Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peek a boo: Tree Swallow

Normally I post sketches drawn right in the field, or at least out my window; but I decided to post this right away, partly to say 'thank you' to Kate (Cathy Johnson). I have a new fountain pen ... and Kate gets credit for my finally taking the plunge and ordering the pen of my dreams. I commented recently of the lovely lines in a simple tree she drew. She reminded me that a flexible nib makes all the difference. She has written some very helpful posts on the subject.

This little tree swallow is drawn from a photo we took in the Klamath Basin, Calif a spring or two ago. The birds were incubating. I watched from a distance for over an hour and was amazed at how often they changed places with each other. I assume they need to frequently take turns in oder to catch enough insects to keep their own reserves up ... or maybe they are just nervous Nellies. I know the babies hadn't hatched because no food was going in and no little poop sacs were coming out.

Drawn with a Pelikan xxxF nib customised for full flex by Richard Binder ( and Platinum Carbon ink. The pen is a joy! It takes a light touch to draw with. I tried a Noodler's flex pen first, but it seemed so stiff after working with good dip pens. A Gillott 290 dip nib behaves very much like this pen but the Gillott has a tad finer line and requires an open bottle of ink -- not handy for field sketching, but a whole lot cheaper!

For more about my pen saga, go to my blog:


  1. Oh dear...another pen to want! What a wonderful sketch, Elva...

  2. Great sketch!

    Congratulations on the new pen, it really suits your line work. No matter the cost, I like to think that life's too short for cheap pens (and bad wine).

    I've also come to realize that Platinum Carbon ink is akin to liquid magic.

  3. Beautiful drawing Elva. You definitely have the right touch with that new pen.

  4. Ah, pens. Happy days! This is an adorable sketch with some lovely textures.


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