Toyin and teaching

-written by studio volunteer, Charlotte

Toyin with a small selection of her gel pen collection. Photo courtesy of Catarina Rodrigues, who was taking photos for City Bridge Trust, our biggest funder.

Toyin with a small selection of her gel pen collection. Photo courtesy of Catarina Rodrigues, who was taking photos for City Bridge Trust, our biggest funder.

Toyin teaching the Friday art group. Photo courtesy of Catarina Rodrigues, who was taking photos for City Bridge Trust, our biggest funder.

Toyin teaching the Friday art group. Photo courtesy of Catarina Rodrigues, who was taking photos for City Bridge Trust, our biggest funder.

Toyin and Lucy working with gel pens. Photo courtesy of Catarina Rodrigues, who was taking photos for City Bridge Trust, our biggest funder.

Toyin and Lucy working with gel pens. Photo courtesy of Catarina Rodrigues, who was taking photos for City Bridge Trust, our biggest funder.

In June, artists and volunteers were treated to a very special class led by Toyin, Artbox’s gel pen star. Toyin has been working with gel pens for many years, and developed her own technique, which she is always eager to demonstrate.

 The experience was quite spectacular. Artists and volunteers gathered around the table as Toyin set the scene for her class. In a routinely manner, she emptied two bags full to the brim with colour coded bundles of gel pens. Once blues, purples, pinks, reds, greens, yellows, oranges, and browns of all shades were put on display, Toyin began her demonstration.

The technique is as follows: first, you unscrew the pen to get the ink chamber out. Second, you pull the ballpoint tip out (with your teeth or hands). Third, you gently blow the ink out of the chamber onto a humidified brush, and apply it to your work. It seems simple enough but it demands great focus and Toyin warned, ‘you must be careful to not suck in the ink!’ Her advice and clear instructions guided us as we put the technique to play for the first time.

What was great was that artists incorporated the technique into their own creative practices. Chantel combined it with collage; Shruti, Lucy and Hisba used it to colour in their pieces. For others like Ashley, the gel pens made space for new creative endeavours. Hisba says, ‘Toyin is really phenomenal in her gel pens and she’s really focused, she knows what she’s doing. I went to blow it but it was difficult, but I knew I could do it and I did, it was fun!’

Feels wonderful, totally great! It was great to show everyone my technique, it was really fantastic. I’d love to do it again!
— Toyin

 Toyin will be teaching her gel pen technique at the First Thursday evening event at the Estorick Collection on September 5th. Get in touch to find out more.

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