I started keeping a journal when I was about 19 or 20 years old. I'm going to be 30 this year so that makes it about a decade of journaling. I write about all sorts of things going on in my life, painting ideas, discoveries, philosophies, sketches, painful moments, heartbreaks, poems, funny moments, and anything else that. It's a creative outlet for me and a way to remember and preserve what I've experienced.
But this post isn't about my journal, it's about what I use to write in my journal. A fountain pen. For years I searched for a smooth and flowing style of pen to journal with. I tried everything from ballpoints to gel writers to sharpie pens. For years, I used a Pilot G 2 - 07 pen, which seemed "good enough".
A few years ago, I started to do research about old types of pens. I'm not sure what prompted it, but it was probably just my fascination with tools and techniques of the past. It also seemed that old letters and documents had a certain flow and beauty to them. I ended up getting a cheap, red plastic fountain pen from Staples. I tried it out and it bled everywhere, including through the paper and became a mess. It wrote for a few lines and then would skip. The worst part was that the ink cartridges ran out very quickly. If this is how fountain pens are, then I would stick with the Pilot G 2.
Then for my birthday, my Mom got me a very nice Sheaffer Sagaris fountain pen with my name engraved on it from Fahrney's Pens. It was a complete surprise, but I had had such a bad experience with the cheap fountain pen that I wasn't sure if I'd like it. Well, the difference between the cheap pen and the Shaeffer (which costs about $100) was night and day. Like so many things in life, the quality is what matters.
The Sheaffer didn't bleed onto the paper or skip lines at all. It was very smooth and felt great in my hand. The other main difference is that the Sheaffer has a refillable converter to hold the ink. It really opened my eyes to this beautiful tool.
So what makes a fountain pen so nice to write with? It's hard to describe, but there is a flow to a fountain pen which makes it feel more like painting than writing. You can write faster and allow your thoughts to flow with the ink (this also comes in handy for sketching). I had to make a couple of adjustments with my journals in order to accommodate the fountain pen: I now journal in a Letts of London book that has fountain pen friendly paper. A fountain pen's ink will bleed right through most paper, including Moleskines. It may seem like a lot of hassle just to do some writing, but I can hardly write with any other pen now.
Like most tools, there's a learning curve to using fountain pens and there's some homework to do in order to get the most out of your pen. Some quick tips while I'm thinking about it: Look up how to properly clean your pen, don't take your fountain pen on a plane, store your fountain pen with the nib facing up to avoid ink collecting in the nib and if you're not going to use your pen for a while then flush the ink out.
The final thing I love most about fountain pens is that the nib of the pen becomes adapted to your unique way of writing. From what I've read, this has to do with the elasticity of the nib and the way it becomes polished as you write in your style. For that reason, you shouldn't share your fountain pen with anyone else. (That might be the only valid reason to ever be selfish with your tools).
Any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below:
I'm closing the year with an oil sketch of the actor Patrick Stewart that I painted from a photo reference. I am adding this to a portfolio of portraits that I'm submitting to a portrait representative company. This painting was a lot of fun to paint and I'm learning to paint in my own style more and more lately.
This year was very trying for everyone and I'm glad that it's coming to an end. I think this will be a year that will go down in the history books and future generations will be asking: "What was it like to live through 2020?". I'm very thankful that my family and friends are healthy and I hope everyone out there has a healthy and happy end to 2020. I'm looking forward to what 2021 brings!
Merry Christmas to everyone, hope everyone is having a good one and got some cool gifts.
I got some amazing books that I started working my way through. The first book that I'm reading is one I've been waiting to read for a while: Painting Portraits by Everett Raymond Kinstler. I'm not finished reading it yet, but I've already learned a tremendous amount. It has a lot of technical information, which makes it fascinating to read. The copy I got had a special addition of a drawing and inscription by Mr. Kinstler himself.
I sadly never got to meet Mr. Kinstler in person, but I did exchange emails with him; he always took time to thoughtfully respond and give me advice for my work.
Got up early today, shoveled and then got some time to paint this beautiful snowfall. The subtle color of the snow, the cool shadows and warm lights was really fun to paint. I've done watercolors in the snow before, but this was my first oil painting en plein air in the snow.
This was also the first time that I used my antique mahogany arm palette (last image in gallery below). It worked great en plein air since it's smaller than my studio arm palette.