Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Review: Clairefontaine Watercolor Pads and a Whole Bunch of new BB Mandalas

Clairefontaine Watercolor

Clairefontaine watercolor pads may not be as well known in America as some of the other books on the market from brands such as Fabriano, Canson, and Daler Rowney, but they should be.

I've been playing with these books for a while, and my only real concern is for the poly covers. The front covers are see-through, and I think they should be opaque so you can't see your first piece of art through the cover. There is a nice thick cardboard backboard so you can easily hold these while on location without them flapping all over the place. There is also a rear poly cover that I find unnecessary. Other that that, I love them. The pages are not microperforated, but I don't usually remove pages from my books - that could be a concern to some.

I've been using the Canson Montval 5x8 watercolor books (12 pages per pad) for ages and I am thrilled that the Clairefontaine (20 pages per pad) paper is not only comparable in price, but better in quality. Stay tuned for a separate blog post that puts the Canson & Clairefontaine head to head for a comparison. The Canson and the Clairefontaine are the same weight, texture, and color.

Watercolor and Pen Mandala

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you've probably seen one or two of my abstract mandalas. I love using vibrant colors and everything just seems to POP on this paper and that makes me VERY happy. I also love the square books. Square books lend themselves quite well to circular mandalas.

This first piece was painted with artist grade watercolors, and then I used Faber Castell Pitt Brush pens over top once dry.

Watercolor and Pen Mandala

Another watercolor, with permanent marker over top.

Mandala  - Pitt Brush Pens

This next piece was first drawn with the Faber Castell Brush pens, (which are permanent) and then paint was added later.

Mandala - red and purple

More watercolor with marker overlay.

Colorful Mandala

Drawn first with marker, then painted.

022509 106

Paint only.

From the Writer's Bloc: "Clairefontaine Watercolor Pads are designed for watercolor, gouache, or wash drawing. This side wire bound pad has 20 sheets of 300 g acid free paper with a cold pressed surface. The rigid backboard lets you make your creations anywhere."

Clairefontaine Watercolor Pad - Rectangular $7.55

Size: 5 3/4" x 8 1/4". C96033.

Clairefontaine Watercolor Pad - Square $11.50

Size: 8" x 8". C96127.


Marsha said...

Gorgeous Mandalas! I'm still in my trial phase, which means many goofy results - but those are fun too. Everytime I visit your blog, I get re-motivated.


Gentian said...

Your mandalas turned out beautifully! I love the last image too. I am fond of the square format as well. Great work, and I hope they start to sell these in stores as well.

John Johnston said...

Beautiful artwork! I enjoy sketching and have dabbled with acrylics but I'm totally inept with watercolors. Thanks for sharing your work!

eriquito said...

Stephanie, thank you for this review and *thank you* for sharing your mandalas! They are beautiful, mesmerizing, and inspiring.
I made my first two mandala attempts the other night using an old Tombow ABT brush pen that I found in a drawer. Ouch! Mine are *nothing* like yours =)
I've ordered some Faber Castell Brush pens and when they arrive, I'll keep practicing. Maybe, when you get a chance, you could recommend an entry-level set of watercolors? Surely I'm not the only one here that wants to emulate your work.
Thank you again!

Biffybeans said...

Thank you Marsha - and please don't stop creating! It is all fun and good for the soul.

Thank you Gentian! I like these books a lot and I to hope they start to gain additional popularity.

Thank you John! I really don't know what I'm doing with watercolors myself, I just "play" and whatever happens, happens!

eriquito - Thank you for your comments and Bravo! for trying the mandala process! Resist the urge to judge your results - as it is all about the process of doing them that matters... Any art that results is a bonus. :o) As far as an entry set of watercolors? There are two kinds of watercolors - artist grade and student grade. Student grade paints - what most people would call "beginner" or "entry level" have more binder than pigment and can actually cause more frustration because the pigments don't always blend with each other as much as expected and you might think it's you, rather than the paints that aren't creating pleasing results. I suggest trying a few tubes of artist grade paint - Daniel Smith (google for their website) makes outstanding tube paints. They sell them individually, in complementary sets called traids and in larger sets as well. Think about what colors you would like to use and buy just those. In the beginning, I bought lots of colors I thought I should have in my palette and now they just sit. Even just one of DS's triads would be enough to allow you to play. They usually run about $15-$20.

Poetry Duck said...

Wow! Love your mandalas, they're stunning.

Found your blog via "Future; Nostalgic" ... hello and nice to meet you :-)


Biffybeans said...

Hi Josie! Thank you for your kind words about my art and thanks for visiting!

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