LA QUATRIEME

Avec tous les planches de premier album d’ARS MAGNA terminees, il fallait juste faire l’illustration pour la quatrieme de couverture pour boucler tout. La couverture est deja fait il y a longtemps, pour des raisons de promotion et catalogue.

PICTOGRAMAX - 2011 - ARS MAGNA 1 - C4 - ENCRE

Apres beaucoup du temps, je m’ai amuse de nouveau sur papier. Au lieu de faire le dessin sur mon ordi portable comme le reste d’album, j’ai choisi de travailler sur papier-aquarelle avec stylo de plume AHAB, pinceau avec piston KONRAD et encre BRUNE BRILLANT de Pelikan.

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Mais c’etait juste pour s’amuser; la version finale va etre “traduit” en encre noir et mis en couleurs informatiques comme le reste d’album.

EDIT: En mi-temps c’est fait et vous pouvez voir le RESULTAT.

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WINTERREISE

Approximativement un an apres ma premiere illustration pour BARBARA HENDRICKS, j’etais invite de faire une autre. Cette fois on m’a demande de transmettre a travers le portrait de diva les notions de froid et calme car il s’agitait de WINTERREISE de Schubert. Apres quelques recherches j’ai propose une variation avec laquelle j’etais tres content:

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J’ai reussi plus de plaire moi-meme que l’editeur:-) C’est la situation rare pour moi dans ce genre de collaboration ou je reste souvent avec un peu de sentiment d’inacheve et l’autre cote pars (relativement) content. Ici c’etait le cas oppose – la couverture a parti ailleurs et le dessin ne fut pas utilise, mais j’ai reste avec un que j’aime bien.

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AHAB REBORN

NOTE: The saga of Ahab started HERE.

The third round of testing  started pretty much the same as THE PREVIOUS DAY, with Ahab the Clear leading the way. Running without any problems and gliding smoothly, the first Ahab went through all the tasks in front of it. A “confirmed” pen, I would say. Now that it feels reassuringly stable, I can enjoy it’s shape and size which I find to be really pleasant. It’s one very comfortable pen, both unposted and posted, although it’s big enough that posting isn’t really necessary, at least for my not so big hands.

PICTOGRAMAX - 2011 - AHAB REBORN - 01

Ahab the Red continued in it’s own fashion, alternating moments of significant wetness with periods of dry seasoning. A curious combination of both wet and dry pen at the same time. Also it needs more of kick-starting than Ahab the Clear, who in it’s turn, managed even to handle without a smirk that slightly glazed paper I declared “inappropriate” yesterday.

PICTOGRAMAX - 2011 - AHAB REBORN - 02

To prevent it from feeling lonely, I introduced once again the Pontiac pen and it joined the session immediatelly. It still feels somewhat more stiff than both Ahabs, but is reassuringly trouble free. In the meantime Lex from FPN gave me some advice on smoothing the nib so Pontiac gets the treatment next.

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Than a nicely detailed thread on Ahab tuning appeared on FPN, inspiring me to clean the red one again and reassemble the nib and feeb according to new instructions. Once done, I filled Ahab the Red with Pelikan’s Brilliant Brown, to see if that might improve the flow and also solve the feathering issues.

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The answers are YES and NO. Ahab the Red now just works as well as Ahab the Clear. Yummie! But feathering seems to be even worse on that beautiful Fabriano Disegno. That paper just ignores my affection, resenting any fountain pen ink I introduce. Too bad, as it is a very pleasant surface to draw on. A lighter ink and line variation are also a recipe for shading that illuminates the drawing and highlights the strokes.

PICTOGRAMAX - 2011 - AHAB REBORN - 05

Seems we have reached a happy ending, with both pens performing and feeling well, inspiring the owner to sketch and sketch more. Thanks to knowledgeable people and a few drops of patience, these pens of the unbeatable value for money, beautiful shape and comfortable size, now work and produce. Give them a chance.

NOTE: The saga of AHAB continued HERE.

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AHAB SLEEPS OVER IT

NOTE: The saga of Ahab started HERE.

After the initial impressions yesterday, I left two Ahabs to rest overnight and a better part of this day. Then after a day’s work I couldn’t help myself and pulled them out again to see how they are doing. The clear one was the first in line and after a bit of a dry start it started dancing. On a slightly thicker Fabriano Disegno the nib glided smoothly and flexing was similarly pleasant. The ugly feathering is still there, but it has nothing to do with the pen. Ahab the Clear worked great.

PICTOGRAMAX - 2011 - AHAB SLEEPS OVER IT - 01

Going for even stronger option – Fabriano 300 gr watercolour paper in sheets – changes the behavior of the nib considerably. Not a hint of feathering, but better yet, the stroke is now much finer, “in line” with my expectations:-) But everything must be paid for – in this case with the pronounced “railroading” as this kind of paper absorbs much more and dries the nib. Also being slightly textured it interacts with the tip and breaks the flow of lines here and there. Apart from “railroading” on longer and faster strokes (and that could even be used as the effect sometimes), everything goes.

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Then it is the other one’s turn to show if the rest was beneficial. Maybe because the feed got saturated with ink overnight, once the dry-start phase is through, Ahab the Red also puts up a better performance, exhibiting less skipping than yesterday. This pen prefers it slow, at a moderately laid-back pace; any insistance on speeding things up pushes it into hick-ups. So I follow it’s demand, taking it easy and work through two thirds of my sketch… and then it stops. Shaking, side-testing, shaking… starts. A third kind of surface, the slightly textured but also glazed paper, is not really a right choice for this particular pen. But overall the impressions are better today.

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Let’s sleep over it again.

NOTE: The saga of Ahab continued HERE.

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AHAB ARRIVES

DISCLAIMER: This post marks the entrance of articles written in English on my French speaking site. They will appear from time to time, but will not take over:-) The reason behind this change is that my interest in fountain pens developed at THE FOUNTAIN PEN NETWORK, where I profited from numerous reviews similar to one I’m about to write. I consider this article as a kind of  “pay-back” for many things I learned over there, but it would be pointless in French.

One thing you will notice surely on FPN is the high regard people have about GOULET PENS. I add my praises to all the others, for the kindness and efficacy of their ways. My two Ahabs, along with Konrad Brush pen and a bottle of J. Herbin’s Gris Nuage, arrived this morning, making it a fastest delivery from USA ever to hit my doorsteps:-) Well packaged and with a personalized letter from the team. Thanks! As TWSBI was sold-out when I placed my order, I decided to get two Ahabs, to justify the shipping cost. I was already set in advance to get the clean demonstrator and was somewhat reluctant on Cardinal Darkness. Strangely, once in hand, I prefer the red one. I guess it’s just my personal dellusion, but the coloured pen seems more solid and even a bit heavier than the transparent one.

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From a few initial impressions that surfaced already,  I concluded it would be better to rinse my Ahabs before filling them, to clean the eventual machine-oil residue in the feed. With a drop of dish detergent solved in water, I cleaned both feeds. Examining tells there’s a slight difference between them, how the fins are carved, as these are hand-made pens after all. Disassembling the pen is fairly easy and straightforward (and there are included directions), which is a major selling point for Ahabs. You buy this kind of pen because you like to fiddle with your “tool” and fine tune it to your specific needs. It is considered as a part of the specific “aura” Noodler’s pens are famous for. Once dry, I reassembled both pens but filled only the red one, eager to get going. The first lines, the first impressions. Hmmm, it’s wider than my notion of fine… It glides smoothly… It’s fairly wet, but not gushing… It flexes fairly eas… STOP. Ahab just stopped, frozen in it’s tracks. After that point in the lower left corner of the first drawing, it just would not leave a mark of any kind.

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Shaking, wiping, side-testing not to ruin the drawing, more shaking… Nothing. So I pull out the nib, examine the feed which seems wet enough, realign the nib and push it back. Another round of side-testing and it starts. Back to drawing. Ahab works, but skips. Not regularly, but fairly often. A few times I have to force it to start, yet drawing is somehow done.

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Let’s try another one. Ahab now works without stopping, but still skips. Clearly it needs some fine-tuning. On the other hand, the shape, the size, the weight, the gentle curvatures and material pleasant to touch make this a beautiful pen to hold and use. The discussed “odour” of vegetal resin is present, but not annoying. In fact I would go as far as to call it “inspiring” – anyone who ever did charcoal studies would remember the accompanying  smell and Ahab brings back those memories. It’s not the same scent, but the specific “presence” of the tool used is the same. With several additional forced starts Ahab terminates the second sketch. I feel that nib is too wide for my taste and would require larger formats. The nib can be used “inverted” to fill in the tiniest details, but feels pretty scratchy that way. Held regularly the nib is pleasantly smooth. The flexing does not require too much pressure and tines snap back nicely, keeping the strokes fluid.

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Then I pulled out my Platinum 3776 with soft-fine nib, the one I draw mostly with and which I like a lot. It’s nib is much finer and while more springy than flexy, it still offers a visible line variation. It cannot go as broad as Ahab, but is very responsive. And for months and months that I have it, it never skipped, stopped or failed to start. But it’s fair to say it was five times more expensive. Also, I prefer much more the Japanese nomenclature of nib sizes and consider the fine point of Ahab to be more of a medium on my personal scale.

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Recently I acquired another semi-flex pen from a fellow FPN member so I took it out to join the conversation. It is a Pontiac pen with a steel semi-flex nib and performs right in the middle of the two already tested. It also has a fine point, but finer than Ahab and broader than 3776. It is somewhat scratchier than both and slightly less springy, not so quick to snap back after flexing. Works without problems, though. And lastly one well known “drawing” fountain pen, but not of a flexible type,  joined the party. Rotring Art Pen with EF nib,  just for the sake of comparison with a widely used sketch-pen. As it is an Europen pen, it’s EF tip is still somewhat wider than Platinum’s Japanese fine.

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All the pens were filled with Platinum CARBON BLACK ink and worked on the same Fabriano Schizzi 120 gr paper, so it’s a fair comparison of the nib performances. I confess I don’t know why the ink feathered badly this time as I have used it previously on the same paper without problems. But as it was even for each pen, the conclusions are still valid, although it should be addressed in the eventual next round. Preliminary conclusion is that I still like my 3776 the best, for the fineness of it’s line, simple elegance and totally trouble-free functionality. If I had to choose just one, Platinum would be it. Ahab has the best body and I would love to have Platinum’s nib and feed in that casing. Pontiac is a good pen and if the nib smooths itself a bit with use (or I learn how to do it myself without ruining it) it would get more praise. Disregarding the issuses with a flow (which I hope I will manage to solve with another round of tuning), and judging only Ahab’s nib performance, I would say it’s a very good pen to draw with on a larger format. It glides smoothly, sits well in the hand, nib snaps back nicely and does not get in the way of fluidity of drawing… until it skips. But bear in mind that I’m just a beginner in this “roll up your sleeves and get under the hood” aspect of fountain pens; I still have to practice tuning the feed to get the flow I want.

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I planned to end this preliminary report with a picture of all the contestants. But after snapping them side by side,  I thought that leaving this at “Ahab is nice, but troublesome” would not be fair, so I filled the other one. And voila! The clear demonstrator works flawlessly and even with a finer line! Yummy! I finish the portrait of a civil war era gentleman and go immediately for a vintage boxer. The nib just glides. Finally I’m impressed as I thought I would be:-) Let’s write it down! And then – BLOB. Ahab spurts a large drop of ink on my enthusiastic sentence. Must roll those sleeves, I guess.

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For the record, I wold like to state that I’m still not depressed about the development of situation, mostly because I expected it, reading the other experiences. I am somewhat sorry for the cold shower with the second pen, when everything seemed to work just like I wanted it. I guess I just need to learn to make it work as good as it did for that brief but enjoyable period, but that was the part of the plan all along.

NOTE: The saga of Ahab continued HERE.

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HOMMAGE

Comme promis a  mes collegues NATHAN et SIMON le dernier soir de mon sejour a LILLE,  j’ai fait les hommages a leurs heros les plus populaires:

PICTOGRAMAX - ZYTKA NATHAN - BASIL MOUCHE DE CHOC

NATHAN fait les aventures de BASIL MOUCHE DE CHOC et SIMON s’occupe de CAPTAIN SKULL:

PICTOGRAMAX - ZYTKA SIMON - CAPTAIN SKULL

Pour MARIE, qui collectione les timbres, j’ai fait un gag autour Marie de  THE ARISTOCATS de Disney:

PICTOGRAMAX - ZYTKA MARIE - THE ARISTOSTAMPS

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