Monday, February 27, 2012

Pen & Ink Art

Around 1949 the kid next door showed me his ink drawings from a comic book of the super heroes of the day.  Being very impressed I began drawing in ink with a fountain pen.  In those days, you either drew with a pencil or an ink pen, fountain or dip type.  There were no alternatives yet. One day I acquired a few special pen nibs to enhance the drawings.  This kept me happy for a long time.

In 1990, my interests in art moved to pencil drawings with a watercolor wash on top.  A technique learned in architecture school for project presentations during the "60's.

Pencil with Watercolor

Pencil with Watercolor (The whites are unpainted paper.)

Several years later a friend gave me a gift of a Pelikan M 150 fountain pen.  It had an internal cartridge with a semi-transparent window to check the ink level.  I replaced the ink cartridge with an optional screw like filler.  Then I could use any ink at all. The pen wrote smoothly with a generous ink flow.  This would also be really good for drawing.

So now with a good pen, the quest began to find appropriate inks.  It had to be waterproof, non-fading and permanent. Various technical inks were tried, blended and tested.  A concoction worked well and the formula was recorded. The drawing began in earnest.

These two sketches represent the loose, free flowing sketching with the Pelikan pen and my ink mixture.  Drawing in ink requires careful planning of the drawing composition. Once the pen point touches the paper, you are committed.  There are no erasures or covering up.  It's done.

In drawing with pencil outlines underneath watercolors, the line work becomes obscured.  Using a brownish, water proof ink mixture in the pen left a visible but not over powering line.  See below.

Brown Ink Pen and Watercolor

Brown Ink Pen and Watercolor

A few years ago, the Pelikan pen gave out after heavy usage. The new pen is a popular writing pen, Lamy Safari. Since I use my own ink mixture, I bought the  accessory converter, a screw type refill plunger. The snap on cap with the "O" ring seal keeps the nib from drying out for a long time. In the barrel is a vision slot to check the ink level.  Lamy comes in various nib sizes: very fine, fine, medium, broad, and about three italic sizes.  The nibs are available separately and very easy to change. The body case comes in seven colors and some model variations. The Lamy is about a third of the cost of the Pelikan M 150 as well.

Lamy Safari Ink Pen

In mixing my own inks, I discovered Noodler's Inks in a generous 3 oz. bottle.   When mixing ink colors to adjust the stock color, stay within the same brand and type of ink to keep the chemistry the same. I started with brown and added a little of their black to darken the brown shade.

To see the various types and colors of Noodler's ink, go to their website.  A chart gives the characteristics of the colors. The number of colors is amazing. They have the very best inks that I ever found. 

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