"pilot varsity"

Urban Sketchers New York

Let's start of with, sometimes I'm painfully shy. It takes a lot for me to start and have a lengthy conversation if I have a vague idea that I will see the person or group again. However, if it is a random person on the streets of New York I can be easy and outgoing to a fault. Pretty much every time I leave the house for any amount of time I can be certain that I'll strike up a conversation with a tourist, a shop keeper, security guard, etc. My girlfriend rolls her eyes at me every time I come home and I exclaim that I had a chat with random people. She's not surprised and I always am. Because I'm shy.

Yesterday I met some New York Urban Sketchers for the first time. I had been meaning to join them for most of the summer. Not only was I nervous about meeting them but I was going to draw in front of them. Whoa! But I did it. My loner, solitary sketching ways were challenged! And they were so kind and welcoming.

I met Mark first. He and I were both at the Pulitzer Fountain early. He saw my big sketchbook, came over and introduced himself. We started sketching right away. Then Carol came. She, amazingly enough, lives a block away from me. Denise arrived, then another first time sketcher Katie sat down with us. Elizabeth joined us and then we moved to our second location, the entrance area to the Central Park Zoo. Gene (I think that was his name! I didn't quite catch it) caught up to us there and that was our group.

I had a great time. I most definitely want to sketch with them again and often. Everyone in the group has a talent that I admire. They were all generous, offering tips and materials to experiment with. Mark let me borrow his water soluble graphite pencil and a water brush so that I could do some fast people sketching. Earlier he let me borrow his Pilot Vanishing Point and his bent nib (fude) fountain pens. At lunch everyone busted out their materials for me to try. There is an enthusiasm for art that is present in all of them.

In truly grateful that I braved the outing and for the welcome.

Note on the drawings below. I used my large Strathmore 9 x 12 Sketchbook with a blue Pilot Varsity fountain pen. There are some ink smears and I would like to keep working on the drawing with the Bergdorf Goodman building.


Fountain Pens

Okay. I've been researching fountain pens... I mean, watching a lot of YouTube videos about fountain pens. The reason being is I see a lot of Urban Sketchers that I admire using fountain pens: Lamy, Noodlers, Montblanc, Waterman, etc. I also saw a variety of different inks; permanent vs standard, black, sepia-ish, blue, red. Then I watched a video on the Lamy Safari by Brian Goulet and then I went to his YouTube channel. My mind was blown.

I'm so grateful for all the hard work.... enthusiasm....obsession.... fandom of the reviewers/channels. I cannot imagine the amount of funds that go into the hobby of collecting fountain pens but I sure have benefited by watching, obsessively in my own way, their reviews. There are two channels that I recommend, which are by far the best considering clarity, specifics, and variety. One has turned their enthusiasm into a thriving business, The Goulet Pen Company. Here is their YouTube (theinknouveau). Plus their blog, nib nook, and pen plaza are great information suppositories. Stephen B.R.E. Brown has the other great YouTube channel (sbrebrown). Both are incredibly thorough and review pens and ink. Brown also compares pens in videos he calls Shootouts.

While I would love to get online and buy all the pens that I'm really impressed with, I'm going to have to pace myself. First, I'm thinking of just going to a local office supply store and getting a Platinum Preppy and some Platinum Carbon Black cartridges. Then down the road I'll order some inks from the Goulets. And the more pens. And then more inks. Danger danger! My wish list is growing.

I've always been a fan of fine and extra fine pens but learning that ink and it's flow influence line thickness was surprising. Eventually I want to try X-Feather by Noodlers. The fact that Brown only uses that ink in flex pens is telling. But then I really want to try out a variety of inks. Let's just say this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

"pentel sign pen"

Take 2 - Governors Island Hard Hat Tour

I'm a member of the nonprofit OHNY, which allows me to be in tours of some pretty cool places. Today we were going to Governors Island to tour the two current phases of construction. This was the second and last attempt as the one scheduled for August 8th was cancelled due to possible thunderstorms. Today we had even worse weather. We just got to the construction gate when large vertical lightening was spotted over Staten Island. The Director of Planning at the Trust for Governors Island gave us the best description of the construction from the Ligget Arch that she could and then we hightailed it back to the dock. Unfortunately that is when the storm began.

I've been outside during a lot of storms and I've been drenched before. I had never experienced horizontal rain. That changed today. Thankfully my $10 flea market bag really was water resistant because both my sketchbooks were in there.

Photos below: sketching before the tour and watch the storm coming in.