Working With A Two-Nib Technique

I got my dip pen and ink out this past Friday morning after toning some canvas panels for upcoming paintings. I’ve been accumulating quite a few old pen and ink instruction manuals, mostly via archive.org, but also “real” books. At least a couple have mentioned that some drawings may require two or even three nibs. I’ve never used more than one on a drawing, so thought I’d give two a try.
My model was the work of master artist Joseph Pennell, who literally wrote the book on pen and ink art “Pen Drawing and Pen Draughtsmen” published in 1889. He clearly used an extra fine nib for the backgrounds of some of his landscapes and a heavier line nib for the foreground.
I used a Gillott No. 291 Mapping nib (designed especially for cartographers, but is a highly recommended nib for artists also) for the background and a Gillott No. 170 for the eucalyptus tree and the fence posts. I used a 7×5″ Pentalic Nature Sketchbook and a reference photos I shot on the Lost Coast. I’m working towards using dip pens and ink for location sketching. Still working out best to handle the ink with minimal spill risk. There are a lot of different types of late 19th/early 20th century “travel ink wells” out there on eBay and Etsy. I did find a nice affordable leather-covered one and will start with it.
Below are a few work-in-progress images:

Someone else writing about Joseph Pennell discusses how careful he was about drawing the “sky holes” in his trees and the importance of starting with a good drawing over which to add the ink. So I tried to be mindfull of that when drawing the eucalyptus tree.
I decided to start in the distance with the lightest tones and move to the foreground. The change of nibs automatically created the desired value contrast.
The last steps were to add the fence coming in from the the right and hatch in the darkest dark areas of the tree, both leaf shapes and the trunk.

For a first time experiment I was pretty pleased and am looking forward to trying another one with three nibs!

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