Postage Stamp History and Books

Posted June 22, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books, History

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I never made it as a postage stamp collector when I was a child, I had no patience with the gummy hinges and trying to fill a book pre-printed with particular stamps that you were supposed to find. I do however love the art on postage stamps. People say mail is dying out and in many ways it has, but post offices keep designing and releasing wonderful stamps with wonderful art. I’ve recently been using these lovely hydrangea stamps from Canada Post on letters to people.

Mmmm, yummy super delish!

hydrangeastamps_sm

I bought a book years ago that is still in print is called Stamping Through Mathematics by Robin J. Wilson. It’s a history of mathematics, countries, and people through various postage stamps from around the world. It has beautiful large clear pictures of stamps and the text is more of an overview, just enough for those of us who aren’t stamp collectors, but full of meaty examples for people who do collect.

StampingThroughMathematics

Yesterday I decided to look up and see if there were any similar publications to this and found two books by Chris West. One was called A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps, and the second was called A History of America in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps. Very expensive to buy, but my local library has the one on British stamps so I’m going to hurtle in and borrow it.

I find the older monochromatic or duotone stamps kind of boring visually but a book like this will have the history and stories behind them so you can’t beat that. Expand my awareness why don’t you Chris.

HistBritainPostage

Up the library. Everybody sing.

I always like to mention a book about one of my heroes, science or otherwise, physicist Richard Feynman. He was a stamp collector when young and back in the 1930s desperately wanted some postage stamps from Tannu Tuva which is a country in Siberia just outside Mongolia. This ties in nicely to exploring stamps and being passionate about learning. One of my favourite quotes is this:

“The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery…” [Richard Feynman]

It’s rare to find people who feel that way. I’m like that, Richard Feynman was like that, there are others of us in the world, beavering away finding out about stamps and art, armillary spheres, the origins of words, what plastic is made of, insects, reptiles, poets and writers, and a tiny country named Tuva which has throat singers who sound eerily like the Inuit throat singers of Canada, leading one to speculate about ancient land bridges to North America from Siberia.

tuvaorbust

Tuva Or Bust: Richard Feynman’s Last Journey by Ralph Leighton is a sad book in many ways because Feynman’s life was winding down, but it pinpoints this thirst to know and explore that is the best part of being human.

Plus it has postage stamps, you can’t go wrong.

 

 

Watercolour Mixing Chart and More Handmade Envelopes Meet a Mantis

Posted June 3, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Writing and Journalling

Tags: , , , , ,

I always do a colour chart of the paints and pencils I have here, but I have never done an actual mixing chart using the colours of the palette. Since I am not familiar with some of the Winsor & Newton peculiarities I thought I’d make a chart with the 24 colours I will have. I am still waiting for mail delivery of 7 but I made a start.

WNColourChart

I drew up my own rectangles for each colour or mix and they measure 10 x 14 mm, and this will be really full after I’m done. I find it tedious but I want to persevere as a chart like this is very helpful. Each colour ends up with 2 squares when you use this method but it looks pretty.

Last year I bought a pad of double-sided scrapbooking paper and meant to make some envelopes but we had to move and everything was packed away. So I hauled it out three days ago and started making business-sized envelopes. I eventually ended up with 14 because that was how many different patterns there were in the book of 42 pieces of paper. I love the subtle look of these coordinating colours.

Envy1_Front_Back

Envy2_Front_Back

A friend of mine saw me bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t find a mantis figure to go with some new animal decks that featured one. I have always liked mantids and at our old property, all the little babies would hatch out in the Fall and we’d see hundreds of them.

So she sent me this gloriously large plastic mantis (thank you Debra!!) who was a big help when gluing and weighting envelopes. Plastic figures save the day once more. I’ll have to hunt up some suitable cards for a comparison of artwork of this insect. (Which you can see: Comparison of Mantid Cards.)

Mmmm, the glory of colour.

 

 

Half Pans, Sketchbooks, Metric Weights for Paper, and Useful Apps

Posted June 2, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Computers, Creativity, Writing and Journalling

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I try to think in centimeters and millimeters and meters, I also think in kilometers 90 percent of the time, but my stubborn mind will not grok the metric weight of paper. I am constantly looking up and converting online. Yes, yes it’s 240 gsm or 240 g/m² or about 100 lb. paper. The confusing thing is that that weight can vary when converted depending on the thickness of the paper and materials it is made from.

I still have to look it up because art paper is different from copy paper and on and on. Anyway, I was in the market for a new sketchbook that could take pen and ink, watercolour, and coloured pencils which are the materials I use most. I opted for a Canson 224 g or 138 lb “Mix Media” wirebound book. Now why if this is lighter in grams is it heavier in pounds than the 240 gsm? How the heck do you figure that out without feeling the paper? The Stillman & Birn Zeta series books are 270 gsm or 180 lb; I prefer Stillman & Birn sketchbooks but I can’t hunt any up out here. They are too heavy for mail order.

Canson_WatercolourTin

Beside it is the tin I bought last year to hold my Winsor & Newton half pans which I haven’t used yet because I just found them after moving house. However, I was always a bit iffy on the completeness of the colours. If you do computer graphics or printing at all you will be familiar with CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) for mixing colours. Basically that’s all you need for watercolour or any other paint or ink, but I found it tiresome to mix greens from these process colours, particularly greens, so I always buy a few extra colours for my palettes plus Payne’s Grey and Indigo which I love for darks.

Still, I decided to beef this little palette up, I’m turning 60 this year and I feel it’s my last kick at the nirvana of art supplies. I bought a few extras:

Cadmium orange
Quinacridone magenta
Winsor violet
French ultramarine
Quinacridone gold
Cobalt Violet
Permanent Sap Green

So I now have 24 colours in the half pans. Did I need these? No. Do they make life easier? Yes.

I bought two Gotrick cradled wood panels in the 18 x 24-inch size to create my diptych for the living room on. I don’t like working on canvas, it’s too bouncy for me, so these looked ideal and are nicely made. Now I need to save up for more acrylic paint. I have some small bottles of Golden Fluid Acrylic but I don’t think they’ll be enough. I’m supposed to seal this with Golden GAC 100 and then do 3 or 4 coats of gesso to prepare it for painting on. This means I need to clear the drafting table and unpack and put away some fabric first to make room.

Gotrick_web

I bought a rather interesting book on pen and ink. It IS simple as the title suggests, but he has some intuitive ideas here and encourages you to make your own marks (literally) in pen and ink rather than slavishly copying tutorials. Pen and Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide by Alphonso Dunn.

penandink_dunn

And lastly, another birthday gift. I am hoping the family sends me cash so I can pay for these things! Two bottles of fountain pen ink (Noodler’s Apache Sunset and Diamine Sherwood Green) and a violet-coloured Platinum Plaisir fountain pen. The nibs on these are coloured but I notice some people saying they receive ones that are plain steel, so I’m not sure which nib I am getting.

plaisir_violet

I don’t know if this counts as exciting for most people, but I used the Android for Dummies book to help me figure out how to use the smartphone I rarely use to hook up to my micro stereo and stream live radio using Bluetooth and wi-fi. There are few radio stations here and the two I listened to most for decades were unavailable and I didn’t feel right, all that empty air and no cheery music, as I am used to having the radio on for hours every day. Using the apps for CBC Radio Two and Jazz FM 91, I can hear the music I like and all the hosts and chatter I like too.

Streaming_Blutooth

Plus I got the nifty Marine Traffic app for the phone and can see what’s cruising by and identify the ships and what country they are from. What I like about this is that you can click on the arrow in the pop-up with the ship name, and pull up photographs that people have uploaded of it and statistics about where it came from, tonnage, measurements etc. I saw one image of a specific cruise ship taken in my area and then another of it in Sydney harbour by the opera house in Australia. Imagine, and it’s right outside my kitchen window!

MarineTraffic_Realtime2

I dislike using phones and avoided these smartphones for years but I had to find a way to make it useful for me, apart from carrying it for emergencies in the car, and so far this radio streaming and Marine Traffic app make it useful.

Not as useful as art supplies but close.

 

 

 

Acrylic Abstracts, Lizards, Swiss Chard, and Books

Posted May 1, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Books

Tags: , , ,

I sometimes feel like I’m vying to build the most comprehensive art techniques library I have known. I am choosy about what I buy because many of these books say the same thing, but I have quite a few despite that. So many of them are useful and inspirational.

I had never heard of this artist and she has a new book coming out but I was intrigued by her book on painting vegetables. I actually have a few books that talk about drawing and painting onions, it seems to be a popular starting point, but she has some other things I liked: Watercolour Fruit & Vegetable Portraits by Billy Showell.

Swiss chard anyone?

WatercolourFruit_Vegetable

After painting my fireplace mantel a deep blue, I decided I needed a BIG abstract painting for over the fireplace.

JJLRMantel

There are none available that I can afford so I’m going to try myself to paint something. The rug already looks like an abstract painting and I got an idea for a large wall piece from a book I have on painting abstracts, a jumping off point. The last time I tried to paint with acrylics on canvas I didn’t enjoy it—I don’t like canvas, but maybe illustration board or canvas board would work? I have a few colours of Golden fluid acrylics and some gesso, soft gel medium, and some other medium by Golden, so I only need a few colours or larger bottles to start. I use CMYK approximations to mix acrylics from four colours, but I’ve gotten used to mixing with a fuller 12 or 18-colour watercolour palette, and I’m not sure what colours I want now for acrylic.

I was thinking that if I can’t get a large enough board I could do a diptych or something. I borrowed some books from the library with scant information and I have a couple of books on painting but nothing specific to acrylics. So obviously I bought some.

Painting in Acrylics: The Indispensable Guide by Lorena Kloosterboer looked comprehensive and got good reviews.

PaintinginAcrylics

Compendium of Acrylic Painting Techniques: 300 tips, techniques and trade secrets by Gill Barron looked interesting and has good write-ups on each technique according to reviews. That should do me.

AcrylicPaintingTechniques

While browsing acrylic paintings and techniques online, I came across a speed painting video at YouTube of a fellow painting a lizard. I like painting lizards but doing them in watercolour can be tricky. What I liked about his video was the way he underpainted and then overlaid and adjusted the scales and undertone as he went along. This looked like something I could try on illustration board. It’s a rather long video but fascinating.

Now if I could just get the energy to unpack the rest of my art supplies…I’ve had a flare-up of pain and insomnia, so waiting for that to settle down a bit before forging into an art supply shop for a board and paints.

 

 

Handmade and Decorated Kraft Paper Envelopes

Posted April 28, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Creativity, Writing and Journalling

Tags: , , , , ,

While feeling a cold coming on I decided to do something quiet and went and bought a roll of kraft paper from the post office. It’s hard to find heavier kraft paper and this feels like 18 lb. weight which is pretty light so I lined both envelopes.

The designs are a cross between zentangles and blobby doodling, just the thing to inundate pen pals with!

JJKraftEnvelopes

This is the first time I’ve drawn boxes for the address and the return address, and I REALLY like the exuberance of that, so vow to continue the trend in other coloured envelopes I am still working on.

JJKraftEnvy_Back

I like to put a little design on the back too just to give it some pop of colour.

I used a purple Sharpie extra fine point and Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils for these. The Sharpie bleeds through this paper so I put a scrap piece of paper inside the envelope to catch any bleed-through and it worked well for that purpose.

 

 

 

New Sketching Book, Pilot Metropolitan, and Handmade Envelopes

Posted April 11, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Books, Writing and Journalling

Tags: , , , , ,

I am still looking for my sketchbook so I can finish my 2015 weekly sketch project. I’ll try to hunt it up today, but I am settled enough in the new house after moving 4500 kms that I feel like creative projects again, particularly drawing.

I wanted one of the new Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens in the Retro Pop colours. I had originally wanted the red one but maybe because it is Spring, I chose the green one with the stylized band of leaves. I have it loaded up with Diamine Meadow ink and it writes beautifully as does my older Pilot Metro.

While ordering, I needed something for free shipping and was intrigued by the book Sketching People: An Urban Sketcher’s Manual to Drawing Figures and Faces by Lynne Chapman. I am determined to draw people and thought this more casual approach might ease me into it.

RetroPop_SketchingPeople

In a large box of cat figurines, I found my two boxes of scrapbooking paper with my envelope templates, so I made two 1/4-fold envelopes up in cream-coloured cardstock and did some sketchy things of wildflowers on them.

HandmadeEnvelopes_Wildflowers

I was just itching to draw something! I’ve got all kinds of references ready for three of the weekly sketches I needed to do back in November 2015 so I vow to find the relevant sketchbook for that project and get going to complete my drawings.

 

 

Travelling with Fountain Pens and Ink

Posted January 8, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Writing and Journalling

Tags: , ,

I have my inks packed in a 9 L plastic storage box which measures about 13.5 L x 8.5 W x 5 H inches. I couldn’t find a tote bag that fit it and still kept the ink upright.

In desperation, I looked at hardware stores and eventually found something perfect at Canadian Tire for $29.99 CAD. It’s imported by Kuny’s Leather Mfg. Ltd. from Alberta and is part of their Tool Works line. Instead of leather it’s made of polyester fabric and has reinforced webbing for the handles and shoulder strap. It also has a metal frame inside the fabric and a zipper.

KunysInsert

It fits the plastic box neatly, and will be easy to carry my bottles of ink in and out of the car for travelling. Plus, it’s protective and cushioned by pockets inside and out, so it provides added safety for moving my collection of fountain pen inks. Once the inks are transported this useful bag can be used for tools or many other things.

KunysMontage

Yeah, everybody needs a bigmouth…bag.😉

 

 

 

 

 

 


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