My Pen & Ink Wreath (prompt)

I mentioned in my previous watercolor blog post that I wanted to create a pen & ink wash wreath, but did not have the right colors in my five (5) artsy fountain pens. I decided this morning to “just do it” and see what happens.

Instead of using my normal blue painter’s tape to tape off the edges of my sketch, I’m using my colorful washi tape to create the borders. I found my washi tape has less stickiness than my painter’s tape and reduces the chance of peeling off parts of my paper when removing the tape.

I started my wash sketch using Sydney Lavender for the bow. I made sure to leave a few highlights and not overdue by adding too much ink.

Next I used Steely Days for the greenery. I did a combination of fir and holly leaves and little bit of eucalyptus here and there. I sketched out the leaves and then took my water brush and lightly went over a few lines to create a light wash of color.

The greenery in my wreath is finished.

I could have stopped here, but decided to add some color. I used Cherry Blossom and Mariner 4 and sketched in the berries. I also used Morning Frost to create a few berries as well. Now, my wreath looks a bit fuller.

I wet my paper around the outside edges and corners of my sketch. While my paper was wet, I dropped in small bits of Morning Frost to give my sketch a hazy look.

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost (shimmering). Robert Oster Sydney Lavender, Cherry Blossom, and Steely Days. Colorverse Mariner4.

Pens: TWSBI GOs with stub 1.1 nibs

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta softcover A5

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.

Watercolors

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

Leaves: Pen & Ink Wash with Robert Oster Signature Fountain Pen Inks

I had a few minutes last night to create a quick pen & ink wash sketch of some leaves. Mostly from memory and using the available fountain pen inks in my TWSBI GOs.

I had cleaned out a few GOs that were almost empty including an orange ink that I could have used for this week’s inky leaves. Oh well. I took my creative license and pulled out a few Robert Oster inky colors that I had ready to go. As some of you know, when the sketching mojo hits, I have to grab what I have and let the creativity flow.

For my first layer of color, I started out with the gold ink color for the base or foundation color. I had to work quickly while the paper was still damp with the gold inky color and used the other colors to kind of blend in and let the colors mix a tiny bit on the paper.

Tips/Tricks: I touched my water brush to the breather hole of my fountain pen to grab some color and lightly dabble the color onto my leaves. If the inky color is too dark, I would dab once on a towel to remove some ink before applying the color to my paper.

For my top right leaf, I actually like how the Napa (burgundy) ink color blended with my Aussie Gold and Oklahoma City (green) colors.

For the other two leaves, I used a bit of Kansas City (brown) around the edges of the leaves. This brown ink is a lovely wet ink and I had to be careful not to inundate the leaf with too much brown color. That’s why you’ll see light strokes of color and I used my water brush to blend out or away from my lines. For the final layer of color, I added more gold ink to make the leaves glow.

I used Thunderstorm for the cast shadows. I would normally pull in the leaf’s color(s) into the cast shadow, but I decided not to in this sketch. I think just using Thunderstorm made the leaves pop off the page a bit more.

It took me two to three layers of colors to create my pen & ink wash sketch. If I’m not blending the colors on paper, I do let each layer dry before I apply additional inky colors. Otherwise, certain colors will bleed more and could create an unwanted color mix.

Last night, it was a nice break from my long watercolor sketching sessions and I enjoyed how quickly I could create my artwork using my fountain pens and inks.

Inks: Robert Oster Aussie Gold, Kansas City, Napa, Oklahoma City, and Thunderstorm

Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Pen & Ink Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softbound A5 (5.5″x8.5″) 150gsm 46 sheets/92 pages

Updated Sushi Watercolor Sketch

A little over a week ago I had posted a sushi watercolor I sketch I started with my smaller watercolor palette.

Here’s my final painting. I used ultramarine blue for the rice sketch. For the shadows, I used a mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna and blended out with just Ultramarine Blue. For the tuna I used Quinacridone Rose and for the salmon I used a mix of Quinacridone Sienna and Nickel Azo Yellow. For the avocado and the wasabi I used a mix of Sap Green and Nickel Azo Yellow. For the ginger I used a mix of Nickelt Azo Yellow and Burnt Sienna.

For the chopsticks, I used Neutral Tint and then added Pearlescent White to give the sticks some sparkling highlights.

I enjoyed using my Arteza water brush to mix and apply the paint. I used a small jar of water to dip my water brush into and quickly remove any remnants of paint. It was also helpful to grab some water out of the jar instead of squeezing water out of the brush and eventually refilling my brush at the sink.

Using my water brush allowed me to paint bold sweeping colors onto my paper and apply less layers.

You’ll notice my in my journal the dried glue is exposed where my page split. This happens occasionally in my journals as a result of the signatures being being glued together. I have found this one particular nuisance in my current journal. In my other journals it’s not as noticeable.

Watercolors: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Brush: Arteza Water Brush in Medium

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta Softbound A5 (5.5″x8.5″) 270gsm 25 sheets/50 pages

Fall Leaves Pictures (to go with the prompt)

I thought I would share a few pictures to go along with the previous prompt blog post from a few days ago.

Hubby was getting ready to mow our lawn and I had to quickly get outside and grab a few leaves off the ground.

Use the following photos as a reference. Pick and choose the leaves you want to sketch.

I placed this trio together to show as an arrangement example.

So many leaves to choose from. Lovely colors!

Here’s a quick watercolor sketch I created in my art journal. Notice I kept my sketch simple for now. I’m learning to sketch loosely and not get caught up in the details.

I hope to spend a few minutes this weekend with my fountain pens and inks and see if I can recreate a few pen & ink sketches of my leaves. Stay tuned!

Watercolor: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta Softbound A5

Fall Leaves – Prompt

Edit 11/05: I added a picture of my watercolor leaf sketch to be used as an example/reference.

I sat outside with my art journal and sketched a few leaves that I found in our yard. I thought this would make a lovely sketching prompt for the next few days or week.

If you haven’t sketched a leaf before, look around outside and find one or two leaves that have a simple shape. Identify the basic shape(s) of the leaf and sketch the outline. Next, sketch in the veins of the leaf. Don’t forget to add any cast shadows you see under the leaf.

Here’s a quick watercolor sketch of my leaf.

Besides the typical fall colors you see in the leaves try using a unique inky color or even use your favorite ink colors. How about a teal leaf? Or a pinky rose leaf? Or a multi-color leaf?

Challenge: to help get into the daily sketching mindset, find a different leaf each day and sketch it.

Have fun!

My Small Palette

So far, you have seen my medium size metal palette container that I’ve been using for the last few weeks. I spent some quality time with this palette and enjoyed carrying it around with me. I did find my “Meedan” metal container to be a bit limiting as I could not comfortably add additional paint pans to the middle row. My picture shows two pans wedged in there, but it’s just sitting on the edge between my other pans. The metal brackets were too close and as a result my pans would not “fit” in the middle.

While I like this medium size container palette, I mostly use it on my studio desk and also to store all of my pans filled with colors. Makes it easier to go to one container and pull out the colors I need to use.

For a more portable and smaller urban sketching metal container, I came across this lovely container from Looneng. I selected to have eight (8) empty full pans included with my container. I did not have any empty full pans in my art stash and I know this will come in handy later.

This metal container met all my requirements for a portable watercolor palette. First, there is three mixing wells on the left side cover. Other brands have two large wells. On the right side flap, there are six small mixing wells.

Here’s a major requirement for me, having the ability to place six (6) additional paint pans in the middle row. You’ll notice the empty paint pans are turned in portrait mode. That’s a total of 18 pans that can be stored in this container.

I created a custom swatch card that fits in my container. Here I have my three primary warm colors on the left side and my three primary cool colors on the right side.

This week, I had lunch at a local sushi restaurant. My watercolor sketch is mostly from memory and just playing around with mixing colors. This sketch shows my first layer of colors. A work in progress.

I’m also using an Arteza water brush that works brilliantly with my watercolor paint pans. You can see my brush tip has darkened with use. This is normal. I use my Pentel water brushes for my pen & ink artwork. I have a future blog post I am working on explaining the difference/feel of these two water brush brands. Stay tuned!

Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Metal Paint Palette: Looneng Empty Watercolor Palette. Select to include 8 empty full pans or 14 empty half pans.

Paint Pans: Meeden clear half pans

Swatch card: Arches Cold Press 140lb/300gsm paper cut down to size

Water brush: Arteza Water Brush Pen (assorted tips) in Medium

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta Softcover A5 (5.5″x8.5″) 270gsm 25 sheets/50 pages

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

More Pumpkins!

I was playing around in my art journal and came up with an idea of sketching pumpkins using my paint colors that I would mix on my own. Once I painted my watercolor pumpkins, I had a brilliant idea of sketching another set of pumpkins using my fountain pen inks.

The larger pumpkins were created using my watercolor paints. The smaller pumpkins I created using my fountain pens and inks.

It wasn’t too hard to figure out which fountain pen ink would match my orange pumpkin.

Steel Days was a decent match with my teal pumpkin.

For a purple ink color, my go to inky color is Sydney Lavender. This lovely color has a lot of personality. If you enjoy creating pen & ink washes as much as I do (poking my workshop attendees), I would definitely get this lovely purple ink color.

Watercolor Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors (I forgot to document the color mixes)

Inks: My pumpkins were created using Vinta Inks Damili and Robert Oster Steely Days and Sydney Lavender. For my writing I used Dominant Industry Autumn Forest.

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

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