Write It in White!

I’ve been getting into pen & ink lately, a surprise even to myself – a heretofore devout and exclusive pencil enthusiast. A friend passed on some beautiful Rotring Art Pens – a fountain pen created for drawing! It just took the right tool to get me hooked. I’ll save those for another post, but using the pens in a Fabriano Artist’s Journal, filled with several colors of Fabriano’s Ingres pastel paper, gave me the itch for a nice white to stand out with my black and brown fountain-pen inks against those colorful journal pages (in Googling for a Fabriano Artist’s Journal link for you, I’m only coming up with journals filled with cream/white sheets, so this multicolor version of the journal may sadly no longer be available).

The Fabriano Artist's Journal, Noodler's Ink and the Sakura Gelly Roll white gel pen

The Fabriano Artist’s Journal, Noodler’s Ink and the Sakura Gelly Roll white gel pen.

JetPens.com was kind enough to read my mind and send along an opaque white Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen for review, so I ordered a couple of friends for it, also from JetPens. Test-driving new writing materials is always fun, and this was no exception.

The Gelly Roll is .4mm medium point; its two new friends are both Mitsubishi Uni-ball Signo gel pens – the Angelic UM-120AC .7mm and the Broad UM-153 (the point size is not specified on this one, but as you can guess from the name it’s a great broad point). All are described by Jet Pens as being great for artists and crafters.

From the initial test run, I am happy. Not thrilled, but the gel pens definitely performed to their gel-pen utmost, as far as I can tell. Gel pens usually have that “track” down the center of every mark they make – the structure of the pen is such that the little ball in the tip distributes a bit more ink to the sides of each stroke than in the stroke’s center, so in a white pen one sometimes sees a darker streak down the center of each mark. This is a minor quibble, inherent in gel pens from what I can tell, and not a drawback for sketchbook work – just something to consider if one is producing fine art.

White gel pens with their test swatches on black paper.

For comparison’s sake (upper right in the photo above), I used stipple, a quick sketchy stroke for opaque coverage, and line to see how the three pens stack up. The Uni-ball Signo Broad (bottom pen pictured) has both the widest, whitest line and most reliable ink flow of the three. It starts more quickly than the other two and covers most opaquely. The Uni-ball Signo Angel (middle pen pictured), with it’s .7mm point, trailed the Gelly Roll (top pen) in opaqueness, but has the advantage in reliable start and coverage in the sketchy line department. The Gelly Roll started out very well, but did give me some attitude after writing for a little while with it – you can see in the sketchbook shot above how in most of the white swirls it’s pretty opaque. Toward the end of that run (lower left swirl and more noticeably in the text at page right), the pen just started to quit on me. I was able to get it back to full, opaque flow with some fiddling, but don’t yet know if this is a nasty habit or just a fluke from a new pen.

All in all, I will definitely be exploring more uses for these, both art and craft. All kind of applications come to mind, from the ability to address dark, colorful envelopes to adding highlights to pen & ink drawings on a spectrum of paper colors. At the very least, they are quite portable and will get a workout with my lovely new fountain pens and colorful sketchbook.

Disclaimer: I have no connections to Jet Pens outside of being a satisfied customer. They’re a long-time fave of mine, and not just because they can read minds. They make some excellent, otherwise-hard-to-find art toys available at reasonable prices with excellent service.

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June 10, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Art Supplies, Fine Art, Pen & Ink, Portability.

4 Comments

  1. MollyK. replied:

    Thanks for the detailed review! I don’t use gel [pens much because I’ve found them to be a little “sketchy” in their coverage and I don’t use dark paper much but maybe that will change! MollyK.

  2. Art Toys replied:

    Thanks, MollyK! Maybe the right tool in dark paper & gel pens is lurking out there for you, too! ;-)

  3. John Unbehend replied:

    Susan – Strathmore has been listening to our lamentations! They have come out with 400 Series toned bound sketchbooks. The website follows. I’ll get some and let you know my thoughts. Recently I’ve been binding my own out of Canson Mi-Teintes so this will save time.

    http://www.strathmoreartist.com/product-reader/items/400-series-toned-sketch-hardbound-art-journal.html

    • Art Toys replied:

      That’s excellent news, John – and the sketchbooks look lovely! Thanks for posting!

      Susan

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