Monday, March 17, 2014

Review of J. Herbin's Bouton D'or Fountain Pen Ink #J_Herbin #Exclair #FountainPens

Today I'm here to talk a little bit about color theory and to review J. Herbin's Bouton D'or Fountain pen ink
 
I debated about whether to review this ink or not.  Obviously, a bright yellow ink has limited use because it won't show up well on many papers.  You might be able to highlight with it, but most fountain pen inks are going to show through the back of the page in a book.  So why would you buy J. Herbin's Bouton D'or to write with?   If you really like yellow, you might find a paper that is just right for it, or just use it for contrast.  If you wanted to write when others were around, it would limit their ability to snoop.  You might use it for art journaling where you don't always need to read what is written.  
My reason for buying it?  Let's talk about color theory. 
One aspect of color theory claims there are three primary colors from which all other colors can be mixed.  When talking about pigment, the traditional primary colors are blue, red and yellow.  When talking about light (or printers) the three primary colors are cyan, magenta...and yellow. 
Do you see where I'm going here?  I use my fountain pen inks primarily for drawing.  Even if I'm not mixing my colors,  I need yellow to really do what I want to do.  And Bouton D'or is a beautiful buttercup yellow. 
Another part of color theory talks about the temperature of a color.  Colors are warm or cold according to whether they remind you of fire or ice.  Even a warm color, such as yellow, has degrees of warm or cold.  A yellow that leans toward orange is warmer than a yellow than leans toward green.  To my eye, Bouton D'or is about midway, tending a little to the warm. 
Let's look at the ink for writing. 
 
On my screen, this scan is readable.  It is more readable in real life, but you wouldn't be able to read it in sunlight or other bright light.   
This was written on a somewhat slick Clairefontaine paper that is fountain pen friendly.  The ink dried fairly quickly, considering the nature of the paper and the 'wetness' of the ink.  I did find that temperature (as in how warm the room is) seemed to matter more than with some ink,s when it came to drying time. 
My scanner doesn't like yellow, turning it white or green.  However, what I see here is very close to the true color (your screen may show if differently).  The areas where I saturated it, show up the best, so if you want to write with it, I'd use a larger nib.  The ink flowed easily even though I was using a Kaweco Sport, which I find a bit scratchy.
So, now on to drawing.  As might be expected, Bouton D'or shows up best when next to other primary colors.  J. Herbin advises that you not mix their ink colors, and I don't in the bottle.  However, I do go over one color with another on the paper.  Since the inks are not water-proof, coloring over reactivates the first color somewhat, and you'll get a mix.  Yellow, usually changes more than red or blue, and that was the case here. 
But you don't see much green or orange or purple in this drawing--just hints.  If you let the first color sit a bit, the color doesn't change too much.  This will vary with the ink and the paper.  Here I used J. Herbin's 1670 Ocean Bleu and Rouge Hematite.  The paper was hard and smooth in texture.  Not quite cardstock, but tending that way. 
For my second drawing I used a mixed-media paper that was softer in texture with more tooth, though it would still be considered fairly smooth.  I used hatching method (drawing lines next to each other) and squirkling (a kind of scribbling), both techniques that allows some of the paper white and other layers of color to show through.   On this paper, the colors did not reactivate as much.  More color blending is visual rather than actual color change on the page.
 
Bouton D'or is readable, as long as your lighting isn't too bright, but it wouldn't be a color you would probably use too often, unless you really like yellow. 
If you're going to use it for drawing, it will bring life and brightness to your work.  While it's too light to stand on it's own, it's a perfect supporting color, taking on new life when surrounded by other color, and making the other colors  perform at their best! I wish I'd bought it much sooner.  
I'll tell you outright that few fountain pen inks are lightfast or archival.  This doesn't bother me.  The inks are gorgeous, and produce beautiful works.  I'll save them by scanning them, photographing them or having prints made if I really want something to hang on the wall.  That said, I've yet to see any fading on the work I've done over the past couple of years, but I'm sure they will fade eventually.   
I'm not the only person who uses fountain pen inks for their art.  While looking for other reviews, I found this this page: Painting with ink – Part 2.  Her work is beautiful, and I sure there are many others.  I'll have to spend some time looking for them when I get the chance.
 And some other reviews:
Disclaimer: I bought this ink because I lusted after a bright yellow ink.  Jetpens and Exaclair, Inc. do send me items for review and giveways but not this item.  All opinions are my own.

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