The reed pen is a very simple instrument that van Gogh used to perfection during his time in Arles. Vincent made his own pens and after buying some I see why. The pens that you can buy at art supply stores are made of bamboo and the ones that I bought were marked small, medium and large – all the same price. It took me a little while to figure out what the sizing meant. The sticks were similar in size and it was actually the points that were different sizes. After using the pens, I’ve decided to modify them to suit my needs because I find that the finer points aren’t very useful.
Drawing with a reed pen is fun and requires a mark making language. Mine needs more development. The paper I used was a heavy weight, 140 lb., hot pressed watercolor paper. van Gogh used laid paper and I did find some at Staples but haven’t tried it yet, other than to scribble and see how it feels. The reed pen flows better on the stationery than the watercolor paper. I’ll keep trying other papers until I find one that works best for me.
Here is my attempt at a reed pen ink drawing: