I thought I was dealing with allergies last week which turned out to be a head cold that Hubby shared with me. I’m slowly feeling somewhat normal and I’m hoping my creative juices will come back this week.
This morning I decided to continue with swatching some inks colors from KWZ Inks. Oh wait. I’m back to swatching fountain pen inks instead of playing with my watercolors? Yes. Shifting gears for a few hours today. Plus swatching colors seem to be the most creative thing I feel like doing at this moment.
In my previous ink swatching posts, I’ve been using my Col-o-ring swatch cards for the last two years as my primary method for swatching colors. I love having the ability to swap and re-organize my cards around in the ring. I’ve also been playing with my ink colors in my fountain pen ink journal to see how the inks react to water.
In my journal, I used to just dabble ink on a page and take a water brush and swipe the color. There was no rhyme or reason to my method and I would end up with a mishmash of colors on a page.
I thought I would bring some organization to my ink journal. Here’s what I came up with:
While I’m sharing my sample ink pages, I might as well share my thoughts on KWZ Inks. They have some beautiful ink colors. Amazing sheening and shading inks. As you can see from my samples, they are also wet inks.
I have to mention that KWZ Inks have a slight vanilla-ish odor. When I bought my first bottle last year, I was overwhelmed with the this scent in a pleasant way. After I filled my pen with ink, I looked forward to uncapping my pen and have this subtle scent surround me. Some folks might be ultra sensitive to this scent and I just want to share this bit of information.
With this new format, I can see the sheening and shading characteristics of each ink color.
I gathered up my bottles of Jacques Herbin shimmering inks and created another swatch page. Jacques Herbin has the best shimmering inks. There I said it! I have not had any clogging issues with their shimmering inks in my pens. Their inks flow beautifully.
The Vert Atlantide is my favorite color. It has gold and silver particles and that green color is gorgeous.
I wanted to add that I let this page dry completely. Then I remembered I needed to add the water wash. That’s why there are hard edges/lines in the samples below.
I wanted to mention that KWZ Inks and Jacques Herbin shimmering inks create some of the most beautiful and stunning color washes.
I enjoy seeing what colors other artists are using in their palettes. One color that surprised me was Daniel Smith Cascade Green. I read and heard about this fantastic green color. Little did I know that it would become my favorite green color.
The specs on this tube of paint says this Cascade Green is made up of Burnt Umber and Phthalo Blue (GS). Having a curious mind, I decided to mix these two colors to see what color I could create.
I’m sure if I spent more time mixing, I could eventually come up with a close match.
I am currently under the weather dealing with allergies and it’s preventing my creative juices from flowing. Have a wonderful weekend!
I did not want to go a whole week without posting an entry on my blog. I’ve been busy with Spring cleaning in my studio and tackling other rooms in our house. I have also been creating several pieces of watercolor artwork that are taking some to finish as I need to let the paintings dry between the layers of paint I’ve applied.
I have also been enjoying the warmer weather in our area and getting into the change of season. I thought it would be a great time to start taking a few of my fountain pens out of rotation.
Earlier this week, I ended up cleaning about a dozen pens. Many of them I used for my pen and ink artwork. Most of my pens had a few drops of ink left in their barrels and I wanted to replace the darker colors with lighter and brighter colors. For now, the pens will remain empty as I’m focusing on my watercolor skills.
I needed a few pens to use for journaling and for setting up my BUJO (bullet journaling) for the month of April. Here are my three currently inked EDWs (everyday writers) that I could not wait to share. They happen to also be my three favorite fountain pen brands.
It worked out that my Platinum and Pilot pens were a perfect match to go with my Candystone pen from Franklin-Christoph.
When I received Candystone a few weeks ago, I had filled it with Sydney Lavender. The previous picture shows the section with nib and feed sitting in a glass stuffed with paper towels. The colors in the paper towel confirms why this ink color is a perfect match with this pen. I went ahead and refilled my pen with the same color.
Platinum Century 3776 Nice Lilas (Medium) filled with Robert Oster Red Lipstick
Franklin-Christoph #31 Candystone (Medium) filled with Robert Oster Sydney Lavender
Pilot Custom Heritage 92 Transparent Blue (Medium) filled with Robert Oster Tokyo Blue Denim
(Wow! Two posts in one day! My pictures are moving through my process and I could not wait to publish this post. Enjoy!)
In a previous post, I had mentioned submitting my artwork for a sticker contest held earlier this year. I had received “honorable mention” for my submission and I have to say I’m really proud of this achievement.
For this artwork, I used exclusive fountain pen inks that were created in collaboration with Pen Chalet and Robert Oster Signature Inks. For each of the colors I used, I felt there was significant meaning behind the names of the colors. I did a bit of research to validate and confirm what I was thinking for my artwork. It also helped that I had spent a few weeks in Arizona many years ago.
For those of you who have made past purchases at Pen Chalet, you can ask them to include this sticker with your next purchase. Just ask for the “Susan-Sedona scene” sticker and mention you saw this on my blog. You might get more than one sticker in your package. Happy shopping!
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:
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of you might remember I received my first Benu as a Christmas gift from my Hubby. I fell in love with the beautiful colors of my Bora Bora. The turquoise tropical blue color with silver and gold shimmering particles reminded me of the Caribbean. The medium nib writes smooth and wet and handles shimmering inks beautifully.
Edit: Here’s a tidbit of information. I was doing some research on Benu pens and found that the cap threads are square. So, naturally I unscrewed the cap from my Benu and took out my trusty loupe to see the threads on the body of the pen. Yes! I can see the squared off threads which would normally be rounded in most fountain pens. This square thread form shape has the lowest friction and it is hard to fabricate in a pen design. It’s also the most efficient thread form to screw a cap on.
Besides using my Benu for writing, I also enjoy using it as a tool to sketch with in my pen and ink wash artwork. That says a lot about this pen. I know I mentioned this before, but I could write for hours with this pen. Yes, it fits in my hand and has a nice long grip/section. It’s lightweight and sometimes I felt like I was holding a pencil. I naturally gravitated towards using it to sketch with.
I sketched my first Benu using my fountain pen inks and a bit of iridescent watercolor to bring out the sparkles in my pen.
I was keeping an eye out for another Benu called Tropical Voyage and eventually added that one to my collection. Can you see a theme developing? There’s actually two themes: tropical pen names and the lovely shades of blue.
In my art journal I now have a page devoted to my Benu artwork. I originally had planned to sketch my Everyday Writers or EDWs on this page, but my Euphorias were so colorful and beautiful it was inevitable to have a page dedicated to them.
As I was typing up a draft of this blog post, I received my third Euphoria. I was torn between the Big Wave and the glittering Vodka on the Rocks. I wanted to keep with my tropical theme. After much thought, I decided the Vodka was a bit over the top with all that glitter and too sparkly for me. Can you believe that? Too sparkly for me? Hahaha!
So here’s my Big Wave and all it’s beautiful shimmering tiny particles. It reminds me of a frothy shimmering surf. Be sure the click the arrows in the picture to see the slideshow.
Naturally, I had to do a quick sketch of my pen. I decided to do a test sketch to see how the ink colors and iridescent watercolors play together. I wanted to make sure I could capture the glittering frothy surf.
Here’s my writing samples from my Euphorias. All three are filled with shimmering inks.
Here’s what the page from my art journal looks like:
Here’s another picture to show off the glittering sparkles:
My process of integrating my fountain pen inks and iridescent watercolor paints has greatly improved since my first Benu pen sketch. I do the initial sketch with my inks and let them dry completely. I add the iridescent color(s) and gently apply the sparkling wash over the areas. I try not to disturb the paper too much, otherwise I will lift the ink and move it around on the paper and get a mix of unwanted colors.
Bora Bora Sketch:
Pens used: Conklin Endura Abalone with JoWo Omniflex nib. Platinum Prefounte 05 Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Enchanted Ocean and Tropical Glow. Robert Oster Carbon Fire, Heart of Gold, and Thunderstorm.
Watercolor used: Daniel Smith Iridescent Pearl White and Aztec Gold
Tropical Voyage Sketch:
Pens used: Benu Euphorias Bora Bora and Tropical Voyage with Medium nibs. Conklin Duragraph Matte Black with Rainbow Trim Goulet Exclusive LE (JoWo Omniflex nib). Platinum Prefounte 05 Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Arabian Nights, Golden Ivy, and Tropical Glow. Robert Oster Sydney Lavender, Blue Moon, and Thunderstorm.
Big Wave Sketch:
Pens used: Benu Euphoria Big Wave with Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Starlit Sea. JHerbin Bleu de Minuit. Robert Oster Blue River, Carbon Fire, and Thunderstorm.
Watercolor: Daniel Smith Iridescent Pearl White and Pearl Shimmer
I have been collecting a few vials of ink samples. Sometimes I might get one or two with my orders. Sometimes an online vendor will send me one to try out. I typically wait until I collect more than half a dozen vials and block out some time in the morning to create my swatches.
This morning looked like a great time to get this done.
I posted in one of the fountain pen groups that I was looking for a good silver shimmering fountain pen ink to add to my palette. Some of you might remember a sketch I did of my first Benu pen, the beautiful Euphoria Bora Bora, and I was missing a silver shimmering ink to create the silver highlights in my pen. I ended up using my Daniel Smith silver iridescent watercolor to fill in.
I ended up ordering Diamine Moon Dust and Snow Storm. Since I was on a Diamine Shimmertastic frame of mind, I decided to add samples of Cocoa Shimmer and Blue Flame.
Wait a minute. I just listed four inks when I just mentioned I will swatch a minimum of six inks. There were two other Robert Oster inks I had, but since they were not Diamine inks and not shimmering inks I did not include them in this post.
There’s a reason why I wanted to devote this post to Diamine inks. I have enjoyed using and experimenting with their inks. Diamine was the second brand of shimmering inks I tried and fell in love with their Shimmertastic line of colors. My first shimmering brand I tried was Jacques Herbin and I will save that for future blog post.
I love how the Diamine ink colors are saturated. They are bold and vibrant colors. They also make great pen and ink washes. I find most of their ink colors (that I have) are somewhat wet. Personally, I think wet inks make great pen and ink washes on watercolor paper.
The Moon Dust looks like a neutral gray which is what I need for my palette of colors.
The Cocoa Shimmer is on my wish list. This is a gorgeous brown color that will work in my landscape palette.
In my ink swatch Stalogy journal I use the remaining ink on my Q-tip and dabble ink onto the paper. I take my water brush and go over the ink with water. This allows me to see the ink’s characteristics.
Pen: Glass dip pen
Inks: Diamine Moon Dust, Snow Storm, Cocoa Shimmer, and Blue Flame
Paper: Col-o-ring swatch cards and Stalogy 365 journal
I used to be a wedding photographer many years ago. While I enjoyed the creative aspects and challenges, I did not enjoy having additional roles as hostess, seamstress, and assistant. I was hired to be a photographer. Not a last minute seamstress or a get things done at last minute assistant. Yes, I no longer photograph weddings.
When I grabbed a picture from my “to sketch” pile of photographs it conjured up memories of when I took that particular picture. This sketch I did last night brought back memories as a wedding photographer. It was a simple vase full of colorful flowers.
For this floral sketch, I used a lot of ink colors. I had pulled out 10 fountains pens with various ink colors and used all the colors I selected.
My favorite brands of ink for sketching is currently: Jacques Herbin, Diamine, and Robert Oster. Especially the shimmering inks from JHerbin & Diamine. I mentioned that wet inks are great for ink and water washes as the “lines” I lay down blend nicely with my watercolor paper.
Late last year, Robert Oster Sydney Lavender was a late addition to my ink collection. It blends beautifully with Diamine Arabian Nights (shimmer) ink.
I’ve been enjoying my Benu Euphoria pens. Besides writing in my journals, I love using them for my artwork. The medium nibs lay down a nice amount of ink. Plus the pens are gorgeous to look at.
Pens: Benu Euphoria Tropical Voyage with Medium nib. Platinum Prefounte with (05) Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks: Diamine Arabian Nights. Jacques Herbin Cornaline d’Egypte and Vert Atlantide. Robert Oster Sedona Red, Charred Hickory, Sydney Lavender, Melon Tea, Thunderstorm, Heart of Gold, and Saguaro Green.
Edit: I’ve added a picture of my final pen and ink sketch below. Enjoy!
Just when I thought I was done with acquiring new inks, Robert Oster comes along and creates some new exciting and exclusive inks. The first set that I blogged about a few days ago was an exclusive trio that included Charred Hickory, Hemp, and Blue River.
Now, there’s another set of exclusive ink colors that includes some beautiful and saturated colors. The trio of colors are called: Sedona Red, Saguaro Green, and Monsoon Sky.
The colors in this new palette reminds me of my time spent in Arizona many years ago. Unfortunately it was not for vacation time, but for work. I had an opportunity to travel and spend a few weeks with a team of fellow co-workers.
We spent our days and nights working on a project and then we were given time off on the weekend to go exploring. I grabbed my rental car keys and my girlfriends and we headed to Sedona. The red rocks of Sedona took my breath away. I have pictures of my adventure, but unfortunately will have to dig deep into my archives to locate them. For now, my color swatches, writing samples, and artwork will have to suffice.
The new colors are bright and bold.
The only non-inked art pens I had available were my Prefountes with fine nibs. Sometimes I find it harder to draw with finer nibs and create a good water wash of colors. Here’s my artwork:
I was surprised at the Monsoon Sky color. The label on the bottle looked like a dark blue color. Once I applied the ink to the paper, I found it leaned more towards a beautiful teal blue color.
My plan is to continue working on my artwork and adding more color especially in the sky. I’ll be back to post a finished version later this week.
Stay safe and have a great day!
Pens: Platinum Prefountes with 03 Fine nibs and TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1
Inks: Robert Oster Sedona Red, Saguaro Green, Monsoon Sky, Heart of Gold, and Thunderstorm.