- Lesson details
In this lesson series instructor Sheldon Borenstein shows you how to work with a variety of drawing and painting media. You will learn how the general principles of art apply equally to all media and specifically how to work with each individual medium while employing the appropriate techniques. In this video lesson Sheldon will teach you how to work with a fountain pen.
- Pelikan 300 Series Fountain Pen
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of drawing and painting media. You will learn how the general principles of art apply equally
to all media and specifically how to work with each individual medium
while employing the appropriate techniques.
In this video lesson, Sheldon will teach you how to work with a fountain pen.
pens are dangerous so I want you guys to sit back for a second and know I’m about to
take you onto a really horrible journey. I have over 40 fountain pens, and they are really
dangerous. The fountain pen is between the dip pen and the ballpoint pen. What it has
is it has a little feeder inside. You dip it in your ink and you fill it up. It’s
kind of a religious experience when you buy a fountain pen. I don’t buy them anymore
because I have a lot of them, and they’re expensive. It was a day gone past. I would
save up my money, go to the store. They knew me. I’d say, okay well, what would be the
next pen I should get? And they would stand like a waiter, and they would put these pens
out. They would dip the pen and then I would try it. Then they’d lay it down. The buying
the pen was as much the experience as owning the pen. Really fun.
So what makes a fountain pen special? Each one has its own personality. Even within the
pen itself—like this is a Pelican. It’s one of the smaller ones. It’s probably like
a 300 or 400 series. I don’t remember how much I paid for it. I would usually wait until
they started selling them out and put them on sale. Probably about a $300 pen. You can
get up to $20,000 pens. They come with diamonds. You can see the history through the pens.
They’re memorable pens. They’re big deals. There are different brands. Pelican is a good,
stable brand. Cross is a solid brand. I think they use Pelican nibs. Monteblanc, of course,
was a big deal and still is. I love Monteblanc. Funny, I went into a Monteblanc store. There
is a pen store. The woman said, “Can I help you?” And I said, “No actually, I’m
better now.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I can stand here next to this counter
full of pens without getting sexually excited.” She knew exactly what I was talking about.
These things are so dangerous.
So what makes them special? The nibs. Let’s start out with the nib. The nibs are usually
handmade. They have a certain feed. They’re usually ebonite which is a very strong, kind
of a strong plastic. And then they usually have an ebonite feed. They usually come in
fine, extra fine, medium, and bold, and it has to do with a little ball that pushes,
and I’ll show it to you when we get to it. There’s like a little cut. When the ball
punts against that little cut it makes it wider or narrower. So that’s usually the
pen. If you’re going to buying a pen and you’re paying a couple hundred dollars,
that’s usually about as good as the nib is going to get. They’re usually gold.
You want to be careful. Some of them are gold with rhodium on the outside. You want to be
careful with the gold nibs. Do not let somebody else use it because it will break in the way
you draw, the way you write. I don’t write with mine. I draw with them. So it’ll break in.
So if you let somebody else use it now they’re changing the way the pen performs.
If you have a steel nib then the steel nib you don’t have to worry. Those are steel.
They’re not going anywhere. Very strong and they’re wonderful nibs. So they’re
usually 14K, 18K gold. It makes them very soft. Sometimes they put rhodium on the outside,
whatever that is. I’m sure I’m pronouncing it wrong. And that’s your nib.
Some of them like OMAS are handmade. They’re beautiful, beautiful pens. Some of them are
heavy. They have a very substantial feel. Other brands like OMAS, they like the pen
to become an extension of your hand. They’re super light. But an OMAS case takes 100 days
to make. They’re really all handmade. The resins are all very, very important. They’ll
put a lot of work into that. Sometimes they’ll put diamonds on them. A lot of times you tell
a pen brand by the clip. This is what Pelican is known for, they’re beautiful clips. They’re
very strong. If somebody wants to see the pen, and you hand it to them, keep the cap
in your hand and then hand them the pen because generally people are not going to permanently
borrow a pen from you if they don’t have the cap. So that works with that. Keep them
close to yourself. They’re fun. I just like to keep them in my hand and play with them.
It keeps me out of trouble.
The fountain pens, they’re picky and they’re finicky. They’ll piss you off.
They're a lot of fun. Generally, we’ll use them with the Florentine School, very linear. Or,
we use them for washes and I’ll show you that. I love my fountain pens. They’re on
display in my studio. I just walk up and stare at them. Okay, common brands would be Monteblanc,
Cross, Pelican, OMAS, Rotring. I’ll bring in a whole list of them. We’ll do that one
day. But let’s have some fun with fountain pens. Be careful, they are a drug. They’re
very addictive. Once you buy one you become this horribly addicted person, and you’ll
start buying more fountain pens. You’ll be walking along the street and you’ll be
homeless because you invested all your money into your fountain pens. You know they’ll
say you have nothing. You’ll say, yeah, but I’ve got my 300 fountain pens. So that’s
what you want to be very, very careful about. There’s no end to the fountain pen. If you
have a billion dollars I’m sure there’s a billion dollar fountain pen. They get pretty
nasty. But, I love them and we’ll demo for them right now.
This is going to have to be done very, very small.
You really need to understand your medium and how much real estate you can cover. Alright,
you guys listening up? Kansas, are you out there? Let me talk to you for a while. You
have to know what your real estate will cover. You don’t want to try this huge thing with
fountain pen. You’ll kill yourself.
Make sure you vary your strokes or else you’re going to marrying your piece.
Okay, we’ve got that. Cylinder.
See, you vary the brush strokes. What that will do is that will make it—see, like right
now, see how this is mirroring this? You want to vary your brush strokes
so that you focus on your subject.
Alright, here is our little study.
Now, the person to study for this, he’s dead; Charles Dana Gibson. He’s got some
great books out. Again, he’s one of the dead guys. He pretty much changed what—he
designed what the pretty women and good looking guy looks like. He did the best pen and ink
drawings. So look up Gibson. You see where you vary these brush strokes. Actually, a
lot of what I know about painting I learned from copying Gibson Girl and then applying
it to painting. James Montgomery Flagg, same thing. Heinrich Kley. Okay, so these are the
people you want to study. Christie—these are the old great old illustrators. Heinrich
Kley is a must. If you’re not familiar with Heinrich Kley then you’ve got problems.
My teacher made me buy the books when I was 14. One of the greatest, greatest animators.
Really, if you look at Heinrich Kley you’ll see. And that’s not “Klee”—that’s
different. This is Kley. Heinrich Kley. The book is real cheap. Just go online, there’s
two of them. You’ll see where a lot of the ideas for Fantasia came from and a lot of
the great Disney works. My animation teacher when I was I kid, Eddie Rayberg, always said
that he is the animator’s animator, Mr. Heinrich Kley. Funny stuff. Really funny.
You’ll start recognizing the images.
So everybody go buy Heinrich Kley; Charles Dana Gibson, The Gibson Girl; anything by
Flagg; anything by Christie; Robert Fawcett, you know that’s Bill Perkins’ favorite.
I’ve learned so much from Bill Perkins it’s not even funny. You want to study great line
work you only have to go as far as Glenn Vilppu, who is my closest friend and mentor.
It goes on and on and on. So it all kind of comes together in the end.
You see how they’re, you know, they’re taking away from the tree, this background.
So break it up and you’ll be all set.
I’ve got a dark here. Want to balance it off so I go dark up here. It’s nice and loose.
Clean shapes here. There you go. Line drawing,
fountain pen. Okay? Complex, simple. Complex, simple. Complex, simple.
Complex, simple, complex.
Boom, boom, boom.
This will be a nice sketchbook drawing.