CZ: Is there a new medium you have discovered you enjoy working with as a result of spending time doing portraits?
QB: I like to use a variety of mediums. Drawing with a quill, for instance, is always exciting as I can never be quite sure what is going to happen next. In recent years, probably my favourite implement is a china marker. Of course they are meant to be for drawing on ceramics but they are particularly enjoyable to use on paper and I have them in a whole variety of different colours.
The other implement which I find myself using more and more perhaps came as a bit of a surprise to me. It’s what we call in common language, a biro, although in fact most of the ones I use are not that; but in fact, a ballpoint pen, of which I have several kinds. One favourite is the Bic Soft Feel but there are many others.
What is curious about a ballpoint pen as an art implement is that there is very little variation produced by pressure – it’s a regular line all the time, but it’s interesting to find ways of producing substance on the page. I discovered it is perfectly possible to draw with, for instance, shading which you could possibly think of as academic, but there are also many other accumulations of line which I am happy exploring.
CZ: Is life back to normal now? Are you taking on as many commissions as you used to?
QB: Nowadays, I accept very few commissions for books and I can get up in the morning wondering what it is I am going to do next.