Since April, I’ve been using the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen with Platinum Carbon black ink. I originally heard about this pen through an art facebook group that I’m a part of. I used the ink cartridge that came with the pen and I’m on my second cartridge. I haven’t yet tried the converter. The ink cartridges and converters come with a small ball bearing inside to agitate the ink and prevent clumping, which is quite unique.
All summer, I’ve been making pen and ink drawings of various places that I’ve visited for day trips and small getaways. It’s been the longest time that I’ve worked in one medium without deviating and so far I haven’t lost interest. This is the closest thing I’ve done to a series in fact. Some of these drawings are duds, of course, but I will have to collect my favorite ones and find an interesting way to display/publish them.
I made these drawings from photos I took at the Hopedale Fairy Walk in the Hopedale Parklands. Here is an interesting story I found about the history of the pond and how women gained the right to go swimming in it in the early 1900’s. I always like to find out little tidbits about the history of the places I visit.
I finally decided to participate in Inktober after years of wanting to participate but letting life get in my way. In preparation, I decided to write down some brief thoughts on some of the pen and ink instructional books that I’ve collected. Reviewing these books has been helpful and inspiring as I plan out my inking activities for this coming October.
Continue reading below for my reviews:
Pen & Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide by Alphonso Dunn. This is the most recently published book out of all of these. The author’s passion about the topic comes through so strongly when reading this book. There is a lot of basic drawing instruction included, such as info on value, form, and composition. There is also a chapter on sketchbooking, where the author shows examples of his own sketches. One thing that I thought was interesting was that the drawings seem very “soft,” as if drawn with pencil. Looking closely, I tend to think that this has to do with how the art was reproduced. I highly recommend checking out this book as well as Dunn’s expansive YouTube channel. Dunn also came out with a companion workbook which I haven’t gotten a chance to see yet.
Creating Textures in Pen & Ink with Watercolor by Claudia Nice. This book and the following one are very similar but Nice’s work always made me smile so I decided to get both books and see what the differences are. One of the main criticisms of Nice’s books on Amazon was that same content has been recycled and used in several books. I didn’t specifically notice that with these two books, although there was some overlap. One thing that really distracted me throughout both of these books was the odd style of handlettering. I would have much preferred a standard printed font for ease of reading. I enjoyed the wide variety of subject matter with quite a bit of still life material. She also uses colored inks in some drawings. Nice uses rapidograph pens almost exclusively.
Creating Textured Landscapes with pen, ink and watercolor by Claudia Nice. In the previous book, Nice focuses on capturing textures of a variety of man made and natural substances. In this book, Nice shifts her focus to nature and how to incorporate the different elements into a landscape style painting. There seems to be more watercolor content in this book, and more pen and ink material in the former. There is one chapter devoted to incorporating architecture into the landscape and covers perspective nicely. The landscape format of the book also seems to fit nicely with the subject matter. I’m not sure which book I prefer more; I’m glad I got both.
The Technical Pen by Gary Simmons. Although this book is specific to technical pens (rapidographs), it contains a lot of helpful information for general pen and ink drawing. Disposable fineliners like Microns have similarities to technical pens so a lot of the demo illustrations wouldn’t necessarily have to be done with a technical pen. Many of the drawings are highly stylized and have more of an illustrative quality. My favorite part was when the author redid the same drawing several times using different types of pen strokes to show the variation possible. There is a good mix of “tight” and “loose” drawing styles.
Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur Guptill. I’ve had this book for years and it never fails to inspire. It’s such a classic. I love that in addition to showing many drawings, the author analyzes them and explains what works and what could be improved. There are also sample artworks from different artists, not just the author of the book. It’s really heavy on architectural drawings but there are natural elements incorporated within them. There are also a fair number of portraits included.
Pen & Ink Techniques by Frank Lohan. This book has some good info about planning out the drawing, including matting, and has some very useful suggestions about avoiding common errors. Demos have step by step instructions which makes this book a good choice for a beginner. I wish this book featured less architecture and more natural elements. This was also the shortest book out of all of them.
Stay tuned for more pen and ink themed goodness (naturally). If you know of any other useful pen and ink books or resources, please let me know in the comments and I’d love to check them out.
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!
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.
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.
At the end of July, I took a day off from my studies to go out sketching at Tower Hill’s Free Fun Friday event (free admission for the public). As a member, I had never attended this event in the past before because I can attend anytime, but this time I was supposed to meet someone from the CPSA for a day of sketching. Unfortunately, I did not realize that there would be so many people that that facility would have to close the gates because there was no more parking.
In the end, the meeting never took place, but I did get to do some sketching on my own. Many people (at least 50) can up to me and either watched over my shoulder or struck up a conversation about my art. Many people would find this kind of attention anxiety provoking, but I didn’t mind it. I actually found it rewarding to talk to the kids about keeping a sketchbook and I think many of them were really inspired. I did find that I didn’t get as much sketching done as I would like because of the interruptions. I also made some pretty mundane sketches. I tried out my new Derwent Inktense colored pencils and did some experimenting with Stabilo Point 88 markers, which are both fairly new to me.
While this was not the ideal situation for nature sketching, I think showing up at an event like this to sketch and hand out business cards would be a great marketing opportunity to try in the future.
A friend of mine took a trip to Mexico a few years ago and gave me permission to make a painting from one of his snapshots. I have been planning to make this little painting for ages now, but never got to it until now. I haven’t traveled in the past several years, but someday I would like to visit some beautiful locations and make some paintings like this in person.
I used a Pigma FB brush pen and went over it with juicy watercolor and some Inktense colored pencils. I removed all the people and buildings from the picture because I wanted a more peaceful and natural looking scene. This little painting was a lot of fun!
What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives? -E. M. Forster
I’m looking back into my sketchbook from one year ago today. I made this little sketch while sitting on the wall by the shoreline looking out over the lake. The weather was very pleasant and I remember taking my time making the individual marks with the pen. On that day I had no commitments and nothing special to do. It was lovely.
Over Spring Break I delved into my reference photo archive and sketched some butterflies. I have a nice collection of photos, some from the butterfly conservatory and some from outside. I tried to identify the butterflies in the last two sketches but had no luck. I did waste a few hours looking at photos of many beautiful varieties though.
These are some pen and ink sketches I made while sitting on the porch of a beautifully renovated old farmhouse. The late afternoon/early evening light made it a very interesting landscape to draw and observe. When I was drawing the wires (not accurately, of course), I remembered this informational blog post from James Gurney, although I didn’t recall the specifics.
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.*
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.