A Bad Workman (Drawing)

A Bad Workman Always Blames His Tools


Grrr.  This expression is all about pens to me.  I can remember my teachers critical know it all face when I was trying to explain that good handwriting and good pens go hand in hand (although not that eloquently).  Pen failure means failure to present well on the page.  Just because a bad workman always blames his tools doesn’t mean blaming one’s tools is a sign of being a bad workman.

Some tools are better for a job than others.  While Michaelangelo might have been able to work wonders with a biro I’m sure a modern day fountain pen would have given him chills – to see the way the ink flows effortlessly and every mark is the way you intend.

As it turned out this drawing didn’t really illustrate my point.  Because all 3 pens sort of did ok.  Although the PITT failed on ease of use with a light wrist, the Lamy failed on any marks other than a straight line following the nib and the Parker – well, it’s just not cut out for my kind of drawing – it’s all heavy with the ink with no tolerance for light gestures.

I can learn to adapt to any.  But I’d rather the tool worked with me than against.  For now.


  1. I love my dip pens and different nibs. They’re probably not the best option for some of the things I do – drawing on textured watercolour paper springs to mind – and sometimes I have to fight them to get results but that’s also what I love about them. They’re like cats.

    About the book comment a few posts down – do you know about lulu? You can self-publish on lulu.com and it’s print on demand so the only thing you pay for is copies of your book.

  2. LOL. I love that idea that dip pens are like cats! And yes – you are right of course sometimes fighting for the result is half the fun.

    I think I’m looking for a well behaved pen right now as wrestling with ideas is enough effort/reward at the moment!

    Thanks for the lulu link. I have heard of them. Hmmmm …

  3. My favorite drawing pen at the moment is an old Esterbrook J with a 9128 nib, which is semi-flexible. Apparently some 9128s are more flexible than others. I only have the one, but it’s definitely more flexible than the 2048 I had in the pen before. The ink flows with a very light touch and keeps up with quick strokes without any problem.

  4. I’m not an artist but I still like writing with a good pen. And I’d hate to play on a bad violin. So how about this response to that horrible quote: “A bad workman wouldn’t recognise a bad tool, and a good workman wouldn’t tolerate one”? That seems far more accurate to me.

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