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!


Thursday, May 07, 2009

My pen list

You've seen this post several times in various forms. Here's a May 2009 UPDATE to 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 sharpie poster paint pens in stock and she also carries the best selection of sakura pens. Yes, she will mail order.
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 May 2009. 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.

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.
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.
Uniball Signo DX 151-I LOVE this pen. It's tiny tiny tiny. I love it for all of my tiny writing. Waterproof, too! It doesn't always work well on acrylic paint, but so what-I LOVE this pen. I almost always have one with me.Uniball Signo Broad UM 153 Black-Another favorite pen. Unlike the white uniball signo, this one doesn't tend to skip as much. It's another fave that I usually have with me.
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...
I loveeeeeeee these pens. You do need to try the different tip sizes-they rock!!

Update 2010-The pens are currently on a test run at Michaels. Depending upon how well they are sold, Sanford will keep making them.

Update 2011- The pens seem to be selling well as Sanford has come out with the pens in new tip sizes and colors. They've taken the word poster out of the name and are now calling them Sharpie Water Based Paint Pens.
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.-http://www.durablesupply.com/pospainmar.html

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'm still using my original set.

To see the colors of the Sweets and Lattes, click here.

Update: December 2011-The Sweets pens were discontinued. The Lattes are still available though. 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...
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!!!!

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.
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!

Questions? You can leave a comment here in the post or email me at EGorey99 (at) sbcglobal.net
(take the at out and put a @ in it's place..it's to block spam bots ;P)
What's your favorite, must have pen?


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!


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...


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.

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.


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!!!

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...

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...


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.


- 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.