Moving back to dry media for general purposes.

Instead of roaming over backposts to see various snapshots of myself in time, maybe what I need to do is write. Most of my free time today has been taken up with homework, eating, or sleeping. I’m not sure if that’s normal.

I have 22 pages to go before I’ll have finished my major reading assignment for Political Advocacy, which I should complete tomorrow — and work on the Discussion Topics, as well. I can already start writing on the earlier chapters…I just didn’t. It’s easier for me to intake information than to make something new with it.

Early this morning, I also had to get up for a class meeting, before heading out for a family brunch. After that, I came home and basically fell asleep, and stayed asleep for three hours. (I was surprised, too.)

Oh, wait. I’m missing the part where we went to the art-supply store. I had planned to get some 1/4″ masking tape (to mark off quilting seam allowances) and a bottle of that scarlet ink I mentioned, before. What I ended up doing was spending some gift money on a couple of small sketchbooks and pen cleaning solutions, in addition.

They also have these silicone things called Colour Shapers, which I know I can use to apply masking fluid for watercolors (latex won’t ruin these like it ruins regular brushes)…but I’m intimidated by latex masking fluids just from jump (they all carry Caution Labels; breathing the fumes or touching the fluid can trigger sensitization and allergic reactions). Because the Colour Shapers are expensive, and I haven’t even been using watercolors recently, I let it go this time.

For my own reference, I also do have permanent masking fluid made with liquid wax, which is much safer and is likely what I would try on a first serious test of dealing with this stuff routinely. I had to use latex liquid frisket in Watercolor class, but still…it’s scary to me. Not to mention that it tore up my painting when I tried to get it off.

Also, I’m not sure that liquid wax will ruin brushes at all, the way latex will.

Anyhow. I’ve decided that I’m going to try working in graphite and colored pencil, again, in the sketchbooks I’ve got. I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to carry it (though I do have a satchel bought just for this purpose), but I feel the need to get back to my roots. That means “comic” work — though it usually isn’t funny. 😉

I had mentioned a very long time ago on this blog, the possibility of doing watercolor underpaintings, and then working on top of that with colored pencil. I’m not sure if that would be sacrilege if the paints I’m using are in fact better quality than what I put on top… 😛 …I think I’ll need to avoid the more toxic paints, at least.

Maybe this would actually be a good role for less expensive formulations, though, like the Reeves watercolors which are basically just lying around here unused (they’re M’s, and also really old). There are also my Pitt brush markers, which are fantastic for sketchbooks. And I have the Copics (greyscale) and Tombow markers, as well.

As for colored pencils…my collection begins before the year 2000 and includes Prismacolors (the oldest of which, I might want to replace if I get back into this: the newer ones seem to have much better covering power), Faber-Castell Polychromos, and Blick brand standard colored pencils.

I have one LYRA Color-Giant, which lets me know that the LYRA brand pencils are vulnerable to what looks like wax bloom (though I think they’re supposed to be oil-based, not wax-based?). I have also heard that Prismacolors are vulnerable to this, though I haven’t seen any noticeable bloom on any of my older work.

I’m leaving out the water-soluble pencils, but they would be useful on heavier paper.

So I guess there’s a basic decision there to go back to using dry media for practice and visualization purposes. Although charcoal would be useful, I don’t want to be sealing my sketchbooks, so I’m (reluctantly) going to avoid studies in charcoal within them. (I might still be able to use carbon black, though [maybe], and I’ll definitely be able to use black ink.)

The issue is that charcoal never really adheres well to the page unless a fixative is sprayed (or painted, in the case of underdrawings on intended acrylic paintings) over it. That means that the drawing degrades whenever the book is handled. Though charcoal has been wonderful for layout for me in the past, I hate dealing with spray fixative because of the odor, and I really don’t want to be breathing this stuff.

I can wear a respirator, but I’m uncertain I have the correct (organics?) cartridges to filter out what needs to be removed. (“Organics” probably corresponds to a certain 3M cartridge code, and I don’t know what that is, yet.)

I mean, even hairspray (Aqua Net) in lieu of a quality fixative, smells horrible in the quantities needed to seal a drawing.

My biggest deal right now is whether to go ahead and use my wood-cased soft graphite pencils (multiple brands, but mostly Faber-Castell), whether I want to use woodless graphite sticks in addition (Cretacolor Monolith), and whether I want to use graphite crayons (LYRA) on top of that.

The issue with the Monolith sticks is that they often have random hard bits embedded which scratch the paper. Not an issue when dealing with wet media, but certainly an issue if further work is to be done with colored pencil (the indentation will cause the pigment to skip over the scratch, leaving a light mark).

I haven’t yet found the same problem with the LYRA graphite crayons, but I’ve also not used the LYRAs very much. I do know that Faber-Castell makes wonderful soft graphite pencils, but they lack the impact and expression of either the Monoliths or the LYRAs, because their leads are so thin.


I guess it’s not a bad thing that I’m actually using up my pencils…

By the way, the image in the post linked here was made entirely with the Monolith woodless graphite sticks.

And I suppose it is a good thing that I have too many colored pencils, rather than not enough. But I really need to sort through them again. They’re still in order from my last major work with them, and that’s not great…

Also: Koh-I-Noor makes a set of Progresso woodless colored pencils very similar to Cretacolor’s Monolith woodless graphite pencils, which I would recommend if only for the fact that they lend much more expressive marks, in addition to the ability to “wash” an area with the flat of the side of the tip (if that makes sense).

No, they aren’t paying me. 🙂 And no, you don’t need to buy them. 🙂 But I might start carrying mine, with me. The issue is how to carry as little as possible, and still enough.

I think I feel better, now, after having written that and gone through my backposts. It’s good to have a sense of continuity. That is what I set this blog up for, in the first place…


One week since the beginning of Break…

It’s only today that I realize it’s been about a week since my last posting. I’ve been busy moving things around, and cleaning. (By “moving things around,” I mean sorting through all the papers in my office, and sorting through everything in the bathroom. Also, going through the books on my main bookcase to organize them by approach and theme.)

This started with my cleaning and organization of the craft table, because I needed space to cut a sheet (or roll) of tinted acetate and didn’t have room for the cutting mat or the roll. Right now things are OK down there — space is usable — but it isn’t optimal.

I also went through everything in the drawers in my bathroom, and beneath the drawers in my bathroom. Anything which could spoil, which I couldn’t remember buying in the last 6 months, I was told was fine to throw away. Particularly, used makeup, which can cause infection if there have been bacteria growing in it and then one applies it to one’s face. (I also shaved down my old eyeliners [which I hadn’t been using], and threw out what had dried out.)

The only reason I started thinking about makeup is that I did have a job interview, a couple of days ago (which was the last big thing to get out of the way before I could have true relief). I did mostly go to the interview in order to gain practice and not be kicked off of the qualifying list, but I am not certain what I would do if I were offered the job. Nothing to do but wait now, I guess.

And I have realized by now…that having expanded piercings is kind of like having tattoos. I didn’t really “get it” until a couple of days ago, though.

I was able to get that Quinacridone Magenta paint I wanted! (I haven’t tried it out yet, though.) I’m hoping that it will give me clearer violets than either Permanent Rose or Alizarin Crimson. There was a complicating factor in that I went in to buy a tube of Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Magenta gouache (opaque watercolor), and they were totally out of that color!

I did recall that W&N’s Quinacridone Magenta’s pigment code is PR122, though, and that I did have a backup choice in Holbein gouache. What I didn’t know is that Holbein’s “Primary Magenta” color is PR122 (I found this out at the store) and at least from what I’ve seen online, is extremely close to Winsor & Newton’s “Quinacridone Magenta.” The major difference is that the W&N Quin. Magenta is bluer than the Holbein Primary Magenta, so there may still be a use in waiting for the W&N at another time.

Anyway, this is just a continuation of the Color Dynamics website that I wanted to put up on the Web (but which was much too voluminous in scope and content to use simply as a final project in my Web Design class).

It’s fairly apparent by now, though, that if I want to publish a full site to the Web…I’ll have to rent some server space, which is not something I’ve arranged yet. It would also help to know what I was doing when setting up that server space, though I have been doing some study to prepare me for that.

I had wanted to continue working on this project to help me build skills in Web Design! Now that the pressure’s off, though…hmm. I haven’t touched it in at least a week. But during that week, well…I’ve been going to work, organizing stuff, cleaning, and shopping.

We did go to Nihon Machi (Japantown) recently, where I found a retrospective book on Emigre (the “type foundry”) which goes back to 1986. It cost a bit, but I was like, “when am I going to find this again,” and I didn’t want to buy it from Amazon. (It does seem that having an in-person store is a service.) I’ve read that experience with typography is one of the only things I need to know that I don’t know, if I want to be a Web Designer. I don’t think that knowledge of typography is one of those things that goes out of date, though.

I also found a book called Everyday Watercolor (from a different bookstore), which looks really interesting! I haven’t been able to look deeply into it yet, though, because I’ve been cleaning. What’s annoying is that in my cleaning the bathroom, I apparently disturbed something that was hungry (likely a spider) that bit up my legs and caused an emergency cleaning of both my bedroom and my office. So I haven’t been able to get as deeply into things as I would have liked.

I also replaced the Borden & Riley marker paper that I’ve almost used up. On the trip, I should have taken something printed, if not the old pad itself — translucency is key to this stuff being of use to me. If I had something to view through the paper, it would have made my choices easier.

The marker paper I had was like a very high-quality tracing paper. What I found at the store under the same name, however, was not the same product. The type of paper which is under the same brand name now seems to be different (more opaque, thicker, whiter) than it was when I bought my last pad.

Because of this, I did a slight shift and got two pads of paper which I hope will replace the Marker paper qualitatively (as I don’t really care if the markers bleed — but the fact that they had “No Bleed-Thru” paper that bled, is likely why they decided to sacrifice transparency). Borden & Riley is relatively inexpensive, which actually helps me be creative (because I don’t especially have a fear of wasting materials).

One of the pads is Borden & Riley #110M Technical Vellum (which is sized to be easily Xeroxed, at 8.5″x11″); the other is #37 Boris Marker Layout, 9″x11″. The new #37 appears more translucent than the old #37 Layout paper.

I’ve also been going through my photo archives, and have a couple of images that would be nice to work through in painting, both variants of the same basic photo. One of them can be a 4″x6″ panel in acrylic…unfortunately, these dimensions (2:3) are not common in larger sizes, at least here. However, I can do a larger version in 11″x14″, easily — and I’m thinking of doing that one in watercolors. The major issue with the latter is paper buckling, so I’m going to have to figure out how to map a 10.5″x13.5″ space out on the photo (0.25″ will be masked out on all sides to hold the paper down)…ehhh…

Yeah, that’s not going to be the most fun thing ever. But it will give me some Photoshop practice.

And yes, using inches as measurements is a pain. I haven’t yet done the research to answer the question of why letter-sized paper is 8.5″x11″ (I have a feeling it’s some historical quirk), but it’s been bothering me recently.

Also…I have a very good library to go through if I ever get bored. I’ve just got to remember that it’s there. I’ve also got to filter out things I will likely never read or reference. In particular, I have a couple of books on HTML and Web Design which have got to be fairly dated by now (they were bought by a family member, a while ago: copyrights 1998 and 1999, to be exact).

Yes, I think that if someone could have been born and graduated from high school in between the time those books were written and the time I’m looking at them, it may signal that an update is needed. The HTML book is on Version 3.2. We’re on HTML5 now.

Yeah, I…am not sure how much help those will be, except as historical artifacts…


Today was my first day of freedom from classes and Finals. I did still go to work, but I was also happy that I got to do whatever I wanted on my lunch hour! Nothing hanging over my head with some due date that I had to work on in order to alleviate my anxiety and boost my GPA!

Just think: in one more year it can be like this, permanently. Not to say that I would stop learning, because I can’t afford to do that, ever; but I will have obtained my first professional degree.

It’s also not lost on me that this “vacation” time I’m entering into, with Winter Break, may be one of the last extended periods of lack of responsibility that I’ll be able to have, unless I save up vacation hours at whatever job I’ll have in the future.

Because of a number of issues, I’m not entirely certain it is even possible to expect to retire once I reach a certain age. I haven’t gone in for financial counseling or anything, but it just doesn’t look good for me, due to the age at which I began (or am beginning) my career. The institution of retirement itself doesn’t look good, as regards what I can see ahead.

However: there are some bright spots. A lot of them, actually…though elucidating that, right now, may be a bit much. And, I can’t expect to live to old age, anyway…that’s kind of not guaranteed.

In any case…I did do some drawing at work, earlier. No photos or scans, yet, though I did learn one thing: don’t try to alter a pencil image at the same time as you’re inking it. (I had forgotten how subtle changes severely affect expressions, in images of people!)

I should be heading out to replace some art supplies that I’m running low on (yay for using up art supplies!). This is, specifically, a type of marker paper I picked up a long time ago (Borden & Riley) which is particularly useful both because of its degree of translucency, and the fact that markers tend not to bleed through it. (New Chartpak markers will still bleed, though, as will new Copics [unless I’m mistaken].) Because the paper is so translucent, it allows for tracing and inking of linework.

The major drawback of any of this is that then the inked illustrations either need to be transferred to a digital file for coloring (which means I will need to learn how to digitally color), or they need color added with dry media (I have never tried this paper with watercolors…it would be an interesting experiment, as this is cotton rag paper, but…I wouldn’t set my hopes too high). The alternative is using Saral paper, a.k.a. making a carbon paper transfer, which makes inking the original, redundant.

Or, I’d just have to stick with using pens and markers for all of the art. It’s not a best-case scenario, largely because I’m not great with markers…though I think I am better than I thought I was. The limited work that is still inside the cover of the pad isn’t awful, even though at the time, I was fairly disappointed.

Maybe I just need to become skilled with a blending marker? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is the first pad of paper I’ve almost-used-up in a while (unless we count the small pad of ArtAgain coal black paper, which I found can take wet media [in this case, gouache]).

It is possible to work out small comics with the marker paper, as well as play with layout, generally.

The largest issue with trying to practice illustration at this point, for me, is either creating a story or finding a story to illustrate. I may be able to work on this over Winter Break, though, too. Hopefully, the last decade or so has calmed down some of the issues I was going through, last time I was intensely involved in fiction writing.

(I can’t help but think that it will attempt to reactivate some of those old dysfunctional neural pathways, though…)

And if I’m going to write, it would likely help, to read (which I have time for, now). The other main issue is that I overwhelmingly read nonfiction…maybe a short story would work. That way, the research wouldn’t be overwhelming (I can read short fiction I like), and the writing wouldn’t be overwhelming, either. This could then lead to a short tale that I could illustrate…

…though I honestly think that project would take up more than the time I’ve got over Winter Break. I have about a month, off. I’m sure I’ll get around to figuring out what to do with my time (other than this), in the near future, but right now I’m just looking at the next 2-3 days.

I did unexpectedly use a bunch of Marker paper for my Web Design project. I have 5 usable pages of this stuff, left. I think I’ll get the 9″x12″ size again, as it is small enough to fit into my work locker. Plus, I can’t scan anything over 8.5″x11″, at this point, so getting a larger size would be relatively useless unless I started hard-core doing comics, and needed to tape up page roughs to my wall in order to read their composition.

(I don’t want to scan these things at an office-supply store. I’m not going to get into, why. I’m sure it’s obvious enough.)

That actually sounds really fun–! It also gives me an excuse to pick up a gouache color that I’ve set my eye on (Quinacridone Magenta). This last color-experimentation phase (for the website) has got me using gouache again, which can make gorgeous opaque colors. But I can’t think about it in the same way as I would think about illustration. It pretty much has to be looser than that.

I had also been thinking about painting with gouache on board…meaning that I’m looking at the use of gesso and Golden Absorbent Ground, to prep the surface. The biggest thing I’m concerned about there is the possibility of destroying my good (soft) watercolor brushes by painting on top of a rough surface.

Now that I look at it, I would be just as well off by mounting a paper to a piece of board, painting it, then removing it to frame.

Hey, wait: it’s also possible that I might be able to permanently mount a paper to board by using an acrylic medium, like maybe Glazing Medium…hmm. Didn’t think of that, before. Then I’d have the durability of the board, and the softness of the paper. I also have a brayer I can use, to push down the watercolor paper (I will just need to interleave a clean sheet so that I don’t mess up the surface of the paper — or the painting, if it is finished).

Looks like I’m going to be experimenting.

The hardest part of any of this, though, is settling on what to paint! I do have a lot of nice botanical images, though…I’m just not quite a master at composition, yet.

Maybe I can try that one image I wanted to use for the 30″x30″ canvas, as a way to break out of photorealism…


Wanting to work in an illustrative style.

transparency with intensity.

I realize now, that what I’ve been looking for in watercolors, acrylic inks, and inks is the strength and intensity of color I’ve found in heavy-body acrylics and gouache, but transparent. The transparency feature is mainly to allow me to take an illustrative/drawing approach (with visible lines instead of only blocks of color), so that I can scan the images and it will still come out looking alright.

One of my last art instructors said that the difference between drawing and painting, is that there are generally no lines in paintings, only blocks of color; which is the clearest definition I think I’ve heard.

digital media.

I think I know what to do at this point; which is to work with transparent, fluid inks (such as Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks), or transparent liquid watercolor (such as Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolor), and just resign myself to the fact that the inks are fugitive (will fade/change color over time), and my scan (a high-resolution uncompressed TIFF file) is likely going to be the archival copy of my work.

This also means that the archival copy is going to be digital…making multiple and regular backups useful, if not necessary. This will also necessitate migrating my work whenever older formats become obsolete…and I have some experience with that from my Digital Archives class.

painting surfaces and supports.

It also means that, if I’m going to scan these things, I’m really going to have to watch for cockling (warping) in whatever I draw + paint on. I might be moving to Mixed Media paper for this, though; instead of cotton-based watercolor paper, which is intended to be archival. (There’s no point to painting with colors that are expected to fade, on top of a surface made to last hundreds of years.)

I haven’t tried Bristol board for this, either. It’s worth a shot. And I haven’t tried Illustration board — to be honest, I still don’t know how to use Illustration board and control its warping with water, at the same time. (It tends to expand and contract unevenly, depending on what area is wet, and how wet it is. The wetter it is, the more convex it becomes.)

Also worth a shot are a couple of QoR mediums which could allow me to draw and paint with watercolor on board, as versus paper, but that’s probably further than I need to reach. If I stretch (or tape — I’m not sure Mixed Media paper can stand outright wet-stretching) paper onto Masonite and then shear out the final copy with an X-Acto and straightedge, I should be OK. I just can’t bet on using the entire sheet up to the true edge of the paper.

Of course, Masonite itself…likely isn’t the best substrate (it begins to fall apart on me when I pull the tape off). D suggested acrylic sheet as a backing, while I was thinking along the lines of a flat sheet of melamine. I don’t know if either will work, but I know what I’m doing now is (or would be, if I were painting a lot) kind of wasteful, as Masonite isn’t all that strong when it comes to working with water and adhesives. At least I would be able to remove tape from acrylic, without damaging the acrylic.

dusty watercolors. import, optimization, display.

One sad thing about importing photos onto my computer is that the chroma (color intensity) always looks stronger on the screen, than it is in reality. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

But then, I’m not entirely sure why color distortions happen in my camera, in general. I mean — I know it has to do with the lighting, and probably the specific wavelengths put out by whatever light is being used, and the camera accounting and compensating for that (or something like it). I just feel like I need tighter control of the photography angle of this.

The problem is that I don’t know much about digital photography — or, traditional photography, for that matter. I do know about Photoshop, but it’s knowledge that is very practical and not anything that lets me understand what I’m actually doing when I edit the Black and White points on a color channel’s Histogram.

But like I said before — I have a working color scanner that can encode into TIFF, so improving my digital photography skills and getting a better camera isn’t urgent or necessary at all to publish to the Web, at this point. It’s pretty much taken care of.

I just ran across someone online mentioning that colors in her watercolor paintings tended not to look as intense over time as she would like; and though I’m mostly dealing with paint swatches at this point (my watercolor painting time pretty much ended in Fall 2016), I can relate to a dusty, faded look in watercolors. It could be because of the fact that I’ve been trying (note, trying) to use them from a dried-and-rehydrated state instead of a moist (fresh from the tube) state, or it might have to deal with formulation.

branching out. watercolor brands and mediums.

Right now I’m primarily using Winsor & Newton, with one Grumbacher and one M. Graham (which I love — I’m just not sure if the ❤ is a property of the pigment [PY3: Arylide Yellow] or the rest of the paint! This is a brand which uses honey in its formulation as a humectant [do NOT eat it!], which could be why the color blossoms so freely).

I’ve also relatively recently gotten a couple of Daniel Smith colors and two Holbeins (Lamp Black, and Isoindolinone Yellow Deep [PY110]), but I haven’t been able to play with them decently, yet. It’s possible that a bit of an added watercolor medium (Ox Gall? Gum Arabic?) might be able to at least help the paints adhere better, let alone be more brilliant. But I (obviously!) haven’t researched this, yet.

Cerulean Blue Chromium (PB36) from Daniel Smith, in particular, granulates really strongly when mixed with Winsor Yellow (PY154, Benzimidazolone Yellow). I threw the test page out because there was too much risk of the [toxic: cobalt-based] pigment falling off and scattering, plus it looked horrible. I have photos of it, but they’re not great, and I’m not sure I knew what I was doing in the first place.

I’m also thinking that I will likely want to branch out from Winsor & Newton Professional grade. They’re fine to learn with (their tiny [5ml] tubes mean a lower initial investment for higher-quality paints than student-grade), but there are other brands and colors which could be more pleasant to work with, and to view over time.

And you can see my endless search for useful yellow pigments from the above (not to mention my initial green-leaning yellow: my Watercolor professor had us get Aureolin [PY40: Cobalt Yellow] which I hate largely for its toxicity and impermanence combined with its cost…though it does make nice graded mixes, in the short term).

don’t judge me 😀

thought shift: from permanence to ephemerality

I just have enough experience to know that if I’m working in Illustration or in an illustrative style, I will probably want to go for colors which are vivid and truly transparent…but that transparency comes with a price, which is the potential of having artwork that only exists temporarily, in the non-digital world. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, online (or in print).

At the same time, I still feel that this hybrid approach is more flexible than a born-digital approach, but I don’t want to alienate people with my feelings on that. They’re largely based on personal experience, and I’m very aware my personal experience has bias. Maybe if and when I can compose a defensible argument to one end or another, for a reason that is important enough to broach, I might say something, but otherwise, I’m not interested in causing disturbance.

It’s kind of interesting, though: shifting from a mindspace of “will this painting last for the next 600 years?” to “am I OK if this thing I’m working on biodegrades soon?” I mean, it’s kind of a different approach! But then, in my Digital Archives class, I’m learning that digital information is ephemeral by nature.

I wonder how long I’ve been working on this draft? 🙂

Art: portability? Catching small bits of time

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here; this is largely because I keep sitting down and reminding myself that maybe there are more pressing things to do, than write about things I haven’t yet thought out — and then actually going to look for those things, instead of just assuming they don’t exist, or that I’ll get to them, later.

Or I look at the WordPress text-editing screen and know that I could be making art, or exercising, or cooking, or studying my own extracurricular stuff (Japanese language), instead of writing incessantly about things I haven’t had the time to experience, to relate to readers via my writing. (It’s not this way anymore, but I have a history of being a compulsive writer [partially because of poor self-awareness in my younger years].)

However, I just finished sitting through two hours of backed-up lectures. I have three weeks left of school, and final projects in all of my classes. And I had to miss work in order to turn two other projects in, this week. Yes, even though Saturday was Veteran’s Day, and I didn’t go to work then, either.

And I have two other writing assignments due before the weekend is over (both for the same class). I also need to review material for the final project in that same class (again) before Monday afternoon. Then, I’m pretty sure that by Tuesday, I have to get my Web Design assignment in. In addition, I should at least outline a site redesign for my Final in Web Usability.

On top of that, right now it’s almost midnight where I’m at, and I actually do have to get up, tomorrow. And it’s probably going to be pretty backed up at work, because I wasn’t able to go in earlier this week. But at this point, considering some of the dreams I’ve been having around my job (including being terrorized by people who won’t stay out of the library when it’s closed, in the last case), it would actually be a relief just to shelve all day.

(Of course, though, the dream I put in parentheses probably refers more to boundary-crossing or outright aggression [boundary-ignoring] than it has to do with the location of where the dream took place.)

Anyhow, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about, but you can see I’m preoccupied. What I was actually thinking about…was the portability of markers and the possibility of using them during my lunch break at work, tomorrow. This is in addition to the use of color as a valid place from which to launch into drawing, and the fact that because I work at a place where both the utility and break sink need to be food-safe, I can’t take in my normal paints. And I’m not rinsing out my watercolor brushes next to the toilet.

I then have three options if I want to deal with intense coloring: one, a waterbrush plus aquarelles (Supracolors or Neocolor IIs). Two, markers (including waterproof fineliners and water-soluble and permanent brush markers) and possibly a waterbrush. Three, the non-toxic cheap watercolor pans (Prangs), and a waterbrush (though these won’t get a chance to dry, decently — and I’m worried about attracting insects, or growing microbial cultures, because of this).

I’m seeing a theme. I really pretty much hate the tip on my large waterbrush, though. But the alternative is to take in a cup to rinse a good brush in…and an actual decent brush…and then let the brush air out so it doesn’t expand from water exposure and fall apart. Putting a damp quality brush in a locker for hours, even in a case, just doesn’t sound like a good idea in any way.

Which leads me back to markers. I think I can work with dry media. It’s a lot less expensive, anyway; even though the sheer volume of what I’ll have to carry is much larger. (Oh, wait. Lest I mislead someone who doesn’t know how much markers can go for…watercolors are likely cheaper in the long run. But the paper used for painting with watercolor, isn’t.)

In those two hours of lectures I sat through, I started doodling in my notes (I’m not going to get into how I got that distracted; my professors know who I am). I just realized that 1) I was experimenting with layering transparent inks to make new colors (yellow with blue, red with violet), 2) what I made could very well be translated into a duochrome block print, and 3) the art thing doesn’t have to be hard.

I’m learning that most things don’t have to be hard, though…

What I was messing around with tonight, were clover and maple leaves (a bright red gel pen helps with the latter!). It seems like everyone has a “thing” that they really love to do, in the art world; I’m fairly certain that my “thing” is plants and flowers.

And with that, it’s almost 1 AM now. This looks like a good stopping point.

(Yes, I do know that I could just work on my school readings at work…but stopping work in order to do a different kind of work, somehow strikes me as getting rid of the reason to have a break in the first place…)

Toyed with FW inks, last night:

I have a little time to write, here, but am not entirely sure of how much use I’ll be.

Yesterday, my godmother came over for a visit, so most of my waking hours were spent with her and M.  I did manage to get in some time to play with colors, but I ended up toying with the acrylic inks instead of dealing with jumping directly back into the watercolors.  (It’s probably because of the packaging, I’m not even kidding:  the FW inks kind of beg to be used in those little glass bottles.)

Taken in filtered daylight
Taken under fluorescent lighting









I have done a bit of an experiment, here, though, with the photography.  I took a bunch of pictures of my work (most of which isn’t up here, because all it is, is my practicing Japanese writing [mostly, the same sentence] in multiple colors and nib sizes), and realized today on upload that I used the wrong lighting setting.  I should have used the “Tungsten” setting instead of the “Fluorescent” setting, as the latter leaves a lot of cleanup work.  The former blues everything out, but it doesn’t leave a heavy orange cast over everything like the “Fluorescent” setting does.

Anyhow…I did the above play last night and was curious about what it would look like under daylight today, so I took a second set of photos.  Both of the photos above have had Levels adjustments applied to them in Photoshop, though surprisingly, the night photo appears a bit clearer in relation to color.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the daylight photo under full daylight?

In any case, these are FW acrylic inks, as mentioned above.  I started out playing with “Rowney Blue” (PB15) + “Yellow Ochre” (PBk7/PY1:1), then — if my memory is correct — expanded to “Dark Green” (PG36) plus “Brilliant Yellow” (PY3/PY83).  There is probably a definite reason to use Brilliant Yellow over Yellow Ochre, given that the former is a slightly more brilliant hue than the latter, and that I’ve read that PY1:1 is to be avoided, as it’s apparently fugitive.

But anyway, I was curious as to what would turn out if I started blending colors which were not adjacent on the color wheel.  Rowney Blue is the nearest FW ink I have to Cyan (though they do make a Process Cyan color) — that is, all the other ones are either more green, or less saturated.  What I did find interesting is how quickly the blue ink tinted to deep green on contact with the Yellow Ochre ink.  I’m not used to a yellow reacting so quickly, visibly and strongly with a blue.  My gradation in this respect is found in the marks which appear to look like a tail, in the above photos.

I also did find with these, though, that if you want a stronger green, you may have to pull in a different pigment.  This is why I started using Dark Green, as I could make some nice greens with the former colors, but they were slightly grayed out.  Dark Green added some vividness, and along with Brilliant Yellow, made some really high-key greens that are visible above the “tail” section, above.

I did find, though, that like acrylic paints, these things dry extremely quickly; and so if you want to get color bleeds like you can in watercolors, you have a very limited time frame (seconds) to do so, before the first layer sets (at top left in the photos, I was moving too slowly).

It’s surprising to me that I was able to get such nice greens out of these colors.  Usually when I think about colors like Hansa Yellow Deep, I don’t think of making excellent greens with them.  To my eye, the yellow leans towards orange; however, maybe my eye is a bit off? and orange-leaning yellows can make saturated greens.

Anyhow, got to go…

Having time to play with art supplies….

Last night I tried out some of the Strathmore 400-Series Mixed Media paper I bought, recently.  I was, in part, just intending to see what the new aquarelles (Supracolors, see here and here and here) looked like on top of this tinted paper, which is fairly predictable given what I’ve seen online.  But still, it is nice to see this without any photographic editing or distortion applied (some of which is inescapable, as we can see more colors than computer monitors can accurately reproduce — not to mention that I’ve heard scanners can “see” more variations in tone than human eyes recognize).

I also tried out a black Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink, using Speedball nibs.  This stuff is amazing — it goes on thick and solid black and dries quickly to a finish that I could not lift with my brush (a real brush, not a travel waterbrush) with significant application of water.

This is — in my experience — better performance than using a black (Faber-Castell) Pitt marker, which I’ve found to run under water washes, and which I’ve been told (by a former fellow student) runs even after 24 hours of drying.  (As a note, I have only experienced this with the Black pens, not the other colors.)  The Pitt markers are relatively excellent, though, so far as the depth of black ink goes.  Until I ran across the Derwent Graphik Line Painters (I’m not sure how long these will continue to be made, considering an experience I recently had), I could not find a blacker tone of black in a marker — granted that I generally have not used paint markers.

But the Bombay ink may actually surpass the Pitt black.  (I have not yet tried the other Ph. Martin’s black inks.)

The Copics and Microns are also decent, if you’re looking for fineliners — though as I said before, my Micron Graphic 1 pen did run under Supracolor laydown and wash (even when it was fine under a pure water wash).  I haven’t tried Supracolor over Bombay yet, though.  And I have also not found Copic or Micron to be as deep in tone…I did some experiments in my youth with black inks; at least in the early 2000’s, it was hard to find a good, deep black ink which would not fade or lift.  I think that at the time, I settled on black Higgins Calligraphy ink, though I can’t be absolutely sure without digging out my archives.

The only downside to the Bombay ink is that it almost immediately dries to stick to the metal nib.  Luckily, Ph. Martin’s does sell a pen cleaner (which I have yet to try; last night was all about soap, water, fingernails, and rubbing alcohol with Q-Tips (the last of which, works) — but I was using Speedball B-series (round) nibs, which are made of multiple metal layers…and I wasn’t into separating them and then trying to get them to go back to where they were before — I’ve found it relatively futile.  The bright point about the B nibs is that they glide over the paper (the tip is flattened), instead of incising it.

I have a variety of steel nibs, a lot of which I want to try again.  They are not all as pleasant to use as these, though, and I am not certain if it is because of the famed anti-rust coating (which I read, a very long time ago, needs to be burned off), or if a sharp new steel nib just rejects ink in general.  I can try again after singeing the nib I tried to use last night, but seriously…I am going to have to get a new lighter, and find the Third Hand…(a free-standing pair of jaws which can stand getting hot — I’ve used these for hard soldering/brazing, before.  Though all the nibs may need is a small flame, I’ve unintentionally softened plier jaws before by the addition of heat — even with as little as a cigarette lighter).

Back to what I began this post talking about…the Strathmore 400-Series Mixed Media paper.  This is much heavier than the paper I’ve seen sold in Canson XL Mixed Media paper pads.  The latter is 98 lb/160 grams per square meter (gsm), while the former is 184 lb/300 gsm.  My lesson on how to interpret the given weights of paper was so long ago and so de-emphasized that I know that one of these weights is relative and variable and the other is not, but I can’t remember which.

In any case, the Strathmore paper I have is very stiff and resistant to warping, almost like Bristol board (or heavier), while the Canson paper is much lighter, possibly better for everyday use — it is something which I wouldn’t feel bad about using up in experimentations or journaling.  Also, the Canson XL pad has 4x as many sheets (60) as the Strathmore pad I’ve got (a high-quality pad with 15 sheets)…though I think I saw this in a thicker pad…which I didn’t get, as I needed to try it out, first.

Strathmore Mixed Media paper, though, comes in tan and grey as well as white — which is a big reason I tried it (I have been curious about tinted paper — particularly the tan Strathmore variants which can take water-based media, since I have decided to stay away from pastels, at least for now).  In addition to watercolor pencil and ink, I also played around with the FW acrylic inks on this, last night.  I did tape the paper down, but at this point I don’t believe that was necessary.  Using tape actually may be a disadvantage with this paper, considering that the Artist’s Tape damaged the paper when it was lifted off…and I didn’t seem to need it.

Just one last note on this before I move on:  I have just found heavier Canson Mixed Media pads online — reading as 138 lb/224 gsm, still a bit lighter than the Strathmore, but decently heavier than 98 lb/160 gsm.  They just are not the ones which are sold as XL pads.  The XL ones are just the ones you’re most likely to see, if my experience is anything to go by (they often go on sale and may be some of the only inexpensive Mixed Media papers to be apparent, depending on what stores you have available).

Anyway, last night I splashed around in some acrylic inks…I do have a test paper, but it’s largely calligraphy (Japanese and English).  What I realized about the FW inks is that you don’t need to have many colors to get a pretty wide range of tints and shades.  The White tone is good for making things more opaque, though the shimmer colors will also opacify a mix (I’m pretty sure I have Sundown Magenta [a pink, sparkly ink which looks like nail polish], which hasn’t really proven all that useful, but it’s interesting to play with).

Last night I was using Flesh Tint, White, Red Earth, Marine Blue, and Purple Lake, before I began to play around with the sparkly Sundown Magenta to make shimmer teals, and started wondering what I was doing.

It is really possible to get a wide range of colors out of not so many of these inks, though.  I got a muted lilac, a muted teal, an inky violet-blue, bright teal, bright violet, pale red-leaning floral violet, a series of skin tones, and a very muted grey (the last, from Red Earth [orange overtone] plus Marine Blue [green overtone].  It looks better than it sounds, apologies for no photo!).  It’s got me wondering what would happen if I intentionally limited my palette…and what this would have looked like on a white paper, as versus a tinted one.

The colors looked relatively thinned out on the scrap of white Canson Mixed Media paper I used, but it’s very possible that this is because I was running low on ink in my palette.  I’ve noticed that the FW inks tend to get thin if only, say, a drop or two are dispensed at a time.  Coverage is great and intense for a little while, then things start to get paler with the addition of proportionally more and more water from the brush.

It needs to be decently thick — maybe like egg-yolk consistency, or a little thinner — to be able to appear brilliant.  And then the tinting strength of each ink is extremely variable, though that should go without saying for any paints or inks.  It’s just that some of these inks will run out (much) faster than others…again, a common sentiment.

With this stuff, I’m also using disposable palette sheets — I’ve already ruined one palette by letting the acrylic inks dry to a film on there…at least with the sheets (reliably white background), I know I’ll be able to tell what colors I’m mixing and what they actually look like.

If things happen the way I plan, tomorrow, I hope to get FW Flame Orange, Indigo, and Prussian Blue inks (I really want to mix decent greens, as I dislike the Emerald Green color I’ve got — and I was mistaken in assuming I had Prussian Blue.  I also want to see if Indigo is violet-leaning enough to give decent violets…I don’t think so, but it’s worth a shot).  I also should check for other B-series Speedball nibs (I have B-6, B-5 [2], B-3 [2], and B-1:  leaving B-4, B-2, and B-0).  I actually haven’t used the calligraphy Speedball nibs I got at the Japanese stationery store — but I think C-5 was the one I destroyed as I was trying to fix it.

Aside from that, I want to get a Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen Cleaner.  I’m also thinking about a decent detail watercolor brush — my favorite one is a size 3, which may still be a bit big for comic illustrations.  I’d just be looking for something tiny, sharp, and stiff — not unlike my Niji waterbrush, but not my Niji waterbrush (I wouldn’t be able to get acrylic out of there).  The great thing about this is that tiny brushes are often cheap — even really good ones.

I was also thinking about sepia ink, but at this point I think that would be overkill, especially as I still have about half a bottle left of Walnut Ink (though I’m not sure if it’s waterproof).  And copying Koko Be Good isn’t high on my list of things to do.  I’ll see if I can make things work with the acrylic inks — and check out the Bombay inks sometime after I can earn more…

One last note on process, and that is:  if I do want to make a webcomic or graphic novel (the former is preferable for a number of reasons), and I want to make it by hand and then do the assembly on the computer, it will be to my advantage to create the art larger than it has to be, and then resize it and letter it, after scanning.

This also means that I don’t have to draw the final artwork by hand, in position, and then scan it in.  I should also be able to fit in much more detail, this way.  The big thing that I might want to learn how to do, prior to this, though, is how to create what I think is a Layer Mask (in printmaking, I think this would be called a “Key”) which has all of the black components selected, so that I can scan a black-and-white copy of the linework, go on to paint the original artwork, but then also be able to overlay the outlines back on top of the scanned and colored image, in order to preserve the integrity of those lines.

Or, I could color things digitally (not what I want to do, for a number of reasons), or use (actually) transparent inks so that it isn’t an issue, at all.