Marianne Morris | Artist

Living Life in Full Colour

A pen and a sketchbook is all I need…

Ink sketch done on the beach in Albufeira, Portugal

I loved the rocks and trees by the beach. I tried to capture it a few times.

Oh, it’s good to be home. I had a great time, and I am so incredibly inspired… but hell, it’s wonderful to sleep in my own bed. I missed my home, I missed my boys, and I missed grocery shopping in English.

I am so fortunate that I was able to paint during my visit. It’s not a luxury I would have had if I stayed in a hotel. I will be eternally grateful to my host for the opportunity. But as an artist looking for inspiration, I know that all I need is a sketchbook and a pen. The rest is a bonus.

My drawings started off a bit rough… after the first time out I was actually beginning to think I had forgotten how to draw. It has been a long time, after all. But persistence is one of those things that usually pay off. After a few days working consistently I started to feel more comfortable. My drawings improved. Then I discovered my new fountain pen has water-soluble ink… what an awesome discovery!  I also got out my watercolours and did a few coloured sketches. By three weeks in I was doing a couple drawings a day along with whatever else I was working on. It’s like I found myself again.

Now if only I can manage to hang onto this feeling now that I’m back at work. Easer said than done, I fear.


  1. “I missed grocery shopping in English.” Yeah. Try it for three years. Enough said.

    This is timely, as I took out my sketchbook last week for the first time since leaving Europe. I’m really rusty. Your sketches are lovely and have a looseness that I aspire to. So what sort of pen/ink are you using?

    • I have a cheap, disposable fountain pen and a waterbrush. I was looking for fountain pen I could refill, but I wasn’t sure I would like it… up until now I’ve used fine felt-tipped pens or a quill pen with india ink. Those ones are a bit pricier. Now that I know I like to draw with a fountain pen I’ll invest in something a bit nicer. I loved that the ink was water soluble… no hatching to create shadows! I’ll make sure I can get that in a bottle before I invest. A sepia would be nice.

      • When I was taking art classes in Budapest, I did a lot of drawings with India ink and a brush, with water for shadows. While I like working that way, it isn’t very portable. I use refillable fountain pens all the time, but interestingly enough, have never tried them for drawing. I’ll have to play around and see what I have that will work. I have a couple of water brushes on hand. Just have to remember to use it in a sketchbook with decent paper.

        • I’m just working in a regular sketchbook. Nothing special with the paper. I just keep the water to a minimum. And have a paper towel in hand in case I overdo it.

      • Since you live in the GTA, you have the luxury of Wonderpens on Carlaw Avenue, my favourite expert resource for all things pen. I bought my lovely yellow Lamy Safari there – piston converter for quick refilling – and Noodlers ink. I also use an old Parker for soluble ink. Load it into a used cartridge using a plunger device, also from Wonderpen. Love your drawings.

        • Thank you Tony, I didn’t even know that place existed. I will certainly stop by next time I am in the area. I was looking at the Lamy Safari online, wondering if I should order one. It would be nice to have one with a finer tip than what I have now… it makes a nice line, but I can’t do really detailed work.

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