Category: Drawing

gnarly tree ink drawing

Starting Fresh for Spring (plus new pen and ink work)

I took a break from art for a few days to get my studio (i.e., my bedroom) in order. I wasn’t really happy with the lighting in my space, so I made a change and swapped bedrooms with my daughter. I was also struggling with clutter overload, so I took the opportunity to dispose of a lot of excess stuff and completely reorganize. The changing of the seasons seemed like the perfect time to undertake the project.

My art supplies and personal possessions are much more manageable now, but the whole job took more than two days and it was exhausting. Unlike some of the glamorous studio tours I’ve seen, my room is very plain and simple and nothing special to look at (hence, no pictures!).

One thing I love about my new setup is that my scanner is next to my desk now, so I can use it whenever I want. I didn’t have a place for it before and I had to keep it in my basement, which made scanning a real chore. I also got a new Ottlite with an attached magnifying glass (which has already been coming in handy).

After I got everything set up, I had a massive scan-a-thon and rounded up some of my recent pen and ink work to show you all. Thanks for looking and enjoy!

pen and ink nature drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Ink Medley (1/20/2018). Ink in Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook.
pen and ink tree sketch drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Sketch (2/28/2018). Ink and rubber stamps in large moleskine.
gnarly tree ink drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Gnarly Tree. Ink in large moleskine.
pen and ink tree roots
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Roots. Ink in Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook.
nature sketching

Review: Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica Pen

I recently came back from a trip to Washington, DC where I got to visit a Blick store. While I was there, I got some new pens, including the Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica Pen. This is a gel pen with a metal tip and acid-free, archival, water and fade resistant ink. It comes in five sizes, from 0.3 mm to 0.8 mm. I got the 0.3 mm size to try out because I usually go for the finest lines. Below is a nature study I did in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook using this pen.

forest lily drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Forest Lily. Ink and watercolor in watercolor moleskine.

I really like this pen for the following reasons:

  • It is smooth, even on coldpress watercolor paper. I didn’t notice any skipping, ink globs, or smearing. Reviewers on the Blick website noted some issues with globbing with the larger sizes.
  • The ink is very black and the side of the pen is clear so you can easily see how much ink is left.
  • Unlike felt tip fineliners where the nib tends to relax and get larger over time, the Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica has a tungsten carbide roller ball for a consistent line.

Things about this pen that I wish were different are:

  • I wish the ink were waterproof and not just water resistant. When I used watercolor over my drawing, the bleeding was minimal, but somewhat unpredictable as some areas bled more than others.
  • I wish this pen came in other colors besides just black. I would especially like a brown or sepia colored ink.
  • I wish refills were available instead of the whole pen being disposable.

Overall, this is a great pen and perfect for throwing into my purse when I don’t want to have to worry about making sure my fountain pen is freshly inked up. I’m thinking of buying a few more in the 0.3 mm size as well as trying out some of the larger sizes.

nature sketching
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Forest Lily in Progress. Ink in watercolor moleskine.
tree drawing sketch

Trees on my mind

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing, painting, thinking, and planning lately (as well as studying). My mind has been drifting to trees lately: the trunks, branches, and leaves that appear in my sketchbooks, but also the deep roots below. Scientists have found that there is much more going on underground than originally thought (Read: Trees communicate via their own fungi-based “internet”).

tree sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Climbing Vines (4/19/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

When I think of trees, I think of wisdom, strength, and stability. I’ve never had successful New Year’s resolutions in the past, but this year (probably because I am starting a new season after graduation) I really feel like I am starting my life over with a fresh start. I have been thinking of my priorities, and the things I really want to get done. I’ve also been focusing on my health, taking control of stress, and finding ways to incorporate minimalism into my life (Read: Go Deeper, Not Wider).

I’ve been enjoying spending time in my sketchbooks more than ever. Instead of being a task to check off my list, artmaking has become much more of a pleasure than it has been in a long time. I know that this feeling will not last forever, but I’m really loving it for the time being!

pine needles drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Winter Debris. Ink and watercolor on a blank note card, 12.4 x 8.9 cm.

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. Psalm 92:12-13

tree drawing sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Branches (1/15/2018). Platinum Carbon Ink and watercolor in large watercolor moleskine.

For more tree goodness, check out Terri Windling’s blog posts on trees. She writes so poetically, and the photos of her forest are so magical. Be sure to hover over each photo for poetry and quotes.

flower sketchbook drawing

Year End Review and Lost and Found Artwork, Part 3

flower sketchbook drawing
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Exuberant Joy (1/28/2017). Stabilo Point 88 pens, watercolor and rubber stamps in large moleskine.
tulips sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Tulips (5/11/2017). Stabilo Point 88 pens and watercolor in large moleskine.
dichondra argentea garden sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Dichondra argentea (7/14/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

This is my last post of the year where I’ll review 2017 and look ahead to my art goals for next year. This is also the conclusion of my round up of unposted artwork from the past year. The above images were sketchbook pages in my large moleskine done from life. Even though my time was limited, I worked quite a bit from life over the course of 2017, which I am proud of and want to continue into the next year.

My goals for 2017 were to finish my nursing program and to incorporate more art into my life than I did in my first semester. I was successful with both of these goals, although my art activity fluctuated with my school schedule and I often went long stretches with no art making at all. My most productive times were in August and the end of April to mid-May, which coincided with my semester breaks. The least productive times were in September and November, which were also some of the busiest times of my entire nursing program. I posted to my blog 23 times this year, although 4 posts were written and pre-published the year before.

For 2018, I would like to work on making art on a more consistent schedule. I have some longer term projects/series that I am planning, but I need to create a lot of new work on a consistent basis to make my plans a reality. I also want to work more from life when possible. I did a lot of small nature studies this past year and I would like to continue on that theme. I also let my email newsletter fall by the wayside while I was in school and I want to start sending that out again.

I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead. I hope everyone reading this joins me in having a productive, prosperous, and fulfilling 2018!
tree lined path drawing

Pliny’s Allée

tree lined path drawing
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Pliny’s Allée. Copic sepia fineliners and watercolor on blank greeting card, 4 x 6 inches.

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

It’s actually feeling pretty spring-like today, but there is still snow on the ground. I can’t wait until it is consistently warm and sunny outside.

For this piece, I used my new set of sepia Copic Multiliner Pens. I really do like them and they offer a nice alternative to black. The only downside is that I wish they were just a tad darker and that the nibs were not so fine. I usually gravitate toward the thinnest nib in the set, but for some reason, these pens were especially fine.

tree root drawing

Deep Roots

tree root drawing
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Deep Roots. Pen and ink and watercolor wash, 4 x 6 inches.

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. -John Muir

This is a little drawing I made last July, from one of the photos I took at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in the springtime. I hadn’t used my dip pen in quite some time, and it was nice to get back to it. Drawing with a dip pen offers such a different experience than any other sort of pen. It is slower going, and there is more variation. It was interesting to draw the negative space (the dirt) around the various leaves. The end result is quite bold.

frog sketch

Product Review: Slate 2

I admit, I’m someone who likes gadgets and I recently got a new one, the Slate 2, which I thought I’d review for you here. This device acts like a clipboard that digitalizes your drawings when used with a drawing utensil surrounded by a metal ring. It is advertised as a way to combine digital art with “the pleasure of drawing on paper.” Basically, you draw on the paper and then your lines appear on the screen. You can change the color, opacity, nib size, and simulated drawing utensil (pencil, ballpoint, felt tip, marker, chalk, airbrush, and eraser). There are a few downsides, though:

  • The equipment is glitchy. There were unwanted lines that appeared on the screen when holding the utensil just above the surface. This may be useful for the airbrush feature, but it is a big problem if you want to do detailed hatching, for instance. I read in the help forums that this issue can be made less noticeable by placing the stroke smoothing setting on LOW and the speed sensitivity on HIGH. This did help, but it did not totally eliminate the problem.
  • There were also issues with the calibration of the utensil because there was a slight discrepancy between where my pencil was on the paper and where it showed on the screen. I found myself attempting to correct for this (you can see it a little bit on the replay). Therefore, the paper drawing I ended up with was not anything I wanted to keep afterward.
  • There is no pressure sensitivity. With the pencil setting, you can choose between different hardness levels, but this feature is very limited.
  • There is no bluetooth feature on a PC. It is annoying for me to have to use a USB cord at all times, especially when there are strict guidelines about how far away you must keep the unit from other metal objects, magnets, and computers/electronics.
  • The company is located in France and I read in some comment threads that it was next to impossible to return it.

Even still, I think this is a fun toy. The price was not that bad, but if I wanted to get something for serious digital art, I would probably get an iPad Pro. The Slate 2 is definitely not anything I would use to create a serious piece of artwork with unless the glitches were corrected. I do like the replay feature and I think I would like to experiment with this some more. There is a feature to use the device without being connected to the software and then transferring the image to the computer afterward, but I have not used this yet and I am hesitant to do so with the problems I’ve encountered thus far. You can see my sketch and replay video below. I hope this review is helpful to anyone who may be considering this device.

frog sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Frog Sketch. Sketched on Slate 2 (pencil mode).
winter landscape

Winter in Wales

winter landscape
Carolyn A Pappas, Winter in Wales. Ink and watercolor, 4 x 4.25 inches on blank greeting card.
I found myself inspired by this instagram photo by Michael Nobbs, who is based in Wales. He allowed me to use it as a reference and I came up with the above pen and ink and watercolor piece. I usually only work from my own photos, but in this case, I didn’t mind and I enjoyed myself in the process. Taking my time on the drawing was a nice distraction from school and everything else going on in my own world, as well as the bigger world.

spring landscape

Experiment with Bold Ink

My favorite waterproof black fineliners are Staedtler Pigment Liners and I have the four pack in the plastic case. I find that I go for the 0.01 size most often and use the 0.03 size on a limited basis. I very rarely use the larger 0.05 and 0.07. For this sketch, I decided to do the opposite and use primarily the larger sizes and the smaller sizes only for the details. I also broke out my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen which is great for laying on black areas very quickly with juicy ink.*

spring landscape

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, View from the end of the path in springtime. Ink, watercolor and colored pencil in large moleskine.
Interestingly, I just came across this blog post from Brenda Swenson, where she discusses taking risks and trying out new things.

*I found that the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen bleeds a bit on the new moleskine paper and saturated both sides of the paper, but it did not soak through to the page underneath.

moss steps tower hill

Working Plein Air at the Moss Steps

I took my watercolors to Tower Hill Botanic Garden to try out working plein air. It was a sunny day and I was worried about getting burned, so I went into the wooded areas. I settled down at the Moss Steps and did this pen drawing and then painted it in watercolor. Although there was a chain blocking the steps off from people, I did see a chipmunk running around as well as a wood frog hopping down.

I usually add the watercolor at home, but it was a welcome change to paint in person (and more of a challenge). I brought water with me in a bottle and poured it into a plastic cup, but I had to bend down to use it as I put my water cup on the ground. The pine needles falling down on my head were annoying, but a small price to pay for such a nice time.

Next time I would like to try painting in watercolor without such a detailed pen and ink drawing first because it took a very long time.

moss steps tower hill
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, At the edge of the Moss Steps (8/5/2016). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
moss steps photo
A photo of the moss steps. I conveniently removed the chain from my drawing.
Some of the other interesting photos I took while walking through the woods.
Some of the other interesting photos I took while walking through the woods.