A Week with “The Closer” Part 1

August 26, 2014


Above: Spread from my 9 x 12.5 inch Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook. (Image looks a little lavender to me, so this doesn't accurately represent the bright white of the book's paper.)

I finished watching all the episodes of "The Closer" recently and it was useful to finish this test journal.

I was using the Pentel Pocket brush pen to sketch, but then because I wanted to add shadows I used the Niji waterbrush to to pull watersoluble (dye-based and fugitive!) ink off a thick black Pentel Colorbrush.

This paper isn't sized for wet media, but I find if you limit your water you can get by with it. The surface of the paper drags on the brush and you can't push the washes around the way you can on watercolor paper, but it's still doable.

This short post is brought to you by my need to save my hands and shoulders for sketching at the Minnesota State Fair. I'll be back to writing volumes before you know it.

    • Cat
    • August 27, 2014

    Roz, I’m always inspired by your daily drawings, both because of the way they capture the subjects in a fresh and vivid way and because you are disciplined enough to keep drawing no matter what. Thank you for your posts, I check them every day.

    I have a number of suggestions to make based on my own several years of experimentation and lightfastness tests with various materials and tools. I hope something in them might be useful and maybe even new to you.

    First, there are a number of fountain pen inks that are wonderful for drawing and shading/washes, as you know. For this post I’ll just mention one of them: Diamine Grey ink, available from Jet Pens and Goulet Pens among other places. This is a true gray ink, totally water-soluble, and TOTALLY LIGHTFAST, or at least unchanged after lines and washes were stuck to the inside surface of a sunny window for a YEAR. You can put it in a fountain pen or a refillable marker (more info on both types of tool another time too if you are interested – you can put together something very functional and capacious yet compact for less than 4 bucks) or in a water brush or just bring along a dropper bottle full of ink and some little vessels to make water dilutions in. Or draw with it and watch it move when you swish on the water. It’s not granular like graphite, but very smooth.

    So if you’re tired of fugitive dye-based dark grey inks, I recommend trying some Diamine Grey fountain pen ink. You get a lot in a bottle and it’s not expensive.

    I also found some other light grey to black inks in various shades and some wonderful browns that are not always as completely lightfast as the Diamine but are much better than most including the “lightfast” (not!) Walnut drawing ink that is widely sold with art supplies.

    Hope this helps. Again, thanks for what you do.

  1. Reply

    Cat, thanks for reading, and for the kind comments.

    The more you read my blog you’ll realize that while for some things I insist on using only archival inks, paints, etc., while for other things I just love playing with any old thing, including fugitive inks. If it has a high fun factor I’ll use it.

    I always specify that what I’m using is fugitive or in some other way non-archival if I post something using such an item because I have students who go off and use the same stuff and then are disappointed when things fade, etc. and say, “But YOU use it Roz!?”

    The ease of using these pens is so fun that I always have some around for sketching in the house and in life drawing sessions.

    The ink you mention, however sounds very interesting. I think Dick might have some in his ink “collection” so I’ll see if that’s so and put some in an fountain pen, or if he doesn’t I’ll have to check it out next time I make an order.

    Thank you for the heads up about it. I am always on the outlook for new fun factor items!!!!

    • Cat
    • August 27, 2014

    Thanks for your reply, Roz. Here’s a bit more of my findings:

    Some other good water-soluble fountain pen inks for drawing and/or washes:

    1. Macassar by Diamine. This is a gorgeous deep, dark, rich brown, good for writing or drawing. It is entirely water-soluble and washes like a dream. It’s not entirely lightfast but pretty good – not changing a lot until after about 2-3 months in a sunny window. Then it slowly begins losing its brown tone and shifts to sepia and then to dark gray over the rest of a year. Still better than that “Walnut” drawing ink sold by art supply stores, which is much lighter in tone (and therefore less useful) and also less lightfast than the Macassar. Except for the lightfast “bulletproof” water-resistant Noodlers browns, this is the most lightfast fountain pen brown ink I have found as well as one of the most useful because of its color and behavior, and I have tested dozens of browns (and other colors). All of them, including the other Diamine browns, are less lightfast than the Macassar and most are also paler or an off color.

    2. Gris Nuage by J. Herbin. This is a pale slightly bluish gray that appears to be lightfast as far as I have followed it – six months in a sunny window. It’s not good for writing because it is too light, but for atmospheric delicate cloud like washes it can be lovely.

    3. Diamine Jet Black – this is a true black with a very slight coolish tilt, unlike some of the other very dark inks, many called black, that have a strongly colored undertone when washed thinner. It is not bad lightfastness-wise, though not archival. It will fade eventually in a sunny window but not as fast as most other fountain pen blacks (you would be surprised at how fast many of them go – or maybe not, given your experience with dye-based markers etc.). Good for writing, drawing, and washes as long as you don’t plan to hang them permanently in a sunny room. Unlike the Noodlers bulletproof blacks, which are water-resistant, the Diamine Jet black is very smooth in washes.

    4. I’ll add this though it is harder to find now that Goulet no longer carries it. There are still places it can be found. It is the loveliest deep reddish brown, water-soluble ink I have found if you are looking for a burnt sienna color and more lightfast than most inks in this color range. It will start to fade after a couple of months in a sunny window. It is De Atramentis Terre di Sienna. It’s gorgeous to write with too.

    Re trying inks in case Dick’s ink collection doesn’t contain these: Except for ink #4, you can get about 2 ml of the first three for less than 2 bucks each from Goulet Pens as samples.

    Re inexpensive, compact fountain pens and refillable markers: I recommend the Pilot Petit series from JetPens, the Japanese stationary site. The Pilot Petit 1 series have a steel fountain pen nib which works very well, and the Petit 2 and Petit 3 series have two kinds of marker nibs, sometimes better for quick drawings. They are transparent and come in different colors, which is fun. They are also quite short when capped, which saves space. Now here is what makes them especially good: if you get some of the correct kind of silicone grease (Goulet Pens has it), you can dispense with the accompanying ink cartridges and convert the entire base of the Petit pen to an ink reservoir of your choice. (As you probably know, fountain pen enthusiasts call the result an “eyedropper pen,” and it harks back to the earliest fountain pen designs.) You just smear the grease over the outside of the threads, use a dropper (Goulet also sells these) to fill with ink, and when you screw the filled base back on, you have a non leaking pen with a large, visible ink supply. Works very well; I think there is an online video somewhere of the grease sealing process with these pens, maybe at the Goulet Pens site. These Pilot Petit pens cost less than 4 bucks and in my experience don’t leak when the grease is applied properly, even when carried in a pocket or generally banged around. They also seal tightly and the nibs don’t dry out readily when sealed.

    Hope this isn’t too much info – I’m not affiliated in any way with the pen/ink sites I mention. But I do believe it is fun stuff, and I would have loved to know it before I began all my ink tests years ago. (If you are interested in the behaviors of other colors of fountain pen inks, let me know.)

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