Prepping for creative work.

Surprisingly, I was able to get out of the house today. A lot of people are staying indoors because there’s still a lot of smoke here from the Butte County fire. Not to minimize the destruction of that fire, but the air has been unhealthful for days.

Depending on the air quality, I might be working later this week more than I had anticipated; my school work-load has recently sharply decreased. I decided to hit the art store, today, in celebration of having free time again.

This time, I actually had a medium and project in mind. As you may have seen, very early this morning I was playing around with WordPress’s new editor. It’s inspired me to try my hand at webcomics. Kind of interesting how something like the structure of a content editor can matter…

Anyhow — just to remind myself in the future; today I got a bottle of ink and some brushes which were approximately $35 for a set of 5, due to multiple discounts. They’re Princeton Neptune brand. I had originally set out to get one good-sized natural hair brush, but seriously, good natural-hair watercolor brushes in a decent size are fairly expensive, and I didn’t see any with the dimensions I wanted.

(It is easier to want a brush before you’ve actually seen and held it.)

The Neptunes are supposed to be good at holding paint. Maybe late Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll be able to play with them, more than just washing them out, as I did tonight. Then I’ll be able to see if they dispense paint (or ink) as well as they hold it.

I still haven’t decided whether to go in to work more later this week…

And — right! I also got a copy of the Iowa Review 48(2) and one of Granta 144. They’re both literary magazines, and as such, aren’t available at my library. I may have to do this, more. Because I’m so new to litmags, I don’t yet have a feel for what type of stories and poetry each magazine tends to have.

However, if I’m going to be writing stuff, it would help to read again. Litmags have short stories and poetry from different authors, so there isn’t too much of an investment in any one. They’re also fairly contemporary, and a good way to keep one’s finger on the pulse of new talent.

I still haven’t decided whether I want to get seriously back into writing, and if so, what I want to do with it. There’s the possibility of contributing to magazines, publishing directly to the Web as a staff writer or blogger, or running my own website. In long-form, the choices are self-publishing in an eBook or Print-on-Demand format, or going through traditional Publishing houses.

Due to my experience in Collection Development this semester, I’ve found some interesting outlets for eBooks and online litmags — though still, nothing compares to going to a bookstore and being able to browse. It’s just easier.

And then…there’s the possibility of just dealing with this here. I could run a blog, and publish comics to it. Of course, given my background, they’re likely not to be…well, intentionally funny.

Unless I go there. I can go there. It’s just not my first goal.

Anyway — for now, I’ve decided to work with Microns plus ink wash, for any comics I make. Or — I could use dip pens plus the ink I just got, though that requires some preparation of the nibs; and that requires either flame or boiling in a chemical-safe, non-food container. I do need a new lighter, but that’s easy enough to replace. I also need to find the Third Hand — it’s basically a pair of tweezers on a base.

The problem with holding nibs in pliers and then burning off the anti-rust coating with open flame is that it also heats up the plier nibs. That can distort them and make them useless. I learned the hard way.

By the way, it’s not my responsibility if you try this. It only takes a touch of the lighter, but you can get burned or worse, especially if there’s any grease.

Aside from this, I should work on my project due tomorrow. Not that I think any of us in the class, actually want to. It’s tough to write to a standard format. Kind of sucks all the joy out of it.

But I can do it. Just for the sake of not washing my GPA down the drain as my last action in this program. 🙂

Advertisements

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.

Hmm.

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…

A use, a frame, a narrative

A family member once told me that when they were in art classes, they could copy what they saw, but when they tried to draw from imagination, it was very hard for them.

I was thinking about this last night, as the image of an Artist Trading Card featuring the Golden Gate Bridge came to my mind. Some of the details of the insight that came along with this have been lost to…well, melatonin, let’s say…but I realized that having a use for my art would be one thing to motivate me to do it.

As well, the image was at least setting up a narrative, if it were not a narrative itself. That narrative framed the scope of the project. I did see the use of the bounds of the image as in some way a metaphor for the frame of the message it was intending to get across (even though I envisioned the interior of the design extending beyond the literal frame).

On top of that, the narrative takes precedence over realism, meaning that I don’t have to copy reality in order to get my narrative across.

I’m not sure if I’m making sense, here, but the idea for the image came from questioning if I had hot-press or plate watercolor paper on which to draw comic illustrations. (If not, I know I have Bristol board.) I think I need to lighten up on myself about whether I’m doing things “right,” and just start to do them. Then I can see where it goes, instead of stopping before I start because I don’t think I’m doing it correctly.

But I think having a use, a frame, and a narrative will help me narrow down the scope of what I do. I remember now that I had been considering using my steel-nib dip pens and black ink, and I thought that maybe having a constraint in my technique (such as: no pushing the nib forward to make lines, unless using a cartooning or calligraphy nib) would cut down on my creative options enough so that my content would be easier to express.

I’ve also wanted to get back into calligraphy. Not Japanese calligraphy, but English-language. There is one beautiful red-orange calligraphy ink I saw the other day, which piqued my interest (it looks as though it will contrast well with black).

I had one calligraphy book I was working through, which actually did improve my regular handwriting, as well as my decorative handwriting. And I can practice on top of translucent Layout paper, which will likely be a good solution (I used to send out letters to friends, written on translucent papers — it was just my style).

I also have an Ames Lettering Guide, from the time I wanted to work on comics.

I think I am just wanting to combine text and image, and text and narrative, again. The major thing that has stopped me in my studies of comics, and graphic novels, have been the dispositions of the comic authors I’d likely have to study to learn the craft. There’s a lot of politics, there.

Though I generally consider myself open-minded, sometimes things are just offensive to me — particularly historical work made for a nationalistic, non-minority audience (if you get my drift). I’m not entirely sure what to do about that, except limit my exposure to just reading more recent works and international works, to which I’m not so emotionally tied.

Anyhow, I have a thought of where to start.

What do I do with my time?

Today was almost totally wasted asleep. I should have taken medication and gone to bed earlier, last night, but there were other things on my mind. Part of that happened to be reading over my backposts for the last semester.

The most bizarre thing about that is the fact that I had been aiming to work on sewing for most of Fall 2017, but didn’t realize it. I actually didn’t cut apart my pattern pieces for the monpe I wished to work on, until earlier this week (well, last week — it’s Sunday still, right?). I still haven’t cut out the pieces for the mockup muslin garment (or toile), though that wasn’t what I had planned to do, today.

What I had initially planned to do was to go out for one or two Fat Quarters in orange and yellow, though I found later (yesterday, actually) that we already had enough here for me to work with. Apparently, my and M’s tastes in color are complementary, with her range toward red/orange/yellow, and mine toward green/blue/violet/pink (pink is desaturated magenta, not red…I probably shouldn’t get into the color theory now).

When I found out I didn’t have to go out, though — and I accidentally slept with the blinds closed — I didn’t wake up until after noon. It didn’t help that it was dark outside from all the clouds. I think I got up, ate breakfast, did something at the computer (I remember turning the lights on instead of opening the blinds — this being apparently more effective), and went back to bed because it was warmer there. I didn’t wake up after that, until D woke me for dinner.

Last night, though…like I said, I had been reading over last semester’s posts, and realized that I had purchased a number of paints that I had never even tried to use. That, in turn, reminded me of my Final Project in Web Design, which I had initially wanted to take much farther than I did, or could, just as a Final Project. I think I still have the papers around here where I was brainstorming a more complete version of it.

The thing about this, though, is that I made a paint table with all the paints I had used in research for the project which I had information about (it kind of goes without saying, but I did use the color wheel I had made in 2007, which used paints which had no pigment code labeling [Scarlet Lake what?]). This included color swatches.

When I set up the final page, though, I found that my color range was skewed toward warm colors. This is the reason I tried to find the Quinacridone Magenta, earlier; though at this point, I haven’t even tried to use the Magenta, unfortunately.

There are a couple of other paints like this, though I’d have to look through my stash to see what I bought and have never used. It would be faster than looking through six months of blog postings.

I also think…that I should take that Web Design Final and just use it as a launching point for a more advanced project. I’m looking at what is there now, and it’s passable as a proof-of-concept type of thing…though in reality, if I make a website that I want to make — as versus something that fulfills various technical requirements — it will look different.

There are two main paths I’m considering: one is using WordPress.org for a baseline thing to toy around with, which should be fairly direct, as I already have been using WordPress.com. However, there is some knowledge I will need which I don’t have, yet (particularly, setting up an SFTP link between myself and the server).

The second option is to build the site from the ground up. This may be a simpler and more powerful option in the long run, and it won’t save me from the SFTP work. But I will need to study and work at it; and I guess the question is whether it’s more important to me to build and tinker with the code itself, or whether it’s more important to get my content out there.

The bright part of this is that building the site will likely give me marketable skills…until technology moves on.

Not to mention, I do have a tool which allows me to run local versions of sites, so I don’t have to wait to set myself up with server-space rental in order to start playing around with visualizing and coding this. More importantly, though: if I want to make a site, it would make sense to start in hard copy, with paper prototypes (ha ha paper prototypes), and really figure out what content I want to post, and why.

I also gotta be honest with myself and realize that the next year is likely going to be taken up with piecing together my portfolio for graduation. I don’t think that’s going to be fun. I meant to get started with it earlier in Winter Break, but it didn’t happen. I just somehow started thinking about how to enjoy my time on the planet (while I still have it) instead of working on graduation. 😡

Anyhow. I need to be working on driving, too, but somehow this is not seen as prime driving instruction time by my family?

What I thought of doing today — while I was awake, that is — was to make a chart by which I could actually tell if the pigments I’ve been told are fugitive, actually are (particularly, Aureolin). I could also work on seeing what colors I actually have, by swatching out what I’ve never even tested.

And I could do some more reading in that comics-making book I asked M and D for, for Xmas. I have enough materials to make a comic. I think I just have to be brave enough to express myself in a scenario and plot…

…unfortunately, what’s currently on my mind is the possibility of unrecognized forms of life communicating with people telepathically. I didn’t really want to get into tin-hat territory, but I can see how one could, now…

Release

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…

2808w

Recovering back to where I was earlier:

I’ve been at my computer for a good amount of time, today.  It does require effort to juggle three classes at once; one of which, I was barely even aware of falling behind in, until I started rooting around in the Learning Management System (LMS).  Luckily, I’m only behind in the readings…also luckily, we’re less than a week into the semester, and I’ve turned in the majority of my homework.  I think what I still need to work on, is just responding to others.

I have more (hope) than a drop of sunshine that I will indeed be able to handle these three classes, plus work, art and exercise.  (If that makes sense?  Yes, I’m probably referencing one or more of my citrine crystals, which in turn reference gem lore which I’ve probably only retained subconsciously — and energetic impressions, which…well, I am highly interested in color and its emotional and mental effects, what can I say…)  Tonight, I have also been looking back through my archives, and found an entry from a while back which it might be good to “reset” to.

Recently, I’ve been working with the watercolor pencils, plus acrylic inks, fineliners, and some drawing which felt intense, even if it wasn’t.  😉  (I’ve also started to branch back into interests in sewing and embroidery, which is a relief just from being content-neutral and fiddly enough to sate my desire to manually puzzle things out.)

I’m thinking that I will be better off coloring my illustrations with watercolor, at this point, than I will be with utilizing acrylic ink.  I have finer control with the former, stemming from greater experience.  After dealing with inking and colors, I can see where I stand in regard to using the acrylic inks as a serious art medium (as versus an experimental one).  Though, of course, that will take more experiments.

But I want to get back to color studies, specifically with the watercolors.  I also have a good deal of gouache which I think will be useful…and I have recalled the lamination film I bought just to make bookmarks.  This could keep me busy.

I think maybe I’ve been spoiled on having good-quality paints…the colors in all of my paints are just seriously vibrant.  Possibly moreso, than my pencils, aquarelles, and the acrylic inks I currently have (though the last are decent — just not great).  Pencils and aquarelles are useful, don’t get me wrong — but for me the usefulness is in the portability and cleanliness.  I’m not completely certain, but I feel the chroma (color intensity) of colored pencils and aquarelles, suffers a bit in comparison to the character of paint.

I can even work with heavy-body acrylics, on canvas — I have canvas pads which are a very forgiving surface for experimentation, even though they warp with water.  I could then cut apart a composition and layer different elements together.

Not to mention that I’ve nearly entirely lost the linocutting thread that I had at the beginning of Summer.  I want to get back to that.

I’m not too hot on either of the character drawings I did a little bit ago…which is as good a reason as any to experiment on them.  I may not be planning on working on my story, but I can still play with drawings.  (I’ve also realized that I’ve hit the *ahem* “Precious Point,” I guess I’ll call it, which has stalled me out on working on either of them; a.k.a., “I don’t want to ruin it!”)

At some point, though, an image either has to develop or it has to be abandoned or finished…there’s not much point to freezing for an indefinite amount of time, until — until what, until my skills or “vision” get better? — which won’t happen if I don’t push myself to gain the experience of working through this.  The alternative is stunted growth, fear, and a bunch of half-finished (or barely-begun) drawings.

I’ll need to have some practice at drawing, inking, and coloring, in order to deal with this at all in the future, as well.  So there’s really no point to giving up illustration — even if it is difficult for me to develop, in words, the story which the illustrations support.

I think I’m ready to try and get some sleep, now.  It shouldn’t be too hard…

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.