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

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!

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

Workshop Prompt – Quick Pencil Sketching/Drawing

I thought I would go back to the basics and work on pencil sketching with a simple mechanical pencil for this week’s prompt. Remember: no death grips, practice sketching quickly, and do not get caught up in the details.

Fruit Sketch and Drawing:

In my example on the left, I did a quick gesture sketch or outline of a pear. I used my mechanical pencil and a loose grip to create the light lines. My pear looks flat.

On the right side, is my final drawing. Here I’ve used contour lines to the give my pear a bit more depth. To create more depth or dark shading, my contour lines are close together. My contour lines follow the shape of the pear and shows the areas of roundness of the fruit. I leave quite a bit of white on my paper to show the highlights on the pear. I start out with light strokes from my pencil. The next layer is to go over the shadows again and adding a bit more pressure with my pencil.

Jar Sketch and Drawing:

On the left side of my picture, I used the same process of creating a quick sketch or outline of my jam jar.

On the right side is my final drawing. I added lines to show the glass has some decorative shapes. My label on the jar is curved a bit towards the ends of the label to help make the jar looked a bit more curved.

Notice I did not erase my unwanted lines. I keep my sketches/drawings “as is” so I know the next time what lines to leave out. It’s part of documenting my sketch journey and also building muscle memory.

Challenge: see if you can replicate my sketches. Practice sketching/drawing quickly. Also look around your kitchen and grab a few objects to sketch with. Practice contour lines.

Challenge +: do not erase your lines. Leave the good and unwanted lines in your pencil sketches and drawing. Move on to your next sketch.

Mechanical Pencil: Pentel Energize Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead

Journal: Canson Artist Series Mixed Media spiral bound

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. 😊

Pumpkins!

Here’s a quick pumpkin pen and ink sketch I completed this morning. It’s been hard to get into the Fall season when the outside temperatures have been in the high 70s and low 80s.

I’m currently working with a limited number of ink colors in my TWSBI GOs. I’m a bit late in transitioning my Summer sketch ink colors to Fall colors and I still have a few bright colors left in my GOs that I wanted to use up. This resulted in my pumpkins looking a bit lively and bright.

For those of you following me (including my fellow workshop friends), try and create a few pumpkin sketches. Use your imagination and try out different pumpkin shapes and colors.

Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Eucalyptus Regnans (Wilderness series). Robert Oster Toffee, Melon Tea, Honey Bee, and Thunderstorm.

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta A5

A Sketching Prompt for This Weekend

I’m back to writing on my blog again. For the past 2-1/2 months I have been busy working on a workshop program for the 2021 Washington DC Fountain Pen Supershow. What started out as an idea for one workshop immediately multiplied into three. I wanted to provide an opportunity for those attending any of the three show days to attend my workshop. I was busy creating several workshop outlines and figuring out the best way to show and share my passion for fountains pens and inks.

For those of you who participated in my workshop, thank you for attending. There was a lot of information and experiences we shared and I personally had a wonderful time seeing each of you develop your own creative pieces of art.

As promised, here is this weekend’s prompt: DESSERT

To help you out, here’s a sketch I did a few weeks ago when I was thinking of cake and ice cream.

What is your favorite dessert?

Reminders:

  1. No death grips!
  2. We have 358 days until the next DC Pen Show!

Pens Used: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Inks Used: Robert Oster Whisper Red, Sydney Darling Harbour, African Gold, and Thunderstorm