Part 4: Summer 2011 to Summer 2017

Refining my people collection

Here are more sketches from the pocket Moleskine which first appeared on page 4.

As I neared the end I decided to pack few more people into it. But I didn't want to wait until I rode the train next time, so turned to my spiral bound sketchbook and used those pencil sketches as models.

I was so happy with this idea, that I decided to use this method for all the figures in the next two-page spread. I quickly captured people on the train with pencil and watercolor in my spiral bound sketchbook, like catching butterflies in a net. Then I rendered the better ones in ink and watercolor in my Moleskine, which serves as the display case for my collection.

So after all these years of enduring crowded trains in Tokyo and being jostled by people, I finally realized that I have turned crowded Tokyo into a hobby: I collect those people. No need to envy artists who are surrounded by mountains and ocean and nature. I find people more interesting anyway.

I really love this idea because I can sketch in pencil as well as ink, and I don't have to decide which one to use; I use both.

The pencil is best for capturing a fleeting pose, and a few have lasted only a few seconds. And I do enjoy the thrill of finishing the watercolor while I'm standing on the train and the model is still in front of me. At least the colors are true to life.

That spiral bound sketchbook is easy to hold in the hand -- unlike the Moleskine -- and it's cheap enough that I can take risks. If I screw up a sketch, or if the model vanishes before I've had a chance to capture the pose, I simply start a new page with no regrets.

Brush and ink in the awkward Moleskine are best when done on a stable desk top with hand support where more attention can be given to calligraphy (beauty of line).

And every sketch passes through my imagination twice.

So, armed with my spiral bound "butterfly net," I set off to try out this new idea.

This is what I caught in my net:

You can also see all my spiral bound "butterfly net" sketches on one page in one big collection.

Most of these were drawn with a 2B 0.3mm Pilot FURE FURE SPRINTER pencil plus watercolor applied with a squeeze water brush. Both go in my shirt pocket.

And this is what made it to my display case:

As before, I did not draw the overhanging straps but replaced them with more amusing items. Now there are two "selfies" and a guy playing volleyball.

And it doesn't necessarily have to look like a train interior; I collect people, not trains.

These were done with brush pen and fountain pen, both with Platinum Carbon Ink, plus watercolor.

For the fountain pen I continue to use my old reliable friend, a long Platinum Carbon Pen.

Platinum Carbon Pen and Kuretake number 8 Brush Pen
My current pens.

The brush pen I'm using now is the Kuretake No. 8 Fountain Brush Pen which is cheaper than the Kuretake brush pen I had been using, which needed a tip replacement.

This number 8 works just as well and gets the same fine lines as the more expensive models.

The only drawback is its length. A bit too much for the pocket when sketching on location, but not impossible. I've carried it in my pocket before but mainly keep it in my bag since I'm using it primarily at my desk and not on location.

The extra length really makes this a nicely balanced pen, and like any desk type fountain pen, it feels great to hold and use.

For the watercolors, I've come up with yet another modified kit. I discovered that fifteen regular half pans will fit a standard Japanese business card case -- if they are sanded down in height.

Fifteen half pans are just a tad too wide for the case, but the walls flare out at an angle so that the top of the pan is larger than the base. If you sand down the pan to fit the depth of a card case, the sides also decrease in size.

I used regular sand paper, and believe it or not, sanded the pans while they still had watercolor paint in them. So I sanded a bit of watercolor as well. But they come perfectly clean if you run them under a water faucet.

I didn't use all fifteen colors since my nine favorite colors will allow for a mixing area. Three basic colors on each side facing their theoretical opposite color, and convenience browns plus black along the bottom in the middle. All held in place with double sided tape. The mixing area is just a sheet of white plastic with walls glued on with Cyanoacrylate glue (same as Super Glue).

This fits in my pocket, and also fits perfectly under the small sketchbook. And, no, I did not injure my thumb. That's a loop of tissue paper, folded over lengthwise a few times, cut in half, and stapled together to fit on my thumb when painting. When flat, it fits in the mixing area of the palette.

This fits the front pocket of my jeans, and the spiral bound sketchbook fits in my back pocket, so all my gear is within reach when I'm standing on the train!

I'm still carrying the Moleskine in my other back pocket, but it's no longer necessary except when I want to show the "display case" to people at a moment's notice.

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