Circles: Two Mediums, a Prompt, and Some Tips

I had a “circles” template I found in my art supply stash. I came up with a brilliant idea to create a two page spread of circles in various sizes. Before going crazy and adding my colors, I decided to split my two page spread into the left side for watercolors and the right side for my fountain pen inks.

I did go crazy and selected random colors to fill my circles. I was having too much fun!

Fountain Pen Inks

Here’s the right side of my page with just the fountain pen inks I used.

In some circles I took my fountain pen and drew an outline. I took my water brush and touched the breather hole of my fountain pen to draw out a bit of color. I painted inside my circle and also touched the outline to pulled the color into my circle. I tried to leave a bit of white or light color areas to represent the highlight of my circle. I also cleaned my water brush (wiping on clean towel) and gently brushed out the color where I wanted my highlight to be. A clean q-tip could be used to dab out the slightly wet color.

Sydney Lavender is my go to purple ink color. This ink’s personality really shows off its underlying inky colors when water reacts to the ink.

In the following circle, I created an outline for 2/3 of the circle or the edge that’s away from the highlight. This is another beautiful ink with lots of personality. Another favorite of mine called Steely Days.

This lovely green ink, Oklahoma City, is a wonderful surprise and appears to be bright and earthy at the same time. Another top favorite.

This pink color had been on my wishlist for sometime, but I always passed it up for other vibrant inky colors. I was so happy to receive this gift from a very special inky friend. It’s a lovely muted pink color with a tiny bit of blue. It appears to lean a bit towards a rosy purple color. It’s gorgeous!

Here’s my favorite shimmering pink ink color, Blood Rose. My painted circle came out bright and lovely. I’ve always enjoyed how this ink reacts to water. It’s a beautiful color to use for floral pen & ink sketches.


This left side of my page represents three (3) different brands of watercolor paints I used: Daniel Smith, Schmincke, and Sennelier. This was more or less a “test” page for me as I wanted to show off the different characteristics of certain lines of paints.

The Schmincke colors are represented by the “Galaxy” name. These are super granulating paint colors. Unfortunately, my paper did not have enough texture to show off what I call underlying colors or mixes for each Galaxy color. It does show off the granulation of the main color.

I used a few of my Daniel Smith PrimaTek colors which is represented with the “Genuine” in the name. I absolutely enjoy using these special granulating paints made from natural minerals and pigments. Jadeite Genuine is a gorgeous color. It’s made from the mineral called jade. Its fountain pen inky cousin would be Oklahoma City.

My Sennelier paint colors (lower half of the page) are a bit more vibrant and transparent in color based on the pan set I have. I found my Sennelier paint pans were the easiest to rewet.

Prompt: Create your shapes (circles, ellipses, squares) and practice coloring in your shapes with your fountain pen inks. Remember to leave the lightest areas for your highlights. See if you can create your colored shapes in two layers of color or less. Remember to let each layer dry before adding more color.

Tip #1: You might see a “bloom” appear inside of your shape. This happens when you add too much water/color to an area that is damp or nearly dry. The water/color has no where to go, but “bloom” out. Let the bloom dry. You can always add another layer of color on top of the bloom. If you are not sure what a “bloom” looks like, take a look at my French Vermilion circle in my previous picture.

Tip #2: When a water brush is filled with water, the brush tip will remain wet all the time. I no longer squeeze my water brush. Squeezing a water brush will force additional water onto the tip of the brush. It also requires frequent refilling of water.

I keep a small jar of water on my studio desk. If I need more water on my brush tip, I will put my brush tip into my water jar. I can also quickly clean my brush tip by dipping it into some water.

Tip #3: Keep a clean towel (paper, shop towel, Viva cloth) nearby. I use mine to wipe my brush tip clean or remove excess water.

Fountain Pen Inks: Robert Oster Sydney Lavender, Napa, Blood Rose, Steely Days, Aussie Gold, Oklahoma City, Cherry Blossom, and Sepia Nights. Colorverse Mariner 4 and Hayabusa. Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost and Enchanted Woods.

Watercolor Paints: Daniel Smith Perylene Green, Cascade Green, Lemon Yellow, Quinacridone Sienna, Rhondonite Genuine, Jadeite Genuine, Mayan Blue Genuine. Schmincke Super Granulating in Galaxy Blue, Galaxy Pink, Galaxy Violet, and Galaxy Brown. Sennelier Carmine, French Vermilion, Phthalo Green Light, Phthalo Blue, Dioxazine Purple, and Forest Green.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta A5 Softbound

How Much Water Do I Need for Watercolor?

I have an issue with using too much water with my watercolor paints. I know I’ve said it before, but I wanted to mention it again for the purpose of this blog post.

I ran across a YouTube video from one of a few artists I follow. I enjoyed watching Jenna talk about how much water to use with watercolor paints. It was a game changer to see what I’ve been doing wrong for several years. What is the right mixture of water and paint color? What technique is the right one to use? Dry on wet? Wet on Wet?

I watched the video all the way to the end. That was hard for me as I wanted to jump in and create my own paint samples. I had to stop myself and breathe and watch/learn without doing.

As I watched the video for the second time, I was actually following along. Yes, I had to stop the video several times so I could “catch up” and paint along.

In the top row, I painted my circles using a dry-on-wet technique. My tea sample is what I would typically paint for my base color. Also, this shows I have the tendency to use too much water when I’m painting and mixing my colors. I have to remind myself to dab my brush on my towel before applying my brush to the paint or paper. By the time I get to the butter consistency sample, this is basically lots of paint and very little water. You can see my brush strokes around the edges.

In the second row I used the wet-on-wet technique and my butter consistency had less dispersion in the water and the color is a bit more controlled. The color is also quite saturated and bold. The tea/coffee consistency produced the most dispersion and ends up being a lighter color.

This was a wonderful exercise for me to go through and I learned a lot about water control. I think I was afraid to use the initial bold watercolor washes for my first layers. I sometimes forget that my watercolor sketches will dry lighter. I just have to remind myself not to overthink what I’m doing and just put paint to paper and let it go.

I’ve included the link below of the YouTube video that has been a huge help in my watercolor journey.

Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor – Prussian Blue

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

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha 7.5″x7.5″ softcover

YouTube: Jenna Rainey – The Answer to Water Control Problems

Filling Paint Pans & Mixing Colors & Swatching

I had some extra space in my watercolor metal palette container and I wanted to add a few additional colors I have from my paint collection. For me, there is something zen-like about squeezing tubes of paint. Is it just me?

I found some extra empty half pans in my art supply stash. They are clear pans from Meeden that I purchased during the pandemic. The white half pans were sold out at the time and clear was the only pans available.

The picture shows two layers of color I squeezed into each pan. For the first layer, I squeeze enough paint to cover the bottom of the pan. I tap the pan on my desk to get the paint to settle into the pan. I use a toothpick to push the paint into the corners of the pan and then smooth out the top. I let the first layer dry for about 24 hours before adding the second layer.

I tap the half pans on my desk to remove any air bubbles. Be careful not to accidentally stick you finger into the pan while doing this. Lessons learned.

I was in a mixing colors mood (another zen-like moment) and I pulled out a few pans of colors to try. I enjoyed the results of mixing Opera Pink with Sap Green and I could see using that for painting skin or flesh-tones. A mixture of magenta with blue and green created a lovely “shadow” color. Of course, mixing the right proportion of colors helps.

For the last three swatches (mixes), I created some lovely green colors. This swatch card makes me happy. I think I will hang this up in my studio.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor tubes/pans: Opera Pink, Nickel Azo Yellow, Aussie Red Gold, and Burnt Umber. Paint pans: Opera Pink, Phthalo Blue (GS), Quinacridone Magenta, Aussie Red Gold, and Nickel Azo Yellow.

Brush: Escoda Versatil Travel Brush in #8

Paper: Strathmore Watercolor Postcard 4″x6″ 140lb (300gsm)

Filling My Half Pans With Paint

I had found a few empty half pan palettes sitting in my storage bin waiting to be filled with paint. I hate to see an empty palette not being used. I pulled out my 24-pan palette case and decided to fill them with my tubes of Daniel Smith colors.

Look at all the lovely colors!

I sorted through my tubes of paints and selected my must use colors. I took my empty half pans and labelled each one with the paint I was going to fill them with. Then I arranged the tubes of paint according to how I was going to arrange them in my palette case. I started with my primary cool and warm colors in yellows, reds, and blues.

My half pans waiting to be filled

I used the smallest Avery labels I could find and wrote out the color names using my Platinum Preppy with Carbon (permanent) ink.

I spent a little over an hour filling my half pans with paint. I tapped the sides and corners of the pans to get the paint to move around and spread out to the corners and edges.

The initial fill can be a bit lumpy
Tapping the sides and corners will spread the paint in the pan
The last sharp tap on the bottom of the pan smooths out the paint in the pan

I let my pans sit in the palette case to dry overnight. The paint will shrink along the edges and a few may crack as they settle into the pan and dry. I could tell that the first few pans I filled were not as full.

I pulled out a few pans that had shrunk quite a bit and filled them with a second layer of paint. My New Gamboge pan was a good candidate for another fill.

My pans requiring a 2nd layer of paint
The 2nd layer of color added and more tapping
Here’s a pan with a crack or separation in the paint
A quick fill and a few taps….
A few of my pans after adding the second layer of paint
My lovely 24 pans of color

To keep the dried paint from falling out of their pans later, I made sure the paint touched the corners as well as the bottom of the pan. That’s why I spent some time tapping the pans to get the paint to settle.

I started to notice some colors (e.g. Phthalo) will stain the metal palettes.

This palette has become a favorite of mine. It has generous mixing areas and I have the ability to swap around the pans to fit my painting style.

Yes, my 24-pan palette is a bright pink color! I plan on decorating it and using my Cricut Joy to add some personalized vinyl stickers.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Palette: Meeden 24-pan watercolor palette

Diamine Inks

Based on my personal experience, I find most Diamine colors to be wet inks. It’s more than likely based on the color choices I have made so far. I enjoy seeing how the Diamine inks react to water and they do make gorgeous ink washes.

I selected colors that were on my wish list. Some of them might be close to the colors I all ready have in the Robert Oster line, but are different. My gut instincts tell me that Diamine colors have a bit more punch in their ink vibrancy with a bit more character. They each have their own personalities.

I had a spare Pilot Prera available and I immediately inked it with Diamine Amaranth. This color reminds me of a vibrant raspberry color or a bright burgundy wine color. A gorgeous shading color with some sheen. The sheen looks a bit like brown-green.

I’ve read that this color is similar to Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses. I’ve seen samples on the Internet and they look very close. I think this Amaranth color has a bit more character especially with the sheen. The Noodler’s ink looks a bit flat, but is still a vibrant color.

As I start using and emptying the inks in my current pens, I plan on filling them with the remaining Diamine inks I have here. I’ve been sticking to my goal of five maximum number of pens inked and so far doing a great job. From my swatches, I’m looking forward to writing and sketching with the Majestic Purple, Aqua Lagoon, and Kensington Blue as they appear to be very bold and bright colors.

Pen: Pilot Prera in Pink with Calligraphy Medium (CM) nib. Automatic pen and glass dip pen for the swatching

Inks: Diamine Amaranth, Majestic Purple, Aqua Lagoon, Kensington Blue, and Pelham Blue

Journal: Stalogy 365 B6

Vinta Inks

I mentioned in my previous blog post about finding a new ink brand (to me) that took my breath away. It was three colors I wanted to start with that caught my attention immediately.

While I was waiting for my package to arrive, I was researching and looking at all the Vinta Inks color offerings. I had a good feeling about the three ink colors I had selected and was putting other colors on my wish list.

Vinta Inks are handmade inks produced in the Philippines. For every bottle purchased, they donate a portion to the Teach for the Philippines. Their goal is to provide quality education to all Filipino children.

After I received my package, I quickly swatched the ink colors (Lucia, Makopa, and Pamana) and was truly amazed at what I saw.

Lucia or Deepwater Blue, is a beautiful dusky medium blue with pink undertones and lovely shading.

Makopa or Malayan Apple, is a bold magenta color with a monster green/gold sheen.

Pamana or Heritage Brown, is a beautiful orange brown color with a peach/green undertones and a monster green sheen. It is shockingly beautiful! I enjoy seeing the peachy undertones and shading. I went ahead and ordered a full bottle so I can enjoy writing and sketching with this lovely ink color.

Here’s a page from my ink journal with the three beauties:

Let’s have a better look at each ink color up close. Beautiful, right?

After swatching the colors, I wanted to use the inks for my pen and ink wash artwork. Luckily I had two available TWSBI GOs ready to be filled.

The Lucia color is a new favorite for me. To me, it’s almost what I call a “sleeper color” in that it appears to be another light colored ink that’s borderline readable when writing in a journal. This is based on the samples I saw on the Internet. Lucia is a nice dusky medium color and it leans more towards blue than green which I think helps make it a readable color on paper. It really looks awesome in my pen and ink wash art as I enjoy seeing the pinky undertone color.

Pens: TWSBI GOs Stub 1.1

Inks: Vinta Inks: Lucia (bottle), Makopa (bottle), and Pamana (sample)

Journal: Stalogy 365 B6

Custom Fountain Pen – Tailored Pen Company

I’m an inquisitive type of person. I am always doing research on something that crosses my path and intrigues me. It could the latest gadget, watercolor brushes, or fountain pen paper.

I’m always in learning and information gathering mode. Many times I’m making comparisons with what I already know from experience to help fine tune or narrow down a decision. This is especially helpful when I can’t touch and feel the item in person.

Since the beginning of this year, a few independent boutique pen manufacturers kept reappearing and showing off their beautiful commissioned and available fountain pens. A few beautiful and available pens were sold quickly. Like within the first few hours of posting to the public. Many times within an hour. There were also posts showing commissioned pens that were absolutely stunning!

A few pen friends know I enjoy the beach and anything related to tropical or Caribbean themes. So naturally when I was looking for a custom pen I was looking for colors that reminded me of the beach and the water and all things in and around the water.

Tailored Pen Company

It took awhile and I finally found something a few months ago at Tailored Pen Company. I reserved my spot in the pen maker’s queue. In the meantime, I was pulling out my Col-o-ring ink swatch cards to match the colors I saw in the blank samples posted on IG.

The variety of colors that I saw in the blank samples

The pen blanks I saw had so many different patterns and swirls of colors. I knew mine was going to be beautiful. As I was waiting, Tailored Pen Company or TPC, kept posting on their feed, pictures of beautifully commissioned pens. One picture recently showed a pen blank with the material I had chosen. It was a macro-shot of beautiful swirls of color at the top of the pen blank. I started to wonder if that blank would turn into my beautiful pen.

I finally received a notice that my pen had shipped. That caught me off guard as I was expecting the pen at the end of May or beginning of June. It was arriving three weeks early. Wonderful news!

My pen box with the beautiful TPC seal that corresponds to the material I selected for my pen
My beautiful Coral Reef in the Churchill model

How does it look?

The lovely swirls of colors are beautifully done. There are so many colors that make up Coral Reef. There’s teal green, gold, pink, white, bits of turquoise, magenta, and olive green. Of course, this all depends on the lighting and angle of the pen.

TPC creates their own pen blanks. The resins are poured and cured in their own workshop. Each pen is crafted by hand with the exception of the nib and converter.

I selected the Churchill model which has a smooth transition from cap to barrel. There are several other pen models to choose from including faceted pens that are additional costs. My Churchill model has a slight raised tapered point at the end of the barrel and at the end of the cap. I can see the slightly tapered point, but when I rub my finger over the end it’s very smooth to the touch.

The section is curved and the length is what I call average.

How does it feel?

I selected the default “smooth” finish. My pen feels quite smooth and I love the slick feel. They do have something called “satin” finish which would look great with certain recommended resin colors. I would contact TPC to see their suggested resin colors with the satin finish.

This Churchill model does not post. The actual pen with nib, section, and barrel is well balanced in my hand.

I mentioned the curved section. It’s not too short and not too long. My fingers fit nicely and I noticed my grip is more relaxed while writing with this pen.

It’s a lightweight pen and comfortable in hand. Typically, I find the lightweight pens are great to use for long writing sessions. I enjoy feeling the smoothness of this resin pen as I write.

How does it write for a Fine nib pen?

This JoWo #6 Fine nib writes beautifully. I looped the nib and did not find any issues at all. It’s writes smooth with a touch of feedback. A true Western Fine nib and not too wet.

Here it comes! Brace yourself! That nib unit! I can swap it out and put in one of my lovely Franklin-Christoph nib units. Yes, I’m smiling ear-to-ear.

How does it compare with the other independent manufacturer pens I have?

I currently have experience with Franklin-Christoph, Birmingham Pens, and Bone Crusher Studios. I put Tailored Pen Company right up there with Franklin-Christoph.

I think F-C has better prices for the variety of pen models and sizes they carry. I would definitely recommend them to a fountain pen newbie who is interested in trying out an independent pen manufacturer and looking for a low cost pen (pocket pens).

Based on my experience, I think TPC has the best overall fountain pen selection. They have a huge variety of in-house manufactured resins and a variety of pen models to choose from. My custom order shopping experience was wonderful. I was able to select the resin and the pen model/style. There are two styles to select from which include round or faceted. The round style is included in the cost of the pen and includes the following models: Churchill, Cigar, Cylindre, and Westminster. The faceted style (Ascher and Trillion) adds additional cost to the pen.

When I selected the round style I also had the option to include a clip or not. There is an addition cost to add a clip. I selected not to for my first pen.

I selected nib size I wanted which was a Fine nib and also with the polished steel nib finish (versus gold plated).

Worth the price?

I believe it’s worth the price if I can select the pen material from the a vast selection of available offerings. Also to have the ability to select the pen style (cigar, tapered, transition style from cap to barrel, etc) and have the option to add a clip added or not. This overall experience was well worth it.

I’ve read that TPC can be flexible when customizing a pen. All one has to do is ask them.

Tailored Pen Company’s current queue is around 8-10 weeks for the normal round pens. For their faceted pens the wait is around 20 weeks.

My currently ink everyday writers or EDWs (l-r): Estie OS Gold Rush in Dreamer Purple, Visconti Rembrandt in Azure Blue, and my lovely TPC Churchill in Coral Reef

Tailored Pen Company also carries a limited number of available or in-stock pens on their website. Their in-stock pens will ship within 2-3 days. The available pens do sell out fast.

Pen: Tailored Pen Company – Churchill model in Coral Reef with Fine nib

Ink: Rohrer and Klingner Alt Goldgrun


Pulmonaria Flowers (Watercolor)

I’m challenging myself to paint flowers. Especially, flowers I have not painted or sketched before. I had a picture I took of some Pulmonaria (Lungwort) flowers from our garden. My Hubby had planted them years ago along our walkway. I enjoy these smallish flowers as they give a pop of color along the edge of our garden.

I selected three main flowers from my picture and created a quick sketch using my graphite pencil. I mixed different shades of purple paint from pink-purple to blue-purple using Quinacridone Pink with Cobalt Blue and another version with Quinacridone Pink and Prussian Blue.

To make the pink-purple color, I created a wet mix of Quinacridone Pink and some water to make a puddle of color. Then I added a bit of Cobalt Blue and mixed the two colors. The end result should look like a purple color leaning towards pink.

For the blue-purple color, I created a wet mix of Prussian Blue and some water to create the second puddle of color. I added a bit a Quinacridone Pink and mixed those two colors together. My goal was to get a purple color that leans more towards blue.

My first layer that I apply to the object is alway a light wash of color. I will sometimes leave a bit of white showing to represent a strong highlight.

I kept applying layers of color and adding darker colors for shadows and shading.

Erasing a few rogue pencil lines with my kneaded eraser

I decided at the last minute to create a background of muted green colors. I started with a light wash all over the paper and let my painting dry. Then added a few more layers of color.

I’m leaving my painting alone for now. In a few days, I will look at it again and decide if I need to do anything else with my painting.

Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor

Paint Palette: Art Toolkit Pocket Palette

Porcelain Palette: Home Goods or Tuesday Morning

Brushes: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Travel #6, #8, & #10

Paper: Strathmore Series 500 Premium 100% cotton 5″x7″

More Ink Swatches – Ferris Wheel Press

I first came across Ferris Wheel Press (FWP) when I was looking at their beautifully designed round bottles with a brass lug nut cap. A small number of their inks were available at a few online shops and selling fast. I managed to get a bottle of their stunning teal ink called Bluegrass Velvet.

Impressive packaging for a bottle of ink

Their round bottles of ink and packaging are quite unusual. A lot of thought went into their design including their FWP fonts and logos. Branding is important to them. It brings to my mind quality, upscale, uniqueness, durability, and desire. That is desire to have a bottle on my desk.

The caps on their bottles are made of brass. I actually enjoy opening a bottle of their ink. Even with my joint issues, it’s easy to wrap my fingers around the lug nut shape and twist.

Sometime last year, I came across the Ferris Wheel Press kickstarter campaign #2. It was my first time involved with a kickstarter and FWP provided wonderful information about their process, what products would be available, how to order, and a brief timeline on when their products would be shipping. They included in their kickstarter smaller bottles of ink and a new set of colors.

Three months past their target ship date, my order finally arrived in late Fall.

My inks arrived in a large shipping box with very little cushion

The smaller bottles are beautiful, but I was a bit underwhelmed with half of the colors I chose. I suppose it did not help that I received my new inks in the late Fall season while I was into the darker ink colors as well as shimmering inks.

The FWP bottle designs are beautiful and look gorgeous sitting on my desk

Now that we are into the Spring season, I decided to revisit the ink colors by swatching them in my ink journal.

Swatches of FWP inks
My extra jam jar came in handy

I had a fear to knocking the flat round ink jars over on my desk while swatching. I found an extra glass jar that I used to clean my fountain pens. The FWP bottle fits nice and snug into the paper towels bunched up in the my jar.

A silicone disc keeps the ink in the bottle and the cap clean. Clever!
The flat round bottles have a label on one side with the name of the ink color

As I was swatching my ink colors, I started to change my mind about the FWP ink colors I had selected. The colors I thought were underwhelming, started to grow on me. That was a good sign!

I’m still on the fence with two colors: Definitely Peachy and Lady Rose. I should use them in my pen and ink sketches and see if I change my mind.

Beautiful colors!

Bluegrass Velvet is still my favorite within the FWP ink colors and followed closely with Double Raspberry, Pink Eraser, Jelly Bean Blue, Mirror Mirror of Moraine, and Three Steamboats.

Some sheen appears in the two ink colors

Looks like it will be a great time to pull out my empty TWSBI GOs and fill them with my FWP inks. So far from my swatching, they look like they would do well as ink washes.

As part of the kickstarter campaign, they offered a special edition shimmering ink.

Dark blue color with a bit of shimmer

Timeless Blue is a deep dark blue ink color. It’s darker than Jelly Bean Blue.

Beautiful sheen and shimmer!

During the open weeks of their kickstarter campaign, I changed my ink color selections. I trusted my gut instinct and decided against a few colors that appeared unsaturated and extremely light ink colors. I’m happy that I selected a good range of colors. Even the two I’m still on the fence with.

Unfortunately, I have no plans on taking part of future kickstarters with FWP. There were a few issues and decisions they made along the way after the campaign ended and while I was waiting for my inks. For me, the way they handled it gave me some bad vibes.

I would definitely purchase another FWP bottle of ink as long as the color was vibrant and saturated. If their “charger set” is available, I would recommend starting out with their glass vials of inks to see if the colors or ink appeals to you.

Pen: Glass dipped pen and automatic pen

Inks: Ferris Wheel Press

Journal: Stalogy 365