Posts Tagged ‘Stillman & Birn’

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Brilliant Summer Inks And Watercolors

07/14/2014

Usually by June, my tools get pared to a minimum. This year things have gone the other direction.

Instead of a limited three to five ink selection, my rotation is getting a color infusion. For inspiration, there is a swatch on my desk to remind me what is on hand. It isn’t a watercolor palette, but it has the same come play with me effect.

  • Sailor Jentle Peach Pink
  • Noodler’s Purple Martin
  • Diamine Emerald
  • J. Herbin Ambre de Birmaniestil
  • Diamine Teal
  • Waterman Blue-Black
  • Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan
  • Sailor Jentle Nioi-sumire
  • J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage
  • Diamine Aqua Blue
  • Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun
  • Noodler’s Lexington Gray

Elaine from Jet Pens sent a bottle of Sailor Four Seasons Nioi-sumire (Sweet Violet) and Karen at Exaclair has promised bottles of two J. Herbin inks so my rotation will be changing in short order. Now to find an empty, italic pen for some doodling in my Stillman & Birn sketchbook.

Along with modifying my ink rotation, summer is a good time for some colorful experimentation with my watercolor palette. Starting with a dozen basic paints, I added another dozen that I seldom use. That leaves a few empty slots for new acquisitions. My choices are brighter than usual and painting with them will provide a good challenge for the next few months. Even so, I included a modifier, Neutral Tint, just in case a color shouts a bit too loudly.

Certainly a palette needs to be functional, but it can also benefit from visual appeal. This Kremer is a good example of that. The beautiful arrangement encourages playful interaction.

A girl’s gotta have fun you know and what better way than color infused days. Love you guys, but the muse is calling. See ya later!

 

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Links For A Lazy Sunday

07/06/2014

Pens and other stuff…

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Links For Pen People And Writers

06/22/2014

Inks, paper, pens, and writing…

Favorite photo of the week:

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Can A Pen Be Too Fine And Other Links

06/15/2014

For your reading pleasure…

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G’bye 2013 – Hello 2014

01/01/2014

Pens, inks and paper make a terrific hobby, but you already know that. Writing about them is my way of sharing the fun of using these tools. You make it worth the effort and for that I thank you.

Some names and numbers…

Thank you for the generous donations that helped keep Inkophile going last fall. My hobby has become a financial challenge. Really. Who wouldn’t want the newest colors of ink and several pricey pens every year? Sometimes retailers or manufacturers offer their newest creations or items they want to move off the shelf for review and that’s very much appreciated. When that doesn’t happen, I would like to purchase new items. Sponsorships and other sources of funding would allow me to do that. So moving forward, there will be some changes at Inkophile. Hopefully, that won’t estrange too many readers, but if you fancy an unsupported pen blog, there are plenty in the sidebar from which to choose.

As my interests have evolved, so has the content of my blog. Watercolor painting plays third fiddle to writing and using fountain pens, but painting in my journal has made it an integrated hobby. If nothing else, the addition of lively color to my wordy journal entries is a creative embellishment that is both intriguing and satisfying. More to come.

This is my favorite doodle of the year. It started as two comma shaped lines at the top and the rest was pure luck.

Copyright © 2013 Margana Maurer. All Rights Reserved.

Gene Kelly in Rose Ink

May your new year be filled with joyful dancing and colorful friends. Hello 2014!

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Can Ink And Watercolors Cohabit In A Doodle Journal?

08/09/2013

Did my recent post about doodling with pens and watercolors pique your interest? They don’t always play nice with each other, but the right paper can tame some of that antipathy and even let them work well together.

A Doodle Kit

Pencils are easy and can doodle on any paper. Paint over pencil lines with watercolor, as I did in the little flower painting above, and the markings remain intact. For a pencil/watercolor duo, any watercolor journal should do.

Fountain pens work best on smooth paper, but watercolor paper is usually textured. Mixed media paper is smoother and can be a good compromise.

Filling pages with a combination of ink doodles and watercolor dabs can be very satisfying and casual doodling should make use of the tools at hand. But if your inks lack the wherewithal to stand up to water, it’s easy to keep your doodles from co-mingling by leaving a quarter to a half inch gap between the ink and paint. For those inks that do stand up to water, there is a lot of fun to be had with putting ink and watercolor together.

Noodler's Lexington Gray and Daniel Smith Watercolors

Most inks run away from even the smallest amount of water but Noodler’s Lexington Gray stands up well. The words in the sample were written with a Leonardo fude (Asian calligraphy) nib. Then Daniel Smith watercolor was washed over to test the ink’s permanence and visibility through various colors. All turned out to the good.

Leonardo Calligraphy Nib

However, the Chinese manufactured Barnes & Noble Sketchbook paper, while smooth and a good size for a small desk, is not well suited to water-based media. It’s a sketchbook that takes pencil best. That has its place, but I want to have no such limits when the muse strikes.

There are a number of paper products that meet the needs of fountain pens and inks, but fewer are suited to heavier water media like watercolor or chunky markers. Many of those papers are too rough for fountain pens, especially those with narrow nibs. The paper that meets all my requirements would be smooth enough for pen use and thick enough to contain the flow of watercolor paint or anything that happens in between.

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on Stillman & Birn Epsilon paper

My Pentel Pocket Brush Pen dances well with the Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series Sketchbook 150 gsm paper but the Zeta at 270 gsm can handle more water.

When watercolor is my focus, the S&B Beta 270 gsm has a rough surface that adds texture to a painting, but away from my desk, the Zeta would be my choice for versatility. It’s such a heavy paper that both sides can be used and both sides are smooth so that’s another advantage.

Aquabee paper is 150 gsm and not as heavy as the Zeta Series, but it should be good with most media. One side of the paper is lightly textured while the back is quite smooth so consider that when matching it to your tools of choice. Also, it is a more absorbent paper and will soak up your fountain pen ink making a wet writer seem dry. That isn’t bad – it’s just different.

Canson XL Mix Media is another absorbent paper but it feels thinner than the others even though it is 160 gsm. That brings down the price but at a cost. Again, the front of the paper is rougher than the back. I’ve used Canson spiral bound books for years to test watercolors, long before I heard of S&B or Aquabee. At 160 gsm, it isn’t heavy enough for paintings, but it’ll do for color swatches and doodles.

Noodler's Lexington Gray Ink on Strathmore Windpower paper

Strathmore Sketch is a 89 gsm, budget paper, but it doodles well when small amounts of color are used. More than five years of Inkophile ink tests have been done in these notebooks so there is that recommendation. Show-through happens so I only use one side for tests, but the paper takes swabbed ink well and that is what matters. It buckled somewhat with watercolor and a tiny bit of moisture affected the page beneath. No off-putting damage done, but a blotter sheet between the pages would have avoided that entirely.

Daniel Smith Watercolors on Strathmore Windpower

For the watercolor test, I used a Daniel Smith Kolinsky brush size 0 with Daniel Smith watercolors just as for the B&N notebook. Lexington Gray performed well again so it has found a permanent mate in the fude nib.

Daniel Smith Cerulean Blue

Online retailer Daniel Smith carries everything you need including the plastic pans I filled with tube paint. If you want to keep things simple, there are a number of brands of pre-filled pans and kits that will get you started. For use in a journal, student grade will do. The Cotman series from Winsor & Newton is the most well known and fine for the purpose. If you are more serious about painting, buy artist grade. You never know when a masterpiece will emerge.

There are empty kits designed to store paint, but an Altoids tin will suffice and holds seven pans in a single layer. Poster tack will hold them in place or double-sided tape can work in a pinch. If seven pans aren’t enough, you can attach more to the lid. Or you can line the lid with Yupo waterproof paper and turn it into a mixing area. At my desk, a 3″ to 4″ white china plates serve that purpose. My favorite one is shaped like a teapot and was originally intended to hold a used tea bag. Others were sold as dishes for dipping sauces. For $2 or less, these are handy containers for mixing additional colors, though most of the time, I just dip and doodle.

Now about ink. Waterproof, bulletproof, water-resistant, and so forth sound great, but some inks so called are not easy on fountain pen nibs and feeds. If you go that route, use your pens frequently and clean them regularly. The former will keep ink flowing well and the latter will remove any debris that might result in a clogged pen. If you use a pen until no ink will flow, clean it in short order or refill with the same ink. The longer you wait, the more likely the pen will have problems.

No ink brand bashing on Inkophile and I use whatever is on hand or submitted for review. With proper care, any ink can be worth using.

If you use fine or extra-fine nibs, Stillman & Birn and Aquabee are good matches. Strathmore Sketch fits a tight budget or works for anyone who goes through tons of paper. I’ve been known to rip out a few pages, doodle around the edges, and use it for stationery. Paper like that will never go to waste.

There are other suitable papers and your suggestions are welcome in the comments.

Regardless of how you use it, the right paper counts and without a doubt your doodles are worth it!

Daniel Smith Watercolors

Photos by Tessa Maurer.

Update: There are some diminutive palettes available on eBay this week.

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A Doodle Kit Because … Fun!

07/23/2013

Does your desk have too much gear on it? Mine, too. Overrun by the bane of modern existence, my desk is cringe-worthy. It’s a re-purposed breakfast table that has seen better days. The surface needs refinishing and gives out splinters liberally. No drawers so everything has to fit on the surface. Covered with stacks of paper and all manner of electronic devices, there is little room for creative endeavors even when I dump stuff on the floor. Anything intended for long-term residency must have a small footprint which is one reason fountain pens suit so well. Being an inveterate doodler as well as a dabbler in watercolor, I have melded the two interests into something small, fun, and easy to use, my desktop doodle kit.

My Doodle Kit

  • small Cotman palette with some favorite Daniel Smith watercolors squirted into empty DS pans – colors that make me smile without mixing or fiddling
  • travel brush(es) and/or daVinci Cosmotop-Spin Watercolor Brush no larger than #5 (smaller bristles afford more control but take up less paint and run out of color more quickly)
  • wirebound Stillman & Birn journal suited to both w/c and ink – folded back to conserve space
  • Pentel Pocket Brush Pen – original black cartridge or refilled with fountain pen ink
  • large blotter so the journal can be closed quickly (J. Herbin offers a good one.)
  • water jar with a lid (up to 8 oz) – start every day with clean preferably distilled water
  • folded paper towel for drips and to remove excess paint from brush
  • fountain pen(s) – whatever is inked

Watercolor palette for doodling

Extra tools:

  • water soluble colored pencils or Derwent Inktense Outliner Pencil
  • black felt tip marker – Sakura Pigma Micron 08 is waterproof
  • dip pen
  • quill brush or hake to lay in background color – sloppy, uneven color preferred
  • shaped brushes like angles, combs, ridges, and shaders like those from Robert Simmons for extra variety

Pen and ink dominate but watercolor jazzes up the pages with wider lines and splotches. The variety of colors and comparative low cost makes paint an effective addition to a doodler’s arsenal.

Watercolor Swatches

These squiggles were made with paint fresh from the tube. Some colors were more cooperative than others and none were diluted with water or worked into the brush. I just dipped in and put the color to paper.

Key points:

  • no paintings but lots of doodles. if something turns into a painting, that’s okay but not the goal.
  • goal is to relax – not tax
  • back, front, upside down – no limits
  • words are okay but long passages should go elsewhere
  • kit can be grabbed for off-site use – not a travel kit per se, but parts could be used for that purpose.
  • a pencil cup to house the pens and brushes keeps the desk tidy
  • not about color mixing but loading a brush and making squiggles so colors need to stand on their own
  • no erasing – who erases a doodle?
  • visitors/guests such as pencils and markers may only stay for a short time. this kit is for my favorite tools.
  • on occasion dip brush in ink but not from the bottle – no contamination allowed
  • 12 half pans (1.5 cm x 2 cm each) is like having a dozen pens inked

If you want to give this idea a try, the dozen Winsor & Newton Cotman half pan paints that originally came in my palette are for sale. You could tape them to a bit of cardboard or tuck them in a metal tin such as an Altoids box for an easy start to your doodle kit. I also have a slightly larger, new Cotman plastic palette with 14 half pans to sell as well as a couple of other kits so shoot me an email if you are interested.  Inkophile*at*gmail.com will do.

Cotman Watercolors

For inspiration try “Doodles Unleashed” by Traci Bautista. Also, Peter Draws and his journal.

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