Thursday, 23 November 2017

Inktober 2017 - The End * and a bit about inks and nibs

This post is long overdue, the end of November is already in sight! I must admit that the air went out completely for the last couple of days of Inktober. But I wanted to fill this sketchbook, and in the end I did. Here's the last two drawings.

I enjoyed drawing every day. Well, most of the time. It can be difficult to fit in time for drawing during the week when you have a day job. I am constantly trying to do some drawing in my lunch breaks, and while I think it's a lot better to draw for only five minutes a day than not at all, I also find drawing for only five minutes a bit frustrating at times. I'd prefer to spend a bit more time on drawing.

During Inktober, I planned my evenings to fit in an hour or so of drawing. That is a habit I really wish to take away from this challenge, even though I have already sorely neglected it this month...
What I can definitely do without, though, is having to scan, edit and post the drawing every day. When everything worked out and the drawing turned out alright, it was fine. But when it didn't, it became stressful. There have been days when I spent more than an hour altogether on one drawing that just didn't work out only to then make a five minute one afterwards to post.

What I really liked about the challenge was the focus on a particular medium. It made me try out all kinds of different inks and nibs, and I really enjoyed drawing with dip pens. I got my old nibs and inks out, and bought some new ones too.

My favourite inks are the Rohrer & Klingner Ausziehtusche (Drawing ink). I especially like the bistre. The Zeichentusche (Calligraphy ink) is nice too, and comes in a great variety of colours. All of them are water proof.
Sennelier inks are lovely too. Their India ink, or China ink, as it's called, is a nice deep black. The colour ones have a glossy sheen if applied thicker.  There's some very nice shades of browns, including bistre and burnt sienna, which are very different from the R&K shades of the same name.
I like the Winsor & Newton India ink, but I'm not a great fan of their coloured ones, to be honest. I only bought the two browns, peat brown and nut brown, and I have to say, I can't really see the difference. Maybe as a wash, but certainly not in a line. I used them with a paint brush as a wash, and it didn't really work that well either. For me, they are just too transparent.

There are so many nibs that it can get a bit confusing. Even more so to identify them (a magnifying glass is very helpful here!) and remember which one's which once you put them in a pen holder. I looked for both drawing and mapping nibs, and I discovered that although some seem to be from different manufacturers, they are actually the same. The 'Manuscript' nibs I bought in England turned out to be the same as the 'Standardgraph' nibs I got here in Switzerland - they are both 'Leonardt' nibs.

To make things easier, I made two reference sheets, one for inks and one for nibs, which I glued into my studio journal. While there's a great variety of beautiful pen holders for the larger nibs, unfortunately for the smaller ones, there seems to be only one - a simple red wooden one. As many of the drawing nibs are the smaller ones, you quickly end up with a whole bunch of almost identical looking pens. I used Washi tape to distinguish them so that from now on, I know exactly which nib is which. Hopefully, this will help me use them a lot more from now on.

I also went through all the nibs I already had at home, tried each and every one out and threw away the ones that didn't work form me. Among the keepers are these specialty nibs: the George W. Hughes Redonda pen that gives a double line, and the two Speedball Steelbrush nibs that are great for lettering.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Inktober 2017 - Week Four

We are nearing the end of the month, and with it, the end Inktober challenge. Only a couple more days to go. I'm not complaining when it's over, this week, it really is becoming a bit of a struggle now.

Day 22: Dip pen & ink

Day 23: Ink

Day 24: Brush pen, pen

Day 25: Fude pen

Day 26: Fude nib fountain pen

Day 27 & 28: Dip pen & ink

Thoughts and insights:
  • Our brain and how it works is absolutely fascinating. And slightly scary...
  • Drawing with dip pen and ink is so different than with pens. Somehow it makes you draw differently. And it certainly looks differently. Or is that just because of the ink?
  • The same colour can look completely different from one manufaturer to another. Just look at Rohrer & Klingner's and Senneliers bistre. Both are nice colours, though
  • It's useful to make some sort of ink colour charts for reference
  • It's also useful to find a system to remember which nib is which...
  • It's becoming a bit of a struggle now. 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Inktober 2017 - Week Three

It's the third week of Inktober and I'm still keeping my daily drawing habit up. In fact, it's becoming easier, and more and more day, I'm looking forward to the evening, when I can sit down and draw.

Day 15: Dip pen & ink

Day 16: Fineliner pens

Day 17: Pens

Day 18: Dip pen & ink

Day 19: Pens

Day 20:

Day 21: Dip pen & ink

Thoughts and insights:
  • Did I mention that I love dip pens?
  • Crosshatching is a bit like watercolour - it looks easy and simple, but it's not
  • I wish I was better at drawing from imagination and didn't have to rely on reference images
  • But then I guess that's part of trying to get into the daily drawing habit
  • Because of copyright reasons, it can be really difficult to find reference images for some subjects
  • Some drawings therefore just have to remain practice pieces only, without being shared
  • But then, not everything always needs to be shared
  • It's all about practice in the end
  • And about enjoying it

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Inktober 2017 - Week Two

Another week of daily drawing.

Day 8: Pen

Day 9: Dip pen and ink, and pens

Day 10: Pen

Day 11: Dip pen & ink

Day 12: Dip pen & ink

Day 13: Dip pen & ink

Day 14: Dip pen & ink

Thoughts and insights:
  •  I figured out how to change the setting on my scanner so that it now scans the entire page. Yay!
  • Stippling is so much fun with a dip pen!
  • Inks are so versatile, you can use them for drawing, washes and even mix them together
  • I love dip pens!
  • So many different nibs! I'm going through the ones I have, adding ones, and throwing out the ones that don't work for me. No point hanging on to them. I only want what works
  • An excuse to go to the art shop :)
  • Drawing every day is good, but finishing and posting a drawing every day is quite stressful.
  • But I'm not giving up
  • Done is better than perfect

Friday, 13 October 2017

A walk in the (Tier)park

A visit to the nearby wildlife park is always a great way to spend an afternoon. Many years ago, the park started to rebuild the outdated enclosures of the past to make them bigger and resembling the animals' natural habitat. This means that you not always see the animals. Which in turn means that there's always a good reason to go back again and again. Because you never know what you are going to see. All of the animals are, or have once been, native to this country.

The horses are some of the few animals that you always see. They are part of a programme that re-introduces the wild horses in Mongolia, where the became extinct decades ago. We were lucky to get to the fox enclosure at feeding time. A family of five, two adults and their three youngsters. Seeing a bear is always a privilege. My favourite anmials, though, are the moose, which this time were too far away in the woods for my camera this time.

But even if you don't see that many animals, a walk in the park (and a hot chocolate in the café/restaurant) is always a pleasure. There is so much else to see, if you look closely, and for every season, nature has a special display. And autumn is certainly one of my favourite, even if it was a bit early yet for the full autumnal colours.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Inktober 2017 - Week One

I'm taking part in the Inktober challenge this year, for the first time. It's been around for a few years, and I've wanted to do it before, but something's always come in between. Usually holidays. Which, of course, is a nice thing, like last year, when I spent the first week of October in art retreat in Scotland (I can't believe that that was already a year ago!), and the second relaxing in lovely Dorset. But this year, there's nothing on in October, my holiday is already over, and it's high time to get back into a regular drawing habit.

I decided to start a new sketchbook for the challenge. I went through my (far too big) stack of new sketchbooks and found a Strathmore one, about A5 size, with thick mixed media paper that should take bottled ink and ink washes, and with enough pages for 31 double spread, should I decided to do that. To prepare for the challenge, I did a warm up page on the last day of September.

Front/Warm up page: Pens

Day 1: Pens

Day 2: Dip pens, brush, inks

Day 3: Pen

Day 4: Brushpens

Day 5: Dip pen and ink

Day 6: Dip pen and ink

Day 7: Dip pen, ink, pen

Some thoughts on the first week:

  • It's good to try out something completely different
  • Sometimes it takes a LOT longer than you thought it might, and it's perfectly okay if you don't finish it in time
  • Some inks just don't work very well on (certain) paper. It's worth taking a bit of time to try out what works and what doesn't
  • Bottled fountain pen inks make lovely washes
  • Even if it looks like rubbish at one stage, don't give up but keep working until it starts coming together. It usually does
  • Some days, it just doesn't work, and that's fine. Just splash some ink on a page play around instead
  • Dip pens are great to draw with, it's fun trying out the different nibs and inks
  •  Finishing a drawing, then scanning and posting it every day is had work, and sometimes it might just be too much
  • My scanner is driving me mad, it tries to scan individual images instead of just the entire page, and I don't know how to change that
  • The most important thing is to draw, and to have fun

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Happy - tidying up and using up stuff

I'm tidying up my studio. There's just so much stuff that has somehow accumulated over the years. Some of the stuff I haven't used in ages, as my style and preferences have changed over the years. I've been hanging on to all that stuff, because... you never know, maybe one day, they might be useful.... But enough of that. If I haven't used them in all those years, the chances that I am doing so now is very little. So it's all going out. Or most of it anyway.

Work in progress - first layers

I found these papier maché letters in one of the boxes, and I had this 20x50cm canvas board that I had bought for a project that I never got round to do. Not a very convient format, but - the letters fitted perfectly on it, so I glued them on to it and added paint.

Work in progress - more layers

I also have far too many paints. Some I've had for ages, but I've discovered new brands that I prefer so they have just been sitting around unused. I've recently taken them all out and painted little samples, and some of them have become all gooey. I've used all those gooey paints for this one, using them up as much as possible before they go into the bin.


There really is just no point keeping all that stuff if you're never goint to use it. It might be hard to just throw it all away (good if you have arty friends nearby who would be happy to use them), considering that art materials aren't cheap. But hanging on to them might just be counterproductive. At least that's how it is for me. With my shelves full of stuff, getting to what I want often requires shifting other stuff first, and I easily forget what I actually have. And the result: I don't use them at all. And a cluttered space just doesn't work for me, there's no room for inspiration to blossom. Not that I want a bare, clinical kind of space, not at all. But there is a big difference between creative chaos and pure too-much-stuff mess.


Now that my holiday, sadly, is over, I hope to finally get some much overdue planning, organising and change making done. Not to mention more time spent in my little studio and with my sketchbook.