Kuretake Brush Pen Review

Tinkering with dip pens + ink is quite addictive in the best way. So I’m quite in love with flex-nibs and totally into learning how to effectively alter the quality of a line via pressure and angle and ink flow... a skill that will take years to build. I'm practicing and seeing what I can create. 

Anyhow — this is quite out of the ordinary - but I have a method to this madness. I never review any material that I haven’t used consistently for at least six (6) months.* That way I can see the ins & outs of the art material, see how my use evolves, move up the learning curve, and see if I actually USE it regularly. *My reviews are not funded by anyone. I purchase the materials and make my own independent review.

So one of the pens I’ve been using for awhile is the Kuretake 40 brush pen — it is time for my official review. Purchased from Jet Pens {fab service]; you can also find it at Amazon.

Getting up to speed. It's easy to pop in the ink cartridge. I'm not adept with fiddly stuff and it's foolproof. When you first install the ink cartridge you've got to draw for 5-10 minutes to get the ink flowing {the clear liquid in the original cartridge keeps the brush from drying out} so the ink at first is diluted.

See the light gray ink below? ⬇️ I started on the left side of this 3x5" watercolor moleskine and the first base layer of rectangles shows the thinned version of the paint. Keep drawing and the ink will get fantastically black.

Getting to the Point. I love this pen. The ink flow is dreamy. It's totally fun.

Ink Pros & Cons. The ink supplied with the pen {refills available at Jet Pens} is not permanent. For example, if you paint immediately after drawing, the ink will seriously bleed. But wait a day or two and then you can add color {see the gouache-painted playing card} to your design with a milder bleed that you can play to your advantage. I love working with ink that is not permanent. For some, this is a negative, especially if you want to draw and add a wash while out and about. Or if working amidst snow flurries or by the pool.

On the other hand, you can simply switch to a different cartridge if permanent ink is desired. I tried the Platinum Carbon and it works like a charm. Jet black, just like the ink you get with the pen, but permanent, yay!

 3x5" index card divider; brush pen first, gouache second, artwork by Tammy Garcia.

3x5" index card divider; brush pen first, gouache second, artwork by Tammy Garcia.

Ergonomics. I have been dealing with hand pain since this spring and looked for an alternative to a dip pen that would allow me to continue working with the variables of pressure, ink, angle, etc. Writing with a dip pen was aggravating the problem; the brush pen requires significantly less pressure than a dip pen. It does not aggravate my finger pain because it's like a brush! The weight is balanced and feels comfortable. That’s good!

The official review!

5 stars for usability
5 stars for quality
5 stars for ink flow

The ink flows beautifully, like a super firm watercolor brush. I'm happy to report that I love this pen! It's a keeper!!!

Tip!

After about 4 months, the brush didn't seem as flexible, so I contacted Jet Pens {marvelous customer service} to ask questions. I didn’t know that I needed to clean the brush! That’s part of the learning process — so the next time I changed the ink I cleaned the nib with dishwashing liquid and warm water and it works perfectly once again! So it was simply my lack of knowledge about keeping the nib clean.

Travel Options. This pen traveled quite well! For a 3-week European adventure across 4 countries on planes, buses, trains & automobiles, the pen performed perfectly.  I literally put in the cartridge the day before we left on the trans-oceanic flight and crossed my fingers and hoped for the best! [OK yes, I took other pens, just in case!] Yay, it worked flawlessly on a long-haul flight. No leakage, no inky mess. This was one of several pens that I packed.

▶︎ By the way, here's what I took on the trip. I travel with very few art materials and then focus on what I've got! Limiting materials is a fantastic way to grow your skills! Took the Kuretake box & 2 refill cartridges [you get three with the pen], a tiny 3x5" watercolor moleskine journal, 5x8" watercolor moleskine, index cards, gelly rolls, UM-153s and PITT pens. Pens + paper = infinite possibility.

 3x5" gridded index card, drawn on a bus from The Czech Republic to Munich.

3x5" gridded index card, drawn on a bus from The Czech Republic to Munich.

 3x5" watercolor moleskine

3x5" watercolor moleskine

 3x5" stitched index card, inked on tea stained background, artwork by Tammy Garcia.

3x5" stitched index card, inked on tea stained background, artwork by Tammy Garcia.

 3x5" watercolor moleskine

3x5" watercolor moleskine

 3x5" index card divider, inked on gouache background, another from the bus.

3x5" index card divider, inked on gouache background, another from the bus.

 3x5" watercolor moleskine.

3x5" watercolor moleskine.

Want a brush pen but not into dealing with cartridges? A pen that's more like a magic marker?

For a softer brush nib, try Faber-Castell PITT artist pens and for a firmer brush nib try Sakura Pigma.

Also, I keep my pens + pencils in several Japanese pen cases, so I did a review of those too! 

drawing, ink, reviewDaisy Yellow