This is part two of a three part series on the Hahnemühle Watercolor sketchbook. Please click on this link to read part 1.
Today I am going to look at two aspects of paper response in this watercolor sketchbook. These techniques are important to me and therefore I select books containing paper which can handle the techniques. (Or I bind my own with papers I love working on.) While you might not distress your paper with these techniques you might have other approaches that are hard on paper and can extrapolate how this paper will tolerate them.
Sketching with the Pilot Parallel Pen
It is no secret that I enjoy using tools in ways that they aren’t intended. The Pilot Parallel Pen was made for calligraphers. Its flat straight nib is ideal for making thick and thin strokes required by the various letterforms.
I look at the pen and see instead the ideal tool for making thin and thick lines in my sketches. And as important, making lines that are not always that controllable.
Why aren’t they controllable? Because I like to use the largest nib size and when you turn it edge down and “grind” it into the paper you can’t always see how the ink is going to flow out. It’s a little like feeling your way in the dark. At other times when you use the pen with the full width of the nib on the paper—the way you would pull a long stroke in the letterforms—if you don’t balance your hand and lean one way or the other, the pressure of your hand lifts the nib off the paper on the side where the pressure isn’t even. That makes for more erratic line building.
I love it.
But perhaps one of the most interesting things about using this pen for a sketch pen is the noise!
I mean it. The noise is almost as bad as fingernails on a chalkboard.
It took me three weeks of daily use to get accustomed to the scratching, scrubbing, clawing noise.
Now I don’t even notice it.
A couple weeks ago Dick came into the TV room where I was sitting and sketching, he leant over my shoulder, “What is that noise?” He asked. He could hear it from the far side of the kitchen, over my humming! It’s that loud.
I just laughed and scratched the pen across the paper a few times to demonstrate, “It’s the pen,” I said.
“Wow, doesn’t it tear up the paper?” He was amazed that because I so love paper I was doing something so abusive to it.
“Sometimes, but it depends on the paper. And I don’t have to be this crazy with it, but frankly it doesn’t even bother me any more.”
I am all about the line. I want the line I want.
So how does the Hahnemühle Watercolor sketchbook paper, which is student grade watercolor paper hold up to the Pilot Parallel pen? Superbly. Read the captions to the first three images in this post as you look at the results.
Background Textures and Pen Types
I love to work on textures. I’ll make background textures with a variety of media—depending on whether or not the top layer of work (my sketch) is going to be dry or wet media.
In the image that opens this section of today’s post you can see a sketch made with Platinum Carbon Black ink.
I find that this paper, despite its cold press texture, seems very slick when working with fountain pens. I prefer to work with my fiber-tipped brush pens like the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen or the Tombow Calligraphy pens (with either a soft or hard solid fiber brush tip.) All of these pens contain inks (including the Platinum Carbon Black) which are waterproof when they dry, and they dry quickly on this paper. A plus when you want to get on with painting and then move on to the next sketch.
I find that even with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen or the Pentel Brush Pen with pigment ink (which has a squeezy gray barrel) this paper is very opaque and work from the previous page is typically not visible. Heavy ink work is no more visible than on comparable weight papers.
Note: as with all lighter weight papers if you’re scanning and have ink showing through from the next page spread, simply insert a piece of black paper behind the page you’re scanning and you will not see the other drawings showing through in your scans.
I found that when I painted in acrylics (lightly, not heavily—I don’t use heavy acrylics in my book because of the issue of sticky pages—and don’t write to me about cornstarch and page dividers, I just don’t want to deal with it), or with gouache or watercolor, that I was still able to work on the page easily with pen, or with dry media like pencils. There is a strong enough sizing on the paper that it doesn’t evaporate with the first whisper of moisture.
You can see that this is so in the final detail image which shows lovely layering of ink. At that same time it also shows areas of lifting which didn’t damage the paper.
I found this to be a very strong paper and if you use lifting techniques in your work you will be able to adapt them to this paper.
I found that it took me a few paintings to accustom myself to this paper, after working mostly with Fabriano Artistico Hot Press 140 lb. watercolor paper and Arches watercolor boards. But I did adapt and I actually came to enjoy working on this paper.
I will wrap up my review with some additional thoughts and comments about the construction of the sketchbook on Monday.