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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Supply Catalog Additions

I've had my eye on one similar to this...all those pockets would be almost like a traveling studio!

As promised, I'm writing to let you know I added some things to our supply catalog...art bags, brush holders, plein air French-style easels, pens, and even some folding stools for those of us who need to be a bit more comfortable when working on the spot and more.

Have fun poking around!  The catalog is at the top of our page, or right here: http://artistsjournalworkshop.blogspot.com/p/supply-catalog.html

NOTE:  Sorry, I must not have hit save when I added the chair at top!  It's in the catalog now, but it's set to shuffle so you may have to look for it a bit.  My apologies!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Brush Recommendation!

As usual, I like to test drive new tools...here, my new set of Utrecht Deluxe Watercolor Brushes...

It was an incredible buy, a set of four brushes on sale for $14.99 at our local Utrecht store...

I had never even OWNED a #14 brush before...wow...this one carries a ton of water, goes forever, holds a lovely point...what a deal!  I just ran out of room on the page or I could have done much more with these...obviously, they're very versatile.
Had to see how far it would go on a single loading...this is a 9 x 12" Strathmore Visual Journal.  Wow...

I liked the brushes so much that I went back and got my brother-in-law a set!


Great sketching day in Chinchón, outside Madrid, with a group of 72 people. Here´s some more info and the sketches of the day:




Saturday, April 21, 2012

Supply Catalog joins the Bookshelf Page...

An array of waterbrushes
People often ask what tools and supplies we like, what we recommend, what works--so I've made a start at some of those recommendations on our new Supply Catalog page (if you think of a better name for it, do let me know.)

I'll be adding to it as we go along, and I know I've missed some great stuff.  I plan to write some blurbs on some of these as I have time, so check back!

This joins our Favorite Supplies page, which is longer reviews gleaned from our journal posts...you'll find some of the same things in both places, of course.

Like our new Bookshelf, it's a javascript thingie, so it may take a bit to open...

So check out the "catalog" at the top of the page, or find it here: http://artistsjournalworkshop.blogspot.com/p/supply-catalog.html

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Books We Like! -- A brand new page

Hi, all!

Just wanted to let you know I've reorganized the blog a little, removed the bookshelf from the sidebar at right and added a brand new page--well, THREE of them, actually, so far--of books I think you'll find useful.  You'll find it at the top of the page, or click this link: http://artistsjournalworkshop.blogspot.com/p/books-we-like.html

Yep, there are some of mine (though not all those pictured above) but a LOT more from people whose work I love and have learned from.  (What can I say, that was the quickest photo I could find that had a lot of books! :-D )

You'll find artists, journalers, watercolorists, travel journals, calligraphy, how-to and much more.

There's an arrow at the bottom of these links to let you know there's more to come, and I set them to shuffle, so you don't see the same thing all the time, when you open the page. (If you don't see a favorite, look on page 2 or 3--or whatever!) 

I'll be adding to these as I go along...if you have particular favorites, please let me know and I'll check them out!

More Pentel Pocketbrushery!

Pental Pocketbrushes are fun, and can be used in a variety of ways, depending on how much time you have and how much control.  The one above was very fast, the jalopy was when I had a lot of time...

And yes of course I was inspired by Roz's post the other day!

The Starbucks people were fast, too...but nice and bold!  Given their black ink, they're not really the tool to use for delicacy or subtlety, but they ARE great for quick sketches.

Use it alone, or combine with other mediums...watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, you name it.  The one of my cats, above, has a Japanese feel to it, to me... 

I've also used a Kuretake brush pen, but it seems a bit more temperamental...

And I like my Noodler's  Konrad piston fill brush pen, which you can fill with the ink of your choice, but it's out of stock--I believe Noodler's is redesigning it.  I hope they do, I'd recommend it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Moleskine books get second life

I got a few cahiers moleskine books (3.5 x 5.5) at some point - I carry one with me all the time in little waist pouch. I sketch in it if my main sketchbook is unavailable or if I need to be more discreet. And then I tear pages and post them in my main sketchbok as continuity of my sketchbook notes is rather important for me. I liked the size and simplicity of the paper - nothing intimidating :) Easy to share with kids around :) But I use a lot of them and they are pricy... So I decided to try this: use their inconspicuous cover (with a little pocket), put some plain, cheap paper inside, bind as simply as possible and see if these will work in the same way.
I filled first book rather quickly and now I am thinking about gluing it as a whole in my main sketchbook - it's basically filled with one story - I drew in it while on the chair lift during recent skiing trip :)
So I need more experiments to see if my hand-made moleskines-alike books would work in the same way as pricy ones :)
I made a few more today for myself and my sketching companion :)
If you ask me why not use just simply separate pages - I tried - but the feeling of the book in my hand is so much better :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Working with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch and watercolor . Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I've been doing a series of posts on intermittent Fridays in which I suggest projects which can be done in an afternoon or on the weekend.

Today I posted the first in a multi-part series on getting used to the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. If you have one of these pens but haven't used it much, or have seen people using them and wondered if the pen might be for you, check out the post and the series (there will be at least 4 more on the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen in future weeks).

I'm also hoping to get some videos up so that you can see me drawing with the pen (but International Fake Journal Month is making my life a little full right now).

You might ask yourself, "Why would I ever use a brush pen? There doesn't seem to be any control, the lines are so dark…" and so on.

It isn't for everyone. But as with any tool practice will give you greater control. I'll also show ways you can work with its lines and paint in later segments.

I believe you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try because it might just be the increase in line vocabulary for which you're looking.

I'm not in anyway connected with Pentel or anyone who sells these pens. I just like to see the happy smiles on the faces of people when they pick one up and begin to sketch with it.

Why the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen? It's got individual synthetic hairs that make up a resilient and springy tip  that allows you to have sweeping as well as dry brush strokes. One friend admitted he'd never tried the PPBP because other brush pens he'd tried had no body in the brush tip. He walked out of my studio with one and has been using it ever since. While I can't give everyone in the world one of these pens (I wish I could, but I can't) I can let people know how fun it is to use.

(Note: I have also found the tip to be long-lasting. I use my PPBP daily, sometimes for several hours at a time and my pens last a long, long time.)

Also it has rich black ink which is waterproof (immediately on most papers depending on the paper's sizing) and that means you can paint over it right away with your watercolor or gouache washes.

I have always been a rather tight and detail oriented sketcher. OK, let's just say fussy. I typically use a dip pen or a fine point pen of some sort. The switch to the brush pen was massive for me because it meant darker bold lines. But I embraced the difference because it gave me access to quick sketching on a larger scale and because it helped me hone my editing capabilities. While I have more editing work to do in my sketching (and I'll enjoy every day of it) I have found that using the PPBP has actually improved my work with other pens as well.

And it's a great way to warm up and let your hand move across the page.

For all those reasons I think you should give the PPBP a try. For the next several weeks I'll be posting a new Project Friday with different exercises for using this pen.

I urge three things on people: Chocolate Chocolate (not a typo) Cake from Cafe Latte, journaling (both written and visual), and using a PPBP. All three are great fun. It can also be argued that all three are addictive.  But the last two can only have a positive effect! I hope you'll give the PPBP a try.

Don't Be Confused: Some people are confused by the various pens that Pentel makes. Here is a post I wrote about two of Pentels brush pens: The Pocket Brush and the Color Brush. You'll find out pros and cons for both there.

At the end of last year I started using Pentel's Aquash Brush Pigment Ink Filled Brush (I know, I know, but it is what it says on the package and you have to add the Pigment Ink Filled bit because they also call their waterbrush, which is empty, Aquash). I will have something more to say about this brush pen in my series on getting used to the PPBP, but in the meantime you can read my adventures of first using it by using my blog's search engine to look for "Aquash" posts.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Need Some "Zen" In Your Life?!

Stroll along the statues and koi pond.
Feel the gentle breezes sweeping cares and concerns away.
I hope you'll come and join me, Laure, for a wonderful visit....more class information can be found by clicking here. The class is now open for registration. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's all relative...brush sizes, that is!

People often ask me about what size brushes to get for a class...and I have to admit it's wildly relative, if you're talking round brushes!  I just suggest getting the biggest you can comfortably work with, for the large size...you can move a lot more paint without having to reload, and it will help avoid niggly work and hard edges where you don't want them.

Manmade brushes are very much improved...I haven't had a sable in YEARS.  The best of them hold lots of water and a good point...and no worries about breaking the bank or losing your brush!

This shows the largest waterbrush, on the right...and as you can see, it's not very large.  That's a #6 next to it.

But look...here are a couple of #6 brushes!  One's Loew-Cornell stain brush an the one below is a Princeton.  Hmmmm...

And here are two #8 brushes...with a #6, all of the SAME BRAND...
 I really like Loew-Cornell brushes, by the way...their Ultra type is wonderful!

And here's a Grumbacher #12 with a Loew-Cornell #8.  Doesn't appear to be a lot of logic here, does there...

Happily, most flat brushes are sold by width.  You can get a 1/2", a 3/4", a 1" or larger and you know pretty much what size it's going to be...it may be longer or shorter, it may have a better edge, but at least you know it's probably going to be a 3/4" if it says so!

Monday, April 2, 2012


I usually end up doing several composite pages when I travel...it seems to squeeze more of the experience into my journal.

I usually try to do one as we're leaving, at hour home airport...my fellow passengers, the tower, whatever...

This is the view from our hotel...you can't see the pencil sketch at upper left, in this photo...

This place has a nice big heat/AC unit below the window--it makes a great studio tabouret!

As the days passed, I added Joseph at the computer (his morning habit) and the cat sleeping on someone's car in the parking lot. 

Another kind of composite involves doing many views of the same subject...in this case sketches of my father-in-law's rescue beagle...

But you can combine anything you want!  Maggie was lazing in the shade near the fence, so I sketched her and the top of the neighbor's house.  (Good thing they have this nice thick masonry wall, beagles are DIGGERS.

You can add anything you want to pages like this...business cards, notes, reminders, photos...but I always enjoy how they catch something of the days.

Some more on windows...

120402 A few thoughts on Windows
Here are a few random thoughts on drawing windows (it is not how to draw perfect perspective since this page contains a very bad example of perspective...unless I am drawing a very curiously angled window!?! )

I have been meaning to do this for a while- but seeing Kate Johnson's wonderful post on painting windows here has prompted me. On the top left corner is a very quick Australian version (double hung federation green window in a Sydney sandstone wall) and the doodles illustrate some things that I have been thinking about lately.

These are obviously drawn from an architectural point of view... I just couldn't help drawing a plan could I? One of my earliest memories of being a junior architect in the office was being told how to draw a window properly in elevation(front view) - draw the frame and then the sashes etc etc...and that certainly has helped me understand what I am looking at when I am am sketching on location.

To draw windows convincingly, one needs to consider the relationship between the window and the face of the wall - is it set back a long way (deep reveals) or is it flush or proud of the wall. Also where is the glass in relation to the frame? When you look a a wall from an angle do you see more of the window or more of the reveal?
What is the relationship between horizontal and vertical members.

Hope my scribbles make some sense....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

International Fake Journal Month 2012 Starts Today

Fantasy person from recent regular journal,
See details in post. Click on image
to view enlargement.
Today is the start of International Fake Journal Month 2012. On Roz Wound Up I've reminded people by posting some fantasy people I've been sketching. You can see more of them there.

You can also go directly to the Official International Fake Journal Month Blog and read about the event as well as see details about this year's contests (it's a prize drawing for participants as usual).

But I wanted to write for a moment about one of my fantasy people—who is NOT in my fake journal this year—because it points to one of the benefits of participating in IFJM.

Each year in April I keep a fake journal for 30 days. I've been keeping fake journals for ages but I formalized it in 2001 and started telling students about it, and finally in 2009 created a blog just for the purpose of promoting it.

I think it's a useful activity to use to learn more about one's real journaling process. This is best accomplished by setting goals and parameters for your character. Personally I like to set a limit to the art materials and subject matter that I will use. In my regular journal life I'm all over the place experimenting—testing and evaluating. IFJM is a luxurious contrast because for 30 days I sink into a medium and an approach and allow myself time to explore a little more deeply. I could do this any time in my life, and often in my painting I'll do this type of exploration with a month long, daily painting series like my bird series which became a show 30 birds in 30 days. But each year April's IFJM makes sure I take time for my art in a way I might otherwise over look.

The lead up to IFJM is now always a little bit overly busy for me because instead of just thinking about what I want to do for my project I'm posting about the event and encouraging other folks. This year I didn't do a lot of pre-posting because I'd already (in past years) written tips about how to prep, not prep, choose a book, and so on. I was also swamped with work deadlines and family obligations.

But I was really, really enjoying working in my recent regular 8 x 8 inch (approx.) journal which I'd made with TH Saunders Waterford 90 lb. Hot Press High White watercolor paper. And because I was enjoying it I wanted to push it and see what more I could do with it in the few remaining pages. (Often my desire to explore a new paper in my test journal is overwhelmed by the reality of having to take notes at meetings and otherwise document my life.)

In the last pages of the TH Saunders Waterford journal I got out a pencil I have on hand for doing an occasional sudoku puzzle first thing in the morning when I look at the weather. (I don't normally sketch with a pencil.) 

After scribbling down a face from memory, working small and blurry with the pencil, just letting my hand get a feel for the paper (this paper loves pencil), I started dabbing on and wiping off the paint to see how tough the paper was. (It's pretty tough.) It was fun. And the fun pushed me out of my rut of thinking about the paper I was going to use for IFJM and soon I was testing and rejecting the paper I thought I would use, and making all sorts of helpful decisions. I selected my next regular journal with paper that would be useful to continue this type of experimenting, and in the process I picked the paper for my fake journal. A plan came together.

Would I have come around to fiddling with this approach if I hadn't had IFJM "hanging" over my head? Probably, but also probably not for a month or more because of the other events going on at present and which regular journal I would have selected.

So whether or not you participate in IFJM I just want to urge you today to set up some deadlines and projects for yourself that will cause you to look at your journaling process and bust out (even for a short while) of habits and approaches that you've taken for granted.

You can always return to them, they won't go away, you won't "break" anything by taking an experimental plunge. But you'll come back to your regular journal practice with freshness and a new energy, and perhaps even some new approaches to how you visualize.
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