Mixed-Media Art in Black and White

A graphic design professor in college once told our class that, if necessary, you could rule the world with just two fonts: Times Roman and Helvetica. Over the (many) years since then, technology has changed the availability and use of fonts, but I bet most artists day in and day out just use a handful of favorites.

mixed media art by staci swider
Staci Swider uses white gel pens and black fine-points
to highlight areas of her mixed-media painting.

The same could be said for writing implements for mixed-media art. If you were on a sinking and had time to grab just two writing pens from your vast stash, which ones would they be?

For me, I'd have to choose a black fine-point pen and a white gel pen.

A black fine-point can be used for journaling, shading (using dots or cross-hatching), drawing, outlining, and adding small details.

You can use a white gel pen to write on dark paper, paint, or ink and to add highlights to journals and paintings.

Everyone has their brand preferences, based on their experience and how they use their writing tools (such as over paint, on paper, fabric etc.). Some artists swear by the Uni-ball® Gel Pen, others prefer any permutation of the Sharpie®. When our editors took a look at writing tools in the July/August 2010 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, the brands stood out:

mixed media supplies white gel pens
mixed media supplies micron pens
White gel pens (top) and black fine-line pens (above), can be used to enhance almost any mixed-media art technique.

White: Sakura®, Gelly Roll White

This pen is chemically stable, waterproof, and fade resistant. It is easy and comfortable to write with and will not smear, feather, or bleed through on most papers. We tried it on acrylic-painted papers and were happy with the smooth writing and bright white lettering that resulted.

Black: Fine-Line Pens Sakura, Micron®

The Micron is just one example of the fine-line pens available to artists. This pen has an archival-quality ink that is chemically stable, waterproof, and fade resistant. You can use this pen with other water-based media without having to worry about it smudging or bleeding. The tips come in six different sizes (005, 01, 02, 03, 05, and 08). We especially love the 005 for drawing very small details. In our example we mixed a number of different sizes on acrylic-painted paper and the application was very smooth.

You can see how to use black and white drawing pens to create different effects in this example by Staci Swider (who prefers a white Uni-ball, by the way). Her technique for creating Fantasy House Portraits is the subject of Art Lessons: Collage and Paint Series, Vol. 11. You can download Fantasy House Portraits now in the Cloth Paper Scissors Shop.

P.S. Could you get along with just black and white pens for your art? Which ones do you prefer? Leave your comments below.




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