I’ve tried all three of my Lamy Safari pens – fine, extra fine and broad – on the 200 gsm acid free paper of my new sketchbook, a pocket-sized Derwent Black Journal, and the one that works best is the Lamy AL-star with the fine nib.
With a Bijou box of Winsor & Newton professional watercolours and a Kuretake water-brush, that’s all I need for my everyday drawing.
This is the sketchbook that I’ll use when I have the odd few minutes, such as before the Nat’s meeting starts or as we’re waiting for the train to set off.
I started off feeling that I should be bold in my sketches but the broad nibbed pen seems out of scale for the size of the page and the absorbent texture of the paper.
I can struggle even when I’m drawing the simplest chair. I started on a small scale as I drew the back of the chair then when I got down to the detail of the legs I found that I couldn’t fit them in. With a finer pen I could have incorporated the detail into the space available.
After the Flood
In mid-January we spent a day in York, which was still in the early stages of recovering from the Boxing Day floods. Crossing the flood plain between Church Fenton and York was like sailing across a lake. Mute swans and ducks had gathered on the downstream bay of the temporary lagoon to the south of the railway.
We walked half the circuit of the medieval walls but decided to leave the full tour until the weather and the paving stones dry up a bit.
It’s the first time that we’ve had lunch at the Georgian Assembly Rooms, now an Ask Italian, where I briefly sketched the plaster bas relief of a harp-playing putto riding on a lion. It’s worth coming back in the evening to see the place candlelit, the waitress told us.
As we walked out of the double glass doors of the Fenwick’s department store, opposite the Merchant Venturer’s Hall, at the Coppergate Centre, we were able to help a woman shopper who was trying to persuade a dunnock to leave.
Whichever of the doors she held open, it flew to the closed one and fluttered against the glass, so with Barbara on one door and the woman on the other, I acted as beater and stalked around the stairs to guide it out onto York’s Piccadilly.
I drew the banana and poinsettia on a visit to Barbara’s brother’s. I decided that on this paper the brown Noodler’s ink didn’t seem crisp enough, probably because the paper is that bit more absorbent than the cartridge that I’m used to in my regular Pink Pig sketchbooks.
So I’ve come around to using my Lamy AL-Star with the fine nib, loaded with black Noodler’s ink. Whenever I have time, I like to add some suggestion of colour. I did have doubts that I’d be able to mix the grey of Barbara’s bag because of the way the colour picks up reflected light indoors but, when I got the sketch back into a good light, I found that I wasn’t so far out with my colour matching.
In daylight the bag takes on a neutral grey cast.
On a walk through powdery snow at Langsett last week I didn’t bother taking my watercolours but, just in case, I put a credit card-sized wallet of children’s crayons in my pocket.
Not the ideal range of colours but better than nothing for giving a suggestion when I drew a bent-wood chair at the Bank View Cafe.
Derwent pencils and sketchbooks
Ask Italian, York