Thursday, December 31, 2009

Glancing Back While Looking Forward

Batik Mandala. Bombay White, Diamine Imperial Purple, Brilliant Red, Orange & Yellow

As if the year drawing to a close isn't reason enough to reflect on the last 12 months, having a birthday on December 31st often sends me into a contemplative tailspin. I think about the good, the bad and the indifferent- about how to use those experiences to make the next year even better than the last.

For me, 2009 was an intense year of personal growth. I learned so much about myself and how I believe the world to work - and how my perceptions affect my reality. The number one thing I will be rolling into 2010 and beyond is that thoughts create form and that the power of positive thinking works.

I wouldn't have come to these (and a million other) realizations without the support of a patient and loving husband, and the friendship of some incredibly amazing people.... these are just a few.

My boys....

Me & Debbie

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Biffybeans Top 20 Pen, Ink, Paper & Art Supplies for 2009

Once again, it's that time of year when I like to list out my favorite products from the past 12 months. I had to expand this year's list from 10 items to 20 - just too much good stuff I didn't want to leave out. Click here if you would like to compare these items against my 2008 list. And so... in no specific order I present:

In Paper:

The Exacompta Sketch Book One of the most versatile products I've ever found. 100g off white laid paper that takes fountain pen ink, markers, and watercolor paints.

Colorful Mandala Hand in Sketchbook

Blank Paperblanks Journals - The off white paper is great for use with fountain pen ink and I love to doodle on this paper.

Current Journal in use - a Blank Paperblanks

Clairefontaine Spiral Watercolor Pad - Square spiral bound 300g cold pressed watercolor paper is perfect for making mandalas with any number of different types of media.


Rhodia Meeting Book - I love the format and the small version is my absolute favorite Rhodia product.

Rhodia Meeting Book

Fabriano Classic Artists Journal - The large version is one of my favorites for drawing pen & ink mandalas.

Fabriano Classic Artistic Journals

Myndology Disc Bound Journal - Love the size and the ability to rearrange the pages is priceless.

Myndology Disc Bound

In Fountain Pens:

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen - What can I say? I have 6. I love them.

Lamy Safari's

Sailor Sapporo Fountain Pen - The Sapporo is the perfect weight and balance for my hand.

Sailor Sapporo Fountain Pen

Lamy Accent Fountain Pen - A few $ more than the Safari, the Accent is a slightly heavier pen with grown up looks. Though the nib is the same as the Safari, the extra weight on this pen creates an even smoother ride.

Lamy Accent 5

Late to the Game: 1942 Parker 51 Vacumatic Fountain Pen. The nib has that special "character" that I love so much. (A slight variance between the vertical & the horizontal.)

Parker 51 Fountain Pen from 1942

In Fountain Pen Ink:

J. Herbin Perle Noire Ink - Between all 3 Diamine black inks, Sailor Black, Sailor Nano Black, Pelikan Black & Noodler's Bulletproof Black, this is the darkest & blackest ink.

Diamine Onyx Black Ink - Very close to the Perle Noire but slightly better behaved.

J. Herbin Perle Noire

Diamine Poppy Red Ink - After trying bottle after bottle of red ink, (too pink, too orange, too light...) I have found my all-time favorite red ink.

More poppy red doodles

In Art Supplies

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils - Seriously pigmented and extremely versatile, these were a very good investment.

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils

Pitt Artist Brush Pens - Flexible nibbed markers using a permanent India ink. The colors match beautifully to my artist grade watercolors.

Pitt Brush Pens  - My Fav Colors

Uniball Signo Broad White Gel Pen - The most perfect white gel pen I've yet to find.

White on Magenta Mandala

Uniball Signo .7 Gel Pens - If I'm not using a fountain pen, I reach for one of these. Very smooth and they come in lots of cool colors.

Uniball Signo Rollerball

Daniel Smith Watercolor Paints - Highly saturated artist grade paints. If I had to do it all over again, I'd buy all DS paints. (Image below does not contain ALL DS paints.)

My watercolor palette.

Caran D'Ache Neocolor II Watersoluble Crayons - Crayons for grown ups. Great on colored paper, can also use with water.

Neocolor II's

Late to the Game: Tombow Calligraphy Pen - This pen has a short firm brush nib that works perfectly on my typically smaller pieces.

Brush Pen Mandala

And that's it for 2009! See you next year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Square Gets the Circle


After creating over 800 different mandalas over the course of the last three years, I've found that hands down, I prefer to do them in a book or block that allows me to fold the cover back. This allows me to easily spin the book around on a table or in my hand if I'm working on my lap. (Spinning the book allows me to work a little more evenly on the design.)

Clairefontaine Watercolor

The Clairefontaine square spiral bound watercolor book shown above is one of the most perfect products I've yet to find that suits all of my needs. The paper is glorious and readily accept watercolors, markers, pen & ink....

Mandala Class

The square Clairefontaine book is also the one that participants in my Mandala Workshops used at the Rhythm Renewal this past summer.

Toys & tools of the trade

Fabriano makes a square artist journal called the Quadrato but unless I'm working on a flat surface, (which is hardly ever) I find it very awkward to use. Though I can't fold the cover back on any of these, I actually like the large Artist's Journal better than the small or the square.

Full Bleed Mandala

Showing the laid surface from the Quadrato journal.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils vs. Derwent Inktense

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils on Clairefontaine watercolor paper.

Derwent Inktense Pencils

Derwent Inktense pencils on Clairefontaine watercolor paper.

Inktense vs. Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.

I'm still trying to learn how to use these different watersoluble pencils and I thought a side by side comparison might be helpful but I'm not exactly sure I learned anything more about either of them. I am aware that these are two different kinds of pencils - the AD being watercolor and the Inktense becoming permanent once dry.

This is what I know so far:

1. It is easier to wash out the original lines with the AD pencils than the Inktense
2. Once dry, Inktense pencils become permanent and I've yet to be able to work over top of the dried surface in any way that's pleasing to me.
3. One wet Inktense color next to another tends to stay put while the AD pencils may bleed & run into one another.
4. When wet, Intense colors are a little easier to control than the AD.
5. AD pencils seem to blend much cleaner on the paper.
6. Of note, the AD pencils have worked well on all kinds of paper, even super smooth with little to no tooth.

I still have the feeling that I still don't really know what I'm doing with the Inktense pencils.....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Buying new Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils at Blick

Testing Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils at Blick

A while back, I decided that I wanted to add a few colors to my current selection of Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils. Rather than starting off with a pre-packaged set, (because I enjoy using a specific palette) I bought them individually and now I wanted more.

Testing Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils at Blick

I had initially bought a selection of colors I thought I would use but I hadn't tested them in the store using any water. This time I went with a sketch pad, my own set of pencils, and a filled waterbrush and tested about 50 different of the AD pencils against the ones I already had. Luckily I got away with only buying 7 more.

Testing Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils at Blick

I did make sure to notify the store manager when I first walked in that I was coming in with a selection of my own pencils so I could compare them with the new ones.

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencil Shavings

After sharpening my lot of AD pencils, I saturated this page in my Cachet watercolor book and spilled the shavings all over the page.... Looks kind of neat doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Summer of the Sidewalk Mandala


I had the most glorious summer putting chalk to the ground.

Sidewalk Mandalas

I made these with the help of friends and neighbors...

Sidewalk mandala outside the Boilerhouse

I put them all over the place at this year's Rhythm Renewal retreat in Loretto PA.

Everyone helping draw a huge mandala at Paul's

One of my favorites was this one that we did at night. I started it and about 25 people helped to make it bigger and bigger....

RR 2009 058

It was glorious.... And though the rain washed it away that night, the memory definitely remains.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who would be in your All - Time Band? My husband says my choices are lame.


Lying awake in bed at about midnight, I can't sleep and neither can my husband. I get chatty when I'm tired and I start blabbering on about nothing in particular... something about Tommy Lee's infamous drum solo where he spun around in the cage and my husband interrupts me to blurt out - "All Time favorite band - singer, two guitar players, bass player, drummer."

I'm all like, "Gee, that's tough, I'm not sure... hmmm... let me see... who is yours?" In one breath he says "Tyler - Page - Van Halen - Lee - Bonham" (That's Steven Tyler, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Geddy Lee and John Bonham.)

I start to think. I tell him how I feel like I missed out on not really listening to Bonham for the last 20 years.. how as a drummer, I should have been listening to him. I say that I would probably pick David Lee Roth as my singer. That I was hung up on guitar players.....I would probably pick Brian Setzer but not sure if I should pick Eddie Van Halen or Kirk Hammett. Drummer John Bonham or Lars Ulrich or Alex Van Halen... I can't think of a bass player. I'm thinking that whoever I pick should be able to blend together on stage. I used to like Steve Harris but I'm not the big Ironmaiden fan any more. Nikki Sixx? Yea... I'll pick Nikki Sixx just because. This is so hard! David Lee Roth on vocals, Brian Setzer and Kirk Hammet on guitar, Nikki Sixx and Alex Van Halen on drums. But wait! I can't have two members from the same band in my ultimate band can I?

Jeff says to me - "You think too much."

In which case I say heck to it. I'm just going to put it like this. "Van Halen is my All - Time band and Brian Setzer comes to play now and again"

Jeff says, "You're lame."

I say, "I'm lame? how is that lame? Can you possibly argue that either DLR or EVH aren't All-Time band worthy?"

"No" he says.

"And what's wrong with Michael Anthony?" I start loudly imitating his bass line from the song Unchained...

He says "Lame."

"And what's wrong with Alex Van Halen?"


"Look - one song... I'm giving it to him (Alex) on one song and that's Mean Street. If that's not one of the grooviest hard rock songs I've ever heard, I don't know what is. "

So there. Pfffffffft. That's my band and I'm sticking to it.

PS - Notice who is wearing the Brian Setzer t-shirt....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Finished Mandala Plates

The finished Mandala Plate

About a month ago I blogged about my experience in going to one of those paint your own ceramics places at a local mall. I am VERY pleased with the results - I cannot BELIEVE how vibrant they turned out. I am so very happy that the colors I picked matched my signature palette.

Painting a plate

I had mentioned that it was very difficult for me to envision the final product because the colors are all so muted before it gets fired. The paints are also very thick and a little difficult to apply and sitting there for about 90 minutes working on this plate, I wasn't sure I'd ever do it again but after seeing the way it turned out? I will absolutely do it again!

Mandala Plate II

This is the plate where I simply used one of the small squeeze bottles of black paint that used a syringe tip to apply the paint. This one only took me about 15 minutes to complete. It looks totally awesome! A friend of mine saw these plates and suggested I do designs like these on giant cookies... :o)

Painting a plate

This was the black & white plate before firing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tombow Calligraphy Pen from Jetpens

Love this one... Gayatri Mandala

Absolutely and totally loving these Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens from Jetpens. This was the first piece I did with one and I was hooked from the word "go."

Totally unlike me mandala

I've been a huge fan of brush pens for a while, having about 45 different colors of the Pitt brush pens in my possession - but though they are quite wonderful in a number of different applications, they do not really allow for super fine lines and as I prefer to work small, they don't always suit my needs.

The Tombow Fudenosukes have a very short hard brush that allow me to do some incredible line variations and at $2.25 each, I am ALWAYS going to want to have a few of these on hand.


Product details on the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens from the Jetpens site:
"The special elastomer pen tip of the Fudensoke line gives artists and calligraphers the ability to control strokes with precision. The pens are ideal for writing kanji (Chinese characters). Barrels are made of recycled polypropylene plastic. These non-refillable brushes are available in hard, soft and dual color (black and gray) brush tips"
Brush Pen Mandala

Of note - the ink in these pens is not waterproof and the only other limitation I found is that these pens are better for short lines rather than drawing across an entire page.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...