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Pen and Ink… Just Inking Around

Watercolor & Ink Demo

“Inking” – as in drawing with ink.

Hi!  I’ve been studying up on working with ink in preparation for my upcoming demonstration for the Society Of Southern Oregon Artists.  And, its coming up this Monday!  Note to me…that’s SOON!

SOSA Inking Demo

But I’ve been preparing.  And, besides, how hard can it be to stand in front of a room full of people and talk while painting?

Exactly; for some of us it might be easy.  Not so for me.  So I’m arming myself with knowledge!

Dip Pens

I decided I ought to know more about my materials and dip pens in particular.  “Old school” time – and its really fun!

The reasons I’m working with dip pens and nibs follow:

  • I had several laying around my studio.  Yes, several stylus (styli?) and nibs just laying around in my studio waiting to be appreciated and used.
  • I like how dip pens and nibs are sensitive to the touch and expressiveness of the artist.
  • I had ink, Higgins “Magic Ink” in black.  I also have some acrylic inks but am not using them for this demo.
  • So, you can draw the conclusion —  I didn’t have to purchase new supplies!  I like using supplies I have around the studio and house.
Working With Ink: Mapping Nibs

My Collection of Mapping Nibs; Comic Nib for Comparison.  Please note, the nibs are not in any particular order.

Something Special About His Nibs

One of the most exciting things I found out about my supplies is that I have some “vintage” nibs.  Did you know that there are such things?   These nibs were my father’s – artist John Stermer.  I cleaned them up and they work great!  As a matter of fact, several looked almost brand new.

Working with Ink: Dip Pen Nibs

My Collection of Comic or Regular Nibs Plus one Calligraphy Nib.  Note, the nibs don’t necessarily align with the list of nib types.

Dip Pen Tips – For Using

I thought I’d share some tips for working with dip pens.

  • Keep your nibs clean; they work better.  The ink flows and it is ever so wonderful!
  • The nibs are designed to be held a slant, about 45 degrees.  They don’t work quite so well on the vertical.
  • Draw moving the pen toward you; the nibs glide.
  • You can wear out a nib going back and forth.  They work better when you draw in one direction – toward you.
  • You can dilute some inks as much as you like.  Even a little bit of water can enhance flow.
  • The nibs work better on smoother paper.  I have tried using dip pens on rough watercolor paper and the ink does not flow as well. Its all a matter of taste, though.  Whatever works for the artist.
  • When you’re done with your pen, remove the nib.  Store dry.

About the Ink

I use Higgins Black Magic Ink.  It is waterproof and fade proof.  That means, for example, after the ink dries, you ought to be able to paint over it with wet watercolor with out lifting.  However, I did manage to get a smear this morning.  I have no idea why; something must have been not quite right.  Generally speaking, though, it does work as advertised.

There are other inks that are not waterproof.  They can be great, but I haven’t been experimenting with them.  They are beyond the scope of my  upcoming demonstration.

Materials: Ink, watercolor, paper, dip pen and brushes

Supplies:  Ink, watercolor, paper, dip pen with nib attached, watercolor brush and ink brush.

My Process

Back to the demonstration.  My process for incorporating graphite, ink and watercolor is as follows:

  • Graphite:
    • Draw with graphite first.  This is the most important phase.  I have to resist the urge to move on to ink and watercolor too soon.
    • Its easier to make drawing corrections to graphite drawings.  And, if there is a problem with the drawing, so goes the painting.
  • Ink:
    • I re-draw my subject with ink, though I don’t need to re-draw every line.
    • I emphasize major lines or nodes (junction points).
    • I like to use ink to map out direction or movement in the drawing.
    • I cross hatch to ensure I understand the value (light/dark) pattern of the subject.  Sometimes this is a fast phase; sometimes I want the ink to be the focus so I am more deliberate.
  • Watercolor:
    • Poetry in color!  This is splishy-splashy fun time.  It can be the hardest phase too!
    • I concentrate and work on using the paint to enhance the image.
    • The trick is to use enough to capture a feeling; not so much watercolor as to kill the poetry.

Single Best Tip

The best tip I can offer:  if you have a dip pen in your studio, give it a try!  You might have loads of fun!

Ink study

Study, Watercolor & Ink

Assorted Links:

On cleaning and care of the nibs.

  • Care and Feeding of the Calligraphy Dip Pen.  Even though the author talks mainly about calligraphy (italic) pen nibs, the same principles apply to point dip pen nibs.  I found a suggestion to clean ink pen nibs with ammonia based glass cleaners in this article.  This is for pen nibs that have caked on ink.  Ammonia window (glass) cleaners work wonders!  Brought my nibs back to clean as new!
  • Guide to Nibs and Nib Holders .  Provides a good over-view of the types of nibs and holders.




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That Time In Between


Mandala with Blessing Sticks from Art Unraveled…

These are the days between midsummer and late summer. Here in my perch above the Klamath River the flowers are reaching as tall as they can before they go to seed.


I am nestling in the way I always do after I travel… especially when I teach. I have been to Colorado where I taught with my dear friend Leslie Marsh in the vacation home of my other dear friend Hasty Pearl, (Laura Roberts). Such an inspiring setting with rugged cliffs above the jubilant singing Crystal River. And such inspiring students as they created with all of their hearts and soul. See photos of Crystal River book arts here.



Pages in Progress by Marline


Student Artist Books

And I taught in the mountains where I helped raise money for the wonderful Klamath Outdoor School… this is the land of blue-green spring water and ponderosa pines, long lush grass, wildflowers and butterflies. This workshop included nature walks and talks by my friend, Marjorie Glass, a wildlife biologist. We slept in a big yurt and the stars were amazing. Please see photos of "Nature in the Mind's Eye here.


Artist Book by Christine


Kandis Artist Book Pages

And lastly I taught three workshops at the amazing Art Unraveled in Phoenix, Arizona where I was welcomed with open arms, encountered my first Monsoon and realized again just how strong the pull of art Is. Please see photos from my three workshops at Art Unraveled here.


Artist Book by Helen


Artist Book by Chrissie

In each place I got to spend time with old friends and new and be amongst other women who know how important it is to nourish themselves. 

One of the things I love the most about teaching is when I walk away from someones worktable and then return after awhile the amazing surprises I encounter!


Victory Shield by Laura


Blessing Sticks by Helen

SOSA August 2016 Meeting

SOSA August 2016 Meeting : sosa logo southern oregon society of artistsSOSA August 2016 Meeting

The Southern Oregon Society of Artists (SOSA) holds its regular meeting at the Medford Public Library on August 22nd at 6:30 pm.  Margaret Stermer-Cox will be demonstrating. All artists are welcome.

Margaret Stermer-Cox to Demonstrate Watercolors

Margaret Stermer-Cox is a highly trained and recognized watercolor artist. Monday evening will give us a window into her approach of joining ink with layers of watercolor. Her favorite subject is her imagination…taking life images and rearranging them in a new way.
With purpose and color, her success can be traced to her extreme drawing skills.  Trained at the arm of her New Mexico artist father, she’s a signature, juried and associate member of several watercolor societies as well as a respected juror and show curator.

Monday we will watch her add a line, a drip, a dot…and a little bit of mystery.

Painting Better Paintings Plein Air and in the Studio

Painting Better Paintings Plein Air and in the Studio presented by Master painter, teacher and host of The Grand View on PBS Stefan Baumann to a classes of his students. Baumann discusses lighting and effects that can be found in “The Night Watch” and Sargent’s “Madam X” and also what to look for in a great painting. you can get a free book by Baumann on Painting by going to

The post Painting Better Paintings Plein Air and in the Studio appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.

Plein Air – The Ultimate Workshop Mt. Shasta

Plein Air – The Ultimate Workshop Mt. Shasta, in this video witness for yourself the ultimate Plein Air Workshop with Stefan Baumann, Baumann discusses what a weekend workshop is like in Mt Shasta along with stunning photos of Mt. Shasta. This is truly a life altering experience that will change the way you paint forever! for more information and dates of workshop go to or call 1-800-511-1337

The post Plein Air – The Ultimate Workshop Mt. Shasta appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.

To Find Your Art


Summer days,

mornings filled with wonder.


Sleepy afternoons,

daydreams with wings

and stars that smile.


I awake each day to find my art,

to hold on to it 

and then let it go.


To find myself,

and then relax into being who I am.

To find your art

This is what I am learning.



Prepping for Watercolor and Ink Demo

Art Demonstration on the Horizon!

Greetings!  I’m so excited!   I’m preparing myself to do a demonstration (demo) of my watercolor and ink techniques.  I have been invited by the Southern Oregon Society of Artists, a large local organization.  I was thrilled to receive the invitation.  But, I also had a sobering moment;  I needed to “up my game” so to speak.

Put another way, I want to do a good demo.

Demonstration: working with watercolor and ink


What I Have Been Doing

I have been spending the last six months working on painting from life using ink and watercolor.  I have been running the demo through my head to visualize how I’d like this to happen.

Now it’s “crunch time”.  I need to get it all down on paper.  🙂

Organic Grind Espresso Kiosk; Watercolor & Ink Demonstration

Where I Am Now

I have selected my subject – the Organic Grind Espresso Kiosk in Talent, OR, (see the image above).   I like this subject; it seems simple – a building on a lot.

But, as I keep working on it, I find interesting shapes, lines and tones.  There is a lot to “simple”!

Yes, I have been working on it.  I have gone to the location and done watercolor and ink sketches.  I may go again.

Back in the studio, I’ve been doing drawings and value studies.  These drawings and studies help me discover things about my subject.  Its a way of “painting what I know” by studying it!  Fun!

Here’s an earlier version of “Organic Grind”, drawn and painted from a different angle.

Organic Grind, Watercolor & Ink

What I Will Be Doing

Here’s an list of tasks for the next phase of this demonstration operation.

These tasks, while numbered, will be worked on concurrently.  That is to say these are tasks that do not need to be done sequentially.

Task One:  Explore the issue of why I paint this way in the first place.

Task Two:  Describe in detail the “what is it that I do”.  And, to get used to talking about it.  While drawing.  And staying focused!

Task Three:  Design the physical layout of my workspace.

Task Four:  Practice and adjust!

Might as well start with task one right here!

Demonstration, Watercolor & Ink

Why I Paint with Watercolor and Ink

My husband and I like to travel and camp.  We go to interesting places such as Blue Mountain (also known as “Cliff Ridge) in Utah near Dinosaur National Monument, for example (see above).  It seems natural for me to want to paint on location.

How to Draw and Paint Nature

The question of how seemed particularly pertinent because my normal modus operandi tends to be stylized in manner.  I tend to look more at the paper than at a physical subject and use my imagination.

This is not the best plan if one wants to draw and paint what one sees.  When drawing from nature, one needs to look at the subject in front of them!  For me, this is oddly challenging!  I have a tendency to look at the paper.  I’m improving, but I still have to remind myself to look-at-the-subject!

Peggy's People Collection - RCC December Invitational

It Starts With Drawing Skills

In any case, it all starts with drawing, doesn’t it?  For me the answer is “yes”.

So, I started drawing when we went on trips.  Not satisfied; I wanted to do more.  Inspired by the Urban Sketcher movement and all the wonderful watercolor journals I see on the web, I started experimenting with watercolor studies.

Naturally, as I started I felt kind of clumsy.  Thats what happens when you do something new.  I took out a “Faber Castell” artist ink pen I had hanging around and restated the forms of my subject.  It seemed to help.

Thus my exploration into ink and watercolor was born of necessity.

So, back to work and Task Two, describing in detail how I work.  More soon!

Thank you for stopping by!  I’ll leave you with a final watercolor and ink study done from a recent trip to Hyatt Reservoir in Southern Oregon.





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Painting Beyond What You See

IN this video Plein Air PBS artist Stefan Baumann discusses in his class “Painting Beyond What You See”. What artist need to know to take the next step in there paintings using light, composition and effects.

The post Painting Beyond What You See appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.

Painting Beyond What You See

IN this video Plein Air PBS artist Stefan Baumann discusses in his class “Painting Beyond What You See”. What artist need to know to take the next step in there paintings using light, composition and effects.

The post Painting Beyond What You See appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.

More Advice on Plein Air Painting

In this video you get more Tips on Plein Air Painting by
PBS artist and host of The Grand View, Stefan Baumann as he talks to his class about painting on location and some insights on what can happen on location along with some advice on canvas and being ready to paint on location. get a free book on painting by going to there get information on upcoming plein air workshops in Mt. Shasta.

The post More Advice on Plein Air Painting appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.