Monday, January 25, 2010

Bean Tip #1 :: Buy Open Stock Art Supplies

Pitt Brush Pens (4)

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind - art supplies are costly. Especially good quality art supplies. When shopping, you will find that there are typically two versions of every kind of media. Student grade and artist (professional) grade. One might think that the less expensive student grade products would be suitable for the beginner, but they often consist of lower quality materials and less pigment which means that you may not achieve your desired results, and you might think it's you, when it's really the materials. (Same goes for paper, but I'll save that for another post.)


When I want to buy new supplies, I go digging all over the web for advice from other artists on what works best for them. There is generally a consistent line pointing towards the more expensive products but I don't always have the money to buy a full set of colored pencils or watercolors.

Neocolor II's

The biggest piece of advice I can offer you when shopping for new supplies is buy open stock whenever possible. Open stock means materials that are sold by the piece rather than by the set. Large chain art supply stores like Blick (Blick online as well) and some craft stores like Michael's/AC Moore sell products by the piece. My suggestion is to buy a few of your desired product in the colors you know you will use. I can't tell you how much product I have in browns, & greens I never use. You might end up spending a little more in the long run, but it's better to try before you spend the $$$ on a larger set without knowing whether or not you will like using that product.

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils

I finally got smart when I bought these Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils. I bought the individual colors I wanted and loved them, then I went back and bought a few more to round out my own personal color pallette and I didn't have to spend money on colors I wasn't going to use.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Creating with Intention

Mandala :: Release

The other day I learned a good friend of mine's mother had passed away. Before I had the chance to speak to her, (and feeling quite concerned about her) I sat down and created this piece entitled "Release" while holding her in my thoughts.

Throughout the time I've been creating mandalas, I've found that some of my most expressive images have come at times when I've held a specific thought or intention in my mind while making them. If you have been following my work for any length of time, you know that this isn't my typical color palette but these are the colors that I felt inspired to use on this day. Choosing these colors, I felt as though they represented infinite space...

The image was created by painting with frisket (a masking substance) on extra rough Clairefontaine watercolor paper. I then applied 4 different colors of fountain pen ink over the frisket, (Herbin's Bleu Azur, Diamine's Imperial Blue, Indigo & one of their black inks - I forget which) Once dry, I removed the frisket and then started filling in the empty spaces using .5 and brush nibbed Copic Multiliner markers.

This piece ended up one of my most favorites, ever.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Review: J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink

Herbin's Gris Nuage

Herbin's Gris Nuage in the bottle.

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

Herbin Gris Nuage

J. Herbin's Gris Nuage tested in a fine nibbed Pelikan M200 fountain pen, Clairefontaine Basics journal.

Ink had nice flow and shading on the Clairefontaine paper. A light gray that I think leans a bit more towards blue than black. Shown below in comparison to Diamine's Grey. I personally prefer a more saturated ink.

Herbin Gris Nuage and Diamine's Grey

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review: Diamine Royal Blue Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Royal Blue

Diamine Old English Royal Blue ink tested in a fine nibbed Pelikan M200 fountain pen on off-white ruled Paperblanks paper.

When I first tested this ink I thought, "Another blue... yawn." I typically like my "regular" blues to be dark and very saturated. (Think Majestic Blue) I initially found nothing special about this ink until I started to draw with it and saw some very interesting shading.

Really nice flow, some shading and moderately saturated.

Still not sure what to make of it, though I think it's unlikely I'd use it as everyday blue.

Diamine Royal Blue 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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Updated Review: Lamy Accent Fountain Pen

Lamy Accent 1

I first reviewed this pen back in March of 09, and having had the opportunity to use it this long, I feel the need to make a few additional comments about this really great pen.

The Lamy Accent.

This pen was a bit of a surprise, because it's very different in design than the Safari, Studio, and 2000. An aluminum bodied pen, it's got some weight to it, though not as heavy as the Studio. To me, it's very comfortable in the hand.

Lamy Accent 2

The first thing you will notice is that it's got a screw cap. The Safari, 2000 and Studio are all pull-off caps. The cap is removed with barely a third of a rotation - and though I initially wished it was secured with a few more turns, I never had a problem with the cap coming unscrewed.

Lamy Accent 3

The nib on the standard Accent is the same as the Safari, AL-Star and base model Studio. You would think they all write the same, though I have found that the weight of the pen affects the smoothness. Don't get me wrong - all of my Safari's are smooth writers, but the Studio and Accent seem even smoother with their weight behind it.

Lamy Accent 4

The cap can be posted securely on the back of the pen and it stays firmly in place with a small pair of retractable "ears." When posted, the cap does add considerable length to the body - but it's a well balanced pen with or without the cap on the back.

Lamy Accent 5

I found the grip on the Accent rather unusual. I initially thought that I would have to hold it in the wider silver section (it does come in other colors) as shown above which creates a rather high writing angle, but after using it for several months I found it much easier to hold it at the front black section which is comfortable and also lends itself to a more natural writing angle.

Lamy Accent 6

Disassembling the pen is a little unusual. You hold the silver section and as you unscrew the back half of the pen, the pen section moves forward. which you then slide out.

Lamy Accent 7

Be cautious when you disassemble, because the silver section is removable. (And apparently interchangeable- though I'm not sure where you can buy replacements.)

Lamy Accent 8

The Accent uses a cartridge/converter filling system (converter is included) but it's a different converter than what the Safari/Studio uses. This Z26 converter is screw mounted (Which I REALLY like) and it might just be me, but it seems to hold a little more ink than the Safari's Z24 converter.

One thing I discovered in the last several months of using this pen, is that it seems as though the nib section is easier to flush that the Safari or the Studio. After having tested over 100 different kinds of fountain pen inks over the last year, I sure do love a pen that's easy to flush...

Lamy Accent 8

Exploded Lamy Accent.

All in all, I do like this pen. There is a slight learning curve with regards to it's design, but it's all good. It's a nice step up from the Safari - especially for people that want a professional looking pen that still writes as sweet as a Safari.

Several body options exist - prices below are for the standard models.

$56 at Swisher Pens

$60-$65 at Pear Tree Pens

Additional pictures can be found Here

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Diamine Pink Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Pink Ink

Diamine Pink ink tested in a medium nibbed Lamy Safari fountain pen in an off-white ruled Paperblanks journal.

Diamine Pink, Flamingo Pink & Coral all have this pink/orange shading thing going on that I don't particularly care for. It gives me the impression that the mix is off.

Cerise was one of the first Diamine inks I tested and I labeled that as a pink. Hot pink might be more accurate to describe the Cerise, but it makes me not know what to do with this Pink. It's very very close to Diamine's Coral. With the odd orange/pink shading it makes the pink parts look fluorescent and it's hard on my eyes even on this off white paper. Can't imagine how bright it would look on white....

It has good flow, is fairly well saturated and has good shading. It's just not for me.

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.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Art on Black Paper 4 : Silver on Black

silver on black mandala

This first image was done on one of the final pages of a pad of Strathmore Artagain paper. It's not my favorite black paper, (Canson's Mi- Teintes is) because the surface is too smooth.

Silver Mandala on Black

These next 4 mandalas were done in a Strathmore field book with black pages. (I found it at Michael's) The paper is still too smooth for my tastes, but I like that it's spiral and that I can fold the cover back on itself. What I really need to do is have someone make me a book out of the Mi- Teintes paper.

Silver Mandala on Black

The silver gel pens are various brands that I bought from Jetpens. They have a great selection of silver & white pens great for this purpose.

Silver Mandala on Black

Jetpens also has a great comparison article about their different white pens.

Silver Mandala on Black

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review: Diamine Brilliant Red Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Brilliant Red ink

Diamine Brilliant Red ink tested in an extra fine nibbed Lamy Safari in an off-white ruled Paperblanks journal.

Brilliant Red is a light pinkish red with good flow and shading.

I really prefer a darker more saturated red and so far, Diamine's Poppy Red still is my number one go-to red ink.

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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My First Time Lapse Mandala Video

My new Gorillapod Flexible Tripod showed up the other day and I immediately put it to use with my Canon SD1000 Elph. The Gorillapod legs are flexible in a multitude of ways so I wrapped them around the handle of my refrigerator and pointed the camera down onto my sketchbook. My Elph has a Time Lapse video feature and I believe I had it set to record at 1 second intervals. I'm not sure how long it took me to doodle this mandala - 12 minutes maybe? The video was very short and once I puled it into Corel VideoStudio 12, I first rotated it 180 degrees and then slowed down the video so it would play for 1 full minute. I tweaked the lighting settings a bit, added music & voila! My first time lapse mandala video.

The only real issue I had is that I don't really ever draw at arms length or on a table. I'm nearsighted and I'm usually holding the book about 8" away from my face when I draw so this was a bit of a challenge. If I can figure out a way to get the camera looking over my shoulder I'll shoot one with the book in my hand.

Supplies used were a Tombow calligraphy pen from JetPens & a Clairefontaine sketch book.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Review: Fabriano Blocco per Artisti Watercolor Blocks

What wonderful paper.... Watercolor mandala

A while back I received a sample of Fabriano Blocco per Artisti Watercolor paper from Savior Faire and this is one of those products that's just so amazing that I'm afraid to use it for fear of not having the money to buy more.... (And no - it's not THAT expensive.)

The paper is slightly off-white and has one of the most interesting cold press surfaces I've ever used with watercolor media. Paint moved across the paper with ease.... (And I usually prefer hot press paper!)

The only problem I see is that I can only find one online retailer that sells it, and it's only in larger block form. (I prefer to work small.) Buy it at Rexart.

Paper details are as follows:
  • 140lb (300g/m²)
  • Cold Press Surface
  • Traditional White
  • Mould-Made
  • 50% Cotton
  • Acid-Free
  • Internal/External Sizing
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