A Watercolor Sketch of My Palette

I thought it would be a fun project to create a sketch of my watercolor palette that I’m currently using.

I did a blog post a little over a year ago on how I filled my half pans. You can find my post here.

The mixing areas of my palette still looks fairly new. That’s because I enjoy using my porcelain tray to mix my colors in. When I’m at my studio desk, I have a bit more room to accommodate this larger palette and my porcelain mixing tray. I can also create larger pieces of artwork and my mixing tray can hold a bit more paint.

I’ve decided to stick with this one palette for the next week or two and get reacquainted with the paint colors and get my palette a bit dirty. This will help me figure out what colors I want to keep for a scaled down palette of colors for urban sketching.

Palette: Meeden Empty Watercolor Tin Box Palette Paint Case with 24 piece half pans

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors (15ml tubes)

Brush: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Synthetic Travel Brush in size 6

Paper: Master’s Touch Fine Art Studio Watercolor 140lb cold press paper in size 6″x8″

Getting My Sketching Mojo Back with a Pumpkin and a Prompt

After eight months of sketching non-stop with my fountain pens and inks, my creativity finally went missing. For the last two months, I was hoping it would come back. It has slowly. I try not to force it. There are some days when I feel as though I should be doing something creative, but all I do is stare at a blank page for a few minutes. Then I would close my art journal and carry on with my other daily activities.

My Graphite Sketch

When I get stuck in a creative rut, I always fall back to sketching with my favorite art medium using graphite pencils. I used my mechanical pencil to sketch out an outline. I used my 2.0mm clutch pencil to create the dark lines and shading. I used my blending tortillon to blend/smudge the graphite onto my paper and to soften the harsh lines.

My Pen & Ink Wash Sketch

A few days later, I created a pen & ink wash sketch of my pumpkin. I used my Copic Multiliner to sketch the outline and also added contour lines to create the darker areas of the pumpkin. I used two fountain pen ink colors Oklahoma City and Steely Days for the pumpkin. For the stem, I used Kansas City and Melon Tea. For the shadow area under the pumpkin, I used Oklahoma City and then dabbed a bit of Thunderstorm and used my water brush to blend out and away.

My Watercolor Sketch

I was toying with the idea of getting back into using my watercolor paints for my artwork. Why not, right? I pulled out my Sennelier watercolor set and enjoyed my time mixing my paint colors. I used mostly a wet on dry technique since the paper I was using could only take light washes. For the last layer, I used a damp brush with my teal paint mix and created a few contour strokes to enhance the shape of my pumpkin.

Challenge: Find a pumpkin to use in your sketches. Use a picture if you can’t find a real or fake pumpkin. Use your pencil to create a graphite sketch. Then use your fountain pens and ink to create the second pumpkin sketch. If you have another art medium available (watercolor, charcoal, pastel, etc) create a third sketch.

My Art Journals:

Leda Art Supply Medium-size (5.7″x8.25″) with graphite pencils.

Stillman & Birn Alpha 7.5″x7.5″ softcover with fountain pen & ink.

hand●book journal co. 5.5″x5.5″ square with watercolor paints.

My Art Mediums:

Graphite – Pentel Energize Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead and Staedtler Clutch Pencil 925 35-20 with 2.0mm HB lead.

Fountain Pens & Inks – TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Robert Oster Oklahoma City, Steely Days, Kansas City, Melon Tea, and Thunderstorm

Watercolor Mixes: Sennelier French Artists Watercolor Travel Set (12). Lemon Yellow and Sepia to create yellow ochre. Ultramarine Deep and Sepia to create dark brown. Forest Green and Ultramarine Deep to create teal green.

Watercolor Brushes: Escoda 1548 Versatil Series Artist Watercolor Travel size 4 & 6

Workshop Prompt – Water Brush Sketch

Update: A question was asked about how I created the shadows underneath my objects. I’ve updated this post to include my answer. Look for the “*” paragraph.

I thought it would be a good time to sketch an art tool that we all have on hand, a water brush.

I started my sketch using my mechanical pencil.

I used my fine point pen with permanent ink to sketch over the lines I wanted to keep in my drawing.

After I gently erased my unwanted pencil lines, I applied my inky wash. I decided to use Sepia Nights for the main areas of my water brush and the shadow underneath my brush. I used Thunderstorm for the dark components inside my brush and added a tiny bit to my shadow to give my sketch a bit more depth.

* To create the shadows under my object, I leave a bit of highlight (white of the paper). I take my pen with same ink color as my object and sketch a line around the underside of my object. This creates a reflective shadow of my object. I dab a tiny bit of Thunderstorm where I think the shadows are the darkest. I slowly swipe my water brush across the two colors and pull the colors down and away from the object. This technique takes a bit of practice, but well worth the effort.

The following picture shows what my sketches look like in my art journal.

Try sketching your water brush. You have creative license on how much detail you want to include. For your first sketch use a blue ink color for your wash.

Challenge: create another sketch of your water brush and use a different ink color for your wash. This additional practice will help in observing your object a bit more and where the highlights and shadows are versus trying to copy the color of your object.

Pens used: Copic Multiliner with 0.1mm tip. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs.

Inks: Robert Oster Sepia Nights and Thunderstorm

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softcover A5

Kakimori – the Nibs

Update and Tips #1 (08/08/22): I was able to hang out at the River City Pen Company’s table during the 2022 DC Pen Show. I enjoyed my time sharing what I knew about using dip nibs and Rich’s nib holders. One show attendee mentioned that she disliked the Kakimori nib she had. She could not write with it. I gave her a few suggestions to try her nib again. One was to use a different fountain pen ink brand and color or use her favorite ink. Another was to lighten her grip on the nib holder. The other suggestion and probably the most important one is to write in the same position and angle as if you had a fountain pen in your hand.

Update #2 (08/08/22): I forgot to mention that I hosted an “after hours” pen & ink workshop for the exhibitors. Just for fun, I handed out my Kakimori nibs with my resin nib holders to try out. One had the brass nib and the other had the steel nib. I gave no instructions on how to use. They immediately took to this nib and nib holder immediately and spent some time writing with it. A few minutes later, they quickly exchanged nib and nib holder to see how the other nib felt in their hand. This was a great experiment for me to observe and I received positive feedback on both. It was interesting to see one attendee preferred the steel nib with the finer writing feel and the other attendee preferred the brass nib and the wetter lines that it could create.

(Original post begins here)

I found another nib that works great with my inky swatchings. They are round nibs and appears to have eight sides with long cut outs along the sides.

The cutouts allow for ink to settle into the nib when dipped into a bottle of ink. This allows for longer writing sessions before having to the dip the nib back into ink. You know what? It really does work.

I saw there were two offerings available. One in stainless steel and one in brass. I went with the stainless steel version as I know I would not have to worry about rust or much discoloration after use.

I took a picture for those who are curious as to what the backside of the nib looks like. The nib is hollow until the start of the cutouts. This allows the nib to sit into the nib holder.

The stainless still nib feels a bit stiff when I write with the nib. In my normal writing angle of around 45 degrees I can get a nice line width. I can also feel some feedback while writing. When I hold the nib slightly below my normal writing angle, I can get a broad stroke of color on my paper.

I enjoyed my stainless steel nib so much, that I went ahead and ordered a brass nib. I read about the differences between these two nibs. The brass nib tends to be softer and can produce broader lines. It’s also good for artists to use in their sketches.

I can definitely feel a difference between the two nibs. The brass feels a bit softer and produces a smoother experience while writing. I can also get broader strokes of color across my paper.

Do I prefer one over the other? It depends. When I’m creating my writing samples, I automatically reach for my stainless steel nib. I need a bit more time to work with both nibs.

While cleaning the nib, I did encounter some stubborn inks that wanted to cling to the nib’s cutouts. I have a child’s extra soft toothbrush that I dip in water and give a gentle scrub.

I can’t wait to use up all my inky sample vials using these lovely nibs.

Note: I enjoy this combination of nib and nib holder. I mentioned in my previous review of the River City Pen Company nib holders that for fountain pen users, there is a “familiar feel” while holding this nib holder. Once you have this combination in your hand, you just need to focus on getting used to this unusual & lovely Kakimori nib.

Nibs: Kakimori Stainless Steel and Brass nibs available at Yoseka Stationery

Nib holders: River City Pen Company – Pink, Green, & White DiamondCast (McKenzie Penworks) and Barrier Reef (Turnt Pen Company)

Inks: Diamine Party Time and Storm (Red Inkvent)

Paper: Rhodia Dot Pad

Sketching with My Lamy Ballpoint Pen

I set out to do an experiment with all the ballpoint, rollerball, and gel pens I found in and around my studio desk. What did I uncover? I immediately eliminated the SWAG pens I received from various trade shows I’ve attended over the years. Their inks dried up fast inside the pen and were deemed unusable. They were basically disposable plastic pens. You know what I’m referring to.

I had a few name brand pens in my possession. I created a sample page where I sketched with the pens and then apply my fountain pen inks over the initial sketch. I also created sample lines and then applied water over the lines to get a better idea of how the ink reacted with water.

My gel pens and rollerball pens basically smeared when I applied water to the lines.

I was surprised to see my Retro51 ballpoint ink react the way it did with water.

My Cross, Parker, and Lamy ballpoint pens handled the water a bit better.

Here’s my Lamy ballpoint pen collection which includes the Al Star in Green, Vista in Clear, and Al Star in Cosmic.

My Lamy ballpoint trio

My Lamy writes smooth across the different art papers I use. So far, no skipping or fading. The Vista model has a thinner grip section than the Al-Star. I do like the clear body showing off my ink refill.

I keep my Lamy ballpoint pens in my art journal and in my art pen case. I can find my refills (M16) at most online pen shops. They come in Fine, Medium, and Broad tips.

My Lamy ballpoint pen is fast becoming my favorite cool tool for creating quick sketches with a fairly permanent ink. The pen colors they come in are really lovely.

Ballpoint Pens: Lamy Al Star in Green and Cosmic with Fine tip. Lamy Vista Clear with Fine tip.

Journal: Canson Mixed Media A5.

One More Use For a Nib Holder

This will be a quick post for today. Last week, I read about using a JoWo nib in my nib holder. I did not think too much about it until this morning.

I was in the midst of decluttering my studio and came across a tiny zip locked bag with two JoWo nib units. I remembered they had cracked housings. I pulled out the generic nib unit from my bag and removed the JoWo nib which was so easy to do as the housing was no longer doing its job.

I gently installed the JoWo nib into the nib holder. I was pleasantly surprised how well it fit.

Now, the true test was to see how well this nib wrote and also how much ink would this nib hold without the feed.

I’m liking this combination a lot. My writing feels similar to writing with a fountain pen. The nib holds a lot of ink as you can see from my writing sample. I made sure the ink covered the breather hole which turns out to be a decent amount of ink. Also, the nib is so easy to clean. I just dip the nib into some water and wipe with a towel.

I can definitely see using this for creating sketches and I can quickly change ink colors without too much fuss. I can also do the same for writing and journaling and using several different colors.

Nib Holder: River City Pen Company nib holder in Pink, Green, & White DiamondCast

Nib: JoWo #6 Fine nib

Ink: Jacques Herbin Vert Atlantide

Paper: Rhodia

My Favorite Dip Nib Holder

I first came upon River City Pen Company during last year’s DC Pen Show. Richard had several trays of fountain pens and I zeroed-in on one fountain pen that had a silver turtle roll stop on the cap. It was tempting, but I had to pass as my budget was small and I had already purchased two pens from another pen maker. I kept glancing over at Richard’s table and made a mental note to visit his website.

One day, I was perusing my social media feed and stumbled upon a few unique and interesting dip nib holders made from a lovely resin. Lovely swirls of colors with bits of chatoyancy and shimmer.

The shimmering stars were starting to align when I saw River City Pen Company was selling the special dip nib holders. I was clicking through Richard’s pictures on IG and one resin immediately grabbed my attention.

I went to his website and saw all the lovely resin offerings. I saw Barrier Reef was still available and I immediately knew that was meant for me. Yes, all the shimmering stars were now perfectly aligned.

I could not wait to receive my nib holder. I had put my remaining Anderillium inky reviews on hold (writing sample and sketches). My Kakimori stainless steel nib was patiently waiting to be used in my new nib holder. I know I could have used my old beat up Tachikawa nib holder, but why use plain wood when I can use something really colorful.

Look at this lovely combination!

I was not surprised to find Richard’s nib holder fit beautifully in my hand. The grip area is roughly 10.75mm which is in my favorite grip size range. The length is around 140mm or 5.5 inches in length. My nib holder weighs about 16 grams without the nib. With the Kakimori nib installed the total weight is around 19.5 grams.

Enough of the specs, let’s move on to the writing experience.

Just as I suspected, the nib holder feels as though I have a fountain pen in my hand. There is something familiar about it and it just feels like I’m at home with it.

Some of you are probably wondering what is that strange nib I’m using. It’s a stainless steel nib that has groves in it. I was able to write the small paragraph in the previous picture with half a dip. Meaning, I only dipped the nib in ink half way up the nib. That is quite a bit of writing for a dip nib. I will provide a review of this nib (and the brass one) a bit later.

I was wondering what other nibs I could use and I decided to place my Tachikawa G-nib in my nib holder. The G-nib fits perfectly.

I am so happy to be able to use this with my G-nibs. I have other nibs I need to try and I will update this blog post to include the nibs that fit.

For now, I’m using fountain pen inks with my Kakimori nib and this nib holder for writing and sketching. I’m also using this combo for testing ink colors. I can actually get this nib and holder into the bottom of my sample ink vials without any issues. I am one happy camper!

I do want to mention any inky residuals on the nib holder is easily wiped away with a towel. Just like a fountain pen.

Take a look at the available dip nib holders at River City Pen Company.

Pen: Dip Nib Holder by River City Pen Company in Barrier Reef

Nibs: Kakimori Stainless Steel Nib. Tachikawa G nib.

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen. Robert Oster Australian Blue Opal.

Papers: Rhodia Dot Grid and Graph

Using a Fine Liner Pen in My Pen & Ink Sketches

As a few of you know, I enjoy using my Platinum Preppy (02) with Platinum Carbon ink to create my initial pen & ink sketches. I was struggling a bit and recently had a fall-out-of-love feeling with my Preppy. I found my Preppy fountain pen a bit too sharp to use on my Stillman & Birn Journal paper. I was not able to create some fine, continuous, and clean lines on my slightly textured art paper.

I dug around in my art drawers looking for a “pen” with permanent ink. I have a bunch of Sakura Microns, but they have brush tips that I used for my calligraphy. I finally came across a Faber-Castell PITT artist pen I had purchased several years ago. I was amazed that this pen still had some ink and I was able to do a few sketches including this gnome.

In the above sketch, I used my PITT fine liner pen with black ink to sketch the outline of my gnome. I also used the pen to add in some lines in the gnome’s beard. Sadly when the ink ran out of my PITT pen I had to dispose of it.

I watched a few art lessons and saw an interesting art pen other artists used for their sketches. This particular fine liner pen uses pigment ink and is waterproof. It’s the Copic Multiliner SP and it’s made in Japan.

This pen comes in 10 different nib sizes including a brush nib. The sizes start from a very, very fine 0.03mm to a 0.7mm line size. It took me awhile to figure out which nib size to get and I ended up getting three different pens in 0.1, 0.3, & 0.5 nib sizes. Copic also carries their Multiliner SP pens in a 10-pen set with all the different sizes one could need to sketch with.

Once my pens arrived I could not wait to try them out. I did a writing sample to compare the different the nib sizes. Initially, the 0.3 and 0.5 nibs appear to write very similar on my paper. When I looked at the nibs close up, I could see the 0.3 nib was slightly smaller than the 0.5 nib.

I can definitely see the 0.1 nib writes extremely fine compared to the other two sizes I have. Depending on the paper I use, my Copic pen with 0.1 nib makes a tiny noise when I sketch with it. Maybe I need to lighten my grip on the pen and put less pressure on the paper. I’ve read a few comments where other artists mention how delicate the finer nibs are especially the 0.03 and 0.05 nibs. My pen with 0.1 nib might fall into this category.

Here’s a close up picture of the Copic nibs. You can definitely see how delicate the 0.1mm nib is. The 0.5 and the 0.3 nibs are very close in size, but you can see a slight difference.

The nibs: 0.5mm, 0.3mm, and 0.1mm

Here’s my colorful gnome sketch where I used my Copic Multiliner SP to draw the outline of the gnome and a few lines around the beard.

I used my 0.1mm pen to outline the beard.

Here’s a pen & ink sketch of my fountain pen using my Platinum Preppy to create the outline of sketch. Notice the broken lines on the paper (left side) and in my fountain pen sketch.

The Copic Multiliner SP pens have an aluminum body. It’s lightweight and feels good in my hand. You will notice that I have been calling the Copic pen’s tip…a nib. That’s because the nibs are replaceable and can be pulled out of the pen. That is so cool! The ink inside the aluminum body contains a black ink cartridge that can also be replaced. When the ink runs out all I need to do is pull out the cartridge and put in a new one. I saw the spare nibs and ink cartridges are available online. It will be interesting to see if my local art shop carries them as well.

I can now say I’m a Copic Multiliner SP fan. I like the clean lines this pen creates on the various art papers I use. It’s a pigment ink pen. The ink is water- and Copic-proof meaning it will not smear when water or other Copic alcohol-based pens are used to draw over this ink. I like the idea I can replace or swap around the different size nibs. I also like the ability to replace the black ink cartridge when needed.

Fountain Pens: Lamy 2000 Makrolon with EF nib. TWSBI Swipe Salmon with Stub 1.1 nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Platinum Preppy with 02 nib.

Fine Liner Pens: Faber-Castell PITT artist pen in size S with black Indian ink. Copic Multiliner SP in sizes 0.1, 0.3, & 0.5 with black pigment ink.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Hardbound (4″x6″)

My Rugged Art Case for Fountain Pens

I have several fountain pen cases I use for travel. For my everyday writers or EDWs I like using my 3-pen case from Franklin-Christoph. I use my EDWs for my daily/weekly/monthly BUJO, for journal writing, and taking notes for online courses.

For my “durable” artsy fountain pens (e.g. TWSBI GOs), I have to use a completely different pen case. I like having several different ink colors available when the sketching urge hits me. This is where function overrides a nice looking case. I mentioned some time last year I was using a pouch like case like this one pictured below.

This case had served it’s purpose as it could hold a number of fountain pens in the main zippered pouch. I think at one point I was able to cram about 20 TWSBI GOs. Over time I found the pouch was cumbersome to use.

The main issue I had was I could only see a few pens on the top and I had to dig around inside the pouch to look for an ink color. Many times I had to dump all my pens out to see what I had or wanted to use.

I did some research (because that’s what I enjoy doing) and followed a few other artists to see what tools and cases they had in their art bag.

I came across a watercolor artist who was using a Maxpedition Beefy Pocket Organizer case. This case looks quite rugged and durable. I actually bought two of these when I came across a BOGO sale at the manufacturer’s site. One in black (shown here) and another in a pretty olive green color that I use to carry my watercolor brushes and paints.

Here’s the front of my case. I lightened the picture slightly to show off the stitching and how well made this case is. Remember I am a sewist and I look for good stitching. The front has two velcro pieces at the top if I wanted to add a personal patch. There is also a front pocket made of netting that is secured with velcro behind the Maxpedition logo. I added two fountain pens and a blotter card to show the pocket size.

Let’s start with the left side of my case. Immediately you can see the horizontal elastic loops. There are two sets of elastic loops with the narrower loop sewn on top of the wider loop. The top narrow loops (six of them) hold my individual pens in place. Behind the narrow loops are three wide loops. There’s an open pocket behind my pens that can hold more pens, pencils, a small notebook, or folded paper towels.

Here’s the right side of my case and there is another set of elastic loops. It’s a similar set up to the right side except the loops are sewn in vertically to maximize storage space. It also looks like the elastic loop space is wider. I removed my pens to show the configuration better. There’s a zippered pocket behind the loops for another small notebook or other accessories.

There’s a horizontal elastic loop at the interior edge of the case. This is a large loop that holds my three water brushes and my Platinum Preppy filled with Carbon ink.

I went ahead and put my pens back into the case. Again I’m only using the upper loop configuration to hold my pens. I can slip two pens into each loop.

Here is the backside of my Maxpedition case. It has a grab handle and another set of loops to hold more stuff. The loops on the back are not elastic and made out of webbing material just like the handle.

Since I use mostly TWSBI GOs for artwork, I have no issues with throwing those pens into this case and hit the road with them. My GOs are durable and can take the jostling around in my backpack.

This is a rugged and durable case. Think tactical gear. The material in the Maxpedition feels a bit rough. The elastic loops are stiff and have a rough feeling. I found the roughness eventually lessens the more I use my case. As you can see in the pictures, there is no padding in the case.

It’s perfect for my use to hold and carry all my artsy fountain pens (TWSBI GOs). When I open my case I can see all my pens and art tools and can quickly get to work creating art.

I will be back with another review on how I use my green Maxpedition case for my watercolor supplies.

Case: Maxpedition Beefy Pocket Organizer in Black

Pens: TWSBI GO, Eco, and Diamond 580. Monteverde Innova Carbon Black with Rainbow trim. Conklin All American Lapis Blue and Duragraph Matte Black with Rainbow trim. Maiora Impronte OS Posilippo. Esterbrook Estie OS Dreamer Purple. Turnt Pen Co Pynchon PM4. Pilot Stargazer Black and Prera Pink. Lamy 2000 Makrolon.

Other: Pentel water brushes. Pentel Energize pencil.

Sketching with Graphite

(Edit: Added additional information & pictures of the graphite leads used with my clutch pencils)

I have to confess. I did partake in one of the sales on Fountain Pen Day. It was not a fountain pen purchase, but a clutch pencil that I had my eye on. Who knew that one of my fave fountain pen shops carried clutch pencils. More on that in a few minutes.

To make sure I was keeping with the fountain pen theme on that day, I purchased a bottle of Van Dieman’s red ink that was on my wish list. It’s part of their Original Colors of Tasmania ink series. It’s a gorgeous reddish ink color and I paired it with one of my Leonardo MZ fountain pens. Ink swatches will be in my next ink review post.

Back to my non-fountain pen purchase. I have a thing for the Koh-i-Noor clutch pencils and I have managed to collect a few in different colors and styles. This new one is quite unique and it did not hurt that it came in a beautiful blue color with gold trim. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

Can you see why I was attracted to this pencil? This metal clutch pencil holder has some heft and weight. The weight reminds me of brass. It is chunky looking and easy to hold in my hand. I noticed I have a looser grip with this style of pencil. Here’s a picture of my new blue pencil sitting in between my two standard looking clutch lead holders.

My clutch pencil holder uses the 5.6mm graphite leads and they typically come in the softer lead offerings: HB, 2B, 4B, 6B, and 8B. I pulled out the included lead from my pencil and could not find any markings and I assumed it was an HB or 2B.

I used my new pencil to create this initial grape sketch. Yes, I’m still in the grape sketching phase.

This HB/2B lead produced some hard lines in my sketch. I used my two other clutch pencils with softer leads (e.g. 6B) and was able to blend the hard lines and soften the grapes. You can see a difference in the following picture.

Graphite Leads:

I wanted to add that the Koh-i-Noor graphite leads come in two lengths: 80mm and 120mm. Each box contains six (6) leads and you’ll notice the longer leads need extra protection and come in a plastic box.

Here’s what the leads look like outside of their boxes.

Here are the leads next to my clutch pencils. My Koh-i-Noor Versatil 5340 Clutch Pencil (bottom) can take both lead sizes and retracts them fully into the clutch holder.

My new clutch holder can easily take the 80mm lead size and retracts fully in the clutch holder. The 120mm lead can also be used, but when fully retracted the lead will still show/protrude from the clutch. For me it’s not an issue as I store my pencils in a wrap case. It might an issue for those who carry their pencils in their pockets or in a purse/backpack.

I really enjoy using my clutch pencils as I can easily swap out different lead types. I can use sepia, charcoal, and chalk leads as well as metallic and “magic” leads for sketches that require color.

Clutch Pencil: Koh-i-Noor Mechanical Drop Clutch Lead Holder in Blue with 5.6mm x 80mm Lead (HB or 2B)

Journal: Leda Art Sketch Book