Archive for the ‘Artwork’ category

Don’t Struggle With Cheap Gouache!

December 16, 2016

Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve been struggling now and then to use my set of Reeves gouache. It’s great for beginner’s having a fiddle with a medium they aren’t sure about, but they are quite chalky and the colour quality isn’t that great.

gouachemontage_reeves

Gouache is strange to work with because it dries so fast, but also enticing because of its opaque qualities and coverage. It has a creamy consistency that is interesting and a matte finish which looks and feels good.

So this week I hauled out my tube of white gouache to use on a graphite picture for highlights, and the tube is almost empty, and I said to myself “Why are you still struggling with this little set?” I like gouache, I have plans to use it in my new sketchbook project, and try it out more on darker colours of Canson Mi-Teintes paper which I love, but this grade of gouache is something that’s pointless when I need a better quality of paint that will help me improve my art.

I gave up the struggle and bought a set of ten artist quality gouache tubes from Winsor & Newton. Oh man, I could have picked out 20 individual tubes and got just the right colours, but the cost would have been close to $200, whereas the set was $73 and I bought an extra tube of Permanent White which uses titanium in the mix rather than the Zinc White that comes in the set.

wn_gouache10plus1

Chemicals in paint: Zinc White mixes well with other colours, Titanium White likes to be on its own, creating highlights and drawing things on Mi-Teintes paper, alone, alone, alone. Who am I to argue?

I hadn’t planned to buy any art supplies for Christmas, but it happened. I’m excited after several months of pain from a shoulder impingement, to gear up a bit and start drawing and painting again. I still have pain but can manage 30 minutes a day as long as I wear a tendon cuff and don’t overdo it.

Sally Warner, in her book Making Room for Making Art, describes herself and others grabbing 10 to 15 minutes of art creation time a day as their lives allow, and creating wonderful art.

I’m with Sally.

makeroom

 

 

 

 

 

Watercolour Mixing Chart and More Handmade Envelopes Meet a Mantis

June 3, 2016

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

June 2, 2016

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

May 1, 2016

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.

 

 

New Sketching Book, Pilot Metropolitan, and Handmade Envelopes

April 11, 2016

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.

 

 

Fountain Pens and teNeues Publishing Eco Booklets

July 6, 2015

I bought these Cartolina Eco Booklets because I just loved the covers. They were $5 for the set of three and there is one blank booklet, one with lined paper, and one with graph paper.

Dave the Minion and his pal Cerberus were quite interested in these designs by Fiona Richards. You can see how excited Cerberus was.

Dave_CartolinaBooklets_sm

When I bought them I thought I’d probably have to use ballpoint pen in them rather than fountain pens. However, I did some tests and the paper seems to work well with fountain pens. I got a tiny spot of bleed-through when using my very wet Parker 51 pen but the others were fine, even with dark ink.

FountainPen_EcoBookletSm

I love the Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris colour, but I didn’t have enough money to buy it. I did buy a bottle of the Noodler’s Blue Upon the Plains of Abraham, which Wonder Pens in Toronto is selling exclusively, and I really like it. I did up a sketch with it and it’s a bulletproof ink so I can use watercolour with it as well. I love the Noodler’s Lexington Gray for drawing, and with this added colour I can use blue for sketches as well. They both work well with my Lamy Safari pen.

Noodler's_PlainsAbraham

 

Making Artistamps for Mail Art

June 14, 2015

While reading Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art which I ordered in on inter-library loan, I noticed a chapter on faux postage and what they call artistamps. These are small pieces of art you create yourself with art materials, or digitally using a program like Photoshop.

If you don’t have a special machine for doing the perforations to emulate a postage stamp, they say you can use a dressmaker’s wheel to make the perforations. I have one of these for marking details from sewing patterns on fabric and I tried it. It works, but my particular wheelie did not make large enough perforations so instead of a nice edge it just looked like ripped paper.

I decided I would just cut the edges with my rotary cutter and scissors and that worked fine. I used to make things like this as stickers and glue them to letters but I haven’t done it for years. I took some recent art from my sketchbook that I am using on my Manner and Material blog for weekly sketches, and made them into stamps.

Jumping Jack James Joyce decided he would make an appearance too, holding his various editions of The Odyssey. Joycey is always up for an art adventure. That man likes attention.

Artistamps_JJ_web

For the Photoshop file, I created it at 300 dpi for printing and then scanned and resized my art, adding backgrounds and words as necessary.

I made a grid of non-printing blue guides in Photoshop to use as a guides for placement, and also used a separate printing grid of pale grey lines to use as cutting lines. I made the stamps about 1.25 x 1.5 inches with 1/8 of an inch beyond that for a white border.

Here’s a partial shot of the setup in Photoshop; my sheet makes 5 across and 5 down, so 25 stamps in total:

Artistamp_Setup_sm

I had to bump the colour saturation up 20% for printing to get decent images, but they are ready to use as stickers or stamps. I will probably stick them down with a glue stick in the middle and some Golden Soft Gel Medium around the outside for security.

The reason I stopped making these was that it’s a bit fiddly to paste them down and they look better if you weight them while drying so they don’t warp. You can apparently buy pre-stuck and pre-perforated blank sheets but I always find using things like that in the printer hard because it’s difficult to get them centred and printing within the designated area.

It’s much less stressful to make and trim your own, especially if you include faint cutting lines that almost disappear upon trimming.