In today’s review post, I’ll be looking at an art and stationery product that I’ve been using for a while now. I use it for both my watercolour projects and for calligraphy when I’m creating a cover or piece for my bullet journal. If you don’t know what that is, or you’re interested in making one for yourselves, check out Bullet Journals – Plain As Jane, you’ll get more information on how to create one there.
Anyway, today’s product is a set of brush pens that I’d bought a few years ago, but I hadn’t maximised my use of them, until recently. Now, however, after reading a few guides, watching a few tutorials and experimenting for myself, I can tell you what I think of these pens.
It’s A Simple Stroke
Ok, so the pens I’m talking about are the Arteza Real Brush Pens that are water-based, instead of alcohol-based. The reason why is so you can use them for watercolour painting as well as calligraphy and other drawings or art purposes. You can get them in a beginner’s pack of 24, or 48, or 96. You can even get them in bundle sets, like the Watercolour sets or the Inkonic bundle, you’ll find on their website.
Not only do you get the pens, but you also get a water pen, or an aqua pen, where you simply fill the barrel and use the brush to distribute the water on the canvas or paper, so that you can get that watercolour effect. There are even tutorials on their YouTube channel, on how to use them, so you’re not floundering around, wondering how to use the pens.
How Do I Use Them?
For me, personally, I use them for small images, like flowers, or individual objects. I’ve tried using them once, to create a large image, modelled after the pastel art I was inspired by, a few months ago, but I found it time-consuming, because not only do you need to fill the entire page with the ink from the pens, but you have to go over them with the water pen, so that the colours blend together. If you’ve seen my Instagram page, you’ll know which image I’m talking about.
While this was one of the best pieces I’d ever done, in a long time, it was very time consuming, because I had to not only colour the page in, I had to go over it with the water pen, and retouch the colours to make them look more vibrant. This was because, once the water disperses the ink, it fades a little, so I had to go over it again, to make sure the colours popped. However, I’m not going to lie, I still absolutely love this picture, and while I might try recreating it, using proper watercolour paints instead, I don’t think anything is going to top this one.
Not only that, but I also use these brush pens when I do calligraphy, especially in my bullet journal, or when I feel like trying something new, other than creating flowers or landscapes. It’s so much easier to use these pens, than trying to create fake calligraphy with a regular pen. The reason why is because all you need to do when using them, is to control the amount of pressure you use when you write with them.
What I mean is, when you want a very thin line, especially for the upstrokes, you just need to simply hover the brush over the page, so that the tip of it is touching it. Of course, when you want to make very wide lines, for the downstrokes, you just apply a little more pressure on the brush, so it creates that stroke.
It’s All About The Colours
Ok, so what do I think of these brushes? I love them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t absolutely love them, they’re not my ideal, especially when I want to practice my watercolour art, but they are gorgeous pens, and I wouldn’t mind using them all the time, especially when it comes to calligraphy and smaller images. In fact, I’d prefer them over the Tombow pens, you get in arts and crafts stores. This is because the Tombow pens are thicker than these brush pens, and they’re not actual brushes.
What I mean is they don’t have brush hairs. The tip of the Tombow brush imitates brushes, and in that respect, they’re great for what they do, but you can never truly get that ultra-thin line, that’s like 0.3mm thick, because the tip of the brush is just a bit too thick, no matter how high you hold the pen. So, the Arteza Real Brush Pens are much nicer to use, because they are real brushes, with brush hairs.
Not only that, when you blend the colours together, they really blend well, especially when using the water pen to create the gradient. Basically, you can blend them on the page, or off it, so that you can start in with your own colours. I’ve only just recently discovered this trick! It's where you can blend the ink on a plastic surface, before using the water pen to add it to the paper, and it’s absolutely gorgeous! You can bet I’ll be using this technique more often!
But What’s Wrong With Them?
Now, here’s the thing about the Arteza Real Brush Pens; while they are perfect for drawing and calligraphy, they’re also terrible for them too. Why? Let’s start off with the watercolour drawings first. When you paint with them, and I mean using proper watercolour techniques, you can’t saturate the page too much. If you’re using the wet-on-wet technique, you’re going to have to modify it to damp-on-wet. The reason why is because the water on the page, will suck up the ink from the pen, almost immediately.
When I first started to try to paint with these pens, I kept saturating the page too much, to see if I can get that full bloom you get, with proper watercolour paints; you know, the kind you use to create galaxy style skies or those watercolour splotches so that it looks like a gradient of different colours in an ink stain. Initially, I thought that it was because the pens didn’t like the water, but no. They are designed that way on purpose. I’m guessing that the pens are trying to keep as much of the ink in, as possible, so that they last longer. That's why it doesn’t bode well if you’re not careful with the water pen.
So, if you do want that watercolour effect, you’re going to need to keep the page damp, but not too wet. That way, the ink doesn’t get sucked up too quickly. It’s a real bummer, especially when you want to fill the page, or cover large areas. It’s the reason why I only use them for small drawings and not full landscapes. I find it tedious when I have to constantly go over what I’d painted, just to get the vibrancy I want.
Another reason why I’m not totally in love with these pens is precisely the fact that they’re real brushes. The hairs of the brush can stick out, especially if you push the cap on too quickly and catch some, so they bend. So, when I do practise my calligraphy, I have to make sure that the hairs are all pointing in the same direction so that I don’t get an extra line when I touch the page with the pen. Of course, you could argue that I shouldn’t rush when I put the cap on, but sometimes, especially when I use the wet-on-wet technique, I’m trying to use my second colour, before the page dries out. So, it’s unavoidable that I’ll miss the brush and clip some of the hairs.
I still like these pens. They’re useful and they’re vibrant. Not only that, they’re multi-purpose pens. So, I can pretty much use them for whatever, like when I’m practising my Japanese or Korean calligraphy, or when I’m writing out cards or decorating my bullet journal, or even when I’m practising my watercolour art, they’re very handy, I don’t even need to blend the colours sometimes. They’re already the colour I want.
So, you can bet, I will keep buying these pens if ever they run out on me. Even though the price ranges from around £30 to £75, they are worth the money I spent on them. Like I said, I bought these pens a few years ago…at least 2 years ago, maybe, and they haven’t dried out on me yet!
I will also say that even though they aren’t great for big images, they are great for small ones, and that’s perfect for someone who’s not a professional artist, or who just wants to try out art for the first time. They’re great for the types of doodles you’ll find on postcards, or greetings cards, or even stickers! So, no matter what, I am going to stay loyal to these pens…at least for now, unless someone recommends me a different set, in which case, it won’t hurt to try.
Well, that’s about it from me today. I hope you guys are at least tempted to try these pens out because they really are fun and easy to use. If you do, let me know what you thought of them, and what new techniques you’ve come up with, when you used them. Maybe I can give it a try. Anyway, I’ll see you guys in my next review!
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