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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Look at DaVinci Gouache

Left: A Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch on Fabriano gridded paper (sheets stitched together with washi tape), and painted with DaVinci Gouache. (A sketch which ultimately went into my 2013 fake journal.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I know a lot of readers on this blog love experimenting with new media and often wonder about certain products. I like to review products when I test them out to give people an idea what's out there and also enough information so that they can save their money if something isn't going to suit their working methods.

Each year in April I keep a fake journal. It's a project that I took public in the early 2000s with my students and then went public with on the internet in 2009. You can read about it on the Official International Fake Journal Blog.

This year my character (because it isn't "you" who keeps the fake journal) was someone who didn't care at all about archival issues, and who worked quite a lot in mixed media. I decided to work in DaVinci gouache in the book for a host of reasons that I detail in my complete review on DaVinci Gouache here.

Left: A Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch on Sumi paper, and then painted with DaVinci Gouache. Click on the image to view an enlargement. You can see a description of the process of this image and additional photos here

One of the most fun aspects of this project and my testing of the DaVinci Gouache is that I used a different palette of colors than I would normally use (the line doesn't include some of my favorite pigments).

I remain a die-hard fan of Schmincke Gouache, and M. Graham Gouache is a close second (if only they would produce PB60 in their line!). But after working for several weeks (I filled my journal up before the end of the month) with DaVinci Gouache I have to say it's a fun and interesting paint to work with.

It is extremely tacky and has different handling properties from the two gouache lines I typically use. It also doesn't wash out to light washes with the same saturated clarity as the other two gouache lines do. But I found painting with it kept me on my toes and I  had fun.

If you want to get into gouache and just experiment before you start kitting yourself up with a complete set of paint, I think DaVinci might be a good place for you to start inexpensively. The large tubes are reasonably priced.

I would recommend that you take extra pains to really mix up the quantity and consistency of paint you need to cut down the tackiness (which I think for new users who don't know how gouache can work will be frustrating). If you are experiencing too much drag (and you see your brush is beginning to show a lot of wear) take the time to use more water until you can find a level of paint and water that works more smoothly. (In my top image I've used the paint in a dilute fashion, in the second image I've used it more opaquely.)

I have some reservations about the paint line because of the tackiness, the finish of the painted pieces, and the pigment selection as you'll read in my review at my other blog. But I think this is a fine paint for sketching with.

I would recommend, however, if you want to start painting a lot in gouache and archival issues and ease matter to you that you switch out to Schmincke Gouache when your budget allows. Your satisfaction level, the mixes you'll be able to achieve, and the brush handling will all be instantly improved. While DaVinci Gouache does have a smooth buttery consistency straight out of the tube, and it retains its softness for quite some time on the palette there is a tackiness that over the long haul is annoying. Schmincke Gouache (and M. Graham) both have a smooth buttery consistency without that tackiness (M. Graham is a little more tacky than Schmincke because of its formulation) and I think most people will find it easier to control water/paint levels to get the results they want with either of those other two brands.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Classes at ImaginaryTrips.com!

©1997 Alaskan Sketchbook Cover
Laure Ferlita
11.5" x 5.5"

Game On! Or maybe I should say "Schedule Up!"

I have posted the 2013 Imaginary Trips Schedule and you can find it here! New trips and visits are planned as well as some prior destinations that you might have missed the first time around. For those of you waiting for the Independent Learning Classes (or should I say still waiting), that is my first priority for 2013. The first of the ILCs will be posted by the end of April!

I have to tell you I'm pretty excited about the first class on the schedule for this year, An Imaginary Visit to A Past Vacation! (Please click the title for more information.)

If you're anything like me, you've probably taken at least one vacation in your life before you started to sketch or before you became comfortable sketching around others. Or maybe you've taken one recently, but the trip was so fast-paced you didn't getting any sketching done.

Take a look at the sketch at the top of this post...you'll note the copyright date is 1997! And that's when I completed the sketch from my trip to Alaska...from 1996! It also happens to be the only sketch I completed from that trip despite my well-thought-out plans.

Is that just not sad? That was a fabulous trip! I made the sketchbook, I gathered my materials and I painted the cover. What happened to everything else, all those other great pages dancing in my head?

Somewhere along the way life got busy and interfered with my well-thought-out plans. I have no sketches for that trip other than the cover. The horror! You know they say about "good intentions," right?

I decided to correct this huge oversight and it started me thinking about the trip and all the stuff I didn't remember. (Oh, come on, it was nearly 20 years ago! Surely you don't think I can remember it that well!)

How could I go about reconstructing my trip so that I had a sketchbook that was worthy of this great trip when I CRS (can't remember stuff)?

This experience lead me to put together the class and to share it with others who might have done something similar. So if you're one of those people—just like me—that have lots of good intentions but no sketchbooks, come join me!

Please check out the new schedule for a "trip" or a "visit" as we're going to some fun new places as well as revisiting some of the prior places we've visited.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Finally, a new mini-class, Ink & Wash

I've been kind of missing in action, here, trying to get a new class done, and finally launched it this week!  Here are a few images from the lessons, which are available with my other mini-classes, here: http://www.cathyjohnson.info/online.html

This is the sign-up button on my web page...

There's a video demonstrating this one...

And this one, where we look at various ways to pre-tint pages...

Another demo video...

A freebie ballpoint pen works just fine...

Water-soluble ink can be FUN and exciting!

Toned paper can give you some interesting effects and even set the mood!

These are just a few things we cover in the 4-lesson class; you can see more information on my website link, above.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Moving My Art Around . . .

First, I must say I feel badly about not having posted to this blog more often. I read it all the time and so enjoy the company and the inspiration. I devoted all of last year to my iPad Studio Workbooks -teaching artists to create their art (and art journals) on the iPad, but this year, I am craving the feel of my real world sketchbooks, watercolor paints and pencils for awhile.

Inspired by some artists here, I decided to try the Stilman & Birn Beta sketchbook and fell instantly in love. It has everything I have been searching for since before I even started keeping actual artist journals. I have always painted on Arches 300 lb cold press paper and never found any comparable feel in a book before. The Beta pages are not as heavy, of course, but watercolor behaves in a similar way.

One thing I love to do in my journals is collect the random sketches I make all over the place (including in my iPad), and create a more comprehensive collection. I really think in the long run, it will be my artist journals that will comprise my most precious life works - to me at least!

So, I was really thrilled when I discovered how beautifully the Beta book accepted transfers made with my Sheer Heaven process (the Zeta book does also). This means I can move work from anywhere into a single journal.

The spread I posted above is comprised of two transfers of a sketch I made years ago while preparing a workshop, watercolor wash and painting, and a poem I wrote very recently. I did the type on the computer, printed reversed on Sheer Heaven and transferred to the journal spread - right over the wash.

I have posted a complete step-by-step on my own blog to show how, exactly, this spread came together. You can see that here:

Hopefully, I will be a more familiar face around here. Cathy does such a wonderful job of keeping this blog delightful!


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