Current Travel Fountain Pen Case

I brought a dozen of my artsy fountain pens with me in my Maxpedition case. I tried to cover the gamut of colors I would need to create my artwork. I used my Maxpedition case as my basic traveling “art case” to carry all of my art supplies including various water brushes in different sizes, swatch cards, paper towels, fountain pens, permanent fine line markers, and my portable watercolor palettes. I think of this as a “home base” case where I can pick and choose what supplies I want to use or take with me on the go. One day I might want to take my fountain pens with me. Another day I might want to take my watercolor paints with me.

To help me carry my essentials with me, I brought along my Rickshaw/Nock case to carry a few pens and accessories in a smaller bag. From the dozen fountain pens I brought with me, I had to narrow down my choice of colors to take on the go.

I’m able to stagger my pens in this case and zip it close. There’s a front pocket that could hold a slim journal or in my case, it conveniently holds my shop towels.

I bought this Rickshaw/Nock case a few months ago when Rickshaw was introducing this new case style with an awesome introductory price. I’m in love with this case!

Looking back, I should have bought another one in a printed fabric. Little did I know that I would fall head over heals with this case.

I’ve been sketching daily while on travel. Mostly carrying around my Rickshaw/Nock case with me. This comes in handy when I’m sitting at smaller tables and space is limited for me to spread out my case, journals, and pens.

Case: Rickshaw Nock Sinclair Model R in Black/Aqua.

Pens: Nahvalur Original Plus Melacara Purple (stub 1.1). Pilot Custom 823 Amber (Fine). Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine nib. TWSBI Go Stub 1.1 nib.

Inks: DeAtramentis Document Ink in Grey. Sailor Shikiori Tokiwa-Matsu. Robert Oster African Gold, Melon Tea, Blood Rose, Steely Days, Sydney Darling Harbour, and Thunderstorm

Other: Pentel water brushes in Small and Medium tips. Pentel Energize mechanical pencil with 0.7mm HB lead.

Bath Time for My Poor TWSBI GOs

As many of you know, I really enjoy using my TWSBI GOs for sketching with my fountain pen inks. I typically keep a dozen or more GOs filled with a variety of colors. Sometime this year, I had about 15 pens filled with shimmering inks at one time. Many of my favorite inks would stay in my pens until I nearly run out of ink. This would range from a week to several months.

I recently pulled out my GOs and noticed some crustiness around the feed and section. It may have been two weeks or more since I’ve last used them as I have been busy with my watercolor hobby. It was a reminder that it was time to clean my pens and prep them for my next inky color rotations for the new year.

After I cleaned my GOs by pumping water in and out of the body, I could still see remnants of shimmering particles in the feed. I knew I had to do some major cleaning.

I Googled “how to remove TWSBI GO/Eco nibs” and found a YouTube video. The video stressed about being careful when pulling the nib and feed out as the feed could be easily damaged.

While using my rubber grip, I carefully placed my fingers on the nib’s shoulders and pulled out my nib and feed from the section/body. I made sure not to apply too much pressure while grabbing the nib and feed.

Once I separated the nib from the feed, I could see the shimmering remnants left on the back side of my nib and all over the feed.

There’s also remnants of shimmer on the front side of my nib where the nib meets the section.

To get into the nooks and crannies of my feed, I used an extra soft toothbrush (child size) to remove the shimmering particles. I dipped both brush and feed into some water and and gently brushed in and out of the feed’s teeth. It took a few dips into the water to finally get the feed clean.

Here’s what my clean feed looks like and the shimmering remnants left on my towel and brush.

It’s easy to put the nib back onto the feed. The feed has a slight cutout where the nib slides over and stops into position. It’s easy to slide the nib and feed into the section. There might be some slight twisting involved with the nib/feed as there is a small protruding tab inside the section. With the GO’s clear section it’s easy to see when the nib and feed is situated in place.

Since I was on a roll, I went ahead and grabbed a bunch of empty GOs from my cleaning bin and pulled out the nibs and feed and gave them a good clean. Now my artsy pens are ready for my next color rotation.

I highly recommend watching one or two videos on how to remove and replace the nib and feed on your TWSBI GOs/ECOs. I ran across one video that showed what a damaged feed looked like. Just remember to pull the nib/feed out by grabbing the shoulders of the nib and pull it straight out of the section.

Pen: TWSBI Go with stub 1.1 nib

Toothbrush: Oral B Child size with extra soft bristles

Another Two Sketches: Two Different Mediums

This morning I was in the mood to sketch a scene. When I get into these moods I “just do it” and see what happens.

I’m still learning to paint loosely so I can create something in less than 30 minutes. That way I can feel like I’ve accomplished something in a small amount of time.

I created this painting without doing an initial pencil sketch and without looking at a picture. I took my paint brush and dipped it into my paint pans and painted away on my paper. It felt a bit “freeing” to paint like this. It only took me less than 10 minutes to complete. I could get used to this way of painting.

For this first painting exercise, I used my granulating paints from Daniel Smith and Schmincke.

I then decided to sketch out another beach scene and this time I used my fountain pens and inks.

I have to include this picture of my work in progress. I used blue painter’s tape to tape off an outline or window for my scenes. I ran out of tape for my pen & ink sketch and had to borrow a piece from my watercolor sketch. No time to look for tape. Have to keep going.

For my pen & ink sketch, I used a similar process by not creating the initial pencil sketch. I used my fountain pens and water brush and quickly completed my second beach scene.

I’m finding that it takes a bit more thought when I create my pen and ink wash artwork. Once I commit my ink to paper, that’s where the ink will stay. I can move some amount of color with my water brush, but basically some variation of the color stays where I’ve initially placed the nib to paper. That’s why I feel as though my sky is looking a bit strange. I got carried away and also forgot that I was working with ink.

Unlike inks, it’s easier to manipulate watercolor paints as I can blot/lift to lighten the color before it dries.

I forgot to mention that I’m using a watercolor journal from Canson for my test sketches. My beach scene sketches are on the backside of the first page. I wanted to see if the backside of this watercolor paper could be used.

Tip: Adding a color legend to my sketches. A few weeks from now, I won’t remember the colors I used.

Watercolor: Schmincke Galaxy Blue and Galaxy Brown. Daniel Smith Primatek Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine, Jadeite Genuine, Fuchsite Genuine, and Bronzite Genuine.

Fountain Pen Inks: Robert Oster Steely Days, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City. Diamine Shimmering Enchanted Ocean. Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen.

Fountain Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs.

Brushes: Pentel Water Brush

Paint Pans: Art Toolkit standard stainless steel pans

Journal: Canson Artist Series Watercolor Cold Press 140lb/300g (5.5″x8.5″) 20 sheets

Creating My Own Watercolor Swatch Cards

A few weeks ago I had re-swatched all of my bottles of Robert Oster Signature fountain pen inks. An idea came to me that I should do something similar with all of my tubes of Daniel Smith watercolor paints.

I looked around on the Internet and could not find a decent swatch card system to use. I tried using my Col-o-ring cards, but the paper was a bit too thin to handle the amount of water and paint I use. Being the creative person that I am, I did come up with a brilliant solution.

I remembered I had a few Canson journals left over from my pen & ink workshops and I knew the paper in that journal could handle a decent amount of water and paint. I grabbed my paper trimmer and my corner cutter and I was ready to do some paper cutting.

Since I was familiar with the 2″x4″ Col-o-ring size card, I thought that would be a good size to start with. After doing my initial watercolor swatch tests, I decided the card was a bit too wide. I did another swatch card test and found a 1.5″x4″ size card was perfect for my watercolor swatching needs and I had enough room to write down important color information. This smaller size also allowed me to cut a few more pieces from a single sheet of paper.

I used my Arteza water brush to paint out the colors on my swatch cards. I used my Platinum Preppy filled with Carbon ink to write out the paint color information.

Here’s a picture of my corner cutter. There are three slots (small, medium, & large) for three different size corners. The illustration on top of the gray hand press shows what the corners would look like for each size.

For my swatch cards, I decided to use the (S)mall corner cutter setting to give my cards a smaller or narrow curved corner.

The mixed media paper handled my watercolor mixture well. The paper does buckle slightly when wet. After the paper dries, it straightens out on its own.

Since I was in a paper cutting mood, I went ahead and created my own Col-o-ring-like swatch cards for my fountain pen inks. Good thing I keep several pads of mixed media and drawing paper in my art paper stash.

In the following picture, I used the “L” or large corner cutter. I placed the corner of my paper into the slot and pressed down on the gray handle to cut out a curved corner.

Can you tell from the picture below, which card was the one I created?

I created the card on the right. The one on the left is from Col-o-ring.

My Swatch Card Tools

Journal: Canson Artist Series Mixed Media spiral bound (5.5″x8.5″)

Paper Trimmer: Fiskars Surecut Portable Paper Trimmer

Corner Cutter: Sunstar Kadomaru Pro, Corner Cutter (S4765036) S-M-L

Single hole punch

Small loose leaf binder ring

My Small Palette

So far, you have seen my medium size metal palette container that I’ve been using for the last few weeks. I spent some quality time with this palette and enjoyed carrying it around with me. I did find my “Meedan” metal container to be a bit limiting as I could not comfortably add additional paint pans to the middle row. My picture shows two pans wedged in there, but it’s just sitting on the edge between my other pans. The metal brackets were too close and as a result my pans would not “fit” in the middle.

While I like this medium size container palette, I mostly use it on my studio desk and also to store all of my pans filled with colors. Makes it easier to go to one container and pull out the colors I need to use.

For a more portable and smaller urban sketching metal container, I came across this lovely container from Looneng. I selected to have eight (8) empty full pans included with my container. I did not have any empty full pans in my art stash and I know this will come in handy later.

This metal container met all my requirements for a portable watercolor palette. First, there is three mixing wells on the left side cover. Other brands have two large wells. On the right side flap, there are six small mixing wells.

Here’s a major requirement for me, having the ability to place six (6) additional paint pans in the middle row. You’ll notice the empty paint pans are turned in portrait mode. That’s a total of 18 pans that can be stored in this container.

I created a custom swatch card that fits in my container. Here I have my three primary warm colors on the left side and my three primary cool colors on the right side.

This week, I had lunch at a local sushi restaurant. My watercolor sketch is mostly from memory and just playing around with mixing colors. This sketch shows my first layer of colors. A work in progress.

I’m also using an Arteza water brush that works brilliantly with my watercolor paint pans. You can see my brush tip has darkened with use. This is normal. I use my Pentel water brushes for my pen & ink artwork. I have a future blog post I am working on explaining the difference/feel of these two water brush brands. Stay tuned!

Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Metal Paint Palette: Looneng Empty Watercolor Palette. Select to include 8 empty full pans or 14 empty half pans.

Paint Pans: Meeden clear half pans

Swatch card: Arches Cold Press 140lb/300gsm paper cut down to size

Water brush: Arteza Water Brush Pen (assorted tips) in Medium

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta Softcover A5 (5.5″x8.5″) 270gsm 25 sheets/50 pages

Digital Sketching on an iPad

I’ve been playing around with a creative drawing app called Procreate. I had purchased this app awhile ago and did not realize that it would not work with my old iPad. I basically forgot about this digital drawing tool until a few weeks ago.

At Procreate’s website, I went through two tutorials to get me up and running with their software. I took notes (because that’s what I like to do) so I would not forget how things worked or wondered where I saw a particular setting or tool.

I was a bit overwhelmed after my first day of use. But not PhotoShop-like overwhelmed. That’s a totally different creative beast.

For my first test sketch, I played around with the various brushes to get an idea of how much pressure would be required while using my Apple pencil. There’s a variety of brushes that are included in Procreate and there was some familiarity based on my experience with other art mediums.

For my next test sketch, I wanted to see if I could recreate a watercolor artwork I had completed earlier this month. I snapped a picture of my pencil sketch and brought it into Procreate in its own layer. I added additional layers above my pencil sketch so I could play with the brushes as well as working with colors and textures. One day I will share this sketch with you in a future blog post.

In the meantime, here’s my first official Procreate sketch that I created on my iPad. Yes, it’s another pumpkin sketch.

The following pictures show my sketching progression from the initial lines to filling in the stem and the pumpkin and building up the layers of colors from light to dark.

Just for fun, I added a pattern layer to my pumpkin!

A few of you might be wondering why I’m getting into digital sketching. There are times, when it’s easier for me to grab my iPad and start sketching. Ideas will pop into my head and I find using my iPad is a bit more convenient. Plus I no longer have post-it notes or pieces of paper scattered around my desk or in my journals.

I can tell that Procreate has so much to offer and I’ve just touched the surface of its capabilities.

Tablet: Apple iPad (9th generation)

Pencil: Apple Pencil (version 1)

Software: Procreate

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