It Starts with the Pen……

The previous post with the diary of Zenos Ramsey Miller was an “ahaa” moment for me. I was so focused on developing the sketchbook in a digital format that I lost sight of what a real wartime journal might look like.  I realized that the emotion and hand built touch of an actual ink pen is pretty hard to simulate in photoshop or sketchbook programs.   I started researching fountain pens and found this article in a blog by

It was the sketches themselves that hooked me.  They have that “off the cuff” feel that I would expect in a soldier’s field sketch when he has very little time to capture an emotional scene



When you look at the detail the line weight can be fat or thin, rushed or careful and all of this is coming out of single fountain pen.


It is so close in character to the vintage sketches in the example journal that my gut says I am on the right path for the type of work I want to do.


The way a flex nib fountain pen gets such variation is that the tip is split down the center.  As you lean on the tip the metal flexes and the tines spread apart allowing more ink to flow.

Pen Nib Pen Tip


It is interesting how parallel this experience is the bluetooth type of ipad stylii that are available out there.  These bluetooth pens sense the position of the pen on the screen using wireless technology and there is a give to the tip that senses pressure to deliver a thinner or thicker line based on how hard you press the pen.  Digital or Analog, getting a feel for how the pen works and how the ink flows is key to sketching.  As with all new things on the internet, I discovered the fountain pen culture is its own world, deep and wide.  Pages of products, passionate reviews of custom inks, training videos on how to use the pens, store them, clean them.  I had no idea how developed the “fountain pen” community is.   I settled on the Konrad’s Flex Fountain Pan manufactured by Noodler and their custom black ink.  I purchased it from The Goulet Pen Company and hope it arrives soon!  If you are interested in digging in, here is the website with the training videos.

What does resonate for me is the simplicity.  One pen to master, myself and a sketchpad.  I could see how Unteroffizier Gerhardt Rupp could have stowed these away in his kit bag and pulled it out in a moments notice out in the field.  Will keep you posted on my progress


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