If Only They Designed Fountain Pens Like This

Posted April 5, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Creativity, Writing and Journalling

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Since I was much younger I’ve fancied a fountain pen with floral designs. I thought for sure that with all the Chinese manufacturers of these pens selling wares in North America, that there would be some nice florals like chrysanthemums for sale but it wasn’t the case.

Perhaps chintz florals are horribly out of style? Maybe so, but botanical and scientific illustrations are not. I could only find two examples online and one of them was out of stock and the other one was too expensive.

So I did some mock-ups in Photoshop.


And then I thought some scientific illustrations on the caps might be nice, all colour-coordinated with a pattern on the barrel.


It wouldn’t take much to design something more masculine with different patterns and schematics or architectural drawings on the caps instead of florals.

I don’t imagine printing these on the barrels and caps of fountain pens would be any more expensive that printing a marble pattern for example.

I would like to see designs like this in pens that do not cost $300. There were some beautiful Maki-e designs for sale and they were hand painted and thus expensive, but what’s the matter with printing nice designs like this on a regular, every day pen that costs $20 to $30?

Patterns like this NEVER go out of style. I’m quite sure men would enjoy a bit of zip in a pen as well. Marble patterns, gold nibs or highlights, and special editions of rainbow and metallic colours are unimaginative. We need colour and pattern and science and art!!

Three of the patterns I used on barrels were created in Gliftex, the most wonderful computer software, and one I’ve used extensively for 15 years. (Second from left on top image; second from left and last pen on bottom image.) Pen companies could use that program to make beautiful designs for embellishment.

I guess it’s easier to print a lime green or metallic orange pen and call it “special edition.” How many rainbow-coloured pens by the same manufacturer can one person buy? Look at the whole world of creativity and pattern that pen manufacturers can’t be bothered with. Too expensive?

Nope, I’m not buying it.

The next day I decided to do up a couple more, this time with maps and more modern floral pops.


All the patterns on the barrels of these pens were created in Gliftex. These patterns are sharp, sharp, sharp. I’ve never understood why professional graphics people don’t use that program. There is a professional version.

Yummy, I like the last one this way…



I Bought a Pilot Parallel 2.4 mm Pen

Posted April 1, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Writing and Journalling

Tags: , ,

A couple of weeks ago I took out my Speedball nib set to use in my sketchbook. One of my bottles of F-W Acrylic Artists Ink (Sap Green) had turned to sludge, and the other (Sepia) was workable although slightly sludgy at the bottom. However, I just could not face using a dip pen. It’s scratchy, it’s tricky, the ink splodges around indiscriminately, and after using my fountain pens which flow so easily, I felt I could not handle the anxiety of using the dip pen.

There are some calligraphic fountain pens, but they are expensive. Pilot has the Pilot Parallel pen which is much less to buy. It comes with two ink cartridges and a cleaning converter but you have to buy the Pilot CON-50 converter to use with it, or refill the ink cartridges with a dropper. I thought I might as well get the converter at the same time as it works in my Pilot Metropolitan too. I just have to wait about three weeks for the mail.


When buying things like this I look at reviews and online feedback. I decided to buy the 2.4 mm nib for my purposes. The smaller 1.5 mm nib didn’t get good reviews, and the two larger ones would be too large for what I do.


While looking at reviews and web sites I found a site that offers printable practice sheets specifically for these pens in all widths.

I can fill the converter with some of my Waterman Absolute Brown ink for practicing, and thus use that up before buying some fancier colours. I have been having trouble with my shoulder and tendinitis and carpal tunnel in my writing arm, so a pen that flows well is crucial.

I was rather impressed with the way you can use this as a broad nib and then turn it on its side to do thin line flourishes and tails. All in the same pen, and no dipping!



Touch up Furniture Repairs with Coloured Pencils

Posted March 28, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Creativity

Tags: , ,

We have an old maple washstand with towels bars at the side. I use it for magazines and my stereo and over the years the towel bar on the right has broken off twice.

This time when my husband repaired it, he used wood glue, wood filler, and a screw to repair it, leaving some lines and a filled hole in a cream colour. I have found that stain won’t colour this although sometimes if I mix a bit of stain into the filler beforehand, it will blend in.

For these repairs that have already been filled and dried, I decided to camouflage the lines and filled holes with coloured pencils. I used these four colours from Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils:

180 – Raw Umber
187 – Burnt Ochre
283 – Burnt Siena
177 – Walnut Brown

It did a pretty good job and you have to be close up to see the repair. In these pictures the camera flash made the hole look lighter, it’s more golden in reality and thus more camouflaged than this. I started with one colour and blended over, feathering the colour out and filling in repeatedly for the wood glue lines.


It’s certainly better than having a spot of cream-coloured filler winking at you from across the room. You can tell it has been repaired but it looks fairly normal.

After putting a non-yellowing satin urethane over the coloured repairs, I realized how badly the rest of the piece needed a coat of urethane. Another job for another day.



Mixing Waterman Tender Purple and Absolute Brown Fountain Pen Ink

Posted March 13, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Writing and Journalling

Tags: , ,

I have not been completely happy with the Absolute Brown so thought I’d try mixing it with the purple to get a rich, dark colour. I wasn’t quite sure what would happen but I like the results.

I was using a separate vial and pipettes so this wasn’t exact. I liked the 1:1 ratio. When I did more mixing I got a bit too much brown which results in an aubergine or eggplant colour. I filled my Parker 51 pen and I’ll use it up. For the next fill I have put two small spoons of purple back in; that should be just right.


This was fun but I can’t see myself doing it too often, because I like the Tender Purple as it comes from the bottle. It’s a good way to use up the brown ink though. It’s nice to have the option of mixing colours a bit to get something different without buying more ink.

Another new thing learned!

The Brain and Cursive Writing (Why Your Fountain Pen is Useful)

Posted March 13, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Health, Writing and Journalling

Tags: , , ,

I was a bit surprised when I got my vintage fountain pen cleaned up and operational in January that my cursive writing abilities seemed to have gone awry.

I could write but got confused with certain letters, how to form them or how to join them, and I had forgotten how to write some capital letters. It took me about 2 weeks to remember how to write an upper and lower case “z” in cursive because it was like the memory was there but the movement wasn’t accessible. I’ve been printing for years for clarity and since e-mail took over correspondence I rarely use my cursive writing. Big mistake.

According to these articles, not only fine motor skills but also neural pathways can atrophy (or never be built in the case of children) if you don’t use your brain for cursive writing. What a revelation!



That really spurred me on to a regular practice of cursive writing. My writing has gradually improved as the memory of the movements came back but I still find I have to slow down on some words to make sure I’m joining the letters properly. I sometimes find it hard to remember to do the third loop on cursive “m” because of course in typing it only has two loops. The join between lower case “b” and other letters sometimes is hard for me to remember. I still can’t believe it, can’t believe something that was once automatic has to be thought about so carefully to get it right.

Cursive writing with a fountain pen is so enjoyable though, amazing how it makes a difference. I am enjoying using the new Rohrer and Klingner Alt-Goldgrün ink I bought for the Pilot Metropolitan pen. Even with a fine nib like that it shades very prettily.

I bought a nice new journal, another one from Peter Pauper Press but slightly larger than my other one.


New Ink and Fountain Pen Order

Posted March 7, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Writing and Journalling

Tags: , ,

I was disappointed that the Waterman Absolute Brown didn’t look the way I wanted it to when I applied water for washes; it was too pink. I’ve been looking for a green water soluble ink for my Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen and finally found one colour I loved by Rohrer & Klingner called Alt-Goldgrün (Old Golden Green.) I’ve been looking for a green ink for years and this one is very different than the usual greens from other manufacturers.

I’ll be using it to write with in a journal but I saw someone online using it in a flower painting and it looked good so you never know, I might be able to use it in sketches and wash it with water.

Since I was going to pay $8 shipping anyway to get this from a specialty store (Wonder Pens), I decided to buy some waterproof ink and a specific pen to use it in. I don’t want to switch between soluble and non-soluble ink in my pens. I’ve been dithering about this forever but feel good to have made a decision.

Unfortunately the converter (to fill the pen from bottled ink) has to be bought separately which is another expense but I wanted to try this and my Dad sent me some money recently, so it’s a small treat.


I know, I know, I caved and joined the trending hipsters.

I like the look of the grey ink instead of black for pen work. I find black a bit too harsh. Here’s hoping this will work out…

(Update: and it did–great Lamy pen and Noodler’s ink, works well with watercolours and the green is superb for writing, flows well.)

Cut Your Own Zentangle Cards

Posted March 6, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Books, Creativity

Tags: , , ,

My arms have been bothering me for weeks with tendinitis and shoulder pain. So I’ve been pulling back to making small things.

On my sketching blog I hauled out some zentangle books because the human bone and muscle I was drawing seemed to suggest patterns. I enjoyed that so much that I thought I’d try to work in pieces of art and pattern.

I bought three additional books. They aren’t expensive and I suppose I didn’t really need more than one but the creative inspiration appealed to me. I’ve had an idea for a large watercolour with a galah bird and beetles for years and this might work in there.

The book The Beauty of Zentangle is an attractive book and shows many examples of the method applied to regular art. Doing squares never appealed to me but this does.


Two weeks later I was speaking to someone about mandalas and meditative aspects of zentangle work in the round and bought these two. They are to augment my other three books on mandalas. Zen Mandalas is more of the same but she has some interesting things on colour and design.


I thought this one was quite different as it encourages drawing things like cats and using a theme with that and adding mice and fish, whatever you feel goes there. It’s more about drawing themes and symmetrical composition, with examples of spreading out into borders and various colourations.


Zen Doodling Mandalas leaves all the baggage of “certified” teachers and “correct” or proprietary patterns and official die cut shapes, bought from official teachers, and the constraints inherent in such systems of correctness, and encourages you to create your own patterns and drawings. It also has more pages, 128 rather than about 50 found in the official zentangle books, and costs about the same.

The circular die cut cards for these are small and cost (including shipping) something around $40 to $50 depending on what set you buy. Some of them are pre-printed with linear strings to fill in. Not terribly inspiring for me at least, and only 21 cards.

I’ve been trying circles on different paper. The official zentangle cardstock is Fabriano Tiepolo which is 100% cotton printmaking paper, weighing about 140 lb or 290 gsm. If I buy a sheet I could potentially cut 20 to 30 circles for 1/4 to 1/2 the price depending on the paper.

I can’t buy that paper in Canada so I’m trying:

Strathmore 300 Bristol 100 lb / 270 gsm
Arches Hot Press watercolour paper – 140 lb / 300 gsm
Rives BFK Printmaking – too light, think I have the lighter 65 lb / 175 gsm.

I could try a heavier Rives BFK or a Somerset printmaking paper which is $6 a sheet. Or I could buy a sheet of Arches 260 lb hot press paper which is $15 but yields a versatile paper for more projects. I tend to like heavier paper. As long as I can cut circles with a pair of scissors it’s not too heavy. I have already made a template and if you cut carefully the shape is actually neater than the die cut examples I’ve seen.

Buying a sheet allows me room to also cut larger dimensions for larger pictures. I’ll have to get down to Curry’s at some point so I can feel the paper. The grams per square inch (gsm) conversion with Imperial paper weight in lbs is a bit tricky and depends on the paper, which is why anything that isn’t 140 lb watercolour paper needs to be felt by the hand.

I needed to pick up a few odd sheets of Canson Mi-Teintes for experimenting with gouache, so I’ll add a sheet of art paper too. Sometime in the next couple of weeks.

My paper tests (click to enlarge):


Rather surprisingly, the Rives performed much better. The Arches paper is the natural not the bright white paper so the colour was softer. It did fine with the Micron pens, but the Rives did better with both. It does have a bit more tooth but not as much as cold press watercolour paper.

The Micron pens did not work well with the Bristol because they took much longer to dry and thus smeared. The colour was more subdued. For coloured pencil it would probably be fine but not with ink or watercolour.

If I can get the printmaking paper in a heavier weight I’ll get that. Actually I might get two types, the Somerset and the Rives in different weights. It’s handy to have extra paper and I’ve never tried the Somerset before, it has a satin or textured finish, so I need to see it.




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