I’ll start off my guest post by thanking Maybelline for having me as a guest. My name is Sandra Strait. I’m a self-taught artist, who enjoys sharing her passions, and I’m here to share my thoughts about fountain pens and mark making.
In almost all aspects of art, you hear about mark making. Quite simply, that’s the act of making a mark with any particular medium. Anything from a stick scraped across the ground, beautiful oils spread across a canvas or, in the case of this discussion, lines and color created by putting ink on paper with a fountain pen.
I seldom write, because I get caught up in feel of the mark-making and my spelling and syntax suffer. Instead, I prefer to doodle or draw or actually paint with a fountain pen. Sometimes, I use them to make lines, swirls and patterns as I did with this Zentangle® inspired piece, done with an FPR Dilli fountain pen (review) fine nib using Diamine Chocolate Brown ink in a Rhodia DotGrid WebNotebook.
Other times I go full color with a variety of pens, as I did with this piece on a sheet of Clairefontaine DotGrid GraF it (review) paper. I used J. Herbin Inks in a Lamy Safari medium nib, a Lamy Vista in a broad nib, and a Noodler’s Ahab Flex.
While I prefer working in journals, notepads and sketchbooks, I’ll use any format, ruled, squared, DotGrid or blank. I seldom go larger than this piece done in a Quo Vadis Habana, 8.25 x 11.62.
Although I prefer to keep my work in a bound book, and tend to use the smoother papers from Rhodia and Clairefontaine, I also work on sheets of mixed media paper from Fabriano, Strathmore and others.
Okay. Now you know what I do, and that I’ll use a variety of fountain pens, inks, and papers, so you might be interested in the why. Why fountain pens? Why fountain pen ink when it isn’t archival? Why fuss with a medium that requires a level of set-up and knowledge?
I suspect it is for the same reason that many of you write with fountain pens. It is for the feel of the pen in hand, for the elegance of the line, the sound the nib makes as it crosses the paper. For me, it doesn’t matter if the piece is archival. The making of the marks is the thing. I could, and often do use other mediums, but a fountain pen is unique, and I’ll use them because they give me a unique experience.
It’s a sort of mindfulness, a relaxation, a form of ‘Zen’. I learned about this kind of mindfulness when I got into Zentangle. It’s a method of breaking down complex patterns into simple steps that anyone can follow, but it’s also a method of relaxation. The traditional Zentangle takes about 15 minutes. The idea is to learn the patterns so you don’t have to think about them while drawing, and to use the most beautiful, high-quality pen and paper you can afford.
Creating patterns with a pigment pen, didn’t hold my attention for very long. Soon, my work was more abstract or stylized than non-objective, but I was applying the mindfulness to every medium I use. Fountain pens are wonderful for this sort of mark making. Even the preparation–setting out the pens and ink you want to use, cleaning and loading up the pens–it’s all very Zen.
I doubt if I’ve told you anything you didn’t already know, but I hope I’ve crystallized one thought –fountain pens rock! However you use them.