Thursday, September 23, 2021

T&T Thursday!

Fountain Pen Anatomy 

By Alex Zonis

Sketch by Alex Zonis

Fountain pens in Urban Sketching have become all the rage. Pen geeks huddle together at sketchmeets, show off their treasures and talk nerdy talk about “tines”, “feeds”,“converters” and other incomprehensible things that have meaning only to them. It is time to stop this and share the pen terminology with all.

Fountain pen is a complex tool with some ingenious engineering under the outer covers.

It consists of many components that come together to deliver ink to paper in a controlled fashion.

Here’s a look under the hood so to speak.

The most important part of the pen is of course the nib. The nib is world onto itself, they come in many varieties, materials, sizes and configurations, but all have common components.

Just a couple important points about the fountain pen nibs:

  • There are several shapes of the tips that make significant difference in marks making. Tips can be round or flat, as in stubs and italics. Tips can also be bent, also known as Fude, for Chinese style calligraphy marks.
  • Nibs come in different widths: EF, F, M, B, BB, 1.1mm, 1.5mm and others.
  • They come in different softness: hard, soft or Flex.
  • The most common materials for the nib are steel and gold, but other metals can be used for nibs as well.

The combinations of these characteristics can create a nib for every hand, style and technique.

The nib by itself would not be worth much if the pen didn’t have a system to deliver ink to the tipping point where the nib meets the paper. 

These are the parts of ink delivery system:

And there we have it – 

the fountain pen anatomy that makes a timeless tool for writing, drawing, sketching and admiring.

Learn Tips and Tricks here every second and third Thursday of the month!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

T&T Thursday! The Big and Little Picture

Notice What You See

By Barbara Weeks

Fall is just around the bend. Have you noticed the leaves are slowly starting to change? Do you see anything else that tells you Fall is on its way? A yellow leaf in a puddle? A backpack ready for school?

As Urban Sketchers we sketch the world we live in and visit. We sketch from direct observation whether from our cars, our homes, outside or inside. We tend to sketch the “big picture.” Often there is a small something we notice that doesn’t show up in the main sketch or painting.

Artists whose works are reproduced as prints sometimes add a small hand-done sketch in the margin of the print. It’s called a remarqueIt makes the print unique. I like do that too! (Well sort of.) Sometimes I add my version of a remarque to the page, that little something that caught my eye.  

Try it! Add a small sketch, something that caught your eye. You'll be glad you did! When you look back on your sketchbook page you’ll smile at what you see (and remember!)

Try it and post your sketches to on Facebook !   I'd love to see what you noticed. #T&T

BTW: If you would like to polish your noticing skills I highly recommend The Art of Noticing  by Rob Walker. This isn’t an art instruction book. It’s a book that sparks creativity, vision, and fun. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Come and Sketch with Us!


Sketch by Barbara Weeks  

Let's Sketch

Lincoln Park Zoo

Sunday, September 19

12 PM - 3 PM

Hosted by

Let’s take advantage of the weather before the summer ends and sketch at the Lincoln Park Zoo. 

There are so many Animals (those living in the habitats and those walking around them) and Gardens to see. 

The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the last free zoos in America, providing access to hundreds of animals and surrounded by amazing views of Chicago architecture. And should it rain, we can always sketch in the interior animal houses throughout the zoo.


We will meet at the north end of the Nature Boardwalk, just south of the entrance to the zoo, near The Patio Café.

There is both street parking (if you are lucky) and a parking lot at the south end of Lincoln Park.

There are also the 22, 36 and 151 buses that stop nearby on the weekend.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021


September Sketching Prompts

  • September 5    Back to School                              
  • September 12  – Intersections
  • September 19  – Light and Shadow

  • September 26  – Everyday still life (those things that pile up on counters and tabletops)

Prompts by Gail Dokucu

Sketch by Rachel Pasch Grossman

Have fun!