I bought an antique fountain pen a few years ago, and at first I like the idea of the pen more than the pen itself. It was a very wet pen with a flexible nib. In theory, it should be fantastic for drawing.
In practice, it was very hard to use. There were two possibilities:
- It was a lousy pen
- It was a fantastic pen that I was not good enough to use well.
I tried to draw with it; I tried some more. I finally put it away on a shelf.
A few weeks ago, I got it out, inked it up, and thought I’d see if I had learned anything about sketching in the meantime that might help. I did a few tentative drawings before realizing that this was the sort of pen that is only good at all-out speed. You can’t make tentative marks with this pen – if you do, you will get ink everywhere.
You have to commit to every line, every chicken-scratch, every scribble, and just go for it. Having realized these truths, I put pen to paper to try two things: some small silhouettes of geese for a painting in progress (although I plan to use a brush for them in the painting), and a bird pulling up in flight.
Here is a scan of both efforts on the same page. I’d have to say I’m finally liking this pen – but I have a way to go yet before I can really get the most out of it. What is remarkable about the larger sketch is that the finest lines and the thickest were all made by the same pen. I varied speed and pressure to get the different weights. Doing that was really the secret to unlocking the pen’s potential. I didn’t even make use of the flex capabilities – this pen can make a line 3-4mm in width! Amazing instrument. Looking forward to making more discoveries.