Friday, October 29, 2021

Pens, Inks and Drawing in Inktober 2021

Blind contour drawing - that's me, but it doesn't look like me, thanks to the blind contour.

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October is Inktober - a month when many people who are nuts about drawing with pen and ink, or brush, or markers, challenge themselves to do a drawing a day. This seems like a good time for a post on pen and ink drawing. I will intersperse a few of my drawings from this month.

Blind contour and hatching. 

The main time I draw is in the evening, sitting with a cat on my lap and a cup of tea. I don't want ink that can spill, so fountain pens are ideal. I need ink that is water proof so I can use my drawings for collage. I prefer to refill a fountain pen instead of buying a new one, or buying plastic cartridges. And you can mix inks in the same brand to get a wide variety of colors. I often use black or brown, so I'm not sure this is a big deal to me. But I want options.

Judith Hoffman blind contour with added hatching

I have finally settled on De Atramentis Document Inks. Jane Blundell's posts about fountain pen inks are very helpful, this is where I first learned about the De Atramentis inks. This seems to be her most recent post, it includes links to previous posts. Note the Document inks are the ones that dry waterproof. They are changing their bottles and name, the newer Artist Inks are the same formula.

Couldn't find my pen, I really like the weird bottle shapes.

Many fountain pen inks will bleed when wet media is applied over them. The De Atramentis Document inks have been waterproof for me with a few exceptions. My usual method is to draw directly on the substrate - which is usually collage held down with Golden Matte Medium, or to draw on architect's tracing paper, and then use that as collage material. Either way the drawing ink needs to be waterproof.  The De Atramentis Inks work great. The one exception is their white, which seems to be made in a different way. It will settle in the pen. You need to shake the pen a bit and scribble on scrap paper to get it going. The white sometimes smears a bit when I am collaging, especially when I have drawn on a layer of acrylic paint. When applied to the architect's tracing, it smears a tiny bit where it is very thick but works well all in all. I try to just paint over the collaged paper with the matte medium, then squeegee off excess with a rib squeegee. I don't work over the same area multiple times.

Blind contour with hatching, Inktober 2021

In the last 5 years I have tried a number of inexpensive fountain pens. Now I am using what pen nerds might call an affordable fountain pen, but to me it is fairly expensive. It's the Twisbi Eco, $35.50 at JetPens. I switched to the Eco because the ink in the nib doesn't dry out. I can lose a pen for weeks, find it under my chair, and start drawing right away. There is a piston filler that works well, but you have to be careful not to twist the knob at the end of the pen when there is ink in it. If you do, ink will leak out. 

Insomnia. Inktober 2021.

I get most of my pens and inks from JetPens. They have a number of short videos explaining and demonstrating paper, pens and inks. Here is an article about fountain pen nibs. Another place that has been a good source is the Goulet Pen Company. They have the De Atramentis Document White. I haven't used them as much as JetPens, but have been happy with both places. Please Note: I am not affiliated with JetPens or Goulet Pens in anyway, I just want to suggest places I have found to be reliable. Both are in the US.

Strange rabbit from Svankmeyer's Alice. I like to experiment with hatching styles.

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Sending two books to the Philadelphia Center for the Book exhibit

Stolen Shadows by Judith Hoffman is on its way to the Looking Out/Looking in exhibit at the Philadelphia Center for the Book.

I am delighted to say I just sent Stolen Shadows and In Which Our Main Character Has a Moment of Wonderment to the Looking Out/Looking In exhibit at the Philadelphia Center for the Book. I haven't accomplished much in the last few years so it's nice to be able to share something with other artists and people in general. There will be a Zoom artist's talk on November 3rd. You need to register at the PCB website to attend. The exhibit can be viewed in person at Swarthmore's McCabe Library October 23rd to December 5th. It can also be viewed online beginning October 22nd at the Looking Out/Looking In exhibition page

Sunday, October 10, 2021

In Which Our Main Character Has a Revelation of Wonderment


In Which Our Main Character Has a Revelation of Wonderment, 2019, 5.75 x 4 x 1 inch. Materials: Eco dyed Bagasse paper, eco dyed linen thread, architect’s tracing paper, found papers, acrylic paint, ink. Techniques: eco dying, collage, drawing, rubber stamping. I took good photos a few months after finishing this, and then forgot to post them anywhere, so here they are at last.


I have had a few moments in my life when I felt connected to the universe, as if I could see everything all at once, and it all made sense. We can all have those moments, where we feel joy and are free from our daily worries and routine. It is, in a way, looking out at the world, seeing the beauty and reality without the overlay of our worries. But it's also looking in, seeing and feeling the space inside. I'm not saying life is always wonderful, because it's not. But allowing space for the good moments is important.

I enjoy the collage mixed with drawings, rubber stamping and the eco dyed marks. As I work I become absorbed in some internal story. On this page Benjamin Franklin is studying a huge moon. There had to be a small building to delineate the earth, and in the end I added a large stamp of a bird to have a weird change in sizes.

The pages are so wonky from the eco dye process it's hard to photograph the book. They also spring open however they want to.

When she saw this page, my friend Elise said "He is hoeing the earth and the mountains are growing. 

Here an amazing thing is happening just behind the photographer. He's so absorbed in his flower he doesn't notice.

Our life can be so amazing, and then suddenly it's over.