View Full Version : Bamboo or reed pen portraits

10-01-2012, 08:08 AM
Two artists that spring to mind for masterful ink drawings, using reed or bamboo pens are van Gogh and Rembrandt.


Bamboo pens are cut from ... lengths of bamboo stems. You can buy them from art shops or you can make your own...

Info on how to make your own bamboo pen



For this month's drawing project, use a bamboo or reed pen to create a self portrait, or drawing of someone in your environment, on TV, or from a reference photo.

Please post your finished art works here.


10-01-2012, 08:10 AM
Some inspiration from van Gogh:





10-01-2012, 08:15 AM
Some inspiration from Rembrandt







10-01-2012, 08:25 AM
Info on how to make a bamboo pen


10-01-2012, 09:25 AM
i dont believe ive ever heard of a reed pen, and the bamboo pens ive seen i thought were like long handle with this brushes....is this sort of like using caligraphy pens for drawings? tyree:confused:

10-01-2012, 09:41 AM
Hi Tyree. Bamboo pens are cut from a stem of bamboo....like the garden bamboo sticks used for propping up plants. I posted a link to a page which shows how to make your own. Info on how to make a bamboo pen


You can also buy them quite cheaply from art suppliers.

Reed pens are cut from reeds growing by rivers or canals. I've never used those...but it would be fun to try. Unfortunately, I don't live near water!!

You could use a stick skewer, a chopstick, or maybe a twig instead!!

If you want to, you can use any other pen for this project!!

10-01-2012, 09:45 AM
Here's a quick attempt at a self portrait using a bought bamboo pen. It shows the usual 'grim' self portrait expression. I hope to do more portraits, not so grim, using bamboo this month....:lol:


10-02-2012, 08:00 AM
Cute self portrait. I am inspired...unfortunetly it's raining so I can't go out twig hunting, but I do have a couple of bamboo pens. Can't wait to get started. :heart:

10-02-2012, 10:32 AM
that is a cute portrait!!!! tyree:wave:

10-07-2012, 02:28 PM
Thank you, June, for the challenge.

Here's some practice with bamboo pen and ink. The first one was with Bombay India ink and it just wouldn't stick to the pen.

The rest are with sumi ink.






A Hong Kong actor in the action packed movie The Viral Factor. Great action piece.


10-09-2012, 12:56 PM
you've created such wonderful drama to the faces....nice works!!!!! tyree:wave:

10-09-2012, 02:07 PM
These are wonderful portraits, Sandra. Is the sumi ink in stick form and is it waterproof? It gives a good black line!

10-11-2012, 10:42 AM
Fierce faces, Sandra...very good use of bamboo pen. The first one has a watercolor feel that looks hard with a pen. Did it have a broad nib?

Here are a few quickies with bamboo. Want to try some other tools also.


From imagination with lopsided eyes and a Marcel Duchamp look.



10-12-2012, 02:31 AM
Hi Janet. I love the study of feet. Also good work on the faces.

I think bamboo is a lovely tool and lets us make such expressive marks.

I haven't done any more but I hope to before the end of the month!!

10-13-2012, 01:46 PM
Janet, good sketches there.

I used sumi ink from a bottle. All sumi ink are waterproof. My bamboo pen is actually medium nib. I still find it hard to pick up ink.

10-14-2012, 07:09 AM
Thanks for the info on your pen and ink Sandra. I decided to use a pipe cleaner on these two just to see what happens...sort of interesting. Now back to bamboo or a twig.




10-14-2012, 04:34 PM
Janet, totally different feel when it's brush furry like.

Today, I experimented on dried lemon grass reed to paint with sumi ink on brown cardstock. It's easier than the retail bamboo pen in terms of picking up ink because it's thinner.

Added Derwent pastel pencils.



A monster doodle with added white Uniball Signo gel pen. This one is inspired by Andrew Rackham.


10-15-2012, 02:13 AM
Janet. I really like the expressiveness of the pipe cleaner in that female portrait.

Sandra, good idea to combine some colour with the ink lines. A trick to help the bamboo pen pick up ink is to soak the bamboo pen in water for a couple of hours before using it. I read that somewhere.

10-15-2012, 08:40 AM
Like the brown paper with the black ink, and the color touches are just right. I'm going twig hunting this morning, hard to control so you get interesting results..

10-15-2012, 12:45 PM
janet....wonderful studies and styles.....sandra....love the monster one...its terrfic...tyree:wave:

12-04-2012, 07:44 PM
Here is one I did for school (again) is bamboo pen and wash. Is meant to be a movement sequence, I chose shadow boxing. The shadow strikes back.... mwahhhaaaa


12-07-2012, 12:44 AM
Hahaha....totally love this piece, Jacqui. Such great sense of humor and action. Art school sounds so fun, and you make your pieces so fun!!!! Love it, love it.

12-28-2012, 09:19 PM
Thanks so much Sandra. I am loving art school, still have another 2 years, yeah!!!
Here is a quick portrait sketch I did today, bamboo pen and ink. He looks kind of scary... lol


12-29-2012, 09:16 AM
He looks pensive, Jacqui. Good one.

12-30-2012, 02:31 PM
Hear is one I did with a regular drawing pen. I recently got some ink and started trying with a dip pen but they are far from being postable as half the time I get no ink and half the time huge blobs spring forth!

This is done after Van Gogh's potato eaters painting, tho I cropped and changed the comp to fit the paper.


12-30-2012, 03:43 PM
Hi Glean! Welcome to the forum and this thread on pen & ink. This is a lovely study of van Gogh's potato eaters. The cross-hatching technique gives an airiness/openness to the drawing and suits van Gogh's imagery. Your people have character. Nicey done!

What do you mean by regular pen? Is that a drawing pen such as a pitt pen. I like to use those as they flow and you have no blobs. Recently, I got a set of various nibs...but I am nervous about using them in case of blots. The bamboo pen, funnily enough, seems blob-free. Have you tried bamboo?

12-30-2012, 04:24 PM
Thanks for the welcome and comments ArtbyJune,

I'm sorry, I meant a plain writeing pen. It was a fine point roller pen that I picked up at walmart. I haven't tryed bamboo yet, tho I'v been meaning to. I have a painting I'm going to frame in bamboo at some point, so when I pick that up I'll get a few extra peices and try them for sure. I went looking for some reeds hopeing to try that as well, but it looks like I'll need to wait for spring to try that. I imagine they give a very similar effect, but maybe not. Can't wait to give it a try!