And a Happy New Year to everyone! 2020 was a difficult year on so many levels. But, if there is a plus side to all of this, it would appear that during the lay offs and lockdowns, more people have fallen in love with fountain pen inks – and that can’t be a bad thing! So, here’s to a more positive and creative 2021!
By way of introduction, this is an annual review of a personal project – reimagining fountain pen inks for creative purposes other than just handwriting – which began in 2015 with no real goals or time parameters, just investigating, experimenting and having fun. The last five years, time allowing, have been full of fabulous discovery. The products just keep on coming and the ways in which fountain pen inks can be utilised continues to astound.
Fabulous colours and reactions with bleach!
Traffic to my social media and blog sites continues to grow. The number of students experiencing the online course, Fountain Pen Ink Art – The Basics, is also increasing – 232 to date – with a new online course in the pipeline. If you grasped the skills in the first course, this is a natural progression showing how to paint tonally and how to utilise your fountain pen inks to the maximum. I will show you how to collect visual information using your smart devices and optimise that information as a visually exciting and tone ready base image for you to use for your fountain pen ink art and at any size you wish to work at. Tutorials will include: landscapes, marine art, portraiture, wildlife and illustration art. This will be suitable for students of all ages and abilities and to be honest artists of more traditional painting mediums might benefit from this too.
Fountain pen ink art really does seem to be increasing in popularity with the genre appearing on many social media platforms particularly Facebook. Of mention: Goulet Nation, Fountain Pen UK, Fountain Pen Sketchers, FPUK Ink Club, Pen & Ink Enthusiasts, Reddit Fountainpens and Noodler’s Ink and Pen Fan Club. It’s also encouraging to see more watercolour artists and pen and ink illustrators starting to tune in and embrace the medium.
The fountain pen ink art workshops were all ready to be delivered in 2020, but sadly, due to the pandemic, only 3 actually happened. As soon as advertised they were sold out and the quality of work created by the students really was a joy to behold. Fingers crossed that the vaccine roll out is a success and as soon as allowed, I will get the workshops up and running again.
With the Coronavirus restrictions, much of my investigation has been about exploring the outcomes of mixing standard, sheen and shimmer inks together while experimenting with more paper surfaces and optimising tools for utilising ink (more about that later in the year).
The Covid pandemic has certainly had an impact on fountain pen ink production this year – compared to 2019 – and the release of ‘new’ inks has understandably not been as prolific. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing as ink geeks have had more time to start properly investigating their existing collections without being distracted with the euphoria of countless new additions to purchase – and ink brands have had time to revise and update their packaging and fine tune their ranges.
Although I tested a clutch of new and untried inks last year, I was just as intrigued by some inks that I hadn’t used in a while. So here we go:
Nutcracker (Diamine) – a deep red brown with some very subtle chromatography bleeding out pinks and sand colours. The reaction with bleach is a stunning pink gold. As part of the Blue Range I used this recently in a miniature portrait project – Click for more.
Whaleman’s Sepia (Noodler’s) – This ink is just sublime. A deep grey bleeding out greys, browns and pinks. The reaction with bleach is a stunning neon pink. As mentioned, I have been revisiting some of my older swatch albums and the Noodler’s cards look better than ever. I will be featuring more Noodler’s inks in my work this year. Do check out the swatch cards on this site. Click for more.
Olifants (L’Artisan Pastellier) – This is part of a gorgeous range of colours that I tested in 2020. A beautiful greeny blue with delicate chromatic behaviours and a neon gold reaction to bleach. This range of inks all appear somewhat dusty – and remind me of watercolour paints. Click for more.
Kekfeny (Pennonia) – A stunning rich blue with a deep crimson sheen bleeding out electric blue at the edges. Bleach works well in the less concentrated areas. This a great range of colours and they mix well together, so if you’re looking for 4 CMYK candidates, I’d say there a good ones here. Pennonia also offer shimmer dusts if want to create your own shimmer inks. Click for more.
Snowstorm (Diamine) – A mid warm grey with a fabulous and very definite silver shimmer. This is part of the Diamine Blue Range which was launched as a unique ink set in 2020 following the success if the Inkvent Calendar. Click for more.
Walnut (Noodler’s) – Another fabulous ink. A dark brown bleeding out carbon, browns and pinks. There is a reaction with bleach but as the carbon floats to the fore some the brilliance is masked. As mentioned, I have been revisiting some of my older swatch albums and the Noodler’s cards are just superb. I will be featuring more Noodler’s inks in my work this year. Click for more.
Nakamurasaki (Taccia) – A deep dusty purple bleeding out light purples and cyan. A bright neon reaction with bleach. This is part of the artist range I tested in 2020 – these inks are beautifully subtle. Click for more.
Itzamna (L’Artisan Pastellier) – This is part of a gorgeous range of colours that I tested in 2020. A beautiful orange brick colour with delicate chromatic behaviours and a neon gold reaction to bleach. This range of inks all appear somewhat dusty – and remind me of watercolour paints. Click for more.
Asasakura (Taccia) – A deep anti fouling red bleeding out salmon pinks and acid yellows. A bright neon reaction with bleach. This is part of the artist range I tested in 2020 – these inks are beautifully subtle. Click for more.
Melon Tea (Robert Oster) – A dark brown bleeding out browns greens and cyan. A fabulous neon gold effect when subjected to bleach. Robert Oster inks appear in many of my artworks. For chromo effects, they are the real deal! Beautiful! Click for more.
Sepia (Private Reserve) – Another return to the older albums and an ink brand that has some really lovely inks and in need of rediscovery. This Sepia is one of many colours with glorious chromo behaviours. This is a fabulous sepia colour bleeding out sand yellows and greens with a neon gold reaction to bleach. Click for article.
Dungo (Pennonia) – A stunning deep orange bleeding out oranges and yellows. Bleach works well in the less concentrated areas. Pennonia also offer shimmer dusts if want to create your own shimmer inks. Click for more.
And so there you have it! A huge thanks to all of you who support what I’m up to and who can see both the inspirational and educational benefits that fountain pen ink can offer. Repurposing products for alternative uses offers huge potential for our future. It just needs people with imagination and who aren’t afraid of making mistakes. Here’s to 2021!
And HEY! If you’re interested to know more about how to use fountain pen inks in more creative ways – whether it’s simply to observe their chromatic behaviours, or, to recreate one of my swatch cards, or, to learn how to use them in watercolour painting, illustration and calligraphy, why not check out my online course? It’s undeniably one of the best ways to pass the time while cocooned in your Covid 19 isolation inspiration station!