Thursday, 20 November 2014

De Atramentis Document Inks mixed with Black

I don't usually use black with watercolour, but with a CYMK mixing set it certainly increases the options and is the only way to create some hues and tones.

I'll update this as I get more of the Document Inks to try, but here are the first ones mixed with Black. It takes VERY little Black to make a change to the original colour so I haven't included ratios for these mixes.

The first is Document Magenta mixed with Document Black. There are a few more possible tones between the pure colour and the first mix.
Next is the warm Document Blue mixed with Document Black. A nice range of deep blue and indigo hues are possible.
Next is Document Turquoise (Cyan)  mixed with Document Black, making cooler deep blues.
And finally, so far, Document Brown mixed with Document Black to make a great range of dark brown and sepia hues.

To see these colours mixed together see the previous post here.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Mixing De Atramentis Document Inks

I am really enjoying working with the De Atramentis Document Black and Document Brown fountain pen inks. I have been gradually buying the other document colours as I find them in various shops in Sydney, Australia including Larrypost, Art Scene, Tilly's and Pen Ultimate, or from Gouletpens in the US. See the full range here.

Eventually I'll be able to play with the whole range - red, green, blue, dark blue, black, brown and the CYM colours yellow, cyan and magenta. A Document Grey is in the pipeline along with a Burnt Sienna. To have a good range of lightfast, waterproof, fountain pen-friendly inks is one thing, but to then be able to inter-mix them is really exciting for a colour nut like me. I'm looking forward to experimenting with them as liquid watercolours. They rate the maximum 8 on the blue wool scale so should be fine in framed finished works. (Of course I'll do my own testing :-)

So I started with what I have, and explored making a range of mixed colours measuring drop by drop. It's not perfect - how big is a drop? - but it gives a good idea of just some of the colours possible. I don't have the thinning solution so all these colours are full strength. They actually look more solid on the page than they do on the screen though...

Here is Document Blue mixed with Document Magenta in the ratio written below. Document blue is a lovely warm blue so the purples are clean and beautiful.

Next I mixed Document Turquoise (Cyan is a more helpful name here) with Document Magenta. Notice how the colours overlap the mixes above so you can make your own document Blue hue, though the Document Blue ink is very nice and acts as a wonderful warm mixing blue.

My next mixes were with Document Turquoise (which will be called Cyan) and Document Brown. The cool blue creates lovely turquoise and green hues and a great olive green and cooler brown.

The next range with a warmer Document Blue creates a lovely deep blue, grey and warm Sepia and burnt umber browns when mixed with Document Brown. They look darker on the page than on the computer.

And here is a range of deep red and maroon colours made with Document Magenta and Document Brown.

I then did some exploration of three colour mixes. These are quite deep and dark but rather interesting. The first were made with various ratios of Document Blue, Magenta and Brown.

 The next were made with the same ratios using the cooler cyan, (Document Turquoise), Magenta and Brown.

The other colours in the range include yellow, red, dark blue and green. Magenta is such a good mixing colour that it should create a nice range of reds with the yellow. Greens will also be easy enough to mix with the yellow. And with the thinning solution, lighter tints will possible. Now to just get that Yellow!

All the colours can also be mixed with the Document Black for deeper shades. I've started playing with those mixes and you can see them here.

Update - there will be a Document White too! While the mixing possibilities for all manner of pastel inks is obvious, I rather like the idea of a fountain pen with white ink. I usually use a gel pen but it is a very uniform line - a fountain pen line would be far more expressive.

For more on drawing with inks see Working in Ink here, or Sketchbook Pages Exploring Fountain Pen Inks here. For more on coloured inks see here. For Brown Inks comparisons see here.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Coloured drawing inks

I have been wanting to do a careful comparison of my many fountain pen and drawing inks and finally washed over the samples to see which are waterproof.

I drew the squares in pencil, draw a line on the left on dry paper and touched the line with water to make it bleed. I then did a second line on the then-wet paper to see how it dispersed in wet. Then I did the cross-hatching on the right of the square on dry paper, then painted the rectangles and allowed all of them to dry completely. I then painted a wash of water through the square and some immediately re-wet, others were completely waterproof.

For writing you may not need to use waterproof ink, and even for drawing you may prefer to have water soluble ink if you wish to use water to create some tones. I just like to know what my materials will do.

 The inks were tested using a dip pen with a 'post office' nib as that is how I prefer to use them, except the De Atramentis inks and Lamy Blue which were in fountain pens.

 The colour of the Copper Brown and Calli Brown is certainly rather crimson, but not as much as the image on my computer :-(  Ochre Yellow is rather orange but most of the others a reasonably accurate in colour. Many companies, such as, offer samples for a reasonable price and also have painted/drawn samples to view on their websites.

The A.S (Art Spectrum) pigmented inks are terrific for drawing with a dip pen. They are waterproof and lightfast and highly pigmented for good strong colour. I shake these well before use.

The Calli inks were also completely waterproof.

I am using Da Atramentis Document inks in Black and Brown in my fountain pens and am very happy with them. I'll also use their regular non waterproof inks for writing and some drawing, and Lamy inks in my Lamy pens. The rest I prefer to use with a dip pen in the studio.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Painting Sydney Sandstone

The Gardener's Lodge, Sydney University. 2014 Watercolour and Pencil.

Sandstone is such a distinctive feature of Sydney. The city is built on it and out of it so we see it all over the place in new and in aged form.

 Hyde Park drinking fountain! 2013

I love drawing and painting it. I started drawing the wind and water eroded sandstone rocks in my teens (see these drawings here) and continued with etchings and coloured pencil drawings (which can also be found in my website) and even some book illustrations exploring this lovely stone.

 Here are a series of sketches done since June 2013, in no particular order.

Window at Cockatoo Island,
watercolour over ink sketch. 2014

The Coal Tunnel, watercolour and pencil 2013

A doorway in the convict area, Cockatoo Island.
Watercolour and ink. 2014

A column on the steps of the State Library.
Watercolour and pencil.

Sandstone in the bay, Vaucluse 2013

Sydney University grotesque 2013

A gate at the Botanic Gardens, Watercolour. 2014

Columns at the entrance to the State Library
Watercolour and brown ink. 2014
Congregational Church, Hunter's Hill
Watercolour over brown ink. 2014

I don't think I'll ever stop painting this lovely stone.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

45th World Wide Sketch Crawl

Sketching in Bourke Street, Surry Hills

We had a small but cheerful group of sketcher's at the Bourke Street Bakery, Surry Hills, yesterday for the World Wide Sketch Crawl.

Last time we met there for our monthly Sydney Urban Sketchers meet it rained so we stayed under cover and drew our coffee cups, salt shakers or each other :-) This time we were able to sit on the bench seats and sketch the bakery or surrounding terrace houses. Lots of character and so many beautiful trees.

The queues to the bakery were constant all morning - what a business that is!

The terrace, left, was finished on location.

The Bakery was sketched on location with colour added later.

Friday, 17 October 2014

QoR watercolours by Golden - Updated

Three QoR sample cards and some tubes to play with.

I recently tried a number of samples of the new Golden watercolour range - QoR (pronounced 'core'). Golden has the reputation as one of the best acrylic paint makers in the world, though I haven't actually used them :-) The range of watercolours has a different binder from the usual Gum Arabic - Aquazol - and the aims of the company, according to the excellent website, was to create:

  • Vibrant, intense colors that stay brilliant even after they dry
  • Exceptionally smooth transitions, flow and liveliness on paper
  • Excellent resolubility in water and glazing qualities
  • Vivid depth of color with each brushstroke
  • Greater resistance to cracking and flaking
  • More density of color than traditional watercolors
  • Exclusive Aquazol® binder used in conservation
(Copied from

Note - no mention of granulation - one of the characteristics I love to explore in watercolour.

The sample cards are beautifully presented on waterproof paper with a little sheet of watercolour paper so you can test the colour. I understand thousands of cards were made before they realised that the sample was too small to try properly. See right. The other cards had a bit more paint to be able to create a wash with (see below)

I painted out my usual swatches as best I could using every trace of the paint sample. The paints feel different to paint with. It was as though I were painting with alcohol rather than water though that doesn't really describe it properly - they had a different consistency from what I am used to, though some of the samples were not enough to create a 'juicy' wash. They seem very matt and flat with absolutely none of the slight sheen that the gum arabic creates in some watercolours. Some brands of course are too gummy!

They also didn't have the level of granulation I am used to, which would suit some people very well.

The Permanent Alizarin is made with PR177 - Anthraquinoid Red - which is a very powerful and staining crimson. The Ultramarine is rich and vibrant and there really is less of a drying shift than normal watercolours. I didn't document it with a before and after photo but it is interesting. Would that make it difficult to intermix them with other brands? Perhaps. I'd be reluctant. The Pyrrole Red Light behaved quite strangely as you can see above, but there wasn't much in the sample to explore this further.

I was particularly interested in trying Ultramarine Violet and Viridian as these are generally not very strong colours that I had heard were very good in the QoR range. They do have a little more bang to them, though of course they are still gentle colours compared with their powerful dioxazine purple and phthalo green cousins - that's the nature of their pigments. Nickel Azo Yellow was very powerful. Burnt Sienna, though my preferred PBr7, was less so though hard to really tell from a small sample. It's a nice colour. I wasn't able to mix it with Ultramarine to see how it neutralised.

This bright set of swatches above were all rather lovely colours. Strong and clean and nearly all single pigment colours, except of course Quinacridone Gold, which is a nice hue made from PO48 + PY150. The orange is particularly beautiful.

This above set of swatches has a couple of three pigment mixes, which is too many for my liking. The Venetian Red is strong and opaque and very like Indian Red in other brands and the Transparent Brown Oxide is finely granulating. This could be a nice choice as a Burnt Sienna option if a more granulating version is desired. Sap Green is usually a mixture and this is a very usable version, even though it is a three pigment mix. They are very good pigments!

Note that the tubes are only 11ml and quite expensive compared with many brands.

I have made up a little palette of six to explore further. Somehow I think I will use them alone rather like coloured inks. My rather bright primary and secondary palette is Nickel Azo Yellow, the gorgeous Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Quinacridone Magenta, Ultramarine Violet, Ultramarine and Viridian. I'll see how they go to paint with...

The complete colour chart along with painted out samples and pigment information on all 83 colours can be found here. I have added them to my other watercolour swatches on my website here.

Brights sample card
Earth sample card

November update
I have also tried samples of a number of other colours so will add them to this Blog to keep them together. It isn't really necessary as there are painted samples on the QoR website that do show the colours very well, but I like to be thorough :-) I'll also add them to my website.

I had more paint to finish the Cerulean Blue sample,  so have added that again here.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Brown Inks - sketchbook exploration.

I picked up a box of vintage pen nibs on Saturday - the Mitchell 0528 with a fine slightly slanted calligraphy nib. I thought I'd give one a whirl. I started by doing a little sketch of the nib, then tested it in a walnut ink. This led to a page of explorations on inks. I love that about working in a sketchbook - you never know where the page will end up :-)

In this page I began exploring other inks for use with a dip pen with or without a water wash.

Up the top left is Daniel Smith Walnut Ink. This is also the first of the solid rectangles at the bottom right. It is a fairly thin raw umber colour - a cool brown. It is not waterproof, but if re-wet it remains true to colour so creates tints of itself. Only for use with a dip pen. Not a necessity but I think it would be very nice to explore with a reed pen.

Left of the nib sketch is Noodler's Kiowa Pecan ink, which is also the small rectangle at the bottom right of the page. This is a fountain pen ink but I'll only use it in a dip pen. It is not waterproof and the colours that bleed out with a water wash are quite harmonious but I think I'd just allow it to dry and leave it alone if I use this one to draw with.

Art Spectrum Burnt Sienna Ink is a lovely ink to use with a dip pen and add wash while wet. It is basically waterproof once dry. It is a pigmented ink and not suitable for fountain pens, but lovely with reed pens, sticks and nibs as well as a brush and wash. It comes in a small but also a 1 litre bottle so is a great one for teaching and really splashing around. It does need a good shake before use as the pigment settles to the bottom.

De Atramantis Copper Brown was one I bought to try as a sketching ink in a fountain pen. It is almost an Indian Red colour, but in a wash it shows as a crimson. I think it is best used as a stand alone ink in a pen or with a dip pen rather than with watercolour. It is the rectangle at the bottom left of the group.

De Atramentis Ochre Yellow was the closest I could find for a Burnt Sienna fountain pen ink. It is also a really nice colour in its full strength but quite orange in a wash. It's the middle rectangle on the top line of the group. I wanted to use it with watercolour and allow it to soften in a wash but found the orange too much in most drawings. Interesting as a pen and water wash only though.

So both the ink I bought to use as water-soluble inks have been a little disappointing for that task - they are better just used straight or washed over with water only. I'll go back to just using water-soluble pencils for this task. 

De Atramentis Document Brown, also shown in the middle rectangle on the bottom line, is a winner. It dries quickly and is then waterproof and is lovely in a fountain pen. It flows well, is a great burnt umber colour, and being waterproof I can add watercolour without the strange colour change that I was getting with other non-waterproof inks. The black is also terrific, by the way.

Noodler's Polar Brown separates into an interesting range of colours when washed over with water. It is the second rectangle in the top line and also the sketch of the pen. I rather like the effects using it with water but will only use it with a dip pen.

Art Spectrum Sepia is another pigmented ink. Very dark and waterproof, but only for use with a dip pen. It is so dark that it is rather like using a black. It is the last large rectangle in the bunch.

Finally Noodler's Apache Sunset - a pretty orange colour that I may use in a fountain pen but not for drawing. It is the bright orange small rectangle in the group. 

So my conclusions from my scribbles and swatches is that I'll use the De Atramentis Document Brown Ink in my fountain pens for drawing and writing, and the Noodlers Polar Brown or Art Spectrum Burnt Sienna with dip pens for pen and water wash. 

For more on drawing with inks see Working in Ink here, or sketchbook pages exploring fountain pen inks here. For more on coloured inks see here. For mixing the De Atramentis Document inks see here