Friday, July 31, 2015

Shilshole in the Sunshine

7/31/15 inks, watercolor, colored pencils

Last summer when Urban Sketchers Seattle met at Shilshole Marina, the morning started out chilly and foggy, though that burned off quickly. Not so today for the Friday sketchers – we had full-on sun, clear, blue skies and excellent opportunities for shadows. Although I sketched Leif Erikson’s statue last time, the shadow opportunities prompted me to take a wider view this morning to capture the whole memorial to Nordic immigrants. On one side of each of the stone markers is a plaque engraved with individual immigrants’ names and the year they arrived.

I stood in full sun to make this sketch, and it took me longer than planned because the one you see above was the second try. The first (mis)try is shown below. Shortly after beginning, I saw that my proportions for Leif were all wrong – so I abandoned the sketch immediately.

Abandoned quickly.
Now that I’m going on my fourth year as a sketcher, I still think of myself as a beginner, though I’ve also gained much experience from daily sketching. It occurs to me that nearly four years of experience does not prevent me from making mistakes like the abandoned sketch. What four years of sketching has given me is the wisdom to realize (most of the time) that when proportions are wrong, no amount of futzing is going to make the sketch look right, so the best solution is to start over quickly. During my first couple of years, I would have kept going, not really understanding why the sketch didn’t look right. Even if I understood that, I would have continued anyway, trying to fix it. After wasting an hour or more, I’d come to the same conclusion: The sketch still didn’t look right.

If abandoning a bad sketch immediately is all I’ve learned in four years, I’m good with that!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Maple Leaf Summer Social

7/29/15 brush pen, colored pencil
Last night was our neighborhood’s 20th annual Maple Leaf Summer Social at Maple Leaf Park. It’s a fun, low-key family festival highlighted by free ice cream bars donated by Maple Leaf Ace Hardware/Reckless Video owners Mike Kelly and Kathy Stephenson. Last year they gave out 1,750 ice cream bars during the two-hour event! Not to be outdone, Flying Squirrel Pizza gave out free pizza slices, too. Kids got their faces painted and balloon animals made, and everyone enjoyed live music and the cool breeze on a hot evening.

Scarfing down our Dove bars before they melted, I looked around for a sketch while Greg searched for photo opps. New to the festival this year was a Seattle Police Department mounted police officer and his horse, Chance, a 10-year-old quarter horse. I even got a sticker!

7/29/15 inks, colored pencils
Eventually I wandered over to listen to the band and stood behind the musicians so I could get more of the park in the composition.

Free ice cream, live music, sketching – that’s my idea of a perfect summer night.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rabbit Library

7/29/15 inks, watercolor, colored pencils
This is a Little Free Library that I spotted several months ago in my own Maple Leaf neighborhood. It’s directly across the street from another one that I sketched last month. Although the design and construction of the two libraries are so similar that I’m sure they were built by the same person, this one is decorated very differently: It has a rabbit theme. In addition to the rabbit painted on the side (along with a Hemingway quotation – “There is no friend as loyal as a book”), the door knob is also a tiny bunny.

Technical note: See where I wrote the quotation? My new Pilot with a posting nib is the only fountain pen I own that can write that fine! It’s not for loose, expressive drawings, but I sure like it for certain tasks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Susan J. Henry Memorial Little Library

7/28/15 ink, watercolor, colored pencils
On my way home from Shoreline this morning, I took a slight detour west through the Bitter Lake neighborhood in search of another Little Free Library. (This time I even remembered to bring along a book from my over-stuffed shelves to contribute!) Carefully constructed but unadorned, the library looked rather basic. The fence behind the library, however, had another part of the story to tell: metal letters facing toward the house spelling out “Susan J. Henry Memorial Library.”

Assuming that Susan J. Henry was a family member or some other loved one of the home owner, I was curious nonetheless, so I Googled the name. It turns out that the former Capitol Hill branch of the Seattle Public Library was actually called the Susan J. Henry (1854-1921) branch. She was the wife of Seattle capitalist Horace C. Henry. In 2003 the library was replaced by a new building and renamed the Capitol Hill Branch. I’m guessing that the sign was salvaged from the previous building. You learn something every day!

Another thing I learned today is that the Bitter Lake neighborhood I drove through is full of trees with bad haircuts. I now have a whole new area to cover this winter when I sketch from my car.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Green Lake Public Library, Fourth Edition

7/27/15 ink, watercolor

Although it wasn’t my plan when I started, sketching my neighborhood branch of the Seattle Public Library has become an annual tradition. I always pick a day like today – sunny enough for shadows, not too hot or too cold – and I stand at the same bus shelter across the street so that I have the same angle each time.

Now that I’ve done it four times, it’s interesting to look at them together (see below). I don’t necessarily think each later year’s sketch is better than the previous one, because I like certain things about each, even that first one which seems so pale and tentative. I remember how scary it was then to tackle such a formal, classic style of architecture (I’d only been sketching for a year). It’s not scary anymore, but I have to say, it’s no less challenging. I still struggle with perspective and getting the windows lined up evenly.

It’s rather humorous that the building hasn’t changed at all, yet some details in my sketches seem to morph over time. Some years, I spent a lot of time on tiny details that I skipped altogether in others. I suppose one thing is inescapable: My “style,” whatever it is, follows me around from year to year and somehow remains consistent, even as my skills or materials change.

How about you – do you ever sketch the same subject regularly just to see how your sketching style changes over time – or doesn’t?

Here are the blog posts for the sketches below:

May 6, 2014
Sept. 2, 2013
Sept. 12, 2012

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Product Review: (Hairy) Brush Pen Comparison

6/21/15 ink, watercolor (see chart below for numbered key)
I’ve had a long-standing love of brush pens. A quick look through my Current Favorite Art Materials page will show that one of my very first product review posts, written within my first month of blogging back in 2012, was about Tombow and Akashiya brush pens. Those pens launched me headlong into the dazzling world of water-soluble colored brush pens. Fairly early on I had decided that brush tips made of compressed nylon or felt (such as the Tombows) were not as flexible and responsive as actual brush tips made of synthetic hair, so I focused my interest and experiments on markers such as Pentel Color Brush pens and, eventually, Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Markers, still my current favorite. (JetPens has a good blog post comparing all the colored brush pens the company carries.)

Somewhere along the way I discovered brush pens containing refillable or non-refillable black ink – pens designed to mimic Asian calligraphy brushes. Again, these are of two general types: some kind of compressed fibrous material and actual hair brush tips. As with colored brush markers, I favor the ones with hair brushes, which do a reasonably good job of producing the flexibility of traditional sumi brushes (but with a finer tip for the purpose of calligraphy rather than painting). In the same way that I’m hooked on variable-width fountain pens, I adore the loose, expressive strokes that brush pens can make.

A while back JetPens produced a comprehensive article and video comparing its vast collection of brush pens, which made me think about (with some embarrassment) how many brush pens I have. I decided that one way to rationalize my vast personal collection was to write a comparison review of my own! (Amassing art materials and tools can always be rationalized one way or another.)

7/22/15 Kuretake sable brush pen
Although I own a number of the compressed fiber/nylon tip brush pens that are fun to write with (I often use them to write greetings cards with), I rarely use them for sketching, so I’m going to focus here on the type I favor for sketching – the ones with hair brushes. Recent discoveries are brush pens with natural sable (or weasel) hair brushes similar to fine paint brushes. Overkill for a brush pen used for sketching? Probably. But I wouldn’t know without trying them!
6/20/15 Kuretake sable brush pen

I tend to use black brush pens for a few specific purposes. One is when I want to do gesture sketches of people, and I don’t want to be tempted to get into facial features and other details. Another is when I want to sketch an intricate building that I need to do quickly – again, to avoid detail (I guess these would be gesture sketches also, if a building can have a gesture). A third favorite use of brush pens is to sketch trees; the organic, free-flowing nature of brush pens seems to be made for expressing gnarly or gracefully reaching branches.

In short, a brush pen will not allow you to get too fine and fiddly, so if you have a tendency to get mired in detail while losing the overall picture, it’s a good antidote. When I was a poetry-writing student long ago, one of my favorite professors, Nelson Bentley, used to say to poets who had a tendency to get long-winded, “Try haiku: It’s a sure cure for verbosity.” I think of brush pens the same way.

5/18/15 Notre Dame at right sketched with Platinum sable brush pen
Yet another way I use brush pens is a more recent discovery. Last year after seeing Ch’ng Kiah Kiean (better known as KK) give a demo in Paraty of his twig-sketching technique, I tried channeling KK for several months. I’m still fascinated by that ultimate variable-line-width sketching instrument, and I still pick it up occasionally. What frustrates me the most, though, is that a twig doesn’t hold much ink, so I am constantly dipping back into the ink bottle after each stroke. What I discovered is that a brush pen that’s running out of ink yields something like a scratchy, dry-twig effect – but without requiring continual dipping (it’s like a fountain pen, so it requires no dipping at all). Even a fully inked brush pen can make the same, slightly unpredictable, slightly uncontrollable stroke that twigs are famous for – but with slightly more control!

One note before I describe the pens: You’ll see that several have names that contain the word “fude” (which means brush in Japanese). This is not to be confused with the fude fountain pen nibs you already know I love. The fountain pen nibs have “fude” in their names because they, too, are mimicking brush strokes.

6. Platinum CF-5000 brush pen (natural weasel)
7. Sailor Profit brush pen (synthetic)

4/18/15 Platinum sable brush pen
Not shown in the sketch at the top of the page and the brush stroke comparison chart is the J. Herbin CreaPen Pinceau refillable bristle brush pen, which I had misplaced for a while and then later found. I don’t mean to discriminate against this pen – made in France, it’s the only non-Japanese example – by not sketching it. But after finding the pen, I was too lazy to re-do the sketch. J It’s a perfectly adequate brush pen without much to distinguish it from the others. One thing to note is that it comes with three cartridges when purchased from JetPens, but the package product info does not say whether the cartridge ink is waterproof. I noticed, however, that the cartridges look exactly like Platinum cartridges, so I popped a Carbon Black cartridge on instead of one of the included cartridges, and indeed it fits perfectly. Since then, I’ve learned from Ana at the Well-Appointed Desk that the cartridges included with the pen are also waterproof.

7/18/15 Pentel brush pen
As for all the Japanese brush pens I tried, I’m sorry to say that not much distinguishes any one from the rest. I really wanted the natural sable hair Kuretake or weasel hair Platinum to be hands-down better than the others, if only to justify the prices I paid for them. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The synthetic brushes have just as much bounce-back and retain their tips as well as the natural-hair brushes. What’s more, the Platinum weasel seemed harder to control than any of the synthetics. They are all perfectly adequate brush pens, and none stands out in any extraordinary way.

I do have a few comments on some:

  • Nos. 1 and 2 (in my sketch and the chart above), the two Sailor Fude Nagomi pens, are the only non-refillable models among the ones I’ve tried. In addition, the ink they come with is not waterproof, which limits their usefulness in sketching, since I’d like the option of using watercolor with brush pens. Their bodies are significantly longer than the others, as they seem to be emulating traditional sumi brushes. The extra length takes some getting used to.
  • No. 7, the Sailor Profit model, has a form factor identical to the Sailor Profit fountain pen. I find that to be both good and bad. The good is that it’s comfortable in my hand and feels familiar. The bad is that it looks just like my Sailor Profit fude pen (except that it’s black instead of navy), so it’s easy to get them mixed up in my bag. One nice thing about this pen is that the brush tip can be replaced when it wears out.
  • No. 4 in my sketch, the Kuretake sable, also has replaceable tips. In fact, the replacement tips on all the Kuretake brush pens seem to be interchangeable.
After all that, do I have a favorite? I’d say it’s No. 5 in my sketch, the Kuretake No. 13 with synthetic hair. But I admit it’s not because of any special features or characteristics. It’s just the one I’ve had the longest, so it’s familiar, and it responds well to what I do with it.

11/14/13 Akashiya brush pen (model)
Sorry this comparison review doesn’t have any exciting discoveries. The only revelation seems to be of my bad habit of acquiring way more brush pens than I need (but you probably already knew that)! You wouldn’t go wrong with any of these brush pens, though it might be useful to keep these points in mind when making your choice:
  • As far as ink goes, the most economical, “green” choice would be to buy a refillable model, and instead of buying cartridges, simply refill an emptied cartridge using a syringe with the ink of your choice. The Sailor Profit and Platinum models are also compatible with their respective proprietary fountain pen converters.
  • The brush tips on the Sailor Profit and Kuretake pens can be replaced, further stretching the life of the pen bodies and keeping them out of the landfill.
  • The Pentel seems to be the most easily accessible and ubiquitous, available at many retailers online and in local stores. Conversely, I found the Platinum weasel brush only at

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Olympia: From the Legislative Building to Tarot Cards

7/25/15 inks, watercolor, colored pencils

For the 48th quarterly World Wide SketchCrawl, Urban Sketchers Seattle as well as sketchers from Marysville to Bainbridge Island gathered at the steps of the Legislative Building in Olympia for a day of sketching. The morning was cloudy and 60 degrees – the world’s best outdoor sketching weather, if you ask me!

7/25/15 ink, colored pencil
I have been wanting to sketch the Capitol building for a long time, so my first mission was to walk across the boulevard to the top steps of the Temple of Justice building and face the Capitol squarely. The sun stayed behind clouds most of the morning, which was great for sitting outdoors, but I was hoping for a peek of sunshine to help me with shadows. At 11 a.m. when the building opened to the public, I could hear the “Star Spangled Banner” playing somewhere. The flags were at half-staff for the five military service members who were killed Sunday in Chattanooga.

Since that sketch took more than an hour, I spent most of the remaining time before the sketchbook sharing wandering around to see the beautiful Capitol campus that I rarely see. I made a mental list of a number of things I’d like to sketch the next time I visit. I did squeeze in a quick detail sketch of one of the lamp posts in front of the capitol.

7/25/15 ink, colored pencil
Next on the itinerary was to meet up again at the nearby Olympia Farmers Market, which is a smaller and cozier version of Pike Place Market, but just as colorful and fun. That’s where I got my people-sketching fix. During lunch, the jazz band Tra-La-Lu performed on the main stage, which is an actual stage – no casual buskers, these guys! I regret that their set ended before I could sketch the trumpeter.

Interestingly, I found both a palm reader and a tarot card reader working this market, and both seemed to have a continual stream of clients as I sketched them. If there’s a connection to be made between our state governance and the need for psychic services, I’ll let you make it.

7/25/15 ink, colored pencil
Meanwhile, I was delighted to participate today in the second part of our Singapore Symposium Pity Party! J

And speaking of the Urban Sketchers Symposium, next year it will be in Manchester, England

7/25/15 ink, colored pencils

7/25/15 ink, colored pencils

Friday, July 24, 2015

Salty’s, Ma Kai and Seacrest Park

7/24/15 inks, watercolor

Salty’s on Alki Beach was today’s destination for the Friday ad hoc sketchers. Not so much the seafood restaurant itself, although some sketchers did end up eating there, but more for its décor – a few large, rusty remains of the Kalakala, the iconic Art Deco ferry that is unfortunately long gone, and another Astronaut on the Town.

7/24/15 Inks, watercolor, colored pencil
I started the morning at Seacrest Park, a five-minute walk from Salty’s, where dozens of fishermen were trying their luck for salmon at the pier. I tried to be discreet, but the bored fishermen weren’t seeing much action on their lines, so eventually I attracted a lot of attention. They seemed to get a kick out of seeing themselves or each other in my sketch. (I hear about sketchers whose subjects are offended when they realize they are being sketched, but I have yet to encounter a “victim” who wasn’t delighted!)

Reveling in the downtown Seattle skyline and gloomy, overcast sky coloring Elliott Bay a steely gray (do you think maybe I’m a native?), I walked through the park back to Salty’s. On the restaurant’s porch was “Aquarius,” an Astronaut on the Town painted by Xavier Lopez Jr. Since the restaurant wasn’t open to the public yet, I thought I’d be safe sitting with my back against the front door, but it turned out that a wedding was about to take place. A bride nervously teetered down the stairway on spike heels with her entourage, while others frantically kept the groom inside until she was safely out of sight. I finished that sketch quickly to get out of the way before the wedding guests started appearing.

My plan was to sketch the Kalakala remains in the parking lot next, but as I was looking for a good angle, it started spitting, and then the spitting turned to full-on rain. By then I was already walking through Seacrest Park again, so I dashed into Marination Ma Kai, a Hawaiian café, near the fishing pier. I would have preferred sketching outdoors, but on the other hand, a musubi snack and a table with a view of their deck wasn’t so bad, either.

By the way, today’s sketch outing was good-naturedly dubbed the “Singapore Symposium Pity Party” (which will continue tomorrow in Olympia)! Although I am sad to be missing out on all the fun and sketching that I’ve been seeing on social media (#USkSingapore2015) this week, I have to say I much preferred wearing two hoodies this morning to sweating in the Singapore humidity! (Yes, I’m definitely a Seattle native.)

7/24/15 ink, watercolor

7/24/15 inks, colored pencil

A few sketchers within the rusty remains of the Kalakala.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Two-Alarm Fire in Maple Leaf

7/23/15 inks, colored pencils

Around 3 a.m. we were awakened by sirens from multiple fire engines and other emergency vehicles – and they were stopping disturbingly close to our home. The sirens seemed to go on for nearly an hour. The 6:30 a.m. TV news showed where they were busy: Three houses had caught fire only four blocks away from us!

7/23/15 inks, watercolor, colored pencil
After breakfast we walked up to Eighth Avenue Northeast and Northeast 86th Street to see the damage. Not much was left of the house where the fire originated; only a few blackened supporting beams remained, and I could see all the way through it to the scorched trees behind. Wisps of smoke still rose from the smoldering timbers. The two houses on either side were both badly damaged also. Directly across the street at the St. Catherine of Siena School (adjacent to the church of the same name), several windows had blown out from the heat, and shattered glass covered the sidewalk. Even the power lines nearest the houses were scorched. About a hundred firefighters worked overnight to put the fire out.

7/23/15 inks
Very fortunately, no one was injured.

As I sketched, I overheard the growing crowd of neighbors chatting with the owners of the three houses. I was thinking that the destroyed middle house had still been under construction, and indeed, that was the case. The cause of the fire was yet unknown. I felt bad for the owners, standing on the sidewalk with the rest of us, looking exhausted and stunned.

Three fire engines were still at the scene draining water from their hoses. I didn’t see any TV reporters, but a TV camera van was still there, along with a photographer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

To and Fro

7/22/15 Kuretake brush pen

It’s fascinating to watch kids on swings and to try to capture the rhythm of that motion. Sitting on a park bench, I started out thinking I’d capture a large scene at Green Lake playground. A few minutes later, I had filled a sketchbook page with mostly gesture sketches of that to-and-fro motion.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An Astronaut in Lake Forest Park

7/21/15 inks, watercolor, colored pencil

The Museum of Flight is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a public art project called “Astronauts on the Town.” Local artists have decorated 25 life-size astronaut statues that are standing in various restaurants, museums and other public venues throughout the summer. Kate Buike, a Museum of Flight volunteer, is on a personal mission to sketch all 25 astronauts! I’m not that ambitious, but I want to try to sketch at least the ones in my neck of the woods when I’m in the area.

I was up north in Shoreline this morning, so I swung over to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, which is hosting the astronaut “Reflections of the Future.” Of all the 25 astronauts, this is one of only a few that look like realistic astronauts (the rest have been “interpreted” rather loosely). The artist, seventh grader Anna Harris, said in her artist statement, “Reflections of the future shows you what you would look like if you were an astronaut. You can be an astronaut if you put your mind to it! Imagine what it would be like, floating around in outer space, taking hourly samples on some crystals you are growing, or walking on the surface of the moon.”

In conjunction with the project, the museum is sponsoring a contest for two round-trip Alaska Airlines tickets. To enter, participants have to take a selfie with an astronaut and post it on Instagram with the tags @museumofflight and #AstronautsontheTown. How could I resist participating?

Monday, July 20, 2015

I Forgot the Broccoli

7/20/15 inks, colored pencil
The past weekend was so hot – a record-breaking 97 degrees yesterday – that I didn’t get out to sketch at all! Heat makes me grumpy in general; you can imagine how crabby I was that it kept me from sketching outdoors. Thankfully, our heatwave broke overnight, and I woke to a cool stream of air coming through the bedroom windows – ahhh! Relief!

After a busy morning of appointments, errands and shopping, I got home and realized I had forgotten the broccoli. This afternoon, it’s a pleasant 76 and sunny, so I dashed back out for the broccoli from the Green Lake PCC. My ulterior motive in choosing that food store was that it has a quiet, shady courtyard where neighborhood workers bring their bag lunches or stop for coffee. It’s also an ideal place for a 15-minute sketch on a busy day to celebrate outdoor sketching weather again!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


7/17/15 ink
Under any circumstance, hands are challenging to draw, and from a distance, they’re nearly impossible. When I’m sketching people, I usually focus on the face and body posture, but when I get to the hands, I dismiss them with a scribble.

I took the bus downtown twice during the past week, giving me lots of time to practice sketching fellow commuters. On these three people in particular, I had good views of their iPhone-engaged hands. (I did also draw their faces and some parts of their bodies that the hands were attached to, and you may see them eventually, but I wanted to focus on their hands in this post.) The strangest view was the pair of hands at right – that scrolling left thumb. We were given the rare gift of the opposable thumb, and this is what we choose to do with it! 

7/17/15 ink
7/14/15 ink

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Product Review: The Under-rated Pilot Posting Nib

7/4/15 Sketched from photo with Pilot posting nib
and Platinum Carbon ink on
Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook
Ever since I discovered the flexy, ultra-fine line of the Zebra Comic G dip nib that I loved using in my pen and ink class, I’ve wondered if a fountain pen equivalent exists. My favorite Sailor fude nibs turned upside-down will produce a fairly fine line – fine enough for most of the sketching I do – but not fine enough for the kind of hatching I was trying to reproduce when copying masters. I’d given up on finding a Frankenpen body for the Zebra G – all my attempts were dismal failures – but I still wanted a way to take that nib out of the house without the muss and fuss of dipping into a bottle of ink. Furthermore, the Zebra Comic G is scratchy enough to annoy me. Although I tolerate it, I prefer a smoother nib.
7/3/15 ink, watercolor (Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with posting nib)

The solution came serendipitously when I wasn’t even searching. At a meeting of the Seattle Pen Club, a member happened to show me his Pilot pen with a “posting” nib (identified as PO on Pilot’s product numbers). Before seeing it, I had heard that the PO nib was designed to be used on very thin, rough or poor-quality paper – the kind that would make most fountain pens feather and bleed to high heaven. Apparently you could work newspaper crossword puzzles with this nib! Since I avoid writing or sketching on paper like that, I didn’t pay any attention to the posting nib – and also didn’t give much thought to what kind of nib was needed to write on such paper. The answer, it turns out, is a very fine nib that’s also very smooth (which keeps poor-quality paper from getting scratched and snagged, exacerbating the feathering potential). Fountain pens with extremely fine nibs are easy to find. But an extremely fine nib that’s truly smooth? That’s a rare treat!

You can see from my line-stroke comparisons that the Pilot posting nib is quite a bit finer than my Sailor fude turned upside-down. It’s as fine as the Zebra Comic G nib – but is much smoother to use. Of course, the posting nib has very little flex compared to the G – the left-most vertical and bottom horizontal lines in the samples were made while flexing – but my need for flexing is minor compared to my desire for a fine, smooth line that I can get without dipping into a bottle.

If I apply very little pressure to the posting nib, it feels almost like a soft graphite pencil. In my sketches, I love the way I could draw fine fur hairs on the koalas (above) and the downy head feathers on the baby robin (below).

From the front, the posting nib looks like any other nib. Its distinctive characteristic can be seen only in profile: It curves slightly toward the paper. I’m guessing that curve somehow affects the nib’s smooth performance (although its claw-like appearance led me to expect the opposite!).

Posting nib - front view
Posting nib - side view
Contrary to what it was designed for, I’ve been using the posting nib to sketch only on high-quality Stillman & Birn sketchbook papers and my usual 140-pound Canson XL watercolor paper. It occurred to me, though, that if the nib is intended for use with cheap, thin paper (newsprint, for heaven’s sake!), it should do well with Moleskine, Field Notes and other notebook papers that get panned continually for being “fountain pen unfriendly” – papers that cause fountain pens to feather, bleed and otherwise misbehave. Although I don’t intend to sketch in Moleskine notebooks, I decided to be thorough and test that paper anyway. The pen line on the sketch itself showed no signs of feathering and would have been acceptable. But the reverse side of the page was the deal-breaker: Every time my pen point paused briefly while sketching, a dot of ink bled through. My writing at the top of the page, however, shows little bleeding.
Reverse side of Moleskine notebook page

As for the posting nib’s body, it’s a black Pilot Custom Heritage 912 – the identical body to the one I got with a Falcon (FA) nib during my Epic Search. I would have preferred to have gotten a different body for it (or at least a different color) so that I could tell the two pens apart, but the posting nib is difficult to find with any other of Pilot’s gazillions of fountain pen styles. But that’s a minor quibble; the Custom Heritage 912 is a very comfortable pen body for both sketching and writing.

So I have nothing but good things to say about the Pilot posting nib. The only question in my mind is, Why is it so under-rated by the general fountain pen community? Or perhaps not so much under-rated but under-discussed? I read a lot of forum and Facebook threads by disappointed fountain pen users complaining about the scratchiness of their fine or extra-fine nibs; I see a lot of requests for recommendations on “very fine but also very smooth” nibs. Various recommendations get tossed into the ring, but I rarely (ever?) see mention of Pilot’s posting nib. It gets my top vote for “very fine but also very smooth.”

The Pilot Custom Heritage 912 body is identical to the one with a Falcon nib.
I can’t see using the posting nib exclusively for sketching; it offers no expressive character in terms of line-width variation, which my Sailor fude pens have taught me I can’t live without. But as I learned toward the end of my Epic Search, the ideal, perfect grail can be a combination of pens, each doing what it does best. The Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with posting nib gets a permanent slot in my sketch bag, right next to my beloved Sailor fude.

6/28/15 Sketched from photo with Pilot posting nib and Platinum
Carbon ink plus watercolor on Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...