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:
For my brother's birthday, I got him this make your own hot sauce kit from Gardener's Supply Co. I had some fun adding calligraphy on the bottle labels. I'm trying to get better at calligraphy and I'm enjoying the slow concentration that it requires. I also like it because I find it very relaxing. I'm not knowledgeable about the techniques of calligraphy but maybe I'll learn about it and take a class one day.
I just got my shipment of journals and my 2021 year planner from Lett's of London. As an avid journal writer, I want to have the best products to write in. I started using Lett's journals and planners last year and they're the best quality that I've found. I used to use Moleskine's but those are made in China now and they're quality is not as good. Lett's is proudly made in Great Britain and the quality is unmatched. Lett's is from 1796 and I love the history of their company.
I wish they would make sketchbooks also, maybe one day they will. Their journals are fountain pen friendly and the pages are numbered; I use a fountain pen to write and there is absolutely zero bleed through. There's also a blank index in the front so you can keep your journal entries organized. Go check them out if you're looking for journals, diaries, and all sorts of planners:
I'm so excited to announce that one of my classes at Pushing Colored Dirt begins tonight at 7PM. Our classes are online and are taught via Zoom. My class tonight is Watercolor for Beginners, but I'm also teaching Pet Portraits for Beginners which begins this Friday, July 31st and you can still sign up for it.
Also, you guys should sign up for our PCD newsletter. I'll be sending out news, information about classes, some cool art history facts, quotes and general advice about art making. You can sign up by visiting our PCD homepage and scrolling down to subscribe.
I know I haven't written on this personal blog in a while, but I did write a long blog post over at PCD that you should check out. I wrote it about inspiration, influences and idol worship. If you ever feel lost as an artist (or person in general) give it a read and I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have a wonderful week everyone, much love.