Archive for the ‘Creativity’ category

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.




Handmade and Decorated Kraft Paper Envelopes

April 28, 2016

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!


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.


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.




More on Cursive Writing and the Loss of Human Independence

October 4, 2015

Liz Chan from Wonder Pens is fighting the good fight for cursive writing, having started a cursive writing class for children. Way to be Liz. The subject has been written up in The Globe and Mail of all places.

Liz has an interesting post on this and a link to the article. Bring back the human mind: for me this goes way deeper than a lack of time to teach it, it’s another way to control what people learn and see, another way to limit them, limit their independent thought. What you get when that happens is people who never question. They don’t question because they have no way of knowing what is happening, no way to learn about issues, no way to compare and contrast and think rationally and independently.

A docile population that doesn’t question or understand things gets a bit scary. Which sounds nutty, but if you look back in history, it reminds me of the illiterate populace of the Middle Ages, who couldn’t read Latin or understand the Latin mass, but went to church anyway and were taught what to believe, having no way to read or write themselves, having no way to question the government or church, no knowledge of arithmetic or higher mathematics, their masters doing it all for them and enslaving their minds and bodies in serfdom.

Oh well, we are much too smart to go there again. Much too smart to give up our choices and personal power and independence. It couldn’t happen here.

Ask someone who bought 150 shoes they rarely wear and are in so much debt they can’t afford housing, ask them if they understand arithmetic. They were taught to buy shoes, to consume without thought, instead of to learn cursive writing.

It starts there – not such a leap after all.






Organizing Decorative Papers

September 11, 2015

About a decade ago before fancy card stock and scrap paper was more readily available near me, I placed a mail order for some nice paper. It came in a large 14-inch square box and I kept the box to store the paper neatly.

As the years went on I found myself with small scraps of unused paper that I keep for collage, and I kept larger sheets of scrapbooking paper in plastic bags to protect the edges. Still, things would get crumpled and mixed up and the box looked messier and messier. Lately with the impetus to make my own envelopes, I bought even more scrapbooking paper and it was getting wrecked trying to store it neatly.

I kept this on my book shelf next to my light box, with my Fiskars paper trimmer on top of it. Paper and plastic could often be seen slopping out the sides and the lid wouldn’t stay down without the paper trimmer on it.


On a shopping trip to a larger town for  grass seed and tarpaulins today, I got my husband to let me do a bit of shopping in Michael’s. They had scrapbooking paper on 5 for $1 so I bought 10 sheets, and as we were checking out I noticed they had 14-inch square plastic boxes with snap lids on sale for $3.99 each, so I bought two.

It took me about an hour to reorganize this paper and sort through the useable scraps. I kept the really small pieces with some tea bag folded designs in a separate Ziploc bag, and I have the full sheets separated into letter sized sheets and large 12 x 12-inch sheets.


It sure looks better! “Cheap and cheerful” as the saying goes.





New Template for a Business Envelope

September 5, 2015

I have been finding the larger half-fold envelopes I make to be rather bulky, so today I made a template for a business letter sized envelope. It worked perfectly so I went ahead and cut seven envelopes from fancy paper.

Click to enlarge.


I also needed a template the fit in my old road atlas so I could make larger envelopes from maps, and the half-fold template wouldn’t fit. This new one does, so problem solved there.

I found some scraps of paper so cut out two small quarter-fold envelopes too. I am suffering today with “The Aches” as I call them, due to fibromyalgia, but I felt I had to do something, produce something for the day.

Not bad, and I got to use up some more of the odd bits of scrapbooking paper I have.

Update: Two days later, in the realm of “Bet you can’t make just one!” I made some more. No, don’t make one, make fourteen. That’s the way to do it.






Envelopes Handmade from Maps

September 5, 2015

I have an old Nelson Atlas of the World that I bought in a flea market for $3. I often use the coloured pages to cut covers for signatures in bookbinding to give the edges some zip when using Coptic stitch. Tonight during yet another round of insomnia, I decided to use it to make four quarter-fold envelopes using a cardboard template I made a few months ago.

Click to enlarge.


What I liked about this is that I don’t have to line the envelopes as the paper is heavier than scrapbooking paper, plus it’s double-sided. It looks very fresh for a nice, artsy envelope.

It’s unfortunate that I don’t have maps large enough to cut out larger half-fold envelopes, but I am pleased with these. I’m off to glue them and weight them overnight to dry.

I hope, having satisfied this particular creative imperative, that I can now get to sleep.




More Adult Colouring Books

August 22, 2015

This is another time in my life I was ahead of the trend. I’ve had some Dover colouring books for years, just for the great line drawings to use as embroidery or miniature rug designs.

Anyway, during a stressful week, I took one out and started colouring a page with Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils. This is from the Dover Paisley Designs Colouring Book; page eight to be exact. I have chronic tendonitis so have to wear a cuff when I draw and limit the amount I do, but this is coming along after three days.


I decided to buy three colouring books with nature, bird, and animal designs. Two of them contain mandalas which is a bonus.


I suppose many people might consider this a stupid pastime, and I do regular artwork that requires more thought and supplies, but sometimes you just want to dip in with colour without a lot of thought. I also find the rhythmic action of colouring meditative and soothing. Plus I can use Scarlet Red.

To each their own.



And the next day a lovely moth from the book Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta. LOVE the French Gray pencils in the Prismacolor set.


Slightly bleached out at the bottom by the flash but the best I could do.