Hey there, fountain pen friends. Whitney here. This week, I’ve paired the Karas Kustoms Fountain K in Violet Aluminum with Noodler’s General of the Armies, a quick to dry, color changing ink. Read on to hear more of my experiences with this pen and ink and how I came about drawing this piece.
I found a well-known stanza from Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and thought it might be fun to do a piece around that. The passage goes:
“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
This poem, and this particular morsel of it, paint an image of being alone in snow-covered woods at night in the midst of some sort of a long journey. I love the simplicity of the poem but the potential for it to be interpreted as calming, reflective, mysterious, or even eerie. I also love the woods, so it’s kind of as simple as that. I thought a misty forest would be a great way to showcase the nature of the ink and it seems to have done a decent job here.
To begin, I wrote out the quote so I’d know generally how to make the illustration. I was excited to see how permanent the ink was and how quickly it dried. I used a wash over the entire quote and it didn’t budge as I filled the trees in and around it. The downside to that is the speed at which I had to work with blending. I had originally drawn the outline of two trees with the Karas Kustoms fountain pen. Once I realized how permanent the ink was, I didn’t like using the pen to make contours because I couldn’t blend them into the body of the tree. I let them still exist, but filled in the rest of the trees using a water brush. As soon as I put a stroke down, it would begin to dry. There was definitely a learning curve associated with using this ink. I learned to allow things to dry and then I would add more concentrated colors on top to create layers in the illustration.
The ink has a beautiful range of color throughout the gradient of washes. It starts a dark teal and washes out to what looks like a more muted blue. The mixture of blue and green inks is all dependent on how they’re settled in the bottle as well. If I didn’t shake the bottle as I worked, my strokes would come out more of a forest green. I honestly enjoyed the variation. I finished off by going over the quote again. The only thing I could think to change about this piece is the contouring of the trees I did with the pen, because of the permanence. I also need to be more aware of the paper. After I did all of the washes then tried to go back over the quote, I messed the paper up a bit. Bummer.
The pen was nice. I have been using Pilot and Lamy Fine and Extra Fine nibs mostly so I’m used to a very thin line. The Bock nib on the Karas Kustoms wasn’t quite as fine so that took some getting used to for me. The color of the pen wasn’t my favorite, I’m not much of a purple person. I can see how others would love it, though. The ink, however, I loved so much! I am considering getting a bottle for myself, which is big news because I’ve never bought a whole bottle of ink before. The biggest downside was how full the bottle was. Noodler’s definitely gets as much as they can in there, so opening the bottle the first few times can be a little messy. It’s a very nice muted navy on skin, though, so if you have to sport inky fingers, at least they will be pretty!
This pen and ink combo would be good for anything because of how fast it dries. It would be excellent for note-taking of any kind. It appears a dark greenish color as a writer. It is also beautiful in a wash, so it could still be nice for artistic endeavors.
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