maybe it’s because faces connect people. We look at faces all day. I love faces, noses and ears mostly. I love how expressive peoples hands and feet are. Even in shoes, particularly in shoes, feet in a drawing are expressive. I like how clothes fit people. How different a military uniform is from a t-shirt. And human skin is wonderfully luminous. Faces and nudes are wonderful to draw because they are half shadow, half glowing.
GT: Do you have any advice for artists who are wanting to attempt digital formats?
PP: My advice would be that it is just another medium with it’s own nature, like any other. Enjoy it.
GT: Thank you, Paul, for taking the time to share with GTH. We love your work and look forward to more sketches in the future.
Follow Paul Pastrone as Boxer Sweeney and see updated work on Paul is available for freelance opportunities. Contact through the website provided for more information.
Interview by Reagan K Reynolds.

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