Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tool Report: Pilot Razor Point Pen

The Pilot Razor Point pen is one of my most useful sketch tools. I recommended it to a few folks in the last few days and so I thought it might warrant a new, more thorough review. Hence this tool report.
First, a more precise description: The Pilot Razor Point "Marker Pen" is one of those cheap plastic pens that you can find in any office supply store. There are a few different colors, with different colored inks loaded. The one reviewed here is the black ink version. It has a hard fine 0.3mm fiber tip. The black ink version has a grey plastic sparkly body with silver lettering. It has a little yellow button on the end of the cap. Alerts have circulated among artist devotees, on and off for a few years, that Pilot may discontinue making it, but these alerts have -- so far! -- been false alarms. It remains on Pilot's product list.

I was first introduced to the Pilot Razor Point as a sketching tool many years ago by Kath Macaulay, during a "Pocket Sketching" workshop she taught, and continues to teach, at the Sedona Arts Center, in Arizona. I was tickled with how nicely the water-soluble ink washes! And the wash color is a cool neutral grey with no surprising hidden color components. Recently purchased versions of the Pilot Razor Point perform as well as the first ones I tried years ago.

USE: I have these pens all over the place! I keep one of these pens in each sketch kit that I have, one in each pocket of each bag that I carry, and one in the rear zip pocket of my Midori Travelers notebook. I use this pen on the bouncing bus or any place where might be danger to nicer pens.

A compact waterbrush + the Pilot Razor Point pen = a complete sketch kit!

 ---> Inexpensive! If you lose it, damage it, or drop it on the floor of the bus and it rolls away, replacement is not a burden.
 ---> Contains a cool tone black water-soluble ink, that can be washed into nice shading effects.
 ---> Light weight and portable.

 ---> Disposable, so not very eco-responsible.
 ---> Lightfastness of the ink is not great. Test results here. Recommended for use inside sketchbooks. Not for pieces to be framed and hung.
 ---> Runs and bleeds when used with watercolors. Depending on your aesthetic, this can also be quite delightful.

 -- Twelve-minute How-To video by Kath Macaulay is here.


Example: In Strathmore's 'Visual Journal' (90lb mixed-media paper), with a little Caran d'Ache Supracolor 'Burnt Sienna' watercolor pencil:


Example: On Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper:


Example: On Rives BFK "Tan" paper, with a little Caran d'Ache Supracolor 'White' and 'Burnt Sienna' watercolor pencil:

Friday, June 29, 2012


I had forgotten that visitors are not permitted to wear a backpack in full 2-strap backpack position at NGA. (It can only we worn slung over one shoulder.) I very much enjoyed my visit, but balancing the backpack on one shoulder while sketching was a little awkward.

And so I came home to re-pack my current lightest-weight kit in a shoulder bag that I could wear across my chest, messenger bag style.

I got out the Maxpedition Neatfreak Organizer and slid the Midori into one of the large pockets. The un-zipped and open Cubix Round Zip Pen Case fits into the opposite big pocket. (I was happy not to have to unpack it.) Both the Midori and the Cubix fit with room to spare!

And I can reach all of the tools down in the Cubix with the top part of the wraparound zipper of the Maxpedition open and the bag hanging across my chest. Huzzah! No more juggling!

As you can see, there are a wealth of other pockets available for use. In the interests of weight, I left them empty. (Such self-control!)

Now all I need is the temperature to drop below 100º so I can go back, ummm, outside.


Do this: Buy the Derwent Academy Watercolor Pan Set for ten bucks, throw away the plastic insert holding all the cheap Derwent paint (or give it to a handy child), and fill the empty box with good quality paint in pans, using magnets. The Derwent box is thinner and lighter than my medium sized three-fold travel palette and it has almost as much mixing space in the lid. And it holds more pans. It is a little flimsy, so more testing is in order.
I got the Kuretake No. 13 Fountain Hair Brush the other day. Nice!  I filled it (using a converter) with J. Herbin Perle Noire ink, which is a lush black. I intend to practice more with this brush pen.
This is a great logo for a Clown Question t-shirt. I love the geeky little maple leaf hat on the clown. Excellent.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Light vs. Shadow

A visit to the NGA and some experiments with using dry pencil to catch light and shadow on tinted paper.

With Signor Condottiere Astorgio Manfredi, I wanted to take the stern look home.

And looking up at Madam Monet, the Woman with a Parasol, I can feel the wind and hear the sound of petticoats rustling.

It was a nice not-too-hot day, but the museum was eerily empty, despite this being the busy season. In any event, I couldn't find Girl with the Red Hat, so I have to go back tomorrow.

I did go and say hello to that ole scamp of a trollop Ginevra. And I paid my respects to Mr. Turner's sunny and watery Mortlake Terrace. Which may look familiar to some of you . . .

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Corrugated Persica

Imaginary fruit. About 5" x 3", gouache and watercolor pencils on Twinrocker 'Simon's Green' paper.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spanish Patio, Italian Sculpture

NYC, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gallery 534, Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco


Make a Signature / updated 13July2012

So I don't lose these excellent links:
 -- Booklyn Artists Alliance: The Pamphlet Stitch Instruction Sheet (PDF)
 -- TJBookarts: How to Make a Pamphlet Book (video)
 -- Comfortableshoesstudio: Make a Pocket Notebook or Journal with the Figure 8 Stitch (video)
 -- Lisa Conrad's Pamphlet Book Template (diagrams; illustration here is from Lisa Conrad's webpage)
 -- MUCH more complicated, using the Coptic stitch:  --  Midori Travelers Journal Watercolor Refill Tutorial, from

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer = Peaches

Paul Cézanne, Quatre pêches sur une assiette (c. 1890-1894); Barnes Foundation.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Buh bye, Bahston. Hello, World.

Boz says so.

"When it was over, they’d given the Red Sox their first interleague sweep in 10 years."

Yes, I admit: I am a shameless, unblushing Bandwagoneer.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Greetings from Home

Taking time to be a tourist in my own town. New eyes, new ears, new angles.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Blue Street

It looks better larger. Click on it to see the larger.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Dreaming past the weekend.