March 2016 Newsletter: Pen and Ink

Baoer Fountain Pen sketch Chris Carter Artist

March 2016 Newsletter: Pen and Ink

The month of February was a month of reflecting on the threads that stitch together my experiences as an artist and transform those fragments of experience into a crazy quilt that illustrates my journey.  It’s only when viewed from a distance that the fragments unite beautifully and tell a story, rich with motifs that turn chaos into patterns, variations of recurring inspiration and curiosity.

The tool that has the longest history in my journey is the fountain pen. I recall watching my mother dip her Morriset desk pen into the ink well and write checks to pay the bills or write a note to a distant family member.  She kept a small, turquoise fountain pen in her purse. I loved the sound of the nib as it skated across the paper.  The variation of line and the occasional splat of ink delighted me.  I couldn’t do that with my pencils.  My father’s fountain pens were less of a joy.  I only recall them leaking in the pockets of his long-sleeved, white shirts that my mother spent hours ironing and starching.

In third grade we were taught cursive writing and were required to purchase fountain pens.  Pencils were for printing, fountain pens were for cursive writing.  I adored my clear, Parker and Sheaffer fountain pens. Fortunately, my best friend, Kathleen, also loved her fountain pens and we both began to transform our pocketbooks into mini stationery stores that included a bottle of ink for our newly acquired non-cartridge fountain pens, paperclips, fasteners, leads for our mechanical pencils, pencil sharpeners and small pads.

Fast forward to the early 70’s when I saved my dollars to purchase an expensive Mont Blanc pen which turned out to be a lemon.  That is a story of its own.  I stopped using fountain pens for many years after the disappointing Mont Blanc pen.  Why couldn’t a $100 pen write as well as the $4 Parker or Sheaffer?  Grrrrrr.  Had I been able to acquire an old school pen, I would have.  But the internet did not yet exist.

A phone call from Kathleen in the early 90’s informing me that she had discovered inexpensive Parker and Sheaffer pens at Staples ignited the smoldering coals and my love for pen and ink returned in full force. Not only do I nurture my soul with expressive lines drawn with dip or fountain pens, I have the opportunity to share my joy with others, encouraging artists to experiment and play with pen and ink.

Offering a pen and ink workshop has been a challenge.  Ink is so terribly intimidating that it has been difficult to encourage enough artists to register for the class. Thanks to Heather Dorst, an artist who had attended one of my watercolor workshops in Salisbury, MD several years ago, I drove to Columbia, Maryland last weekend to teach a two day workshop in Pen and Ink.  The experience was everything I had wanted it to be and even exceeded my hopes.  To view some of the amazing squiggle drawings created by the artists in the workshop click here.  

Squiggles were just one of many pen and ink techniques we explored during the two-day workshop. I believe that all of the artists acquired at least two different techniques that they are comfortable with and that they can incorporate in their own sketchbooks.

Brief History of Squiggles:

In 2010 I had my right hip replaced and was forced to slow down for five weeks.  During my hospital stay, and for the weeks following, I took advantage of the opportunity of slowing down to attempt sketches that required more time.  I was curious to see if I could created form using squiggly lines instead of cross-hatching.  First I tried the technique with pencil.

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Paper towel dispenser over hospital sink

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Hospital sink

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Hospital goody bag

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Dragon gargoyle, my constant companion during my recovery period

Though intimidated by my inability to cross-hatch well, I attempted the squiggles in ink.  Using a fountain pen with a fine or extra fine nib, I enjoyed hour after hour of squiggling.

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the success of last weekend’s workshop in Columbia, Maryland has given me hope that I will be able to share my love of pen and ink in future workshops.  Thank you lovely ladies and amazing artists (Kathy, Margie, Patty, Heather, Julie, Edna, Ann and Nancy) for making one of my dreams come true!

2015 Scheduled Exhibits, Workshops and Demonstrations:


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     Click here to go to my Vimeo Page.




strata 7 abstract watercolorMarch 12, 2016 – Dorchester Center for the Arts – Cambridge, Maryland – Playful Watercolor Techniques

Experiment with a variety of techniques to enhance your unique creativity and style. Explore wet in wet, glazing, splattering, dry brush, pushing the puddle and atomizing.

Click here to register online.

Click here to view Materials List. 



March 31, April 7 & 14, 2016 – ART @ 1275 Studio & Gallery LLC – Three-Day Color Workshop – Mixing Color, Color Value, Color Schemes

… Click here for details and registration information.




October 3-6, 2016 – The Court Cupboard Craft Gallery, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK Creative Colour / Expressive Design.

Full colour with a limited palette – Playful Color using color schemes – Elements of Art: design vs. composition – Personal Mood and Expression

Full …. contact me to be put on wait list.


View from Le Bassin de Neptune, Versailles, France

October 7, 2016 – The Court Cupboard Craft Gallery, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK Impetuous Ink with a Splash of Watercolour

Delightful sketchbook techniques that will have you drawing daily.  Each artist will receive a fountain pen and learn how to clean and care for it.

Click here for more details and to register online




February – March 2016 – Solo Exhibit – Dorchester Center for the Arts, Cambridge, MD

November 2016 – January 2017 – Solo Exhibit – Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Morristown Medical Center, Morristown, NJ