Rue and Strider Shop for Shoes

Posted February 16, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Dolls

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After several years of lying undressed and shoeless, Strider has insisted that he get some shoes. Rue volunteered to help as she is stylish and due to owning her own boutique, knows several local shoe store owners.


After some consideration in various shops, they are buying these shoes. Strider likes a nice boot.


Hey Strider, Rue is all dressed up, maybe you could lose the casual look? There’s sporty and then there’s menswear letdown.

Sigh. You can’t tell these independent guys a thing.



Fountain Pen Ink and Water Test

Posted February 15, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork

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This is my weekly sketch from my other blog. I got fed up with perspective and angles and traced the house. The dog wasn’t traced but because of the way I outlined it, it looks like it.

The Pilot Metropolitan pen is fantastic, I love it. I love the Waterman brown ink too. The mistake I made was in wetting the ink it for shading. It is too small a picture and ended up looking muddy and blobby. I also found that sometimes I got a brownish wash and sometimes a pink wash which wasn’t what I wanted.


I forgot to take a picture of the ink alone, the dog was better like that with just the red ball in its mouth. Although I did like the wash under the ears and top lip, I went on and ruined it by working the other ink. I also needed to have some variation in line for the outline so it doesn’t look as regular as it does.

The house is just a mess. I think leaving the pen and ink drawing and applying some tinting with coloured pencils would work better.

If you’re doing huge, splashy leaves or something similar, washing the ink would work better. I enjoyed the inking though, and will try more of it without water. It’s challenging to find a way to shade with ink. Cross-hatching works well on dark areas, but I need to practice some other linework to see how it shades.

Time to haul out the books Line and Wash by Wendy Jelbert, and the super comprehensive classic Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur Guptill.



A Look at Biographies

Posted February 6, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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Wow, I just got a notice that it’s my 7 year anniversary on WordPress. Imagine.

While reading some of Thomasina Beck’s books on the history of embroidery, the name of Ottoline Morrell kept coming up, particularly in reference to a bedspread she had embroidered during her years as a hostess and friend to Virginia Woolf and others in the Bloomsbury Group. Also, Ottoline was friendly with May Morris, the daughter of William Morris and she cropped up in the biography of William Morris I read last year.

I read a biography of Ottoline several years ago after initially reading about her in a Bertrand Russell biography and Virginia Woolf’s biography by her nephew Quentin Bell. The Bloomsbury people ate and drank and lingered on at Ottoline’s home for weeks, but made fun of her and gossiped about her behind her back. They were quite ratty to her at times which was why I wanted to learn more about her.

She carried on a long-term affair with Bertrand Russell which I also found intriguing. Despite the ridicule she endured she had some kind of hold on people, she was interesting and rather eccentric and given to wearing extravagant, rather outré clothing. I have a lot of respect for her. I bet she was a good friend even when the sentiment was not reciprocated.

But in reading about her in these embroidery books, I realized I had forgotten quite a bit about her so wanted to re-read her biography. The first time I got an inter-library loan for it, but this time I ordered a used paperback so I could read it slowly and have it in my collection to re-read again, and perhaps get my husband to read it.


Ottoline Morrell: Life on the Grand Scale by Miranda Seymour is a good book. I also think I’ve read several other biographies of the time since then so will find it even more interesting the second time. Not bad for $11 CAD. I tend to read groups of biographies. This period in the early 20th century is fascinating and filled with interesting artists and writers. I find myself coming back to it.

So much so that I’m going to re-read Virginia Woolf’s biography too.


In the past week I read two attention-grabbing biography books by James Bowen. The first is A Street Cat Named Bob and the sequel is The World According to Bob. WELL worth it and both about James and his cat in London, England. It has been translated into 26 languages, so he has quite a following throughout the world.


It’s very easy to ignore the homeless or assume they are all losers. Really, these are assumptions based on ignorance. I like to read books like this to remind me to look closer.

Pilot Metropolitan Pen and Waterman Absolute Brown Ink

Posted February 1, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork

Tags: , , ,

After cruising about reading reviews, looking at techniques, and due to the poor availability of Noodler’s bulletproof ink in Canada, I decided that I wanted to try a fountain pen ink for sketching. I saw some examples of line drawings where the ink had been wet afterward to paint shadows, or an ink wash was applied with a brush around an inked line drawing.

I liked the look of it and there wouldn’t be as much fuss to use and clear the pen of ink as there is with waterproof inks. Since I don’t use a pen every day it made sense to try another direction. I also didn’t want to use my vintage Parker 51 pen for drawing on different papers, or risk damaging it.

The Pilot Metropolitan looked suitable as a fountain pen for drawing, and it was $19 and came with a converter so you can fill it with ink from a bottle. I also bought the Waterman Absolute Brown ink (formerly called Havana Brown) since it looked rather painterly and wash-like. I am not a big fan of black ink for paintings, and I plan to use this with some watercolour as well as by itself.


Of course I had to get a good colour! My other pen is black, so I didn’t want a black pen and this looked rather special in purple/blue with a leopard trim.

So I did a test using Waterman Tender Purple on Strathmore Bristol Board to see how it did with watercolour pencils. Not bad and it would be very easy to use it on its own and shade and wash with the purple ink (as you can see in the blobby building with the window.)


The pen I bought has a medium nib so I think it’s slightly wider than the Parker 51. It’s hard to tell as the Parker 51 nibs are all different in the older pens, and I want a slightly wider line and a pen where I might be able to change the line width slightly. This M nib is apparently finer than a Lamy Safari pen in its nib width, so I think this will work for me.

I do have a dip pen and lots of waterproof ink of several colours in either Speedball or FW Acrylic ink, but it’s more fiddly to use, so if I really need waterproof or a wider line it’s better to use that rather than ruin a fountain pen. Apart from that I knocked over a small bottle of Speedball gold ink the last time and I’m a bit clumsy around those bottles.

I usually don’t go for brown but I often use my sepia-coloured PITT pens and I like the antique-y look. I could also mix a bit of the Waterman purple with the brown and get a slightly different colour.

Today’s scathingly brilliant plan for art.

Parker 51 Fountain Pen, New Journal, and Waterman Tender Purple Ink

Posted January 30, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books, Writing and Journalling

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I was reading the book The Social Life of Ink: Culture, Wonder, and Our Relationship with the Written Word by Ted Bishop which is an interesting book. He mentioned he had an old Parker 51 fountain pen, so I got mine out that was given to my sister circa 1963 and eventually came to me. Sure enough, it is a Parker 51 Aerometric pen.


I had last used it 20 years ago, maybe longer, and I remember I had used Parker Quink blue ink in it. I threw that ink out last year. Ted mentioned in his book that there is a mammoth online forum called the Fountain Pen Network which has all kinds of information on cleaning pens and what ink to use. So I looked there and they said to flush my Parker pen with cool water. It takes a while to flush it but over the last week I did that. Wipe, flush, flush, wipe, on and on.

Then I ordered some Waterman bottled ink for it in the colour Tender Purple. I was tired of blue and I didn’t feel green was what I wanted, so I bought the purple. It has a slightly blue tint in it so is not alarmingly garish. When I got the ink today in the mail I filled my pen immediately and it worked right away. Not bad for an old pen. The Parker 51 pens are often described as working with any ink, but I wanted a good ink that was identified as specifically working with this pen as the Waterman ink was.


Someone mentioned a “gratitude journal” to me on my other blog. Intrigued, I looked this up and it is apparently a big trend. Some people say to write 5 things down that you are grateful for every day, and others prefer to write twice per week and make a fuller description. For me, the first option seemed too much like a shopping list, so I decided the second option would work for me and would have more meaning because it explained why I was grateful, what it meant to me that made it stand out.

I wanted a journal for this and I could have made one but I’m pretty busy so I looked online at various things and found some nice journals by Peter Pauper Press with magnetic closures. My regular journal has a magnetic closure and I love it so I wanted one that was similar.

Then I saw the one with a reproduction of a Hokusai woodblock print, and you can read about the original print at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

So I bought it! $11.51 CAD, a nice treat.


I had to find some way of writing regularly with my resurrected pen.


We pen geeks hide in the shadows, waiting for a prompt toward expansive colours of ink. You never know where reading a book will take you. Thank you Ted Bishop.



Another Round of Books and Art

Posted January 28, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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With a bit of money coming in February I wanted to get a couple of books I had on my wish list. They weren’t available in used editions for less, so I bought new paperbacks.

Fear by Thich Nhat Hahn is one I’ve been looking at. We have several big things going on this year, the principal ones being selling our house and a cross-country move of 4500 kms. So I need to deal with fear and impermanence, and I can start now in preparing myself!


Mary Corbet on the Needle and Thread blog has been using a book of illustrations to do up a large surface embroidery piece on linen. The book is Secret Garden by Johanna Basford, an illustrator from Scotland. I was interested in using snippets of this as inspiration for small embroideries.


As well as larger motifs she has a charming mix of smaller motifs and trees, birds that I liked. Here is a partial look at a page:


I love line drawings and ordered this book and another one called Animal Kingdom: Color Me, Draw Me by Millie Marotta that I had been saving up for. She is an artist from Wales and has so many birds, animals and flora in this that it really knocked me out.


As an example here is a beautiful heron, I am nuts about herons. I can see where filling something like this in with embroidery would be a knockout, particularly in subtle, heron-like shades of blue, cream, grey, and beige.


The one that decided it for me was her exquisite moths. I like anyone who draws moths and to interpret these in embroidery on a small coin purse or handbag really interested me. I’m not sure if she has a full page or single motifs of several moths but there is so much you could interpret in thread for these in beautiful greys, taupes, browns, and creams or a bit of red and blue—whatever.


These books will be on back-order for some weeks, which gives me time to save more money, but they are some of the only illustrations I have seen that just thrill me for interpretation in fabric and thread.


Some New and Used Books

Posted January 16, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books, Quilting

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I bought two very inexpensive used books before Christmas, and they finally arrived in the mail. The first is an older edition of Hayden Herrera’s biography of Frida Kahlo. I wanted this to get me in the mood for making the Frida Kahlo doll I want to sew and paint.


I also bought a copy of Marti Mitchell’s quilting book Quilting for People Who Still Don’t Have Time to Quilt because I liked the quilt on the left hand side of the cover. She has a pattern for a wallhanging (which I would upsize) and a charming doll quilt that also interested me. They are done in scraps in a colourwash technique that I like and wouldn’t mind giving a try. These are very, very simple quilts but sometimes it’s nice to sew a simple item.


I am updating this post to reflect the fact that I deleted one book and placed another because the book on EFT and meridian “tapping” just made me sceptical. So, I bought a copy of Lee Hammond’s book on drawing portraits from photographs. I have her book on drawing coloured pencil portraits but in this first one she goes into more detail and uses graphite.


I was talking to Ruth White about her New York Clambake piecing pattern and she mentioned she had a quilt in the book 500 Traditional Quilts, so I bought it too to get free shipping.


The author, Karey Bresenhan, used to write articles in the old Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts publication. I loved those magazines because of the historical information and emphasis and have all my old copies. I like traditional quilts done with new approaches to colour, but I also like certain art quilts.

I am looking forward to getting these two new books. I was in a funk all week, not feeling well, and you can always count on quilts to cheer you up!




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