Inktober52 Art So Far…

“Rooks, Mongolia” – Prompt: Flight
Esterbrook #825EF nib, Noodler’s American Eel ink, Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

I got an email last month from Jake Parker, the founder of Inktober, announcing in new event! During the original Inktober artists do a pen and ink drawing a week for the month of October. Tens of thousands of artists from all over the world partipate, but it’s only for one month. Inktober52 spreads the love out over the entire year…one drawing a week at a time. Jake sends out a “prompt” on Thursday to set the theme for the following week. How could I resist? I couldn’t. Five weeks in and here are my contributions. I’ll post the new ones a month at a time. I usually do my piece on Friday and post it same day on Instagram at #foxartist if you’re already there or here, which will take you to my feed. I’m also posting them in my FoxStudio Facebook group here. You can see what other folks are doing at #inktober52 here.

If you think this would be fun, it’s never too late. Pen, ink and paper, that’s all you need. Any pen, any ink, any paper. Send me a message and I’ll send you Jake’s email address to get on the mailing list. I don’t want to post it publicly.

I posted the first two drawings previously but wanted to show everything so far in one post. From now on it will be the new ones at the end of each month. Follow me so you don’t miss any of them!

“Patio Chair” – Prompt: Shadow
Perry & Co. #120EF nib, Noodler’s American Eel ink, Canson Vidalon Vellum
Brick”– Prompt: Brick
Hinks Wells ‘Rob Roy’ #2687 M nib, Noodler’s American Eel ink, Strathmore 300 vellum bristol
(the back story: we found this brick in a wall when we were renovating a 1901 Victorian back in the 1990s, complete with paw prints. I took it with me when we moved)
“Snake”- Prompt: Snake
Gillott #659 crowquill nib, PopelPen walnut inks from Russia, Stillman & Birn Delta paper
“Balloon Aquarium”- Prompt: Balloon
Esterbrook Art&Drafting 357 nib (very rare), Platinum Carbon ink,
Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

New Pen and Ink Studies

“Golden Gate Park” Esterbrook #354 nib on 6×4″ Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

I’ll have some paintings to show soon, but lately I’ve been mostly diving into dip pen and ink sketch studies, trying out various nibs I’ve been accumulating for the last year. I used dip pens for calligraphy and drawing back in the 1970s/1980s, but moved away from pen and ink for color illustration and then, for the last 20 years, oil painting.

Life moves on, changes are made and now I’m going to be painting somewhat less, but still entering a selection of good juried shows and doing subjects that I’ve wanted to get to for quite awhile. I’ve also realized that I don’t really enjoy painting on location. It’s always felt like, well, Work. But sketching? Never anything but a joy and a pleasure. So I’ll be doing my oil painting in the studio from now on and working on location in pen and ink, sometimes watercolor and maybe some other dry media like Berol color sticks.

“Masai Mara Acacia” Esterbrook #358 EF on approx. 4×6″ Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

I’ve done these three landscape and tree studies in the last couple of days, trying out what are considered to be some of the finest nibs made specifically for artists.

I’ve also added handlettering back to the mix, something I’ve also did back in the last century. You can learn more about that and see three sketches that also use pen lettering over at my SketchWild site. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments!

“Near Goose Lake” Hunt 100 nib on 4×6″ Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

Test Driving Dip Pen Nibs

Once upon a time (back in the mid 1970s), when I first had professional art aspirations, my first media was pen and ink, heavily influenced by medieval illumination and Alphonse Mucha. I used them for many years when I was a freelance graphic designer. In the early 1990s, after getting a BFA Illustration from the Academy of Art (then) College, I was able to realize a childhood dream and spent two years in private study with a local artist learning to paint in oil. And since 1997, that’s what I’ve pursued professionally. But I never quite let go of pen and ink, using it for sketching on my travels. Everything from sketching animals…

…to spending a morning drawing these ruins I saw in Evora, Portugal.

The revival of location sketching with the urban sketchers movement and more has inspired me to return to my roots. I’ve been using Sakura Micron pens for years for my Mongolia journals, both for writing and sketching, along with other trips, but had become increasingly irritated with them. They don’t seem to hold a consistent tip anymore, which means I can’t trust them. I did some research and finally settled on what now appears to the the high quality standard, Copic Multiliners, and bought a full set of them. But…dip pens still beckoned. They have a feel and make a line that can’t be created any other way. So for a year now I’ve been building a collection of nibs via Etsy and eBay and, using Jet Pens excellent reviews, buying a half dozen different bottles of ink, experimenting a bit between my painting work. But can I use them in the field without making an unholy mess? Well, late 19th and early 20th century artists like Joseph Pennell, Henry Pitz, Earnest Watson, Arthur Guptill and William Robinson Leigh did it. And that led me to the wonderful world of inkwells, including ones made specifically for traveling. I’ll be doing an inkwell post in the future, along with discussions of nibs, ink and paper. Once my SketchWild site launches I’ll be offering dip pen drawing instruction. If you think you’d be interested in that let me know in the comments.
Over the past month or so I’ve been “test driving” nibs while also trying out possible painting subjects. Of of yesterday, here’s what I’ve done:

I was treated to an EXTREMELY rare sighting of wild bactrian camels, a herd of sixteen or so, heading south in the Gobi in 2016. They crossed the road in front us and were a long way off, but my photos were good enough to do these little movement studies, freehand with no pencil underdrawing. I used a Hunt 100 Artist nib and Platinum Carbon ink on Strathmore 300 vellum bristol, a 12×9″ pad. All of the drawings in this post were done on that paper.
I was considering entering a juried show that required corvids as the subject. I ultimately decided not to enter but did have fun trying out possible subjects with my dip pens, once again directly with no pencil underdrawing. I’ve had fun getting nibs from a variety of countries including Italy, France and England. Even some from the era of the Soviet Union with a hammer and sickle on them, purchased through Etsy from someone who lives in Ukraine! And they’re a really nice nib!
The subject here is takhi/Przewalski’s horse, all photographed in Mongolia. This sheet really shows how different the various nibs are. Hunt 100 Artist/Platinum Carbon ink; Gillott #290/Platinum Carbom ink; Gillott #170/Platinum Carbon ink; Gillott #303 EF/Noodler’s Black ink; Gillott #404/ Perle Noir ink; Esterbrook 356 Art & Drafting/Diamonte Jet Black ink



Contining on: All done with Higgins Fountain Pen India Ink. Hunt #102 crowquill; Hunt #108 crowquill; Gillott #659 crowquill; Esterbrook #48 Falcon; Hunt #100 Artist (new); Gillott #293 Public Pen; Hunt #103 Mapping; Hunt #100 Artist (new); Hunt #100 (vintage)

Over the last couple of days I’ve done a series of small drawings on the Strathmore 300 vellum bristol. This time, unlike the ones above, I did do a light preliminary pencil sketch. They took maybe an hour and change at most. The purpose was to explore how each nib feels when used for an actual drawing. All of them have things I like about them but I found I really did like the Gillott #303 Extra Fine quite a lot.

Race horse-Hunt #100 (new)
Domestic bactrian camel-Gillott #303 Extra Fine
Domestic Mongol horse-Gillott #170

On the ones above I added the background shape both to pop out the white of the light sides of the animals and to see how filling in an area would work with that particular nib. All were ok, but want to experiment more.

Siberian ibex-Gillott #29
Pika-Hunt #102 crowquill; not thrilled with how the fur came out but that’s why it’s good to experiment

And the Copic pens? Love, love, love them. I’ve joined artist Cathy Johnson’s “Sketch With Me!” Facebook group. She does virtual events one weekend a month. This is what I posted in October, an arrangement of squash from our garden. Copic pen and watercolor in a Stillman and Birn Zeta series wirebound sketchbook.

Inktober 2018- “Kangaroo”

Inktober 18- "Kangaroo" (1)

Inktober 18 “Kangaroo” Today’s piece is, like the gorilla, doubling as a study for a painting. Photographing the kangaroos at the San Francisco Zoo some years ago inadvertently ended up with this cropping, which I really, really liked. Tried out a looser outline and line work just for fun. Strathmore 400 vellum bristol, Esterbrook Radio 956 nib and Diamine Jet Black Ink.