Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sketching with a Stabilo Pen

I like to use a lot of different drawing tools: pencils, pens, fountain pens, markers, bamboo reed pens and more. Using one tool or technique for too long begins to feel like a creative rut. When I switch out my drawing tools my work feels more spontaneous and fresh. 

So what have I been up to lately? Stabilo Pens! One of the really great things about these pens is the way the ink responds to water. The ink is “soluble” which means it moves with a wet brush. BUT there’s more! Once the ink dries the ink is fixed. What does “fixed” mean? It won’t move any more. So why is this so great? The pen is great for drawing and I can also establish my shadows with a damp brush before I begin to paint. Once I establish the light and shadows the majority of work is done and the painting portion comes easier.

It’s worth noting if you look through my artwork you’ll notice the effects of light and the presence of shadows is really important to me. More often than not it’s the effect of light and shadows pattern that excited me to sketch or paint a subject.

For this demo I used the Stabilo point 88, color 45. The pen comes in a huge range of colors. I made a few samples to show how much the line moves when wet. 

This demo was was done on location at Pasadena City Hall. It's a beautiful location with a variety of views and ample shade. I sat in the court yard. 

(1) Pen drawing
(1) I drew directly on Saunders 140lb watercolor paper with the Stabilo pen. I didn't do any preliminary drawing with a pencil.  You'll notice an "X" in all four corners. This is to remind me not to paint into the corners. Why? Because I was doing a vignette. You can learn more about vignettes by clicking on the highlighted text. I was careful to pay attention to the shadows and the shapes they created on the building. I stated the shadows with additional lines. 

(2) Dissolved line with water
(2) I used a brush dipped in clean water to dissolve the ink and define the shadows. You'll noticed how much darker the ink became when wet. The reddish-brown really came through!

(3) I made sure let the dissolved Stabilo ink was completely dry and the ink was fixed. Now I was ready to paint. This step of went rather quickly. All the preliminary work was done and now I got to have fun putting paint down.

(3) Painted
The Stabilo 88 pens are readily available. Take a look on line and you'll find lots of places that sell them. Pick up a few colors and start playing. 

I like to start with something simple when exploring  a new technique or tool. Below is a pen and bottle of ink using the same technique but this time I used the green color 63. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

~Happy Sketching!

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  1. I adore drawing with Stabilos! They are a great way to achieve a slightly softer line with watercolors, and they travel well. Thanks for your demo. A lovely sketch.

  2. I have some Stabilos I'd forgotten about - will have to dig them out. Lovely sketches - I like them all, but that ink bottle and pen sketch is my favorite!

  3. As always very good sharing of ideas!

  4. If you were able to dissolve the lines of your drawing does that mean all the lines remained wet/damp until you finished? A long open time? And then you waited after applying water and it became fixed?

  5. Hi Brenda, Thanks for your posting. I was just wondering if you know if the Stablio ink is archival? Also do you know if it is pigmented ink or dry based ink? I am on the search for such a marker that you described but also with archival qualities. Thanks!

  6. I love to draw in Quink ink with Many fountain pen. Then I use a water brush on it to define shadows. Then very basic colour. Look forward to trying Stabilo. Thank you Brenda. I got started a few years back with your wonderful "Keeping a watercolor sketchbook". So excited to find you on the internet.

  7. That is Lamy pen! My phone likes to change words.

  8. Yay some more art supplies to look for! I hope I can do something half as beautiful as your sketches!

  9. You teach in a way that makes me want to practice and experiment. Which is why you are such a superb teacher, as well as a varied and prolific artist.

  10. Wonderful sketch and description!!! Thanks for sharing, Brenda!!

  11. Brenda - will be on a shopping mission for these. Your sketches and blog always inspire me. Have a lovely day.

  12. Wonderful demo, Brenda...thank you! Your work is inspiring!