Collecting Fountain Pens

Fountain Pen Watercolor Illustration Urban Sketching Ink And Watercolor

After seeing our prompt of “Pen” today, it made me think back to when I first started watercolor sketching. I was so excited to receive my very first fountain pen. It was a silver Lamy fountain pen that Philippe bought me for Christmas about 6 months into my art journey. I was so excited and thrilled to receive it, and though it was silver, it felt like getting a piece of pure gold. Fast forward to today, and over 3 holidays later, and I just had to get an actual gold one this year. So I asked Philippe, and sort of begged a bit, and he got me one for my birthday! The other pen is one I purchased in Paris, but have truthfully not used as much. I just adored the bright color. Excited about my birthday pen, but wondering how to store it. Philippe reminded me I had also purchased a pen case in Paris telling him, “just in case I get more pens.” The last bit he repeated dryly, and I must say a touch mockingly, as to impress upon the irony of such a statement. Of course I’ll get more pens, but I have shown valiant restraint in that I only have six now. Well, seven actually, as I managed to procure a lovely silver fountain pen from Philippe’s mother during a visit once. By procure, I mean she did actually give it to me as a gift. In truth, you can only use one pen at a time, but it’s a wonderful comfort to have a few to choose from in the moment.

The remainder of my sketching kit is actually my everyday kit that I use most often, and includes a .5mm mechanical pencil, that I adore, and a kneaded eraser. I used this kit for this post, as it’s not easy to sketch supplies you’re actually using. If you add in my messy travel palette, travel brush set, sketchbooks, and paint tubes, I’ve sketched everything I use at this point. So, after yesterday’s post requiring me to buy new shoes, I’m quite sure that any future prompt of “pen” or “art supplies” will require me to buy new ones! Yeah, I’m not sure that logic will fly with Philippe, but it’s a lovely thought indeed. The fact is, for a guy who loves sketching stuff, I don’t have many art supplies that I use on a daily basis. After those early days of trying everything I could, I made some decisions and I’m quite happy with my current kit. So, does that mean I’m done purchasing new special edition fountain pens? You’re cute if you think that’s the case. Of course I’m not! There are two reasons to purchase art supplies. One, is simply because you actually need them for your art. This is, of course, the practical reason. The second is far more visceral and impossible to explain. It’s because you need them for your heart. And, in my experience, the latter purchase is equally important. We can’t make wonderful art when our heart isn’t in it with us.

So, I’m not actually trying to say that you should go out and purchase tons of art supplies you don’t actually need, but never worry about getting just a few that you don’t quite have a use for yet. The use will come in time. I was thrilled to already have a case waiting to stow my new birthday pen! Though it took me a couple of weeks to try it out for the first time in an actual post. And, each of the art supplies I have in my tiny little collection are precious to me. Whether they’re the road weary kind that have been with me through most of these stories I illustrate or the new golden arrivals. Each one has a place in both my heart, and my art. For me, I think of thinks like that little sketchbook I purchased in a Paris shop that is still in the wrapper. One day, it will tell me what it wants me to sketch inside it. And in the meantime, I have all of the memories of visiting that little shop each time I glance at it. Art is a mysterious venture indeed. It takes us to emotional places that don’t often have easy answers. But, art isn’t about definitive answers, it’s simply about posing questions. It’s the beginning of a conversation that starts with awe and energy and progresses toward many wild and wondrous places, up to and including a habit of collecting fountain pens.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Aureolin, Vermilion, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Fountain Pen Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
36 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 3 months ago

    You said it exactly, “you need them for your heart”! And I obviously have a big heart because there is room for a whooooole lot of supplies, lol. There is something about using an art tool I’ve never used before and discovering what it can do and how it helps me create that just thrills me.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕And you have the biggest heart ever!! hehe… what makes it so big, of course, is that you share your wonderful insights on those art supplies with the rest of us! Thank you for that my friend!!

  2. Stephanie Louise 3 months ago

    I missed my old fountain pen. It was a gift to me on my 18th birthday. A few years later I accidentally damaged the pen tip. With the dawn of the computer era, I’ve begun to use lesser writing tools. However my typing skills improved.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Aww sorry to hear your fountain pen was damaged, Stephanie. 😔Though, yes, my typing skills have certainly improved as well in this new age. But, I’m so glad to sketch with pens each day. It’s always wonderful to keep touch with the analog world. 😉

  3. Robert J. Coleman 3 months ago

    As a dyed-in-the-wool leftie, I have been a fountain pen user since I got a Shaeffer Snorkel fountain pen in my second year of high school; it was in the lost & found at school and no one claimed it. Quick drying fountain pen ink solved the messy ballpoint ink problem. And I really love using the Lamy pens in your sketch, got few of them. Plus a few others…. Watch out, pen collecting can be addictive! And don’t even subscribe to a website like iPen or Goldspot Pens!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      hehe!! I know!! Pens are the coolest! I have had to show much restraint in my art journey. I want them all! But you can only use one at a time so I’m happy with my tiny little collection. 😉

  4. M. L. Kappa 3 months ago

    Everyone knows art supplies are addictive! Ask Jessica! Plus, if you have a few fountain pens, it means you can have a few colors of ink on the go, right?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      hehe! So true! 😃💕Yep! I filled them immediately with a few different colored inks, so as to justify my purchase. However, I only use black and sepia, so that only manages to justify two of the seven! lol

  5. Kristina 3 months ago

    Oh, goodness! I drew a cool picture of my goat pen, nice wooden posts and some hills in the background! Not as elegant as the lovely fountain pens you drew, but I am sure just as useful. My goats are my big addiction – along with art supplies.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Kristina! 😃💕Yay to cool picture of any pen… pens are just the coolest. As are just about every art supply! hehe

  6. Jerson Antao 3 months ago

    Well done Charlie! Well I too like to draw with ordinary ball pen. You will see my paintings on my featured guest artist i have drawn with ball pen. It gives you a very good texture depends what type of pen and paper you use.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Jerson! 😃💕 Love your ball point pen renderings! I just love pens… so much potential there!

  7. mlaiuppa 3 months ago

    Oh, you have hit my weak spot.

    I have quite a few pens and recently have invested in some very nice ones.

    I have a lovely turquoise Lamy that I use for sketching. Also a MUJU unbranded one that isn’t bad at all. I really like the style. I have many Levenger pens, two Noodlers, a few dip pens nd I have THREE Bossert & Erhard. Absolutely beautiful. I have a Shaeffer calligraphy fountain pen that was one of my first that I still adore.

    I have more ink than I could use in a lifetime. I really should pass it on as most is most unsuitable for sketching and I would never use it all just writing as I don’t write that much by hand.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a “stock” of pens on hand. Some may call it hoarding but it is more like under utilization. Eventually you can go shopping in your stash to find what you need, like that pen case you already had for your pens. And you do need multiple pens so that instead of having to switch out inks you can fill each pen with a different color for sketching. I have a sepia, brown, gray, greenish-black, brownish-black and an almost orange that I was hoping would be more of a burnt sienna. They all use adapters rather than cartridges so having to clean them out and refill is a nuisance as well as wasting ink. With multiple pens you don’t have to do that, just fill each pen with a different ink. So really, having more pens is very frugal. It’s efficient and cost effective.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      I adore your story! 😃💕 hehe… love it! That’s a winning justification in my book! I think if art supplies bring us joy, then they’re doing their job perfectly!

  8. Loan Anh Pham 3 months ago

    Lovely painting and I love your story about your fountain pens. It’s hard to restraint not buying some art supplies. They’re too fascinating. What’s lovely to get a pen gift from friends. Just looking those ones, we’ve encouraged to paint.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Loan! 😃💕 Yeah, art supplies are so intriguing. It’s fun because each one represents a possibility of what we could create next. Endless fascination!

  9. Fatima Chamkha 3 months ago

    Beautiul set of pens!

  10. Mary Roff 3 months ago

    Beautiful pens! Life’s too short to not buy art supplies!!! 🙂

  11. Lisa 3 months ago

    I love my art supplies! I have a couple of fountain pens. Lots of paint. That’s my addiction.

    I’m in the hospital and having some procedures done. I’ll keep up when I can.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Hope you’re doing well Lisa! 😃💕 Sending you much love and wish for a speedy return. You know that Doodlewash isn’t the same without you, right? ❤️

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 months ago

    “I’m not actually trying to say that you should go out and purchase tons of art supplies you don’t actually need.” Well thanks, Charlie, that was advice given too late! LOL. Though I love using watercolors, I’ve never taken a class and am hoping to do this in the near future. Have lots of books and have watched videos, but I would love to take a class with a knowledgeable instructor to look over my shoulder and say, “Really? That’s your next stroke?” Though I always do a pencil sketch before I paint, I’m trying to mark less with pencil and sashay more with paints. I’ve also never used a pen to detail my sketches first and then applied watercolors. But I love when the watercolors make their way across my paper as if I’m not even there. Thanks for another post that gave me lots to think about. And you’ve allowed me to see what I might be missing. So maybe I’ll get myself a pen…

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      hehe… thanks, Sharon! 😃💕Yes! Get a pen! If nothing else, just to try it. I unabashedly admit that my own approach is just a bit of elevated coloring book art. I love making my coloring page and then splashing around watercolor to finish it! It’s not a painter’s approach, but one my inner child adores!!

  13. Jacob 3 months ago

    Yay for pens! I always drew with ballpoint pens as a kid, almost never did I use pencil or felt-tip. I didn’t have much experience with fountain pens, but I did receive one from my high school on leaving, for good attendance I think; it says the school name and then “Well done”. I’ve always wondered why that’s in quotation marks. Were they being sarcastic? Oh well. It’s a swish pen, but it doesn’t have the luxury of a pen case, it’s just in a jar beside my computer. Yay for fountain pens, though. I love the bright one!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Yay for fountain pens! You should use that one! 😃💕 hehe… though yeah… “Well done” in quotes does have a rather strange sense to it. And no exclamation point? Hmmmm… curious indeed!

  14. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 3 months ago

    Wow beautiful pens!!!! I also love reading about the interaction between you and your beloved. Sweeeeeeetness!!!! Oh, and ty for the link to the podcast with the story love it!!!! 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lisa! 😃💕And yay! Thrilled you enjoyed the podcast! Hope you’ll listen to more! It’s been fun to tell my story audibly as well!

  15. smzang 3 months ago

    Charlie says, “There are two reasons to purchase art supplies. One, is simply because you actually need them for your art. This is, of course, the practical reason. The second is far more visceral and impossible to explain. It’s because you need them for your heart.”

    True wisdom in those words, and a lot of heart. They are both beautiful and smart!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      You’re so sweet! Thank you so much for the lovely compliment, Sarah! 😃💕

  16. Janna Coleman 3 months ago

    Love how you expressed your love for beautiful pens, and how You Placed them for your sketch. I have always loved all kinds but the gold ones are very definitely impressive. I pulled my wooden pen box out with my collection of favorite pens on National Hand awaiting Letter Day and I spent more time gazing at hem with wonderful memories such as yours and it most certain’y brought back wonderful memories. Needless to say I didn’t create a great piece of Art like yours but did select one that is now in my artist supply kit. Each time I look at it, will remind me of this inspiring story and how your special collections becomes even more special using them as props for yet another beautiful Memory.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Janna! 😃💕I’m so happy this post inspired you! Pens are the best! I love them all, but yeah… the gold ones are just awesome! hehe And by the way, Love Note Day is coming up this month… hehe… this was my offering last year – https://doodlewash.com/love-note-day/

  17. Fanna Turano 3 months ago

    Charlie, this post really spoke to me. Art/heart was a perfect adage. I ADORE art supplies and can now report I’d be able to review various papers, paints, many brushes, but sadly, only one skimpy fountain pen that came in a kit from Winsor & Newton my sweet hubby bought me last Christmas. And that gold one you just got? It may have been a watercolor of the actual pen, but it was gorgeous. The chartreuse one also caught my eye. And you do know you can now officially call yourself a Lamy fountain pen “collector,” right? Six? Please! That’s a starter kit for the obsessed. Here’s to the gold one sketching “art from your heart.” My best to you both.

    Fanna

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      hehe! yay!! Glad this spoke to you, Fanna! 😃💕 And I’m thrilled to be a Lamy pen collector! They are so wonderful! But yeah, I like the really splashy colors most. For some reason, they’re just more fun to use! Of course, that’s my inner child talking once again! 😉

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