Fountain pen fever, it’s contagious!

I think I’m succumbing to the early stages of a sadly common sketching phenomenon, the urge to collect fountain pens. It started innocently enough. I saw some drawings I liked made using a fountain pen and before I thought about it there was my first black Lamy Safari. It was lovely to draw with and soon became indispensable. Then I lost it! A desperate trip to the local pen shop and I was able to secure a bright yellow replacement – all the harder to lose – so I hope.

Then came the inks, you know what happened. Not content with what came with the pen I started researching what inks other people were using. Noodlers Bulletproof was the ink I kept hearing about, particularly the Bulletproof black which is considered to be the one waterproof pigment ink that can be used in my fountain pen, without clogging it up irreparably. One problem, apparently the Australian supplier isn’t supplying anymore, so I had to check out online suppliers from overseas. So now here I am with three bottles of Noodlers inks.

Noodler's inks testing, Black, the just about unpronounceable Squeteague and La Reine Mauve

Noodler’s inks testing, Black, the just about unpronounceable Squeteague and La Reine Mauve

Now I was a bit surprised and not a bit disappointed that the Black and the Squeteague did show some bleeding when I washed some water over them. La Reine Mauve, which was the ‘freshest’ at the time of testing, did no such thing (good breeding will out!).

Hooray! my Black Lamy Safari pen has been found hiding in a dark crevice under some books. Now I have two fountain pens going at the same time. I filled the second pen with La Reine Mauve, as I thought it would be a more ‘useable’ colour than the jade-green Squeteague. You’d think that would be enough, but then I began reading blogs about pens with ‘fude’ or bent nibs. Before I knew it I had purchased a Duke 209 stainless steel pen with the ‘fude’ nib. It’s OK I say, it’s not at all expensive on E-bay.

Now the Duke pen comes with its own blue ink which shades towards a deep violet.  A bit odd but not too bad, if I was going to write with it. So next time I’m at the art supply shop I just have a cruise past the ink display and the next thing I know I’m heading out the door with two more bottles of ink. This time it’s Windsor and Newton Calligraphy ink in Indian Red and Sepia. Both of these colours have the advantage of being ones that I use in my watercolour palette, so I’m sure I’ll be more comfortable drawing with them.

Windsor and Newton calligraphy inks, Indian Red and Sepia and the Duke 209 fude nib using the blue ink cartridge it comes with

Windsor and Newton calligraphy inks, Indian Red and Sepia and the Duke 209 fude nib using the blue ink cartridge it comes with

So now I have three fountain pens to play with. I plan to stop there for a while and spend some time getting to know and use what I have already. Fingers crossed!

 

 

 

Another fine line

I love serendipity – I’ve just started reading the catalogue that accompanies the Chuck Close exhibition I saw last week and there in the introductory essay is Close being quoted on crosshatching. The comment is in response to Close’s early study of Albrecht Dürer’s prints that are held in Yale University’s fine print collection.

“In those Dürer prints I saw that the artist had done what was easiest for him. He glued a piece of paper to a woodblock and drew with a pen. The easiest way to draw tonal gradations with a pen is to make a crosshatch stroke. The hardest thing for a printer who must follow the artist’s drawing to do is cut a crosshatch, because you have to go in and cut out the little spaces in between. If Dürer had to cut his own block, he would have made only one crosshatch drawing and then said, “Hey, wait a minute, what am I doing? I have made something so difficult” He would have immediately abandoned crosshatching. But because other people cut the block he could go ahead and draw whatever he wanted, and it became their problem.”

This makes me think that further variations of the water tank drawing could involve using techniques that could be printed in various formats. By looking at the water tank over the course of the day I have realised that I can use the shadows cast onto the tank can help me define it’s shape, without resorting to cross-hatching. Here is the second drawing, which I did a few days ago using my Lamy Safari pen.

Water tank with old chairs, pen and ink, 12 December 2014

Water tank with old chairs, pen and ink, 12 December 2014

 

Testing, testing

I bought a new sketchbook the other day. I’m trialling it for a trip I’ll be taking later in the year. On previous trips I’ve treated myself to Moleskine sketchbooks, but I’m not completely convinced that I’m not just paying for the name. Given the ‘status’ of the Moleskine, it’s not surprising that other art supply companies are making ‘clone-skines’ to tap into the same market but at a much lower price-point.

The clone I’ve bought from my local art shop is slightly wider than the Moleskine sketchbook which I normally buy, not to mention being half the price. The clone does have the elastic strap and pocket at the back of the book. The paper is 150gsm, acid free, so pretty standard. I don’t expect this paper to be good for watercolour. However, when I assessed the types of  drawing and painting I did on my last trip I realised that it was sketching, not painting, that dominated my output. So a watercolour friendly paper is, realistically, not my first priority.

So far I’ve tested my acrylic paint markers and have been pleasantly surprised at the result. Not only does the paper take my thick marker quite well, it doesn’t bleed through to the back of the page.

A drawing on the back of a page which also has a thick black acrylic paint marker drawing on it.

A drawing on the back of a page which also has a thick black acrylic paint marker drawing on it.

Only one slightly disparity has occurred. The paper loves my Posca paint markers, soaking up the black lines to a matt finish, but it doesn’t react so well to my Liquitex paint markers. In the drawing below the black is the Posca and the red is the Liquitex. I couldn’t get any sort of smooth coverage with the red and repeated applications would have ended up tearing the page.

Two brands of paint markers, two different quality of coverage.

Two brands of paint markers, two different quality of coverage.

Here’s a close-up of the two colours side by side. I have been happy with the coverage of the  Liquitex pens on a range of other papers, so all I can conclude is that they don’t like this specific type of paper. This is a bit of a drawback as I have quite a good range of colours in the Liquitex and I’m not desperate to spend more just to buy similar colours in another brand.

Close-up of the coverage of the two brands of markers.

Close-up of the coverage of the two brands of markers.

I’ve also taken my Lamy Safari pen for a test drive on the paper and once more I was really pleased with the line and the way the paper took the ink.

Drawing using the Lamy Safari pen in the new sketch book.

Drawing using the Lamy Safari pen in the new sketch book.

I’m planning to try watercolours and a few other things in this book before I make a final decision on whether I go with the clone or not. I’ll keep you posted.