Tools of the trade

There are times when I think I must be more concerned with the tools I use than with the actual painting.

This has been the case lately as I delve more and more into urban sketching - or just sketching, period. I follow a series of blogs on sketching (listed on a recent post) and have been fascinated by discussions about pens.

Now, I thought painters were a fussy lot when it comes to brush preferences, but sketchers appear to treat their pens with near adulation. Some prefer traditional "dip" pens - not exactly a good choice for plein air sketching, but inexpensive for studio work; others plump for any one of a myriad of fine-line pens; yet others swear by special fountain pens.

I have tried each of these devices and I really thought that I would stick to the fine-liner. Until I tried the LAMY fountain pen. Oh my, what an experience.

The Lamy Safari pen
We are fortunate in Toronto to have the Wonderpen company. I visited their store on Carlaw Avenue this week and was able to test a number of models of pens, settling eventually on a bright yellow Lamy Safari.

These pens come with the usual cartridge, but one needs waterproof ink for sketching if watercolour is going to be used. For this, a converter cartridge is used, which incorporates a nifty plunger system used to draw ink from the bottle. A fairly wide colour range of waterproof inks is available, although there are relatively few manufacturers. I chose a black ink from Noodlers Inc., a U.S. company.

If you are interested in researching pens any further, an excellent place to start is Goulet Pens whose owner has developed a lengthy series of videos that will tell you a lot more than you thought you needed to know on the subject.

Happy sketching.