Monthly Archives: July 2011

In Search of True Things . . .

First, a few words about our last discussion re the UniBall Vision Elite Pens.

I heard from a few different people who said they have used and loved them for years, but that they were not waterproof for them. So, I retested mine.

Although I would call the Black and the Red “water-resistant” rather than water proof – i.e. I could smear them with some scrubbing with a waterbrush, I found that my writing does not blur when I am going about my usual wetwork, so they are waterproof enough for me.

The red is the worst one, and it seems that is always the case. When I have dye ink transfers bleed through a page, it is always a pink bleed. Red must be harder to set than other colors.

On the other hand, have you ever tried to get a blood stain out?

I also did some research on the ink. The display where I bought my first pens said they were gel pens. Thats’ where I got the idea. Also from the fact that they have that silky flow when writing that only gel inks seem to have. But the ink has been named Uni Super Ink and oddly enough, they seem to indicate that it is used in their roller pens, gel pens, and jet pens! Some, including the Vision Elite, and a few of the gel pens are designated “water resistant”.

So, I don’t get it, but if you want further details, here is the link to this page at Uni-Ball:

A New Sketch Style

I have been trying to loosen up for years. There is nothing wrong with my art as it is, but I have longed for an alternative style – something more relaxed and more sophisticated at the same time.

I have gotten lots of advice – from sketching blindfolded, not lifting the pen, drawing from behind my back, or with my left hand (I am right handed) and my all time favorite, from a painter friend: tape a large paintbrush to your hand, wrist, and forearm like a splint. Then you can’t do anything detailed. I never tried that one, it would kill me removing the tape, but I think about it a lot.

The Teacup at the top of this post represents a new discovery which is sort of like the paintbrush taped to my arm thing. And it is a gift of the digital realm as most things are these days. The tools are procedural Brushes and I can’t begin to define them except to say that you never know what is going to happen with a brush stroke, so it is impossible to be a perfectionist.

I have seen some really horrible stuff done with procedural brushes (and so have you but you didn’t know it), but if you actually know how to draw (I do) and you keep some restraints on the tool (easy for a perfectionist who can’t loosen up on control), the result can be stylized and consistent.

I like it. Do you like it? It’s not an either/or thing because I am not going to stop doing art the way I have been doing it all my life. This is just a fun thing in addition too.

Food for Thought . . .

I was taken by this post yesterday – probably because I was feeling badly about not being able to get to this blog for two weeks.

Usually, when I read an intelligently written article, I resonate with it – or not.

This one was funny because I did both.

The post is called “How To Tell If You Are Doing Your Life Work”.

The gist of it is that if things are going along easily, you are not challenged, and are therefore on the wrong path.

I don’t think I believe in angst being an integral part of harmonizing with your being and purpose. I never got into the starving artist thing either.

I set the link to open in a separate browser window so you don’t have to leave to read it. I would love to have your take on it.

The Funniest Thing I Have Seen in Awhile . . .

The funniest thing I have seen in awhile (Thanks, Suzanne!)

If I shut my eyes and don’t see that one of these Huskies is a red and white, this is my house. The one on the footstool is the spitting image of Chevy, and the Red is Sky in a costume (she is grey and white). The sounds effects are exactly right . . .

Watch the Video

and you wonder why I’m crazy.

More from the Journal Kit – Waterproof Uniball Pens

Because I use a waterbrush extensively in my journals, waterproof ink is imperative – even when writing larger blocks of text, because I often embellish by “highlighting” my writing with color, or add soft colored borders. Ink that smears when it gets wet is NOT a good thing if you want your writing to remain legible.

My permanent ink pens of choice are the Pitt pens as I have told you, but they make their colored pens only in the Brush tip so far. Also, when writing long passages, they do not flow over the paper with the ease of a ball pen.

So imagine how thrilled I was to find a waterproof gel pen that comes in colors! And two point sizes!

There are quite a few lines of “Vision” pens from UniBall, but this seems to be the only one boasting “water resistant” ink.

I found them at a paper store, but they are also carried by office supply stores and I found this 8 color pack at Amazon . . . has the set but at a higher price, but the advantage is that you can check whether your local store has them.

Of course, I had to test for the waterproof part . . .

I drew the flower in black and painted it in yellow tones. There may have been the tiniest hint of graying, but highlighting the purple writing with yellow watercolor did not seem to smear it at all, and the green writing had to take a lot of moisture as I fooled around with adding the leaves.

So, the long and the short of it . . .

If you do quite a bit of writing in your art journal and want the smooth flow of a gel pen without the worry of smearing, these pens are for you.

The package also says they won’t leak on airplanes. I never knew that was an issue, but I guess it must be.


The wonderful new Travel Journal Workshop starts tomorrow. There are 26 students so far and I am very excited because with that many (and lots of familiar names), I know the sharing will be half the fun and I love to see other people’s journal pages!!

That also means tomorrow is the last day for non-students to take advantage of the Special Student Paper Package of Sheer Heaven and Magic Matte 36lb. That special can be found below the workshop in the Shopping Cart.

WInners of the drawing for journals and paper will be announced in class.


New to this world . . .

You just never know what will brighten your day – and use up a big chunk of it too!

I was at the desktop computer, when my cat Angel, who was watching Cat TV right next to me, started chattering.

I looked up in time to see a bird land on my planting table (just outside the window), and tuck himself into a little cave made by my hose nozzle in its holster, and a plant that was awaiting transplant and some TLC.

The bird had a hard time folding its wings in and I thought it might be injured, so I started paying attention. He got settled in there and started chirping. Along came mother Robin with a tasty bug and fed it to him.

“OMG,” I said to Angel, “that’s a baby bird just learning to fly!”

“Yum”, she said.

“Off to the bedroom with you,” I said.

With both cats locked away, I ripped the screen off the window, opened it wide, grabbed the camera, and spent the next hour shooting this little sweetheart.

He could hear the shutter and would give me a look – wondering if I might bring him a bug, because Mom wasn’t bringing any more – regardless of how much chirping went on.

She wanted him to fly some more, so she was keeping herself – and the bugs – at a distance. And he would try – get all determined and ready to go . . .

And then chicken out, and sit there all disappointed with himself. We know that feeling, don’t we?

Or maybe, he was just thinking about bugs.

After more than an hour, and more than 100 photos, it was now or never – and away he went. I missed the shot, of course.

But I did see he and Mom hopping and flying around the garden, and having a great time. I discovered later that there were three little ones to look after, all hopping and flying and banging into things,etc.

Mom had a job! At one point, she showed the stress too. I never saw a bird with such ruffled feathers!

Make No Mistake

My favorite Key Command on my Mac is Command-Z.

I had a t-shirt once with that Key Command on it. The key command is Undo.

Unlike real life, almost anything you do on a computer, you can Undo.




This is the widely accepted icon for Undo (and ReDo). It is starting to show up in most software programs and in every art app on my iPad.

There is a great freedom in knowing that your next move is not permanent.

So, why then, do so many people posit the idea that an artist – particularly one who is somewhat intimidated by the idea of making a mark on a page in the first place, should jump out there with ink and just get over the mistakes they make.

I’m sorry, but that makes no sense to me.

Getting over the great fear that most folks feel about drawing is a question of PERMISSION.

Society does not really give you permission to waste time like that in the first place, and that idea gets implanted early on and puts down very deep roots.

With the fear already in place – of doing something you really should not be doing because there are dirty dishes in the sink , facing the blank page in an expensive sketchbook is truly an intimidating proposition.

What if you ruin it?!? What if you draw something that just isn’t good? How can you keep anybody from seeing that and confirming that you are foolishly wasting time?

With our ubiquitous inner critics in tow, we do not seem to totally get over this lack of permission, even when we have made it quite  a way along the pathways of our own creativity.

But PERMISSION is readily available and costs less than a dollar! It is the real life equivalent of the Undo key – the lowly ERASER.

Erasers are wonderful things and would be the last art supply I would give up. That’s right, I wouldn’t even keep my pencil if  I could not have an eraser.

And I’m not even intimidated about ruining pages anymore. I have ruined lots of them and nothing bad happened to me. And I can fix any mistake because I have my erasers.

Not only do my erasers give me permission to make any mark with my pencil, they allow me to stretch my creative thinking as I sketch. I have always found that my art changes many times in the sketching stage, and the eraser allows me to relax into those changes.

So, I don’t leave home without it!  In fact, I don’t leave home without several of them.

My favorite eraser is the Magic Rub by Sanford. This eraser is soft and flexible and will not harm paper. It also carves easily in case you get the urge to carve a stamp, and it cuts easily with a craft knife so you can make a piece small enough to fit whatever small art kit you are carrying.

Sanford also makes a version in stick form (refillable) but it is a little harder. It is called Tuff Stuff and is great for erasing very small areas.

I like a harder eraser for erasing Panpastel, however, and my favorite for this is the Mars Staedtler (below), which also comes in a refillable stick version (blue above). This is actually a plastic eraser and while it has some flexibility, it holds a point or a corner for erasing lines out of the pastel. I actually draw into the pastel (in white) with this eraser.

Magic Rub, itself, comes in a pencil form (below). You peel off the paper “pencil” to reveal as much eraser as you want exposed. This fits journaling kits every well, but I am a klutz at the peel-off technology, I must admit.

So, I am a big fan of the Faber-Castell version of a pencil eraser, which you sharpen like a pencil – with a pencil sharperner. The actual eraser is not as soft as the Magic Rub, but it holds a great point for when you have to erase a tiny area.

All of these are inexpensive and can be found at art and craft stores. The links I have provided are at Dick Blick. They carry all of them at discounted prices. (All are inexpensive anyway).

I travel with a Magic Rub cut to fit under one of the elastics in my journal kit, a stick eraser, and a Faber Castell Pencil eraser. I don’t usually travel with my Panpastels, so I keep my Mars plastic eraser at home.

Make no mistake about it – erasers are important art tools. Give yourself permission to use them, and they will give you permission to make your marks in the world!