Some Thoughts on Pens

Sketch of Geoff, ink on paper, 2007 by Sarah Atlee Sketch of Geoff, pigma micron on paper, 2007.

My sketchbook exchange partner Karo has posted a review of her favorite pens. Like many of us, she is still in search of her ideal drawing instrument. My current favorite is the Sakura Pigma Micron size 01. About the micron, Karo says:

The tip gets broken easily and they dry up super fast. And if they get in contact with my gouache... it's instant death. That's why I don't use the 0.01. It had a very fine tip and did a nice thin stroke. I was so happy when I first got it... but it lasted 2 weeks and now it barely writes and the stroke is inconsistent.

I agree about the limited durability of the micron's tip, but I compensate for the pen's short life span by having a lot of them around. I buy them in boxes of twelve (about $25 from the Blick company) so I always have a new one ready. Oh, and I try not to drop them.

Sketch for Carmen McWillie, ink on paper, 2008 by Sarah Atlee

Sketch for Carmen McWillie, ink on paper, 2008. This is the drawing I used to make an acrylic gel transfer for the final piece, below.

My other pen of choice is the Bic Round Stic Grip Fine point. (Oddly, I have trouble finding the fine point in stores, so I usually mail order them. The medium point tends to clump and smear.) I use this pen for its versatile tonal range. The major drawback here is that the Bic's ink is non-archival. I get around that problem via an acrylic gel transfer process. You can read instructions for that process here and here.

Normal, OK: Carmen McWillie, 2008 by Sarah Atlee

Normal, OK: Carmen McWillie. Acrylic transfer and collage on found canvas, 2008.