The holidays seem to make everyone run around like a chicken, but yesterday, I had to sit down and laugh at myself. Continue reading
It’s that time of year when I don’t want to get rid of the Wild Rose bush that I never planted in the first place, and that fights me all Summer – with thorns being the least of her weapons.
But I came from Michigan a LONG time ago, and Fall leaves had lots of reds (Santa Fe leaves do not), so when this Wild Rose produces such amazing color every Fall, she stays on my “keeper” list. Continue reading
Everybody loves watercolor.
Now, before you start thinking that you don’t because of how difficult it is, and what a mess you can make if you don’t know what you are doing, here’s more what I am thinking.
Everybody at least loves to look at watercolor.
There is something so wonderful about all those brilliant colors tucked in a box like candy – eye candy for sure.
And watercolor is the most portable of paint mediums so it is very popular with sketchbook and journal people.
And it’s transparent so any white page is going to backlight it and make the color even more beautiful.
But watercolor is fickle.
It is not something you can throw around casually like you can some other types of paint because it has a mind of its own, because it demands respect.
Watercolor is NOT too difficult if you just take the time to understand it. Because it has a mind of its own, it demands that you give it the respect it deserves, or it will punish you by making a nice mess.
Brand and Quality Really Matter
With acrylic paints, and even oils, you can go a long way with student brands and not get in too much trouble. With little exception, even inexpensive brands behave well enough. They may not last or hold their color over a long period of time, but when you are painting with them, you pretty much get what you expect.
Not so with watercolor.
The pigment load (how much color is in it), staining and lifting qualities, flow and blending results vary tremendously between cheap student brands and more expensive professional brands.
For this reason, when learning watercolor, you are much better off with just a few tubes or pans of good quality paint than lots of colors of a cheap brand. You can mix most colors from just red, blue, and yellow, in fact.
And even among high end brands, there are very noticeable differences in behavior. These are not good and bad differences, however, because all the big brands are great, and only someone with lots of experience would notice the differences.
Most practicing watercolorists have favorite brands based on how the paint behaves in their own working style.
These are some very good brands, and the difference between them is a matter of personal preference (what works best for the way you do things).
Winsor-Newton, Daniel Smith, Schmincke-Horadam, Maimeri Blu, Holbein, Old Holland, Sennelier, and M. Graham.
Most artists have one or two favorite brands, and a few tubes of other brands in special colors that are not available in their favorite brand.
All brands can be used together in the same painting and mixed together on your palette.
After 40+ years of being a professional watercolorist, my favorite brands were Schmincke, Winsor & Newton, and some Daniel Smith.
When we were in Tubac for the retreat in March, I realized I had forgotten my tube of Yellow Ochre, which was absolutely necessary for painting adobe walls.
There is just one small art supply store in Tubac, and they carry just one brand of paint – one I had never tried – M. Graham. Their claim to fame is using blackberry honey as a binder.
Because I had no choice, I bought a tube.
After that, it was a good thing that art supply store was only a half block away from the inn, because I bought five more tubes.
I could not believe that a watercolor brand could be that different!
The paint is ultra creamy and stays moist so it wets instantly.
There is so much pigment that you need to use very little paint.
It blends like heaven, and lifts beautifully.
LUSCIOUS is the best word I can think of.
I came home from the retreat and starting filling out my palette – 33 tubes so far . . . and counting.
I got the best pricing by buying sets on Amazon:
This is hands-down my favorite, and because it is so different, it makes my “Most Amazing Art Supplies of the 21st Century” list. So far, we have Inktense and M.Graham Watercolors on the list.
I needed a new palette, so I got this one from Amazon
They have 6 left in stock, more on order . . . ($23.39 – Prime Shipping)
Open, it looks like this . . .
The trays lift out, so you have three big mixing palettes if you need them.
I keep my watercolors this neat by doing all my mixing on a separate palette. Some folks like a big messy, muddy palette, but I much prefer pure color – to look at and to use!
Looking at a box of color like this makes my heart leap.
But, it takes more than a beautiful paintbox to make beautiful watercolor paintings.
You also have to know what you are doing. You know what you are doing by learning all about what to expect from this medium and adjusting for it. Because watercolor is doing its own thing while you are trying to make it do your thing, it’s a lot like trying to herd kittens.
There is VERY LITTLE adequate watercolor instruction available for beginners, although there are hundreds of books and workshops on the subject.
Many of those books and workshops have great tips and techniques and sample paintings. Some even have step-by-step, but they are more like “leap-by-leap” instead, leaving the beginner wondering how on earth step B got to Step C. And forget about Step D!
And half of every book is devoted to introducing supplies and materials, providing a bunch of information the beginner is not ready for until they get their brush wet, so to speak.
What you really need is something that tells you to “do this” and then “do that” and “here’s what happens” when you do.
I wrote a workshop like that, and I think it’s the best beginner workshop there is.
You learn how the paint behaves and why, and exactly what you need to do – and why. And even how your own studio environment affects what you can expect from your watercolor.
If I had to rank my workshops according to progress made by the students who have taken it so far, this would be right up at the top.
Read lots more about it here:
Summer is an awesome time for learning watercolor and painting in your little Nature Sanctuary.
In all of my art journal workshops and retreats, I stress the idea that you don’t have to finish any page before moving on and starting another one. Same with finishing one book before starting another. I currently have SIX volumes in action. I like it that way.
I find this permission valuable because you have to be able to be spontaneous to enjoy art journaling in the first place, and because I personally find unfinished pages to be the best creative kick-starters there are.
You may be feeling like working in your journal, but nothing interesting seems to be going on at the moment – or something VERY interesting is going on but you can’t think of how you could possibly portray it (see my amazing toilet paper caper below).
ANYWAY, if you sit down and page through one or two of your journals, you are bound to come up with some page that still needs color or some lettering added, or some inking and erasing to finish up.
Easy to start on because it’s already started and waiting for you.
I always find that once I start finishing up an older page, the ideas start coming, and who knows where I might go from there. Might not finish that page this time either. But that’s ok.
Unfinished pages – the key that unlocks journaling blocks.
This time, I found a spread I did over a year ago. It was about a couple of things, and I hadn’t finished lettering the title.
The illustrations were done on raw canvas with Inktense pencils and they were samples for my Inktense Soup-to-Nuts Workshop.
This started me thinking about Inktense because it was the third “reminder” in two days. Do you ever have that happen? Something reminds you of something you have not been thinking about – like Inktense Pencils for example. And then someone emails you a question about that same thing. And then you run into a YouTube video or magazine article about that same thing.
Makes you think that thing wants some attention.
I have a list I have been thinking about – The Five Most Incredible Art Supplies of the 21st Century. I intend to post this list and explain what I put on it.
AHA – Inktense Pencils need to be on it – for lots of reasons.
Then, I started thinking how everybody I know has Inktense pencils.
But not everyone is using them because they don’t know all the wonderful things they can do.
And that led to the thought that my Inktense Workshop was really popular and got a lot of people going.
To celebrate that and because I had to SOMETHING about Inktense popping up all the time lately), I put that workshop on sale for the month of June. Lowered the tuition by $20, so now’s the time if you have been wanting to take those pencils for a spin.
Now, look more closely at this journal spread . . .
I had discovered that Sheer Heaven transfers don’t work very well in my Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook. Pages have a cold press surface and the transfer is difficult. Can be done, but difficult. We don’t like difficult.
So I ordered the Zeta sketchbook because it has paper with a hot press surface – very smooth.
The transfers were amazing as you can see. I took photos close up with my iPad, printed them in reverse on Sheer Heaven and transferred them into the new Zeta book. Both the excellent detail of the iPad photo AND the quality of the transfer blew me away. . .
Isn’t that incredible? You can see every stitch and every pencil mark. You are looking at the transferred image – NOT the original!
So, Inktense was talking to me off that unfinished page, but so was something else – this tree. . .
It was saying “I look famiiar. Can you tell where I came from?”
When this happens, I have to go on a wild search until I find the answer. Like a hyped-up dog trying to find the bone she knows she buried somewhere around here.
One time I found that an enameled light switch cover had inspired a whole series of paintings. You don’t know these things when they are happening, of course. You are only allowed to find out later – through obscure clues and mysterious whispers. Makes it all more interesting.
Where WAS this tree??
I finally found it hiding in my studio . . .
I picked this up at a flea market 2 or 3 years ago because it spoke to me at that time too. I loved the lines. I don’t know if it’s bronze, but it is certainly heavy enough.
And now it was speaking to me again – this time saying “I am the perfect display for those new wrap bracelets you are making!”
And the tree is right. It IS perfect.
Now, how about THAT winding path?!?
You see why I’m crazy and confused, right?
And now for . . .
The Amazing Toilet Paper Caper
We have a group of artist friends who meet at a local coffee shop/bakery on Friday afternoons to sketch and chat and show and tell (and eat delicious, fattening things).
And we try to come up with the most interesting thing that happened in our lives the past week.
Sometimes, my interesting things get those cross-eyed looks that DH is so fond of bestowing – like when I microwaved the ant. (By ACCIDENT!! You know I am not like that! Anyway, he walked away just fine, but probably won’t hide on my coffee cup again.)
So, about the toilet paper. I just don’t know if this kind of stuff happens to everybody, but this is my most interesting thing for next Friday.
It is VERY windy today. And breeze cools things off, so I opened a lot of windows, and went outside to trim my Butterfly Bush.
The other thing the wind does is carry pollen, so when I came in, I went into the guest bath to sneeze and de-pollinate.
Reached for a piece of toilet paper from the roll I had just put on this morning – and there was just a cardboard tube. Huh?
Yes, I have cats, so I looked on the floor. Not there. (Plus, if you remember, I told you my cats roll the toilet paper back UP after they unroll it – not neatly, mind you, but they roll it back up).
Besides, they were both sitting there looking as puzzled as I was.
The toilet is white, and the toilet paper is white, so at first, the three of us did not see the tail end of the roll hanging over the seat – or the rest of the roll lying neatly stacked and soaked in the toilet bowl.
The wind – yes, the WIND – had unfurled a WHOLE roll of toilet paper into the toilet bowl.
“We shouldn’t flush this, right?” I asked the cats.
“No,” said I.
“Meow.” said Angel.
“Quack!”, said Bunnie. That’s what Bunnie always says instead of Meow. She thinks it makes her more interesting, She’s a Cat who looks like a Rabbit and sounds like a Duck. It does make her more interesting.
An ingenious solution was needed for this toilet paper thing, and I did come up with one which involved some plastic bags and a garden claw, and I would share except that this kind of thing will never happen to you.
My gosh . . . it’s finally finished. The first and only instruction book for tangling and doodling on your iPad.
I am not a tangler nor a teacher of tangling. But I do know my way around the iPad pretty well (you’d think I should – after writing over 700 pages of iPad art instruction since 2012!).
Because I invited my friend, Sandy Bartholomew, to teach at my retreat last year, about half the attendees were tanglers of one type or another. We even had several CZTs in attendance.
And ALL of them were carrying iPads. And NONE of them were practicing their tangle art ON the iPad.
The iPad is a GREAT tool for making art of all kinds, but as easy as it is to use, the art apps are not only confusing, they don’t come with instructions either!
So, my job . . . figure out which of the hundreds of drawing apps worked best and most simply for this art form, most closely mimicked the real life experience of pen, pencil, and paper, and which also included all the basic operating features of iPad art apps, so students could move on to more complicated apps and understand them better, if so desired. (Wow! Was that sentence long enough for ya?)
I did all that figuring, and then wrote a manual which teaches you how to use the app to tangle, doodle, or do line drawing using step-by-step instructions WITH pictures. Easy as can be. Even my cat can do it – she thinks she can anyway.
Learn to make the right size Tiles and string them, and use them if you practice traditional Zentangle (TM).
Learn to draw tangles with the tangle instructions right there on the page with you – but then make the instructions disappear and leave your beautiful design all alone -ready to enjoy and share on the iPad, or print, or resize, or . . . anything you want because you now have a *digital* tangle design with no need for scanning.
I want to make it clear that this is NOT a book of tangle designs. Folks like Sandy Bartholomew do a much better job of that than I. In fact, Sandy’s three ebooks are great companions to the iTangle Book because you can keep them right there in iBooks and pick any design from them to work with. All right there within the iPad!
Click the SHOP button on Sandy’s blog to access those wonderful books. (The Santa Fe one is my favorite, of course.)
If you are not so traditional in your tangling practice, the iTangle book teaches you how to erase and correct from a bug’s eye perspective (yes, you can erase iPad “ink”), and even how to do some blended SHADING like Sandy uses to make her tangles look 3D.
And, if you are not into tangling at all, this book is still for you, because, of all the iPad art books I’ve written, this is the one that most simply introduces you to line drawing on the iPad. So if you draw rubber stamps designs, or just doodle for fun and creative exercise, this the perfect way for you to learn to do that on your iPad.
I am redesigning my website to present these books better, but I know you don’t want to wait for that, so here is the link to the Shopping Cart where you can buy iTangle right now.
There is even a BUNDLE there for saving $10 on a three book combo, and you can learn to print from the iPad too.
I don’t have connections with any tangling groups, etc.,so if you do, please share this post with them so we can get the word out to all those tanglers walking around with empty iPads!
A couple of months ago, on a whim, and because the Santa Fe Art Journaling Retreat was coming up, I did a post about my favorite artist-made art journaling bags – which I sell at my gallery.
I said I would place a custom order and you all blew me away with your enthusiastic response. I also blew the artist away by placing such a large order. But she recovered.
I then reordered for my gallery, but the Retreat students wiped that order out before it ever got to the gallery.
These are GREAT bags that weigh almost nothing.. See the full description in this post:
Now, I am getting requests for more bags because they make great gifts for artist friends.
I have just gotten a new shipment of two each of the bags you see above and one green fern bag is already sold.
I also have orders for some other color combos, so I will be placing one big order early next week for the holidays. Because poor Corrine has to actually make these by hand – even printing her own fabrics – this will be the only order I place for the holidays. Turnaround will be 2-3 weeks if I don’t have what you want in stock, but we will get them to you in time for gift giving.
This is also a fabulous iPad bag. Fits the iPad in a folio – with lots of extra room for stylus etc.
Here’s the Shopping Cart Link
Feeling Like An Idiot . . .
We all know how a new art form can grab us by the heart strings and pull until we say yes.
I have really tried to fight that lately – in the interest of concentrating on just my painting… and journaling… and photography… and jewelry making… and . . . you get the picture.
Anyway, a couple of weekends ago, when Lynn was here, Betsy and I took her to the Galisteo Studio tour. Galisteo is a lovely village, very scenic, and home to several of our most treasured artists around here. In fact, I am going to share some photos next time, but on with this story.
We walked down a long, tree shaded path along the river to the studio of Judy Tuwaletswia. Judy works in natural media and does amazingly beautiful works that may take her 5 years to complete. There are fibers and textures and there are stories.
When I saw these pieces on her wall, I loved them
The first piece looked like paper and the second like corrugated copper with a “strange” glow to it
Judy said it was glass.
“Glass on what?” I asked?
“Glass on nothing.” she replied.
PING went the heart strings!
I was in trouble.
This is fused powdered glass fired directly on a kiln shelf. I can’t even say how much this excited me! My mind just about exploded with possibilities.
But I know NOTHING about glass. I don’t even LIKE most fused glass that I see.
Judy gave me the name of our local Bulls Eye Glass Resource Center (there are only three in the country and we have one here!). When my DFFL, Valerie, was in town last weekend, we trotted over there. Valerie is a potter and owns some kilns, and owns a fabulous gallery in Durango, CO, so for all those reasons, she was interested.
There was a workshop on the schedule about how to create these sheets of glass and also how to screen print on them with more powdered glass.
Valerie and I always get in trouble together and this time, we signed up for an expensive workshop right there on the spot. It’s not ENTIRELY our fault, They told us there were only two spots left. Who can resist that?!?
So, she is coming back to town tonight and we will be in class for three days. I’m excited.
I was SO excited, that I signed up for a short and inexpensive workshop yesterday – on how to cut glass sheets.
Here comes the IDIOT part . . .
On my first try, I dropped and SMASHED a large sheet of glass. OMG.
Lots of noise – glass smashing and the other students’ jaws dropping.
Something in my brain had not gotten the concept of hanging on to a sheet of glass WHILE you dropped it on the table edge.
“Someone does that in every class,” said the instructor kindly. (I bet she says that to all the idiots.)
So, I was the SOMEONE for that class.
At least my feet didn’t get cut up.
They FORCE you to wear shoes in these classes, and it was a good thing. My flip-flops would have led to my wiping out the large supply of bandages they have close by. LOTS of bandages.
Maybe someone DOES do this in every class.
The teacher said they had felt foolish putting the closed-toe shoe requirement in their class description at this time of year. Who WOULDN’T be wearing closed-toe shoe?!
They hadn’t met me yet – grin.
But now they have.
So, I apologized the whole time the teacher swept up all that broken glass, and “felt like an idiot” while the other students all looked smug with their nicely “dropped” but unbroken sheets of glass on the table in front of them instead of on the floor.
I was telling Val all about it on the phone last night, and she was giving me lots of sympathy.
“You must have felt like an idiot,” she said.
“No,” I said, “I actually did not feel bad or embarrassed at all, now that I really think about it.”
“Sure you did – you must have.” she said.
But the truth is that you can reach a spot in life where you can find your idiot moves entertaining instead of embarrassing. My “feeling like an idiot” was actually fun.
And the best part was – I didn’t have to worry about doing something stupid. I already had that out of the way. I was sure to make other mistakes, but they would likely be quieter.
What a sweet thing that is
It’s taken a long time, but when you have made enough mistakes in life, you get pretty comfortable with yourself in your own skin, and it really doesn’t matter what other people think of what you do.
Are you there yet?
Can you have dinner alone at a restaurant without feeling funny?
Do you still get embarrassed if you do something like I did?
What’s the last “sheet of glass” you dropped?
Here I go again – yet another way to schlep my art journaling stuff around.
I have 28 excited folks coming to my art journaling retreat in mid September and they will spend six days capturing Santa Fe in their journals. They will have to carry their stuff
It was surprising and exciting to me that almost all of them are bringing an iPad as well.
My iPad always goes along when a-journaling I go.
You remember all those pictures you’ve seen of painters in the field who are holding up a frame of some sort to isolate the part of the scene they want to capture?
Well, I use my iPad that way. I use it to take a photo of the scene and then I can crop it and enlarge it to get detailed information from the image, and choose what I want to draw.
So . . . this led to the need for a new way of carrying my journaling stuff. I don’t want to drop my iPad accidentally (been there, done that), and I often need my hands free to use my DSLR, which also comes along.
There is a wonderful artist up in Oregon who makes bags. She goes all out and sunprints her own fabric first – with original designs that I love, and then sews the bag. She lines the bag and pockets with some pretty fabric and attaches a strong, adjustable cross-body strap.
I sell her bags in my gallery and it occurred to me one day that one of them might make a perfect art journaling bag for me.
I promised to share with my retreat students and order one made for them if they wanted.
Then I thought about all of the rest of you and knew you would not want to be left out.
I will be placing a custom order on Monday for any bags you order. This is a one time event and you get your choice of bag color and design.
Let me show you the details . . .
This is the front of my bag and this is the Bird on a Branch design in Blue. It is approx 11.5″ x 9.5″ and closes with a zipper at the top. There is a zippered pocket on the front and an open pocket on the back – with a velcro closure you can use of needed. The adjustable cross-body strap is an inch wide.
The fabric lining is color-coordinated and the pockets are also lined.
The back of the bag is black. The velcro closure is not on my bag because it was something I asked the artist to add after I had purchased mine and felt the need for some kind of closure for the back pocket.
The photo at the top of the post shows how my iPad (in its folio cover). my Stillman & Birn Beta hardcover journal, and my magnetic paint box (see this post) all fit in the the main compartment of the bag. Loaded this way, the bag weighs 3.7 lbs. The iPad is 2 lbs of that. The bag itself weighs almost nothing. Here’s the photo again . . .
I usually choose just one color medium to take along on each outing. It might be my set of water soluble markers that I paint with from a Sheer Heaven palette (see this post)
Or, my set of watercolor pencils – which I carry in a Global Art pencil case (24 pencil size).
This leather version is about $20 at Blick, but Global Art now makes some in colored canvas which are less than half that. Search Global Art Pencil Case.
The whole pencil case slides in the back pocket just fine.
When I take my water colors or markers instead of the pencil case, I just throw my water brush, pencil, Pitt Pen and eraser in the zipper pocket. Oh . . . and some paper towels too.
Just this week, I am taking orders for custom art journal bags in your choice of design and color. You choose your design and color in the Shopping Cart pull-down menus.
The cost per bag is $36, which is a screamin’ deal when you consider this is entirely artist handmade – even the fabric printing. (Note that natural dyes will do a little fading over time and use, but that adds to the “patina”).
You can have them shipped for $6, or if you are coming to the Retreat, I can hold them here for you.
Turnaround time will be 2-3 weeks from Monday. The por girl will be making them to order, remember.
Here are the color and design choices (any Design can be put on any color):
Bird On Branch (on Blue)
Tree of Life (on Adobe)
Fern (on green) This looks bad because a small photo was blown up.
Butterfly (on Purple)
Hummingbird (on Turquoise)
The Hummingbird design actually includes two smaller Dragonflies as well.
Here is the link to order:
2013 has been my most challenging year in the garden – ever.
We started the year with a prolonged drought, and then, a month ago, the monsoon season started with a vengeance. We have not had such a heavy monsoon season in several years and everyone is glad for the rain. But, as I mentioned a few posts ago, every rain this year has ice cubes.
Most of the hail storms barely miss us, passing to one side or the other, but one that hit early in the season did a lot of damage and made me start thinking about how I could protect my precious plants.
Someone suggested shade cloth and I bought many yards and made covers for some of the plant stands . . . and it was protective, but I couldn’t see the plants at all, and the garden looked like a ghost party. What’s the point of having a garden that you can’t see? Or ghosts that you can see, for that matter.
Since these storms have been coming through daily, I needed a solution that would not be quite so extreme.
I don’t know why, but I thought of nylon net. I didn’t want the garden to look like a wedding party either, but they make nylon net in a dark forest green and a taupe-y dark brown.
I bought 36 yards and a couple of packs of wooden clothes pins. This worked great.
I could see the plants, they could get light and air and water, and hopefully not get hurt by hail.
The garden certainly does not look normal like this, but there is a surreal beauty that I never expected.
This last photo shows you what the shade cloth looked like too. And it shows all the Hibiscus wrapped with the pillars of our portal.
The nylon net folds out to a 72″ width and cuts very easily with scissors so it was easy to make a cover to fit all the different beds and planting arrangements. I attach the net with clothes pins to trellises, the edges of pots, tree and shrub branches, and everything else that is handy. I put plant stakes or something in the containers to hold the top of the net off the plants.
I take the net off for as long as I can for the Bees and Hummingbirds etc. and put it back on whenever the radar tells me I must. It is a ridiculous amount of work.
I have been doing this since late June.
A week ago last Friday, there were no storms in the forecast. I took the netting off.
Mark called me over to watch the gallery while he came home to meet a plumber we had fixing a leak in the water line to the new refrigerator.
While I was at the gallery, it started to rain – big drops – which means trouble.
I called home to tell Mark to get the dogs in and cover the plants as fast as he could.
It just so happens he was on a run to get parts for the plumber.
We got flooding rain and very bad hail. Wet dogs, flooded yard, lots of damage to plants.
Almost a month I had religiously protected every vulnerable planting – and there they all were left undefended when the hail hit the fan. They were very mad at me.
There is great irony in this tale, and probably some lesson about control issues, but I did a lot of wailing and weeping and could not tell what the lesson might be. I also didn’t feel like controlling all the wailing and weeping.
Then I dried the tears and started the clean-up and first aid. And promised every injured plant that I would not let this happen again!
The silver lining in this event is that I had left the netting on two trellises and those plants did not get a bruise. And that was BIG BAD hail.
So my system works!!
If you live in an area that is threatened by hail this Summer, you might want to try this on your most precious plantings.
The garden has valiantly recovered in the last week and a half. Nature is an amazing thing. As new leaves grow, I remove the torn ones.
For two days now, there have been no storms on the radar, and the Bees and Birds have been having a great time. However, I am going out right now to put the protection back on because we have more T-Storms in the forecast.
This is anything but relaxing, but there is a weird beauty to a garden draped in veils.
Watercolor Marker News
I have been doing some searching.
The Triplus Marker Set I have with the 1.0 tips can be found at this website for a VERY good price.
AND . . . I saw three packs at my local Staples store – in the children’s art section where the Crayola stuff is.
So, everyone who wants one of these sets can still get one.
I was also searching my art supply drawers and found an old set of Pentel markers.
I tested them and they work great for the marker painting too.
Been trying to loosen and lighten up in my art journal/sketchbook because I have run into a problem.
Since switching to the Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook with the wonderful cold press watercolor paper, and getting my magnetic watercolor kits set up, I find that I am not journaling – I am PAINTING.
This is not a bad thing, but it is very time consuming, and gets in the way of the idea of recording my little life moments.
I found my water soluble markers. They can be used as a “palette” for watercolor sketching.
I had never considered that possibility for several reasons. I used them for rough sketches in the graphic design business, but never liked their lack of blendability when applied to a page.
In my fine art, I never even thought of them because they are not lightfast. I only had them around for that huffing thing rubber stampers do, and I’ve got more important things to get huffy about. (My server was down all day yesterday. That was a huff. Hail hit my garden Friday – during the only two hours I had the protective netting off the plants in the last THREE weeks. That was a huff and a half!)
I have to have control of my looseness, of course (yes, I know that is very peculiar) but I could do something with this idea.
And I work in books now, so lightfast is not an issue, because the pages get very little light.
I got out a small piece of Sheer Heaven to use as a palette – as I do with watercolor pencils.
But, so much of the marker color sunk into the Sheer Heaven that not enough color could be picked back up with the water brush. The colored pencils sit on top of the tooth, which is why they work so much better this way.
So, I turned the Sheer Heaven over, scribbled with the marker on the slick “wrong” side, and picked the color up with the water brush.
It worked GREAT and the best part is that this is a way to re-use your Sheer Heaven pieces left over from transfers, because you are using the backside. AND, when you are done painting, you wash the Sheer Heaven off under a running faucet, dry it with a paper towel, and it is fresh and clean for the next round. I LOVED this. Now, could I make a decent illustration this way? I first sketched a fantasy Cone Flower from memory – and did not remember the petals are pointed. Oh well.
Then I got out the beautiful pink Cone Flower I bought at Lowes the day before and sketched it – a blossom and a leaf and bud. Love the name of this hybrid – “Butterfly Kisses”. Isn’t this beautiful? Lowes had red ones too. I might have to get one.
The markers don’t have to be expensive. I have a set of 50 made by Crayola, that cost me $6.99 after coupon at Hobby Lobby. Sargent is another cheapo brand.
Expensive is not necessarily better in this case. LePlume, and Tombow, have much more pigment, but they don’t flow so well with this technique.
I have a set of 100 Fibracolor markers I like best that cost only $22. I used a combo on my Cone Flower page.
Triplus markers by Staedtler are great and I wish they came in more than 20 colors – but you can mix extra colors right on the Sheer Heaven. They also don’t seem to be available anymore.
All you need for this journaling experience is a pencil (and eraser), Pitt Pen, Water Brush, a piece of used Sheer Heaven, and a few markers. Plus your journal, of course.
If you don’t have these markers around, your kids or grandkids do. And I know you’ve got some used Sheer Heaven to recycle. Give this a try. I think you’ll like it.
I have been a watercolorist for 40+ years.
For many of those years, I used nothing but tube watercolors, painted only in my studio, and only on 300 lb Arches watercolor paper.
Seven years ago, I began painting in art journals and everything changed. Moleskine sketchbook pages were smaller – and did not handle moisture that well. Portability became a big thing - whether I was painting in the garden or sitting on a knee wall on Canyon Road, or on a rock in some National Park.
So, I switched to half pans.
As is my wont and weakness, I collected and tested every pan watercolor known to woman, and began the quest for the perfect portable paintbox.
If you have followed this blog for a long time, you have been privy to some of that.
Like HERE: http://www.wisdomwoman.com/whatever/?p=404
So one day, while reading the Artist Journal Workshop blog (where I am a contributor), I came across a post about a wonderful little magnetic paintbox in a business card case, created by expeditionary artist, Maria Coryell-Martin . . .
These are wonderful, they cost $28 and you can buy them from Maria here:
The bottom of the case is magnetic and the pans can be rtearranged. The inside of the cover serves as a palette of sorts, and you fill the pans yourself from tubes.
I bought two and I love them for carrying along some very esoteric colors that are not part of my everyday palette.
But they are tiny (business card size), and I also have many already filled half pans that are way too expensive to abandon. There just had to be a way to apply this idea to my bigger palette.
I bought a package of those business card size adhesive magnetic sheets at an office supply store, and I cut a piece to fit the bottom of all my half pans. You can see how that looks here . . .
Winsor & Newton and some other pre-filled half pans come with the color name printed on the sides or bottom of the pan. My favorite brand, Schmincke, does not, so I wrote the color on the outside of each pan with permanent marker. Of course, any pans you fill yourself will have to be labeled as well.
Empty half pans are sold at a reasonable price at Daniel Smith.
Half pans in a metal paintbox are usually held in place with metal tabs which are a pain, in my opinion. But that insert lifted right out of the Schmincke box I was using, so I just put the half pans, now magnetic, back in the plain metal bottom of the box.
And, I did a journal page about it . . .
I was able to add more pans than the box had been holding with its tabs, and this worked fine for awhile.
Two things were bothering me, however. The colors were so crowded in the box that I kept slopping some of one onto the next, and I could rearrange the colors, but it was hard to get hold of the edge of the pans – especially when the paint was wet.
Well, three things, actually. I also wanted more room because I wanted to add more colors! There it is again – that color oinky syndrome. We all gotta have a syndrome of some kind, right?
I wanted a metal box that was not aluminum (magnets won’t stick), AND that was very thin so it would slip in my journaling bag (show you later) with my journal and iPad.
Just thick enough for the height of the half pans, but no thicker.
Off to the art supply store I went to look at colored pencil sets that come in tins.
You can get them for about $6 and the 12 pencil set is just the right size.
However, I found that if the bottom of the box had any indents, which many of them do, you can’t move the pans around as easily, nor fit as many.
This Prismacolor box was perfect . . .
It was not inexpensive (about $25), but I used a coupon, and I will put the pencils in a pencil case and sell them in my gallery as a set. So, not as wasteful as it might at first seem. If you don’t have a store and don’t need the colored pencils, they would make a great gift for an artist friend in a decorated pencil cup!
This box is the perfect size and the bottom is absolutely flat.
Here are the same pans that were jammed into that Schmincke box . . .
I can slide them around and group them into any set I might be working with at the moment.
I can get hold of them easily to lift them and read the color if need be, and I can put space between them so I don’t slop one into the other.
AND there’s lots of room to add more colors – as long as I leave plenty of sliding room.
The cover also serves as an easily washable mixing palette.
And, an extra benefit – the palette can sit in its own cover, making a neat little unit. Those hinged covers flopping around drive me nuts. (It’s not a long drive.)
I have been using this for about two weeks now, and I can’t imagine a more perfect solution.
But, who knows. There could be something better to imagine out there some day.
For the moment – I am very happy.
Have a great Sunday.