It’s been a few months since I checked in with you fine folks about my continued journey with art. So far this year I’ve used both watercolors and dip ink pens for the first time in decades. This felt good, and I kept on experimenting with those dip pens.
But it’s been quite the drought since then. I’ve sporadically added to my journal comics series, finished a few comics to fill out NEW OLD STOCK 650A, and created a watercolor postcard for my fall events. That’s about it.
I dutifully bring my watercolor kit with me when I travel, the idea being I create some watercolor postcards to send to folks. But the only time I managed that recently was during the San Juans Tour in August. While the kit is pretty small, it’s not small-small. It’s a bit of space to dedicate on something like a bicycle tour, especially if I don’t use it. Perhaps I’ll figure out a way to shrink down the kit a bit. But really, I just need to use it more. It’s tough, as I like to dedicate at least an hour, if not two or three, to painting. Sometimes the days are tight, but I should figure out a way to make time.
I haven’t picked up much in the way of new art gear, save for one item: A Pentel Tradio pen. I’ve been looking for a good pen with a variable line width for my travel sketch kit. A pen where I can make thin and thick lines means I can bring less pens. I thought I found the answer with the Noodler’s Konrad fountain pen, which does make a nice line. But it’s a bit leaky. Not super-leaky, but ink from the nib will inevitably get in the cap, and when you post said cap, the ink goes on the tip of the pen. Nothing a little paper towel won’t take care of, but still annoying. As it is, I always keep the Konrad in a zip-lock baggie when I travel with it.
The Tradio is a way to get around that. It’s actually a felt-tip pen, but one where you can vary line width via the amount of pressure applied. And it uses replaceable cartridges vs. the ink reservoir of the Konrad. While I get why people like pens with reservoirs, I don’t want to carry a bottle of ink with me when I travel. And if I did, I’d just use a dip pen anyway. The feel of the Tradio isn’t as nice as the Konrad, as a felt-tip isn’t as nice as a fountain tip. And the ink is not waterproof. These are all trade-offs I can live with, for now.
And we are now only a few days away from the annual Inktober Challenge. I first participated in 2019, drawing in my journal comic every day. It was a lot of fun. I was psyched about participating in 2020, but after hearing about some controversies with the founder, 1 I kept on doing the challenge but didn’t call it that. Last year after talking with Saskatoon-based cartoonist Tim Brown, we came upon the name Bikeartober to call what we’re doing. While our art doesn’t always revolve around bicycles, we do like to cycle, so that’s what I’m calling it from here on out.
I’m sure I will be cycling to spots to draw during this Bikeartober. The Coffeeneuring Challenge starts on October 7, so I hope to incorporate Bikeartober into it. One thing I’m really looking forward to is being able to actually draw in coffee shops again. This is something I loved doing pre-pandemic. I know COVID is far from over, but I feel more comfortable sitting inside again, plus many coffee shops that closed their indoor seating during the crisis have finally opened up fully.
In any case, this year I really hope to draw every day during October, no matter what it takes. I did do that during my first Inktober in 2019, but I missed about a week each following challenge. (The last time I did a solid month of journal comics was January 2022.) After this drought in art, I need to kick my ass in gear. I hope this is what will do it!
1 When googling “Inktober Controversy”, there hasn’t been anything mentioned since 2020. Still, I’m sticking with the spirit of the event, but not the name.