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Fountain Pen Sketching
Watercolor Painting Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
YouTube Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Something about intricate architectural details just makes me want to get out pen and ink. But as wonderful as a dip pen is at those hit and miss lines on watercolor paper, sometimes a fountain pen is a lot quicker and easier. When you're painting plein air, a fountain pen is going to be less mess and easier if you're juggling sketchbook and paints.

This beautiful Venice palazzo is perfect for an opportunity to use my new Noodlers' Nib Creaper fountain pen!

Fountain Pen Sketching Watercolor Painting tutorial

Painting Tutorial Level


Skill Building

Pen & Ink

Art Supplies

9" x 12"
Saunders Waterford Rough Press
Isabey Mop, no.6
Isabey Rigger, no.4
Isabey Pointed Round Sable, no.14


(M. Graham transparent watercolors)

Nickel Azo Yellow
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Teal
Cobalt Violet
Quinacridone Rust
White Gouache
Pen and Ink

Painting Demonstration 1

Fountain Pen Sketching Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

I begin with a pale wash of purple gray in the deep shadows. I use cobalt violet with a touch of cobalt blue and nickel azo yellow. Quite a bit of pigments for a first wash, but I'll be using the same group of pigments around the painting.

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Fountain Pen Sketching Reference Photo
Fountain Pen Sketching Reference Photo

Painting Demonstration 2

Fountain Pen Sketching Watercolor Painting Lesson 2

Next, I quickly add nickel azo yellow to the cobalt violet gray mix. I want a golden glow on the pale stone.

Painting Demonstration 3

Fountain Pen Sketching Painting Tutorial 3

I love adding the water! Just let your arm move with the waves. This is a time for many layers and a lot of action.

Artist's Tips

If you don't want your ink to bleed, make sure the painting is completely dry before you use ink!

Painting Demonstration 4

Fountain Pen Sketching Painting Tutorial 4

A few strong darks really make a difference. There's starting to be a lo more depth in the building.

Don't forget that reflections come directly toward the viewer. And a dark entrance will have a dark path in the water leading to it.

Layering the water makes it have more action.

Painting Demonstration 5

Fountain Pen Sketching Painting Tutorial 5

I love the rust stains on the pale stone and they're echoed with the wooden window and door frames.

I'm just beginning the detail on the stone work. It's a lot of fun to do!

Painting Demonstration 6

Fountain Pen Sketching Watercolor Painting Tutorial 6

The intricate details on the stone work are so much fun to do. There are deep shadows and reflections from the canals. Since the stone is so pale, all the colors around it are reflecting on them. Gorgeous!

The bright blue of the dock and the poles are such a lovely color. They really frame the entrance.

Painting Demonstration 7

Fountain Pen Sketching Watercolor Painting Tutorial 7

Notice how the slightly cooler shadows of the upper floors help to frame the painting. It's just some rough brush work, but it pulls the viewer's eyes down to where we want them.

Now it's time to bring on the fountain pen!

Fountain Pen Sketching Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Fountain Pen Sketching Final Watercolor Painting!

When you're using a fountain pen to finish off a sketch, remember not to draw every single detail. The reason you want a flexible nib pen is that makes less lines for the same emphasis, so it simplifies the painting.

I like to draw with a pen when it's still slightly damp. Noodler's black ink doesn't bleed much, which is a very welcome surprise to me. However, the hit and miss strokes work better when it's wet.

I love embellishing intricate architecture with ink. It's simply a lot of fun to do and the more fun you have while you're painting, the more fun the painting looks like!

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Fountain Pen Sketching watercolor painting tutorial by Jennifer Branch

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