Watercolor Epiphany!

I’ve been struggling with watercolor painting. I was not getting the instant gratification like I would receive when I completed a pen & ink sketch. My watercolor creations were just mediocre and appeared lifeless. I felt as though I was in an endless loop of creating some paintings and then never completing them. I would also fall back to creating my artwork using my trusty fountain pens and inks.

Today I had an overwhelming desire to do a watercolor painting. Several things came into play with this desire. First, I had received the new Franklin-Christoph watercolor journals and could not wait to try this paper out. This new journal can be used with watercolors, guache, and pen and inks. I thought I would start out testing this paper with my watercolor paints and then do another test using my fountain pens and ink. A review will be forthcoming later this week.

Second, I had just completed a few pen & ink sketches of pumpkins and acorns and I wanted to see what I could do using my watercolor paints. That would require some color mixing techniques as well playing with different colors which I enjoy doing.

I spent less time thinking about the process (a good thing) and just started sketching with my pencil. Next thing I knew I was mixing paint colors and then applying paint to paper.

Somewhere along the layers of paint I was laying down, I experienced a huge epiphany in what I was doing. I used smaller round brushes like #6 and #4. I used less water in mixing and wetting my paper. My painting came to life.

Here’s a sneak peak from this morning’s session. I know it’s a partial shot of my painting. It’s still a work in progress.

At this point, I’m really happy about what I uncovered and I feel as though I can move forward in this creative adventure.

I had another realization this morning. I was mixing my watercolor paints and creating colors that I currently have in my TWSBI GO fountain pens. I am having too much fun!


In the early evenings, Hubby and I have been sitting outside and watching our neighborhood birds visit our bird feeders. The wrens and the finches enjoy sitting inside our caged feeder while the wood peckers, black caps, cardinals, and blue jays like come and go. Grabbing their food and flying away quickly.

Our weather this week has finally changed and it’s quite a bit cooler in the late evenings and early morning hours. I’ve started to notice an additional sound outside.

Our neighbor has a huge oak tree and the acorns are dropping. They are especially loud when hitting the pavement and sometimes getting it just right and hitting the top of their car. Hahaha!

This morning I felt inclined to sketch something fall related and acorns came to my mind.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I’m still trying to use up the remaining Robert Oster inks in my GOs. My Van Dieman’s Inks are patiently waiting for their turn. Can you tell I’m enjoying the Eucalyptus Regnans ink color? It’s showing up in many of my pen and ink artwork. Gorgeous green color.

Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Eucalyptus Regnans. Robert Oster Honey Bee, Toffee, Melon Tea, and Thunderstorm

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta A5

Journal Cover: Lochby Field Journal in brown


Here’s a quick pumpkin pen and ink sketch I completed this morning. It’s been hard to get into the Fall season when the outside temperatures have been in the high 70s and low 80s.

I’m currently working with a limited number of ink colors in my TWSBI GOs. I’m a bit late in transitioning my Summer sketch ink colors to Fall colors and I still have a few bright colors left in my GOs that I wanted to use up. This resulted in my pumpkins looking a bit lively and bright.

For those of you following me (including my fellow workshop friends), try and create a few pumpkin sketches. Use your imagination and try out different pumpkin shapes and colors.

Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Eucalyptus Regnans (Wilderness series). Robert Oster Toffee, Melon Tea, Honey Bee, and Thunderstorm.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta A5

Another Van Dieman’s Ink

You might have noticed that I’ve been accumulating several bottles from the Van Dieman’s Ink brand. They have some gorgeous and vibrant ink colors that I could not pass up.

Here is Black Tongue Spider Orchid from their Wilderness Series line.

This is one gorgeous deep magenta & pinky purple color! Beautiful shading with a bit of dark sheen that almost looks black to me. This is a wonderful wet ink that I’m sure will be lovely to sketch with.

I have three other colors from this Wilderness series including Azure Kingfisher (a gorgeous shimmer), Eucalyptus Regnans, and Devil’s Kitchen. Devil’s Kitchen might sound familiar as I wrote about this ink color a few days ago.

In all, I have around 15 bottles from this brand. That clearly shows how much I enjoy using Van Dieman’s Ink for writing and journaling.

I’ve been filling my TWSBI GOs with the my new Van Dieman’s Ink. So far, I’ve been using three colors in my pen and ink wash sketches: Eucalyptus Regnans, Beetroot Relish, and Devil’s Kitchen. They’ve been performing beautifully. Lovely wet inks.

I’m hoping to dump use up my current inks in my remaining seven TWSBI GOs and fill them all with Van Dieman’s colors. I will have to keep one TWSBI filled with Robert Oster Thunderstorm (my fave) to use for base shadows in my sketches.

I enjoy seeing an ink plan come together and I can’t wait to use these vibrant and stunning colors in my creative journey.

Pen: Esterbrook Estie OS Dreamer Purple with Franklin-Christoph 14k Extra Fine Flex nib

Ink: Van Dieman’s Ink Black Tongue Spider Orchid

Paper: Rhodia

Another Pen & Ink in Rotation

I have another ink to show off. I had this bottle of Robert Oster ink sitting in my queue waiting for some action. I can’t tell you how many bottles of blue ink I have in various shades and tones. Let’s just say I have a lot! I’m sure some of you are in the same boat.

This one particular blue ink color has really caught my attention. It’s called Midnight Sapphire! I think this would be perfect for an everyday blue color. It’s vibrant and has a bit of character.

Here’s my writing sample and swatch. I have my lovely and beautiful Turnt Pen Co Pynchon PM4 pen filled with this gorgeous blue ink.

Midnight Sapphire is a dark blue ink that leans a bit towards purple. When touched with water, this ink color leaves behind a pinkish undertone depending on the paper used. It has some lovely shading and a bit of sheen. I’m trying to figure out the sheen that I’m seeing. Depending on the angle of my swatch card and lighting, I can see a dull copper-pink sheen along the edges.

This ink would be lovely to use in a pen & ink wash sketch. It feels a bit on the wet side. You can see from my mini swatch to the left of my swatch card how well the color pulls across the paper with water. I know my fellow workshop friends will understand and enjoy this bit of information.

My Turnt pen has fast become my favorite writing pen. It now has a slight edge over my Franklin-Christoph pens and closing in behind my Esterbrook Estie pens. I have to admit I keep twirling this pen and enjoy seeing all the lovely colors.

Pen: Turnt Pen Co Pynchon in Primary Manipulation 4 with Franklin-Christoph #6 HPS Fine nib

Ink: Robert Oster Midnight Sapphire

Paper: Rhodia Swatch card: Col-o-ring

Starting My Pen Rotation and a New Ink

I decided to start the month of October with a pen rotation. Normally, I just wait for the pen to run out of ink and then grab another pen to cycle in. I thought the best way to get started was to collect all of my recent EDWs or Every Day Writers from my pen case and desk and put them in my small plastic bin for my upcoming PCD or pen cleaning day later this week.

I mentioned in my previous post that I had several new ink bottles that were sitting on my desk for the last few weeks. This will give me an opportunity to try out the new ink colors and enjoy the writing experiences.

Before I get into one of my new inks, I wanted to show off a gorgeous nib I received recently with my Monteverde pen. I had my eye on this Innova Carbon Fiber Rainbow pen and to my surprise I was able to select a colorful Omniflex nib to go with this pen. This limited edition pen’s trim is called PVD Rainbow.

I remembered I had my Conklin Duragraph Black Matte with Rainbow trim currently sitting in my pen rotation queue. I think the rainbow Omniflex nib would also look stunning in my Conklin pen.

As you can see from the picture, my Monteverde Innova pen has a lot of pink in the rainbow trim. I decided to do a match with a less predominant color and went with something close to a dark teal color like Devil’s Kitchen.

I did not realize how much I enjoyed this Van Dieman’s Ink color until I started to swatch this ink. This is a beautiful wet ink and the teal color is absolutely stunning. This ink produces an amazing amount of shading along with a bit of pink sheen. I know this ink will be a joy to sketch with as it is gorgeous to write with.

Pen: Monteverde 20th Anniversary LE Innova Carbon Fiber Rainbow with Rainbow Omniflex nib

Ink: Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen

Paper: Rhodia

I’m Here!

It was 28 days ago when I last wrote an entry on my blog. Since then I’ve been radio silent and you were probably wondering what I’ve been up to. Right? Maybe? Hahaha!

For the whole month of September I felt like I’ve been running non-stop. I had appointments, projects, and deadlines to take care of. I had out of town relatives stop by for a visit and ended up needing my assistance and staying a bit longer. As always, it was great to catch up and spend time with them. The next thing I knew September came and went.

On the creative side of life I have been keeping up with my artistic hobbies.

I have been busy practicing my not-quite Copperplate handwriting using my Opus 88 Omar with the lovely Stylosuite EF Xwing Harpoon nib. I’ve noticed my hand and arm movements are more free flowing and not as jerky as before. I’m now dabbling into creating my own style of writing and adding flourishes.

I’ve been keeping up with my pen and ink wash art. I’ve been practicing and creating sketches of grapes. For some reason grapes have been tripping me up. In the past, I’ve started my sketches and never finished them. I decided to break down my “grape picture” I’ve been working on and just focus on a few grapes versus huge clusters of them surrounded by vines and leaves.

Here’s my pen and ink wash version:

While I was on this “grape” adventure, I decided to break out my watercolor paints and see what I could do. It’s still a work in progress and I need to tackle the leaves.

My watercolor grapes took a few hours to create as I was working in layers of colors. Each layer had to dry completely before I could add another layer of color on top. I love watercolor painting, but I rarely have blocks of hours to devote to a painting. I think that is why I enjoy using my fountain pens and inks for sketching as I can quickly get bold and vivid colors and instantaneous results.

Before I forget, I found a new toy. I managed to snag a fantastic deal on a Cricut machine. So now my baby Joy has a big sister the Maker.

I procured some sample paper packs and I immediately created some stickers from my artwork. This is still a work in progress as I’m testing out different brands and types of papers. Can you tell? I’m having way too much fun!

I’ll be back with more artwork, new inks, and other interesting finds that I forgot to mention. Be well and stay safe!

Blueberry pen & ink sketch: Robert Oster Tokyo Blue Denim, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Thunderstorm

Grape pen & ink sketch: Robert Oster Sydney Lavender & Melon Tea. Van Dieman’s Ink Beetroot Relish and Eucalyptus Regnans. Jacques Herbin Amethyste de l’Oural and Vert Atlantide.

Our Squirrel Buddy

Last week I was sitting outside and enjoying the hot and humid weather we were having. I noticed our neighborhood squirrel was paying us a visit. He quietly made his way towards me and hopped onto one of two bird baths we have in our garden.

This was the first time I have seen a squirrel on our bird bath. I was curious to see if he was going to take a dip to cool off. This little fella was keeping an eye on me.

No bath today. He must have been quite thirsty.

Graphite Sketch

When my sketching mojo disappears and comes back, I will spend some quality time sketching with my graphite pencils. I enjoy using my pencils as it helps me focus on the basic sketching techniques and also learning to look at the shapes I see. I also look for the highlights and the shadows.

Here’s a warmup sketch I did from a still life. A few of you from my workshop will recognize the veggies. I took some creative license and changed the shapes a bit.

Here’s my initial sketch and what I started with. I sketched loosely the outline of each object. I sketched around a few of the highlighted areas and included the base shadows. I added curved lines to show the curvature of the objects. You can see my lines consist of short strokes with a light hand.

In the next picture I used a blending stump to smooth out some areas where my lines were heavy. Blending the dark areas around the edges added some depth and made the highlights show a bit better.

In the final sketch (first picture), I used my 8B pencil to darken the objects further and used the blending stump to smooth out the darker areas to create additional depth and contrast.

Pencils used: Derwent Graphite in HB, 2B, 4B, and 8B

Journal: Leda Art Supply Softbound size Medium (A5)

Missing Sketching Mojo…Found

For the last few weeks, I have not been able to sketch anything. I had my watercolor palette and brushes sitting in my studio waiting for something to happen. I also had my pouch filled with TWSBI GOs (16 of them) inked and ready. Nothing. I carried my art bag around the inside and outside of my house. Just in case some inspiration surfaced.

There are times when many artists go through this mind boggling lack of creativity/motivation period. For me, it’s okay to go through this. I recognize it. I know better than to try and force myself to sit and create something while staring at a blank piece of paper or a page in my art journal.

I have been working on something else. My handwriting skills. Since the DC Pen Show, I’ve been practicing my handwriting skills daily. With the help of my new Stylosuite flex nib pen, it’s been easier for me to write something daily than to draw. I will save this writing experience for a future post.

For now, this was a sketch I created last week while sitting outside and looking at one of the plants Hubby brought home from the garden center. I felt like using my creative license and changed out the pot style as well as the color.

Pens used: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Faber-Castell Hexo Blue with Medium nib (Velvet Storm). Pilot Falcon with <SE> nib (Carbon ink).

Inks used: Robert Oster Saguaro Green, Eucalyptus Leaf, Honey Bee, Velvet Storm, and Thunderstorm. Private Reserve Copper Burst. Platinum Carbon ink.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha 5.5″x8.5″