Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review: 4x5" Exacompta Forum Pocket Journal w/ Madeira Cover

Exacompta Madeira Pocket Journal

From The Writer's Bloc:

"This Exacompta Basics Pocket Journal is covered by a buttery soft calfskin-like Madeira cover. Cover features snap cover and small pen holder for security and convenience. Gold edged journal is filled with 192 sheets of lined ivory paper-- lightweight but exceptionally strong. Tear-off corners all you to open to your next blank page and ribbon bookmark can help keep your place. Madeira cover is available in black, dark green, red, blue or golden yellow. Refillable. Size: 4" x 5 1/2". Pens are not included."

Exacompta Madeira Pocket Journal

The cover of the Maderia is soft and well made. The journal has off white pages with gold gilded edges and 7mm ruling. I personally prefer ruling that runs to the edge of the page, and I'm not crazy about the tear off corners which are meant to be used as a page marker. The journal has a ribbon bookmark and I'd rather use that, than the tear off corners, which I find distracting.

This book does not open flat, and to some degree, you will always be writing in/out of a hump. If you work the spine back and forth, you can get it a little flatter, but for such a small book, the hump seems to take away the ability to really use the whole page. The small Quo Vadis Habana is a great example of a small book that opens perfectly flat.

Exacompta Madeira Pocket Journal

The belt-buckle snap seems to always get in the way of trying to write on the right hand page. There is a pen holder, but it's very small- a standard papermate stick pen does not fit.

Exacompta Madeira Pocket Journal

I was a bit surprised to find the ribbon bookmark secured to the outside of the refillable journal.

Exacompta Madeira Pocket Journal

The paper in this journal is extremely thin. Bible paper thin. Of 11 fountain pen inks tested, none feathered or spread...

Exacompta Madeira Pocket Journal

But Noodler's Bulletproof Black ink is the only one of eleven that did not bleed through to the other side of the paper. Unless you plan on only using one side of the paper, I cannot recommend this journal to be used with most brands of fountain pen inks. Ball points should work fine, though I suspect that many of the gel type ink pens might also bleed.

It's a cute little book, just one that doesn't suit my needs.

Buy them on sale for $12 at the The Writer's Bloc

Monday, March 30, 2009

Quick Comparison: J. Herbin - 10 More Fountain Pen Inks

J Herbin - 10 More Fountain Pen Inks

From the J Herbin website:

"J. Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks in the world. M. Herbin created “The Jewel of Inks” in his shop on the Rue des Fosses Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700."

"Each bottle of 30 ml has an integrated pen rest. They are known as “D bottle pen inks. The “D” refers to the old French unit of measure “la Demi Courtine”.

* 30 beautiful colors!
* Non toxic and pH neutral
* Lightfast
* Water based
* Flows smoothly and is fast drying
* All natural dyes

J Herbin - 10 More Fountain Pen Inks

Initial thoughts on 10 more J. Herbin inks:

A. Vert Pre - a happy lime green the color of freeze pops.
B. Lierre Sauvage - cartoon grass green
C. Diabolo Menthe - very light - looks like a lighter version of Bleu Pervenche
D. Vert Reseda - a very bright teal
E. Bouquest D' Antan - light bubble gum pink
F. Violette Pensee - blueish purple - slightly chalky looking
G. Terre de Fue - a medium dirt brown - mud caked in the sun
H. Rouille D' Ancre - the color of Band Aid brand band-aids.
I. Lie di The - a very odd color.... hard to describe
J. Ambre de Birmanie - the color of butterscotch candies

K. Orange Indien - previously reviewed, wanted to see it next to the Ambre de Birmanie

Here's a Link to my previous 10 Herbin ink comparison.

Herbin inks run $7.20 per 30ml bottle at The Ink Flow

See a good article on Pentrace where I think they did a great job demonstrating the Herbin colors.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Circa 1974: Earliest evidence of The Bean's love for paper.

Pop-Pop bribing me with paper

When I was little, I was always shy around my older relatives. I remember my Dad wanting to take a picture of me with my Pop Pop, and here he is trying to get me closer to him by bribing me with a tablet of paper- which didn't work. Then I distinctly remember my Dad promising to let me take a picture with his camera if I would just go and hug Grandpop. Somewhere there exists a picture of me hugging him, but I distinctly remember as soon as Dad snapped that picture, it ended the roll of film, thus ending my career as a professional photographer before it even began.

Which instead, launched me head first into the world of paper- to which I have no complaints, nor regrets.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Drawing at the Park on a Beautiful Day

Park Mandala 1

Some time last week, on an absolutely beautiful day, I grabbed my art supplies and some tunes and a box of Goober's (my snack) and drove out to the park to make a little art while watching the ducks swimming in the creek.

Sitting in my car, I first did this piece top in my Exacompta Sketch Book with paints from my Windsor & Newton Bijou Box and a Niji Waterbrush pen. As it was drying, I moved on and painted this next piece -

Park Mandala 2

Another watercolor painting, this time in my Clairefontaine sketchbook. As this one was drying, I went back and added the ink to the first piece with a Pitt Artist Pen- and when that one was finished, I came back and did the design on this second one.

Park Mandala 3

This last piece, also in the Exacompta Sketch Book, was first drawn with a single Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pen. When the design was complete, I added the watercolors.

The sunshine was certainly an inspiration to me on that particular day!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Review: Fontaine Cold Press Watercolor Block

Clairefontaine Cold Press Watercolor Block

From the Clairefontaine Website:


"Fruit of three centuries of experience and the development of CLAIREFONTAINE’s specific technology, this 100% pure cotton paper is one of the finest in our range.

The purity of the water and the cotton which make up the paper pulp, the quality and uniformity of its sizing adapted to modern pigments as well as its almost hand-made manufacturing methods, have created a unique paper.

Its absorption potential and its resistance to warping even with plenty of water, its ability to catch the pigments without dulling them while allowing for reworking makes it exceptionally easy to use. This remarkable paper will enhance the pleasure of painting and the success of your work.

FONTAINE Fine grain (Cold Press)

A paper adaptable to all styles. The graininess has been calculated so that it blends with the drawing or painting, while giving depth to the finished work. Easy to work, it reflects light and allows transparent colors to maintain all their delicateness and a remarkable luminosity. It is perfect for liquid inks"

• Manufactured using traditional Dutch art paper methods
• Mould-made, 100% cotton rag, natural white
• 300 g / 140 lb acid-free, archival quality
• Excellent fixing
• Suitable for all brushes
• Cold pressed
• 10 sheet pad glued on 4 sides
• 2 sizes: 9 ½ x 12” and 12 x 15 ½”

Mandala for Faith

This is the first time I've used a cold pressed block, having previously only used hot pressed blocks from Fabriano and Arches. This is an excellent Example of the visual difference between painting on cold versus painting on hot press paper.

Excerpts from ART HARDWARE: The Definitive Guide to Artists’ Materials, by Steven Saitzyk © 1987 was found Here.

"Hot press has a smooth vellum surface with a very fine tooth. This finish is excellent for soft drawing materials, pen and ink, brush linework, wash, and airbrush. This type of paper is not as popular for traditional watercolor techniques.

Cold press, or semirough, is the most popular finish and is especially good for beginners. Cold-press finish is excellent for traditional watercolor technique and, because of its moderate texture, will handle some detail. This finish is also excellent for charcoal, pastel, and paint sticks."

"The purpose of the texture in watercolor paper is to create a sense of depth. One of the ways to accomplish this is by varying the ways that the finish receives the color. A wet wash will cover the peaks of the finish as well as penetrate the valleys. One color will tend to look like two because of the difference in the ways that the light strikes the peaks and the valleys. When a second, drier wash is applied, it will tend to cover the peaks without penetrating the valleys, and will also miss some of the peaks. A painter can rapidly develop many textural effects with a minimum of effort. How the individual artist develops this technique is what makes this simple medium so versatile. Some experimentation with styles of cold-press finish, such as irregular versus laid, should be done to determine what is best for you."

Mandala for Birthday Wishes

In each of my two examples, I started with artist grade watercolors, then finished the design with Pitt Artist Brush Pens. (Whose ink colors match wonderfully to my watercolors)

These images do NOT do these paintings justice. The color on this paper POPS and has beautiful depth that I just couldn't capture in a digital snapshot. I am very happy with how vibrant my color palette looks on this paper.

Even though a blocked paper shouldn't buckle when water is applied, I did notice some buckling in the very center of the paper - which was also the wettest part. Once dry, the paper was completely flat, and it was at that point that I removed it from the block.

Fontaine is available at Pencity and Hamilton and Brewer

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rhodia Big Book Little Book - How would You use these?

032309 008

If I was a child, I would have LOVED to get my hands on either of these. The small book for secrets, the big book for rainy days and filling in the blocks.

Here's an idea for the big book:

The smallest Staple Bound Rhodia Pad.

Rhodia Pad No. 10 (2" x 3")f/ $1.80

• 2 x 3 inches
• Micro-perforated
• 160 pages (80 sheets)
• Top Staple Bound
• 80 g Extra White Paper
• Graph or Lined Paper
• Black or Orange Cover

The largest Staple Bound Rhodia Pad.

Rhodia Pad No. 38 (16.5" x 12.5") f/ $18.50

• 16.5 x 12.5 inches
• Top Staple Bound
• 160 pages (80 sheets)
• Graph Paper
• 80 g Extra White Paper
• Micro-perforated
• Orange Cover

Both sizes and many in between available at The Vickery.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Inky Tissues : Side Effects of Filling a Fountain Pen

J. Herbin Lie de The

If you are a fountain pen user like me, chances are you are used to inky fingers and inky tissues. (From wiping off the nib after filling.) I'm always amazed at the designs the ink leaves on the tissues, so I decided to share a few.

This first one is J. Herbin's Lie de The. It's a brownish color and I'm fascinated by the orange halos...

J. Herbin Bouquet D' Antan

Next is J. Herbin's Bouquet D'Antan. A light pink color, it looks pretty on the tissue - the color of Bazooka Bubble gum.

J. Herbin Violette Pensee

I always seem to have difficulties shooting anything purple. This is J. Herbin's Violette Pensee. It really is purple, though it looks more blue on my monitor.

J. Herbin Vert Reseda

Vert Reseda, also by J. Herbin. A bright teal color.

Diamine Pumpkin, Poppy Red and Maroon

This is ink, I swear!!! Though it looks even more like blood in person. The color to the upper left of the tissue is Diamine's Pumpkin, a super vibrant orange, in the middle (bottom) is Diamine's Poppy Red - a gorgeous saturated red, and in the upper right, Diamine's Maroon.

Maybe I should make some sort of collage out of them.......hmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Congratulations Cara! And thank you all for entering my Original Art Giveaway!

From the 24 comments posted, the random number generator at http://www.random.org/ picked Lucky #19!!! And that would be Anam Cara from the FPN! Yay Cara!!!!

Review: J. Herbin Creapen - Refillable Brush

J Herbin Creapen

I was really looking forward to trying this new brush pen from J. Herbin, and I'm sad to say that I didn't have any luck with getting it to work. It's a cartridge fed pen, and I snapped in one of the included 3 cartridges with a little difficulty. There's a ball bearing that sits at the top of the cartridge and I really had to push to insert it which bothered me because you are snapping plastic into plastic and I was worried that the feed on the pen would break.

I expected the brush would take a while to charge from the inserted cartridge and I followed the instructions where it told me to keep the pen in a vertical position. I had it sitting (capped) in a pen cup brush side up for several hours and when I checked it, the ink still hadn't flowed to the brush. 24 hours later, still nothing. I invert the pen and face it down in the cup. Another 24 hours, still no ink flow.

I contacted Karen at Exaclair and she contacted the manufacturer. They suggested squeezing the cartridge to get the ink to flow, and also to try dipping the brush into the cartridge to "prime" the brush.

My 6'3" 260lb husband had a hard time squeezing the ink cartridge. It's made of a very firm plastic and IMHO, can't really be squeezed. I also tried dipping the brush into the ink and after a few swipes on paper, it was back to it's not-really-flowing status.

I've now had it sitting here for about a week and the ink still isn't flowing. I can't imagine what else I could have done to get this pen to work. It's going into the give-away box and I'll let someone else take a stab at it.

J Herbin Creapen

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Win an Original Piece of Biffybeans Art!

This is an original piece of art that I created back around March of 2007. It's on black paper - either Reeves or Strathmore - I can no longer remember. I drew it with grease pencils, (China Markers) which happen to work very well on black paper.

If you would like to win this piece of original art, all you need to do is to leave a comment on this blog post by Tuesday night - March 24th at 10:00 PM EST. Winner will be determined by a random number generator.

If you are an anonymous poster, you will need to leave your name and something to distinguish yourself, like; "Carol with the brown dog in Austin."

If you have any questions, please e-mail me at the link below the post.

Check back on Wednesday March 25th to find out the lucky winner!

Lamy Studio Boo-Boo

Boo-Boo on Lamy Studio

This really upset me...

I have a Conway Stewart 20 pen case and 12 pens. It never occurred to me that I needed to have the pens loaded into the case with the pen caps nearest the open edge of the case. I had had them loaded with the caps towards the center. When you have 5 Lamy Safari/AL-Stars, this is an important fact to know, because the Lamy caps are very wide and when I went to slip my new Lamy Accent on the other side of the case and then zip it shut...


The Studio clip was pushed against the cap and it scraped off some of the coating atop of the aluminum.

It's like the way a new car always gets a door ding within 48 hours of ownership regardless if you park it within the same county as another car.

Door ding faeries. Pen ding faeries.

I'll get over it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How Big is that Lamy in the Window?

Lamy Fountain Pens: Studio, Accent, and Safari

As my Lamy collection continues to grow, I though it was time to do a quick size comparison.

Lamy Fountain Pens: Studio, Accent, Safari and Al-Star

Capped- top to bottom - Lamy Studio, Accent, Safari, AL-Star. All are very similar in length but quite a difference in width.

Lamy Fountain Pens: Studio, Accent, Safari and Al-Star

Posted- (cap on back of pen) look how long the Accent is, it's as long as the Safari.

Lamy Fountain Pens: Studio, Accent, Safari and Al-Star

Unposted, the Accent is the smallest. Notice all the different pen grips.

Stay tuned for the review of the Lamy Accent.

Artist Love: The Tackle Box

Tackle Box of Art Supplies

Growing up as an only child with a father that loved to fish, I remember spending a lot of time with my Dad in the fishing aisle at the local K-Mart. While most of what I would see there held no interest to me, what child cannot resist the allure of The Tackle Box.

All of those glorious secret compartments to hold Lego parts, Barbie shoes, a stamp or coin collection, sea shells and rocks collected on a trip to the Jersey Shore...

Tackle Box of Art Supplies

I've had this box for a very long time- I think I bought it sometime around 1992.

Through the years, it's held a lot of different things. Ironically, the first thing I used it for was to hold art supplies, but that didn't really hold my interest at the time and they gave way to storing piles of embroidery thread that I used to weave a multitude of friendship bracelets.

The thread gave way to jewelry making supplies, and then it sat empty for a few years until I recently saw it sitting at the top of my closet. I realized it was once again time to put art supplies in it because they were starting to take over the house.

I'm the kind of person that likes to have everything I like to use in plain sight and within easy reach at all times for when inspiration strikes me, but with our tiny house, that's just not possible. And so once again, I've filled this box and it lives under the sofa, ready to be pulled out at a moments notice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review: Sennelier Esquisse Blanc Drawing Pad

Sennelier Esquisse Blanc

(This model is slightly smaller than 4x6")

From The Vickerery Website:

"This vintage pad from Sennelier that has thankfully never really changed. Its bright red cover graphics bring to mind the Vespas and hip cafĂ© society of 1950’s Paris, complete with an embossed seal stating its use as an artists' tool. If you were to walk into the Sennelier store back then you’d find them sitting on the shelves with the exact same look. Distinctively bound at the top with four metal rings, it includes 50 sheets of lightly grained white, pH neutral paper ideal for rough sketching, charcoal or pastels."

$20 for 9x12" at the Vickerery

Buy them in the UK at Heaton Cooper Studio

Sennelier Esquisse Blanc

Fountain pen test - very slight feathering, NO bleedthrough with this 70g lightweight paper. Light grain is mildly unpleasant to write on with a fountain pen. (I can't recommend it)

Sennelier Esquisse Blanc

Very nice with Cretacolor Monolith pencils.

Sennelier Esquisse Blanc

Paper takes a light watercolor wash nicely, but there will be buckling.

Sennelier Esquisse Blanc

Example with Derwent Inktense Pencils. Pencils draw nicely on the paper, water was applied with a Niji Waterbrush.

I like the old fashioned cover, but the ring bound book is a little hard to handle unless you somehow clip it. Rugged back cardboard cover lets you easily hold this book with one hand. (4x6" size) Paper is not bright white (more of an off-white) and I like that, though I think I prefer the paper in the Clairefontaine Sketch Book to this one because it's better with a fountain pen.

Not readily available on the web, US and UK options are listed above.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Review: J. Herbin Pigmented Inks

J. Herbin Pigmented Inks

Pigmented Ink (“Encre Pigmentee”)

Exquisitely rich opaque inks with high pigment content.

* Bottle needs to be shaken vigorously and frequently during use
* Very dramatic on dark-colored paper
* Water-based
* Ink in 4 brilliant colors: opaque white /01; gold /04; silver /05; copper /06

Ref. H135/ – 30 mL bottle
Ref. H120/04 – Sampling of 5 10 mL bottles (What is in the 5th Bottle???)

J. Herbin Pigmented Inks

BIG WARNING - These inks are NOT to be used with a fountain pen. Apply these with a glass dip pen or brush.

J. Herbin Pigmented Inks

I admittedly wanted to try these because I love things that show up on black paper. I was especially wanting to try the silver ink. There are 5, not 4 bottles in this sampler, gold, silver, copper, white and a 5th one that is not marked on the label or on the Herbin website.

I want to make clear that I did shake these bottles quite viciously before testing the inks. I used both a glass dip pen and various small paint brushes to try them. The paper I used was by Reeves.

The first example above was with the "unknown" ink. It did not produce any kind of decent results on the black paper.

J. Herbin Pigmented Inks

Same with the white. I shook it and I stirred it with a brush and this was the best I could do.

J. Herbin Pigmented Inks

Gold is a little better, but you really had to be relentless with keeping that bottle mixed or else the particles would start to quickly settle.

J. Herbin Pigmented Inks

Copper stayed mixed a little longer than the gold. Nice results.

J. Herbin Pigmented Inks

The silver ink seemed to have the smallest particles and would stay mixed the longest. (Yay!) It also held on the glass pen better and I was able to write for a lot longer than with the other colors.

I liked the silver best, followed by the copper. As I had less than pleasing results with the other colors, I can't recommend them. These inks are sold in a sample set like this, and also singularly. Not every store listed below had every option available.

Buy from Daniel Smith, Silver Crow Creations, The Writing Pen Store and Wet Paint Art

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Frame Drum Mandala

Mandala on Remo Frame Drum

Leave something sit around long enough within my reach of a permanent marker and it's likely to end up adorned with a mandala.

Mandala on Remo Frame Drum

This is my synthetic Remo Frame Drum, and I used a Staedtler Lumocolor Marker to draw the mandala. I did this some time last fall, and seeing the green grass behind the drum has me itching for warmer weather...

Check out this quick lesson on how to play the frame drum by one of the world's best - Mr Glen Velez:

PS - there are numerous ways to play a frame drum, this is just one. I believe it's called, "Cafe Style."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Missing Mandalas

Squarish Mandala

I may always be drawing mandalas, but I'm still always surprised when I come across ones that I've forgotten about. These are two that I did a couple of months ago and actually photographed, but never got around to uploading. This first one was done on 12/30/08 - the day before my 40th birthday. I wonder what I was thinking when I did it? Was there any intention injected into the piece? If so, I can't remember. I know I was anxious about turning 40, and in fact, am still struggling with it a bit. I hit a milestone and I can't help but think about what I haven't done, instead of all the glorious things that I have accomplished.

Simply existing is not enough

This next one was done sometime prior to the first, but I can't remember when. I can remember doing it in two stages. The circular piece came first, and then everything else around it.

I love the note I made on it: "Simply existing is not enough. Movement and action is imperative to living life to it's fullest." How true. We spend so much time on peripheral things. Wasted time that we can never get back and will fully regret when our time grows short.

I really need to wake up and start living.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Review: Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

Fabriano Artist journals SCREAM for you to pick them up and be creative.

Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

From the Blick site:

"Ideal for sketching or writing, this journal is sure to spark inspiration wherever you wander. A ribbon bookmark permits quick reference.

These 192 page journals have 12 colors of Ingres drawing paper, a color for each month of the year. The journal with blue cover offers the alternative of white and cream pages. The paper is a great paper for ink, pencil, or pastels. It's mouldmade, acid-free, and lightfast.

Comes in 2 sizes (5" × 7" and 7" × 9") and 4 cover colors (Black, Red, Umber, and Olive). Also available in a blue cover with white and cream pages."

Soft paper cover. Pages are made of 12 different colors of Fabriano Ingres. 16 pages of each. Acid free. Ribbon Bookmark.

192 pages
5" x 7" Approx $22
7" x 9" Approx $29

Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

Multi- colored pages can sometimes trip me up... I don't know which to use first, or use next!

Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

These chunky books are a little difficult to get to lie flat. As long as I have been using them, I've only used one side of the paper. The paper cover could definitely be thicker. Toss it in your bag for a few weeks and it will get torn and beat up. Perhaps a leather cover would be a good idea?

Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

All tested fountain pen inks behaved nicely with no feathering, bleeding or see-through. Nibs write true to size on this laid paper. Laid lines are more pronounced on one side than the other.

Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

Pitt artist pen and Prismacolor pencils.

Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

Caran d'Ache Neocolor II crayons. Love the way you can see the texture of the paper through the crayon.

Fabriano Multi-Color Artist Journal

Mandala with pitt artist pen.

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