artistic process

Playing with Paint

Hi there. How are you?

Ballpoints have started to bore me. I’m feeling limited by the color range. Yes, I can now get every color in the rainbow in a ballpoint, but there’s a limited amount of color mixing possible, and you can’t make a tint (pastel) or a shade (gray). There’s only so many color combinations possible, and that has started to annoy me.

Color has always been an important part of my work and a major form of expression for me. I needed to find a way to increase the range of colors possible in my work. So I looked backwards…

Unless you’ve been following me for an eternity, you might have not known that I was once a painter. I painted big abstract pieces and I loved to mix colors. Now, I am in no means ready to go back to painting all together, but I decided to try and incorporate some paint into my current work.

I had a set of gouache paints in my studio and one day I mixed up some olive green and painted some simple shapes on a few different types of paper. I’d never tried to draw on top of gouache, but as it’s a matte paint, I thought it might work.

My first experiment drawing on top of gouache was disappointing.

My first experiment drawing on top of gouache was disappointing.

As you can see here, the gouache chipped away as I drew on top of it. It looks kinda interesting, but that wasn’t really the look I was going for.

In an effort to add more color to my work, I’ve been experimenting with drawing on top of gouache.

In an effort to add more color to my work, I’ve been experimenting with drawing on top of gouache.

I did some more experimenting and found that if I thinned the gouache with some water, it chipped a whole lot less. There’s a little bit of chipping in some of the dark areas of this drawing, but I don’t think it detracts from the piece as a whole.

A couple of my lovely  Instagram followers  suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink.

A couple of my lovely Instagram followers suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink.

Acrylic ink is Awesome!

A couple of my lovely Instagram followers suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink. I am so far out of the painting world, that I had never even heard to acrylic ink. I was excited to find these Amsterdam acrylic inks at the craft store and promptly tried them out and made a whole bunch of backgrounds.

*PSST. This is an affiliate link. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn a small commission when you purchase with this link. It's a small way to support the work I do without any cost to you. (Thank you!)

I had a ball MIXING colors.

The acrylic ink is super concentrated, opaque, and flows nicely. It is just what I was looking for!

I’m on a roll!

In the last few weeks, I’ve made 6 new drawings. This is the most drawing I’ve done outside of my sketchbook in at least a year!

The paint has certainly helped me to expand my color palette and it gives these drawings more dimension. I am so proud of this work and can’t wait to see it all framed and hung together. I’ve committed to doing a show at a local coffee house with some friends in April. Wish me luck! Framing is not my favorite.

What should I title this drawing series? Do tell!

What should I title this drawing series? Do tell!

Title suggestions welcomed

I need your help, friends. What should I title this series? I’m stumped. What do you see when you look at these? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

That’s all for now.

I’ll be back soon to talk about a surprise gift that has become a one of my favorite art supplies.

Ciao, Jen


NS1 Pen: A Love Story

Hi there. How are you?

I recently purchased a NS1 ballpoint pen. Designed by Nicolas Sanchez, an incredibly talented ballpoint artist, it has 3 different size points in one pen. As it was designed for artists by an artist, I had high hopes for this one.

The NS1 pen was designed by the incredibly talented Nicholas V Sanchez. Click to purchase!

The NS1 pen was designed by the incredibly talented Nicholas V Sanchez. Click to purchase!

Ballpoint pen self portrait by Nicolas V Sanchez. Yes, it’s ballpoint!

Ballpoint pen self portrait by Nicolas V Sanchez. Yes, it’s ballpoint!

Can you even believe this is a BALLPOINT drawing?

Sanchez is a crazy talented artist! Not only is a he a master at rendering the human face, but those skin tones!?! How does he even do that??? I’m in awe.

When Nicholas announced on his Instagram that he has designed a pen, I knew I had to have it! And when I read that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the NS1 pen goes to art education, I was even more psyched to buy.

My drawing with the 1MM point of the NS1 Pen in my trusty Moleskine sketchbook.

My drawing with the 1MM point of the NS1 Pen in my trusty Moleskine sketchbook.

My NS1 Pen - Love at First Sight

As soon as my NS1 pen arrived, I started drawing and experimenting. Having 3 different nib sizes in one pen is a brilliant idea. With one easy click you can change from the big 1.0 mm tip to the 0.7 mm and finally the tiny 0.5 mm. The soft rubber grip makes this pen super comfy to use. Now I wish all my pens had this this soft grip. Do they still make those foam pencil grips? (Must google this!)

I did the drawing above with the 1.0 mm. I’m pleased to report that the NS1 doesn’t seem to “throw up” ink blobs as readily as many other pens do and the ink flows smoothly. My only complaint was that the nib sometimes rocks around in the barrel when you’re drawing. Other than that, I was smitten with this pen, and maybe even ready to make a serious commitment to this pen.

Drawing made with the 0.7 mm point of the NS1 pen.

Drawing made with the 0.7 mm point of the NS1 pen.

The Second Date

I decided to give the 0.7 mm point a go, and started another drawing in my pocket sized Moleskine sketchbook. Things looked promising at first, but then NS1 started to get on my nerves.

After using the 0.7mm for a time, the nib started to seize up and the ink would stop flowing. I’d have to stop and scribble on my scratch paper to get the ink flowing again. It was pretty frustrating.

Was NS1 trying to drive me away?

It sure seemed like it.

An up close and personal look at my drawing with the 0.7 mm point of the NS1 pen.

An up close and personal look at my drawing with the 0.7 mm point of the NS1 pen.

You can see my struggles in this close-up.

It’s a little jagged in places where I was battling with the pen to get the ink flowing.

I wondered if I’d already run the pen out of ink, but that seemed doubtful as I’d only done two small Moleskine drawings with the pen. I switched back to the 1.0 mm and then the 0.5 mm points and started having the same problems with those as well. What the what? I could always get the ink flowing again, but I was pretty disappointed. My wonder pen wasn’t all that wonderful after all.

I worried we might be breaking up.

I’m going to give this drawing away to someone on my mailing list. Are you on the list?

I’m going to give this drawing away to someone on my mailing list. Are you on the list?

I Gave it One More Shot

When I was cleaning up my studio the other day, I found some lovely drawing paper that I’d forgotten I had. It’s smooth with just a tiny hint off a tooth to it.

I decided to give the NS1 a second chance.

I’m so glad I did. The NS1 worked beautifully on this paper. The seizing up issues were gone. The ink flowed beautifully. Our relationship was saved!

But, why did NS1 try to give me the brush off earlier?

I suspect it was the paper in my Moleskine sketchbooks. That’s weird though. Nicolas Sanchez (NS1 designer) draws in Moleksines all the time.

All I know is that the NS1 pen is a keeper.

It’s not going to be exclusive between us, I still have love for my Bics and my Papermates, but NS1 has earned a place in my pen repertoire.

That’s all for now.

Is there a pen you’d like me to review? Give me a shout!

Ciao, Jen


I Gave Myself a Break

Hi there. How are you?

Me? I'm much better.

I very much appreciate all of the support and encouragement I received after my previous post.

My slump didn't last long. I did one very simple thing to get me out of it.

I gave myself a break.

Since January, my primary goal has been to design a new line of wholesale goods (cards, prints, calendars, tea towels, etc.) that I can pitch to retailers. I set out to make 10 new cards featuring my current abstract pen drawings as well as designing 2 new calendars and some new tea towels. 

For a while, I made really great progress towards that goal. Despite the fact that I have been steadily designing new products since then, I'm still not done and haven't even begun to lay out a new catalog. There never seems to be enough time.

Or maybe my heart wasn't really in it.

After my vacation meltdown, I decided to put wholesale aside (at least for a time).

I also put aside my sketchbook and went for a big 12" x 18" format. I picked up my trusty Bic and went to work. (Yep, even after all my searching and experimenting with other pen brands, Bics are still my most favorite.)

After struggling in my sketchbook, I decided to go big and start a 12" x 18" drawing with my trusty Bic pen.

After struggling in my sketchbook, I decided to go big and start a 12" x 18" drawing with my trusty Bic pen.

Pretty quickly, the work started to flow.

I had so much fun working on this drawing that I even recorded a short video of the process. Unlike the others, this one is in real time, so you can really see my technique.

Working large helped too.

There was more room to experiment and move. I was back in my happy art place, making work I was pleased with. It doesn't look forced, but instead free and flowing. This I where I want to be.

After fleshing out the composition with green, I added in some black to enhance the depth. At this point, it's just about complete.

After fleshing out the composition with green, I added in some black to enhance the depth. At this point, it's just about complete.

I want to be making original work, not a stationery line.

When I dream of my future as an artist, I see work in galleries, not at the National Stationery Show. I started working towards a wholesale line when my success selling work at art fairs started waning. I've seen other people be very successful with wholesale home goods and thought that might be the way to go for me as well. Unfortunately, I've never been completely satisfied with the cards/pillows/etc that I was making.

I still don't know how I'm going to do sell and market my original work.

All I do know is that I am enjoying the process of making again.

I'm going to think less and draw more, and see what comes of it for a time. My tentative goal is to make and frame enough new work to hang a solo exhibition at a local space. (Or maybe even in our house!)

I appreciate you following along in my journey.

Ciao.