The only downside to my vacation (and this will give you an indication of what a hopeless nerd I am) were a few pen problems. First of all, though we packed virtually everything in the house into our car for the trip, I left my trusty Rotring Rapidoliner in my bedside table drawer. The only reason for such an oversight is that I had just begin to use a device called the Rotring Art Pen — a sort of fountain pen that Richard Bell uses all the time and seems to swear by. I have been interested in drawing with a fountain pen of late because I like the more variable line it gives (I love my Rapidoliner because it flows so smoothly but the line can seem a little mechanical and rigid at time) and so I have been two-timing the Rapidoliner with this long, black stranger.
The Art Pen has one obvious design flaw, the back end tapers to a near point which mean that when you take off the cap, you can’t snap it onto the back and have to lay it down somewhere and then be mildly distracted about whether or not you’ve left it behind which may effect your drawing in a sort of stone-in-your-shoe sort of way.
Then, poolside, I discovered a more significant problem.
The Art Pen comes with a half dozen little prefilled plastic ink cartridges. The ink, I discovered after laboriously drawing this geezery couple and then beginning to slather on the old water color, is not waterproof. The ink began to branch out into spidery tendrils and my lines became fuzzy.
Fortunately I had bought a special bladder, the “Piston Fill Ink Converter”, that allows me to fill the pen manually and later I tossed out the feeble cartridge and pumped in some India Ink.
Another minor problem arose which is that the bladder, which is a sort of syringe that you advance and withdraw by rotating a little stick at the end, doesn’t seem to draw entirely of its own accord and one must ocasionally recrank it up and refill the nib. If you don’t do this very carefully, big drops of ink fall onto your drawing.
All that having been said, I continue to use the Art Pen but plan to send Richard a nasty note.
I’ll admit, I am a fickle pen owner. I search for years, find perfection, but my eyes keep roaming. Another pen I keep on the side is called the Grumbacher Artist Pen (there’s not alot of creativity in the pen naming community, it would seem) which has the teeniest needle point and the same pointed-end, cap-losing design as the Art Pen.
It is not refillable but the line is so fine it seems to last forever anyway. I did a drawing or two with it on my trip and still quite like it but for optimal performance, use very smooth paper.
Finally, the Art-Pal Creative pen — a very groovy-looking, gold pen with a brush nib that you fill with the ink of your choice. Looks, however, are horribly deceiving. It is a piece of junk. I filled it, used it briefly twice, and the nib sort of crumbled and the tip broke off. It might be possible to replace the nib but the pen came from Jerrys Artarama with no instructions and no way to buy new nibs. I’ve written to them for explanation but so far they have been mute.
And finally, I am determined to pick up some gouache today. I tried working with watercolor and no line drawing but the results felt wishy-washy. I need to be able to add a layer that is more defined and sharp and bright on top of watercolor and I have resorted to white ink put on with a dip pen and then tinted the ink with watercolor which works okay but is fiddly and hard to control.
I’m sure if I paid better attention to my lessons from Roz I wouldn’t have this dilemma but it seems easier to just buy more art supplies.