Today DeAnn provided different papers and liquids for us to experiment with. She then demonstrated writing Copperplate on watercolor paper and painting dot flowers. The handouts were copies of Satomi’s friendship exercise and project sample and a packet of Copperplate examples.
DeAnn had us write on each type of paper with all the nibs using the different inks she brought. The papers were in different colors, textures, and weights. Guidelines weren’t used because most of the papers are too thick to see through.
The goal of this exercise was to observe how the different nibs behaved on the different papers using the different inks. Label nib and ink on each writing sample and record observations. For example, shiny paper may need a sharp nib.
One of the sample papers is pergamenata, which will be used for the project. This paper is closest in appearance to vellum. It has a very smooth surface.
The following inks were used:
1. Vermillion to start with.
2. Black ink
3. Acrylic inks (FW Acrylic Artists Ink, Daler Rowney Pearlescent, Dr. Ph Martin Spectralite)
4. Watercolor (if you have it, Prang) and/or gouache
DeAnn provided little plastic containers as inkwells to hold the acrylic inks. Use masking tape folded over on itself to tape the inkwell to the table so it doesn’t tip over.
You could also easily create an inkwell holder from a sponge by cutting an “x”-shape into it. Dampen the sponge and push the inkwell in – when it dries, it’ll hold the shape of the inkwell.
Demonstration of writing Copperplate with watercolor and painting dot flowers: DeAnn used 90 lb. cold press watercolor paper, but you can use any weight watercolor paper. The best nib to use on cold press watercolor paper is the Hiro 41. The watercolors are Prang with 16 colors.
Use a pointed smaller size watercolor brush for the flowers and a stiff bristle brush (like the Royal soft grip #3) to load your pen nib. To set up your workspace for watercolor, have 2 containers of water – one is for dirty, one is for clean. When changing colors, you’ll be rinsing your brush first in the “dirty” container, then in the “clean” water to ensure no color contamination. Change the water as needed when it gets too dirty.
1. For demonstration purposes DeAnn wrote free-hand, but you should line the paper for a real project that is important to you. Use the lids of the Prang watercolor set as your palette. Soften the pan with a couple drops of water, then put the colors you want to use in a clean palette space and add drops of water to thin the watercolor to an ink consistency. The Prang colors stay vibrant even with considerable thinning. If you use the watercolor pan itself as the palette, the ink will get thicker and thicker.
2. Use a small stiff bristle brush to load your pen nib. Initially, brush color on top and bottom of nib. Then feed by just brushing the top of the nib. DeAnn likes the stiff brush because it cleans your nib even as it loads it with color. Hold the brush in your left hand with the tip pointed away so you can load your nib away from your paper and avoid splattering the paper.
3. Start with one color and add a 2nd color to the nib before the first one is completely gone so it blends. When switching colors on your brush, first rinse it in the “dirty” cup, then in the “clean” cup. Wipe off excess ink or water on rag. Be careful of colors on opposite sides of the color wheel (e.g. red & green), the blend may be brown/gray. This look can be organic though.
4. If the color changes too abruptly, go back and touch some of the second color into the still-wet strokes for a smoother transition. As long as it’s still wet, the color will continue to migrate out.
5. Continue adding new colors in this way, and/or go back to the original color.
Painting dot flowers:
1. Add a few drops of water to the watercolor pans you’ll be using to hydrate them. Create odd-numbered groupings of dots – these should be very concentrated color. Groups of 3 or 5 dots is optimal.
2. While these dots dry, you can write your message with watercolors (see above).
3. Once the dots are dry, first draw a triangular shape with just water at the base of a dot. Then slowly pull color into the wet area. Leave some white space (non-colored areas). Paint other flowers; when overlapping petals, leave a thin white border so the colors don’t mix together.
4. After you’ve painted the flowers, paint some leaves in with yellow-green. These should be subtle, so use lots of water to a little watercolor.
5. When the petals are dry, outline the petals with a pointy brush held upright. Don’t make the outline solid or heavy; leave white space especially if you didn’t leave much white space in the petals themselves.
6. As a finishing touch, put some orange or yellow dots at the center of the flowers and as accents around the flowers. Put a sharp point on your brush and hold it very straight to make the accent dots.
Preview of metallic effect for the project: using Trini’s practice piece on pergamenata, DeAnn gilded the decorative capital with composite.
HOMEWORK: Continue writing with all your nibs on the different papers with the various inks. Remember to label each writing sample. Record your observations so we can discuss them next week. Find some text for the project – it should be about 70 words and can be any text that you like (e.g. poem, song lyrics, quote, etc.). Practice writing text using the Small Guideline (x-height = 1/8 inch); this will be the size for the project. If you haven’t practiced yet on the Medium Guideline (x-height = 3/16 inch), then do that first, then go on to the Small guideline.