It sometimes takes a very long time to identify the best instruments for one’s chosen craft. Unfortunately for me it has taken about fifty years to discover exactly everything I need to effortlessly enjoy making my artwork. But better late than never. For years I struggled with pens that bled, paper that was too textured, too thin or too absorbant and paint brushes that just weren’t up to the task. It is only this year that I have finally found the perfect instruments to accomplish what I want to do in my image-making. Μy father always told me that buying cheap tools was false economy. There is no question that quality supplies are worth the price; they make life so much easier.
I recently received a Namiki Pilot Falcon fountain pen as an early birthday present from Rick. It is an object of great beauty and one of the finest drawing pens available. The nib is made of 14 carat gold, plated with rhodium. The fine lines that one can achieve with it are very gratifying, and the nib glides over the paper like butter, never skipping. I have been using it every day since getting it and really enjoy the detail that it allows me. I always long to create brilliant loose and expressive work, but in the end I think my more natural inclination is to noodle.
With it came some de Atramentis document ink, also the best on the market. Using the higher quality ink was recommended for the pen because there are no harsh ingredients which could degrade the pen point, but I didn’t realize that the ink would also affect the drawing process itself. It dries almost instantly on the paper so that one doesn’t risk smudging a line that isn’t quite dry yet.
I have been using Schmincke watercolors for several years. I love my little wooden paint box with its porcelain palette. It cost a small fortune but I think I have gotten value for money. The colors are vibrant and the variety of colors, especially when mixed together, is almost infinite. I particularly have concentrated on mixing various greens in some of the illustrations I have been working on.
Paint brushes can be quite expensive but I have been collecting a few at a time over the months. Sable brushes are still considered the best and the reason is that they hold a great deal of paint so that you don’t need to keep dipping them into the color when you work. I find that if I throughly wet the brush first before putting it into the paint, I can color with it for most of a full minute before having to get more paint. All these little motion saving gestures add up and definitely increase the efficiency and pleasure of the task.
The last piece of the puzzle for me was finding the right paper. Arches 90lb hot press watercolor paper turns out to be so wonderful to work on for little detailed drawings like these that I can’t imagine ever buying any other kind. It is thick enough to absorb the watercolor without buckling and yet entirely smooth to take the pen lines effortlessly.
I am working very small, 12 X 16 cm, about the size of a postcard, since I am still creating these images for the monthly book project I tasked myself with when we first moved here in October. I have six months worth of little images of various kinds which add up to the story of each month we have been here. The process of making the drawings, even if they are not big, takes several days.