These days, I have quite a nice little arsenal of pens (here each presents a self-portrait), and they are influencing how and what I draw more and more.
First off is (1) my trusty nib holder. It’s a General’s #204B with a cork finger grip area, now deeply dyed with a couple of years of various inks. Despite my collection of nibs, this one is permanently in my holder: aHunt Ex-Fine Ball Pointed (my sight is beginning to go and Jack had to read the tiny letters off the nib) with a nice big reservoir hole. It’s a squishy nib that can draw very fine lines or big fat ones.
(2) came from Venice with my Friend, Tom. The holder is champagne colored Murano glass with steel hardware and it’s a lot more solid and weighty than everyday pen. I like the weight but am nervous to carry it away from my desk. It came with this nib that looks like a steak knife which lays down sharp lines, a little less flexible that the Hunt. In my current journal I am only drawing in browns, blacks and yellows ï¿½ my main inks are Doc Martins’ radiant concentrated Sepia and Golden Brown and Daler-Rowney’s FW Acrylic Artist Ink. The former is a little more transparent that I always want, the latter is thicker, almost like paint and takes a while to dry.
(3) I’ve mentioned my bamboo pen before. I use it with any ink but most often Sum-i ink in a heavy stone inkwell. It draws all sorts of line depending on how hard I press and feels lovely and organic.
(4) is a Faber Castell PITT pen, brown ink, preferably, S or F, and usually in my pocket. The ink is permanent so I can watercolor over it right away and depending on the age of the pen it can be smooth and creamy or scratchy and textured. I can draw very little broken lines with it or bear down and make dark ones. It’s less alive than dip pens but the best marker I’ve found.
(5) After years of searching, I found a fountain pen I really like. I got it in Italy: a Columbus Maxima and it’s very heavy and silver and cost about 80 Euros. I use disposable cartridges with non-waterproof ink which I can smear with a wet fingertip. At first, I thought the tip was too stiff but I carry it with me everywhere and it had become a good friend.
These pens tell me quite a lot about my drawing at this stage. I like dip pens because they slow me down — I take my time with open bottles of ink and the small load of ink they can sustain. It also makes me feel connected to centuries of artists who worked in just this way. My love of technical pens like the Rapidoliner has ben replaced by a desire for variable lines that give drawings more interest and life.
It’s also interesting to see how my pen choices have changed. Here’s the inventory I did a year and a half ago. The entire original cast has changed.