Sydney Pen Show Workshops

September 4, 2018 | 1 Comment

I feel very honoured to have been asked to teach two workshops as part of the first ever Pen Show in Sydney last month.
Note: Pen = Fountain Pen!

I have gotten to know some of the fountain pen community this year and it was great to attend their big event. The venue was amazing – the Maritime museum in Darling Harbour – and it was a gorgeous day.

A light airy space was filled with a number of stalls and lots of people. I heard that 600 people turned up during the day which is fantastic. There was an amazing bunch of volunteers helping to make the event run smoothly.

I intended to spend an hour or so wandering around the stalls but I ended up spending more time talking than looking. It was lovely to be hanging out in a different community (ie. the fountain pen gang rather than the sketching one) and a lot of people recognized me and came up to tell me that they were followers. Oh, I loved meeting so many new people – people who were passionate about fountain pens but not necessarily sketchers. So a huge thanks to everyone who came up to say hi!

Getting to say hi to my friends at LarryPOST was difficult. Every time I looked they were crowded with people.

There was also an impressive display of Pilot Capless pens over the years which was flown over from Japan (and carefully guarded during the day) and lots of ink stalls.

Did I purchase anything?

Yes! but nothing too extravagant.

I got a new Twsbi Go pen in grey from Larry Post and filled it up with the new Urban Grey in De Atramentis Document ink. A perfect pairing! I like the pen even though the barrel is thick and the spring loaded pump (fun feature) is so huge (it has a good ink capacity but I can’t help thinking it could be bigger). Lots of lovely little details too.

The other purchase was some ink by J. Herbin. I’ve been on the search for ink matching my Cobalt Green Faber Castell pencil so I can use ink (rather than pencil) for my guidelines creating a crisper line. Note: it’s a similar colour to my Cobalt Turquoise Light paint.

It’s called Diabolo Menthe and is gorgeous, although a little less green than Colbalt Green/ Cobalt Turquouse. In case you are wondering, it’s not permanent ink, but it doesn’t need to be as I’m not watercolouring over the top! Here is a link to the ink at Goulet Pens.

What was so nice about being at a pen show is that I could wander around and look at a lot of different brands easily. A special thanks to the pen show volunteer manning the Robert Ostler inks who told me about this ink and directed me to the Dymocks stall.

As for my workshops….

They were an introduction to urban sketching with fountain pens – so there were two themes, getting starting sketching from observation and using a fountain pen for drawing (as opposed to writing). Both groups had a good mix of fountain pen users who want to start sketching, and beginner sketchers who want to start using fountain pens. Plus one or two more experienced sketchers!

I only had a one hour slot, but as the plan was to spend the time outside, I stretched my time so that it was close to 1.5 hours. I spent the first 40 minutes inside doing some lines exercises and warmup exercises.

The goal of the line exercises was to show people how to get line variation using a fountain pen (even a standard nib) and to encourage them to change grip while sketching. You can read more about this in this article (part of my Fountain Pen Sketching series).

Then using my classic yellow chair photo we did a few quick drawing exercises – a blind contour exercise as a warmup, and a new variation to my edges exercise – looking for a important edge to start with. We then thought about shapes and just painted (or shaded using water on non-permanent ink) the ‘dark side’. In essence they had a condensed version of the first half of my Foundations course.

We then went outside to our very complex surroundings and we focused on a simple composition – the lighthouse. I showed them how to look for a major vertical and how to simplify the complicated foreground by including a few major edges.

We then added a little paint using waterbrush and my Daniel Smith dotcard. It was a very simple quick exercise, but the results were great.

It was a fantastic day – thanks to everyone who attended the workshop! I know it was jam-packed but I hope it gave you some foundational skills to work on… and that you fill that little sketchbook.



Each participant received a mini sketching kit (worth more than $25) kindly sponsered by LarryPOST (De Atramentis ink and waterbrush) and Stillman & Birn (a small softcover Alpha book in either portrait or landscape format). Thanks to both for being so generous!!!

I also contributed the last of my supply of my “Liz Steel dot card”.

A huge congrats and thanks to Mark, Sophia and the rest of the team for organising and hosting a fantastic event. I can’t wait for next year!


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