24 April 2011

A very lovely weekend

The fact that this was a three-day weekend two weeks before the end of the semester certainly didn't hurt its quality. There was a great deal of grading, of course, but there was also a lot of cooking, two excellent meals out with friends, and baseball. Roy Halladay pitched another masterpiece today for the Phillies. Glorious.

One of the other things, though, that made this weekend so lovely was the amount of time I was able to spend engaged in making things. I finished knitting a baby sweater for a friend in the most perfectly delicious Malabrigo (Silky Merino) in a brilliantly cheerful creamsicle color. Just have to find some buttons for it and sew up the seams. That was mostly what I did between grading sessions over the past week, and it was comforting to have a knitting project that I really enjoyed again. (The last two times I knit something, it was with yarn that I really, really disliked. My next project is the same way, alas, but I'm hoping that large needles and such will speed it along.) More significantly, it was lovely to have something to do as a break between necessary professional tasks that felt both purposeful and relaxing.

That brings me to the other exciting part of this weekend.

As I mentioned in my last entry, I ordered some new journals and some pens. And some ink. I was particularly excited to finally get my paws on some Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses, and for good reason. I adore it in my Levenger True Writer stub nib. The ink behaves quite beautifully on all manner of paper (as I discovered while using it for grading--bright enough to see, not red-red enough to give things the Ink of the Damned feeling), and the slight shading qualities are enhanced by the stub. Inkwise, I also picked up some samples of Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng, Diamine Green-Black (currently in my True Writer Fine and currently lovely), and Diamine Syrah from the lovely Goulet Sample Shop. In the same Goulet order, I also picked up an Exacompta Basic Sketchbook. With which I am in love. In which I am trying not to write until it's time because that journal is going to have a specific purpose. I'm staving off my desire to use it by using a blank Clairefontaine journal, and that's been a pretty good fixer. (I got a blue cover. I am so pleased that my randomly-chosen cover was blue. It is, so much, my favorite.)

And then, because I was having a crisis over writing implements on my upcoming trans-Atlantic jaunt, I skittered over to JetPens for some non-fountainy options. I did get a few Uni-Ball Signo 207s (black, blue, green) and a Zebra Sarasa (0.3 mm brown) for my travel workhorses because both have gotten such positive reviews on PenAddict & OfficeSupplyGeek. I also had an artsy whim and got a Uni-Ball Pocket Brush Pen. I am, of course, quite pleased with all of them--they'll serve their purpose and give me some color options with very little fuss.

I also might have blacked out and ordered a lime green Pilot Prera with a fine nib.

The lime green Pilot Prera is not a pen I expected to be interested in. For one, it's lime green. You can tell by the color scheme on the blog and by the inks I mentioned above that I'm not really a lime person. (They're quite delicious fruits, and I may occasionally be limey, but I don't do much in the "bright color" spectrum.) It's also a glossy, single-color barrel. But I love it so much I actually woke up at 5:15 on Friday morning (the day that I had designated as my "sleep as long as you want" day) because I was excited about using it again. (I stayed up past midnight on Thursday--well, into Friday--doodling with it.)

And I think that's why I was so excited. I was actually drawing things with it. Before I graduated high school, I made certain to take an art class every year. I was, by no means, any kind of natural talent, and I don't have one of those spatial memories that can envision--with great clarity--the far sides of objects or what something might look like lying on its side and so on, but I did okay. Most importantly, I loved it. And because I had my life-goals set out in front of me (and they didn't involve visual arts), I could love it simply, easily, without pressure or expectation. I hadn't realized how much I missed that in the past few years.

In the past three days, I've doodled a lot of my favorite, recurring subjects: fruit, trees, branches with cherry blossoms, bamboo. I also tried drawing a few faces, based on some useful tutorials (proportions, and so on) that I stumbled across. I've never much liked drawing people, but I managed a few who actually look like people, and I really enjoyed it.

And I drew this bamboo. I really like drawing plants. They don't give me any lip.
I did this with the Prera, fine tip, with a Pilot/Namiki cartridge in blue/black. The color is really lovely, and I'm sad that it isn't waterproof because I'd love to do a watercolor-tinted sketch with this pen. (I don't get many options for FP-safe waterproof inks, do I?) I think what I love best about this pen is its ability to make soft, sketchy lines. I'm a big fan of my True Writer for writing because, despite its fine tip, as a Western fine, it makes a pretty assertive line, especially given my usual inks (Levenger Cocoa, Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo). When I write, I generally do feel assertive. Writing isn't always easy, but I feel like I know what I'm doing. I know my strengths, my weaknesses, how to play to one, how to challenge the other. When I'm drawing, I am much more tentative. I certainly feel rusty at this point, but even when I was drawing something in class, two or three times a week, I still made the same line, lightly, a dozen times over, before I would commit to a bold line. (And even then, I kind of resented it.) I should get into the habit of sketching in pencil and then doing cleaner lines in ink for that reason, but I also like instant gratification and can never find a pencil or a decent eraser when I want one.

The only problem is that now, I will want to have this pen and a blank journal (in addition to my lined "everything" notebook and all of my other pens) with me at all times. That runs counter to my (often futile) attempts at traveling light. Ah, well. Small price to pay for a rekindled love.


  1. @Laytonwoman3rd, I hope it's in a vaguely good way, at least? (Bill has already informed me that I am terrifyingly nerdy about this pen business.)