Dip pen and ink: Experiments and tips

My sketchbook obsession continues! The more experiments and drawings I fill it with, the more I love the process and the results.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with dip pen and ink. You may have spotted that the little village of Gordes, France in my last post ‘Colour theory for watercolour: Using a limited palette‘, was drawn in this way.

Up until now I’ve had very limited experience with a dip pen. As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I find it very difficult to ‘let go’ when it comes to detail and I like to be in control. With a dip pen and ink, I find that’s not so easy. The line width varies, mistakes are permanent and you have to learn a whole new way of drawing.

Once you accept that though, and embrace the resulting uneven lines, you start to see these little niggles as character.

Here are a few of my experiments, some of them also continuing my adventures in colour which I wrote about in my last post.

Pen and ink flower

This is my little boy’s sunflower (not that he had much to do with the planting or watering!). Each day we watched the centre of the flower grow bigger and bigger, and I took photos to use as drawing references. This is near the beginning of it’s flowering period. Now, with all the rain and wind we’ve had on the coast of North Devon, the petals are no more and the head is just waiting for me to harvest the seeds if the birds haven’t got there first!

Pen ink and watercolour flower

Sticking with the floral theme, this is a flower I spotted in the garden of the cottage we stayed at recently during a family trip to Somerset when I got the watercolour bug!

Next is a rose which I copied from a photo, changing the colours slightly to fit with my chosen palette.

Pen ink and watercolour rose

Once I’d completed these couple of ‘practice’ drawings, I moved on to some urban sketching. This is a little road called Irsha Street in Appledore, a village just down the road from our house. I filmed the process of this one and put it up on YouTube as a speed painting video. You can see it on my channel if you like that sort of thing! I’m happy with the colour mixing, but not too enamoured with the actual composition, which I think is a bit boring.

Appledore watercolour painting

I tried something different with this one – using brown paper and white gouache inspired by some I’d seen on the Urban Sketching Facebook group. It’s from a photograph I took in the Cotswolds last year.

brown paper sketch

Finally, I did this quick little painting while my little boy was having a nap at my parents’ house. I just wanted to paint and their fireplace was there as a handy subject!

Pen ink and watercolour fireplace

Pen ink and watercolour fireplace

Pen ink and watercolour fireplace

A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to have been featured as a guest artist on the brilliant Doodlewash blog, invited by the founder Charlie O’Shields. Doodlewash is a social media network for watercolour artists; it’s a great community and the blog and galleries are fantastic for inspiration and browsing other artists’ work. You can read my guest post here.

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour and Paint Party Friday!

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