Wednesday, October 24, 2018

#InkTober2018 Check-in: Making Friends with the Bic

10/16/18 Stapler

Week 3 of InkTober went better than week 2. Although I still felt the pull of color, I got out often enough to sketch autumn (twice at the Japanese Garden and another time in the neighborhoods) that I didn’t feel deprived working in ballpoint. It also helps that I’ve been using a notebook with bright colored paper, which enables me to use it like toned paper (as I use red Sweet Tooth Field Notes). When all the tone work is shown with hatching, it’s difficult to indicate highlights, so being able to use touches of a white Gelly Roll pen gives sketches a nice spark.

10/19/18 Neti pot
More important, though, is that I’m feeling friendlier toward my new buddy (not quite BFF), the Bic. Not the Bic Cristal I paid less than a quarter for; it’s the one I picked up at a hotel – free. Its point is fine enough that it doesn’t have blobbing issues, and if I regulate the pressure the way I would a pencil, I seem to get the best results.

Hatching no longer feels like an onerous task. I enjoy the meditative quality of filling in spaces with lines. After the more difficult work of drawing the contour (which I also enjoy, but it takes more concentration and effort), hatching is relaxing and rewarding while still being challenging in a different way. 

Coincidentally, an Atlantic article that was published in 2015 came to my attention last week. How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive talks about how the invention of the ballpoint in the ‘40s “changed how most people experience ink.” Compared to a fountain pen, the most commonly used type of pen before the ‘50s, ballpoints require more pressure and significantly changed the way most people write.

10/15/18 Pear and tomato
That was one of the first things I noticed when I started drawing with ballpoint: I have to apply more pressure and use a different grip than I do with the fountain pens, brush pens and pencils that I’m more familiar with. Like any tool, it takes a while to get used to.

Of course, I still need much practice – 23 days with a new art material is hardly sufficient to learn how to use it – but I do feel more confident now. It helps that I’m choosing mostly simple objects to practice with.

10/21/18 Swan gourd and antique vase

10/18/18 Flashlight

10/17/18 Planter at Japanese Garden
10/20/18 Bus rider

10/20/18 Space Needle from my bus stop. (I made two InkTober sketches this day!)


  1. I love these sketches! You certainly captured the roundness and “shine” on your subjects! Inspiring.

    1. Thank you, Cathy! I'm happy that this month's practice has improved my hatching skills. I didn't used to like hatching, but I enjoy it now!


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