Bic Cristal – surprisingly great

February 18th, 2018


On a whim, a while back, I bought myself three Bic Cristal pens, you know, those classic cheap no-good ballpoints that´s been around forever. I bought one black, one blue and one red. And I started drawing with them.And wow! These things are pretty fantastic drawing tools!

They´ll give you super soft hardly visible values, and strong, bold colour, depending on how much pressure you put on the ball point. The ink flows surprisingly well, and it´s easy to make nice transitions between light and dark.


I have been plaing around with using the three colours together, or one or two together with my usual fountain pens with black ink, putting one colour in the foreground and another in the background, to make a clear distiction between the two. I was a bit surprised how well it works to use bright red as a background colour in the top drawing!

These drawings are from the last meetup of 2017 with Stockholm Urban Sketchers. We had lunch and listened to super cool music with South Station Stompers at a bar called Lilla Wien at Södermalm in Stockholm. Such a great environment to draw in, we stayed for hours! :)

Top drawing: 19 x 25 cm, Pilot Falcon with black DeAtramentis document ink and Bic Cristal ball point, bottom drawing: 19,5 x 16 cm, same drawing tools, only different Bic colour. Both on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.

Urban sketchers Eskilstuna

February 15th, 2018


I am part of the Urban sketching community, and Stockholm has it´s own local group that meets up on the last Sunday of every month to draw together. Good fun, of course, and new friendships as an extra bonus.

Due to work, I have had the opportunity to join the USk group in Eskilstuna too.  The Eskilstuna crowd has a higher tempo than we do in Stockholm. They meet every Tuesday lunch, do a sketch, have a fika and chat, and then head back to work. For me, this limited time is a challenge, but a lot of fun. I am constantly trying out ways to speed up my sketches a bit, not always succeeding, but the process is fun.

20 x 20 cm, Lamy Safari with De Atramentis document ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

Drawing everyday chores

February 10th, 2018


Doing laundry is a great chance to draw one of those things that we do without even thinking about it. It is a slow process and leaves heaps of time for sitting down, observing the everyday grind. Which always turns out to be more interesing than you´d think.

18 x 26 cm, Pilot Falcon with DeAtramentis document ink and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

Century pens in Chicago

February 10th, 2018

Ed Hamilton, Century pens, Chicago

I have to add one more thing about the Chicago trip in the summer of 2017. I had heard beforehand of Century pens in Chicago, so of course had to visit. I have never really been to a store completely devoted to fountain pens before, so this was a real treat.

Ed Hamilton is such a nice guy to chat with, and a neverending source of knowledge about fountain pens and inks. I had a great time hanging out in his store for a while, and of course, the visit added a pen to my collection – yet another Pilot Falcon.


I´m almost embarrassed to confess that I own three of these (they are not too cheap – although less expensive anywhere else than in Stockholm). Two of them are customized for extra flex, while this one, from Chicago, is the original semi-flex pen. The customized ones are lovely to draw with, but very sensitive with their flexibility, one cup of coffee too much and my lines are squiggly for hours!

I love drawing with the Pilot Falcons, they suit me so well. The resin barrel is lightweight and rather small, which I love, and the Soft Fine nib gives a very fine line. (Though I wouldn´t mind trying a Medium out too…). They´re real workhorses, I have never had any trouble with ink flow in these pens, even though I´m not an avid pen cleaner.

If you are into fountain pens, and plan to visit Chicago, DO give Century pens a visit. It is such an inspiring place, and a good chance to get some serious fountain pen talk off your chest! :)

Quick sketches in Chicago

January 7th, 2018


I spent one of my last days in Chicago with fellow urban sketchers Liz Steel and Suhita Shirodkar. I am usually rather slow when I draw, and quite enjoy the process of spending time on a drawing, so no worries there. But hanging out with these Queens of Quick Sketching, their speedy habits made me want to let go of some detail, and keep up with my company. So, lo and behold, a sketch done in about half an hour (while sitting in blazing sunlight, at that!). It actually works! As much as I like details, you don´t really need that much of it to capture the essence of a place. Fun, and something I need to practice a lot more.

Otherwise, when I want to speed things up a bit, due to time constraints or so, I usually simplify my colours, as I did in the demo sketch below during the symposium. Sloppier drawing, loosing a few windows here and there, and working with only two complementary colours is my go-to repice for speeding up the sketching process.


Top sketch: approx 20 x 24 cm, bottom: approx 19 x 17 cm, both drawn with fountain pen with DeAtramentis document ink and watercolours, in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

The L

January 3rd, 2018


The L train, or El for “elevated train”, was a fascinating feature of Chicago. I have only seen this in movies and tv-series, some when I was quite young, so actually standing there in the noise of these rattling trains made me feel nostalgic, strangely enough. Wabash avenue quickly became one of my fav streets in downtown Chicago.


Top drawing: 42 x 29 cm, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document ink, grey Copic Multiliner and PITT Artist brush pens, bottom drawing: A4 size, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document ink, grey Copic Multiliner and watercolours. Both in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

Workshopping in Chicago

January 1st, 2018


My workshop in Chicago was called Make room for a view, and the top of the Kemper Building was the perfect place for it. We had the whole top floor at our disposal, with panoramic views in every direction. I could not believe my eyes the first time I went up there – THE VIEWS!!

We worked our way through some basic perspective rules (and at this height you actually have good use of three-point perspective too), simplification of details (a tough part, with aaaall those windows out there…), and aerial perspective, for those who wanted to work in colour.


Being a workshop instructor in an urban sketchers setting is a real treat. The best part, in my opinion, is the sharing of work that is so generous and free-flowing in these workshops. When we gather, either in the middle of the session or at the end of it, everyone opens up their sketchbooks to let everyone else in to their process. It doesn´t matter if you work professionally with sketching as an everyday tool or just got started on your drawing journey, if you finished a fantastic sketch or just barely got your first lines down on paper – everyone shows what they are working at. And this is where the magic happens. Seeing someone else´s process with a subject you are working on yourself is golden. This moment is so much fun! Questions are asked, discussions arise, tools are tried out, techniques and colours are looked at, and everyone sees something great in other people´s work – and gets possibilities suggested for their own!

And I promise you, I learn just as much as my workshop participants, from a teacher´s point of view. Everytime I teach one of these workshops, I get at least ten more ideas for the next time!


My three workshop groups during the urban sketchers symposium in Chicago. See those happy smiles? That´s what drawing together does to you!



Another treat you get as an urban sketchers workshop instructor is the possibility to take someone else´s workshop. I usually go for the ones that do things that I normally don´t.  This year I signed up for Marion Rivolier´s How to reach the sky, to try out her fantastic ways with watercolour. Wish I had had a couple of sheets of proper watercolour paper with rough grain for this, since this is more about wet paint than my normal sketching technique, but still – so much fun! And I have oh so much to learn!



New Year´s interlude

December 31st, 2017


This is perhaps not the most successful sketch of the year, but it´s definitely the last – had to bring out the watercolours in the cold at least once on this side of the new year! Aspudden in Stockholm was gray today, but people were cheerful, full of expectations for new year´s eve. A family with kids stopped by to chat, which is always good fun.

Happy New Year, everybody! I am sure 2018 will bring us the normal harvest of good and bad, but I hope it will also be full of creative endeavors and lots of love and friendships! See you next year!

Urban sketchers table manners

December 30th, 2017


It is lovely to eat with other urban sketchers. You know you have found you own “tribe” of people when everyone else too have their sketching gear on the table, among plates and drinks and whatnot. :)


21 x 29 cm, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document ink and watercolours, in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

Sketchcrawl Chicago

December 30th, 2017


The Urban sketchers symposiums usually start with a grand sketchcrawl during the first day, and a public, even bigger one, on the last day. The Chicago symposium was no different, and a few hundred people headed out in blazing heat to sketch on that first symposium day. So much fun! Thank heavens for the trees in the parks, though. Extreme heat really isn´t my cup of tea…


Both drawings: approx. 20 x 14 cm, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document ink and grey Copic Multiliner on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

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