Watercolor Warm Up With Three Peppers

As part of my refresher and getting back into an old hobby, I always practice recreating a piece of artwork from one of my favorite pictures. The “three peppers” is a picture I took when Hubby and I were in the Grand Caymans and stumbled across an outdoor market that had beautiful fruits and vegetables displayed. I’ve already completed a rendering of my three peppers in graphite, oil, and pastel. Now, it’s time for a watercolor version.

Here is my portable setup while I sit in my comfy art chair in our family room. My art chair is actually an “armless chair” that is quite comfy. I love having no arms on my chair as I can freely move my arms around or quickly change my sitting position. I have a hard board that I use when I work with single sheets of art paper. My favorite size is a 11″x14″ board where I can then clip my watercolor paper to the top side of the board and also have my mixing palettes and shop towel within reach.

My portable watercolor setup on top of a hard board

My three peppers are still a work in progress. I took my time with my painting process. I started the first layer using the light colors. For the next layer I used medium-toned colors. It was getting late and I decided to stop what I was doing and take a quick picture. Right now, my peppers look like they are floating on the paper.

I need to apply a layer or two of darker colors and add the shadows under the peppers. A great start into my watercolor adventure.

My Watercolor Supplies

Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor

Brush: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Travel Brush #8

Paper (140lb/300gsm 100% cotton): Strathmore 500 Series Premium 5″x7″ paper

Paint Palette: Art Toolkit by Expeditionary Art

Mixing Palette: Small porcelain flower palette (Hobby Lobby)

Why Use Professional Artist Quality Supplies?

It was at the beginning of my watercolor adventure and my first class where I learned to use student-grade supplies and I developed some bad habits with using the cheap paints and cheap papers. I kept hearing buy what you can afford. At some point in my watercolor painting life I was miserable with what I created and could not get to the next level of seeing any improvements in what I was painting. My paintings were dull and lifeless.

I found a local artist who had a studio in town and she took me under her wings for a few weeks. I showed up for the first session and she told me to get rid of my student grade paints and papers and start using artist quality supplies. She mentioned there’s a huge difference in quality between student grade and artist grade. She let me use her tubes of Winsor & Newton Artist paint for my first lesson and I immediately saw a difference. A few weeks later my mentor saw a huge improvement in my paintings. This eye opening experience brought life back to my art adventure.

When I graduated to artist grade supplies, I had to re-learn or develop new habits with using better grade paints and papers. I went from paint fillers to pure translucent colors. In regards to paper, I went from cellulose paper to 100% cotton paper. It was definitely an eye opening experience and instead of frowning at what I created, it was pure joy to see beautiful colors pop on my cotton paper.

If I had learned to use artist grade supplies at the beginning, I would have immediately developed good habits right from the start.

I was thankful to have the basic small tubes of Winsor & Newton Artist colors and not go hog-crazy getting the rainbow of colors they manufactured. I learned to mix the basic colors of yellows, reds, and blues to create the secondary colors. For example yellow and red to create orange. Yellow and blue to create green. Red and blue to create purple.

I followed several watercolor artists on the Internet and noticed they were branching out into other watercolor paint manufacturers. One brand that peaked my interest was a US based manufacturer, Daniel Smith. I purchased a few small tubes of his paints and immediately fell in love with his pure bright colors.

A few years ago, I signed up for a refresher watercolor class at my local art center. I was glad to see the instructor’s art supply list included Daniel Smith paints and I was happy to try out new colors. I had a lot of fun in that class and enjoyed learning new tips and painting styles. It showed in my final paintings I produced.

Over the last few months I saw Daniel Smith had a watercolor “dot sheet” that contained almost all of the Daniel Smith watercolor paints available. The sheet is arranged by colors and the one I purchased had 4 sheets covering a total of 238 color dots. That’s a lot of colors from one manufacturer! Scroll through the following pictures to see the 8.5″x11″ sheets of colors:

I spent some time playing with the dots. I took my #6 round paint brush and applied some water to each dot. I painted out each dot in rectangle blocks of color. Most of the colors immediately reacted with the water and it was easy to pull the colors out. A few were so dry that it took some time to get the paint to react to the water and move it around the paper.

For the last 10 years, I have accumulated over 40+tubes of Daniel Smith watercolor paints in my collection. As I mentioned before, I used to mix the basic colors to get my secondary and some tertiary colors. Some colors like turquoise and teal take more effort to create. It made more sense for me to purchase a tube of the exact color I needed.

Did I mention DS makes shimmering paint colors? They are actually called Duochrome and Iridescent colors. Here’s a few close up pictures:

Beautiful shimmering colors!
The Duochrome colors are gorgeous! Reminds me of the Caribbean.
Here’s a close up of a few Iridescent colors

I have my shimmering fountain pen inks to thank for getting me into the sparkling watercolor paints. I never thought I would end up with tubes of shimmering beauties. Oh my! Daniel Smith is doing a great job with their paint offerings.

My paint bin is full of paint tubes. I had to create an inventory (spreadsheet) of my watercolor paint collection. Out of the 40+ tubes in my possession, only 5 colors were duplicates. Not too bad as they are the colors I enjoy using the most.

I plan on getting back into creating some watercolor pieces of art. I just need to carve out a few hours a day and just do it!

Tips/Tricks

Before I sign up for a class (online or in person instructions), I look for the instructor’s supply list to see which brands of paint they use or like to use. It’s not uncommon to see good instructors use a combination of brands like Daniel Smith or Winsor & Newton Professional. Artists/instructors will have favorites they like to use. That’s part of my art adventure and enjoying new colors I have not tried.

You may have heard the saying “a tiny bit goes a long way”. It definitely does with Daniel Smith or Winsor & Newton Professional paints. Artist grade or professional paints are made from pure pigments of color. Student grade paints are made with a small amount of pigment and lots of fillers and that explains why I used up so many tubes of the student grade paints. Student grade can also be opaque and not as vibrant in color.

Dot Cards are a good investment. Both Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton have dot cards. As you can see from the previous pictures, the cards contain the actual paint dropped onto a card along with the name of the paint, lightfastness, staining/nonstaining, granulation, and transparency. The color dot can be activated with a damp brush. Remember I mentioned about a tiny bit goes a long way? This card makes swatching so easy. You can see what the colors look like and the consistency before committing to a tube of paint.

Winsor & Newton has two lines of watercolor paints. One is their “Professional” artist grade paints. The other is their “Cotman” name which is their student grade paint.

I have not discussed watercolor paint brushes. For me, it’s a personal choice. I’ve accumulated several different brands that I’ve tried over the years. I still have a few of my student-type brushes that have served me well. I did try out a few real sable hair and squirrel brushes that I still have and use occasionally. I now prefer to use synthetic brushes. I enjoy the synthetic sable brushes for the lovely points they keep and the synthetic squirrel for the amount of water and color the brush can carry.

My Favorite Watercolor Supplies

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Paper (140lb/300gsm and 100% cotton): Arches Cold Press, Strathmore Series 500 Premium Cold Press, and Bee Paper Rag Cold Press

Brushes: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece, Escoda Versatil, Robert Simmons, and Princeton

Travel Palette: Art Toolkit by Expeditionary Art

Mixing Palette: Small 3″-4″ round porcelain dishes (Tuesday Morning or Home Goods)

Carrying Case for My Pen and Ink Wash Tools

I have a lot of TWSBI GOs! I mainly use them to create my fountain pen and ink artwork. The Stub 1.1 nibs are fantastic to use as I can create thin and wide lines from a single nib.

This was all the fountain pens I took with me on our trip around the Caribbean: Pentel water brushes, TWSBI GOs, and Pilot Custom 823.

Depending on my palette of colors, I can have anywhere from 5 to 20 pens inked at one time. When I travel, I try to limit the quantity to under 10. A manageable number and easy to keep track of. I attempted to use a regular fountain pen case to store and carry my GOs, but found the case somewhat bulky and the elastics that held my pens in place was a nuisance.

I saw a few pen and pencil cases that ranged from flat to round shapes. Nothing peaked my interest until I came across a fabric storage pouch on Amazon. This pen/pencil case or pouch has two zippered access areas. Plenty of storage options for my art tools.

Durable and soft fabric zippered case.

Under the top zipper is the main compartment. There’s two small side pockets to hold my kneaded eraser, clips, mini spray bottle, pencil leads and small accessories. The main area can hold my 15 TWSBI GOs and six Platinum Prefounte pens. That’s the most number of pens I currently have in this pouch when I took the pictures. There’s room to also store my folded shop towels.

My TWSBI GOs and Platinum Prefountes

Unzipping the side zipper reveals a storage flap with elastic holders. Here I have my Platinum Preppy with Carbon ink, Kaweco 0.7mm pencil, click eraser, Pentel mechanical pencil, Pentel water brush, and a Uni-ball Signo gel pen. From the side opening, I have access to the main compartment where my GOs and Prefounte fountain pens are located.

The design of this case allows me store a huge number of pens and accessories.

When I unzip the two zippers, I have full access to all the storage areas. I love how I can I can see all my tools and accessories. Easy to grab the colors and tools I need to create my artwork. When I’m done, I can quickly gather my art tools and place them back in my pouch.

Easy access to all my drawing tools

This is my main case for travel and for carrying around in my house. I’ve had it for over a year now. The fabric felt a bit stiff at first, but after a few weeks of use it’s more soft and pliable.

Look at what came out of my pen case!

I’m sorting through my currently inked pen collection and identifying colors I will not be using for the next few weeks. So far I have removed four pens. Hope to have more pens available as soon as I finish a few pieces of art.

Enjoy your weekend!

My Palette Ink Cards (PIC) of Fountain Pen Ink Colors

I could literally have up to 15 TWSBI GOs filled with various ink colors at one time. Would I be able to remember all the colors I have inked in my pens? More than likely no. That’s why you will see the round Avery labels on my pens.

While my pens are labelled with the name of the ink and dabbled with a sample of the ink color, I still have to fall back on a color swatch or what I call my “cheat sheet” of colors.

I got this idea from when I used my watercolor palettes that I created with my tubes of watercolor paints. Again, similar issues when I looked at my palette and had a hard time identifying the color and what it might look like on my paper.

Here’s my sample swatches from my fountain pens that I used for my artwork. They are not just my TWSBI GOs, but also from my everyday writers (EDW) that I use daily. I’m using my Strathmore Series 500 Watercolor (cold press) paper conveniently sold precut into 5″x7″ pieces.

My PIC #1 shows my ink colors and their names

I’ve decided that when I’m adding a new color to my collection or filling up a pen with the ink, I will add a swatch on my palette card. As you can see I’ve had to expand my palette colors to a second card with a few of my latest ink acquisitions. Pretty soon I’ll be adding my current ink colors that I’ll bring into rotation over the next few months.

PIC #2: I have plenty of space to add more ink colors.

I prefer to use my Palette Ink Card or PIC when I’m sketching. I have a lot of blue and teal inks that sometimes I can’t remember if the color leans more towards blue or more towards green. I also have too many bottles of inks and there’s no way I can remember all my ink colors. That’s where this card comes in handy.

My round Avery labels that help identify my ink colors.

How do I create my mini ink swatches? I gently write vertical lines or downstrokes on the paper so it looks like a 1/4″ square. Before the ink dries, I take my water brush and paint the water over the 1/4″ square and gently pull the ink and water mix away from the square. Note: I try not to scratch the paper up with my pen which is why I suggested to do the lines gently. Otherwise you will have dark lines in the paper after applying the water. This takes a bit of practice.

My PIC is convenient and very portable to carry versus pulling out my Col-o-ring and searching through the gazillion ink swatch cards I have. I place my PIC in my art journal. I can see all my colors on my PIC and quickly decide what colors I will be using for my artwork.

I’m sure by the end of this year, my PIC will expand to over several sheets. Fingers crossed.

Note: I can see the chaos I created with these two cards. There’s no rhyme or reason to adding the colors to my PICs. I’m rethinking I need to break down the color range onto separate cards: blues/greens on one card, purples on another card, and reds/pinks on another. This might become a huge project where I can block a day or two and go through all my bottles of ink and create an organized PIC that make more sense in the long run. We’ll see what I end up doing.

Tips:

Strathmore paper (series 100-400) are known to be student grade paper. I found, for watercolor use, the Series 500 Premium paper is 100% cotton (140lb/300gm) and artist grade. I’m currently using a pack of 5″x7″ paper . I enjoy using their cold press paper for my pen and ink wash artwork. This paper holds up to the many layers of ink wash I create.

The next paper I enjoy using is Bee Paper 100% cotton water color paper. I used to find a pack of 25 in 5″x7″ size at Michael’s for a decent price. I no longer see that paper carried at my local shops. Like the Strathmore Series 500 paper, this Bee paper is great to use for testing and mixing colors and for quick sketches.

My go to artist-grade watercolor paper is Arches 9″x12″ cold press. I’m using up my pads of Arches paper and plan on buying the larger sheets of paper (22″x30″) and cutting them down to the size.

For my pen and ink artwork I like using the 5″x7″ size papers. For larger pieces of artwork, I will use my watercolors as I can easily paint larger swatches of colors versus trying to use my fountain pens to cover the larger areas.

For my fellow beginning artists and those in training, I highly recommend starting out with artist grade paper. There’s a huge difference in paper quality between student grade and artist grade paper. Learn to create on the good stuff and create good habits. Years ago, I had used student quality art supplies and it was hard to break the bad habits of using poor quality paper and I wondered why I had not shown any improvements in my art skills. Something to think about.

Palm Tree Pen and Ink Wash

Some of you already know that I love to take pictures. This has been an ongoing hobby that started many, many years ago. I have a huge collection of pictures that I’ve been using to create my artwork. I don’t have a photographic memory and so I have to rely on my photos for shapes, size, colors, etc. I also use my photos to avoid any copyright issues.

I start my rough sketches with an HB pencil and go over my paper with a very light touch. Sometimes I do have to erase rogue lines and erasing the light lines will avoid tearing or roughing up my paper. I then take my Platinum Preppy filled with Carbon ink and gently go over certain areas of my sketch to show a few outlines of my shapes and also to show where I might want darker areas (shadows and shading) to be.

Here’s an initial sketch with my pencil, Carbon ink, and the first fountain pen ink (Robert Oster Gold Antiqua) application.

I leave a few pencil lines to remind me of where the object’s edges will be or lighter areas (e.g. right edge of the tree trunk). I applied carbon ink to the left side of the tree trunk to remind me to place darker shading

Once the initial sketch starts taking shape, I will continue to add other colored inks to my drawing. I typically start with the lighter colored inks and then work my way to the darker inks. I’m careful to watch where my light source is coming from and place the appropriate shadows. In my sketch, the light source (the sun) is coming from the upper right side of my paper. I applied more gold to the right side of the palm leaves or fronds to make them glow a bit and a few on the left side of the tree.

I apply a water wash over certain areas of my sketch. I do this in stages and by sections before the ink dries on the paper. A little bit of water goes a long way. That’s why I use the smallest brush size. By the way, the Pentel Water Brushes comes in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and Flat.

I’ve added the palm tree’s shadow at the bottom and on the left side of the tree. I applied a few lines RO Melon Tea and dabbed a bit of RO Thunderstorm into the Melon Tea and used 2-3 strokes of my water brush to blend the two inks together and careful not to overdue it. It’s okay to have some hard edges where the ink colors pool together.

I used two shimmering inks to add highlights to the palm fronds (Vert Atlantide and Heart of Gold)

I used the Melon Tea ink for the shading of the tree trunk (left side) and also used that color for the tree’s shadow. I use the Thunderstorm ink color for all of my base shadows and it mixes well with other colors on paper. It’s a dark blue black color the shades beautifully when water is applied to the ink. My palm tree looks grounded versus floating on the paper.

If I have diluted the ink on my paper too much, I will let that area dry completely. I go back with my pen and redraw the lines/shapes over the diluted/faded area.

All the ink colors I used to create my palm tree sketch

I have been carving out some “art time” during the day and enjoying my time playing with some gorgeous ink colors. I plan on showing some incredible inks in future posts. Stay Safe!

Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Inks: Jacques Herbin Vert Atlantide (shimmer) and Robert Oster Heart of Gold (shimmer), Eucalyptus Leaf, Thunderstorm, Melon Tea, and Gold Antiqua.

Tools: Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine nib and Platinum Carbon ink (permanent) and Pentel Water Brush (Small).

Paper: Strathmore 500 Premium Watercolor Cold Press

Happy New Year!

I thought I would start the new year by spending my day sketching. I picked up one of my currently inked pens and had a “just do it” moment. I started out with a rough sketch using my pencil for an outline and using a pen with my carbon ink to add in some depth and permanent lines.

My carbon ink is water resistant and works well when I apply my water washes

A few weeks ago, I cleaned out all my TWSBI GOs that I had filled with ink back in July. Now, I’m slowly pulling out different ink colors to use for the winter months and filling my TWSBIs again. I now have a mix of Robert Oster and Diamine inks to use.

Here’s my sketch from this morning.

I had most of the ink colors I wanted to use, but I was missing a sparkling silver ink. (Thanks to my fellow fountain pen ink friends, I now have some good recommendations). I had a light bulb moment and pulled out my watercolor palette of metallic paints. I dabbled some silver and gold paints to my sketch.

My porcelain mixing palette.

I love using my porcelain dish to mix my watercolors. This is actually an appetizer dish that came packaged as a set of 4 plates. I found this at my local home discount store. It’s small enough that I can put one in my backpack, keep one on my desk, and the others in my art tote. I prefer to use porcelain as I do not have to do any priming to the surface. Plastic palettes require some priming to the surface.

Close up showing the subtle gold and silver paints over the ink colors.

For the next few weeks I will be busy creating some artwork, taking some fun online courses (technology and music), getting reacquainted with my embroidery machine and learning a new embroidery software. So much to do. A great way to start 2021!

Supplies Used:

Pens – TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1

Inks – Diamine Enchanted Ocean and Tropical Glow. Robert Oster Carbon Fire, Heart of Gold, and Thunderstorm

Paints – Daniel Smith Luminescent Watercolors

Brushes – Cheap Joes Travel size

Accessories – Metal Pocket Palette, Pentel Water Brush, blue shop towel, and Porcelain dish

Journal – Stillman & Birn Zeta

Tips:

Plastic palettes have a surface that allows watercolors to “run off” in different areas. To prime the surface, I use a bit of Soft Scrub on a damp paper towel and rub the surface of the palette. I then rinse the palette with water to remove the cleaner. I only need to do this once. This process “roughens” the surface so the paint/water sticks to the areas where I am mixing the paints.

I have found porcelain plates/palettes are perfect for mixing watercolors. No need to prime the surface. I like the smaller plates that have a narrow sides. This allows me to carry my palette around without spilling the paint over the sides. Porcelain plates are heavy and less prone to tipping over or accidental movements.

Besides Robert Oster inks, I do enjoy using Diamine inks for sketching and water washes. I’m finding the Diamine inks are lovely saturated inks including their shimmering inks.

Dip Pens and Calligraphy (My Version)

It snowed yesterday and we had sleet and rain overnight. This morning when I woke up it was a chilly 28 degrees. Our neighborhood roads were “crunchy” as I could hear our neighbors driving out. You know it’s bad when Hubby could not open the doors on his truck.

Yes. I’m having a late start this morning. Or I should say early afternoon right now.

I spent a few minutes this morning with my dip pen and Nikko G nib. Practicing my calligraphy or my style of writing. The last time I had a practice session was four (4) months ago. Needless to say, I was a bit rusty. This morning. I just went with the flow.

Here’s my writing sample from this morning:

My practice session from this morning and a few quotes

It was a quick practice session lasting about 15 minutes. I have to say it’s like riding a bike. My muscle memory was a bit rusty and my hand was a bit tired towards the 10 minute mark. Looking at the previous picture, I can see I have to work on spacing and writing straight.

Here’s a slide showing my previous writing session four months ago and the current writing sample:

I used the same dip pen and nib in both writing samples. You will notice that I used fountain pen ink. My practice sessions are more enjoyable when I’m writing with colored inks. Yes, I was bored with the black Sumi ink I used when I first started into this Calligraphy rabbit hole. For me, this is a great way to use up my bottles of ink.

Here are the brands I’ve been using so far and have had really good results.

I pour the ink into glass or plastic jars with wide mouths. I will then use these jars for dipping my nibs into the ink. That way I’m not contaminating the original bottles of ink.

I pour my ink into glass or plastic jars with wide mouths.

I keep mentioning jars with wide mouths. That’s because the dip pens I use are obliques. They have a brass angular nib holder:

Here’s a few empty jars I have on hand. Note the width/distance of my brass nib holder and the grip of my pen holder.

There are times where I can’t my nib into the ink. I will tilt my jar a bit just enough to get the ink to cover the nib and the breather hole.

Here’s a few of my dip pens that I use:

An assortment of dip pens that I use. Can you tell? I prefer chunky grips.

I originally started with a straight pen holder (white grip) like the one you see in the middle of the previous picture. After a few rough starts with calligraphy, I started to use the oblique holders. I found it was easier to control the pen. There’s also a slight spring or bounce when writing with an oblique. That has helped with my “rhythm” as I write.

I have tried out several different nibs. I’m still poking my paper with the finer and fancier nibs and hope to graduate to these nibs later. For now, it’s the “G” nibs.

These are the three popular “G” nibs (top to bottom): Nikko G, Tachikawa G, and the most popular Zebra G.

I started out with the Zebra Gs and found the nib did not hold a lot of ink. I was constantly dipping. Constantly stopping during my practice session. I did some research and found out there were two other popular “G” nibs available that hold more ink: Nikko G and Tachikawa G.

If you look in the previous picture, you will see the top two nibs (Nikko & Tachikawa) have ridges along the tip of the nib. The Zebra G at bottom is smooth at the tip. The ridges hold more ink on the nib.

For my practice sessions, I use my Rhodia Reverse Book. The paper in this book has a dot grid format. I found that regular grid lines in the other Rhodia pads were distracting to me. The “Reverse” in this book means I can use this book with the spiral on the side or rotate the book to use with the spiral on the top. I enjoy using this with the spiral on the top where it doesn’t interfere while I’m writing.

To keep track of my dip pens and nibs, I store them in a Sterlite plastic case. As you can see I can store a lot of pens in this case.

I know I covered a lot of areas and did not go into great detail. That will be for future posts. Just wanted to give you the basics and things to think about for your own use or further research.

Tips:

The “G” nibs are wonderful nibs for those who want to start learning Calligraphy.

Not limited to black ink. Colored inks are wonderful to use and brighten up writing samples.

I limit my practice session to 10-15 minutes in the morning and if I have time another 10-15 minute session in the afternoon. I personally have found that at the 10 minute mark, my hand will get tired as well as my fingers from holding the dip pen. My writing will also get sloppy. The shorter practice sessions are easier to carve out during a busy day. I like doing this first thing in the morning (after coffee) as the best time for me. I am alert and ready to start my day.

Practice lower case first. Develop muscle memory in forming each letter. Later learn to join the letters to create words.

Practice the alphabet. Practice writing favorite quotes, songs, etc.

I still have a ways to go. The important thing for me is to enjoy my practice sessions and my writing adventures.

Quick Sketches

A quick sketch (pen and ink) in my Stalogy journal

It’s raining outside and so I had to turn on my natural light lamp to brighten my studio a bit. I do enjoy listening to the rain and the steady drops of water hitting the roof, trees and plants outside. It would be a great day to lounge and read some art books (to entertain my right brain) or go find my Raspberry Pi book (exercise my left brain) that I’ve misplaced. Will do that after this post.

I was sorting through some photos and thought this would be a good day for something art-related. Like share some sketches I’ve done over the past few weeks.

We had a special rose bush that was still blooming into late October. I had cut a few roses to bring into my studio. Who doesn’t like the sweet rose scent filling a room? Then I started to sketch

Here was the setup on my desk:

A rose sketch using graphite

Sometimes I will wander outside and do a quick sketch:

We have this tree that has an unusual trunk. Graphite.

It wasn’t until mid-summer of this year that I started using shimmering fountain pen inks. I was hooked. I did a few sketches with the shimmering ink and loved the results.

Can you see the shimmers in my pen and ink sketch?

Then I stumbled upon the world of metallic watercolor paints. Oh my! So grateful that Daniel Smith carried tubes and in such beautiful colors.

Here are three metallic colors I have layered on top of my regular watercolor painting. Cool, huh?

I am having too much fun! I have to be careful with the metallics and not go overboard or overwork my paintings.

Enjoy your day!

What Do I Use to Sketch With My Fountain Pen Inks?

As I started to accumulate bottles of fountain pen ink, it made sense for me to see if I could sketch with these inks. I started out using my Pilot Falcon and really enjoyed using the <SE> or Soft Extra Fine Nib as it could produce some extremely fine lines, tiny dots, and clever crosshatchings. That pen was fun to use, but I needed a pen that could cover larger areas with a few passes.

Pilot Falcon with <SE> Soft Extra Fine nib (14k/585 gold nib with rhodium plating). The nib itself is a work of art.

I started looking at TWSBIs. A friend of mine “M”, introduced me to her TWSBI GOs. Cool looking stubby pens. Lightweight with a spring-like plunger to fill with ink. Easy to clean. Just pump the plunger into a container of water and pump until the water runs out clear. The TWSBI GOs shown below are all Stub 1.1 nibs

Here are my travel pens. Three Pentel water brushes in different brush widths, several TWSBI GOs filled with different colored inks, and my favorite travel writing companion…Pilot Custom 823 in Amber with a Fine (14kt/585 gold) nib

As I was filling my TWSBIs I could see a problem developing. Which ink is in which pen? I had some Avery #5408 round labels that I used on my sample vials. Perfect. Another reuse for my labels. You can see in the above picture how I labeled each pen. Yes. They are all filled with Robert Oster Signature inks including my Pilot filled with Tokyo Blue Denim.

Here’s a few of my artwork from earlier this year:

Naturally, I had to draw a few of my fountain pens! Robert Oster inks: Thunderstorm, African Gold, Violet Crush, Whisper Red, Sydney Darling Harbour, and Bass Straight
Who doesn’t like blueberries? More Robert Oster ink colors: Tokyo Blue Denim, Jade, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Thunderstorm
A bottle of wine. Not the winery I worked at, but practiced sketching bottles of wine. Robert Oster inks: Thunderstorm, Blue Black, African Gold. Franklin-Christoph ink: Black Cherry

Basically, I draw with my fountain pens. For darker areas, I draw a few lines together. I take my Pentel water brush and lightly apply/paint over the lines. I let the ink do it’s own thing on my paper. I only need one swipe with my brush and not overwork the area too much. Really dark areas I leave the ink alone. I let my paper be the highlights. So no ink or water in the highlights. You can see this in my blueberry picture above.

To make the objects more grounded (not floating on the paper), I used the object’s color(s) and a bit of Thunderstorm. One or two swipes with the water brush and I let the colors mingle together. Let the colors do their thing.

One thing to note about water brushes. Water remains on the bristle. There are times when I do not want too much water on my image/object. I will take my brush and run it over a paper towel once or twice and then apply my brush on the object.

I will mention that drawing with pen & ink and applying water washes to the image takes some practice and patience. I have had many fun mistakes and surprises appear and learned to just go with it.

What’s the best part of this fun adventure? I get to use up my fountain pen inks and enjoy the colors.

Today’s Tip: Avery #5408 round labels – used for labeling the sample ink vials and for labeling pens.

Three Apples on Two Papers

I have taken a break from pastel painting.  Now that we have transitioned from summer and working our way towards the fall season, I have noticed I have shorter blocks of free time on my hands.  For now, I don’t want to deal with the setup and clean up while working with pastels.

I am back to working with pencils.  As in colored pencils.  I know I posted somewhere my treasured Prismacolor Colored Pencil set.  If not, here it is again:

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When I received this set a few months ago, it came in a long box and the set was quite heavy.  I was surprised to see two trays side by side and then three layers deep.  I guess that it the only way to package 150 colored pencils…safely.  It’s a gorgeous set of colors!  Don’t you agree?

From this set of 150 colors, I’ve managed to pull out several colors I thought I would frequently use.  Do you know how hard that is?  Over a few weeks of use, I have added more colors to my collection.  There are a few that I have removed.

My colored pencil collection is kept in my Color It zip around case that I found on the Internet:

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My case holds 72 pencils in their designated elastic slots.  It can hold more…about a dozen more.  I’ve placed them loosely in the backside of the case.

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As I have been drawing and experimenting with different types of papers, I’ve noticed the different results I’m getting with my artwork.  My favorite brand of paper to use is Canson.  If you look at my paper/pad stash, you will find 60% is made up of Canson, 20% is Strathmore, and 20% is other (experimenting with other brands).  My favorite paper weight is 90+ lb.  The heavier paper withstands lots of erasing (which I seldom have to do), but holds up to the many layers of color or graphite I apply.

Here’s an apple trio I drew in my small Canson Mix Media (5.5″x8.5″) sketchbook:

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You can see a bit of the details from the paper showing through.  In this artwork, I’ve added several layers of colored pencils.  Some areas with a heavy hand.  This “mix media” paper has a bit of texture or tooth to it.

I decided to do another drawing, but using a different type of paper.  Here’s my drawing using Canson Bristol (9″x12″/smooth side) paper:

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You can clearly see a difference in the outcome of my artwork.  My lines appear smoother.  Again, I have worked in layers of colors mostly with a light hand.  This is still a work in progress as I’m experimenting with coloring in shadows correctly.  Which I still have to do.

Here’s my portable sketch book that I mentioned I used for quick sketches or experiments:

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For my final drawings, I use my Bristol paper.  This is an old pad I’m trying to use up:

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This Bristol paper is my favorite to draw on.  It has two sides, one is smooth and the other has texture or tooth.  I call it my all purpose paper.  If I don’t like my initial drawing I can turn it over and start again or reuse it for another drawing.  Cool, huh?