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.

Diplomat Excellence is an A+

A Diplomat pen appeared on my radar two years ago. I was mesmerized by the striking wave pattern and I knew the nib would be beautiful to write with. I remembered watching a Goulet video and there was a two minute segment on this pen. At the time I thought it was expensive for a steel nib pen and so I waited. A few months ago I received an email from Vanness advertising their Diplomat Gift sets on sale. Naturally, I looked at what was on sale and I was surprised to see the Wave Guilloche set at a really good price.

This Diplomat pen feels like it should be my grail fountain pen. The quality, the lovely workmanship and attention to detail, the weight, how it feels in my hand, how beautifully it writes, and I could go on and on about this lovely fountain pen.

When I first received this pen, I filled it with Diamine Storm. Five days later, I wrote until the converter was almost dry. From what I can remember, I’ve never done that before.

I quickly filled my Waves Guilloche with Diamine All the Best and continued to write several pages in my journal. Yes, there was a lot of joy while writing with this lovely pen and ink combination.

I rarely do this (not cleaning between refills), but felt the need to keep writing

I enjoy the 1/4 turn to remove the cap from the pen. It’s a gratifying feel to put the cap on and to remove it. Also, it helps to have this easy cap removal when I need to jot down my notes quickly.

This metal pen weighs around 43.75 grams with the included converter filled with ink.

The pen can be posted and it posts deeply on the body. I could write a full page in my journal before my hand gets a tiny bit tired. It also has to do with how I hold my pen. If I hold it closer towards the nib, I can feel some back weight issues. The further up and away from the nib, the pen (posted) feels comfortable and a bit more balanced.

The wavy silver stripes on the pen creates an unusual pattern of shimmer while I twirl my pen. When I use my loupe, I can see the engraved silver wavy pattern into the matte black (guilloche engraved). When I run my fingers over it, I just feel a subtle hint of smooth tiny ridges. It’s barely noticeable with the lacquer coating.

The pen has a spring loaded clip. A really, really nice feature and I like how this pens slips in and out of my pen case with the clip gliding smoothly over the elastic bands.

I could not resist a quick sketch of my lovely fountain pen.

Pen: Diplomat Excellence A+ Waves Guilloche with Fine nib

Ink: Diamine All the Best (Shimmer & Sheen)

Paper: Rhodia

Art Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha A5

Workshop Prompt – Labor Day Weekend

Update (09/04): I started this sketch after I went grocery shopping and I picked up a few bottles of gluten free sauces. The colorful bottles caught my eye and I picked up my pencil and fountain pens and started to sketch.

From my two page spread, you can see I used a different style or flow going from left to right and curving up a bit. For the open white space, I plan on writing something about this dish or writing down the recipe.

It’s still a work in progress.

I have to admit that my sketching mojo has been a bit MIA (missing in action) for the last few weeks. I occasionally get in this sketching funk and sometimes it takes changing out ink colors in my art pens (TWSBI GOs) to get going again. My plan is to dump the remaining shimmering inks in my art pens and pick out some lovely Robert Oster ink colors. Okay…back to my original post.

Original post:

The prompt for the next several days is to sketch a theme that relates to what you will be doing over this holiday weekend. It could be items on your to-do-list, fun projects/hobbies, foods you enjoy, a place your are visiting, etc.

Challenge #1: Create a two page spread of your weekend activities. Think of the things you might be doing with friends and/or family or by yourself. Sketch one or a few items a day and build your story/theme.

I’ll be working on my own two page spread and post my updates in this blog post over the next few days. I will more than likely create a rough sketch with my pencil that will outline my theme for my long weekend. I have not decided whether I will I include just one day or cover three days on my two page spread. The possibilities are endless.

I will start my sketching process by thinking of the story I want to tell and figuring out a style to use. Will it look like a collage of items or random sketches across the paper? Or will I follow a pattern and place my sketches clockwise across the two pages?

Here is a previous two page spread I created back in July. My theme/story shows random objects with curved shapes spread across both pages in my journal. My objects are connected with the lines I drew through most of my objects.

Here’s another two page spread I did back in May. My theme/story was how much I enjoyed my time at my local coffee shop and capturing a colorful scene by using most of my fountain pen inks I brought with me.

Here’s a sample of my one page sketch where I documented my morning food consumption. I had continued onto the next page with more foodie activities later that day. I need to look for my art journal to take a picture of what that two page spread looked like. In the meantime, this should give you an idea of my New Year’s Eve Day Foodie theme.

I’m adding the following picture of a sketch I did at the beach. This is an example of my “window” view sketch of the beach and the ripples of water.

The above pictures are simple sketches of what can be captured with your fountain pens and inks. Keep sketching and building your muscle memory. You can always start with a pencil sketch and add new sketches each day. You can also go back and use your fountain pen inks and create the washes later.

Challenge #2: Create a two page spread of a scene. It could be your front porch, your patio, your favorite shop, favorite restaurant, favorite vacation spot, etc.

I created the following sketch back in 2019. This was my first attempt at creating a two page spread. I used a combination of my fountain pen inks and watercolors to create the front entrance of a house I visited while on the island of Nevis.

Remember to take some time for yourself. Enjoy your sketching time. You have creative license to add or remove details. Perfection does not exist. No death grips. Have fun!

If you have a hard time getting motivated, don’t forget to review your handout(s) from my workshop. There might be something in there that will get you started in the right direction. Let me know if you have any questions.

Journals: Stillman & Birn Alpha Softcover A5. Travelogue handbook 5.5″x5.5″.

Fountain pens shown: turnt pen co. Pynchon in PM4 (Brooks). Lamy 2000 Makrolon. turnt pen co. Pynchon in Peacock (Dupras). TWSBI GOs.

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

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

Green Kingfisher Green – Anderillium Inks

Green Kingfisher Green reminds me of a medium olive green color. I can see several underlying colors which include light dusty gold and bright cyan blue. I’m thinking there’s another color, but won’t know for sure until I sketch with this gorgeous ink color.

This is another ink color I had a hard time photographing. The olive green color is a tad bit lighter than what my writing sample shows. There is some shading that shows up while writing with my TWSBI GO with medium nib.

It was not too hard to find comparable inky colors from my collection. They each have their own personalities especially when using different papers. You can see how my swatching process has changed over the years.

Another look at my sketch along with my swatch card together.

I had to pull out my watercolor paint swatches to help identify that tan/beige color that kept appearing in my artwork.

My Thoughts:

As I sketch more with fountain pen inks, I’m finding certain colors appeal to me more than others. If I had to choose a green color, I would gravitate more towards the olive green color.

This ink leans more towards the wet side. It’s not gushing wet (like Van Dieman’s Inks), but it’s also not dry.

I am having too much fun with this lovely olive green ink. I might put off the next ink color for a few days so I can write my TWSBI GO dry. Hahaha!

I’m adding this ink color to my wish list. Yes, I know I have other olive green ink colors in my collection for writing. I would get this for sketching. It has some unique qualities.

Look at the explosion of colors that appear when I add water to the inky splat on my paper towel. The blue is close to a light cyan blue color.

The ink is still damp and I can see remnants of olive green around the edges
The ink is dry and the golden orange color appears

Pen Used: TWSBI Go with Medium nib

Ink: Anderillium Green Kingfisher Green

Journals Used: Canson Artist Series Mix Media. GLP Creations The Author TRP 68gsm Dot Grid. Stillman & Birn Alpha.

Indigo Bunting Blue – Anderillium Inks

A few weeks ago, I thought I was missing a color from the Anderillium samples I received. I initially swatched 15 inky colors. I checked the packing slip and I counted 16 sample vials.

This morning I took out my sample vials and placed them on my desk for a quick photo op. I looked inside the supposedly empty box and found the missing vial of ink stuck in between some bubble wrap. I now feel as though all is good in my world and I can now proceed to chat about the inks.

I quickly did a swatch of this (supposedly missing) ink and immediately enjoyed seeing this dusty blue color. A very calm and enjoyable color.

I did a quick sketch to see how well the ink interacts with water. It’s gorgeous!

Before I get too far into this fun adventure, I have to come up with a plan on how to best present the Anderillium inks on my blog. I think I will do a quick sketch and then follow up with a writing sample. If this sounds familiar it’s because I did a similar process for the Diamine Inkvent Calendar.

This ink color dries a bit lighter than what my writing sample shows

This ink has some lovely shading and no sheen.

I’m sure it will be helpful to include other swatch colors I have for comparisons.

Looks like this will work. Short and sweet, right?

My Thoughts: After using this ink for two days, I find I’m using this color for sketching. It’s a decent color for writing, but after looking back on the paragraphs I wrote I do wish the ink was a tad bit darker. It’s a lovely wet ink with lovely shading.

Pen Used: TWSBI Go with Medium nib

Ink: Anderillium Indigo Bunting Blue

Journals Used: Canson Artist Series Mix Media. GLP Creations The Author TRP 68gsm Dot Grid. Stillman & Birn Alpha.

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

My Garden Gnome

It’s been amazing to see our gardens turn colorful in the last two weeks. Lots of “sticks” now have green buds and leaves. Many of our perennial plants have flowers on them. This was a great opportunity for me to take my camera outside and capture what was in our garden. A future blog post will be forthcoming with plenty of pictures.

In the meantime, I thought it would be appropriate to sketch a garden gnome.

Have I mentioned how much I’ve been enjoying the Diamine shimmering inks? Gorgeous ink colors and they are working beautifully in my pen & ink sketches.

Speaking of Diamine inks, the online retailers are starting to carry the larger bottles of ink from the Diamine Red Inkvent calendar. So, run to your fave fountain pen & ink retailer and grab your bottles of ink. No need to wait for me to make my purchase as I have to put my ink purchases on hold for a bit. I had an emergency to take care of this week which resulted in my priorities being rearranged.

Okay, back to my garden gnome showing lots of shimmering goodness. I liked how well my Golden Ivy and Starlit Sea colors worked together in my sketch.

I believe this is the first time, I’ve managed to have a dozen of my TWSBI GOs filled with shimmering ink colors. Minus one pen which is primarily filled with Thunderstorm. I use Thunderstorm for my shadows and that ink color has been used in most of my sketches.

Remember to take some time and enjoy the beauty around you.

Pens: Uni Pin Fine Line pen in 0.5mm and 0.1mm tip. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs.

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost. Colorverse Brane. Robert Oster Heart of Gold and Thunderstorm. Diamine Red Lustre, Brandy Dazzle, Frosted Orchid, Golden Ivy, and Starlit Sea.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha 4″ x 6″ Hardcover