Canberra Urban Sketchers visit to the Royal Australian Mint

Canberra Urban Sketchers visit to the Royal Australian Mint

Our local Urban Sketchers group got together this morning to do some sketching at the Royal Australian Mint. This was an informal sketch meet. As usual we all had a great day.

I am pleased I remembered the bulldog clips as the wind was really blustery making sketching a bit of challenge. I have been experimenting with black and white ink drawings. This is because we will be traveling again in 6 weeks or so and I wanted to explore some pen and ink techniques.

This is done with a Lamy pen loaded with De Atramentis Document Ink which is waterproof when dry and a Pentel JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen which is not water proof. Basically you use the pen with the waterproof ink for all the lines you want to remain clearly defined. Areas where you want to shift the ink and create tonal values you use the pen with the non waterproof ink. Once you have the sketch established you hit it water. The water proof ink remains untouched and other ink runs and creates tonal values.

Note that the above paragraph is written with all the assurance in the world, as if it was a technique that is easily controlled. As my sketch testifies it is not! (Click on the image to see a larger version) After I completed the sketch, I added the coin and the “Mint” text that was cut from a brochure that I picked up while there. This is part of the ‘travel’ sketch experiments too as I like adding a little collage elements to page spreads particularly when I am traveling as ephemera can add to capturing a sense of the place.  So, as you can see that although my Canberra Urban Sketchers visit to the Royal Australian Mint was an Urban Sketch it is also using the time to practise a few techniques for my travel journaling.

I used a water barrel brush that has a reservoir of water in the handle. This set up is ideal for travel as you only need two pens one with water proof ink and one with non waterproof ink and a water barrel brush. My current sketchbook is a Stillman and Birn Alpha series landscape (9 x 6, 22.9 cm x 15.2 cm) sketchbook 150 gsm white medium grain surface paper. I am testing this sketchbook quite thoroughly as I am contemplating using one on my trip. I have nearly filled this one (a few more pages to go) and I like the way the paper has taken various forms of media, it has taken quite a bit of knocking around in my bag etc and has not fallen apart, and it has a good few pages in it so would last a stretch while travelling.

If you are interested in Urban sketching, the Canberra Urban Sketchers group meet on the second Sunday of the month and everyone is welcome. We often have other informal meetings too so check out what is happening on the Canberra Urban Sketchers Facebook page

Urban Sketchers is a global network of people who draw the cities they live in and travel to. Their slogan is to see the world one drawing at a time. You can find out more from the Urban sketchers website where there is a global directory of groups if you are interested in finding out more about a group in your town or city. With over 3,000 entries I am sure there is a group near you. If wading through all those entires is bit too much of a task there is a list of chapters here.

Note the link to Pentel JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen is an affiliate link which means I get a small commission should you purchase it ( the item is a pack of 12 but I could not find a link to a single pen) I was asked about it and this was a way to illustrate what I was talking about.




  1. This is very interesting – especially carrying 2 pens (love my Lamy’s). Can you tell me the exact name of the Pentel? Of course this may be country specific – even on the Pentel website couldn’t find an obvious match. Maybe the Pentel Stylo Sketch Pen? Or is your pen the Tradio Fountain Pen with flexible plastic nib? I never seem to know how to pack small. This could be a step in the right direction. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Cate the correct name is a Pentel JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen and I found a link on Amazon to a 12 pack so I added it to the post. I dont expect people to buy it but it is just a way of showing the product. That said you should know it is an affiliate link so if anyone does buy it I get a small commission. They are cheap pens I am sure you will find singles somewhere. I purchased a pack of 6 about 3 years ago and use them often as they have a sort of plastic nib- sounds terrible I know but it works well. Also most fountain pen ink is not waterproof so you would get the same effect using just about any pen

      Sharon B
      1. Hi Sharon,
        As always you are so on top of everything. Of course I will use your links when I can. And good idea, also for the book. It’s very hard to find this size book that is good for watercolor with heavy enough paper.

        That said the link seems to be for a blue ink pen – and you probably use black, as do I.

        I will look for it. Sincere thanks for all you do, providing with information, guidance, etc and all for love.


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