Recent Obsessions. And Brush Pen Reviews.

There are themes I return to all the time, so I guess I have many recent obsessions.
There’s vintage cars that I understand nothing about but love the shapes of.
And there’s vintage signage, like this sign for the Sands Motel on Monterey Highway in San Jose.

And for when I don’t go outdoors to sketch, sketches of stuff I find on my kitchen counter. Like these shallots.

What all these pieces have in common are the tools I’m obsessed with right now.
brushpens_gelpensA Kuretake brush pen that I refill with Platinum Carbon Ink, a Pentel brush pen, and a Uniball white gel pen. Why the two brushpens? I started out with waterproof ink in one and non-waterproof ink in the other. (I use only waterproof ink now. Given how quickly I work and that I often use the pen over wet paint, I can get lines with the feathery, belnded quality of non-waterproof ink with a waterproof ink.)  Also, using the two pens side-by-side really helped compare them.

The verdict? The Pentel is a lovely pen, at a great price. If you’re unsure of whether you’re going to want a brushpen, get a Pentel try it out. At first, my linework and control was the same with the Pentel and the Kuretake. But over time, I’ve come to prefer my Kuretake. I find I have better control of my finer lines with it and it gives me better line modulation when I lift off the page. I also love the feel of the matte body. And since I use a convertor and refill it with ink, I can use my Platinum Carbon ink. (With the Pentel I use cartridges and can’t choose my ink)

Lots more sketches with these pens on my flickr stream right now.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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16 Responses to Recent Obsessions. And Brush Pen Reviews.

  1. Ann Patterson says:

    Hello Suhita,

    I learn so much from your spectacular drawings and choices of pen line and color. Thank you!

    I thought I might pass on a tip I learned about the pentel brush pen. You can refill the original cartridge with any ink you want by using the 5ml ink syringe set of two with steel needles from Also, the artist/sales person in my local art store told me he uses Black India radiograph ink 3084-F.bla that comes with a plastic syringe-like tip which fits into the original pentel cartridge. He claims it does not clog up the pen.

    Thanks again for all the inspiration, Ann

    Ann Patterson ~~ Sent from Mail sent to is forwarded here. Use either.


    • Thanks for the tip, Ann. I will certainly try that: actually I think I’ll get the syringe and fill then pen with a DeAtramentis document ink. I have been wanting a colored ink brushpen for a while.A question for you, incase you know: is the syringe on goulet pens any different form a regular medical syringe?


  2. MaxTracks007 says:

    Hi Suhita,

    I love the apparent ease with which you can just whip off a beautifully executed painting of a vintage car OR sign. Very impressive!

    BTW: The syringe on the Goulet Pens website is not any different than a 5 ml (cc) syringe I can get a my local pharmacy. Ask for a large bore needle that fits onto the syringe. CAUTION: Be sure to grind off the sharp point of the needle. I just used a knife sharpening “diamond” stone to do that but any smooth fine grain rock would also do the trick with a few drops of water and little “elbow grease”. With the flat tip needle you can also use the syringe to fill your Niji (Kuretake Co., Ltd.) water brushes without taking that little black plug out of the handle every time! Very convenient and tidy :o). I got a 10 ml (cc) syringe for the water brushes.


  3. MaxTracks007 says:

    One more tip. If you pull out the plunger part way, you can slip the needle inside the syringe cylinder for safe storage.


  4. ruthbyrn says:

    I see others have posted this tip already. I often use a medical syringe-with-needle to wash out fountain pen cartridges and then refill them with preferred ink. Once again, I love your work so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Margaret Hunt says:

    Interesting. I have the Pentel brush pen and adore it. Have been contemplating ways to refill the cartridges with other really bulletproof ink. Sometimes the Pentel isn’t. When it’s not what a mess!! So I need a Kuretake brush pen. Have two of the no refillable ones and there is definitely something wonderful about those pens. Amazon have them or did you get them from Goulet or jet?!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Margaret Hunt says:

    Ps meant to say artwork is awesome as usual. Posting one of my Pentel brush pen sketches in after three on. My blog. The ink ran like mad on the Daniel smith satercooor ground I used but I decided I actually liked the effect. if you want to look.


  7. Margaret Hunt says:

    Oh amazon dear amazon. I ordered a Kuratake brush pen and the refillable cartridge. 😃👍👏


  8. Margaret, I got mine at Jetpens: see the link in the post above. I also bought the convertor, so I could fill it. And the Platinum ink works really well for me. Noodlers bulletproof clogs my pens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Margaret Hunt says:

      Thanks. I figured it out and have already ordered one with the converter!! Justified it as cheaper than buying no refillable kuretake pens.
      I have Noodlers bulletproof and Eelskin. Both are supposed t be waterproof. They aren’t. I love carbon platinum black. Always waterproof!!! Oddly the Noodlers lexington gray has so far been waterproof and it’s not supposed to be. Random success I guess. Posted my blog. He Pentel brish ink was sooo bad.


  9. Ann Bodkhe says:

    Hi Suhita, I, too, love the Pentel Brush Pen. I save the used cartridge and fill it with Platinum Carbon ink or another ink of choice. It has to be filled at home since the cartridge isn’t sealed but it works! Ann


  10. Juergen Timm says:

    Hi Suhita, I have a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen but never use it because I have trouble controlling the line width. Most of the time I end up with fat blotches. Is there any magic that can help me out? In this post you mentioned that you preferred the Kuratake pen because fine line work is more controllable with it. Could this be an option for me? Thanks and all the best for you.


    • The Pentel Brush Pen takes practice. I’d try and think of it as a Japanese brush and use it like that: almost vertical for a fine line, and then almost horizontal for a thick one with all the variation between. Besides it can do twists and turns and record all the movements. Can’t say it’s easy, but it is convenient to carry around and very expressive.
      Good luck with it!


  11. Bruce Schlickbernd says:

    Did you ever try the de Atramentis document ink in either the Pentel or Kuretake? I’ve seen people report the Platinum Carbon Black works, but since I have the DeA Document Black and Brown sitting around and no Platinum Carbon Black, I’d love to avoid the cost of yet more ink. Thanks in advance,


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