Pens,Ink & Watercolour

20th Nov. 2016

The Ballpoint and the Keyboard killed handwriting.

I love to write with a fountain pen. To see the shape of the neat and tidy letters flowing onto the paper is immensely satisfying.
My everyday writing is not at all refined, but on picking up a real pen everything seems to change.

In primary school we first learned to write with chalk on lined slates in a simple script from of letter with blocky capitals . I think it would have been 3 years later that steel nibbed dip pens and joined-up writing began. Back then the neatness of your writing gained you a high proportion of your marks. As I recall my penmanship was above average, but far from calligraphic .

We were taught to hold pen in a relaxed light but firm grip so that consistent flowing script glided across the page . When I see folks of the later ” biro ” generation holding a writing implement, with fingers engaged in as in a death grip determined to strangle the life out of the thing and the inconsistent, undisciplined handwriting that results, I am forced to question what transpires in the writing classes of early education today. Since it results in such illegible writing, surely if it is not legible, then it is clearly not writing .

In my late teens I took pleasure doing pen and ink drawings of old buildings and country scenes, some which were given a gentle watercolour wash. Upon leaving School at 15 I briefly considered a position as a graphic artist for a local agricultural business, SCATS, but my father wisely guided me instead, toward an engineering apprenticeship. As part of my apprenticeship I attended tech. college where it was necessary to take notes in haste and over the next 4 years my handwriting deteriorated to ungainly ugly scribble .

The end product of my Engineering apprenticeship was graduating into the drawing office, where a consistently neat blocky script is demanded .  Being required to retrain my hand led to simple calligraphy and using italic nibbed pens.  This in turn prompted a return to occasionally sketching for pleasure.

Taking pleasure in art reentered my life again when I set up a picture framing business in the ’80’s and now that I am retired and less mobile I have again returned to sketching and watercolours . Fistly attracted by a 3 day travel sketching event on Quadra Island –

My my recent recommencement was prompted with the arrival of our wet season in October, and reflecting on the beautiful watercolour paintings produced by my sister Kate, until her death in January.  As a tribute of thanks to her I hope to collect as many photos of her work as possible and present them in a slide show.

On a recent visit to Qualicum I browsed the pen box in the antique shop and found two fine gold nibbed Sheaffer fountain pens from the late 30’s for $10 one needed a new bladder which I obtained from Pensacs USA for $3 each 🙂 . Thus if you are so inclined there are beautiful pens to be had for very little and there is no need to spend the high prices that collectors have created for a fine writing pen . There is real pleasure to be had in simple things and pride to be taken from a letter in a neat and tidy script style that is yours and yours alone – Get a fountain pen and get writing for Christmas 🙂

My Christmas Cards this year will be carrying a message written with ink and one of these pens in a distinctive neat hand and with love !


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