When you feel like drawing, it can be frustrating if you don’t have your sketchbook and tools at hand, but British artist Mark Powell shows that you don’t always need specific equipment to make amazing art. Rather than use sketchbooks, canvases, and expensive pencils and pens, Powell uses an ordinary ballpoint pen to draw on alternative surfaces such as old documents, underground maps, and antique letters.
Powell began drawing on these found surfaces after he lost his permanent work space. “After we were evicted from the warehouse in London, at which point I was painting large scale paintings, I had to work smaller,” he explains. “I had found an envelope that was sent from the trenches in World War One […] and so it started.” Depending on the texture and color of the paper, each of Powell’s drawings differ in tone—as the ink takes to some surfaces better than others—but his style and talent always shines through.
Powell depicts a wide range of subjects, but his animal drawings are particularly impressive. From realistic bird sketches to precise portraits of big cats, each work looks like it belongs in a scientific illustration book. Despite his simple choice of medium, he’s still able to achieve an extraordinary amount of detail. “I choose a biro because it is the most simple and readily available tool to hand,” the talented artist reveals. “I want to show how easy it is to have the chance to create. I want it to inspire people to give it a go without feeling the need to spend money on arts and crafts.”
Ready to start drawing? Get inspired by checking out some of Powell’s animal drawings below and find more from his portfolio on his website.