What’s an EDC and My Research

Early on in my fountain pen adventures I was learning the lingo. Like NPD or NID. Then I heard EDC. At first, I thought it was a pen company name or a type of ink.

Every Day Carry or EDC. I learned that as one progresses through the fountain pen world (or called the infamous rabbit hole), certain pens become favorites. They can last a day, a week, or even months. Because new pens appear and replaces the old ones. I call it a cycle or pen rotation.

My EDCs tend to be the five pens I reach for consistently and constantly. It could change when I rotate my pens (clean and store) every two or three weeks. My worst case scenario was last year when I had 30 pens inked at the same time. There was no way I could write with every single pen inked everyday. Now, I will typically have at most 10 pens inked at one time. Five of them will be my EDCs.

My five EDCs will have one pen with an EF nib (to write on cheap paper), one with my favorite ink of the month, two will have my Masuyama italic nibs, and the fifth one would always be a TWSBI. So how, did I come about and develop my own EDC love? Please read on.

As I progressed from one pen manufacturer to another, I started to recognize my likes and dislikes for the way the pen looks, how it feels in my hand, and how it writes with my handwriting style. Let me say fountain pens are like eye candy. I have a lot of experience under my belt (a bit over 1-1/2 years now) and know what I like.

I will see new pens flash before my eyes and start drooling over the colors, the pen style, and more so if the pen has sparkles. I’ve learned to drool for five minutes and if my mouth gets dry, I move on. Sometimes a beautiful pen will get thrown into a shopping cart waiting for me to hit the “pay now” button. Then the pen gets removed from the cart. This could go on for several minutes. Add. Remove. Add. Remove. It could also happen over several days. Monday – Add/Remove. Tuesday – Add/Remove. Add. Remove. I agree. This is funny. It’s also very real.

I’m getting good at doing my research. There are several things I look for in a pen. One is the size of grip or the section. I have some joint issues (from gluten intolerance) in my right hand. More specifically in my middle finger. Occasionally I will have some issues with gripping objects. My favorite grip size will be pens starting around 10mm. I am a tactile person, but metal grips do not bother me. Neither do threads on a section.

Next I look to see the nib brand is. I prefer #6 JoWo nibs. The #6 size works well with my handwriting. The JoWo nib units can be swapped between different pen manufacturers as long as they use the same screw-in nib units. There is an exception that I know of from experience. Conklin pens with JoWo nib units can not be swapped with another pen manufacturer. The threads on the Conklin nib units are different. Plus if you look at the underside of the Conklin feed, it looks different than the standard JoWo nib unit.

A few of the boutique pen manufactures who custom grinds their nibs (Masuyama, Nagahara, etc) use JoWo nibs. I have taken my favorite Masuyama nib unit that I purchased from Franklin-Christoph and put it into my Esterbrook Estie fountain pen. It feels like I have a new pen. My shopping cart is still empty.

We all love a beautiful pen. We also would love to have a grail pen. You know. The one that you think might be the ultimate fountain pen. The one that others strive to obtain. That one pen that sits on a wishlist for months or for years. I used to think that a certain Visconti pen that had swirls of blue and teal (reminded me of the Caribbean Sea) was my grail pen. Until. I went to my local pen show. Saw it in person. Absolutely beautiful! Held it in my hand. Huge let down.

I walked away from that pen show with a lot more knowledge and became smarter about my pen acquisitions.

Any new pen has to speak to me. I do love a pen that can grab my attention and keep it. Like the Abalone I have and definitely the Sparkles pen from Esterbrook. They are both stunning to look at and mostly they write beautifully. For me and with my handwriting.

Functionality also plays a part in my pen acquisition. Can I swap nib units around? Can I purchase additional nib units for my pen?

I will still drool over a new pen. I let my emotions go with the flow for about five minutes. That’s how long it takes for me to recover and move on. Hahaha!

Here are my current EDCs:

Kaweco Black Crystal, Conklin Endura Abalone with Chrome, TWSBI Diamond 580ALR Prussian Blue, Esterbrook Estie OS Sparkle Montana Sapphire, and Opus 88 Omar

I think I have a theme going on with my current EDCs. At least colorwise. I do love my teals and olive greens.

Warm Thoughts for a Cold Morning

I am up early as usual. Before the crack of dawn. It’s a lovely 26 degrees outside. I have coffee in hand and I’m ready to start off our day with some artwork.

I have to caution you, my reader. I am all over the place with my hobbies. Everyday, I get to play with my fountains pens and inks. I am always writing about something. Writing out tasks in my daily journal. Writing about my fountain pen/ink experiences in another journal. Creating writing samples to share on social media. There is something wonderful about putting a beautiful nib with beautiful flowing ink onto a blank page or sheet of paper. Sigh!

I have days when I want to play with my watercolors. Or I have a need to sew a few masks. I have my tools within an arms reach and when the mood hits me I’m ready to go.

One day. Over the summer. I picked up my graphite pencils and drew this shell:

A sketch of a shell that Hubs and I found on a beach in Antigua. Faber-Castell Graphite Aquarelle

It only took a few years to get enough nerve and several attempts to draw a shell. From a picture. From memory, as well. The ridges. The shiny and smooth edges. The shadows. All those curves.

I squinted a lot when I created this sketch. My mind likes to play games. When I see something I immediately see all the beautiful colors and then scratch my head to figure out how put this on paper. Using a pencil.

I started with a quick gesture sketch to get the outline of the shape and placement using an HB pencil. I like using my Pentel Energize retractable pencil with a .7 lead. I have several of these scattered around my house. It feels good in my hand.

You can see from my sketch there appears to be some light washes over the shell. I used my Faber-Castell Graphite Aquarelle pencils to create the various shadings and lines. I took my damp watercolor brush and applied a bit of water to soften the lines and also to create the pools of dark color for the shading. While squinting all the way.

A few years ago, I had an art friend look at my sketches. He mentioned that I needed to be bold and go darker with my pencils. Make the artwork…pop! Hahaha! I’m still working on it.

I learned a valuable tip in my charcoal class I took two years ago. Do not erase my initial lines until I’m happy with placement, shape, and composition. I could not figure out when I tried to draw two same size ovals, one would be wonky. I would erase the bad oval and try again. Same wonky oval would appear. Erase. Draw. Another wonky oval. My teacher said to leave the wonky oval and sketch over it. Now, erase the bad lines. A second oval appeared. My light bulb moment.

Enjoy your day!

Starting Somewhere Right?

Oh my. Months have passed since I lasted posted. You can already see I’m way behind. I have lots of creative stuff to share. Yes. I am the holdup. Be patient as I get into writing about my creative adventures.

I thought I would jump right in with today. Start with a picture I took this morning:

My quick sketch of red candies. Odd numbers, like the 3 pieces, helps with composition. Placement also helps with the flow. Do you see your eyes making a complete triangle, visually?

I will be sharing this on my other social media outlets for others to see. Here at my personal site, you get to experience a bit more about my what goes through my head when I see colors. Like this Red Candy!

I typically start with my pen and ink. I recently received my Pineider Avatar UR in Angel Skin (with swirls of pinky-red colors) from a Black Friday special. I’ve been keeping an eye on this pen color. When I finally saw one on sale and with an EF nib I wanted, I quickly added to my cart. The last one. I seem to do that a lot lately.

I originally matched this pen with Ferris Wheel Press Pink Eraser. It was a perfect match to the pink part of my pen. OMG! The ink color was too light to read on paper. That appears to be a problem with a few FWP inks I received from their kick starter campaign. I will save that topic for a later post.

I quickly dumped the ink and went through my swatch cards to come up with another color. Something I could read. Like Red Candy by Robert Oster. Yes. I can always rely on my Robert Oster inks.

Once Red Candy became one with my Angel Skin pen, I immediately had visions of the red mint candies I had growing up. Many, many years ago. It was a treat around Christmas time.

That’s how my sketch started. This morning. Sometimes I just draw and see where it takes me. Other times, I’m mindful of quantities and placement, as in the picture above.

When I share my writing samples (pen and ink), my choice of paper is Rhodia. The standard #16 Black covered pad of paper. Blank paper to be exact. What?! Yes. I prefer the blank sheets of paper. No grid lines. No dots. No distractions.

Once I’m done with my photo op and post on social media, my sample sheets are dated and gets stored back into the pad. Eventually, I will punch the papers and put into a book. This is one way I can document writing samples and artwork for future reference.

I hope you enjoyed my adventure for today. Do something fun! Be creative! Stay well!

I’m Back! With a New Name!

I’ve just realized that I was not blogging at 2BArtist for the last two years.  Where have I been?  Well, I’ve been busy nurturing my creative hobbies.  Most of them.  I have accomplished so much more with my artwork.  I’ve also added pen and ink as one of my drawing mediums.  I’ll save that for a future post.

So what are my other creative hobbies?  Let’s see.  There’s knitting.  Oh and sewing.  Photography.  Well, photography goes hand-in-hand with everything I see and do.  I’m sure there’s some others I’m missing or not doing currently.

In the past, there were times I wanted to write/share about something creative I was doing, but I felt restricted because this site was used for drawing, sketching, and painting as you can see from my previous posts.  Plus my name, 2BArtist, was developed years ago when I was just starting out…dabbling in different mediums.  I felt like I’ve matured since then.

It was pretty clear to me last week that I needed to make some changes.  It started when I was organizing and cleaning out my office.  That’s what happens when I have all the time in the world and not working (because the winery has cut back).  Oh and not feeling guilty for not working.  I guess I had an epiphany and I knew it was time to start over.  Reset.  Turn over a new leaf.  Get rid of all those years of clutter.  Stop moving things around.  Start letting go of “stuff” I no longer needed.

At one point during the cleaning, I stopped calling my room “my office” or “my hobby room” and started calling it “my studio”.  Saying those words gave me more motivation, more direction, and well more creative juices.

So what’s new?  I did some poking around here on WordPress and found that I could rename my site from 2BArtist to SusieGStudio.  It took a few minutes for the change to take affect.  At one point I thought all my pictures had disappeared.  Patience was needed.  After a few more minutes and several refreshes my pictures came back.  Whew!  I still have a bit more tweaking to do to make it more functional, but for now…I’m back!

So now, I will be sharing my creative experiences and adventures with you.  There are no longer any self-imposed restrictions or limitations that I put on myself.  I’m ready to write and blog again.  Because life is very good!

Welcome to my new SusieG Studio!

Three Apples on Two Papers

I have taken a break from pastel painting.  Now that we have transitioned from summer and working our way towards the fall season, I have noticed I have shorter blocks of free time on my hands.  For now, I don’t want to deal with the setup and clean up while working with pastels.

I am back to working with pencils.  As in colored pencils.  I know I posted somewhere my treasured Prismacolor Colored Pencil set.  If not, here it is again:


When I received this set a few months ago, it came in a long box and the set was quite heavy.  I was surprised to see two trays side by side and then three layers deep.  I guess that it the only way to package 150 colored pencils…safely.  It’s a gorgeous set of colors!  Don’t you agree?

From this set of 150 colors, I’ve managed to pull out several colors I thought I would frequently use.  Do you know how hard that is?  Over a few weeks of use, I have added more colors to my collection.  There are a few that I have removed.

My colored pencil collection is kept in my Color It zip around case that I found on the Internet:


My case holds 72 pencils in their designated elastic slots.  It can hold more…about a dozen more.  I’ve placed them loosely in the backside of the case.


As I have been drawing and experimenting with different types of papers, I’ve noticed the different results I’m getting with my artwork.  My favorite brand of paper to use is Canson.  If you look at my paper/pad stash, you will find 60% is made up of Canson, 20% is Strathmore, and 20% is other (experimenting with other brands).  My favorite paper weight is 90+ lb.  The heavier paper withstands lots of erasing (which I seldom have to do), but holds up to the many layers of color or graphite I apply.

Here’s an apple trio I drew in my small Canson Mix Media (5.5″x8.5″) sketchbook:


You can see a bit of the details from the paper showing through.  In this artwork, I’ve added several layers of colored pencils.  Some areas with a heavy hand.  This “mix media” paper has a bit of texture or tooth to it.

I decided to do another drawing, but using a different type of paper.  Here’s my drawing using Canson Bristol (9″x12″/smooth side) paper:


You can clearly see a difference in the outcome of my artwork.  My lines appear smoother.  Again, I have worked in layers of colors mostly with a light hand.  This is still a work in progress as I’m experimenting with coloring in shadows correctly.  Which I still have to do.

Here’s my portable sketch book that I mentioned I used for quick sketches or experiments:


For my final drawings, I use my Bristol paper.  This is an old pad I’m trying to use up:


This Bristol paper is my favorite to draw on.  It has two sides, one is smooth and the other has texture or tooth.  I call it my all purpose paper.  If I don’t like my initial drawing I can turn it over and start again or reuse it for another drawing.  Cool, huh?

Solvent Free Oil Paints: M. Graham

From my last art class, Color Explorations, I learned about an oil paint called M. Graham Artist Oil Paints.  They are made with pure walnut oil and made in the US.  The paint is solvent free meaning it’s better for the environment as well as better for artist use.  It’s eco-friendly.  I have to say the colors are brilliant and vivid and the paint is so buttery.

I had the notion, from my previous experience and use with water-miscible oil paints, that the water-miscible oils were solvent-free.  Apparently not.

I learned from class that the local schools use M. Graham because it’s 100% solvent free.

So, I decided to invest in a basic set:


The above set included five colors to get started:  Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Naphthol Red, Azo Yellow, and Phthalo Green.  Also included is a small bottle of Walnut Oil and a bottle of Walnut Alkyd Medium.

The Walnut Alkyd Medium is a thinning medium and is used to increase the drying time of the paint.  It’s helpful to use this medium in the first layer of painting to give the painting a good strong foundation.  All you need is a small drop and mix it into your paint color.

The Walnut Oil is a natural vegetable oil and will slow the drying process of the oil paint.  It also enhances the flow when applying the paint to canvas and increases the sheen of the paint.  It is also used to remove color from your brushes.  In class we would dip our brush into the walnut oil and run the brush over paper towels to remove the excess paint.  We then cleaned the brushes with a gentle dish detergent and rinsed with water.  Basically, the walnut oil is used in place of turpentine or odorless mineral spirit.  It is definitely safer.

I worked with the same basic set of five colors in class.  I knew I needed additional colors and I picked out some colors I knew could not mix easily on my own.  I added tubes of turquoise, burnt sienna, sap green, yellow ochre, hanse yellow, and alizarin crimson.


I had ordered the paints online and they came individually packaged in their own plastic bags.  The basic paint set also came in a zip lock bag.  As you can see from the above picture, some of the tubes got squished a bit.  No worries as there wasn’t any leakage from the tubes.  All is good!

I have a supply of brushes and white canvas from my oil painting adventures several years ago.  So, I’m ready to go.  I just need to finish my current pastel projects before I shift gears.

Prismacolor’s NuPastels

When I first learned I would be using pastels in class that I took a few weeks ago, I had no clue what they were.  I knew they were sticks of colors.  I also knew my Hubby had used them years ago.  I never held one in my hand.

So off I go to do some research on the Internet.  I found glowing reviews for really EXPENSIVE soft pastels (e.g. Unison, Sennelier, and Schmincke).  Then I realized there were different types of pastels:  soft, soft-medium, and hard.  I was looking for a set of colors to start with.  I came across NuPastels (Prismacolor), which are considered hard pastels and the reviews were really good.  Less dust and less breakage or crumble.   I found a set of 24 at a great price.

Here’s the set I started with:


I love that each pastel stick has its own place.  It’s soft gray foam that’s holding the pastels and preventing them from breakage when shipping.  As you can see it’s quite useful for storage as well.

I painted a few practice paintings over several weeks and realized 24 colors were not enough.  So what did I do?  Expanded my color range.  Here’s my new addition:


Can you count all the colors?  There’s 96 colors.  I had to test all the colors and created a color swatch which covered two pieces of 9″x12″ paper.   These were small swatches!



Now, I’ve read where pastel artists have several different brands of pastels as well as different types (soft and hard).  I’ve learned they use the NuPastels for their first layer where they draw/sketch the initial painting.  For the next layers they use the soft-medium pastels.  The final layers they use the expensive soft pastels.

Eventually, I will get there.  Add the Unison or Sennelier pastels to my collection.  In the meantime, I’m very happy using NuPastels for my artwork:

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My Favorite Pastel Book

Taking art classes was a big help in getting my art mojo back.  It came back in a big way.  I added new art medium to my expanding art supply collection.  I found new favorites and confirmed non-favorites.

So I’m now in a lull with knowledge and can’t spend all my waking hours on the Internet.  What do I do?

I found a really good pastel book:


Can I say it’s beautifully written?  It is.  It’s also very informative.  It has good explanations and wonderful samples of the painting processes and techniques.  There’s a variety of subjects it tackles and presents the steps to completing a painting.

This is a book you don’t want to rush through.  Right now, I’m studying Light and Shadows (pages 54-57) and will more than likely re-reading this section for the next several days.

I’m also taking notes from this book.  I have a notebook that I keep for tips and tricks that I uncover as well as the best art medium, best papers, and techniques.

This book “All About Techniques in Pastel” is a definite keeper and I am glad I bought it in hardback format as I will be keeping it next to my easel.

Now, if I can just find a good one on oil painting….

My Pastel Painting Project: Bucket, Bottle, & Glass

I had a grandiose idea to try to do a drawing/painting each evening for the month of August.  So far, it’s not happening.  Summer activities got in the way and since there were no classes in my queue for this month, my motivation has dwindled.  So I decided to make efficient use of my time during the evenings and look through my pictures (thousands of them) and print the ones I wanted to recreate on paper or canvas.  Several 5×7 packs of paper and ink later, I have a nice collection.

A few weekends ago I had the chance to start a painting.  Well, I started a sketch/outline from one of my pictures.  It was a picture I took at a winery where they placed a bottle of wine in a brightly colored beach pail/bucket.  Naturally, I had to take a picture.  Here’s my pencil sketch:



I painted the first few layers of the bucket and then let the painting sit on my easel.  I would walk by it in the evenings and waited for some sort of inspiration to take over me. I really liked how the shovel came out:


Eventually my motivation came back and I painted in the bottle.  Then I realized that I should have painted the backgrounds first.  That was a suggestion I learned from my last class.  Paint in the dark values and then the background.  So I shifted gears and painted a rough background.  Hmmm.  Did not turn out as I expected:


So my painting sat on my easel and once again I continued to walk by it.  I decided I needed some inspiration.  I spent some time on the Internet looking at other artist’s pastel paintings.  Some were very realistic with lots of details (completed in 80-90) hours and others were loosely painted gestures (6-8 hours).  I also read many artists would paint practice pieces.  The key word was practice.

Today, I sat down in front of my easel and started to paint.  There was no pressure.  No schedule or errands to run.  It did not take long for me to get into my creative groove.   More than likely because I did not think too much about what I was doing.  A few hours later this is what I had accomplished:


I did light layers of color as I knew I would be building up the colors or in some areas changed my mind.  I did a lot of blending as I like having a softer painting effect versus harsh lines of colors.

I was so happy to be painting again that I forgot to take a break and get up and look at my work.  It wasn’t until I took the picture that I noticed the “not quite right” issues.  I’ll tackle those issues another day as I’m thinking too much about them right now.

I need to create a painting or signage for my new art mottos:  “Painting is very good!”,  “Just Paint It!” and “Think less and paint more!”

Art Medium:  NuPastels by Prismacolor on 11″ x 14″ – Premium Toned Artist Paper by Global Art