Sketches from Andre

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Sketches from Andre

Postby Andre Jute » Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:52 am

Despite the headline, don't hold your breath waiting for material from me. I have to make over twenty volumes of fiction pressready before Christmas... But this scribble while testing a new pen that came in the post some time ago, on the same day as an ink whose colour I liked, was scanned for use as an avatar at KBoards. I'm also conducting lightfastness tests of the Ambre de Birmanie and Herbin's Gris Nuage (much, much nicer than Noodler's Lexington Gray or watered Noodler's Bulletproof Black) and will report here in about five months: after a month in my window the two J. Herbin inks, anyway selected for prior reports of their lightfastness as well as for their colour, look good to go.

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Life is a bad comedy by a celestial scriptwriter with horns
Illustration copyright © by Andre Jute. August 2013
Wing Sung 841 Waterdrop Fountain Pen, J Herbin Ambre de Birmanie Ink, Winsor & Newton 300g paper.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby Stuart01 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:19 am

That would make an excellent Avatar. Wish I could draw with a pen but I make too many mistakes, and need an eraser on hand at all times. Best wishes Stuart
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby Andre Jute » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:45 am

The trick is just to draw it and decide later what it is. Confidence breeds confidence: you'd be surprised how often, once you learn to draw a line, any line, and do it boldly, the line turns out, if not necessarily precisely as you wanted, at least a fair representation of what you see or imagine.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby RajeshS » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:11 am

Very dramatic sketch Andre! The expression and colors and the shadows and the horns! All add up!

Look forward to your review of the ink. Is the inks you mention. I use the Noodlers Lexington Gray. Are they waterproof too?

I like the Noodlers Gray. And the one bottle I have has lasted me long and will last me for a few more months I think - maybe I can look at this option next :)

rajesh
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby Andre Jute » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:25 pm

(EDITED SINCE FIRST SENT IN LIGHT OF NEWLY OBSERVED INFORMATION)

THREEWAY LIGHTFASTNESS AND WATER RESISTANCE TEST OF SKETCHING/DRAWING INKS:
J. Herbin Gris Nuage
J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie
Noodler's Black "Bulletproof"
7-WEEK INTERIM REPORT
by Andre Jute

Noodler has pulled out of Europe. I was fortunate to get a still in-stock bottle of Bulletproof Black from England but if I want the Lexington Gray it will cost me a fortune for a bottle of ink imported from the States, what with postage, import duties and value added tax, plus fees for the courier to collect these sums for the revenue. From what I've seen of it, Lexington Gray is not a particularly clean grey either, so I hesitated to splash out (hee-hee) on a bottle that would probably not be used.

I tried a simulation with BB diluted with water but it was a grubby, industrial grey, not what I wanted.

So I thought I'd try J. Herbin's Gris Nuage, which is a beautiful clean grey.

At the same time I bought a bottle of the J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie, which is the orangey colour you see above, simply because I liked it, and I was spreading the postage over two colours. Two bottles of J. Herbin, landed, cost less than a single bottle of Noodler's (which at home in the States is very, very reasonably priced for what is clearly a technically superior product). The people I bought from, Bureau Direct, have an offer where you get a tacky J. Herbin ink cartridge rollerball with a selection of ink cartridges for a tenner, which seems good value, but I'd already decided on the colours I wanted so I just bought the bottles. See http://www.bureaudirect.co.uk/j-herbin- ... tins/p3011

Anyhow, as they say Down Under, when the J. Herbin inks arrived, I fell in love with the Ambre de Birmanie, and have it in several pens, and, should it prove lightfast in my current tests, intend using it in my Kuretake No 13 brush pen (with a Platinum converter, which fits well) when the current cartridge of the Kuretake ink runs out. But see below what my designer and I discovered today after only seven weeks when we took the lightfastness test-sheet down and compared it to the control sheet kept in the dark.

Except for a couple of doodles just to test the shading, and making a lightfastness test chart, I haven't yet used the Gris Nuage, though I have a case prepared with black and grey ink in pens, simply because I've been taking my exercise by cycling in the country, where I paint in watercolours, rather than walking with my wife, when I do fountain pen or fude brush sketches of people I see.

I have a pen with Ambre de Birmanie in the watercolour kit on my bike and it blends spectacularly well with Winsor & Newton's Artists' Watercolours. i don't have time now to find and photograph it, but an image in my sketchbook that everyone pauses over is just a part of a leylandii bush sticking out over something (not indicated) painted in greens and yellows, with the ends of the spikes done with a fountain pen loaded with AdB as the early autumn touching the tips of the branches. So they''re pausing not over the composition or even the beauty of the subject, but the beauty of the result, made by the harmony of the colours.

I can tell you already that the J. Herbin Gris Nuage and the Ambre de Birmanie are at least as waterproof as the Noodlers Bulletproof Black, because I have them on the same sheet in my lightfastness test, with the Noodlers as the control, and I made a smear test as well on that page to see whether the dilute is less lightfast than the mass tone.

I can further tell you what you can see above, that the Ambre de Birmanie shades beautifully (there's nothing in that sketch except the single ink), and the Gris Nuage too.

However, if you want to draw out the ink with a brush and water, you'll have to be a fast worker, because these inks set at about the same speed as the Noodlers BPB, meaning that for a minute, maybe, you get some miserable pale shading by drawing out with water, and that's it. I am in fact looking for a non-waterproof ink (a sky blue, a clean non-dusty brown, or even a deep purple will do me) that I can use for ink and wash, because the three inks I have are to all intents and purposes waterproof -- well, unless you work much, much faster than I do, and I rarely spend as much as ten minutes on a piece.

It's exactly seven weeks now since I started my lightfastness test and of the two J Herbin inks the Gris Nuage is standing up well; I expect it at the end of six months to pass the test. If you're new to inks, please note that my results, and expectation, for a named ink does not cast the same approval over the rest of the J. Herbin line; quite the contrary. In the same line, which you can see in the Bureau Direct site linked above, are some inks with zero lightfastness -- days under sunlight, not even a week, according to reports of tests on the net. You must investigate their inks one by one for the desired qualities, whatever yours may be. Mine are clean bright colours, lightfastness, waterfastness in some, washability in others.

The Ambre de Birmanie after seven weeks in the sun is definitely lightening. It's a lovely colour but in my test it fails to match the good lightfastness reported elsewhere. It's in an eastern window with less than six hours of sunlight per day. Clearly, you cannot hang artwork done with J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie on a wall. We'll see precisely how bad it is at the end of six months; some dyes bleach a bit fast, then settle down for the long haul.

It thus looks likely, unless the Gris Nuage starts fading late, that the J. Herbin grey will remain in my kit but the Ambre de Birmanie, beautiful as it may be, could be ephemeral. Pity

Image

Photo: After seven weeks in an eastern window in Ireland, not exactly a stiff test, the Noodler's Bulletproof Black, used as a control, is unaffected, the J. Herbin Gris Nuage is so little affected as to be hardly noticeable, and the J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie is affected enough to give an artist serious pause for thought. The latter finding is contrary to at least one report elsewhere that the Ambre de Birmanie has good lightfastness.

I am eminently satisfied with the Noodler's Bulletproof Black and would dearly love to investigate its sister inks, but the cost is off-putting, especially since in the main I work in watercolours rather than inks, and any bottle of ink I don't fall in love with in my hands will be largely wasted. But after running out of luck with Herbin's Ambre de Birmanie, I might have to bite the bullet with other Noodler's colours.
Last edited by Andre Jute on Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby RajeshS » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:54 am

Thank you - Andre

I almost feel guilty - for you having to type such a long reply to my request :oops:

Thank you.

I checked their web site and they are premium inks

I am interested in the gray Gris Nuage - they don’t specifically say water proof – but I will go with your assessment and I think it will be a color I will like. I do hope like you said – the gray is at least as waterproof as the Noodlers.

I just hope the cost is reasonable for me to get

I live in India, Andre. The Noodler ink - I imported over eBay. The price of a product feels even more dearer in India. But even so I ordered the Noodlers and am happy with it. I love this sketching thing and then you just have to assume the price as a “part of the hobby”.

So I think I’ve made up my mind and will try to order it somehow or have someone get it when they are in the US.

Ireland is a beautiful country  I lived in the UK for a little less than a year and saw a bit of it. How lucky you are to be living there and in the country side!

Biking and sketching in the country side must feel like Heaven 

By-the-way – my range - I spend from about couple of minutes to about an hour or 1.5 max., on my sketches. I think I’ll be fine

but an image in my sketchbook that everyone pauses over
– The sketch must look beautiful!

Once again - thanks. rajesh
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby Andre Jute » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:11 am

RajeshS wrote:I am interested in the gray Gris Nuage


You've chosen what now appears the best of the pair of J. Herbin inks I have. Because of your interest, we compared the exposed lightfastness test sheet to the control sheet, kept in the dark, and discovered that the Gris Nuage is more than decently lightfast, as I expected, but the Ambre de Birmanie is not, which is contrary to expectations raised by another test by a reliable party. My message above has been edited to report our latest findings. See the photograph in the post above.

The discrepancy between the earlier test and mine can probably be traced to the fungus attack Herbin suffered and fixed a few years ago; in the process they changed many of their formulations, and it seems likely that the fellow whose results I was quoting about the Ambre de Birmanie was testing an earlier formulation, perhaps made with more lightfast dyes.

RajeshS wrote:Gris Nuage - they don’t specifically say water proof – but I will go with your assessment and I think it will be a color I will like. I do hope like you said – the gray is at least as waterproof as the Noodlers.


The same photograph above actually demonstrates that the Gris Nuage is more water resistant than the Noodler's BPB. Check the panel below the hatching, into which I attempted to draw some of the ink in the hatching with a water brush very shortly after drawing the hatching. The Noodler's caused more of a stain than the Gris Nuage.

RajeshS wrote:Thank you - Andre
So I think I’ve made up my mind and will try to order it somehow or have someone get it when they are in the US.


I chose Bureau Direct because they have the best prices, the fastest service, really good packing (important for glass bottles of ink!) and the lowest postage. Two bottles of ink, presumably including the sturdy cardboard box they sent, fell into the 201-300gr bracket on their delivery cost table.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby RajeshS » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:58 am

Thank you once again Andre. I did a little research on the net on Gris Nuage about it being waterproof - not many people talked about it - so I am glad you tested it for me!

The bottle is about $10 - so probably 3 times the price of Noodlers Gray ( which comes in 3 oz!) - so I really wanted to be sure before deciding to buy.

Now the other thing is between making up my mind to try AND actually getting the ink - there could be few to several months passing :) I will most likely order it over Amazon.com - ship it to a friend or family in the US and when they come visit India - I'll get the ink :)

Thanks once again

rajesh
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby mdmattin » Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:09 am

Andre, thanks for the in-depth studies of the inks. I'm only beginning to realize how large the world of ink is, and how many factors there are to consider in selecting one. The perfect gray seems to be the holy grail - I know I haven't found it, but now I have some new options.
Are you familiar with Bruce McEvoy's Handprint site for watercolors (among other subjects)? Your exhaustive approach to evaluating materials reminds me of his.
Rebecca, who posts here when not too busy, has some great ink insights and recommendations.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby mike » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:24 pm

Is it just me ? but one thing that is never discussed in Ink reviews is resistance to erasure !
Now I know colour, light fastness ,waterproofness come first but I usually like to include a few layout lines ,say the lines depicting a roads' edges, the horizon, hedge tops & top & bottom of trees.
Now when the drawing is finished it is time to rub them out , fountain pen inks vary greatly in their ability to withstand this treatment, some inks, whilst excellent in all departments fail miserably in this last hurdle & others whilst pretty poor overall, cling to the papers' surface like super glue.
For me it's a deal breaker ,if the ink line is significantly eroded under the merciless eye of the overhead scanner then it's no good.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby Andre Jute » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:25 pm

McEvoy and I are both out of the reprographics trades, me on the creative end of a very large subject, McEvoy on the scientific end, both of us into applied practicalities, McEvoy in printing, me in advertising and design. Discovering McEvoy via Russ's site was like coming home.

The first thing to understand about inks, I think, is that with very, very few exceptions , they aren't lightfast by the standards of the paints we use, whether oil or watercolor. Dyes just don't have the permanence of pigments. All the same, I'm enjoying my pens and fude brushes so much, I'm not giving them up; I'll just limit my inks to those with the best lightfastness first, before choosing among the other qualities.

About the holy grail of the best grey, I have the J. Herbin Gris Nuage and a little bottle of Noodler's Black diluted to grey by water with which I'm experimenting. We'll see when I get around to drawing, rather than just doodling, with them which works best. Just looking at them, and at representations of Noodler's Lexington Gray on the net, and a few others fancied by this artist or that, and putting them all up on a screen to put them on the same basis, the Gris Nuage seems to be the most neutral grey, neither blue nor red. On paper it is the same colour as a good lead or graphite pencil but without the shininess.
Last edited by Andre Jute on Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby e.larsen » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:06 am

Andre,

Thanks for the introduction to J. Herbin's Gris Nuage. It might be the missing link to bend me towards 19th C. Barbizon style. might.
my sketching blog is at: http://www.etagelarsen.com/blog/
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby Andre Jute » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:55 am

I intend eventually to make a netsite or a blog or something, but for the moment I'm ferociously busy. so must of the sketches I send are illustrations to points I make in text posts, or responses to requests. Here, for instance, are a couple of sketches making a point about your choice of orange watercolour pigment:

RajeshS wrote:So I miss that orange sometimes - I'll remember that if I decided to ever order that tube


I like the Winsor Orange (Red Shade), which is pyrrole, PO 73, because it's a cleaner colour than the Cadmium Orange which, in the Winsor & Newton line at least, is a mix of PY35 and PR 108. (Not that I have anything against convenience colours, as long as they're lightfast: I live in Ireland, where both Hooker's & Sap Green are good to have in the paintbox, and Payne's Grey would be missed for the skies if removed.)

Image

Here I'm making up a palette by the tartan painted on the sketchbook, the cadmium orange on the left in the Altoids tin, the pyrrole orange on the right in the bronze box. That's natural daylight but inside. It's a pity the photo doesn't show the small mint tin above the W&N Field Box, because that's the one in which I built a 6-colour palette after being reminded of my roots by Russ, see the notation top of the tartan showing how RGB and CMY fit together.

Image

The pyrrole top centre in the bronze paintbox, and on the page. The quality of the fluorescent light in the kitchen, where I did the painting while I edited a novel and ate a meal in the early hours, can be judged from the blue glow of the iPad screen.

Image

And in bright even daylight, overcast, near dusk. It's a bright colour.

Someone will no doubt let me know if my photos are so large as to be a burden on the bandwidth.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby Andre Jute » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:00 am

These flip-nib pens are called "signature pens" by the Chinese, and are understood to be a substitute for a real brush. Their justification is that they take less time and effort to learn to use than a proper brush with individual hairs, and don't lose face for an important executive as signing his name with a child's felt-tip or "learner's" version would do. Also, the fountain pen version can be suitably made into real jewelry.

Image

From the bottom:

-- Kuretake's famous "manga pen", the No22, with which one can imagine samurai signing their names; the whole of the back end of the pen is the cartridge; a favourite with me for laying down lush rich blacks, but not pocketable (the "pocket clip" is just a decoration without a slit behind it!)

-- Cartridge for the Platinum felt tip faux fude above it to remind me to check when I use it whether it is the good ink or some cheaper in-house imitation

-- Platinum's upmarket faux brush for rich students; looks and feels cheaper in real life than the photograph; cost 14 euro landed here which is too much

-- The next best thing to a yatate, Kuretake's No 13 fountain pen brush

-- Wing Sung 841 "Water drop nib" fountain pen, the gold one; this is like a cross between a narrower version of the tubular Triumph nib and the Falcon nib, but not all that flexible; it makes a very thin line right side up and a very fat one upside down and angled, when it becomes a bit flexible, but the line upside down is wildly uncontrollable; the horned Ambre de Birmanie sketch I published the other day was made with this pen; I use it for laying down a small wash for which I would otherwise use a brush; but it suits my serendipidy style of making art well enough, though I imagine it would send control freaks up the wall with frustration and rage

-- Here 753A flip nib faux rude or "signature pen"; I bought it because the "Eight running horses" from the Six Drunken Poets of the Tang Dynasty which decorates it is also engraved on the outside of my bronze pocket paintbox; a superior flip nib pen

-- Hero 392 flip nib, the first one I bought, an adequate pen that most people who have only one of these will probably consider great; I keep it in the loop of a small Derwent sketch book 130x90mm (like a landscape version of the wretchedly formatted Moleskine watercolour sketch book) and have done some pleasing work with it sketching people who probably thought I was just writing in my notebook

Image

It's common for Americans to assume only Hero makes flip nibs, because American merchants, who are very good at sharing information, all aspire to be distributors for brands rather than purveyors of a wide choice of goods. Some superior flip nibs are made by Jinhao, and, I wouldn't be surprised, by others as well. From the bottom:

-- Jinhao X450, a very smooth but hefty pen

-- Jinhoa X450, same as above, just in a different decoration so I can keep different ink in it without confusion

-- Jinhoa X250, a smaller nib, extremely agreeable

-- cheap Icon brand calligraphy fountain pen, comes with three nib units of which the widest gives some variation in line by the angle of one's hand

-- Old Parker propelling pencil from the bottom of a drawer for when nervous folk who need erasable groundwork borrow my pens

-- Adonit Jot, a transparent cross-hair stylus for drawing on my iPhone and iPad with a greater degree of accuracy than the usual wretched rubber bulb which I find pretty much a hit and miss affair

These six Chinese pens, the two Hero, the three Jinhao, the Wing Sung, together cost about as much as one Sailor Profit flip nib landed here in Ireland. I'm sure the Sailor is very fine, but wondered about wasting the money if on arrival I didn't like the style of pen. I found that once I had one of the cheap Chinese ones to try (Hero 392), these pens became a near addiction. I routinely carry only two tools with me, besides a sketch book and a tiny bronze paintbox: a large size cheap water brush (Aqua Flow, the one Royal and Langnickel sells in a set of three different sizes), and one of my flip nib pens.

On a scale of difficulty in learning to use a tool which puts a designer's straight hairline brush -- a tool only for the fecociously skilled and experienced -- at 10, learning to use a Kuretake manga brush No 22 well would be about 6, a Kuretake No 13 at 5, and a flip nib pen at 3. That's almost down there with the water-soluble pencils! It seems safe to recommend at least the cheap Chinese flip nibs. Even the Sailor now seems a pretty obvious choice to me, after trying the Chinese flip nibs.
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Re: Sketches from Andre

Postby Andre Jute » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:31 am

mike wrote:Very interesting Andre, looks like you've got plenty of experience of these strange fude pens. (I love the artwork on some of these far eastern pens.)
Have you any insights into their use/ manipulation to get varied width lines ?
I understand that it comes primarily from the angle you hold it to the paper, I find it more controllable to rotate the pen but I find it far from ideal.
Do you have any work around that might demonstrate its' potential ?
Finally, I have the number for pen collectors anonymous should you feel the need !
Cheers Mike


Those flip nib pens are simple, and easy to learn. I imagine it is just a matter of practising with a new tool; they jump to my hand. They work on both sides, upside down for the thinnest line. The brush fountain pens (fude) are much more difficult. The water drop pen in the collection above is the other way round, making a thin scratchy line right way up, and a broad swathe of ink upside down and angled over. But so far I've only made one or two sketches with each of my pens and brushes. I don't have time to photograph and edit them all now but eventually they'll all appear here.

Even with so little experience, there is no doubt in my mind that the flip nib pen is superior to any "Western" notion of a "flex nib", which strikes me as a bodge that the Japanese and the Chinese have solved much more elegantly with the flip nib. Mind you, that said, there's also no doubt in my mind that a brush in the hands of practised draughtsman is superior again to the flip nib pen, if riskier. There's an image on the cover of one of my books that I did in the year dot with a manga brush, possibly the Kuretake No22, which I picked up off a designer's desk and started using, my first time with the "manga"; the image has been processed a bit over the decades but you can still get a feel for the spontaneity possible with a brush that you don't get with a pen; see http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BGT4N7K/ref ... le_ext_tmb and click on the teeny image of the cover under the main cover to get the cover blown up so you can see what I'm talking about. The sketch below of the running waitress is recent, from the last couple of months.

Image

This is a recreation of a race run in Cork between waitresses in the long ago and far away, used as a symbol for one of my favourite restaurants. See http://coolmainpress.com/andrejutefoodl ... t2012.html. There were more waitresses on the sketch when I finished. The tools used were the Kuretake No 13 fountain pen brush for the outline, the large Manga Kuretake No 22 for the big blocks of black, and a Jinhao X450 pen for the grey lines and shading. The grey ink was Noodler's BPB diluted with tap water when I started, but I didn't like the brown tone to it and worked it over with the more neutral J. Herbin Gris Nuage. Despite a couple of mechanical pencils in the cases on the left of the image edging onto the drawing, I didn't make an outline but just started work with the brush directly to final art. The paper is Arches 300gsm in a sketchbook I made with various papers I wanted to try; the reusable leather cover of my homemade sketchbook is by the Sino-Irish designer John Rocha. The yellow card seen opposite the white Arches paper is from a cheap pad sold by the German supermarket Lidl, and riotously successful. The pencil cases are cigar cases from thirty years ago being recycled.
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