Above: Montana Markers (pink and red), Golden High Flow acrylic paint in one of their markers (PB60, dark blue), Sharpie Poster Paint Marker (non-solvent; white); and a couple dried out lavender tints in Zig markers. On thin Japanese notebook paper. I first sketched with the blue pen, then worked the pink background in with a 15 mm tipped Montana, then added the other colors—using colors that were on hand because I didn't want to dig out more markers. The brown splotchiness under the epaulet button on the far right is dye-based ink seeping through from the next page. In general if I really like something I did on a page I make time to scan it and keep a digital copy the day I create it, before the ink from the next spread comes into play, but I'm actually not minding that contamination much at all, which is a huge surprise to me and it's unclear if this is a temporary abberation or permanent temperament change. And for people guessing, that's Ciarán Hinds in "Persuasion," my favorite film adapation of what is arguably one of the most achingly sad romances Jane Austen wrote.
Readers of my blog will realize that for the last several years I've been experimenting with using Montana Markers in various nib sizes (from a fine tip to a wide tip that's 60mm).
During April's celebration of International Fake Journal Month 2014 I used makers sometimes to sketch, sometimes to lay flat color on a paper that didn't like wet media much. It was a way to easily and quickly get some color down without adding a lot of moisture to the mix.
Other journal artists might enjoy the same characteristics. These characteristics are also useful when you want to quickly add a background or when you want to add a bit of flat color, or large lettering, or when you want to lay down a base of color onto which you'll add additional media.
This last approach is particularly useful when you are use non-art papers not sized for wet media. What you need is a paper that doesn't allow seepage of the acrylic paint in the marker. Not every drawing paper or non-art paper or non-wet media paper does that. You'll have to do a test. But I've found that some very "flimsy" sheets made for "note taking" can yield surprising results, like the thin paper in the lined Japanese notebooks I've been using lately (seen in the two images posted today).
I've promised to write about these notebooks, and I will, but I need to video tape a flip through.
My real love for ink sketching is the dip pen, but I am a total klutz when it comes to carrying ink around, so I don't use it out and about. I'm also working larger now than I typically work when working with dip pens, and so I've been seeking ways to scale up my line. Nothing says scaled up quite as well as a 15 or 30 mm fiber tip! (And I've enjoyed doing some sketching with those broad tips, tilting them on edge and in general getting looser because detail work isn't possible with them unless you slow down and take extra care, and I'm not interested in taking care at the moment.
After using the Montana markers and their acrylic paint I've tried one Molotow Marker (a shocking, shocking pink), and have been working with the Golden High Flow Acrylic Paints. The last seems to me to be the best paint in that it's pigmented with the same attention to detail that Golden uses in its other paint lines so you can get mostly single pigment paints and know what you're mixing, and they are high quality.
In my initial tests Golden High Flow Acrylic Paint also seems a little more transparent or translucent. That's not necessarily a good thing. I really like the matte and opaque nature of the Montana paints, especially the pink and light blue, which I must use daily.
But until recently I had not tried the Golden MARKERS, I was putting Golden High Flow Acrylic Paint in other empty markers that I had.
Left: Another Golden Marker experiment, filled with their High Flow Acrylic Paint. My goal on this day was to get fussy with the fine tip to see if I could control my hatch marks without blobbling, and get a sense of value. (That's Montana Marker added afterwards in the background, and also pink Montana Marker.)
The one problem I've always had with Montana Marker's fiber tips is that they seem a bit scratchy to me and don't flow as quickly as I would like them to. I have to contantly press the tip to get paint to flow. I shouldn't find this disruptive because when you work with a dip pen you do, after all, have to stop frequently and refill it. But for some reason I do find this disruptive.
Then I tired the fine tipped Golden marker with their High Flow Acrylic Paint (PB 60 of course), on June 12, 2014. What a difference. If flowed smoothly and evenly—it looks like my usual maker drawings as far as line quality goes—I'm not one who smooths and blends markers.
In my second example (June 25) I tried to work with the fine tip more like I would with a dip pen. I got frustrated in various areas and fussy. It is difficult for me, without more practice, to control the ink to achieve the different values I effortlessly achieve with a dip pen. Here I'm trying to angle the tip to get it to do thinner lines and a lighter deposit of ink, but at some point you have to call up more ink. If I'm going to make that work successfully with this approach I'm going to have to have more of a plan in mind, so that each time the pen is fully loaded I go to the dark values and work there until the ink runs down a bit and I can work in a lighter value elsewhere. It's doable, I just need to concentrate. Which is exactly how I learned to work with the rhythm and flow of the dip pen; so it's doable. I have to ask myself what types of marks I really want to make with these tools and if they are fun enough for the results I get. The fact that the Golden marker tips didn't feel as scratchy was a huge plus for me. (And I know that there is a certain amount of scratchiness to dip pens, depending on which one, but you can control it with the paper you use and the nibs you select, and it's a different type of scratchy. I'm sure decades from now some artist will write about how these types of markers are scratchy but because they grew up with them…)
I also found Golden's paint is a little slicker, so that in doing the hatching I sometimes get more smearing than I do with my dip pen because the thicker tip of the marker might hit the previous hatchmark before it's dry and cause it to smear. Again, I just need to get used to the placement of this tip, the drying time of the ink…
If I were doing a simple line drawing such as I did in the first example I wouldn't experience these problems of ink control—I found the ink flowed well when I was always trying to lay down the same unifrom line.
And both of these results are more satisfying than the times I have worked with the fine-tipped Montana Markers.
So all this makes me wonder—are YOU using a brand of acrylic marker: Montana, Molotow, Golden, Liquitex? Have you started working with markers made to be used with specially formulated acrylic paints? (But not the smelly, solvent based markers, because Montana and Molotow make both types).
If you are using these acrylic markers, which is your favorite brand and why? It flows well; it's the size tip you want; it dries a certain way; the nibs last longer, etc. How are you using it? Do you find your work getting larger and larger? (My work has been getting larger and larger the past 2 years, but I can't say it is all because of working with these markers. That's a discussion for another day.)
I'd love to hear what you think of these versatile tools. Send me a jpg of one of your marker pieces if you like. If there's enough interest I'll make a "page" on the blog about Markers.
Contact me at my email address with MARKER in the subject matter so I can find the emails. Write before July 30 and I'll try and put something together in August—just in time for the Minnesota State Fair, should some people be tempted to take these tools to the Fair (I know I am; hindered only by the fact that my pockets aren't deep enough to hold several markers at once while I stand sketching—it's sort of the juggling-colored-pencils-problem magnified 10 x. Yeah, watercolors are so much easier to take into the "field.")
So let me know what your preferences are if you have a moment and would like to weigh in.