Pens & Ink

I really want to do Inktober properly this time around, which means an ink sketch on Instagram/ Reddit everyday. As unpredictable as my personal life is at the moment, that’s going to mean that there will be days when I don’t have the energy or inclination to pick up and draw anything. So to avoid days like those, or at least make it easier to get into flow on those days to produce something, I’ve started preparing.

Every time I pick up pens and ink again, I remember just how much I love this medium. Graphite is gorgeous too, but there’s something about ink that pulls me into a zen like zone of pure focus. That’s a welcome relief from how I’ve been feeling lately, so I’m going to give this Inktober my best. Ink allows me to feel, regulate, and express the stuff I’ve been repressing so much lately- more rage, sorrow, grief, and hopelessness than I’ve felt in a very long time, despite the medications I’m on. I’ve felt this way on and off since I was in my mid teens, with long stretches of normalcy in between, stitched together by (a lot of) substance abuse.

But anyway. Pen and ink. My favourite tools for ink sketches, as ever, are still old fashioned dip pens and bottled ink. Unfortunately, they’re just not that convenient, and I’ve since found an almost perfect workaround: the Platinum 3776 Century fountain pen, with a Soft Fine nib (14k gold!) to emulate the pressure variation of a dip pen. The cheap steel nibs of dip pens are still nicer to use, with far better ink flow, but as a portable option the Platinum is pretty good. It’s inked up with Diamine/ Cult Pens’s Deep Dark Brown. Otherwise, I use a variety of cheaper sketching steel nibs on cheap nib holders, with Diamine Sepia ink. Zebra ballpoints are cool, too- surprisingly good for studies.

For paper, I’ve been experimenting a lot, trying to find a happy medium. The Stillman and Birn Gamma series is excellent for ballpoint pens and very good for wetter dip pens, their Zeta/ Epsilon series is gorgeous for fountain pens and dip pens that tend a little to the dry side, and also excellent for the line and wash technique used by artists such as Marc Taro Holmes. The Leuchtturm master notebook (plain pages) are a good all rounder; great for ink sketches but balks at the slightest touch of a water brush. My mid year resolution is to buy no more sketchbooks in my hunt for ‘the one to rule them all’; but rather to use up everything that I already have. Otherwise, it’ll just be a waste of money and paper.

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