Posts Tagged ‘watercolor doodles’


Sunday Reads: Pens And Inks By The Dozen


Saving my tea bags in case there’s a paper shortage…


Those Last Few Drops Of Ink


Do you hate throwing out even a few drops of ink? Instead of sending it down the drain or waiting forever to use the last of a fill, make a colorful background for some unique journal pages.

I used leftover watercolor in a mister, but ink will work just fine. Dilute it with water so the color is soft enough to let the written word show clearly. Let the page dry thoroughly before adding words.  These mini misters at Amazon have long straws to suck up the last drop so even a small amount of fluid will be sufficient to decorate a page. As little as a single spritz can add visual appeal to plain paper.

The farther the mister is from the paper, the more diffuse the dots. Once applied the color can be smeared for a different effect. Tilt paper to make large drops spread color in any direction. Absorbent paper will reduce the time available to manipulate the fluid, but the misting will dry more rapidly. It’s a trade off.

If the result lacks color, touch a fountain pen to the wet surface to add more dimension. The same thing works with a rivulet of clear water as Leigh Reyes does in some of her ink and pen videos. If using more than one color but you don’t want the colors to mix, let the paper dry between applications. In my example, the first layer was Daniel Smith Transparent Pyrrol Orange that dried completely before adding Ultramarine Turquoise. The colors mimic this evening’s sunset and will make a suggestive background for the day’s musings.

Most journal paper will buckle, so use a light application. This Midori #013 with Tomoe River paper only wrinkled where there was a substantial amount of water. This technique will also work on plain stationery and blank greeting cards that are compatible with fountain pen ink.

Experiment with mixing colors. Even the muddy neutrals that can result from mixing more than two colors will make subtle, misted backgrounds.

Whether you play connect the dots or write daily musings, have fun with it. That’s what color is all about.


Do You Like To Doodle?


Sometimes a little inspiration is in order.

Is your doodle journal calling as loudly as mine is?


Doodle Journal Makes Friends With Daniel Smith Shadow Violet


My Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series Sketchbook is always looking for new friends. It is the paper version of a social butterfly. Yesterday, it spied me with a tube of a hitherto unexplored watercolor, and insisted on being the first to have a go with the new kid. The daVinci Cosmotop Spin #5 round brush volunteered to play along so how could I refuse?

Daniel Smith Shadow Violet

Daniel Smith Shadow Violet is gray with a hint of color. The gray isn’t yellow, but it isn’t blue either. It is more red biased, hence the name is violet rather than purple. It does work well for shadows and allows any underlying color, whether the paper or another watercolor, to show through. Or it could be used to mute a bright color. In my journal with natural while paper, it shows a lovely translucent quality.

The darkest strokes were made with paint straight from the tube, but that isn’t its strength. The range of dark to light in a single stroke is what makes Shadow Violet exciting to use for doodles. Simply vary pressure on the brush and expressive line work is assured.

Daniel Smith Shadow Violet

No fountain pen ink in my inventory is an equivalent color. If none exists in inkdom, someone should release a violet-gray. The subtlety is reduced on colored paper, but on shades of white, it is intriguing enough to warrant a second look. Isn’t that a good thing when it comes to getting your words read!


Sunday Links From Geeks To Siri To Martha Stewart


No rhyme nor reason to this lot save they all made headlines somewhere this past week.


A Doodle Kit Because … Fun!


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* will do.

Cotman Watercolors

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


My Other Hobby And You Can Too


Some days fountain pens and ink won’t do. On those occasions, a swish of color from a supple brush can’t be topped.

Playing with WatercolorsWhether ink or watercolor, it’s relaxing when I pay no attention to form or detail. Just mix two colors, sweep a brush across the paper, and see what happens. The resulting swatches teach me more about color than the best books on the subject ever will.

Adding Neutral Tint to Various Watercolors

Whether messing around with ink or watercolor, use decent quality tools. It does make a difference. The da Vinci Cosmotop is a brush with the right characteristics. The #6 round produces lines of good width for a 6″ x 8″ journal while the #8 round is suitable for a larger format. For good paper, I use Canson Mix Media and for better quality I use Stillman & Birn.

To avoid contaminated ink, squeeze a few drops from a pipette or expel a small amount from your pen into a shallow container and toss any leftovers when you are finished. Watercolor is easier to use, but I never touch anything except a clean brush to a block or pan of paint to keep colors true. A small amount on a brush can be transferred to a mixing surface to combine with a second color. Even something simple like a styrofoam plate or smooth, plastic cutting board will do and the white background shows off mixes very well. Then use the brush to swirl some color on paper.

Experiment with pressure, angle, and wetness just as you would with a fountain pen. There are only rules about maintaining your equipment so that it lasts indefinitely and is ready to use whenever it strikes your fancy to put brush to paper. However, if you want to join a community for suggestions and guidance, Wet Canvas is a good place to start.

Once you get the hang of it, try your favorite doodle shapes. Use the best of the lot to make greeting or thank you cards. Just cut out what you like best, and glue it to the front of a blank card. Voilà. A true original. Be sure to sign your name to your creation. The recipient might consider it a work of art.

Daniel Smith Manganese Blue and Green Gold Watercolors

More of my watercolor images on Flickr. If you have some doodles or swatches, put a link in the comments so the rest of us can ogle them.

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