Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Major Blog Catch-up

I've been keeping up with the 75-Day Sketch Challenge and on Day 46 now!  I try to sketch from life, like this barrel cactus trio in our backyard, but sometimes I find it handier (and warmer) to sketch from my large reserve of photos (since I spent many years intensely interested in nature photography!).

I'm not usually a fan of drawing buildings, but I did our newly-constructed LA Fitness gym as a handy subject while I waited for my husband to do an extended workout:

On weekends I often join my husband and his friend rock climbing, and that is a wonderful opportunity for some plein air sketching:

I've really been on a fountain pen kick lately (more on that later), and one thing I've been exploring is pen & wash techniques with water-soluble ink:

And finally, yesterday's sketch is one from a photo I took at the local Butterfly Magic exhibit in February 2006.  I really enjoyed painting this butterfly and will likely do more from the photos I took that day:

So as I've said, I've been on a fountain pen kick lately.  I really love the ink & watercolor style, and since I draw in ink before adding watercolor washes I need a waterproof ink.  I have typically used the Pigma Micron 01 pens, and the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens (S being my favorite), but I feel a desire to explore refillable fountain pens.  I am not completely new to the fountain pen realm, having bought a Sheaffer cartridge fountain pen and a Sheaffer No Nonsense pen (with 3 italic nibs) back in the 1980's.  I dug those old pens out, re-constituted the dried out ink in the cartridges, and played with those for a while.  I looked to see what other artists use, and I admit, I was primarily influenced by the wonderfully-talented Nina Johansson when I ordered a Lamy Safari EF from Goulet Pens and a big 4.5-oz bottle of Lexington Gray ink (that included a free Platinum Preppy eyedropper pen!).  But I have to admit, that pen did not work for me.  I first loaded the converter up with the Lexington Gray and I found the lines in both writing and drawing, on both regular and watercolor paper, to be too anemic and broken up.  The ink flow was just not there, and the gray went on too lightly for my taste.  So I flushed the Lexington Gray out of the Safari Converter and I refilled with some of the sample of Noodler's Bulletproof Black.  At first I thought this might be a happy match, because even though the pen was "dry", that seemed to be a good thing, because that ink may not bond to the paper (and thus be waterproof) if it's put on too thickly.  However, with further drawing experience with the Lamy Safari and the Noodler's Black ink, I found I was just fighting the pen too much.  I'd have to re-trace over lines I had just drawn because they were either too light or in most cases broken or with no ink flow at all.  It became frustrating--drawing is hard enough when you don't have to fight your tools!  I wanted to like this pen, but it's just not working for me and I'm sending it back to Goulet.

Edited on 1/30/12 to add that Goulet Pens received my return of the Lamy Safari EF pen wrote me an email to inform me that they have refunded me the full amount, and that actually the nib was defective, so it was no surprise that I did not like the pen.  This is good to know!  They did assure me that the Lamy Safari is a great pen and I ought to give it another try sometime.

It didn't help that I really liked how the free Platinum Preppy was working for me!  I filled that pen up with Lexington Gray ink and though a bit more scratchy than the Lamy, it writes a smooth line, never breaks up, so easily!  I don't have to fight this pen!  So it's hard to justify keeping the Lamy when the Preppy suits me just fine.

But I am not done...I recently made an order from JetPens for a Platinum Carbon Pen---Platinum Carbon ink is purported to be very black and very waterproof, and I want to give it a try.  Many caution that this ink can clog regular fountain pens if not maintained properly and used regularly, so I thought I'd try the pen that is designed to use this ink.  We'll see, the order is on it's way!  I also ordered two more Platinum Preppys and a Platinum converter because I want to be able to keep a Preppy in my purse (and not eyedropper'd -- too risky!).  

Well, gotta go play tennis, but I have more to catch-up on in a following post, including my experiences with Coptic Binding and further progress on my Retrospective Trip Journal...


Susan Bronsak said...

These additions to your blog are all wonderful. I loved reading about your experience with the pens. I've been drawn in to the Pen and Ink technique and have much to learn.

Laure Ferlita said...

Interesting that you're having so many problems with the Lamy. I LOVE mine. Hands down, it's the easiest pen I have and it works wonderful. No temper tantrums, no drama.

I don't use the Noodler's ink in my Lamy though. For me, they're not waterproof and the grey looks like a weak black rather than a definite grey. I use the Carbon black. So far, no issues. I've found a few papers that it doesn't work well with, but otherwise, it's worked well.

I look forward to more of your experiments and especially the Coptic binding.