Monday, November 30, 2009

New Use for Fountain Pen Inks

White on Magenta Mandala

I've always enjoyed using light colored inks on dark paper, and I think I've come up with a new way to do it. I've seen art journalists color a page and then create art over it and so I thought I'd try and do something similar. I sort of have an overabundance of fountain pen ink samples from Diamine, and so on my last trip to Michael's craft store, I picked up a package of small inexpensive sponge brushes.

I poured a small amount of the ink into a bowl and then dipped the sponge brush into the bowl and then simply brushed it across the paper. Using this method, it was easy to cover the paper in a relatively even opaque manner. I've also tried pouring the ink directly on the paper which also works, but gives a different result. (You get interesting blotches that appear on the dried page.) Pouring the ink directly on the sponge gives yet a different effect, and I find that you have to repeatedly apply the ink onto the brush to cover the page. (And you may get streaks because it dries faster than you might think)

When applying the ink to the paper in my Canson Universal sketch pad shown above, I found that the ink dried quickly and then left the paper pretty flat - no real curling or buckling as you might find with watercolors. Surprisingly, it also does not bleed through on this paper or in the Webbie below. (I have seen it bleed through in my Fabriano Artist's journal and also in a blank Ecosystem journal.) I don't usually work on both sides of the paper in a sketch book, though with the Canson, I'd be willing to bet that you could use a different colored ink on each side. (I should try that)

White on Mandala

Painting with a few different ink colors in a Rhodia Webbie. The Webbie uses a high grade writing paper that is more resistant to wet media and because of that, I did experience a little bit of buckling.

Painting with Fountain Pen Ink

Lastly, this was in a Cachet watercolor book and I was looking to see how the inks might blend if I tried some wet in wet applications. I was quite pleased, though the actual image is darker than this appears and a bit more purple that the photo could reproduce.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just a few of the notebooks/sketchbooks I currently have in use...

Myndology Disc Bound

Myndology Bare - currently in use as a project book. The Bare paper is fountain pen friendly and I love having the ability to move the pages around.

Rhodia Meeting Book

Small Rhodia Meeting Book - currently in use for all my Rhodia Drive notes, ideas and suggestions. This is one my all-time favorite products. Love the size, the FP friendly paper, and the layout.

Rhodia Webnotebook

Large US made 90g Rhodia Webbie. Love the smooth off-white FP friendly paper. I am nearly finished with this one... What journal will I pick next?

Apica Exist Journals - Wonderful but hard to find

Apica Exist - my mantra journal. When learning a new mantra, I write in 108 times in this notebook.

Clairefontaine Sketch Book

Canson Universal Sketch Pad - one of my old time regulars, I've filled several of these and am almost finished with this one. The Clairefontaine sketch I love for it's off white paper.

Toys & tools of the trade

Fabriano Artist Journals - three of these are currently in use, but I gave the 4th away. (I didn't like the one with colored pages) The large one is almost all mandalas and is maybe halfway filled. The small one and the square also have more than a few mandalas in them but are barely a 1/4 of the way full. (I like the large size best.)

Moleskine & Lamy Safari's

Large lined Moleskine - it's my "list book." I like to use it for remembering things throughout my life in list form. People's names from school, songs from my roller skating days...

Colorful Cachet Watercolor Books

Cachet Linen covered watercolor books - I have three of these in use right now. 2 of the larger and one small and each is almost full. I like to use them for pen and ink drawing as much as I do watercolors.

Maderia cover for Exacompta Sketchbook

Blank Exacompta Sketchbook with Maderia cover. Love, Love, Love this book for drawing, painting... it's laid paper is fantastic!

Silver Mandala on Black

Strathmore Field Book with black paper. Love drawing on black paper, but this paper is not my favorite. I like the Canson Mi Tientes better but it doesn't come in a book like this. (I should make my own because you can buy that Canson paper in large sheets.)

Clairefontaine Basics

Clairefontaine Clothbound Basics - in use for testing J. Herbin Fountain Pen Inks

Diamine Ruby

Paperblanks Smyth Sewn Journal in use for testing Diamine Fountain Pen Inks.

And that's about all I can come up with for the moment. You can laugh if you want to. I know I have a problem... after all, Biff Loves Paper!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Over 800 Mandalas and Counting...

Oh My...

I decided to put together a few new sets of my mandala art on Flickr and divided them by year.

173 in 2007
203 in 2008
427 in 2009

I sure have created a lot of mandalas...

If you want to see something cool, try hitting play on all three of these slide shows at once.





Saturday, November 14, 2009

Been wanting to share this for a while - I am now a high school graduate.

image0

I turned 40 last December 31st- 24 years since I quit high school at the age of 16 to work a full time job. I worked for the next 23 years but I never went back and finished high school or went on to take the high school general equivalency test. (GED)

In school I had tested into the "gifted" program but general studies never held my interest and the art programs that were available at the time weren't anything to write home about. I was one of those kids that never worked up to their full potential and somehow managed to slip through the cracks. My high school was overcrowded and there just wasn't enough faculty to pay attention to apathetic students like me. I didn't play sports, wasn't in the band, and didn't hang with any one group of people for very long. I was a loner and an oddball outcast - all of which helped to contribute to a feeling of just not belonging. I left the minute I turned 16 and never looked back. I dove head first into the workforce and managed to secure several jobs over the years - miraculously none of which required me to have a high school diploma. I had wanted to eventually take the GED test, but as the years wore on, the thought of it became more & more difficult.

At my last job, (I was there 7 years) I was writing training/procedural manuals and growing frustrated... Without formal training, I was never going to get properly compensated for the job I was doing, and I wasn't even liking it very much.

With my skill set, I knew that at the bare minimum, I needed my GED if I wanted to move on to something bigger and better - even if bigger and better only meant personal growth through accomplishing something that scared the piss out of me. And why did taking the GED test scare me so? Even though I do consider myself to be intelligent and well spoken, for reasons that are beyond me I had myself thoroughly convinced that if I could ever manage to take the stupid test, that I would fail it - and you know what? The mind is very powerful. Instead of using the power of positive thinking, I charged my energy with negative thoughts and got in my own way of moving forward.

Enter my good friend Jim D. who is all about personal growth & evolution. Once I revealed my unfounded (fear based) reasons to him for my not wanting to take the test, combined with my having never having had anyone hold me accountable for my actions, he was absolutely RELENTLESS in getting me to take that test. I'd whine, "What if I fail?" and he'd respond, "So what? Then you take it again. No big deal." He basically led me to understand the error of my ways... of how I was holding myself back by living in fear and never even trying to move forward. He would tell me over and over again the best way to break a pattern - by taking tiny manageable steps and then creating momentum to move on to the next. He would call me and say, "What step did you take today?" And though there is ultimately no one but me to hold myself accountable for anything, I greatly appreciated his encouragement in a situation where I had placed me in a hole 50 feet over my head. And so little by little, I started to climb out. I called the school and found out the date of the test. Then I went to register. Then I went on two consecutive nights and took the test. Then I waited three weeks to get the results.

And then... it came. As of 02/19/09, I became a high school graduate. And you know what? I kicked the SHIT out of that test. But over the next few days, the craziest thing started to happen. I started to get a little depressed - as if there was a hole in me, and actually, there was. There was a hole created by where the fear, worry, stubbornness, and resistance to change used to be. It was a hole freed up by all of that negative energy and it wasn't anything to be depressed about - it was something to rejoice about. For when you stop worrying, it frees up all kinds of energy for you to do great things... which I have, and will continue to do.

It was a difficult decision for me to share this on my blog, because to me, it was kinda embarrassing that it took me until I was 40 to get my diploma - but then I got to thinking... If I could inspire just one person... then it was well worth it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recent JetPens Haul

Latest JetPens haul

I just received these last week and I already placed a second order to supplement the first. (Shhhhhh.... don't tell my husband. LOL!) I need to point out that I made a mistake in ordering a few of the gel pens listed below. I got confused and ordered .5 instead of .7 nibs. In a gel pen, I prefer a thicker line becaise it's smoother for my rather large handwriting. I will end up using all of the pens with maybe the exception being the .38 G3 which is way, way, way too thin for my tastes. To me, it's super scratchy unless I write really small and/or hold the pen almost perpendicular to the page.
  • Uni-ball Propus Window Highlighter - 4.0 mm / 0.6 mm Twin Tip - Pink $2.00 (Pretty cool)
  • Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Pen - White Ink $2.25 (Love - Great Flow - but quickly running out. Just ordered another.)
  • Uni-ball Signo UM-100 Gel Ink Pen - 0.8 mm - Silver $1.50 (Good Flow)
  • Uni-ball Signo UM-100 Gel Ink Pen - 0.5 mm - Red $1.50 (Writes nice & smooth for a .5)
  • Uni-ball Signo UM-100 Gel Ink Pen - 0.5 mm - Black $1.50 (Writes nice & smooth for a .5)
  • Pilot Super Gel Ink Pen - 0.5 mm - Red $1.20 (Nice - writes similar to the UM-100)
  • Pilot G-3 Gel Ink Pen - 0.38 mm - Black $2.50 (Not for me....)
  • Pilot MultiBall Liquid Ink Marker - Fine Point - Black $1.50 (To me, feels scratchy)
  • Pilot MultiBall Liquid Ink Marker - Fine Point - Red $1.50 (To me, feels scratchy)
  • Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen - Hard - Blue Body $2.25 (LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Just went and ordered 2 more)
  • Copic Multiliner SP Black Ink Pen - 0.5 mm $6.75 (Very nice, but cap doesn't stay posted. Errr... but still just went back and ordered another Multiliner in the Brush tip.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Katy Did It

Katydid

Look! A leafy bug! Leafy bugs always amaze me. The Katydid is one of my favorites because of the sound they make (click to hear.) I like to sit out on my porch with an egg shaker in my hand and talk to them - and yes, they do talk back. LOL.



It was slightly challenging to shoot with one hand and hold this guy with the other but I did my best. Katydids don't sit still like praying mantis do.

Katydid

I took all these with my Canon SD1000 Digital Elph and it's times like these that I long for a full sized SLR with a real macro lens.



More leafy bug video.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review: Staples Eco Friendly Bagasse Paper

Staples Bagasse Journal - Sugar Cane paper

I'm sorry, but this review has been canceled due to the fact that the oh-so-gloriously fountain pen friendly Staples Bagasse Eco Friendly paper products have changed. First I heard that they had been discontinued, then I heard that the paper quality changed for the worse. (For us fountain pen users.) I have not verified either of these rumors with Staples, but am going on repeated comments from my friends on the Fountain Pen Network.

Not that I'm surprised or anything... Anytime I see an "eco friendly," "green," or "recycled" line of paper products - especially one that's made for a Big Box store and selling for $2.99, I imagine that it's probably been a "one shot" type of production run. They have a source, they make X amount of product overseas, buy it all for one lump sum and they sell it until they run out. Perhaps the success of this product prompted Staples to source more, but since it's not from a controllable resource, (plant waste) there are bound to be differences in the finished product.

While I do appreciate a company that takes measures to protect the environment, it always seems that marking a product as "Green" is a cheap way to pull at a consumer's ethical pocketbook strings. Recycled products usually cost more, not less to manufacture and a $2.99 price tag makes me wonder if they were manufactured under ethical fair trade working conditions. If not, I could care a less if it's 100% recycled and shipped to my house for free with my name engraved in gold on the front - I'm not endorsing it.

I always feel the same way with all of the "Pink" products that show up during breast cancer awareness month. I know that many of those companies legitimately donate a % of their profits to breast cancer research, but I'm also sure that many others don't.

I guess since I took all these pictures, I will move forward with the review - just be forewarned that if you buy the Bagasse products that your results might be very different from what I experienced.

...After hearing many people over on the Fountain Pen Network rant and rave about the fountain pen friendliness of Staples Bagasse products, I had to check them out for myself.

Staples Bagasse Journal

The spiral bound book you see above cost $2.99. It is made in Egypt from 80% sugar cane waste. The covers are super sturdy and the notebook includes a pocket.

Fountain Pen Ink in Staples Bagasse Journal

The thing about fountain pen inks and gel pen inks is that they are water based - and depending on the way the paper is made, it will either absorb or resist ink. Papers that readily absorb these water based inks are prone to feathering and bleed through to the other side of the paper. Paper that resist these inks are highly coveted among fountain pen users.

Fountain Pen Ink in Staples Bagasse Journal

When I tested the Bagasse, I had no feathering or bleeding with a dozen inks & various pens tested. The paper is really thin and smooth to write on - but..... it's a different kind of smooth. Pens seem to write a little thinner than normal.

Fountain Pen Ink in Staples Bagasse Journal

See? No bleedthrough with the exception of the Sharpie which considering the thinness of the paper, actually did pretty well in the bleedthrough department.

Permanent markers in Staples Bagasse notebook

Permanent marker doodle

330pmsun 087

Without a great deal of bleedthrough.

Fountain Pen Ink on Staples Bagasse Pad

I also bought a 2-pack of the small legal pads and found it to have all the same FP friendly characteristics as the spiral notebook.

From Staples Website:

Sugar cane based paper is great for the environment and saves trees

  • Heavyweight kraft covers
  • Two full size heavy duty kraft pockets
  • Perforated white college ruled sheets
  • 9 1/2"x6"
  • Made from 80% sugarcane waste
  • Printed with eco-conscious vegetable-and-water based inks
  • Heavy-duty coil
  • 100 sheets/book

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Unbelievable. Moleskine Doodle Viewed 7112 times, Favorited 49.

Moleskine Doodle.  Boston to Philadelphia

Unbelievable. This image just got favorited on Flickr for the 49th time. I've blogged this image and its story before, but I can't believe how often people keep marking it as a favorite. I often wonder what they are searching to find it because it's buried way back in my Photostream on Flickr. This was an airplane doodle that I did in a Moleskine journal using a Pitt Artist Pen back in late February of last year.(2008) I don't think the doodle is anything to write home about, so maybe it's the story that I attached to it that people are liking. You be the judge:

"Was in Atlanta on a business trip Tuesday-Friday of this week. Was to fly back from Atlanta on an 8pm flight, Friday night. (Through Philly, as I couldn't get a direct flight from my local airport.) So around dinner time on Thursday, we hear of the impending snow/ice storm that's due to hit the Northeast. I jump on the phone to US Air and manage to book us an earlier flight (2:40pm) in which they have miraculously waived the $100 change fee (because of the weather) and $240 difference in price. (Strange, the flight time & price difference was the same...)

Leaving work at about 11:15am, we head to ATL. Having checked the web numerous times before we left, we see that planes to the Northeast are running about 5 hours behind, but amazingly, our 2:40 flight is still on time. 3 miles from the airport, I get a text message that our flight has been canceled. We take the rental car back and head in to the US Air ticket counter and sit in a line with about 20 people in it that does not move for what seems like an hour. An hour and a half later, we make it to the ticket counter and are told that everything is booked, no flights, flights canceled, other carriers full....

The agent (ED) finally finds a way to get us home. He books us from ATL to Boston, then to Philly, and then to ABE. Ha. I surrender (check) my bag and never expect to see it again.

We push, bully & beg our way through the millions of people going through security because we have less than 45 minutes to make it to our gate, and it takes about 30 minutes to get through security, (on a good day) then another 10 to take the train (inside the airport) to the D terminal, which of course, is the last stop. We run to our gate and make it with about 5 minutes to spare.

But everyone is still just sitting there. For 5 minutes, 10, 15..... I finally go up to the counter and ask what the delay is, because nothing was posted at the agent's desk. I'm told that they are waiting for the Captain to come up to let them know if we are going to fly. (??????) And so I say to the agent, "You mean this flight might get canceled?" to which she responds, "Yes. It's probably going to get canceled." I try deep breathing, I imagine my happy place, but I can't help getting a bit snarky & frustrated. I go back to my co-worker and tell her that I'm furious with the guy back at the ticket counter (Our buddy Ed) that booked this flight, since he probably knew that this flight was also going to get canceled and he just needed to do something for us to get us out of line and on to the next person.

I sit down, sulk, trying to surrender to the fact that weather is not something I have control over.

Unbelievably, we are eventually called up with a quick "Flight 9011 (yes, that was really the flight number - and trust me, I got the heebie-jeebies when I saw it) is now boarding and the gate will close in 1 minute. There are only 13 (OMG - not thirteen.... I'm afraid of the number 13.....) of you, come on up."

As I clap with joy and run to the jet way, I hear a man say, "But they said there weren't any more flights going to Boston...." and that cooled my heals and made me sad. I didn't even want to go to Boston, but it's the only way I could get home.

Once on the plane, the captain comes out to talk to us about the flight. He too mentions that with there being so few of us, that we are welcome to spread out and sit where we like. I tell the captain about the man that said he couldn't get to Boston and how there might be people out there that would like to get on this flight. They call back out to the agent, who I assume makes as announcement because they found about 20 more people who were able to switch their tickets and get on this flight. (Ironically, the man that made the original comment did not get on the flight) This holds up take off for about 45 minutes. But it doesn't matter, because we are still going - yay! It doesn't even occur to me that we might get stuck in Boston, because nothing is really flying anywhere. We are also told that this particular flight will eventually be flying back to Philadelphia and we ask if we can just stay on board. :o)

And so, we take off for Boston. A 100 mile an hour tail wind gets us up there in no time, but.....the airport is closed due to snow removal. Sigh. We sit in a holding pattern, (read nauseating circles) over Providence, Rhode Island for about an hour.

We are eventually cleared to land, and my friend smartly avoids telling me that planes slide off the runway at Logan airport all the time....

We have to get off the plane and re-book our Philly flight because due to all of the delays, we have now missed our connection to Philly. We only have a few minutes and as I run to the bathroom, I try looking for a store where I can buy a Red Sox hat for my Braves loving husband. No dice - not enough time. Ironically, we do end up getting right back on the same empty plane, same captain, etc. We will now not be able to make our final connection and are placed on a stand-by flight for 11:05 to get back to ABE. I am fairly certain that we will not be flying into ABE that night.....

We sit on the ground for another good hour until the plane is de-iced and we are cleared for take off. Because of the delay, it's almost certain that we will not be making our final connection. (And where are our bags? Where are they going to end up?) Luckily my co-worker has called her husband and has asked him to pick us up at the Philly airport. We land in Philly, pick up our ride, and an hour and a half later, are home. This doodle was created while in the air from Boston to Philly.

Whew.

Just in time to kiss my husband and wish him a happy anniversary which had actually ended at midnight, but since I hadn't been to bed yet, it still counted. :o)

US Air did a great job of taking care of us in this crappy weather and to Ed, the ticket agent in Atlanta, I'm sorry I was silently cursing you out when I thought the Boston flight was going to get canceled. "

Monday, November 2, 2009

Multi-Media Mandala

Multi Media Mandala

I'm REALLY liking the way this one turned out.

I started off with a wash of different watercolors in a linen covered Cachet watercolor book. (I used to buy them at Blick but it seems as though they are no longer carrying them.) I then decided to try "masking" - that is to cover sections of the paper with a masking substance and then painting over it. In this case, I simply ripped pieces off of a roll of masking/painters tape and applied it in a random pattern. After I had the tape where I wanted it, I painted over it with another layer of the same watercolor paints.

Eager to see the results, I dried the paper using a hairdryer and peeled off the tape with the tip of an Exacto blade. It pretty much removed cleanly - only a small section of the paper came up with the end of one of the tape pieces. (I was able to cover it up.)

It looked pretty interesting at this point, but I knew it wasn't finished. I showed it to my husband and he suggested that I do a big black mandala over it and so that's just what I did. It was still just okay at that point and so I let it sit for a few days. When I picked it up again, I got inspired to add a little flair to it using a silver Pentel gel pen. And now I like it very much. :o)

Review: Diamine Sepia Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Sepia

Diamine Old English Sepia ink tested in an off-white ruled Paperblanks journal with an EF Lamy Accent fountain pen.

Good flow, moderately saturated, much shading is evident. What's up with the color variations?

Check again... just primed the pen's converter and shook the pen. Hmmmmm.... This was the ink bottle that I forgot to shake when I first swabbed it and got a tremendous variation once I did.

This isn't really a color for me, and I'm especially put off by the variations in shade depending on whether or not the ink has been shaken. One of the most drastic examples I've ever seen.

Sepia Mandala

Buy Diamine Inks in the UK at The Writing Desk or directly from Diamine and in the US from The Pear Tree Pen Company Ink is sold in 80ml glass bottles, 30 ml plastic bottles, and selected colors are available in cartridge form.
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