What You'll Find Here

I post daily (photos of my journal pages, things that inspire me and personal bits and pieces) to inspire and encourage others. I have always believed that if I can do it, so can you.

You'll find resources (my favorite supplies, books, slideshows of my art journal pages, favorite bloggers, etc...) listed along the right hand side of my blog.

I've been teaching both in person and online workshops for over seventeen years now. You can find out more about my classes by scrolling down along the right hand side of my blog. I strive to make classes accessible to everyone (both beginner to advanced).

I love teaching and truly believe that deep down inside everyone is an artist, capable of creating something. There is power and knowledge in the act of creating something with your own hands, made from your own heart and head.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at EGorey99@sbcglobal.net

Thanks for stopping by!

-Kelly

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My pen list




Oh, how I love my pens. Here's a little blurb I wrote about my favorite pens-you know, the ones that work and really write on acrylic paint and what not...

Just so you know, my first criteria in using anything in a class is that I must *buy* it for myself. I must buy it, try it and LOVE it.

Another criteria for a pen to be "good" for me is that it *must* write on (obviously, dried) acrylic paint without skipping, jumping or getting all gunked up!

My final criteria for a pen to be "good" is that it's non toxic or doesn't have an odor to it. I can NOT use a pen that smells in any way. Regular sharpies-NO! (Besides they leave a halo effect on your pages over time). Anything oil based-NO! Anything with xylene-NO! Anything with a bad, scary warning label-NO! I might sound like a pain in the ass, but really, it's what works for me. My boy only has one kidney and I'd like to keep both of mine in case he needs one-or both ;)-one day.

You should also know that I work for ME. I am not sponsored nor do I represent ANY company. I buy my pens from a variety of sources-

the stores I teach at-see the links to the right of this page...all of those stores carry at least some of my favorite pens. I know that Debbie at Frenzy Stamper has LOTS of the water based sharpie poster paint pens in stock and she also carries the best selection of sakura pens. Yes, she will mail order.

When I want a pen fix, I go to Jetpens. They are one of my most favorite places on the planet to buy pens. I LOVE them. They have free shipping over $25 and they are FAST. Seriously. I LOVE this company. It's a small mom and pop company, too-yay for mom and pops! Get on their email list, too. I LOVEEEEEEEEEE their pens. They're the ones who sold me my some of my pen cases that I LOVE...you know the kind that hold a shitload of pens.

Some Tips for Working with Pens and Markers (added 21 May 2014):

1. Make sure that your surface is completely dry if you're using acrylics or acrylic mediums.

2. If using watercolors or watercolor crayons, go over the surface (when you are finished and everything is dry) with a thin coat of gloss medium to seal the watercolors and give it a surface that has some tooth. Keep the application thin and you may have to work in small sections so that the watercolors don't mush around.

3. Keep an even hand. I've noticed that a LOT of folks are heavy handed with their pens. The ink should flow from the pens. 

4. Keep a piece of scrap paper that is uncoated nearby so you can test your pens on it.

5. Test your pens on similar color/kind of paper before you use it on your artwork that way you can see if the color is what you want and if it does what you want. 

6. Keep your pens capped and stored flat when not in use.

7. If you are using a paint marker, shake (always with the cap on) the pen and pump the tip up and down on scrap paper to get the ink flowing.

8. Keep the pens in a cool, dry place (away from heat or anything that will dry them out.)

Soooo in no particular order, here are my favorite pens:

Gelly Roll Glaze and the Gelly Roll Souffle Pens both from Sakura-

Glaze pens
Souffle pens

All gel pens are NOT alike! The Sakura Gelly Roll Glaze and Souffle are the *only* gel pens that I have found to work 100% and NOT skip. I go through the black and the white pens though a lot (I use them a lot though!!)

The difference between the Glaze and the Souffle is the glaze are a "gloss" finish. The souffle are a "matte" finish. They write on most surfaces (including glass, but I don't care about that, I just want to use them in my journals!) The Souffle will write and actually show up on virtually any background-I love them. Keep in mind though, with all of the pens, how they "look" on a page, depends on the background color and the pen color you are using. That means if you are using a red pen on a red (or pink or orange) background, the color will not pop or be as vibrant as if you were using a green pen, for example...

Another thing you need to know, the Glaze pens-there is a white pen and a clear pen. The clear pen is a "resist" pen -think of it like invisible ink, write with it, let it dry and then use a brush marker over it, voila! The white pen is a real white pen (the following is true for both the Glaze version and the Souffle version): it will write clear but dry white! It is a REAL white pen. It is the BEST white pen on the market, IMO. It's $2 of easy love.

Also another plus, you can paint over these pens! YAY!! They are permanent.

One thing: the slower you write the more "raised or embossed" the pens become. You have to write reallllly slow for them to be really embossed. I don't care about this feature of the pens. I just love the pens!!

The only thing I don't like about the pens: they don't label the damn pens. To find out which of the pens is clear vs. white, I have to hold the pens side by side to figure out that the cap that is the most opaque is the real white pen.

The other thing that I don't like about the pens: there aren't any new colors. C'mon, it's January 2010 (I was told that there's a rumor afloat that there may be 3 new colors debuting at CHA this year. Three? Ok, I'll be happy if it's true, but three? Really? With the whole line of COLOR in the Sakura pens and products only three?). WHERE are the new pens?!?! I'll never forget asking one of the "suit men" at CHA a couple of years ago if they were coming out with new colors. He looked at me strangely and said "Aren't the 20-something colors we have enough?" Um. Are you frickin' serious? No. Come on. Get off your lazy ass and come out with some new colors. NOW.
please.

CONFIRMED 1/14/10: Sakura IS coming out with TWO new colors!!! Woot Woot!
They will debut at CHA this January!

I *LOVE* these pens. If you only buy one kind of pen, I would strongly suggest either of the glaze or Souffle! I've used other Sakura pens and other gel pens but they are not the same as the Glaze and Souffle. Trust me on this one.

Update September 2013: BIG TIP: Like most gel pens, the ink should flow from the pen. A few people have had problems with these pens. I've noticed that the majority of folks who have problems with the pens are pushing too hard when they write. Write normal and let the ink flow from the pen. Make sure they're capped and stored flat when you're done.
Uniball Signo white gel pen- I started using these several years ago when they first came to the U.S. I loved how vibrant and crisp the pens were and cheap, too. About $2 a pen. I recommended them to everyone I came across. They were a great pen. The bad thing is: they dry out/run out very very quickly. Also, they are NOT permanent. Once Sakura came out with white pens in the glaze and souffle, I tend to lean towards those instead.

Update as of September 2013: I'm not using these pens as much as I used to. I've noticed that even after an extensive drying time, they are leaving white marks on the pages that are next to them. If you do buy them, make sure that you buy the Japanese version and NOT the America version as the American version tends to dry out very quickly (often times after just a few uses) vs. the Japanese pen which lasts until there's nothing left in the pen.

Uniball Signo DX 151-I LOVE this pen. It's tiny tiny tiny. I love it for tiny writing. Waterproof, too! It doesn't always work well on acrylic paint. 

Update: September 2013: Another pen that I'm not using as much. When I want a black pen, I reach for my .35 Rapidosketch. I can do wonders with it. 

Uniball Signo Broad UM 153 Black-Unlike the white uniball signo, this one doesn't tend to skip as much. The ink flows from the tip. Not permanent but if you want something that writes smoothly on paper, this is a good choice.

Update: September 2013: Another pen that I'm not using as much. When I want a black pen, I reach for my .35 Rapidosketch. I can do wonders with it. 


Sharpie Poster Paint Pen (waterbased)- I love these pens. LOVE them. They are cheap too. They run about $3 each. They come in several different "nib" sizes. The only nib size I do NOT like is the one that looks like a big, fat bingo marker and costs about $7. That is the only one I do NOT like.
I LOVE the extra fine pen. I Love all of the different tip size options. I love the colors-oh wow, wow WOW. My favorites are the Black, White and Flourescent pink. I have them in every color but those are the colors I use the most. I wish they'd make one in Paynes grey...

One thing, if you buy them, make sure you get the WATERBASED and NOT the oil based. I don't like using anything oil based. Nope, not for me at all.
Another great thing, unlike most sharpies, these don't smell!!!

When you first buy them, put them upright, and press down once on the nib. It's called "burping the pen". It will help with the air that is inside the pen and makes them last longer. Then shake and pump the pen like the directions say...If you have problems writing with the pens and the ink isn't as intense as it was when you first used the pen, make sure you shake and pump the pen!

I loveeeeeeee these pens. You do need to try the different tip sizes-they rock!!


Update 6/18/2010-The Poster Paint pens have been replaced by what are now being called PAINT pens. They are available in water based and oil based (personally, I do not like to use anything oil based). You can get them in different tip sizes and colors as well!


UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2013: Water based Sharpie paint markers are still available (phew!) I noticed the other day that the packaging is new. There are eighteen colors available in extra fine tips (including their new (6) glitter and pastel colors), three fine tip colors, eleven in medium tip and five in bold point (my least favorite of the group.) I love, love, love these pens as they will write on a variety of surfaces and unlike regular sharpies, they don't smell nor do they leave any kind of weird halo effects on my pages. Extra fine is my favorite tip!
Another substitute (same ink, similar tip, same Sanford company) is the Uni Posca Paint pen. I've only found one distributor for it in the U.S. so I've been keeping kind of quiet on the pen. They are readily available in the U.K.. In the U.S.-(see above note on Sharpie paint pens).
http://www.durablesupply.com/pospainmar.html




Update September 2013: Molotow One4All Water Based Paint Markers-I LOVE these markers! They come in a wide variety of colors (forty) and have tips that you can change out! I tend not to buy them in colors that I already have in water based Sharpie paint pen form (especially since I already have a lot of those.) I *love* their extra fine tip (available in black, white and as a replacement/interchangeable tip to the 2 mm pen case.) You can also buy refills for the pens! What's not to love? It truly is an excellent marker.



First up, the lattes and the sweets which are similar to the Sakura Glaze and Souffle pens. What I love about the Lattes and Sweets is the TIP. SKINNY. Also, the colors are different! I never leave home without at least one pack of these! Oh yes, the whites both write clear and dry white. The pens are also a matte finish. I LOVE these pens!!! LOVE! Finally, they do last a LONG time. I used my original set for several years before I had to buy replacement pens. Keep the pens on tight and stored flat when not in use. Keep them away from the heat, too.

Update on 12/9/2011 on the Sweets Pens. The Sweets have been discontinued but the Lattes are still available. More here.

Update on September 2013: It looks like the Lattes have also been discontinued. SNIFF. 






The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen-I love the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. You can write on dried paint with it (some times. It can be temperamental on paint. I'll write and then write over it on top 'til it comes out) and paper (obviously). I LOVE the brush pen. Expensive. Hard to find. But, I love it. Find it here.



Sakura Micron Pens-a huge favorite with illustrators. Again like the other pens, they come in nine million colors but I love BLACK. I do like these pens but the tiny nibs give me a hard time on acrylic paint so watch the nib sizes. I love how the pens are permanent, crisp and intense with color. I love how they are also waterproof that I can paint over them or use my Neo Art crayons on them. Watch the nib size though on acrylic paint...tiny nibs tend to skip and gunk up on the paint...the bigger the nib size the fewer problems you should have... 

Update: September 2013: Another pen that I'm not reaching for as much as I used to. 

Pitt Pens from Faber Castell- Black.
I have bought these in every color but I only really use the black. They are a nice crisp, permanent, vibrant black. My preferred tip is the "brush" pen. Love how you can paint over them once dry, too. They now come in a big fat size, too which is fun! It also comes in paynes grey-love!!!!


Update: September 2013: Faber Castell Pitt Pens recently came out with a Big Brush pen in WHITE. It's not a truly opaque white and it's only available in a bullet tip but it blends beautifully and adds that hint of white where you need it. I also tend not to use these a lot though I know a lot of folks who LOVE the Pitt Pens. I haven't been using them lately.


Zig writer and vellum pens-Zig makes a damn good pen. Their Vellum Pens are AWESOME. Not only permanent and waterproof but you can write on acrylic painted pages AND photographs! Yes, photos! AND they don't come off!! The writer and vellum pens come in nine million colors but BLACK is my favorite. I don't like a lot of the nibs other than the "writer" pens which are a bullet shape.


KOH-I-NOOR Rapido Sketch Pens-

****MY FAVORITE BLACK PEN OF ALL TIME.*****
These aren't anything new. These pens have been around for a long time. Out of all of the refillable pens on the market (that includes the Rotring pens which are fun to use-love those tips, but the ink isn't dark enough for my liking and I haven't experimented with it yet finding other cartridges for it), this one of is my most favorite. I love the black India ink that comes with the pen (yes, I have used other inks with the pen as well. I do prefer some inks over others and it mainly depends on the colors I want and the ink consistency). I own a few of these pens (including the Rapidograph pens) for the difference in tip sizes. The .35 is my favorite tip size. It's a fine, detailed line. I've been hesitant to recommend this pen here because of all of the maintenance that is recommended in taking care of the pens. Um. I'm lazy. I'm the first one to admit it. I've had this pen for months now and I haven't cleaned it. I use it almost daily. I've had to fill it a few times (easy to do-fill it about a third of the way, not all of the way!). I do keep the pen stored flat. There is a ton of information on the web about the care and upkeep of this pen (cleaning it often, being careful not to drop it, care of the tip, don't take the little wire out, etc...) that I'm not going to get into here. Google the pens and you'll find it. What I love about the pen though is the consistency of the line, the thin detail writing, sketching and drawing I can achieve with it. It doesn't skip and it hasn't failed me yet. I love using it with a good permanent, waterproof ink. If you use it filled with a good ink, you can write on dried acrylic paint with it! It's one of my favorite pens and I rarely leave home without it. Well worth the money. Look around because I've seen it in all price ranges from $25 to half the price.

Update: September 2013: Whenever I want a black pen, 99.9% of the time, I reach for my Rapidosketch pen. 

Updated and revised May 2014:
Some Tips on the Rapidosketch:
1. Make sure that you only fill the pen a 1/3 of the way. 
2. Do NOT press hard on the tip or else you will break it! Write normal and the ink should flow. 
3. Have a rag handy. Fill the well only 1/3rd of the way. Sometimes (especially after refilling it) you may need to wipe the top of the pen off with an old rag.
4. Keep the pen flat when not in use. 
5. When you need to screw the cap back on (or the other bits of the pen after filling it), gently twist and screw it back together until you can't twist anymore. Don't force it or over twist it or else it can crack.
6. I can't stress enough that you have to be careful with the tip. If you have a heavy hand, practice and be gentle with it. The ink should flow from the pen.
7. I never clean mine. I just make sure that I use it a lot (every few days.) I've had the same pen for years and have never had a problem.
8. Have a piece of uncoated scratch paper nearby to test the pen if it gives you problems. Sometimes just gently rolling the tip around as you write on scratch paper helps. 
9. The Rapidosketch ink works on paper, dried acrylics and acrylic mediums, tape, transparencies and more. 
10. If I could only recommend one black pen, this is it.






Pentel Metallic Brush Marker-Another pricey pen but well worth the $9! These pens last a long time. I like them for several reasons-it's a good, solid ink. If you write with it, it pops off the page (no fussing to try to "see it"). The brush tip-oh it's just yummy and soft-it flows and moves and glides across the page. It doesn't smell. I am a big fan of non-toxic art supplies and the fact that this doesn't smell nor does it come with a warning label about potential health problems are big pluses to me! I've been using these pens since they came out and if you're looking for a great metallic pen with a brush tip, look no further.

 

Copic Markers-
There are different versions of the copic markers-sketch, ciao, dual tipped, multi-liner).

The sketch copics, Ciao Copics, Wide copics are all Dual tipped. Multi-colors galore.

One nice thing is that the pens are refillable.

I do like their black multi liner pens in various tips for detail work and fine line work. These are waterproof, pigment based pens.

One thing I’ve found though is you have to be careful of what colors you are using on other colors. For example, you can’t use a red pen on a pink page and really expect it to show up all that well (unless you’re going for the subtle look). One thing that I’ve thought about is that the pens were primarily made for work that is meant to be reproduced (manga and anime). So, over time, I’m not sure what that will mean for the work done with the pens. 

In all honesty, it's not one of my favorite pens but I know many artists who love theirs and use them on a regular basis. I'm not one of those artists.




*****

My disclaimer: all of the info above is written and compiled by ME via a trial and error process. If you are ever not sure of if a pen will work or not, bring your journal to the store with you and test out a page on a painted page! That's what I do!


Also, KEEP THE CAPS ON THE PENS when not in use. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I bring my pens to classes and then sometimes people forget to put the pens on them, they dry up very quickly if you don't recap them so just watch out for this.

Keep the pens flat-like they are laying on a desk. This is the best way for most pens to be stored... I know they look pretty in your special cup with the caps up facing you, but be forewarned, over time the ink will drop to the bottom of the pen and you can kiss it goodbye. How do I know this? It happened to me. Nine gazillion dollars worth of pens that I could just toss in the trash. Keep 'em flat. Keep the covers on 'em. Use 'em up! Love 'em!

All of the vendors above are ones that I have personally bought from. I ONLY recommend vendors whom I have bought pens from. Jetpens, Durable Supply, Kinokuniya, Cute Tape, and Frenzy Stamper are my favorites. Check your local Mom and Pop shops, too!

Finally, no one paid me nor did I receive any form of compensation for this post. ALL of the pens mentioned above were bought and paid for by ME at the shops I list above. I don't work for anyone but my students (and myself!)

You may also be interested in:

Questions? You can leave a comment here in the post or email me at EGorey99@sbcglobal.net

What's your favorite, must have pen?

34 comments:

Mariposa said...

Fantastic post. I find it so difficult to find a good pen and I'm not made out of money where I can keep buying new ones. :)

MB Shaw said...

Great great great great post! I agree with you on many of these that I have also tried. Plus you mention some new ones and well, a girl can never have too many pens :-)

woodenspade said...

Thanks for the post, I tried the sharpie poster pens, (on your suggestion) and LOVE them. I lucked out last week and found a bunch of them at roberts . . . bought as many as I could.

I'm excited to try the sakura pens, because I love gel pens, but HATE when they skip!

laurie

Kelly Kilmer said...

Glad you found the pens and like them!! Watch out for the sakura-all gel pens are not the same, stick with either glaze and/or souffle. Remember though what I wrote about the colors-matte vs. gloss.. ;) I love all of the colors and use them for various looks. Hope this helps!!!

Mixed Media Martyr said...

SAKURA GELLY ROLL GLAZE AND SOUFFLE PENS 4 EVA!!!!!!!!!!

Ahem... just had to shout that out!

Melisa said...

Hey Kelly, I've been trying to find a pen similar to the Souffle but in lime green. The Souffle green is more like pale mint and the Glaze one isn't lime either, nor is the Sharpie florescent green. I haven't found the Latte ones yet. Do they come in a lime green? Its hard to tell what the colors are going to be by the picture on the web, and so far I haven't had any luck. I figured if anyone makes a lime green that writes on paint, you'd know. :)

Jo Anne O. said...

Hey thanks for the updated list, Kelly! It is funny that I printed out this post early this morning to use when I went to AC Moore earlier this afternoon...now you have an update! Yay!!!

I think my dh is going to divorce me if I bring another set of pens in this house! LOL

Oh yeah, I have both the glaze and the souffle and hated them...was going to give them away, now I think I will give them another try going by your post...so thanks!

(just kidding) Jo Anne in PA

Jeane Frizzell said...

I think I'd cease to exist with out black Gelly Roll Glaze pens!

Your pen list rocks! I laughed out loud when I read the get off your ass comment! Hilarious!

HappyDayArt! said...

Omygoodness! you are the tape and pen maniacal queen of the universe! I bow to you!

I don't have all these pens. I'm going to go find some of them. And all those links for tape! That is going to take me a while to go visit. Hmmm, maybe I should pace myself.

Thank you very much.
Catherine

Kelly Kilmer said...

Melisa-yes, apple green in the sweets is a lime green...

Catherine, Maniacal may be the word ;)

Jo Anne, I hold no responsibility for divorce cases due to art supply overload. I highly recommend finding hubby a hobby. Mine tried to SAY something about my stuff ONCE. All I had to do was turn and point at all of the bookshelves that hold HIS dvds, HIS books, HIS comics...and say "Don't go there. I win for having LESS stuff." ;)

bubblemunch said...

Thanks so much for this!!

I have some old Sakura gelly roll sparkly and glaze pens - didn't know they did white!!

I have a shop nearby that sells some so I will go and get the white glaze and souffle ones!

It's so difficult to know which pens are good and where to get them (a lot of products see on sites are easy to get in the US but not so in the UK).

Also I end up spending money on pens that don't quite do what I'm hoping they will. This is a great reference.
Cheers! :-)

anna maria said...

Wow! great post. Thank you so much for updating your pen list.
Seeing the photo of them all together was scary!

Linda said...

great post!!!!!!! Very informative.

Sacred Yoli said...

Awesome post! I have spent so much money ruining pens when writing over paints!

Thanks for the tips!

Anonymous said...

Per several sites (including Surfboard Art sites, where they're apparently very much used), the Uni Posca pens are in fact the *same pens* as the Sharpie Poster Paint (waterbased paint) pens.

http://www.durablesupply.com/pospainmar.html

Has links to all the sizes, all the colors.

This page is one of the pages i found that says the Posca pens are identical to the Sharpies: http://markersupply.com/shpopaju.html

Kelly Kilmer said...

Thanks Anonymous! I will have to try them out! I haven't tried their extra fine yet but I was not at all happy with one posca pen I bought recently that you had to pump the back of the pen.
I will try the extra fine ones out and let you guys know!!!
THANKS

JenEve said...

Pens - they are way better than beer - great post - i'm off to jetpens.....help me - I may have a pen addiction!

Kelly Kilmer said...

PLUS, they help us LOSE weight-in our wallets that is!! Ha ha!!! ;)

Kira said...

Fun fun. I love Japanese pens, and you have some I haven't heard of before. I didn't know about the poster paints being discontinued; I'll have to run to my favorite shop that carries them and grab a bunch -- the fine tip whites are great, and the others are just plain fun.

I'm considering getting the latte pens, though. Are they really worth the $18 for the set?

Kelly Kilmer said...

Kira, The latte AND the sweets are TOTALLY worth it considering I have more then one set of each. I LOVE the pens. I don't leave home without them!!!!

Anonymous said...

Site designer needs to think again before placing "search blog" immediately next to "flag blog."

From someone with less than terrific hand control!

B2-kun said...

Nicely done! Quite thorough and informative pen list.

Kelly Kilmer said...

Hi Anonymous,
I didn't set up the flag blog/search blog button. That is part of blogger. You can email them directly to complain about that feature. It has nothing to do with my blog and my set up...
thanks
kelly

Maria Coryell-Martin said...

Do you have any favorite refillable pens? I'm trying to move away from disposable plastics... especially after learning more about the huge plastic patches in the ocean.

yoborobo said...

Thank you so much for this post - I've been trying to find a black pen that I can use to detail some of my small acrylic paintings. Everything I've tried has gummed up (the Micron), so I am happy to get to go spend money on some new pens! yipeee!!!

Shimoda said...

I love pens also, but lay them flat? OMG! They look so pretty in my cups and don't take up so much room on my desk. I'll have to think about that.

jerseytjej said...

I LOVE a good pen, regardless of the price, color or size, but (lack of) permanence and odor are deal breakers! Thanks for the list and help! Gina

ysdw said...

Kelly,

Thanks so much for the post! I'm a pen fanatic - Staedtler pigment liners and their permanent fineliners are favorites...pretty much anything Staedtler...I'm always on the look-out for pens, and the fact that you recommended pens that work well with acrylics is fantastic.

Thanks!

- SD

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

I just saw reference to your pen blog entry at The Art Journal. Wow! What an incredible reference; I've printed it out.

Thanks, Kelly.

Joann Loftus said...

Thanks for this post, Kelly! I already had most of these, but the Latte and Sweets are new to me. I will look them up on JetPens (love that place, too!). Your journals ROCK!! ~Joann

Ellie said...

Thanks Kelly! I love your attitude and your easy honesty, ie; get off your ass!

Mandy said...

awesomeness. I too love soufflé and can't wait to use them on my first AMAZING acrylic-scrape-painted art journal!!! I just worry a little about the ink sticking together when I close the pages but since they are matte (thank you for confirming that) I suppose they will be fine!!!

linda said...

hi kelly. i'm brand new at art journaling and just ruined some sharpie ultra fines on acrylic paint so this post is great. do the zig writers work as well as their vellums on the acrylic paint?

Kelly Kilmer said...

@Linda Thank you! Yes, Zig work on dried acrylics paint. It just depends on the colors that you are using.