materials

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.

Journal Friday #97: Be Where You Are and Initiating a New Journal

 
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I wanted to do something a little different for the time-lapse video that I made today, so I limited myself to using just a few materials — Derwent Inktense pencils, UHU glue stick, and uni-ball Vision pens. I also, started the spread off a bit differently. I used a series of ovals to create an overall texture as an initial layer, and then I built up other layers on top of it. I also drew a face, which I haven’t done for the time-lapse videos before. I had thought about adding more to the spread, but I’ve been trying to keep these videos to about a minute in length. Drawing the face and using the Inktense around the stenciled words took a little while, so I didn’t include everything that I was thinking about. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.

After creating the video, I broke out my new journal. I had started prepping it a while back, and the beginning of a new month seemed like a perfect time to initiate working in it. I didn’t do much and simply used a square stencil and an Inktense pencil to get something started. However small of a start it might be, it’s the first step of a grand, new adventure! I love beginning in a new journal. It’s always filled with such promise and potential.

Materials Monday: Letter Stencils

 
 

Words are almost as big of a part of my visual journaling process as the art making and the collage. As a journal, I want my book to reflect and document my daily life — my ups, my downs, and my in betweens, and words go a long way in helping with that. Naturally, I write out many of my reflections longhand, and of course, I draw words, text, and quotes to give emphasis. But having letter stencils on hand, is a quick and easy way to add letters and words, and they can be used with a wide variety of materials — everything from pen and pencil to acrylic and watercolor paints. I always have a few styles and sizes on hand so that I can tailor the letters and words to fit multiple purposes and situations.

I don’t have a favorite brand or kind of letter stencil, and over the years I’ve picked them up at arts and crafts stores, as well as office supplies stores. But I usually limit myself to the simpler, more generic lettering styles — Roman, Gothic, and Helvetica. I don’t like the to use the fancy or funky fonts — it’s just not my thing. I do try to have several sizes of the same font on hand — normally a small, medium, and large, and I do have a couple of extra large sets for when only a big word will do.

Letter stencils, also called lettering guides, come in a variety of materials as well, and I must say that I prefer the thinner, flexible plastic stencils since they take up less space. I can throw a few of them in the pocket of my large journal and take them anywhere. However, they do get beat up a bit, and they can get bent and even torn — especially the delicate insides of letters. The stiff, thick plastic stencils are much more durable, but not as portable so I relegate them to the studio. I have used the stencils cut from heavy paper, but they tear easily and don’t hold up to wet media.

I steer clear of stencils with already cut words and phrases because they are somewhat limiting.  You probably aren’t going to use them a whole lot and stencil the word and phrase over and over and over again. I like being able to create any word, any phrase — much more versatile. I also like to use letters and numbers as graphic devices, and I often stencil “ABCD” or “12345” onto pages and artworks. I also, like to stencil a letter like “X” over and over to create patterns. This allows me to play around with letters on a purely visual level.

If you don’t have any letter stencils, go get yourself some, and have fun playing with words, letters, and numbers.

Journal Friday #96: Lost

 
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I’ve been enjoying making time-lapse videos over the past few months of two-page spreads, and they fit great with Journal Friday. But I should note that these videos are not my normal mode of working. When I make them, I spend a couple of hours working on a single spread trying to plot the course of the spread as I work. However, when I work normally in my journal, I sit for a couple of hours bouncing around from page to page working here and there allowing the pages to develop organically and haphazardly. So dedicating two or three hours to a single spread presents a different type of challenge, which is neither good nor bad — just different.

As I sat down to create today’s time-lapse video, I had no idea what the spread was going to be or where it would take me. All I knew was that I wanted to do something a little different — to use colors and techniques that I haven’t used much in my other videos. Things started out smoothly as I used bubble wrap, organic lines of Inktense pencil, and an image transfer, but then I hit a bump in the road.

Things began to go a little awry when I grabbed some plastic canvas and watercolor paint. The effect came out darker than I had hoped, and it just wasn’t how I had envisioned. The spread quickly came to a halt as it veered into an unexpected direction. Of course you don’t see that in the video with the luxury of being able to pause the recording while I contemplated my next move.

 
 

I tried to fade the darker brown paint into the page with some yellow watercolor, but things just weren’t going to my liking. I was completely uncertain of where to go next, and I sat for a few minutes finally deciding to add some writing. After a few minutes of debating about whether to write directly on the page or to use tracing paper, I decided on the tracing paper. As a prompt, I turned to how I’ve been feeling lately — something that I hadn’t planned, but it felt right for the page. I have felt rather lost lately, and at that moment, I was a bit lost for what to do with the spread.

So, I wrote about feeling lost — feeling very uncertain of what my next steps should be with my life. For the past two and half years, I’ve been forging my own path after resigning from a 20 year career as an art teacher. I work part time as the manager of a local art center, and I try to dedicate the rest of my time to making art, journaling, and sharing my journey with others here on the blog and on social media. But I am feeling a bit lost right now, and it’s a tad disconcerting. I love the freedom this path has giving me, but it’s been difficult at times. Now is one of those difficult times — a moment when things have ebbed a bit — a moment of uncertainty and a bit of anxiety about where this journey is heading.

I didn’t come to any cathartic conclusion, and the spread is very much unfinished. I do like it more now than I did those moments after I lifted the plastic canvas, and I thought of working more on it. I may do just that in the future, but for now I just want to stand for a moment on this vulnerable patch of lostness and just be here in all of my uncertainty knowing that the universe is always conspiring with us.

Materials Monday: Derwent Inktense Pencils

 
 

I’ve admitted my love of water-soluble pencils on the blog before, especially when I’ve discussed Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils and Faber-Castell Graphite Aquarelle Pencils. I use them a lot in my journal and in my stand alone, mixed media art to create layers. I truly appreciate the control of the pencil, but I love the painterly quality of the water-soluble material. So, today I want to share what is probably my favorite water-soluble pencil — Derwent Inktense Pencils. Although I refer to the Inktense as watercolor pencils, they are not really watercolor, and Derwent has a whole line of watercolor pencils. The Inktense are water-soluble ink pencils, and they are a high quality, professional material.

 
 

When someone first offered me an Inktense pencil to try, I didn’t really see any real difference to the Prismacaolor watercolor pencils that I had been using. And in fact, once I got a small set of Inktense pencils, I did a side-by-side test with them and the Prismacolor, and there really wasn’t a discernible difference in color intensity or coverage. Both pencils performed exceptionally well no matter what technique was used. So as far as quality and performance, they were pretty much on par with each other.

So, why did I switch to the Inktense pencils if they didn’t outperform the Prismacolor?

The answer is simply transparency. All of the Inktense pencils are transparent since they are a water-soluble ink. The Prismacolor offer a number of lighter colored pencil, but it appears that they get these pencils by adding white. The white creates a bit of opacity making the color look cloudy when applied, and I’ve never been a big fan of this cloudiness. These colors aren’t so good for layering, but that’s not the case with the Inktense. The only light colors of Inktense are colors that have yellow in them, so you won’t find a light pink or a light blue. Instead you find richer, more intense colors that you can lighten or darken by controlling how much pigment you color and shade onto the paper. This is much better for the type of layering that I like to do with the pencil, so I prefer the Inktense over the Prismacolor.

Another advantage that the Inktense has over the Prismacolor is that you can get a set of 72 in the Inktense, but only a set of 36 in the Prismacolor. There was a time when Prismacolor offered the watercolor pencils in larger sets, but they seem to have cut back on them. If you’re looking for a wide range of colors, Inktense is the way to go.

Now Inktense aren’t perfect, and there can be an issue when using them. The ink becomes fixed when it dries, and you can work over top of it with out disturbing the previous layers. Now this sounds like a major advantage, and it is, most of the time. It’s great for building up layers without smearing and obliterating previous layers, and this permanence also allows the Inktense to be used on silk and fabric, though I’ve never tried this. But the issue is that as you spread the pencil with a wet brush, areas can dry leaving hard-edged lines, which you can’t rewet and fade out. This isn’t all that great if you’re trying to get a smooth, even color. Though it’s an advantage most of the time, this permanence can be a bit of a nuisance in some instances.

The only other issue is price. The Derwent Inktense are a premium material, and so you pay a premium price. They can be quite a bit more expensive than the Prismacolor, but it’s something that I’m willing to pay in order to get the transparency that I want.

If you’re looking for an intense, high quality water-soluble material, you might want to try the Derwent Inktense Pencils, but maybe use one of these 40-50% coupons you can often get for your favorite arts and craft store to help save a bit on the cost.

As a reminder, that I am not being paid or compensated in anyway for these recommendations. These are simply things that I like to use in my own art.

Materials Monday: UHU Stic Glue Stick

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A good adhesive is essential for any mixed media endeavor like the visual journal, and there are a great number of glues and tapes on the market. If you’ve been following me or if you’ve seen some recent posts, you may already know that I definitely prefer UHU Stic, and it is my go to glue for my journal and much of my mixed media work. I’ve been using UHU exclusively since I started journalling nearly twenty years ago.

I know a lot of people really don’t like glue stick, and struggle with getting things to really stick to the page, but I like the convenience of a glue stick. When used effectively, it works well to adhere paper, photos, and more in the journal and in mixed media artwork. UHU is a high quality glue that is non toxic, acid free, and washable, and it comes in several sizes. I always get the jumbo size — the 1.41 oz size, and I like the blue colored glue stick. Though it’s a deep blue in the tube, it dries completely clear when applied. The blue color is great for ensuring the glue covers evenly. The have recently redesigned the label on the glue stick, but it’s the same old glue.

 
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The UHU is perfect for gluing in maps and movie tickets, newspaper and tracing paper, photocopies and magazine images, and a lot more. However, thick, glossy materials like postcards can be a little tricky, and it can take a little extra time and pressure to make certain that they stick. But it can be done. Like any glue stick, the UHU can be rather messy, and I always make certain to work on top of a scrap of paper when I spread the glue so that I don’t get glue all over my work surface or all over my pages. I find that the UHU is perfect for building layers of transparent media like watercolor, watercolor pencil, and marker. The only draw back is the glued pieces can sometimes lift up when they get wet, but almost any glue stick will do that. Many people like to use acrylic gel medium as an adhesive, but that’s best for mixed media that involves acrylic paints. I don’t use much acrylic in my journals, and the dried acrylic medium id difficult to layer on top of with watercolor and water-soluble pencil.

 
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Unfortunately, UHU Stic Glue Stick can be difficult to find in local shops, and many big arts and crafts retailers don’t carry UHU in their brick and mortar stores. It can even be hard to find in office supply sotore, so I buy mine online. I usually buy a half dozen or more, since I go through them pretty quickly.

If you’re looking for a good glue stick, I recommend UHU Stic. Just make certain to use it effectively!