Platinum Prefounte Fountain Pen

Last minute Christmas present, perhaps?  I just picked up one of the new Platinum Prefounte fountain pens.  Goulet Pens is selling it for $10USD and I paid only $15CDN locally.  This pen is a bargain, and more.

If you’re familiar with the Platinum Preppy you know something about this pen as it’s pretty much a “super” Preppy, with significant improvements.  First, it looks great and comes in orange, red, blue or green.  You can get it with fine or medium nibs, just like the Preppy.

While the Preppy caps are prone to breakage, the Prefounte cap is a significant upgrade.  Much stronger, and with a very positive click when you cap the pen.  More important, however, is that this pen includes Platinum’s super-d-duper no evaporation double cap seal.  The packaging claims you can leave ink in it for a year without much loss.  Try that with your Lamy (grin).

As a street sketcher, one of the things I really like about Platinum pens is that they are the one company that sells a waterproof ink for their pens in cartridge form.  This is also wonderful if you’re trying to get someone involved with sketching and/or fountain pens because they don’t have to deal with pen filling.  You just throw in a cartridge, about $3 for four of them, and you’re all set.  I’ve been using a Platinum Plaisir that way for quite a while.  This new Prefounte is lighter, though and I know I’m going to love it.  Kinda silly since I’ve got a bunch of high dollar pens sitting around but I don’t have to worry about losing these cheaper solutions.

I apologize for the horrible photos but I wanted to get this post up this morning and the overhead light in my studio isn’t the greatest for taking close up photos.  Goulet Pens, though, has good photos 🙂

I should add that the pens don’t come with red nibs; Prefounte nibs are silver.  I made the mistake of buying the medium nib, didn’t like it, and exchanged one of the Preppy nibs.  Of course I did this strategically to show you that this was possible.  Sure I did (grin).

Artistes Dans Les Parcs In A Park Building

The Artistes dans les parcs organization is, as their name suggests, a plein air group that gather in parks to paint.  But at the last event of the year, Yvan lobbied for them to continue into winter, holding indoor events much as we sketchers hold events.

This is a somewhat harder task for a larger group that typically work on easels with oils and acrylics but, somehow, Denise Bujold, the miracle-worker leader of the group, pulled it off.  She found a great room in a town west of us and we all headed there on a Sunday.

It was truly a social gathering because sketching subjects were limited and most of the people had brought photos along and they were painting from them.  But it was also a wonderful day because we got to experience the work of others. I learned some things about oils and got to see someone using pastels for the first time.  Likewise, with several sketchers nearby, these painters got to see what we do, which led to discussions of our sketchbooks.

Denise had set up several objects for us to draw.  One of them was a small teddy bear in Christmas garb and he proved popular with those of us sketching.  Here’s my attempt.

I’m a curious guy and with so many different activities going on I didn’t get any more sketching done that day.  I was too busy watching the other artists.  We also had an extended lunch period where I mostly sat listening, trying to follow several simultaneous French conversations.  I always find this quite impossible.  Still, somehow it’s fun.

A Christmas Card Gathering

With winter upon us we’re into cold weather sketching routine, which means doing things indoors.  Still, we like to sketch together and so, every year, we reserve a room at our local library and draw/paint Christmas cards.  I’m not much of a card giver but this event is a lot of fun.

Sitting in a room without a subject wreaks havoc on my lack of imagination and this is reflected in my results.  I’ve seen a lot of examples of a red vehicle carrying a Christmas tree and so that was my first stop.  I found a volkswagen photo on my phone and went to work.  This was the result:

I decided to draw a little house and remembered a few examples drawn by someone on Instagram.  Sorry, but I can’t remember her name.  Anyways, I drew this one from a memory of those little houses.  Hers were better.

I thought about snow and got out some white gouache.  The sole reason for this one was that I wanted to spatter white gouache to make snow because I’d never done it before.  The rest was an afterthought.

As always, card-making day was fun, with lots of laughs and time with good friends.  The cards produced weren’t the real goal anyway.

 

Drawing From Photos And Proud Of It

I just read a great post by Tina Koyama titled Practicing People of the 21st Century.  She presents some great drawing exercises to improve the ability to capture people in motion.  She also begins her discussion with the notion that “it wouldn’t be so bad…” if she drew from photos.

In my mind, this is THE biggest problem with the urban sketching movement.  While we’re ready and willing to tell everyone that drawing from life, on location, is very valuable as a learning tool, we’ve nearly turned our backs completely on all the OTHER ways we can benefit our personal learning curves or are at least apologetic if we do anything that’s not on location.  Copying master drawings, doing drawing skill exercises, visual memory exercises, AND DRAWING FROM TV, MOVIES, AND PHOTOS are all important to the development of an artist.

Truth is, you don’t learn much by going out and using your existing skills to draw something for the group throw down at the end of the day for the simple reason that you’re “using your existing skills to draw something.”  Just as a baseball player doesn’t learn to hit home runs by playing baseball games, sketchers need activities separate from “creating art to show others” if they are to improve.

I happen to know that Tina, who draws all the time on location, also attends classes at places like the Gage Institute, Daniel Smith store, etc.  She need not (should not) excuse herself for drawing from photos, regardless of her goal.  I’m sure that she, like everyone else who wants to improve their art, could benefit from trying to make a hyper-realistic drawing from a photo, and there’s no need to be apologetic about it at all.

Just to put a bit of drawing where my mouth is, here is a page from my own practice book.  That book holds pages of nothing more than me trying to draw straight lines in parallel or between two dots.  There are pages of ellipses, all poorly drawn in evidence of my need for such practice.  But since the topic here is drawing from photos, here’s a page of four 10-12 minute (sometimes I cheated on my 10-min limitation) faces.  The source for them was Mr. Google.  Are they perfect?  No, but I’m practicing stuff I’m not good at – if they were perfect there would be no point.

This stuff is practice and neither Tina or I would post any of it except  to talk about practicing, and maybe that’s the problem.  People wanting to be urban sketchers only see the stuff we’ve done on the streets, sitting on our tripod stools.  But, to improve, you need to be doing a lot of this other stuff and to feel proud, not guilty for doing it.

Winter Sketching Has Arrived

“And so it begins…” has become a repeated phrase in modern parlance.  Some attribute it to Lord of the Rings and King Theodon commenting on the beginning of the war for Middle Earth.  The most popular meme seems to be references to Star Wars.  For me, though, it was when Kosh, an alien ambassador said it in Babylon 5, a 5 year TV saga that is still, in my view, the best scripted TV series ever.  It’s scope was huge for TV and I’ve watched it several times.

And so it begins, Quebec’s winter sketching season.  It’s a loooong season too.  We’ll come out of it sometime in May, six months from now [sigh].  That means I’ll be spending my “urban sketching” time in museums, sitting in the dark, drawing with the use of a book light.  I’ll spend time scribbling my way through coffee shops, trying to capture the people there just to break the monotony.

But today we’re having a heat wave.  Our temperature hit 1C today (grin).  We went to the museum for the first time in months and drew a new, small display of fire fighting paraphenalia.  It was nice because it was in a hallway and not in the two major exhibits, where many of the exhibits are too darn dark to see, let alone draw.  At least it’s practice and goodness knows I need that.

Moleskine watercolor book (5.5×8.5)