Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pentel Sign Pen Test

Pentel Sign Pen Test
Originally uploaded by PJBee
Ooooooh, new art supplies :) Jennifer, owner of Coastal Art Supply, gifted me a set of Pentel Sign Pens.... colors!!!!

I took them out for a spin in the Pentalic Nature Sketch Book.

Back in March, I asked Jennifer if she could locate a black water soluble marker. She introduced me to the Pentel Sign Pen.  You may remember this test page. I love the cool gray color you get when you wet the marks.
Depending on how much you rinse your brush, you can achieve many shades of gray.

How excited I was to see that these pens came in colors!! All the pen tests in this post have been done in the Pentalic Nature Sketch sketchbook that contains 130# creamy paper.

Now, what subject to choose to really take these markers out for a spin? Is it possible to blend them like watercolors?

In good Pamela fashion, I chose what turned out to be a very challenging test. Go ahead. Jump right in, get your feet wet :)

I recently found a Sparkleberry, Vaccinium arboreum, shrub in my neighborhood. I love these shrub/small trees. This little specimen looked more like a small tree as there were no branches close to the ground. Sparkleberry (don't you just love the name?) has lovely little white flowers in the spring, that remind me of Lily of the Valley. The branches are crooked and twisted - catching my calligraphic eye. The leaves are tardily deciduous and in the fall turn a lovely redish purple that graces the glossy green leaves. And, the berries....... well, they truly sparkle!

Okay, I'm in love with this plant! Adoration is very important when trying to sketch or paint. Whatever it is that you are trying to capture on paper or canvas, must speak to you. Why? Because when your medium of choice challenges you, your love for the subject will drive you on to the completion. L O V E...... conquers all. Gets you through the rough times and makes your soul sing! Hmmmmm, even in art!

 Here is my first attempt. I enjoy creating quick watercolor sketches of plants and flowers. This rendition was anything but quick! I found that the marker ink soaked right into the paper and if I didn't add water quickly, color blending was very difficult.

Leaf by leaf I laid down a bit of green, raw sienna, red, pink, yellow and sometimes purple. Then I blended these strokes with a waterbrush. The trick was figuring out the placement of the marks. I didn't want the effect of outlined leaves. What worked best was putting the colors (2 or 3 at a time) at the base of the leaves then using the waterbrush to lift the ink and spread it into a leaf shape. And, just like watercolors, allowing the paint to dry between layers, was very important.

All in all, a bit more controlled than I like to be when painting. Sometimes, the paper would fuzz up - like when you scrub a bit too hard. But then when the paper dried, that effect seemed to disappear! I wasn't able to hold the lights. I also got a bit impatient.... see that dark blob in the center?

I used a brown Micron pen for the very fine branches and also for adding vein lines and shading in the leaves.

The classy vase is an old jelly jar/glass from Welches.

I want to try this subject again using hot press watercolor paper and Canson Edition paper. Love is driving me on :)


  1. Love your Sparkleberries and I like your blob in the middle! It's amazing what you can do with those markers. So many versatile means of creating color out there.

    I'll miss you this winter...see you in March.

    Ann Low

  2. Great to hear from you, Ann! Thank you so for posting. You have to give these markers a try. Hopefully I'll get them all figured out before you return. I will miss you this winter. Happy skiing! See you in the spring.

  3. It sounds as if you had to work twice as hard as you would have if you'd used watercolors, but the effect is fabulous and I don't see any "blobs in the center!"

    Nicely done!

  4. You're right, Laure. Oh the challenge :) Many thanks!

  5. Oh, dear, something else to want!!! Those pens worked beautifully - well, let's face it, it's all in the hand of the artist, but the pens seemed to work well :) Gorgeous "sketch" - I hate to call your work sketches because they are so definitely finished and lovely. This one really is great, little jelly jar and all. Hoping it's warm and sunny in your part of the world.

  6. Thanks, Rhonda :) Sunny yes. 39 with a windchill of 30 - not correct for December in the SC lowcountry! How much snow have you got?

  7. What a beautiful result - and from markers! Okay, now they go on my list of supplies to try :-) Thanks for the review!

  8. Thanks, Ann. I hope to do more experimentation. I think I was way toooooo serious with my first attempt.

  9. Well, it seems silly to complain about the bit of snow we got - about 4 inches total - but I still feel like we're southern and shouldn't get snow at all! ha ha

  10. Your sparkleberry is wonderful. I think you'll like the pens even more when you use them on a different paper. I have a Pentalic Nature Sketch sketchbook and find it on useful for limited purposes. It sucks the paint in too much and I, too, have had trouble with the surface holding up. I don't have the pens, but your sparkleberry makes me tempted to get some.

  11. Rhonda, you're making me laugh!

    Elva, thank you! Up till now the Pentalic sketchbook worked pretty well. But then, I've a light touch with wc pencils or paint. The 'blotter' like quality of the paper will now make me be very selective about mediums.
    I use this book mostly for demo work in workshops. I can't wait to try a harder surface..... the ho ho holiday to do's are keeping me busy, though :)

  12. I think this one is absolutely yummy....and your way with words describing the sparkleberries is poetic! I am adding these pens to my wish list.

  13. Thank you so, Katrina!

    Elva Paulson (above) sent me an email about the pens. She was interested in getting some and checked on their archival and fade-resistant ratings. She couldn't find anything about being archival but did come across one artist that commented that the markers faded over time in her sketchbook......

    So, be careful on what you use them for :)