Another man of culture, with a cup of coffee

drawing of a man in front of a big C with a cup of coffee in his left hand
Sepia ink on Strathmore toned tan paper, white pencil. By Eelco Bruinsma, 2014

After a first great experience with Strathmore’s Toned Tan paper, sepia ink by Rohrer & Klingner, and pencil I started to draw an alphabet, beginning, why not, with the C.

Medieval manuscript illustration is famous for its large initials, enhanced and embellished with drawings and decorations. There are two categories: decorated initials, with mainly abstract, or floral motives; and historiated initials, with little painted scenes. These are the most fascinating ones, because they can be humorist, or fantastic, or symbolic. I think it is my background in medieval art history, with a specialisation in manuscripts, which constantly draws me to do little drawing of letters with people around them. Not as delicate as the medieval ones though.

The guy on this drawing is having a cup of coffee. The C is not meant to be the capital initial of the word ‘Coffee’. But that’s for another post.

The drawing is scanned at 300 dpi on a Canon flatbed scanner with minimal color correction in Photoshop CC 2014. The heightened whites are gently drawn in with a white pencil, not too heavy, so that the structure of the 80 lb/118 g/m2 paper is still visible. My Strathmore bloc is a 55 in. by 85.5 in. (14 x 21,6 cm) 400 series one.

And what a plethora of artists’ materials on the Strathmore website:

Not to forget Rohrer & Klingner:



Cultured man, sepia on Strathmore toned tan

cultured man by Eelco Bruinsma
Cultured man. Sepia on toned paper. Eelco Bruinsma 2014


Recently I visited the supplier of artists’ material in town and noticed a small sketchbook by the well-known Strathmore brand. It contains toned paper (toned tan, to be precise) but in stead of the expected roughness, it felt remarkably smooth.  I usually work on Bristol board, because I like a clean line, so decided to give it a go. With a bottle of  Rohrer & Klingner sepia drawing ink (‘Zeichentusche’) to complete the purchase I headed home and started a first sketch.

The pen slides over the paper with only the slightest resistance. The pencilled sketch lines erase very well, while the white heightening pencil gets just enough grip to leave a subtle white to set if off enough. Nice! The paper doesn’t wrinkle, even when using gouache. I also tried artists’ markers, and while they bled through a bit, the lines stayed nicely confined to the areas I wanted to tone.

(Edit. I gave the drawing to my neighbour, and friend Willem, who liked the drawing. It’s in good and appreciative hands, and I still have a good digital copy.)

And what a plethora of artists’ materials on the Strathmore website:

Not to forget Rohrer & Klingner: