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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Come Join The Fun On An Imaginary Trip To SW France!

I've always heard about the gorgeous light in Paris, but I never imagined that all of France (well, the parts I visited anyway) would have that same light! At times, it seemed pearlescent or iridescent...and so very clear.

It was a delight to walk around medieval towns and villages to sketch and paint (and take photos) because of that light. But I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the subject matter of said sketches and photos...delightful visits to so many small towns, parks, rivers, castles, gardens, and cities made this trip worthy of being made into an ImaginaryTrips.com' online class!

I hope you'll join me for the Imaginary Trip To Southwest France and Le Vieux Couvent! We'll explore the lovely convent and its gardens, where we stayed as well as some of the most intriguing small villages (Saint Cirq Lapopie and Beynec), larger cities (Sarlat) and some off the beaten path destinations (Castelfranc).

There is something for everyone! I will be sharing my sketchbook and the pages I created while in France and I'll also show how I create a more finished look to those pages once I'm home.

Class starts on April 18th and will feature four assignments. There is an interactive class as well as self-study class option available.

To join in and get registered today, please click here for more information!

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I am going back to LVC in September this year and would love to have you join me for the 10-day travel and art workshop! It's not to be missed! The convent was originally built in the 1600's and has been lovingly refurbished into an art retreat complete with secret gardens, a koi pond and lovely courtyard. The classroom and art library are both huge and available 24/7.

This is a true immersion experience as we will get out to explore, sketch and paint the Dordogne and Lot Regions each day! We'll make use of the classroom to finish our pages in the evenings and during any inclement weather.

And I have to say, the people of LVC make this place truly magical! From the wonderful meals they create from local sources to the care they show in everything they do, this is one of those rare workshop opportunities that transcends the words, "travel art workshop!"

I hope you can join me for this awesome experience!

To learn more and get registered, please click here!

I hope to see you in France!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ink Spots!


Well, not really ink spots!  But I'm always on the search for The Perfect Ink for my purposes.

I'm still looking.

What I want most often is an ink that dries waterproof (or at least water-resistent) in a relatively short time, so I can use watercolor over it...and that's tricky, in most fountain pens.  I've tested dozens and usually go back to Noodler's Lexington Grey, which seems to perform best for me, given my usual "requirements."

Often, we blame our fountain pens for not feeding well, but it may be the ink instead.  (And of course some pens write wetter and some dryer...meaning some make a finer more delicate line, and some really flow readily.   My original Namiki Falcon is like that, somewhat juicy.)

I'd love a dependable brown that doesn't clog my pens, but so far except in RARE cases, that's been tough to find.  (My Carbon Desk Pens, the TWSBIs, and my inexpensive Preppies seem most amenable to brown ink, and the brown that works best for me seems to be Noodler's Brown #41.)  But for the most part, Lexy Grey is my go-to ink.

GouletPen.com has a lovely sampler set of browns to try out!  (And come to think of it, there ARE some "ink spots," someone leaked!)
I used Noodler's Brown #41 in my Materia Medica, in a Carbon Desk Pen you can read about in this post.


I was really excited when I heard about DeAtramentis Document Inks, and some people are finding them PERFECT for their needs, not a bit of trouble; my dear friend Liz Steel loves them!  (The inks seem to work perfectly in many of the Lamy pens, which, unfortunately, I don't care for.)

And I just paid a professional to clean my vintage Sheaffer--I couldn't get it to work even with Goulet's pen cleaner, which is normally magic!  She recommended that I either change to water-soluble ink or flush it about once a week!

(My favorite Noodler's Creaper pen that I only write with is always filled with a water-soluble ink that hasn't failed me once in almost 3 years...it's De Atramentis, a dark green-black, and I love it!)

NOTE: There's a big difference in dye inks and pigmented inks.  The latter is much more likely to be water-resistant, but also more likely to clog since pigment particles do tend to clump.  That's why some cartridges, like the Pilot Namiki, some with a tiny ball-bearing inside that keeps the particles more evenly distributed.  Some of my converters have that option too... 

I recently bought another Noodler's Konrad pen, which holds more ink than the Creaper, and was amazed when it quit working after a few weeks.  I'm not, any more.  That's its feed and nib, on the left, in the first picture below.  The other is my normally dependable, foolproof Hero M-86 nib.


Yeah, that's the new Konrad's feed...almost totally clogged.

This is the Hero nib, likewise--but it had been in the pen considerably longer, so not as surprised.  BOTH took a nice bath in pen cleaner and got a good scrubbing with an old toothbrush, though...

Just for the heck of it I put the Hero under a magnivying glass...yuck.  I'd be reluctant to work too if I were clogged like that...
So will I continue to use my De Atramentis Document inks?  Of course.  But I'll be much more mindful of cleaning and flushing my pens and nibs, and use them in my juicier, more dependable pens, at least the inexpensive ones like the Preppy and Metropolitan, definitely not the vintage pens!  And they're great with dip pens.

Obviously this is not an issue only with the De Atramentis Document inks, either...many pigmented inks can be challenging to use.  I'm careful with Platinum Carbon Black and other similar inks as well.

And of course you do NOT want to use India Ink or one of the acrylics in a good fountain pen.  They dry hard!

It is more than possible to draw with water-soluble ink, and wet the lines for halftones...it's a lovely and often luminous effect, just not one I go for often!  I may have to branch out a bit...

Soooo...what works for you, in which pens?  Water soluble, water resistant?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Draw with Me?


Hi all!  I woke up with a bit of a wild hair this morning--well, I know my hair is ALWAYS a mess, not that.  I mean an idea!  What would you think of an occasional "Draw with Me" event, perhaps monthly, perhaps quarterly, perhaps when the mood hit?  (Or Paint with Me, sometimes?  Or just whatever medium you prefer?)


We'd have a basic subject matter each time--like this one I did for Self Portrait Sunday, where we work from life, using whatever medium we want.  We could do something around our house, not necessarily a still life (though it could be), but maybe a favorite reading corner, your desk, what's on the plate for dinner, a view from a window; a pet--cat, dog, alpaca, goldfish, sugar glider, whatever; nature drawings; a favorite tool; your family, past or present; a favorite pastime; something from your imagination...

It won't be a demo, per se, but more of a chance for all of us to draw together for an hour or two, or a morning, virtual but "live."  There will be a set starting and ending time, of course--it would be a realtime event.  That said, it may be day-long, and for those in far-different time zones, you can check in the next day.

We'd have a place to share our work when the event is over--a blog of our own, Flickr, Facebook...

It's not a "challenge," exactly--I won't say "draw an apple," for instance--as close as I'm thinking is the above, something around the house.

I won't be judging work and there won't be "winners"--except that we DO win, by creating!  I was surprised to open Facebook this morning to see the wildly talented James Gurney came up with a similar concept, his contest for drawings of cell phone towers!  Great minds...or something...

So what do you think?  I don't know about you, but I've been coming out of a dry spell, and I'm feeling inspired--and want to share it!

And of course--it's a FREE event.  Let's have fun with it...



Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Current Sketch Kit!

So...attempting once again to organize and simplify!  I have just gotten 3 new/old vintage pens from Pier Gustafson (more on those soon!) and wanted something better to protect them than the old plastic pocket protector that I've been using for years--you know, the ones with the open top.  Things kept falling out, and it really wasn't quite big enough--not with the delicious new pens to play with.

Unfortunately, all the closed pen cases I found were too small, only holding 2 or at most 3 pens...and of course when I saw this small Smart Fit case from Jetpens, I decided to give it a try.  It's about 4" x 7", and zips shut for much more security.

The problem, of course, is that it really holds TOO much--and not quite enough at the same time!  Consolidating all my travel kit in one place is lovely, but...it's gotten kind of fat and heavy as I keep thinking "okay, I need that...and might use that...and I always wish I had one of those...and oh, look, that fits right there...and want to try that out..."

As it turned out, the pens work best on the right side, and I knew I wanted to keep one technical pen and one mechanical pencil, in addition to two of my vintage pens, and a dependable TWSBI Eco, and my old Frankenpen I discussed in this post, and this post and OOOPS, out of room on that side!  


So here's what made the cut for now...plus the tiny kids' watercolor kit from Wet Paint I filled with my own choice of artist colors and a wee telescoping brush from an old Winsor & Newton kit in that small front pocket...that's the new/old blue Waterman from Pier Gustafson and my old red Eversharp from the 1950s.

The mesh side has room for a sharpener and a small magnifying glass, plus two waterbrushes, two "real" brushes of a nice size, cut off to travel, and one wee tiny one for the occasional serious detail (cat whiskers anyone?), 3 colored pencils (2 black or grey and one white), an antique folding pen given to me by a friend (that's the aqua dealie), and yes, another pen, the ever-dependable fine-nib Carbon Desk Pen I cut off so the cap would post.  You can read about that process here.



This is how they come from Wet Paint and others, still with the kid colors in it at that point...and a totally useless brush!
Oh, yeah, that tiny watercolor kit?  That's what I used for all the sketches but ONE to fill this journal when we went to Charleston, SC!  (If you're not on Facebook, my account is public so you may be able to see anyway...) I CAN travel light...it's just not easy.

So at 7.7 ounces this setup is not exactly super light, and full, it's about 1-1/2" deep, so not really skinny, either...but oh well!  Like a Boy Scout, I'm prepared!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Repurposed Prang Box, 10 years later


If you've been with me for a while, you may remember this repurposed Prang watercolor box, from the 1950s--when the boxes were still metal rather than plastic!  I took out the kids' paints and replaced them with larger pans of professional colors I actually like...

The photo is from 2008, so I've been using this little jewel for 10 years...I have carried it from Missouri to California to Nevada, and love using it...it makes me feel like a kid again!  That's the one in our banner here, too.


These are the colors I added then, or close to it...there's an orange in there, too, in place of one of the yellows!

Actually, I have a couple of them...one with Old Faithful, the Yellowstone geyser on it, as well as this somewhat newer one...I found them on eBay, and a quick check showed you can still find them there.

The pan of kids' colors pops right out...

I stuck empty full pans in with rubber cement, so they're easy to pull out and replace if I want...and then filled with my own choice of colors.

Well.  That was then, this is now.  10 years, many miles, and a whole lot of sketches later!

The mixing area has gotten rusty and I may sand and repaint it...or not.  Some colors have been replaced.  I added a few half pans for more versatility...Manganese Blue Hue, Indigo, Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet, and Quinacridone Gold...
As you can see, it's been well used and well loved, and will continue to be so.  (And yes, I cleaned it up some for its photo op.  Really I did!)  At 4.9 ounces, it's my heaviest travel kit, but sometimes you just have to deal with it!  Worth it, to feel like a kid and give yourself permission for whimsy...

On a beach in California...

Friday, June 8, 2018

Lighten Up!

I find that over and over I try to simplify my gear and lighten my load--and since I want to be prepared for almost any sketching contingency, it's not that easy! 

Recently I've been exploring the fun little Pocket Palettes from Expeditionary Arts--and Maria Coryell-Martin keeps refining and offering new types, formats, and kits!  Check out her "toolkit" page at the link...

Here you see the original palette on the left and a newer model with a brushed steel case (I think she's offering a traditional black one now too, but I didn't see it on the page.)

I know it's silly, but I'll keep carrying the original shiny one because sometimes a girl just needs a mirror...or a signaling device...or...and the little bag it comes in protects the finish!

The very first ones had small pans, like those on the right in the filled palette, but many of us like to work with a larger brush, so Maria added the square pans.  Perfect! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

which green?


I have tweeked the limited palette that I recently put together, replacing the raw umber with burnt sienna — I can always mix a near-match to the raw umber with ultramarine. Then I wondered whether to keep the one single-pigment green as perylene green, or replace it with phthalo green BS?

So I mixed it with my other colors. If what I’m after is “bright”, the phthalo is a better choice; for subtle, realistic color, the perylene works better. . . . . Still undecided. What do you think?

The other choices in this limited palette are quinacridone rose, quinacridone gold, Hansa yellow medium, phthalo blue GS, ultramarine, burnt sienna, Payne’s gray, and a dab of white gouache. Plus a  Loew-Cornell #8 round and a 3/4 flat for my brushes. The flat’s handle has been shortened to fit the box and pointed for scratching effects.
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