For the second 2015. escapade, I got to combine two of my passions – hiking and sketching. On the outskirts of SOKO BANJA, I climbed in order to get a good view of the ancient SOKO GRAD. Although bathed in the morning sun, the hight spot was nevertheless cold, so I improvised a seat with my spare shirt. On top of that I added another layer of insulation, my wool gloves, as I couldn’t handle pen and brushes with them anyway.
Soon enough my fingers were numb from wind so I rushed the sketch to completion. I would say the background even profited from situation, keeping a lively impressionistic feel to it (helped by TERRY HARRISON TREE&TEXTURE brush which I’m growing fond of, it really helps with random natural strokes).
I was to write how I set on another round of testing DE ATRAMENTIS DOCUMENT BROWN ink, but as all of my former experiences were impeccable, I have not much to test, really. It just works. Even in biting cold, where I had to work fast and apply watercolors immediatelly after drawing, the ink held well and didn’t smear at all, on quality watercolor paper of THE PERFECT SKETCHBOOK. A limited palette this time, just four DANIEL SMITH watercolors: TIGER’S EYE, SODALITE, LUNAR VIOLET and a hint of PRUSSIAN BLUE here and there.
On my way back I strolled the different side of ridge and stumbled upon a sunlit spot with some dry grass to sit on. I should have installed myself there, but it’s easy to be a general after the battle. So I just enjoyed the sun, SOKO GRAD and beutiful nature that cradles it a bit more before heading down again.
The previous round, when I tested De Atramentis DOCUMENT BROWN versus Platinum PIGMENTED SEPIA, left me feeling that I never really gave the chance to latter ink. Initially estranged by color that is more of a dirty pink than what I usually know as sepia, I did just that first partial test and never returned to it. Decided to show some fairness and after hamstering through my unsorted material, I managed to find it. I’m glad I did. PIGMENTED SEPIA seems as waterproof as CARBON BLACK, supporting washes of color without feathering, smearing or bleeding. And maybe it’s just my tastes that have changed, but I enjoy it being lighter, working well with subtle shades of watercolors.
I did the test in THE PERFECT SKETCHBOOK, on quality watercolor paper and in parts went on it pretty hard, to see if I might force some lifting of lines. Unlike SCABIOSA, which will resist to a point, but give in to more water and scrubbing with brushes, PIGMENTED SEPIA held the line everywhere. Only on the outer part of lady’s hat, where I scrubbed the most, it seems a bit fainter in color, but still there.
I’m still a bit ambivalent to pinkish color for just the drawing, but with watercolors it works great, less imposing or rigid as pure black. I guess I might be ordering a bottle after all.
In my continuing test of De Atramentis DOCUMENT BROWN today was the time for stand-off with Platinum PIGMENTED SEPIA. I have just a small sample of SEPIA that I used only once, long time ago, for the initial examination. I cannot recall the pen I used for testing it, but remember being a bit surprised – I know many tones are being called “sepia”, but to my sorry eyes this was rather a dark and dusty pink. Not bad in itself, but not what I was expecting either. I tried to color-match the scan so at least on my monitor it looks close to actual shade.
At the time I washed it over with fountain pen inks, to test it for dissolving or bleeding, but it held perfectly. No problem on that front, it seems, but since it was just an one-time example, I cannot vouch for it completely. But based on CARBON BLACK, my long-time sketching companion, it should do pretty well. My tastes have changed over time so even the color didn’t seem odd today (it might suit very well watercolor portraiture) and I might give it a go again soon.
In comparison, DOCUMENT BROWN is darker in tone, used directly from the bottle. But De Atramentis has a special dilution agent which can render the shade as bright as you wish. It can also be intermixed with other colors from the DOCUMENT range, to fine tune the desired shade. But I have yet to try that also.
Judge by this cut-out details for yourselves, but I would say they are both resistant and waterproof equally well. The eventual preference would probably boil down just to the actual shade (although one can tune the tone of DOCUMENT BROWN but not the other).
Sneaked out of a family journey for an hour and a half of sketching and testing various equipment. Haven’t been an active sketcher recently, so those goodies piled up in the meantime: it was a triple test of De Atramentis DOCUMENT BROWN ink (which I’m using for some time now at my home, but this was the first real “en plain air” situation), Terry Harrison’s TREE&TEXTURE small watercolor brush and THE PERFECT SKETCHBOOK, my newest acquisition I partly helped via Kickstarter. All this put to use together at the beautiful site of monastery GORNJAK in east Serbia.
As I knew I will be finishing it in color, I did just a simple drawing to determine the composition and basic shapes. I’m yet to write my whole review of De Atramentis DOCUMENT BROWN, but can tell already that it is a great sketching ink. No feathering, no bleeding, quick to dry, stays put even under many layers of water and paint and is as waterproof as Platinum CARBON BLACK (which is my regular choice). The advantage of De Atramentis is it’s color, nice reddish brown. And there are OTHER COLORS too, which, even better, are intermixable, so the perfect shade shouldn’t be far off.
I installed myself on top of the stairs leading to the small chapel so I could lay down the sketchbook in front of me and place my tools around. It was a sunny spot so I did well, even though my brushstrokes were to the rhythm of breaking ice that gentleman was playing with his shovel down in the yard.
Took me about 40 minutes and I called it done. TREE&TEXTURE brush is a welcome addition to my stable – it gives nice randomness to strokes, very useful for textured parts. I wouldn’t be able to do as natural on rough plaster work of chapel wall or stones if I was to recreate them just with a standard brush.
All this on pages of THE PERFECT SKETCHBOOK which is of a convenient small size to be manipulated around, well put together with pages opening flat (which is very handy if you like working on spreads like me). I would like the paper to be heavier, for the feel of it and to prevent buckling, as I tend to molest my pages with many glazes of water and paint. But it is a quality paper, so it did well and once strapped after the session, it straightened dry pretty much. The surface is slightly textured and provides feedback, but not to extent to prevent fountain pens from working smoothly.
So the final result looks something like this:
On the way back I stopped at ruins of monastery BLAGOVESTENJE, but as that part of the mountains is in the shade I quickly got cold. All the stones and grass being damp, I had to stand up all the while I was drawing, supporting the sketchbook in my left hand. As I said, for that kind of application, the size of THE PERFECT SKETCHBOOK, as well as fact that it stays open and flat, were, heh, just perfect
It would have been nice to paint all the brickwork, but my fingers were getting numb and time was running out. One last photo of both the model and result, and off to lunch I went.