Art Tools of Francis Theo

Francis Theo is a sketcher from Urban Sketchers Singapore. Since joining the group in 2012, he has been sketching frequently and has now filled more than a dozen sketchbooks.

Qn: You are more a pen and ink guy. Can you talk about the pens you have used in the past and which ones do you use most often?

Oh dear, pen & ink guy. Must try watercolour soon. Hahaha.

I used Hero (from China), Delli (from India), vintage Mont Blanc, Lamy Safari, Pilot Falcon and free pens.

My favorite are Lamy Safari B nib, Pilot Falcon B & M nibs and a free pen (free from a promotional event).

Qn: What are some of the criteria you look for when buying or choosing the pen for your sketching purposes?

It have to be affordable, flex nibs, nib size, smooth ink flow.

Qn: For the ink itself, given the myriad of brand in the market, what are some of the brands you are currently using and the one you like best?

So far I have used Hero, Daler Rowney Calli and Noodler’s.

I like Noodler’s for the wide range of colours but they are expensive and have to order online.

Daler Rowney Calli colour are intense, reasonable price but limited colour. I love mixing Calli ink. My choice is Daler Rowney Calli Ink.

Qn: What watercolours do you use for your washes? Any specific brand?

Shinhan, Talens and Holbein.

Qn: I noticed you use a variation of sketching papers. Can you elaborate on your drawing process and how each different kind of sketchbooks appeal to you?

I sketched on any paper that I can get hold, Chinese rice paper, back of parking coupons, pastel paper, home made sketchbook from recycle paper, cheap and expensive sketch books.

Some sketchbooks I used are Daler Rowney, Moleskine, Muji, Sennelier, Stillman & Birn and Nude Sketchbook.

When I joined the Urban Sketchers Singapore in 2012, I have no confidence in my sketch. I sketched with a pencil and go over with pen. After a few sketchwalks I begin to sketch with my first HERO 9018 pen, the rest are history.

Most of my sketches are landscape format. Moleskine Japanese Album and Daler Rowney Panorama Sketchbook are ideal for my need. The accordion design of Moleskine Japanese Album allow me to continue sketch a whole street scene or merging from one scene to another.

I used Square format sketchbooks for sketching tight subjects and the good thing is that I can spread open to sketch landscape format.

When travelling I prefer to travel light, the ideal size to bring is the landscape format (21 x 13 cm ) sketchbook. It is light to carry can slip into my sling bag easily.

Qn: You use dry medium like coloured pencils for some of your works. What are the appeal of coloured pencils for you?

The coloured pencils are not my favourite, I preferred the 4 in 1 coloured pencils. All I need for field sketching is a sketchbook, one 4 in 1 color pencil and a pencils sharpener. I use the Caran D’ache coloured pencils at home, it is too bulky to bring out for field work.

Qn: What watercolour brushes are you using currently?

I use Taklon Ashley, Holbein, Pentel pen brush, some old brushes from BVI days ( can’t read the brand ) and Make-up brushes from my wife.

Qn: What are art supplies do you hope to get in the future for your drawing purposes?

More choices of affordable good fountain pens, drawing inks and sketchbooks.

Qn: What are things you look out for when urban sketching?

Since I was a teen, I have been fascinated by buildings, cityscape and landscape, especially old buildings.

Instead of drawing them I photographed. Because of my photography background, I approach my subject and capture from a photographer perspective — compose and visualise in my mind before I sketch.

Qn: Who's the next artist do you think we should feature?

Don Low, my idol. He multi talented artist . He will inspire a lot new artists.

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