Over the last month or so I have tried to fit in some random sketches to continue my trial of the Ackerman pump pen with fairly interesting results.
I may have mentioned in my last review that the pump pen would be really handy when I’m sketching en plein air, instead of having to balance a small ink bottle in my hand. However the results were never good.
I made a point of not using it straight away, ie I kept it in my bag for a few hours before using it. One plus was that it never leaked, but I could never complete a drawing, even in a relatively small sketchbook.
I started to draw the two people sitting under a tree (see below – on the right page), but the ink seized up. That evening I took it out again to test it and ran it under some cold water. It started to flow again and everything else you see on the page is from that attempt. But it wasn’t flowing freely, it was a bit stop/start and that it just stopped completely or ran out of ink to be more precise.
When I started my 2012 Urban Sketches book I was hoping to use the pump pen, but it wasn’t working for me. You can see how the ink and linework starts to dilute or seize up on the right. The pen may have only been half full when I used it, but the double page above was a full pen.
Today I gave it another shot but I stayed home, at my desk, and it worked fine. Below are two examples and how “long” the ink lasted before I had to refill the pen. This book is about 14x14cm (5.5×5.5 inches). The ink flowed really well and I had no problems at all.
So I guess you can work out my summation of this pen…
OUTDOORS: it’s not reliable, and even if it was I would still have to carry an ink bottle around with me to refill and finish an A4 drawing, which defeats the purpose of it being more practical.
INDOORS: it’s great, I didnt have any issues drawing with it despite just getting use to the format itself.
The only glitch was when I pressed it air bubbles came out underneath the pen unit (see below). The bubbles are a way of telling you the reservoir is running low, but it should appear on top of the nib. I may have unscrewed the unit and not closed it properly. However, as unsettling as it looks it didnt splash out anywhere, and I managed to keep my hands completely free of ink this time! Yay!
Filling up the pen is a little slow, and if you have big hands and a little ink bottle it may be a bit cumbersome, but it takes little maintenance considering my pen sat there for weeks on end without use, and I didnt have to clean it out to use it again (I’ve only ever had indian ink in it). I probably wouldn’t advise keeping ink there if you dont plan to use for a while as I think it dries up in the reservoir anyway.
My final words on the pump pen are that… I like it, but I dont LOVE it. If it’s easy enough for you to purchase one then its a nice addition to your drawing aresenal. I would also allow some time to goose around with it before attempting any major pieces.
Maybe this is the first make of the pump pen, and like all products in their early incarnations the manufacturers will develop and refine its design over the years for better or wider use.
If you would like to read my first review, click here. And feel free to contact me for any questions – I’m not an expert in it and can only give you my own short experiences worth.