The Simplest of Reasons

October 24, 2022

Sometimes the only reason I do sketch-related actions is because—the paint was already out, I’d run out of time, I wanted to see what would happen, I was following my nose, I wanted to push something, I just wanted to get to some sort of “finish” and go to bed.

There are a million reasons to do something when you’re sketching.

The best thing, I think, is to keep on sketching, until you arrive at something.

But if you have limited paints out and want to sketch, and let’s say you don’t like the weak pen line going on in your sketch (as I didn’t here) then sometimes going on is about “why not?”

Play around with things. Go sketch right now.

Today’s Sketch: Brush pen and watercolor (with white gouache mixed in the background), on OLD Winsor and Newton Hot Press Watercolor paper. (I do not recommend the new and revised Winsor and Newton Watercolor paper released around 2018 or so. It uses a vegetable starch sizing and is not a fun paper to use!)

Here’s the pen sketch before I put in the watercolor. 

Quick sketch from an @earthsworld photo.

  1. Reply

    Loving your pen and watercolor portraits! So strong and so great. I just received some Twin Rocker cold press watercolor paper and I’m anxious to try it out. I gave up on the Kilimanjaro and am using a reliable paper that I have had on hand that I have used numerous times, Lanaquarelle cold press. I can’t find anything that specifies the type of sizing it has, only that it is “lightly sized”. I’ve had a lot of enjoyment from it so far, and as long as they don’t mess with it I will continue to use it. BTW, I used to use a crow quill pen and bottled ink a lot but with 3 inquisitive cats in the house that has become way too hazardous. But I sure love the variable line one can get with a crow quill pen.

    1. Reply

      Kimberly, thanks for stopping by the blog to check things out. I’m glad you’re giving Twin Rocker a try. I haven’t had any for over 10 years, during which time the company was taken over by the founders’ apprentices I believe, so I have no idea how the paper is now, compared to what I used to get, but I believe they will have worked hard to keep up the quality.

      I am not a fan of Lanaquarelle paper. I haven’t used any since the 1990s. It used to be lovely but it changed and wasn’t suited to the work I do, even visual journaling work (so I stopped making books out of it). It is too soft a surface for me (definitely too soft for me to work on with dip pen), and doesn’t take washes the way I like to work. (Just a heads up since it’s unclear how long you’ve had your Lanaquarelle, if it is from an old stash you’ve had for a long long time, don’t buy any new paper in that line until you go into a store and test a sample of the paper the way it’s currently made.)

      If you like that paper as it is currently made I would suggest you look at some of the other papers I don’t like, which have starch sizing, because you’re working differently from what I’m doing and looking for something different so you’re most likely to find it one of the papers that has shifted to starch sizing. You can find the papers on the blog under paper name as a key word in the search engine.

      Depending on how you like to work you might also try Strathmore Mixed Media 500 Series. (Just the 500 series for the white paper. For their tanned paper they only make it up to the 400 series.) It’s starch sized, but it is a wet media paper, dip pen works great on it, and I am very fond of it for reasons you can read all about on the blog.

      Good luck finding new papers that work for what you want to do.
      And don’t give up on having bottled ink with inquisitive cats—be sure to decant only a small thimbleful at a time (better for your ink anyway; use little plastic paint cups if you want a cap, but I like the nozzle protectors on water bottles you get at the gas station). Put that in a simple cardboard platform (you can use 2-sided tape) and the cat’s can’t knock it over.

      No need to give up something you love, especially a dip-pen line!

  2. Reply

    I’m trying to remember when I got the Lanaquarelle…it would have been withing the past few years, probably pre-pandemic but not much earlier than that. I have about 8 more full sheets left of it so it will be a while before I run out of that stash. Yes, it’s more fragile so I don’t use it for some things but not others. I will add the Strathmore to my list of papers to try, thanks! And thanks for the tip on using bottled ink around the cats! Funny story: when I was just a youngster, in my early 20’s, I was using crow quill and bottled ink and managed to spill the whole bottle…ON BOTH OF MY BARE FEET. I had to crawl on my knees with my feet help up off the floor to go get something to clean up both the spill and my feet!

    1. Reply

      If your Lanaquarelle is that recent then it isn’t gelatin sized, it’s their new (and to my tastes) inferior version. But if it is working for you keep using it and check out the papers that I mentioned as needed. Had to laugh at you crawling with inky feet. I once almost spilt ink all over the carpet at a museum! Caught my ink just in time and have never taken dip pen into any public space like that since! Unless they are giving me a table to set up at! Carry on!

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