The month of April has turned into a busy month for me and I haven’t had much time for sketching. I was staring at all my currently inked fountain pens (two dozen) and knew I would not have time to use them. So, I ended up dumping the inks and cleaning all the pens except for one that I used for my bullet journal (BUJO) and journaling.
When I had a few creative minutes available, I brought out my watercolor paints and created a few sketches. Right now, this is quick and easy solution for me to keep my sketching momentum going as well as interest.
The first sketch was a scene from my trip to our local farmer’s market. Most of this was from memory and I wanted to create a two page spread with loose sketches. I used my Preppy filled with Document Urban Grey permanent ink. I mentioned a few times before, I’m enjoying this lighter grey ink color for outlining my sketches. I used a water brush to apply the water color paints straight from my pans onto my paper.
I’m trying to keep my sketches light and using a lot of white space (highlights) from the paper.
Later in the month I found a few minutes to create another sketch of a few flowers blooming in our garden. Again, I used my Preppy with Urban Grey ink for the outlines and I used my water color paints for this sketch.
Prompt: I recommend taking a trip to your local farmer’s market. Take pictures of the different stalls and offerings. Create a sketch that combines several items you’ve seen and sketch/incorporate into a two page spread.
Pen: Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine nib
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Urban Grey (permanent)
Watercolor: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor paint
I finally got around to finishing my floral page in my art journal. In my last blog post I had created a helleborus flower as that was the only blooming flower in our garden. A few days later, additional flowers were blooming including miniature daffodils.
I’ve been taking reference pictures for future use. I do this as time flies by quickly and when I’m ready to sketch again, the flowering blooms have long expired.
Luckily, both my helleborus and daffodils are still blooming around our gardens. This morning I stepped outside to look at our miniature daffodils before I sketched the remaining flowers in my art journal.
I like adding the hazy and blurry colors in the background of my sketches. It gives me the feeling that there are other flowers in the background without adding any details.
Pens: Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine nib. Jinhao x159 Wine Red with Fine nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs.
Inks: Robert Oster Heart of Gold (shimmer), Blood Rose (shimmer), and African Gold. Van Dieman’s Ink Anna’s Hummingbird Wing (shimmer), KWZ/Galen Leather Prairie Green (shimmer), and DeAtramentis Document Grey.
I’ve been writing my Jinhao fountain pens dry. Literally, I would run out of ink while in the middle of writing a sentence. My x159 pens are lovely wet writers and I’ve also been using them for creating my pen & ink sketches.
My favorite pinky red ink color to sketch with is Blood Rose. Yes, it’s a shimmering ink. My Wine Red x159 has been filled with this lovely color since I received it and turns out to be on its third refill of the same color. This might be the perfect pen & ink combination for me.
In my black x159, I filled my pen with the lovely Prairie Green shimmering ink color. My shimmering inks have been flowing well in my Jinhao’s.
I’m finding Blood Rose and Prairie Green are two lovely colors that work well together and perfect for floral sketches. The inks react beautifully with water on my sketch paper and they create lovely washes of color.
For the last few weeks, I have seen some blooming beauties in our gardens. A pop of color here and there. The flowering colors range from white with green edges to a light green to a deep burgundy/purple.
I decided it was time to start sketching again. I created this loose sketch of a Helleborus flower in my art journal.
I used my Document Grey ink to sketch the outline of my flower. I used Blood Rose for the flower’s petals and Prairie Green for the leaves and stem. To create the subtle colors in the background, I wet the paper around the flower and I dropped in some color using my water brush. I was careful not to blend the colors together or I would end up with a muddy mix.
Since I’m sketching with lighter inky colors, I’m thinking about using Document Urban Grey to create the lighter color outlines of my floral sketches.
Prompt: Go outside and see what is blooming in your yard, at a park, or at your local garden center. Take a picture or two of the flower. Create a pen & ink sketch. Don’t worry about the details. Focus on the shape(s) of your flower and petals. Create another sketch using a different ink color for the flower.
Cleaning Note & Tip: When I’m refilling the same ink into the same pen, I do clean my pen before refilling. Especially, when I’m using shimmering inks. I place a towel under my pen (with feed facing up) and I use my soft toothbrush dipped in water and gently clean out the feed and the underside of the nib. I will dip my toothbrush several times into water and then onto my feed/nib. The towel underneath will pull the water and remaining sparkly particles out from the nib. I’m often amazed how much shimmering particles come out of the feed/nib.
Pens: Jinhao x159 Wine Red in gold trim with Fine nib. Jinhao x159 Black in silver trim with Fine nib. Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine nib.
Inks: Robert Oster Blood Rose (shimmer), KWZ & Galen Leather exclusive Prairie Green (shimmer), and DeAtramentis Document Grey.
I took my pencil sketch and using my permanent gray ink, I sketched over my pencil lines that I wanted to keep. In some areas I straightened out the previous broken lines I had drawn. I also added in more details where needed. After my permanent ink had dried on my paper, I used my kneaded eraser to remove my pencil lines. Right now, my sketch looks flat and almost like a cartoon.
I left my inky sketch alone for a few days while I decided which colors to use for my inky washes.
I came back to my sketch armed with my TWSBI Swipe filled with Thunderstorm and started my pen & ink wash process. Thunderstorm has been my go to black/blue inky color for when I need to sketch something in black and also for creating shadows around and under my object. It’s a lovely color to use and it has quite a bit of personality as you can see in my sketch below.
I was careful to not inundate my sketch by dumping a lot of dark color onto my paper. It’s harder to “lift” dark colors let alone “lift” fountain pen ink off of my paper. With my first layer of color I applied a light or watered down color wash. To avoid creating a flat sketch, I made sure to leave some lighter color or the white of my paper as highlights. I am always looking for my light source. I let the first layer dry completely before attempting to apply the second layer of color.
When I apply my second layer of color, I can now focus on areas that are quite a bit darker. I think about the shadows within my object. Where are the darkest parts of my object. By applying the different values of a color, I can create a sense of “roundness” to my object. I can also make certain parts of my object appear closer to me like the numbered dial on my tension knob, the golden logo patch, or the horizontal light covering in the arm of my machine.
I used Morning Frost on the silvery pieces of my object like the throat plate, parts of the tension dial/discs, thread spindle, stitch regulator, bobbin winding system, and for the hand wheel/pulley.
While I’m creating my pen & ink wash, I have to remind myself to be a bit spontaneous and less controlling with my sketch. There are times when it’s harder to control where the ink color goes. I make the best of it and most of the time I create wonderful inky surprises.
I have also learned to know when to stop. Since I was using a mixed media paper versus a heavier watercolor paper, I noticed my second layer of inky wash was disturbing the paper’s surface. Small areas of my paper developed a “rash” while the paper was still wet. That was my clue to stop work in that area as the surface had been compromised. Once the paper is dry, the rashes miraculously disappear.
In case you’ve forgotten, this is where my pen & ink sketch started from. My quick pencil sketch.
Once I start sketching, I forget about properly centering my object on the page or in this case across two pages. To help remove the white space on the right side, I added the bobbin and two spools of thread. I intentionally left one of the spools half-off the page to balance out the left side where I ran out of space for the machine’s bed extension.
Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. TWSBI Swipe with Stub 1.1 nib. Platinum Preppy with 02 Extra Fine nib.
Inks: Robert Oster Thunderstorm, African Gold, Steely Days, Melon Tea, and Blood Rose. Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost. DeAtramentis Document Grey (Preppy).
Pencil: Pentel Energize mechanical with 0.7mm HB lead
A couple of weeks ago, Hubby and I went on a trip. I made sure to set aside some time to figure out what art supplies I would pack and take with me for our adventure.
I thought about how I wanted to record this journey. Do I bring my watercolor paints and brushes? Or do I bring my fountain pens and inks? Or do I bring both?
I laid out my favorite supplies including my fave Maxpedition case and my new Rickshaw/Nock case. Based on my past traveling experiences I knew these would be the two cases to bring and it would be easy to figure out what supplies will fit in the cases.
After going back and forth between the two mediums, I knew I would not enjoy our trip if I could not decide what main art medium to use to capture our adventures. I decided it was best to bring my fountains pens and inks in my Maxpedition case. I used my Rickshaw case to carry just the essentials when I was out and about with my slender messenger bag.
I carried with me a slender A5 journal and wrote about our adventures each day. I was keeping a daily travel log. I found it was easier to write or jot down key points from our adventures as I sipped my coffee in the morning or while we sat in front of a fire pit enjoying the early evening weather.
I also included my A5 mixed media art journal for my pen & ink washes. Both journals fit inside my Lochby Field Journal.
Each day, I recorded objects and things that were easy to sketch. Sometimes I would have 5-15 minutes to quickly sketch something with my pencil or permanent pen.
In my two page spread (above), I created a variety of sketches from ideas in my head. Each object had Thunderstorm incorporated into the sketch which brought the sketches together or created a bit of harmony.
It was handy to have my Rickshaw case filled with my essential supplies as I was able to create quick sketches on the go. Yes, that meant I had to narrow down my choices to six inky colors to take with me.
My Pilot Custom 823 was filled with Hailstorm. I used this ink for writing in my journals. It’s a dark green color that leans more towards blue.
For this trip, I decided to fill a Preppy with a permanent Grey ink color. I used this Preppy mostly for the outlines in my sketches. I do like using this lighter color for my outlines versus using the bold black Carbon ink color.
For my peach sketch, I did not have an orange ink color with me. I used Blood Rose and African Gold and blended/dabbed the colors a bit on my paper. Again, Thunderstorm makes another appearance in each of my sketching scenes.
Here’s an example of a quick sketch I created in my art journal. I had about ten minutes to sketch a few things and not enough time to add my fountain pen inky colors to all of my sketches. I find it’s okay to leave out the colors and add them back in for another day. I can also go back into my travel log and find other things to add to my sketch and add the colors when I have the time.
I know the pages in my art journal looks a bit bare and there are quite a few blank areas in between my sketches. They are my invisible placeholders for when I will go back and write a story about my adventures.
Pens: Pilot Custom 823 in Amber w/Fine nib. Nahvalur Original Plus in Melacara Purple w/Stub nib. Platinum Preppy (02) Extra Fine nib. TWSBI Swipe w/Stub nib. TWSBI GOs w/Stub nibs.
Inks: DeAtramentis Document Ink in Grey. Van Dieman’s Ink Hailstorm and Anna’s Hummingbird Wing (shimmer). Robert Oster Sydney Lavender, Steely Days, Melon Tea, African Gold, Blood Rose, Sydney Darling Harbour, and Thunderstorm.
Cases: Maxpedition Beefy Pocket Organizer in Olive Green. Rickshaw Nock Sinclair model R in Black/Aqua.
Other: Pentel Energize Mechanical Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead. Pentel Water Brushes with small and medium size tips.
Art Journal: Stillman & Birn softcover Alpha A5 (5.5″x8.5″)
When I create my sketches, I typically start out with a pencil sketch. This helps me outline my shapes and also helps me with placement and location of my objects on my paper. When I’m satisfied with the look of my sketches, I will typically go over my pencil lines with a permanent ink like Platinum Carbon ink. Platinum Carbon is a black ink color that does not budge or move when I apply my ink washes or watercolor paints over it.
Late last year, I found that the black ink color I use is just a bit too dark or bold for my sketching style. Especially, when I apply light color washes to my sketches.
I was on a mission to find a good permanent grey ink color.
I started looking in my ink collection cabinet and found I had a bottle of Document Grey ink that I purchased in 2019. While I was researching online I found a newer (to me) Urban Grey color. I was trying to do an online comparison between the two colors and I could see they were different and I was curious by how much.
I went ahead and ordered Urban Grey. Appropriately named, it mostly reminded me of creating urban sketches with this color. I assumed lots of urban sketchers use this ink color. I had a hard time finding it in stock.
Once I received my new bottle of ink, I could see the difference between the two DeAtramentis Document Ink bottles. The label on the Urban Grey bottle portrayed it as a lighter grey color.
I could not wait to create my inky swatches. My swatches also show a difference between the two grey ink colors. The following picture reminds me of a monochromatic photo. I should have placed a bright red fountain pen for a pop of color in my photo shoot.
Urban Grey appears to be a softer and slightly lighter grey color.
I originally purchased my bottle of Grey for it’s lovely medium neutral grey color.
I would consider Urban Grey to be a light neutral gray color. From the writing on my swatch card, it’s definitely a readable ink color. It would also work nicely for writing descriptions and documentation in my art journal where I would not want it to compete with my sketches.
So, which color do I like best? I like them both for different reasons. I’m still working on test sketches and hope to show my fellow readers some sample sketches using the two colors. Stay tuned!
Inks: DeAtramentis Document Inks in Grey and Urban Grey
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.
A few years ago, I had purchased a few bottles of DeAtramentis Document ink colors and used them for writing in my journals. I never thought about using them for creating outlines for my sketches. Until today.
I started with a pencil sketch and then sketched over my pencil lines with my Preppy filled with DeAtramentis Document Grey ink. I’m happy to report this ink performed well with my inky washes.
This is a neutral-grey ink color which creates lighter colored lines that are not as harsh as the Carbon black color. The ink dried quickly and when I applied my color wash over the ink it performed the same way as my Carbon ink.
I came across a new-to-me watercolor journal from Hahnemuhle. This white and slightly textured paper is 100% alpha-cellulose and it handled my fountain pens and inks brilliantly. This paper allowed me to create some lovely washes of color. I used quite a bit of water in my sketch and from the backside there was no ghosting or bleed through. Also, I did not experience any buckling or wrinkling in the paper while I was applying my inky washes.
This small journal contains 30 sheets of paper which makes it a thin journal. I can easily slip this into my slim messenger bag.
I placed my TWSBI strategically where I was supposed to write something about my sketching adventure. Some days I have no idea what to write and I’ll wait til the next day to write something while I’m sipping on my coffee.
The following picture shows the size of my journal in comparison to my fountain pens.
This Hahnemuhle journal has a stiff textured cover and an elastic band to wrap around the cover when it’s closed.
I have to mention the cover feels a bit rough. It’s definitely not going to slip out of my hand.
I purchased this smaller size journal to keep in my messenger bag for when I’m out and about and have an opportunity to create quick sketches. This could also be used to document my adventures while traveling.
I’m looking forward to a new year with new sketching adventures and new sketching prompts to share. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!
Permanent Ink: DeAtramentis Document Grey
Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost (shimmer). Robert Oster African Gold, Melon Tea, Sydney Lavender, Steely Days, Eucalyptus Leaf, Blood Rose (shimmer), and Thunderstorm.
Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Platinum Preppy with 02 (EF) nib. Pilot Custom 823 Amber with Fine nib. Jinhao x159 Black with Fine nib.
Water Brush: Pentel Water Brush
Journal: Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book A6 (4.1″x5.8″) 200gsm, 30 sheets/60 pages