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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

While we're talking about favorite supplies...

...this is what I posted on my Cathy Johnson Art page on Facebook yesterday.  Guess we're all thinking about this!

This is my vintage Waterman 52 nib I took out of a beater that was just good for parts, and put into a Noodler's Creaper body...fun, and a new favorite!


Even at my age, this late in the game, I'm still searching for tools that let me do what I want with my art.

Granted, there IS no magic brush (though I found one that came close, once, and wore it OUT!), but have you noticed how often we find something that just feels GOOD? That works for us?

My favorite travel palette is my old re-purposed Prang box...I carry one in my bag and one lives at the shed/studio. I seem to reach for it over any of my others, and I believe in part it's BECAUSE it's fun. It reminds me of creating for the sake of creating. Not for sale, not to illustrate anything, but simply because I love doing it.

My favorite fountain pens need to be dependable, smooth, and have some flex. Some have all those attributes, some only two, but I keep trying out new and vintage ones--the ones you see on my eBay listings are good pens, but may either duplicate one I have, or just don't flex enough for me!

I prefer real watercolor brushes (currently, Loew-Cornell and--yes!--Utrecht's inexpensive sets are my favorites), but since I DO work in my journal 90% of the time, and work on the spot frequently, I use waterbrushes a lot. At this writing, a couple of Aquash ones in the largest size are what I usually reach for.

After exploring MANY brands of colored pencils, I'm back to Prismacolors...I normally use a single dark pencil, with watercolor washes, and Prismacolors do the job for me. They don't smear, they don't lift under washes, but they're soft enough to put down a good dark value without hurting my hands! I've tried several of the newer oil-based pencils that many artists just love...but they're not for me, or the way I work.

I still love Fabriano watercolor paper, though I try to find the soft press now...they changed the surface of the CP and it's just too bumpy for me. Despite the fact that Arches has to be THE most popular watercolor paper among the artists I know, it's not for me. (Except the HP version, which is fine. Go figure.)

I have to admit, though, that exploring and continuing to experiment is a never-ending joy to me. It's exciting when I find something that just fits the way I work. Doesn't mean it's Right, or right for everyone, only that it suits me...at the time!


We've had lots of interesting comments on this Facebook thread...feel free to join us there!  It's a highlighted post from yesterday.  You can find me here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cathy-Johnson-Art/119899574740563?ref=br_rs


  1. Kate, as a fellow experimenter I was intrigued with what you said about Prismacolors and how you have come back to them. I grew up in Australia using Derwents. Then returned to this country and had to find something else because Derwents weren't available here at the time. I ended up with Spectracolor and then Prismacolor. Then things were stable for a long time and I found I sometimes would use Derwents for particular things (I'm talking about only the colored wax based pencils right now). And then in the 1990s I believe there were Karismacolors that came from the UK which I LOVED (of course they had the perfect indigo and burnt sienna pencils for me!) But when I couldn't get them because of a US distribution problem (and I think they stopped being made I went back to Prismacolors and have been there ever since, with short forays into other pencils as they came out, just to test really, but always going back to Prismacolors. The only pencil that has taken my fancy since then has been the Derwent Drawing line because of the quality of the lead and the color range—and the fantastic Ivory Black in the original 6 colors.

    But my point is I always come back to the Prismacolors, and even though I didn't "learn" with the Prismacolors, but learned instead with Derwents (which seem to me to have a "drier feel"), I have spent the most time with the Prismacolors. And enjoy them the most and so sometimes I wonder if it is just all those hours we logged with the Prismacolors which makes us prefer them.

    And so I totally believe it's about experimenting with something long enough to get familiar with it and have a feel for it and see where it can take us in what we want to do.

    I'm glad you ended on that note because it will encourage people to stick with sometime and really get a feel for it before they discount using it.

    I've also found that my work with Prismacolors, even before they brought out their "lightfast" colors, has lasted over time. I have portrait commissions hanging in people's homes which still look bright and vibrant after several decades. (People did follow my advice and they were hung out of direct sunlight.)

    1. Roz, I've got old drawings done with Prismacolors that look as bright as ever, too! I do like to give other things a try, but these fit the way I like to work. As a writer and teacher, I've experimented with many types and brands, but always return for my OWN pleasure to these pencils. I did give one of the new oil-based ones a good try, but had to press so hard my hands hurt by the time I finished the landscape!

      I like to keep an open mind...you never know when you're going to find something that opens up your creative world. (I used Micron Pigmas for decades...and now, the past 5 years or so, I'm all over fountain pens. LOVE them. Still use Micron or Zig when I fly, and for some uses, but...)

  2. You are so right to continue experimenting. Thanks to reading some of your posts over two years ago I plunged and bought my first fountain pen. What a love affair you started! Many thanks!

    1. I'm so glad you're happy with them, Elva! They are a great challenge, aren't they? As I said above, I love a pen that is smooth (feels good and glides on the paper), dependable, and somewhat flexy.

      And you're welcome!


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