With Christmas only a few days away I found myself in my kitchen with counters crowded with ingredients I'd just picked up at the equally crowded grocery store. Rather than put everything away, I started cooking. My mind was on food, not the art tools I grabbed to sketch while cooking.
I ended up with a sketchbook made from an old atlas cover and rough watercolor paper, an empty Sailor- Fude De Mannen fountain pen, a bottle of J. Herbin 1670 "Caroube de Chypre" ink and a few of the Happy Couleurs watercolor brush pens that I've been asked to review. After filling the fountain pen with ink I grabbed a watercolor brush and my water bucket to make a wash with the ink lines or dilute the pigments in the watercolor brush pens.
I never took a liking to the Fude De Mannen bent nib. The tip of the nib in the green pen is bent at a 55 degree angle. The Blue version of the Fude De Mannen pen is bent at 45 degrees. I hadn't used the pen in years. The ink flow is not good on either watercolor paper or drawing paper. I knew I wouldn't be very focused on my sketching while my mind was on the upcoming festivities. It was the perfect time to just scribble a bit and give the pen one last try.
The rough, arches watercolour paper and the Sailor Fude pen are a terrible match! I did quick scribbles as I gathered the ingredients and struggled with the pen. I thought I could make the lines more to my liking by manipulating water around them with a brush or the watercolor brush pen. No. The ink is more permanent than I remembered. Nothing worked. I closed the sketchbook and finished making my sunflower seed balls.
I find myself grateful for two things. The first is that I tested the recipe in time to cross it off the menu for Christmas Eve dinner. I find them delicious, but they won't work well with our tradition of making Purple Sweet Potato Pierogies. The second is that I've fulfilled my requirement of making at least one sketch every week that I'm totally unhappy about. If I don't, I feel I haven't stretched myself by trying a new technique, a new tool or a new way of seeing something.
This morning, before tossing the Fude nib pen in the pile of art supplies to donate, I decided to give it one last try. I watched a video online to see what other artists do with this pen. Inspired by the lines I saw being made, I decided to try it one last time. This time, I tried it on file folder paper I'd recycled into another handmade sketchbook.
I love drawing in ink with a fountain pen on old file folders. Most pens will glide beautifully across the surface. The last time I'd used my Fude pen, I hadn't discovered the joy of the file folders.
The pen was fantastic! It's now a welcome companion to my other fountain pens and I'll start using it on a regular basis ... on file folders.
Another bonus of finding the Sailor Fude useful is that it uses a lot of ink. I have a lot of beautiful ink to transform into dancing lines in my file folder sketchbooks.
I'm heading back into the kitchen to make the yummy vegan chocolate and sea buckthorn fudge!
Happy Holidays! Happy sketching, painting and exploring the world with pen and brush!
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Chris Carter - Artist
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