Urban Sketching Season
It is absolutely urban sketching season. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and I even saw a troop of red sequin clad line dancing women in the wild. I’m sorry to say I didn’t get a sketch of them.
My sister and I didn’t have an agenda when we set out. Our first stop was the quiet little Wicks Lake. We opted to not stay and sketch though because I struggle to make an interesting sketch of just trees, water, and sky.
We landed in downtown Gig Harbor which was bustling with activity. I originally thought I’d sketch one of the many boats, but after setting down at a table, we both tried to tackle this Fishermans Memorial statue. Before today I couldn’t have told you this statue existed. Urban sketching has a way of making you “see” things that have always been there.
I've worked sketching into a lot of other outings this spring. When the kids are along the sketches are frequently done quickly. Even a quick sketch is good practice and a nice way of making a memory.
The Olympic Peninsula is beautiful and the Sequim area with the Dungeness Spit is a short walk down to the water. It was a long walk for the kids and perhaps a mistake to take it without the stroller, but I still had a bit of energy to do this quick sketch in the wind while the kids checked out the water.
I need to go to Port Townsend again. There are so many interesting buildings that I could fill several weekends sketching them! I didn't even get to sketching the boats in the large boat yard.
Closer to home we have a lookout/cement tower that takes in the Port Orchard Marina and the Sinclair Inlet. This day the weather dripped on my sketch, but I'll have to go back on a sunny day and try to capture the view of the Olympic Mountains.
This view of the Manette Bridge is a short foot ferry ride and a twenty minute walk away from the lookout spot pictured above. Not pictured in the below illustration is the amazing Larry and Kristi's Bakery. The spot I sketched from is across the roundabout from them and they do a vegan maple bar just right! The bright blue of the water is actually a bit of Liberty's Elysium fountain pen ink.
Manchester offers views of the Space Needle and the ferries that travel there. We haven't been to the needle for a while and I can't wait to visit again once things settle down. I really like it when I don't color in my whole sketch with watercolor. It is hard to know when more is more or when less is more!
They even let me sketch at church!
What and where have you been sketching lately? Share in the comments!
Free Birthday Ink Samples!
It is a good day when you get mail. It is a great day when you get mail from Goulet Pens! I am a big fan of the Goulets and when they sent me a coupon on my birthday for 8 free ink samples with purchase I said, “Yes, please!” I immediately inked up the new Kaweco Perkeo with Diamine Bilberry. The ink is reminiscent of Noodler’s Kung Te-Cheng, but this swab also revealed a bit of a sheen. It has been a month or so since I wrote a letter. The new ink was a great excuse to put a few words down. I found the ink to be cheerful, but not obnoxious; like a child who runs up to you to say something cute and immediately runs away to play again. These random ink samples Goulet sells (and gives away on your birthday if you sign up for the newsletter) are great because I always end up trying inks I never would have tried. Sometimes I find one I love and I didn’t have to spend hours researching to find it. It is a real win win.
What do you have inked up right now? Let me know in the comments!
I thought I'd try out a new format to see how I like it. It was unscripted and I overused the phrase "kicking around." Just in case you are interested in doing your own screen printing project at home, here are some helpful links so far.
Charli Marie's DIY Screen Printing Video and PDF
Free Online Vectorizer Tool
Sketch Program (Free 30 Day Trial)
I am still trying to brainstorm what else I might want to pull together in this first run of creating screens. I haven't wanted to wear graphic t's for a while myself, but they are cute on the kiddos. Please let me know in the comments what sorts of things you like to see on shirts, totes, etc.
It seems like everyone these days has a special diet... or at least everyone in my family. I am no exception. This year my mom's amazing buttercream topped Barbie cake wasn't going work. I made my own cake and gave my mom a deserved break this year.
I created this recipe to be egg free, low FODMAP, and delicious. Low FODMAP is also Gluten Free. Alternative flour cakes tend to be good fresh and then the texture goes downhill after that. I've managed to avoid that problem by avoiding icing which allows you to warm them up right before you eat them.
This is my first go at writing up a recipe for general consumption and I am very excited about the format. It is both easy to follow along and full of extra details. I used the table feature in Pages to organize the recipe. The Sketch app was great for cropping and rotating one of my bunny clipart SVG files. Then I exported it as a PNG to use in Pages and to make the recipe a little more "me". You can preview the recipe below before you download the PDF that you can print.
How do you like to treat yourself for your birthday? Please let me know how it goes in the comments!
Fountain pens are amazing. They write smoother with less effort. The inks have a variety of useful, cost effective, beautiful, and at times permanent properties.
I started using them circa 2012 and I'd like to say that I didn't look back, but I did. I put the wrong ink (India ink) in my first pen and it ruined the pen. My next pen came free with my bottle of Noodler's Kung Te Cheng. However, these Platinum Preppy's got cracks and leaked. My next upgrade was to a Pilot Metropolitan. Now these are enjoyable writers, but I found that if I didn't use them daily they dried out a little and they were hard to get started. Tired of fighting with them, I put them in a bin on my shelf for about five years.
About a year ago I found myself reconnecting with my favorite fountain pen retailer: Goulet Pens. Turns out they have been very busy over the last decade creating amazing YouTube videos educating you on all things fountain pens. They even have a shopping guide dedicated to Fountain Pen Tools for Sketching.
I have one and only one recommendation for someone new to fountain pens who wants to use them with watercolor. It is a TSWSBI Eco. I would get one with a Fine or Medium nib to start with. Here are some key features:
Ink Capacity: This pen holds a lot of whatever kind of ink you like. If you fill it up before a weekend away sketching you won’t run out.
Demonstrator: The clear bodies on these pens allow you to see at all times exactly how much ink is in there.
Ready to Write: You don't need to use this pen every day. In fact I've gone weeks in between uses and it is still ready to go. This was a big frustration for me with the Pilot Metropolitan.
Posts: This means that you can put the cap on the back of the pen securely. If you are out sketching or if you have kids, this is a very important feature.
Value: You get all these features at a very reasonable price. $31 seems like an expensive pen, but the ink is very cost effective and even more fun.
Lamy makes some great pens too. My brother in law swears by a Safari and keep my Al-Star with my on the go sketching kit (mostly because it doesn't fit in my pretty pen holder on my art desk). I also enjoy a Studio because it feels substantial and it makes me feel fancy. Liz Steel loves her Joy. I love that you can swap out the nibs easily on all these models, but sometimes I get surprised that the ink ran out. Just make sure you get a cartridge converter to go with your Lamy.
The TWSBI Diamond 580 is marginally more enjoyable to write with than the ECO for almost twice the price. The cap doesn't post nicely, but it is always inked up at my work desk and I reach for it all day long.
I have a couple other pens and there are certainly many better pricier pens on the market. However, for a budget friendly pen that you will not outgrow I recommend the TWSBI ECO.
I will do a more detailed post on ink, but to quickly pick an ink that is permanent for doing watercolor on top of I would go with either De Atramentis Document Ink Black or Noodler's 54th Massachusetts.
These reviews are purely from my own personal experience and I do not profit financially from you taking my advice.
Please share in the comments your favorite fountain pens for sketching. Do you do a watercolor wash over your ink?
This process is supposed to be sort of mindless and easy for me. I devoted a whole Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook to this type of creative practice and I follow the same steps each time.
Fewer variables = less thinking = more doing.
I start by picking a song or poem that I have memorized. I try not to pick the “perfect” poem. Catch a Falling Star featured in The Princess Diaries is one I use to unsuccessfully sing the kid to sleep. I put the blue tape down to give myself a visual edge to write up to. I picked up a TWSBI Eco with a Fine nib filled with Liberty's Elysium and started practicing my cursive.
Originally I was going to use my watercolors to do the stars, but I changed my mind and used little puddles of fountain pen ink. The inks were already in other TWSBI Ecos so I just twisted a few droplets out into my palette. I used from left to right: Sailor Ink Studio 162, Sailor Ink Studio 252, Noodler's Apache Sunset, Noodler's Rome Burning, Sailor Ink Studio 224, and Noodler's Dostoyevsky.
The apple page is the Johnny Appleseed prayer (Noodler's Rome Burning) with watercolors over top.
I did the stoplight a few months back. I wrote the little song:
won't you tell me where I'm going
won't you tell me when to stay
won't you tell me what to do Lord
it's been that kind of day
I sing it to the the tune that's whistled in Robin Hood.
What little songs or poems do you have memorized? Post it in the comments.