Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sketching Squirrel

Click image to enlarge
You see them everyday. They're funny, annoying, and they're everywhere. One of my New Year's rituals is to be aware of the first animal I see on New Year's Day, (other than my pets) and take that animal as my totem, or guide animal for the year.

This year it was a common gray squirrel. I was frankly a little disappointed.  Other year's I've seen a red tailed hawk, a black horse, a white tailed deer, but this year just a squirrel.

Then  I do what I always do, and that is look up the symbolic meaning of the animal and boy did I get a surprise! The squirrel is a power animal, with many, many lesson to teach us!

I will have much to think about and learn from this year with Squirrel as my guide. You can read about Squirrels symbolic meaning HERE.

My new sketchbook to start 2015 is a Stillman & Birn, 5.5 x 8.5 Zeta, with beautiful smooth, heavy weight, mixed media paper. It's such a great sketchbook to work in because it really does handle all media. It's not the same as good watercolor paper, but it does take watercolors remarkably well.Plus its smooth surface is beautiful for all kinds of pens and markers. My new favorite watercolors (and maybe my all time favorite from now on) are the new QoR watercolors from Golden.  I like them for their radiant, clarity and juicy pigment saturation. They also have an excellent "flow". I'm not really sure how else to describe that but the paints move and flow in such a beautiful way on  practically every surface I've used them on.

My new pen of choice (and again I *might* have found the ONE) is a Platinum Carbon fountain pen, using Platinum Carbon ink.  This is not an expensive pen. I think I paid $12 for it, bought the converter ($10) so I can fill it from an ink bottle and not have to buy expensive cartridges, and bought a bottle of carbon ink ($20).

I m so surprised at this pen's versatility. It's really quite elegant, especially so for a $12 pen!  The body is long and tapered, similar to a paint brush, which allows yo to hold it further back and loosely which helps loosen up your mark making and allows for lots of expressive qualities.  The nib, is also very responsive (though not a flex nib it actually has a lot of movement to it) and you can turn the pen over and draw easily with the other side of the nib for very thin lines.

The carbon ink is very waterproof and dries very quickly a big plus when you want to put watercolors over your ink work. The only thing I don't like is the plastic cap which does not post the the end of the pen. I always have to be sure I don't drop it and lose it. Other than that I'm really loving this pen!


  1. They build good nests and will be personable if you talk to them. We put prayer flag on our old deck every fall for our birthdays, and by spring they were white and tattered. I watched SquirrelHead (my name for her/him, and s/he knew it) one day for hours walking the tightrope (the string) to pull the flags apart, stuff as many as s/he could in its mouth, and take them up the oak to the nest. The now sacred nest!

  2. The carbon pen is my favorite pen. If you trim the pen, cut the end off, you should be able to post the the lid. I have couple of these pens. Unfortunately I did not trim the first one down far enough. This a trick I have learned from Cathy Johnson.


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