Dual-purpose dollar store drawing pen

Isn’t it great when you feel you can accomplish a lot with just a little? My day started off with voting in the municipal election. The voter card said we should bring our own blue or black pen, to save on single-use pencils, so grabbed a dollar store black ballpoint pen. After voting, I decided to draw my favourite tree, with the same pen. I haven’t drawn much with a ballpoint pen, but it is SO great for building up dark areas and values very slowly. I loved using it. Smooth paper is ideal for pen work, so I drew on a block of Fabriano Hot Press paper, instead of my usual rougher textured sketchbooks.

This is the ninth year I draw this tree. If you know this maple from previous drawings of it, you may notice that this is the first time I try it in monochrome. That’s because my drawing inspiration today is France Van Stone, who you may know on Instagram as @wagonized. I’ve been following (and loving!) France’s work for a long time, and I had the chance to meet her for coffee yesterday in Montreal. We didn’t draw together because we ended up talking the whole time, but I decided to give my ballpoint pen a try today. If you don’t know France’s work, be sure to check it out, and have a look at her courses too!

20 Comments on “Dual-purpose dollar store drawing pen”

  1. Northern Traveller says:

    This is really lovely Shari. So much beautiful fall light in the tree – I imagine the foliage to be yellow :). Don’t you love a “bargain” art supply? xx


  2. Jeff Gold says:

    I love the hatching and built up tonal textures, particularly the shadowed areas around the cars and the foreground shadows. It has a wonderfully “graphic” feeling. I really enjoy using ballpoint pen for the same reason.


  3. Michel Gagnon says:

    Well done, for me, you captured the essence of the tree as truly living organism. As always appreciate the sharing of your creativity. Take care.

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. Chris Rusk says:

    Such energy! (tree’s branches ‘reaching out’) and drama (cars in the background, far enough away and dark – but ‘there’).

    This drawing is really nice – I think ball point as a medium is highly underrated. Thanks for bringing it back to mind 🙂


  5. jeanne1937 says:

    Doesn’t matter what you draw with, it’s always beautiful!!


  6. Denise says:

    Fabulous, almost more expressive than in color!


  7. Jérôme Guenette says:



  8. De says:

    I’m almost speechless at this beautiful sketch seemed to be done with such ease with minimal tools. I’m grateful for you sharing your daily artistic endeavors.


  9. mcammeehan says:

    Shari, you are the only person I know who can turn a trip to a voting station into a work of art! Fabulous


  10. Laura Kate says:

    This drawing is a great example of hatching/cross hatching. I plan to share it with my grandson, who is a beginning sketcher.


  11. Iona says:

    Wow, I was hoping to see your favourite tree again this fall – great to see it in monochrome. Any art medium is valid and it’s good to see unexpected versions of repeated yearly sketches. I love looking back at your versions of that tree. This one is fabulous. Thanks for sharing.


  12. Very good drawing with the ballpoint pen, you really captured the impression of the tree and the cars!!


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