Getting My Sketching Mojo Back with a Pumpkin and a Prompt

After eight months of sketching non-stop with my fountain pens and inks, my creativity finally went missing. For the last two months, I was hoping it would come back. It has slowly. I try not to force it. There are some days when I feel as though I should be doing something creative, but all I do is stare at a blank page for a few minutes. Then I would close my art journal and carry on with my other daily activities.

My Graphite Sketch

When I get stuck in a creative rut, I always fall back to sketching with my favorite art medium using graphite pencils. I used my mechanical pencil to sketch out an outline. I used my 2.0mm clutch pencil to create the dark lines and shading. I used my blending tortillon to blend/smudge the graphite onto my paper and to soften the harsh lines.

My Pen & Ink Wash Sketch

A few days later, I created a pen & ink wash sketch of my pumpkin. I used my Copic Multiliner to sketch the outline and also added contour lines to create the darker areas of the pumpkin. I used two fountain pen ink colors Oklahoma City and Steely Days for the pumpkin. For the stem, I used Kansas City and Melon Tea. For the shadow area under the pumpkin, I used Oklahoma City and then dabbed a bit of Thunderstorm and used my water brush to blend out and away.

My Watercolor Sketch

I was toying with the idea of getting back into using my watercolor paints for my artwork. Why not, right? I pulled out my Sennelier watercolor set and enjoyed my time mixing my paint colors. I used mostly a wet on dry technique since the paper I was using could only take light washes. For the last layer, I used a damp brush with my teal paint mix and created a few contour strokes to enhance the shape of my pumpkin.

Challenge: Find a pumpkin to use in your sketches. Use a picture if you can’t find a real or fake pumpkin. Use your pencil to create a graphite sketch. Then use your fountain pens and ink to create the second pumpkin sketch. If you have another art medium available (watercolor, charcoal, pastel, etc) create a third sketch.

My Art Journals:

Leda Art Supply Medium-size (5.7″x8.25″) with graphite pencils.

Stillman & Birn Alpha 7.5″x7.5″ softcover with fountain pen & ink.

hand●book journal co. 5.5″x5.5″ square with watercolor paints.

My Art Mediums:

Graphite – Pentel Energize Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead and Staedtler Clutch Pencil 925 35-20 with 2.0mm HB lead.

Fountain Pens & Inks – TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Robert Oster Oklahoma City, Steely Days, Kansas City, Melon Tea, and Thunderstorm

Watercolor Mixes: Sennelier French Artists Watercolor Travel Set (12). Lemon Yellow and Sepia to create yellow ochre. Ultramarine Deep and Sepia to create dark brown. Forest Green and Ultramarine Deep to create teal green.

Watercolor Brushes: Escoda 1548 Versatil Series Artist Watercolor Travel size 4 & 6

A Fabulous Year with Narwhal/Nahvalur

Nautilus Voyage in New Orleans

Earlier this year, I created a blog post about my sparkling limited edition Nautilus Voyage in New Orleans. I was so enamored with this sparkling beauty (I still am) and the way it wrote and felt in my hand that I created a pen & ink sketch.

The pen itself is a gorgeous design and well made. It’s a piston filler pen that has an inky window to show how much ink is left in my pen.

This pen with a Fine nib handles my shimmering inks well.

Exclusive Galen Demonstrator with Rose Gold Trim

My first stop at this year’s pen show was at the Galen table. As in a Thursday afternoon stop. While they were still unpacking their boxes around me. I was checking out their exclusive ink colors and was immediately drawn to their Prairie Green ink color from KWZ. I had them set the bottle of ink aside so I could check out their pen tray filled with demonstrator pens with rose gold trim. I had uncovered another Galen exclusive and this one was with Narwhal. I tried both the fine and medium nibs and had a hard time selecting a nib. After a few minutes I trusted my gut instinct and went with the smooth medium nib.

This turned out to be my sleeper pen purchase from the pen show. When I finally had some time to fill my pen with ink and write with it, it was then I realized how stunning this pen was. Sure it looks like a typical clear demonstrator, but it feels wonderful in my hand. The quality, the weight, and the attention to the details of this pen is just lovely. I can honestly say it feels delightful and a bit better than my TWSBI Diamond 580 pens.

To give you an idea on the weight between these two pens. My TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR weighs about 26.59 grams. My Narwhal x Galens pen weighs around 29.52 grams.

You can see in the picture how clear the cap is and I can clearly see my rose gold plated nib.

Original Plus (Melacara Purple and Azureous Blue)

During the pen show, Nahvalur did an unveiling of their newest pen called the Original Plus and in four different swirls of colors.

I was able to get two Original Plus pens in Melacara Purple and Azureous Blue. Both with stub nibs. Since the Original Plus is a vacuum filler pen and holds a lot of ink, it made more sense for me to go with a broader nib. Plus I had plans on using these pens to sketch with.

I naturally filled my Melacara pen with Robert Oster Sydney Lavender. I’m thinking of pairing my Azureous with Robert Oster Australis Hydra or the lovely Fire and Ice.

The Nahvalur Stub nib writes a bit bolder and wetter. It writes like a 1.1 stub nib on the down/vertical stroke. The horizontal stroke writes like a fine nib.

Nautilus Stylophora Berry

I remember seeing a few of these pens on Nahvalur’s table on the last day of the pen show as I was quickly walking around in search of bottles of inks. I made a mental note to stop by their table later in the day and I forgot to go back. This is what happens when I don’t write down my reminders on paper.

I happened to see a video of this pen in someone’s hand and noticed how lovely it looked in natural light. It was the same pen color I had seen as I quickly ran by Nahvalur’s table at the show. It’s that peripheral vision I have when I see something out of the corner of my eye that makes me stop for a minute before running off towards my inky mission.

Yes. I added this one to my collection. A much appreciated Labor Day sale along with a coupon and my saved up inky rewards helped lower the cost of this pen.

This is my first ebonite fountain pen. I did a bit of research and learned that this ebonite material is made of hard rubber. The rubber is vulcanized for prolonged periods of time. The end result is a hard, durable and highly chemical-resistant material. It also makes it wear resistant. I also read that when the pen is held in the hand, it gives off a warmth feeling. It does.

The combination of this berry color with rose gold trim is quite stunning along with the three port-hole like windows on the body of the pen. I’m finding an ink window is a must for piston filling pens.

This pen is hard to photograph. When the pen sits on my desk I can actually see the lines of berry color running throughout the cap and body. The section has a lovely ripple pattern of color.

I’m pretty sure this pen is a Nautilus model and not the Original Plus based on the information from their website. My box was mislabeled.

My Thoughts

Now that I have several Nahvalur nibs/pens in my collection, I can say their nibs are lovely wet writers. Their stub nibs appear to be a bit thicker and writes really wet. The feel of their stub nibs remind me a bit of my Pilot Custom 742 with a stub nib. While my Pilot stub nib feels really crisp around the edges, my Nahvalur stub nib has a lovely smooth feeling around the edges.

My Nahvalur stub nib is actually wetter than my TWSBI stub nibs (Diamond, Eco, & GO).

I’ve read a few comments where folks do not like the stiff nibs. I actually enjoy the stiff nib writing experience. The Nahvalur nibs are quite smooth and put out a bit more ink than my comparable JoWo nibs.

I do want to add that I have enjoyed my Nahvalur fountain pens right out of their boxes with no need to adjust their nibs. That says a lot about a fountain pen manufacturer who produces their own nibs.

Pens: Narwhal Voyage in New Orleans with Fine nib. Narwhal-Galens exclusive in Rose Gold trim with Medium nib. Nahvalur Original Plus (vacuum filler) with Stub nib. Nahvalur Nautilus in Stylophora Berry with Fine nib.

You can find a review of my Narwhal Voyage in New Orleans and my Narwhal Original pen on my blog post here.

Workshop Prompt – One Fruit & One Dessert

Sketch Your Favorite Fruit:

Here I used two inky colors to give my blueberries a bit more depth. I also went from my initial pencil sketch right into my fountain pen & ink wash. I like the softer edges around my blueberries.

Here’s an example where I used a single inky color and I applied layers of color to my blueberries. A single layer of color is represented in the light blue areas of the fruit. The next darker layer is added to give the blueberries a bit more depth. Remember to leave some white space or lighter areas of your fruit.

Sketch Your Favorite Dessert:

Sketch you favorite dessert that includes your favorite fruit.

Have fun!

Swatch Card for September

I’ve been pulling out my fountain pens filled with shimmering inks and cleaning them out. A few have been in use since May and I thought it was time to rotate the colors out and try some new inks.

I used a 4″x6″ watercolor paper post card to create my swatch card. So far, this includes 19 inky colors I am currently using for this month. These inky colors reside in my TWSBIs, Pilot, Opus 88, Nahvalur, and Indy pens. That includes about a dozen TWSBI GOs.

I am still missing a few colors like a golden yellow which I will add to my currently inked collection in the next day or so.

I keep my swatch card with me in my art bag along with my fountain pens and inks. There are times when I forget what inky colors I have ready to go for my sketches or when I’m trying to find the right inky shade for a particular sketch.

Post Card: Tumuarta Watercolor Post Card 4″x6″ 140lb/300gsm cold press

Pens: turnt pen co “Grisham 13” in Peach Agate (Bob Dupras) with Fine nib. Pilot Custom 742 with Soft Fine <SF> nib. Nahvalur Original Plus in Melacara Purple with Stub nib.

Workshop Prompt – Water Brush Sketch

Update: A question was asked about how I created the shadows underneath my objects. I’ve updated this post to include my answer. Look for the “*” paragraph.

I thought it would be a good time to sketch an art tool that we all have on hand, a water brush.

I started my sketch using my mechanical pencil.

I used my fine point pen with permanent ink to sketch over the lines I wanted to keep in my drawing.

After I gently erased my unwanted pencil lines, I applied my inky wash. I decided to use Sepia Nights for the main areas of my water brush and the shadow underneath my brush. I used Thunderstorm for the dark components inside my brush and added a tiny bit to my shadow to give my sketch a bit more depth.

* To create the shadows under my object, I leave a bit of highlight (white of the paper). I take my pen with same ink color as my object and sketch a line around the underside of my object. This creates a reflective shadow of my object. I dab a tiny bit of Thunderstorm where I think the shadows are the darkest. I slowly swipe my water brush across the two colors and pull the colors down and away from the object. This technique takes a bit of practice, but well worth the effort.

The following picture shows what my sketches look like in my art journal.

Try sketching your water brush. You have creative license on how much detail you want to include. For your first sketch use a blue ink color for your wash.

Challenge: create another sketch of your water brush and use a different ink color for your wash. This additional practice will help in observing your object a bit more and where the highlights and shadows are versus trying to copy the color of your object.

Pens used: Copic Multiliner with 0.1mm tip. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs.

Inks: Robert Oster Sepia Nights and Thunderstorm

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softcover A5

Workshop Prompt – Shapes

In my workshops we created basic shapes for our warm up exercises. To activate our muscle memory. Our shapes will look flat which is okay for our warm up exercises.

Remember: no “death grips” and try to move your arm while sketching instead of just using your hand. I mentioned in my handout that if you just use your hand, you will start to feel some tightness in your grip and you may feel a cramp starting to develop in your hand. Remember to relax while you sketch.

Many of you wanted to see more of my sketches, my layouts, and my writing. Here is the most recent sketch I created while I was sitting at my studio desk. I had gathered round objects to create my two page spread.

Notice the cast shadows and the colors I used under my objects

Here are a few of my objects that I used in my sketches. This view is looking top down and off to the side.

Here I have my objects lined up on my desk with a side view of my inky bottles. Sorry my lovely miniature vase was too round to sit sideways.

My challenge is for you to look through your inky bottle collection. Pick out three (3) bottles of your favorite ink brands and try sketching them from the top down view and then from the side view (if possible).

Use your pencil to create the outline first and then sketch what details you like. Do not erase until you have all the lines created (good & bad). Take your permanent pen and redraw the lines you want to keep. Go back and erase the bad lines.

Use your fountain pens and inks to create your washes. Remember to keep the white of your paper to represent the highlights on your objects. If you need to make certain areas of your object darker, make sure your first layer is dry before adding more color to your object.

Most important thing to remember is have fun!

If you have any questions, you know where to find me. 😊

My Favorite Dip Nib Holder

I first came upon River City Pen Company during last year’s DC Pen Show. Richard had several trays of fountain pens and I zeroed-in on one fountain pen that had a silver turtle roll stop on the cap. It was tempting, but I had to pass as my budget was small and I had already purchased two pens from another pen maker. I kept glancing over at Richard’s table and made a mental note to visit his website.

One day, I was perusing my social media feed and stumbled upon a few unique and interesting dip nib holders made from a lovely resin. Lovely swirls of colors with bits of chatoyancy and shimmer.

The shimmering stars were starting to align when I saw River City Pen Company was selling the special dip nib holders. I was clicking through Richard’s pictures on IG and one resin immediately grabbed my attention.

I went to his website and saw all the lovely resin offerings. I saw Barrier Reef was still available and I immediately knew that was meant for me. Yes, all the shimmering stars were now perfectly aligned.

I could not wait to receive my nib holder. I had put my remaining Anderillium inky reviews on hold (writing sample and sketches). My Kakimori stainless steel nib was patiently waiting to be used in my new nib holder. I know I could have used my old beat up Tachikawa nib holder, but why use plain wood when I can use something really colorful.

Look at this lovely combination!

I was not surprised to find Richard’s nib holder fit beautifully in my hand. The grip area is roughly 10.75mm which is in my favorite grip size range. The length is around 140mm or 5.5 inches in length. My nib holder weighs about 16 grams without the nib. With the Kakimori nib installed the total weight is around 19.5 grams.

Enough of the specs, let’s move on to the writing experience.

Just as I suspected, the nib holder feels as though I have a fountain pen in my hand. There is something familiar about it and it just feels like I’m at home with it.

Some of you are probably wondering what is that strange nib I’m using. It’s a stainless steel nib that has groves in it. I was able to write the small paragraph in the previous picture with half a dip. Meaning, I only dipped the nib in ink half way up the nib. That is quite a bit of writing for a dip nib. I will provide a review of this nib (and the brass one) a bit later.

I was wondering what other nibs I could use and I decided to place my Tachikawa G-nib in my nib holder. The G-nib fits perfectly.

I am so happy to be able to use this with my G-nibs. I have other nibs I need to try and I will update this blog post to include the nibs that fit.

For now, I’m using fountain pen inks with my Kakimori nib and this nib holder for writing and sketching. I’m also using this combo for testing ink colors. I can actually get this nib and holder into the bottom of my sample ink vials without any issues. I am one happy camper!

I do want to mention any inky residuals on the nib holder is easily wiped away with a towel. Just like a fountain pen.

Take a look at the available dip nib holders at River City Pen Company.

Pen: Dip Nib Holder by River City Pen Company in Barrier Reef

Nibs: Kakimori Stainless Steel Nib. Tachikawa G nib.

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen. Robert Oster Australian Blue Opal.

Papers: Rhodia Dot Grid and Graph

Follow the Butterfly

Here’s a sketch I’m working on today. This is a work in progress. I have to remind myself not to get caught up in the details and sketch loosely.

Pens: TWSBI GO with Stub 1.1 nib. TWSBI Swipe with Stub 1.1 nib. Lamy Vista Black SE with Cursive nib. Lamy Al Star Ballpoint pen.

Inks: Robert Oster Heart of Gold. Colorverse Brane. Jacques Herbin Shogun. Ferris Wheel Press Roaring Patina Black. Diamine Frosted Orchid, Pink Ice, and Starlit Sea.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softbound A5

Sketching Around Me

This morning, I gathered a few of my fountain pens and my sketch journal and placed them in my messenger bag. I ended up at a coffee shop I’ve been meaning to visit and never had a chance to stop in. It turned out to be one of the best coffee shop and sketching experience I’ve encountered.

Inside the shop I saw lots of open space with plenty of tables and chairs. Lots of folks wandered in and out of the shop and grabbed their coffees to go. A few folks, who sat towards the back of the shop, were busy working on their laptops. I was receiving positive vibes here.

I sat at a table in the middle of the coffee shop and started sketching what was immediately in front of me: my cup of coffee and my sugary treat. Then I looked around and saw the display cabinet at the back of the shop. There were colorful cups and bags of coffee on display. I felt a challenge hit me and I started sketching the back wall.

When I stopped to see my progress, I felt there was something missing in my sketch. I looked around and saw a vase with some blue and yellow flowers on the counter and I thought adding a floral scene would be a perfect way to finish my sketch.

I’ve been seeing lots of self improvements over the last few weeks. I am no longer hiding at the back table and sketching. My art supplies are spread out across the table for everyone to see. I’m becoming more efficient with my observations and sketching less which results in less lines to erase. It could be I’m getting better at memorizing what I see. Also, I find myself smiling more while I’m creating my artwork.

Pens used: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Pilot Prera with CM nib. Faber-Castell Hexo with Medium nib. Lamy Al Star with Cursive nib. Copic Multiliner with 0.1mm tip (permanent ink).

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost and Hail Storm. Robert Oster Heart of Gold, Melon Tea, and Thunderstorm. Diamine Pink Glitz, Golden Ivy, Enchanted Ocean, Seize the Night, and All the Best.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softbound A5

One Subject and Two Different Art Mediums

Sometime last year I created two beach sketches. One was a watercolor sketch in my watercolor journal. The other was a pen & ink sketch created in a different art journal.

This year, I thought it would be fun to create another one. This time I used one sketch book to create the two art samples.

Here’s a side-by-side view using the two different mediums.

The left side was created using my fountain pens and inks. The right side was created using my watercolor pans of colors.

I have several watercolor palettes in my collection and I chose a palette where I thought the colors would be similar to the fountain pen inks I used. During my watercolor session, it was amazing to see how close I could capture the colors I used in my pen & ink sketch.

My pen & ink sketch took less than an hour to create. I used three layers to build up the colors and contrast.

My watercolor sketch took a few hours to create. I started with the lightest colors first and built each layer using a darker color. I also had to wait for each layer to dry completely before I could paint additional colors. That is why it took so long to finish this piece.

I love working with this watercolor paper. It can handle the brush strokes and all the water I lay down on this paper. There is hardly any paper buckling and no bleed through on the back side of the paper.

Pens: Platinum Preppy in 02 (extra fine nib) with Carbon ink. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Inks: Diamine Candle Light, Vintage Copper, & Black Ivy. Robert Oster Thunderstorm

Watercolor Paints: Art Philosophy Confections Palette: Apple, White Mocha, Pistachio Cream, mix of Blackberry and Pecan (grays), and a mixture of Key Lime and Blueberry (teal)

Journal: Franklin-Christoph Watercolor VN

Journal Cover: Franklin-Christoph Vagabond NWF