art supplies

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


A Few of My Favorite Things

Hi there. How are you? 

I was recently invited to become an Amazon Influencer.  As an influencer, I have my own page on Amazon.com where I can recommend my favorite products and earn money on qualifying purchases made through the page.  I don't expect to make millions, but it is nice to have a place to share all my faves while making a little pocket change. 

As I'm often asked about the supplies I use to make my ballpoint drawings,  I thought I'd start by curating a list of favorite drawing supplies, all of which can be found on Amazon. 

These are my go-to supplies for ballpoint drawing. Click through for the details and more of my faves.

These are my go-to supplies for ballpoint drawing. Click through for the details and more of my faves.

1. BIC CRISTAL X-TRA BOLD BALLPOINTS:

If you're just going to buy just one set of pens, go for these! They're inexpensive, smooth and have great color.

2. PENTEL RSVP RT BALLPOINTS:

(RT stands for retractible.) I like the Pentel retractibles better than the capped Pentels as the ink tends to flow better in the retractibles. Overall, Pentel pens have a finer ballpoint, which can make it more difficult to achieve smooth values, but are good for making sharp edges. 

3. PAPERMATE PROFILE BALLPOINTS:

Papermate Profiles come in a huge range of colors, but are more difficult to find and are more expensive than the Bics. The ink doesn't flow quite as well as the Bics, but they're my runner ups. 

4. SMOOTH BRISTOL BOARD:

There are many different brands of Bristol board out there and there are also different finishes available. Look for smooth Bristol board when purchasing. Don't want to spring for Bristol board? Any smooth paper will work (including copy paper!)

5. MOLESKINE SKETCHBOOK AND TOOL BELT

Moleskine sketchbooks have been my go-to for years. Right now I'm partial to the 5" x 8.25" size. The paper is thick but smooth and the pages lay flat. The only downfall with Moleskines is that the paper has a slight yellow hue to it.  Add a Moleskine tool belt to it and you've got a fabulously portable drawing kit.

All of these are supplies I actually like and use. 

I only add items to my Amazon Influencer list that I can vouch for! 

I've finally found a yellow ballpoint pen! Meet the 8 color Yoobi. Click through to purchase.

I've finally found a yellow ballpoint pen! Meet the 8 color Yoobi. Click through to purchase.

And my newest fave.....

I've been on a hunt for yellow ballpoints for over a year now. Up until recently, I couldn't find them for purchase anywhere in the States. Until now.

Meet the 8-color Yoobi pen, with yellow! Isn't it cute? All of the colors are nice and bright and the ink goes on smoothly.  With a whole range of colors in one, this is going to be a great pen for my trip abroad this summer. 

I made an entire post about my quest to find yellow ballpoints. Find it HERE.

What are your Amazon faves?

Do tell. I'll try them out and if I like, I'll add to my list. 

Well, that's all for now. Thank you for supporting my artistic endeavors by shopping my Amazon list. I'll be back soon with some of my favorite motivational books for creatives. 

Ciao, Jen

My Favorite Tools for Adult Coloring

Hi There. How are you?

As my loyal readers know, I produced a coloring book this fall.  (It's been the most popular item I've ever sold to date! Thank you for that!) I often get asked about the best materials for coloring, so I thought I'd share my personal faves.

My Favorite Tools for Adult Coloring - JENNIFERJOHANSSON.COM

My Favorite Tools for Adult Coloring - JENNIFERJOHANSSON.COM

I'm All About Prismacolors

If I'm going to sit down and color, I'm going to use Prismacolor pencils.  They are so soft and easy to blend. (I'm in no way being paid by Prismacolor to sing their praises, I just really like them!)

At more than $1.00 each, Prismacolors are expensive. That's why I recommend you start with a set of Prismacolor Scholar pencils.  Designed for the " developing artist", Prismacolor Scholars are really just as nice as the Prismacolor Premiers, but are a little less expensive and don't break quite as easily. You can get a set of 24 Prismacolor Scholars for $7.48 on DickBlick.com. That's a steal!

If you are new to colored pencil blending, I also recommend you pick up a colorless blender.  It's basically a colored pencil without any pigment, and helps to soften edges and blend two colors together.

Sharpening Prismacolors

If you're not careful, It's very easy to break the lead while sharpening Prismacolors. To keep this from happening, always use a handheld sharpener or even an exacto knife to sharpen your Prismacolors. I'm quite fond of the General's All Art sharpeners, as long as they stay sharp. At just $1.00 a pop, you can afford to pick up a new one every few months or so. When sharpening Prismacolors, turn the pencil sharpener while holding the colored pencil still. You put less stress on the pencil and have less of a chance of breaking the lead.

Erase if You Must

The art teacher in me believes that you don't need to use an eraser with colored pencils. You just find a creative way to cover up your "mistakes." Colored pencils don't erase all that well either. You'll never be able to get back to a perfectly, white paper, but you will be able to lift up most of the pigment.

My favorite eraser of all time is the Magic Rub. It's a vinyl eraser that won't smudge or leave marks like pink erasers can. If you're trying to get into tiny detailed areas, try a kneaded eraser. They are like silly putty and can be molded into all sorts of shapes and sizes.

A page from my coloring book, Pattern Play, colored with Prismacolor pencils.

A page from my coloring book, Pattern Play, colored with Prismacolor pencils.

A Coloring Tutorial?

I'm thinking about doing a little Prismacolor coloring tutorial video. Would you be interested in that friends? Leave me a comment and let me know!

What Do You Use to Color?

I'd love to hear from you. Ciao friends!