materials

Journal Friday #109: Layers of Memories

 
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Journal Friday has been on hiatus for the past couple of weeks — first, because of getting ready for the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour that I participated in the weekend of June 1st and 2nd, and then last week, I was on vacation and didn’t have time to post anything.

I’m back now with a new time-lapse video, and the spread is all about something that has been floating around in my mind for the past couple of weeks.

I’ve been feeling a bit lost with my art lately — feeling like I didn’t have a direction, like I was floating a bit aimlessly, but during my vacation, I had a bit of an epiphany. Travel for me is always cathartic, and my wife and I spent a whirlwind of a week in England seeing a lot of different things. But what struck me the most was the history. I remember the same feeling 25 years ago when I first visited England, and I felt it even stronger this time, especially with how it relates to my art. As we went place to place in England — from York to Alnwick, from London to the Cotswold, from Bath to Alton, there’s a real sense of history, and I came to really understand how places and people are both a culmination of experiences and memories, and as time goes by, different structures are imposed on top of one another. Much gets buried and covered up, but it’s still there influencing the character of the place to the person. People and places are an amalgamation of experiences, ideas, people, events, memories, thoughts, and so much more.

So I began to explore those ideas in this weeks Journal Friday spread. I haven’t come to any steadfast conclusions, but I am looking forward to exploring the ideas in my journal and in my art

Journal Friday 108: Manifest

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck lately, and today’s Journal Friday spread for my latest time-lapse video was all about this feeling. I began by layering a few different watercolor techniques to create a background, and then I divided the space with ink and water-soluble pencil. At that point, I decided to do a bit of writing, and focused on my feelings of uncertainty. I chose some words and phrases from the writing that seemed to have some punch to them, and I wrote them down the left side of the spread. All the while the word “manifest” was going through my head, so I decided to stencil it in the middle of the spread.

I’m not completely happy with the spread, and I would love to build up more contrast around the word “manifest”, as well as, add some embellishments, but one of the challenges with these time-lapse videos is keeping them to a minute in length. Both Instagram and Twitter only accept minute-long videos, and I want to be able to share them across platforms. So there is a unique challenge in confining them to that length. In real time, I spent about two and a half hours on this spread, and it’s interesting to see what develops in that time.

I hope that you enjoy!

Journal Friday #107: Spheres of Influence

I completely forgot to share last week’s Journal Friday time-lapse video. I approached this spread a bit differently, and stuck to some map like imagery as I built up layers. As I began it, I didn’t have a plan, but I quickly decided to not use any really recognizable objects like faces. I also decided not to use any collage and stuck with watercolor, water-soluble pencil and paint markers.

As I worked on the spread a theme of boundaries and borders came to mind, and I focused on creating a variety of lines, shapes, and symbols that signified a variety of ways that we separate ourselves from others. I decided to not use any words as well, and left it completely symbolic.

Materials Monday: Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus Fine Art Watercolor

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Up until now, I’ve focused mostly on materials that I use in both my journal and my mixed media works of art, but today I want to talk about a material that I use only for my stand alone pieces of art due to it’s quality. I’m talking about Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus Fine Art Watercolor. These high quality liquid watercolors are perfect for the type of mixed media that I like to do since they are transparent and lightfast. It’s easy to build up layers with the watercolor and the lightfastness means that they are less likely to fade in the light like lower quality paint.

 
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If you’re not familiar with liquid watercolor, I highly recommend experimenting with some. I first started using liquid watercolor when I taught in public schools using a student quality paint with both elementary and high school students. Even with the student quality, I was impressed with the intensity of the colors and the ease of building layers. But the student quality paint was not lightfast, and I wanted something that I could use in my art that would stand up over time. After a little searching I found the Hydrus watercolors. I instantly fell in love with them.

Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus Fine Art Watercolor come in 36 colors and are available in 0.5oz or 1oz glass bottles. They can be purchased individually or in three different sets. The color is bright and vivid, and I use only a few drops at a time diluting with water to control the intensity and the value of the color. Though the colors are intermixable, I normally use them straight and build up layers with individual colors. That are perfect for using alone, or with other materials like water-soluble pencil, collage, and ink. The paint can also be used with a variety of implements like technical pens, dip pens, and airbrush, though I’ve only used them with a brush. I only have Set 1, since it contains a variety of basic colors, but I’d love to supplement the set with a few more individual colors.

 
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The Hydrus watercolor is definitely a studio paint, especially with the glass bottles, and even the 0.5oz bottles are a bit bulky. I don’t recommend traveling with them. Also, these are high quality, fine arts paint, and as so are on the pricey side.  A twelve color set of 1oz bottles will put you back $100, though you can find them a bit cheaper at various online retailers. But a little goes a long way, so the paint will last. Because of the quality, I don’t routinely use the Hydrus watercolors in my journal, and I try to reserve them for my stand alone mixed media art or my monster paintings.

 
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If you’re looking for a high quality, liquid watercolor paint and don’t mind shelling out a bit of money, I highly recommend Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus Fine Art Watercolor. It’s a beautiful and versatile paint.

Materials Monday: Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens

 
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Like most visual journalists, I’m always on the lookout for a good pen, and having a variety of drawing pens in the journal kit is a must have for me. There are a wide variety of drawing pens out there with certain big names dominating the market. But I like the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens. I’ve only used the black, so I can’t specifically speak about the multiple colors available in the product line, but I am a big fan of the black. However, I am dying to try some of the 58 colors they have.

The Pitt pens use India ink, and Faber-Castell claims that they are permanent and waterproof. I must say that the ink holds up well to the wet media that I use in my journal and my artwork. I have had issues with some other brands that have claimed to be permanent and waterproof, but the Pitt pens live up to the claim with little to no bleeding if given enough time to dry. However, like any waterproof pen, the more ink that you lay down in an area, the more likely some of the ink will lift and spread when painted over with wet media. But it has not been an issue at all.

One of the things that I love about the black Pitt pens is the range of tip sizes, and you can even buy a set that has eight different sizes and types of tips — everything from an Extra Superfine to a Soft Brush. This allows you to draw in small, thin details as well as fill in larger areas, and there is even a Big Brush pen that works like a big marker with a brush nib.

 
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I love the versatility of the uni-ball Vision pens, but there’s something about having a set of dedicated drawing pens and being able to add a wider range of marks, lines, and textures to pages and to artwork. These pens are my goto pens when I’m doing any kind of ink drawing, especially for many of my monster drawings. The range is perfect for creating thick outlines, as well, as small details like, stripes, spots, and bumps.

 
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I also like that the Pitt pens and airplane safe, and don’t have issues on flights. Many pens, the uni-ball Visions included, can have issues with leaks and globs because of the change in cabin pressure when flying. It’s such an annoyance to end up with blobs of ink all over a surface or all over your hands. There’s none of that with the Pitt Pens, and they have quickly become one of my favorite travel pens.

The only issue that I have is that most of the colors have a very limited nib size, and mostly come in a brush tip only. I’d love to have the colored ink in a wider selection of nibs, and it’s one of the main reasons that I haven’t really tried the colored ink. I’d even consider replacing my uni-ball Vision pens if I could get the colors I wanted in a Fine or Medium point. Maybe one day. Until then, the black Pitt pens are a great addition to my artistic arsenal, and I use them more and more as time goes by.

If you’re looking for a great set of black drawing pens that are waterproof and come in a wide variety of nibs, then I’d say to get yourself some Faber-Castell Pitt pens, and if you’ve used the colored pens, I’d love to know how you like them.

As always, I get no compensation for these recommendations, and I simple share the materials and the brands that I like and personally use.

Materials Monday: Derwent Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set

 
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Some how, It’s been nearly a month since I last posted a Materials Monday. It’s amazing how life gets busy, but it’s back today.

Like most artists I don’t just use one type or brand of a particular material, and I have different brands, often for different purposes. And so it goes with watercolor paint. I love using watercolor paint in my journal and in my mixed media art, and I’ve already shared my enthusiasm for the inexpensive Prang semi-moist watercolors. Unfortunately, Prang watercolors are not lightfast, meaning that they will fade over time when exposed to light, and they are not the best paint to use for pieces that will hang on the wall. Though they are portable in their tough plastic case, the larger 16-color set is a bit on the bulky side, and are not always convenient to take everywhere.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been searching for a travel set of paints that were better quality, more lightfast, and something that wasn’t going to break the bank. Quality watercolor paints can be on the expensive side, so I became quite intrigued when Derwent announced that they were releasing their Inktense in the form of a travel paint pan set. I love the Inktense pencils, and I’ve used them for years, so I had to snatch up a set of the paints. Overall, I’m quite pleased, and they have announced that they are releasing a second set with different selection of colors.

First, I must say that technically, these paints are not watercolor paints, just as the Inktense pencils are not watercolor pencils. The pencils, blocks, and paints are all water-soluble ink. But the paint set acts just like watercolor paint with one exception. Like the Inktense pencils and blocks, the paint is more permanent and less likely to lift when painted over, and supposedly can be used on fabric, though I’ve never done that.

One of the main highlights of the Inktense paint pans is price. They are a good quality paint, at a very decent price, and they can often be found for under $25 in the US. They aren’t available everywhere, but they can be ordered online.

I am quite pleased with the Inktense paint. The set comes with 12 bright colors, and they are rich and intense like the pencils and cover well. The set is small and very compact making it a perfect travel size, but the pans are a bit smaller than normal half-pans, and unfortunately, I haven’t seen replacement pans available in the US, but it looks like they are available in the UK. The set comes with a small water brush and a sponge, neither of which I use. I got the set for the paint!

 
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The only real issue that I have with the paint is the selection of the colors, and it’s really more a matter of personal taste. Though the set has your basic colors, I wish that it had a crimson or a magenta. I’ve been getting into color schemes lately that include more pinks and purples, and the poppy red that is included is a very warm red making it difficult to get the pinks and purples that I want. The set also comes with a dark plum instead of a standard violet. Though the plum is great for blending into the blues and using as a complement to the yellow and the ochre, I again have gotten into these pink and purple color schemes, and I’d love a brighter violet.

 
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I love the brightness of the colors, the quality of the paint, the compactness of the set, and the price. I’d just love a slightly different color selection. However, Derwent has recently announced that it is releasing a second set of the Inktense Paint Pans with 12 different colors including a scarlet and a fuchsia, though no bright violet, but for now it only appears to be available in the UK. I’m not sure when or if it’ll be available in the US, but in the meantime, I’ll make do with what I have.

So if you are looking for a compact and inexpensive set of lightfast paints, the Derwent Inktense Paint Pan Travel Set might be just the thing. Please remember that I am not receiving any kind of compensation for any of these reviews or recommendations. They are just the materials that I personally like to use.

Journal Friday #99: Text

 
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Words, text, and reflections are a big part of my journaling process, but there are times when I might not want the text to be so obvious, especially since I openly share my journal with others. So obscuring the words is a great way to include writing while making it hard to read.

Today I worked primarily with text using a General’s Sketch & Wash pencil (water-soluble graphite), Derwent Inktense pencils, and uni-ball Vision pens. I focused on using the text in a more graphic manner, and the reflective writing provided a textured background while the stenciled words created some big words that stand out. The smaller emphasized words provided a little visual pop. I see this as a good start, and I’ll most likely add more to this spread in the future.

I hope that you enjoy the video!

Creative Prayer Book: Handwriting

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It’s the eighth lesson of the Creative Prayer Book, and I’m diving into more into my creative affirmations. Remember that you can add any text that you want — affirmations, quotes, song lyrics, poems, prayers. It’s really up to you.

 
 

Last week I used some stencils to add the words, so this time, I turn to those index cards with my affirmations, and I use my ordinary handwriting and my uni-ball Vision pens to add the text. I definitely don’t have a neat and fancy handwriting style, so I’m relying on my printed and cursive handwriting, but to make it stand out more, I thicken the letters by going back over the letters with my pen and carefully drawing in a thicker shape around the lines of the letters and filling in the resulting shapes with solid ink. This not only makes them bolder and easier to see, but it allows me to make the letters neater and to be a bit more artistic with them.

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As I decide what text goes on which page, I think about the placement of my words and how big to write them. Since the ink doesn’t draw too well on top of glossy surfaces, I try to avoid writing on top of magazine images.

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I do a couple pages of printed text and a couple pages of cursive text, and along with the stenciled text from last week, I have a good start with adding my affirmations to my pages. So think about how you can add more text to your pages using your ordinary handwriting.