How To Use Your Fountain Pens More Often: Sketch and Doodle

John Bosley Handwriting 4 Comments

Many people who collect fountain pens sometimes have trouble using them as often as they would like. If you are not a student or in a profession that requires you to write very often, you might struggle to use your pens at all! In this series of articles I want to make some suggestions that should help you use your fountain pens more often.

Sketch and Doodle

This suggestion is going to be very easy for some people and very difficult for other people to try out. If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen people who draw or doodle amazing things with their fountain pens. If you think that you don’t have any drawing skills, you might have hesitated trying this out for yourself. Fortunately, it’s not hard to get started with some basic doodles and have fun using your pens, even if you don’t think you have any drawing skills!

One of the first things I’d suggest doing is to look up some basic zentangles. After taking a minute to look through the different patterns, I’m sure that there are some that stand out to you more than others. Be sure to save the image or take a screenshot that you can refer back to later. The goal here is to have some images for inspiration that you can use when you want something to doodle.

Once you have some zentangles that you find inspiring, try to draw one! If you try one and it doesn’t appeal to you, try another one. Eventually, you’ll find a few that you enjoy drawing and can sit down and doodle anytime you want. Don’t worry if you really like the way one looks but find it difficult or boring to draw. There are plenty of patterns out there. You should enjoy the process, so if you’re not enjoying a particular zentangle, find another one.

using fountain pens more often flower doodle with sheaffer pen

While I enjoy drawing these flower doodles, it’s nice to change things up once in a while.

If you are more artistically inclined, you can also try sketching with your fountain pen. While this is definitely not something I am good at, I did find a few sources of inspiration that you might take a look at if you’re struggling with what to draw. These nature-based sketches make me want to spend more time outside. This site has some really creative ideas. Finally, this page has a basic list of everyday items you can draw.

Adding Complexity and Color

Once you’ve found some things that you enjoy drawing or doodling, you can start to get more creative. Using different pens and nibs can add line variation to your work. Using multiple pens with different colors of ink can add variety. Even something as simple as playing with negative space can change the feel your drawings. Here’s an example from some of my doodles:

In the first image, I filled in the entire rectangle with wavy lines. In the second, I decided to leave every other “column” empty, which gives it a very different feel compared to the first one.

using fountain pens more often zentangle

In this doodle, you can see that I added lines to every “column”.

using fountain pens more often zendoodle

In this doodle, you can see that I left every other “column” blank, giving it a very different feel.

This doodle is similar to the previous two, but I used two different colors instead of just one.

using fountain pens more often doodle

In this doodle I used two different colors of ink.

Finding Sources Of Inspiration

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are some amazing people who share very inspiring work online. Two of my favorite Instagram accounts for doodle inspiration are Pensivecandy, who’s work I could stare at all day long, and Squishy.Ink, who can make something as simple as a clamshell shape look amazing! One of my favorite Instagram accounts for sketching is Leighpod, who’s combination of lines, smudges and drips creates some amazing fountain pen art!

Of course Instagram isn’t the only place where you can get inspiration. I was browsing on reddit the other day and came across a fountain pen doodle from u/scottishtoastie that really caught my eye. I’m sharing it here (with permission) to inspire you!

using fountain pens to doodle whole page

This doodle is very complex and is a great example of combining different styles into one sketch.

Just Give It A Try!

I have never had the best handwriting, but that has never stopped me from writing with my fountain pens. I’ve also never been very good at drawing, but why should I let that stop me from drawing with my pens? If you’re in the same boat, I encourage you to try using your pens to draw. I found that using zentangles as a reference was very helpful in getting my creative juices flowing. Having something to copy and drawing a repeating pattern is much easier for most people than drawing a person, flower or other specific object.

Here are a few more various doodles and patterns I’ve done that help me to use my fountain pens more often. Happy drawing!

using fountain pens more often doodle flower

Using different pens and inks gives each of these doodle flowers a different feel.

using fountain pens more often zendoodle vine

These “vines” are just one example of a simple zendoodle that are easy and fun to draw.

Hi, my name is John. I’m a Colorado-born professional photographer who recently moved back to Denver after spending 3 years in San Francisco. I’ve been using and collecting fountain pens for over 20 years. I got my first one in college when I got bored taking notes with ballpoints and pencils. Since then I’ve bought and sold hundreds of pens, but have consistency in my love of Esterbrooks.

Comments 4

  1. I enjoy your blog and especially liked this one. Where in CO did you live? I grew up in CO but lived in the SF Bay area for many years.

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  2. Doodling/sketching with my fountain pens is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now! I primarily use my fountain pens them for journaling in the evening and use pencil or Micron pens for artwork, but I’d like to start experimenting! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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      You’re welcome, Anna! I have found great pleasure in random doodles, both because I get to be creative and also because I get to use my pens! Hope you take a chance and just go for it!

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