Exploring new art tools for travel and sketchbook drawings.
A waterbrush and an Altoid Smalls tin filled with five half pans of pigment is difficult to improve upon when it comes to convenience and fitting easily into any pocket. What I didn’t realize until my last trip is that my waterbrush can become clogged. I had to switch to my ink brush providing me only dark, black ink. Hmmmmm….. what if I filled an ink brush with a dilution of black ink or watercolor?
For less than $10 I purchased a set of five Elmer’s Paintastics Paint Brush Pens. Most products that are assembled can be taken apart and reassembled. I wanted to fill the pens with pigments of my own choosing. I also wanted to change color and refill easily and at will. I assumed that the design of these paint brush pens would be similar to the waterbrush pen I normally use. If so, I could change the dilution of ink or watercolor to give me an instant value range of color.
Inside of the handle is a small, long tube that can be removed by carefully pulling on the white cap on the end of the brush handle. This should be done over the sink. Pour the watercolor into the sink and rinse out the handle and the narrow tube. Let both soak in a small pan of warm water.
In most cases, it is necessary to disassemble the narrow tube.
All except one of the narrow tubes was able to be cleaned without taking apart even further. The black paint pen was clogged.
Further disassembly was required to break through the clog. This paint brush pen wouldn’t have worked at all, even with the Elmer’s paint in it.
Once the original paint was removed, the brush handles could be refilled with paint or ink. I decided to try dilutions of watercolor first. I knew that if I didn’t dilute the pigment I would end up with clogged brushes. The Elmer’s pigment appeared to be more of an ink than a watercolor paint. No pigment particles were detectable in the Elmer’s paint. I chose watercolor hues that matched the color of the handles and filled the handles using the hypodermic needle I use to refill my fountain pen cartridges.
Before inserting the narrow tube back into the handle, make sure you have replaced the black gasket ring. This keeps the brush from leaking.
Then I tested the pens and was less than thrilled with the results. The paint did not flow easily through the brush tip and the colors were too pale. If I used less water for more saturated hues, the paint might not flow at all.
for my first test, I drew with a fountain pen filled with blue ink that was not quite as permanent as I expected. The paint, having a great deal of water in it caused serious bleeding of the ink. Though I like a bit of bleed, I don’t like totally uncontrollable bleed.
Earlier in the week I had drawn a study of lace curtains using Noodler’s Black, permanent ink. The bleed was not a problem. The remaining problem was that the intensity of the color was not what I wanted. The refilled paint brushes served no purpose. I would rather use my regular waterbrush and the pan paints inside the Altoid tin. I decided to try something else. I hadn’t filled the green-handled pen yet. I filled it with undiluted Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses ink., a lovely dark, rich color of burnt rose headed toward black. I also added a bit of undiluted Private Reserve American Blue ink to the blue watercolor dilution.
The results were better. Still, I gained nothing by using the Paint Brush Pens rather than my waterbrush and pan pigments. I needed to figure out a good use for the Paint Brush Pens. My original intention was to use four brush pens, two of a cool color and two of a warm color. I would have one dark, cool value, one medium cool value, one dark warm value and one medium warm value. The purpose would be to easily create value/temperature studies with washes. I decided to sleep on it before refilling the pen brushes again. The next morning I discovered that the pigment particles had settled in the brush handles. That meant nothing but trouble. I dumped the watercolor dilutions out of the brushes and refilled them with ink.
The dark value is undiluted ink, the medium value is ink diluted with a small amount of water. I filled the Black handled brush pen with a dilution of Parker Quink ink.
I will not bring these with me when I am traveling ultra-light. They do, however, offer a handy, portable, no-mess option when I don’t mind carrying a little bit more.
In addition to the four Paint Brush Pens (Two Cool Inks and Two Warm Inks) I have shown the Black pen filled with the Quink ink dilution for a value wash sketch. I also show a plain waterbrush to add clear water and create an even lighter value on the paper.
The Christmas Tree Angels – first drawn with fountain pen filled with black ink. Color was applied with the four Paint Brush Pens. The sketch provides me with both value and temperature information. That’s exactly what I wanted from the brush pens.