This week we started a Re-run of my first SketchingNow course – Foundations. It’s been amazing to be a part of all the activity in the classroom over the last few days and I know it’s only going to get better as everyone starts to post their homework assignments.

I’m personally going through the course again, adding some extra material and thinking of new ways to apply the concepts. The content in the Foundations course is truly foundational to everything that I do with my sketching.

(Note: If you have purchased the course at any time you have access to the new material (for free!) and can be part of this re-run. You just need to log into your account.)

Lesson 1 is all about Knowing (and loving) your Materials. The basic concept is to spend time getting to know how your tools work and discover which ones work best for you. It always amazes me that we get sucked into buying new materials, but rarely put the time into testing in order to determine how to get the best use out of them. In the Lesson 1 videos I show ways of doing this.

This week I have been playing with gel pens and this is a result of a few thoughts floating through my head lately:

  1. I was recently inspired by Pat Southern-Pearce‘s work and her use of all kinds of pens on toned paper including metallic gel pens.
  2. I have been thinking about how little I use my white gel pen (most common uses are white lettering on dark backgrounds, and white window framing). This was totally prompted by going through Foundations Lesson 1 and realising that I should be making constant use of everything in my everyday sketching kit.
  3. I have been feeling just a touch sad that I took my Kaweco pen (filled with mixed raw sienna ink) out of my kit. The reason for this was simply that I just wasn’t using it, and I was worried the pen would clog. Someone on Instagram asked me what was wrong with the Kaweco and I then started thinking about using a gold gel pen instead.

So… I’ve added a gold gel pen to my kit (yes, since last week’s photo) and I’ve started to use my white and gold gel pens more intentionally. Rather than just using the white pen for one small part, I have been using it for more lines in my sketches. I’ve also been using the gold gel pen as a coloured line in a similar way that I used my raw sienna ink. BTW I don’t really care about its metallic nature, I’m more interested in its hue.

Note. I am using the Uni-ball Signo Broad Pens which produce a lovely opaque line. I’m not a EF nib girl, so I’ve come to accept the broad line.

So here are some sketches done with these gel pens.


Christmas Tree (which you have seen previously) using white gel outlines.


View from Milsons Point. I was very distracted when I was doing this sketch as I had to move 6 times due to rapidly shrinking shade (to sit in). I wasn’t happy with the washes on the cityscape, so I applied white and gold gel pen over the top. Although it was a ‘patch up’ it made me think that this was a good technique to try again, more intentionally.


Palm Beach wharf: Using the white and gold gel pens a little more.


Teacup and Pot: Close ups from the spread that I shared earlier, showing a combination of white and gold lines.


Local Cafe: The white gel lines on the coffee cup didn’t do anything, but I’m rather liking the hue of the gold lines in the partial sketch of the timber wall panels and chairs.

I’m pretty excited about trying these pens in more situations. Although I prefer using fountain pens whenever I can, there is something special about light-coloured opaque lines. The opacity certainly creates more flexibility.

The point of this article is not to suggest that you all rush out and buy a Signo pen or two (although I know some of you will). Instead, I think the big takeaway for me is the reminder that I can do much more with my existing supplies.

If you are doing the re-run, have you made any discoveries this week?