Sketching Art Materials with Pen & Wash


Morning class! This week I’ve been putting together a new ‘Beginners Guide’ for the Art School and wanted to add a few little material sketches. For all the sketches I used the following pens on 220 gsm smooth, heavyweight cartridge paper which can handle light watercolour washes.

Materials – Pen & Wash


  • Lamy Safari Fountain Pen – filled with Lamy water-soluble black ink
  • Pentel Aquash Waterbrush Pen – this bad boy just holds the perfect about of water in the brush filament tip to wash-in water-soluble ink
  • Muji 0.5mm Black Fine Liner – so smooth and works well at any angle at a rapid speed
  • Pentel Brush Pen – if you’re struggling  to create broken line effects, treat yourself to this pen, you can block in deep blacks really quickly

Brush Jug



Even though there seems to be an awful lot of brushes here, most of them are defunct in my painting practice. They’re just too hard to let go of!

Lone Ranger


I’ve made sure to push the paint right to the bottom of the tube to get this nice curve.

Because of the new aluminium finish in the Winsor & Newton range, you get a lovely strong reflection within the centre of the tube, focusing the view and adding contrast to the sketch.

Empty Paint Tubes


Using the Lamy pen, I could ‘load up’ areas that are really dark, say the dark area underneath the thread of the paint tube on the right and then pull it into the cast shadow using the water pen.

Grab a Brew!


Always time for a tea when you’re hard work sketching, brewed fresh in my Burleigh Pottery teapot.

Acrylic Glazing Liquid Gloss


Acrylic Glazing Liquid Gloss from Golden Paints (now called Glazing Liquid) I like the way there’s a little ‘smoke’ of wash to the left of the cap, reflecting the speed of the squeeze!

Jam Jarjam jar paint brush


I couldn’t leave out the classic jam-jar shot.

When drawing reflective surfaces, I move around the subject looking for large white areas of reflected light, these give contrast and define different flat planes. Establishing these distinct light and dark areas within a clear object makes it easier to create a 3-dimensional form.

Brush Collection

urban sketch brushes

Changing the marks within the solid black handles helps to add interest to a section of the drawing that could easily become too heavy. There is a mix of a hatch, wash, broken line and brush pen to jump the eye across the brushes at the bottom.

The angle of the small round brush on the right, indicates a subtle inverted triangle composition to the whole collection of brushes, giving the viewer the clue that off-screen the brushes are arranged in a pot.

Palette Knives


I don’t usually store my palette knives in a jar but the swan neck cranked-handles created such great shapes when arranged together, I couldn’t resist. Here the brush pen really helps to add those dark accents around the rim of the pot.

You can also see the sketches @willkempartschool Instagram

The new intro guide should be out in a week or two.



You Might Also Like:

  1. Urban Sketch of a bike – Free 10-minute video tutorial (including downloadable reference image) using the Pentel Brush pen and Muji Marker
  2. An Art Material Addicts Guide to becoming a Minimalist Urban Sketcher – Simple drawing kits for sketching on the go

This Post Has 99 Comments

  1. I love these sketches. Will try some myself. I enjoy reading all of your blogs and watching the instructional videos on youtube.


    1. Thanks very much Elfriede, so pleased you’ve been enjoying them

      1. Hi Will, loved getting this post. I do a lot of pen and ink drawings on metro, coffee shops, mostly of people and I really was interested in reading about the Pentel Aquash which I have never used. Do you ever draw with a bamboo pen or just a stick? Quite interesting results….thanks so much for your suggestions and your lovely pen and ink sketches. Suzie

  2. Will you little rascal you done it again ? Good lesson great information
    Kind regards Steve

    1. Cheers Steve, hope you’re keeping well.

  3. I have one question concerning ink sketches with watercolour washes. I read once how to hold the pen so that the line will look less perfectly straight. It will have nice little squiggles. If you hold the pen in the same way you would naturally hold a pencil, it is not as interesting. I have lost my notes and can’t remember in which two fingers to hold the pen to create a more interesting line. Could you help?

    1. Hi Elfriede, the further you move your fingers up the pen the less control you will have, so you can use exactly the same hold, just practice getting further and further away from the pencil or pen point.

      1. Thank you for replying to my query. I will try that.


  4. Hi Will

    Love your sketches ;) especially Jam Jar and Palette Knives.
    All the best


  5. Love the sketches and info. Perhaps adding a warning in the text…don’t place a cup of brew beside classic jam-jar. Nothing good will come of that arrangement.

  6. Cool

  7. Hi Will, Once again thank you so much. Always interesting and useful at the same time.
    Have a great day.

  8. Hey Will, thanks for the great commentary on the sketches. Really helpful for my learning curve. Also, I’ve been truly enjoying and slowly but
    Surely benefiting from the two courses purchased from you. You’ve got me very interested in pen and water soluble ink work for urban sketching and have really expanded my understanding and use of watercolor wash. Your instruction has been fun and a great leg up in my drawing, painting. Kindly, John

    1. That’s fantastic to hear John, so pleased you’ve been enjoying the courses. It can really help just to soften a pen sketch and cover a large area of the surface relatively quickly.

  9. Love drawing. Thanks once more for the information

  10. Thanks Will , very informative and inspirational as ever , will have a go at this Adele

  11. Great sketches Will! I’m doing your drawing class and will do this one soon also. It’s a wonderful way to spend retirement — learning how to paint and draw!

    1. That’s lovely to hear Jean, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the drawing class.

  12. love your work!! Getting ready to do your “how to paint a simple still life using oil paints” and have downloaded your b/w portrait exercise and did your apple exercise.. you are great in explaining things :)

    1. Really pleased you’ve been enjoying the lessons Trisha, good luck with the coffee cup painting.

  13. Thanks so much for this tutorial – would love to see a video on this
    subject from you – again, thanks so much.

  14. Great inspiration. Thank you for your blog.

  15. Hi Will, I always enjoy reading your notes on drawing and reading your sketches with different pens, I will surely try it and like the others I like the palette knives in the jar. Superb,


    1. Thanks very much Mariette, yes they’re edging it to my fav too.

  16. I read all your mail that I receive and really find useful, this one is particularly good as light and dark is something I strugglewith.

    Thanks Will am going to practise this.

    Best Wishes


    1. Really hope it helps Pam, yes looking for the shapes in the reflections can really help. You might find this tutorial on painting glass reflections of interest. The lesson is with paint but the same observation principles apply.

  17. Loved this post! I love ink sketching, especially when traveling or at a museum and want to grab a quick impression. I use Private Reserve Ink cartridges in my fountain pen in various ink colors. Interestingly, the color Black Cherry dries on the nib really quickly while all the other colors I use seem to flow really well, even if I haven’t used them for a bit.
    Thanks Will!

    1. Good to know about the Black Cherry ink Elizabeth, really pleased you enjoyed it.

  18. Very very interesting. Reminds me of the comic art. (I am a fanatic about comic book art – apart from art in general. Cheers Will.

    1. Cheers Joseph, yes there are some amazing comic book artists, pleased you enjoyed the sketches.

  19. Thank you Will, that’s my first blog received from you, looks wonderful and I can’t wait to work through it very soon. Happy memories of your drawing classes at the museum, I still rember them so well, learnt such a lot. Best wishes Jean x

    1. Thanks Jean, really pleased you enjoyed the article (and the museum classes!)

  20. Thank you Will, for new work and new ideas.

    I find your work very inspirational, and your example somehow helps me to find the courage to try!

    Kind regards,

    1. Go for it Maria! great to hear you’re feeling inspired.

  21. I’m a big fan of your work, Will. It’s fresh and inspirational. As you have lots of videos on YT, are there any chances to see this kind of drawing being performed there? Thanks!

  22. Hi Will,
    I bought this set of drawing pens on your recommendation last year and I sketch with them all the time. I’m very grateful to you for giving me the confidence to put down my pencil and jump straight in with ink!
    These sketches are lovely!
    Julie Powell

    1. That’s fantastic to hear Julie, so pleased it’s given you confidence with your ink drawings.

  23. OMG I love these.

    I’ve discovered that the sketches I do which I like the most are done on my iPad using their fountain pen option… and I’ve been wondering about whether I could get the same effect (ie above) with ‘real life’ tools.

    Now I’m going to try that pen! In the past when I tried a fountain pen nip that you dip into a jar, the results were basically pants… big blobs of ink everywhere… so I’m inspired.

    Really appreciate all the material and posts you make Will, very generous and so spot on : )

    1. That’s fab to hear Sonia, when you use a water-soluble ink you can have the fine line control to start with and then wash in any areas you want to add a bit of flow too. Hope you enjoy going old school!

      1. I’ve made new discoveries… turns out what I really like drawing with are foundation dip pens (but they need to have a reservoir), using fluid acrylic paint. And I can ‘draw’ directly into my paintings. Goodness me! Thank you Will, your blog encouraged me to dig a bit deeper into my own preferences and now I’ve found a tool and way of mark making that I love!

        1. That’s brilliant news Sonia, dip pens can be fantastic! So pleased you find it helped your new material discovery!

  24. So wonderful! Love the depth and contrast Will.
    Thank you for all your inspiration

  25. Will,

    Thanks for this new blog post. I’m on the road in Texas doing a big antiques show with my wife, and I am planning to drawings of the wonderful buildings and tents that are part of the Marburger Farm Antiques Show in Round Top, Texas. You new post arrived at the perfect time. I’ve already done two of the drawings.

    Kind regards,

    1. Hey Jack, that’s fantastic to hear, I imagine there must be some fabulous items to sketch. Hope the show goes well!

  26. Beautiful sketches. I will soon buy some of these pens, to get going!

  27. Hello Will, I love the sketches and I am super excited about the new course. I have most of your courses, have done quite a few and I refer to them often as I work on my own artwork. I do have a question about the nib on the Lamy Safari pen that you used in these examples. They have different ones, Extra Fine, Fine, Medium etc. which one do you prefer for this type of sketching? Thank you so much for all the wonderful instruction, photography and video production that you continue to create, always looking forward to it all. Katerina.

    1. Hi Katerina, lovely to hear from you and thanks so much for your kind words. I tend to go for the Fine nib if i’m going to use a water-pen or an Extra Fine nib if I’m using a permanent ink for more detailed studies. You can read a few more details on different sketching kits I use here.

  28. Your tutorials are the best and clearly articulated I have come across. I have used the sketching, acrylics, glazing, etc. I particularly learnt a lot from the portrait glazing tutorial. However I am painting a portrait of a friend who has Polynesian ancestry but I am having trouble mixing a suitably lovely skin tone. I have was hoping you may be able to offer some advice on colours to use for the skin tone.

    Cheers Lorraine

    1. Hi Lorraine, glad you’ve been enjoying them and found the portrait glazing course helpful. Using a Raw Sienna with a touch of Burnt Sienna will help with a base for the skin tones for your portrait.

      1. Thank you, I really appreciate your advice.

  29. Will, thanks for this. I do a bit of this sort also, and love my Lamy Safari Pen. I love this change of pace when doing art. fun and fast.
    Always look forward to your emails.

    Barbra Joan

    1. Cheers Barbra, yes I find the Lamy has a nice feel for sketching, pleased you enjoyed the sketches.

  30. Hello Will,
    Thank You for another inspirational piece on sketching. I always look froward to saving a quiet moment, with a cup of tea, to open your emails and find another gem to read. I really enjoy your tutorials and seeing your wonderful artwork.

    Those water brush pens are really fun to work with. I will have to try some of the others that you suggested.

    Thank You for sharing your talents,

    All my best,

    1. That’s lovely to hear Lela, so pleased you enjoy them.

  31. Hey Will, just when I promise myself I am NOT going to buy any more art materials … for a while … your bring these lovely pens to my attention! Always inspiring as usual! Cheers & thanks

    1. Ha, ha, pleased you enjoyed it Anne, hope you enjoy experimenting with them

  32. Hi Will,
    Thank you for your sketches. Never thought that painting tools could be such great subject matter for sketches, but they look great!! I love how the smoking touches to the object shows movement. Always something to learn!


    1. Glad you enjoyed them Aya, hope you find it helpful in your sketches.

  33. Hi Will, I love all you do. Not painted for a while due to health problems. Now better and raring to go! Starting off with copying one of your quick sketches. Should choose my own subjects but like to try yours!!

    1. Thanks very much Christa, pleased to hear you’re on the mend and so pleased the sketches have been a kickstart to your studies.


  34. Once again a very interesting article, love all your work and look forward to the next instalment!
    Love Sue

  35. Hi Will, very nice pen and ink work, by chance ( or perhaps your recommendations before ) I have all the materials materials listed. Look forward to the new course, thanks.

    1. You’re perfectly set up Dave, yes I do often use this combination it can be a really efficient way of working.

  36. Wow great stuff. Loved the tonal values. Gave me an idea for my zen tangle pens
    Thanks love the news letters

    1. So pleased it sparked a new idea Jennifer, good luck with your zentangles!

  37. Hi Will,
    Thanks to your online courses, of which I have downloaded a selection of
    6 thus far, as well as your numerous and generously posted ‘freebies’, I have, over the past two years, developed from someone who could barely draw a stick figure to being a participant in the upcoming Dorset Art Weeks. With your guidance, I have produced work which I’m really proud to exhibit, and during the creation of every one my pieces, I have had your voice popping into my head talking me through a particular technique. The convesational style of your presentation seems to imprint the important information most effectively and because I watch the courses over and over, I discover a new little gem of insight every time. I would urge anyone who is serious about flourishing as an artist to trust and invest in your light-hearted but highly effective tutorship.

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely feedback on the courses and fantastic to hear about your progress with your paintings. So glad you’ve found the teaching style suits and hope the Dorset Art Weeks goes well!


  38. Thank you Will—love, love, love your work, your posts, and your lessons. Thank you!

    1. Thanks very much Lorrie, so pleased you enjoy them.



    1. Hi Cheryl, really pleased you enjoyed the sketches if you start with something simple you might surprise yourself! even just the Lamy pen and a water pen can give some lovely results.

  40. Hi Will
    Enjoyed browsing your sketches with a brew in hand of course. I am a new person to your school and am about to embark on the Floral still life painting course. I am about to head off to the art shop to grab my materials and cannot wait to start. Looking forward to exciting times with your guidance.

    1. Nice to have you along Michele, really hope you enjoy the Floral still life course!

  41. Hi Will
    I really like pen & wash, and the sketches are fab. Can’t wait to watch the tutorials.

  42. Hi Will, Each one so very nice!! I hope out comes my pen tomorrow… Very glad for all that you give to us. Your generosity is wholly appreciated.
    Cheers and God bless, C-Marie

    1. Thanks very much C-Marie, glad you enjoyed the sketches.

  43. Thanks as always Will,x

    1. Thanks John, really pleased you enjoyed the glazing article.

  44. Simply and effective.Thanks

  45. Hi Will

    You are amazing as always. I loved your sketches. they are beautiful. They are free flow drawing. The jam jar with palate knife and the jar with brushes… amazing.

    best regards

    1. Thanks very much Salma, you’re very kind, pleased you liked them.

  46. HI Will
    Thanks so much for your site. I’ve recently rediscovered my love of painting after many disappointing efforts and not really understanding what I was doing wrong – (resolved within a week of watching your videos, I was using cheap materials and the wrong brushes).

    In my other work as an illustrator, I am producing work by painting digitally, printing onto good inkjet paper and then working into it with Inktense pencils and NeoColor II wax crayons (dry). I am now getting interest from people wanting to buy my work and I am wondering if there is any way to preserve and protect it against UV light other than just placing it behind a glass frame?



    1. Hi Lorna, pleased you’ve been enjoying the site. Yes, you can get specialist UV protection varnishes for inkjet paper, the only issue would be the wax crayons. I haven’t personally used them but they would need fixing first (like this)and then a light spray varnish as too much moisture painted on could disturb them. I would try a few scrap test pieces first.
      Hope this helps,


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