Friday, April 29, 2016

Koh-I-Noor Artists' Drawing Pencil Lead 5.6 mm

Received this set of 5.6 mm lead for my clutch pencil yesterday.  Although purchased through Amazon, it came from the United Kingdom.  I was pleased at the speed in which it came too considering where it was coming from.  I had placed my order on April 17th with an estimated delivery date of May 12-26th; however, I received it yesterday April 28th.

Koh-I-Noor Artists' Drawing Pencils

The last set of 2 mm colored lead I received days ago were waxy color pencil like lead.  These here are more chalky and what I was hoping for.

Here is a quick chart I did last night.  The one thing lacking on this chart is testing how well they erase.  One will definitely have to use a fixative to keep these from smearing but love the blending quality.

The Charcoal is super dark and I had a problem being able to achieve a nice value scale.  Would definitely save that for when I needed a real dark area applied and using the Gray for the other values.

The White I also struggled achieving a good value scale but I think that was from operator malfunction ...... not what the lead itself will do ;-)  I did find when using a tortillon that more rubbed off than actually blended.  I need to work with that a bit more to see if that's just the nature of the white or problem with the one using it.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

New Journal - Handmade Journal

Today hubby and I decided to go sight seeing, checking out Carney Island Recreation and Conservation park and Silver Glen Springs in the Ocala National Forest.

Although I took my painting gear with me, I ended up only taking photos.

Carney Island didn't really intrigue us enough to hang around long so we took a few photos and headed for our next destination.

Now Silver Glen Springs was really nice and we did walk around until my hip started rebelling.  Plus Terry and I both found we were magnets for ticks.  Ticks we'd never seen before.  These were little brown ticks with a white spot on the middle of their backs.  I HATE TICKS and had enough and we decided to leave.  Next time we'll think to bring a spray hoping to keep them at bay.

Anyways........when we returned home, I had a package waiting for me and it was this new journal I wanted to try.

It's from Global Art Materials - Journal Co.

When I first opened it, my excitement quickly faded as I was taken back by the texture of the paper.  In a video I had seen with an artist using this same journal, it did NOT look as rough as the one I received.  Plus the signatures are really loose inside the casing.  I honestly wonder if the book will hold up from first to last page of use.  For hours I debated whether I'd keep the book or not as it wasn't exactly cheap and I wasn't feeling real thrilled with my purchase.

Later this evening, I decided why not keep it and see how I do with the paper.  I'd never know unless I tried.  And if the book falls apart.............well it falls apart and I'll just deal with it.  Because I've made my own, I might be able to re-sew the signatures should they get too bad.  I do like the hard book casing and love the deckle edges :-)

UPDATE 04/26/16 on Journal Book: didn't take long before it fell apart.  Working on a third page and this is what I have to fix now.......

For my first go at using this journal and using a Platinum Carbon Desk pen, I worked a quick sketch of what I could remember of a scene from Carney Island.  I won't know how well my memory served me until I upload my photos but this evening I didn't feel like messing with them.

I found although the paper was rough, my pen handled it quite well.  The paper is a bit like a sponge so very light work with the pen still ended up with dark lines.  It was actually kind of fun lightly floating the pen nib across the paper.

Next was the application of paint.  I decided to work wet in wet and I used my good #8 Sable brush.  I am glad I decided to try this paper because I honestly enjoyed it.  The paper stays wet for quite awhile working wet in wet.  It was actually a nice change working on rough paper compared to the  smoother paper surfaces I've been using for so long.

Here are the results of my watercolor sketch I quickly worked this evening.  I was a bit timid with color as I didn't know what to expect.  I could go back to add deeper values but I think I'll just leave it as is.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

MEMTEXTs Color Carbon Leads 2mm / 2B

I'm such a sucker for art supplies buying new things to try out.  Yesterday I received an order of the MEMTEXTs Color Carbon Leads for a 2mm Mechanical Pencil.  These color leads are 2B.

On Amazon it's stated these are best used for Adult Coloring Books, which may very well be the case.  The paper that makes up these coloring books may have a toothier paper surface the lead adheres to better than, let's say, smooth like I tested.  I wouldn't know because I don't have a coloring book to try these out on.

One review that stood out to me was the fact they are light in color value and was not satisfactory to that person.  I don't recall if that individual shared what paper they tried their pencil leads on.

Being the person I am......curious and liking to experiment, I purchased a set.

That person is indeed right, although you can go dark if enough force is applied when laying down color.  That would quickly become cumbersome though, I'm sure, for most people.

This little example was done in a PaperBlank's journal which has a slick/smooth paper surface.
I've included on the example my own thoughts and personal findings.  Personally they are nothing more than colored pencils in a format to fit a mechanical pencil.  Great for making up a small sketch kit without having to take a tin of regular sized color pencils; BUT, definitely too much work would have to go into obtaining darker values for my liking.

I've been on the hunt for tinted "graphite" that behaves like regular graphite one can smudge and blend with a tortillion or paper stump.  These definitely do not fit that bill.

I have a set of Koh-I-Noor Gioconda 5.6mm Artists Drawing leads on order and can't wait to try them out.  They come in a set of six (browns/sepias, black, and white).  Will share my findings once I've received and had a chance to try them out :-)

Late Night Sketching - Mushrooms

It was one of those nights I just couldn't sleep so I sat up watching TV and sketched these dried mushrooms I've hung onto for years.

This time I used another of my favorite mechanical pencils that I haven't had for very long.  It's a 2 mm mechanical with a 4B lead.  A real joy to use!

Worked in the Handbook journal.

Again a bit conservative in going too dark but this pencil lead can do the job beautifully.  Another smooth lead that blends nicely and erases easily (at least on this paper surface).

New Toy - 5.6 mm Clutch Pencil and First Sketch

Yesterday I received a Clutch pencil with a 5.6mm lead.  I had seen someone in one of the groups share a picture of their sketching tools and noticed one in particular similar to this.  Of course I had to go searching online and purchase one.  :-)

I'll have to do a bit more research to learn how to sharpen the point but the lead came sharpened and I had a wonderful first time using it.

UPDATE 4/22/16:  This clutch has a built in sharpener there at the end where you advance the lead.  You unscrew it and place that end cap over the lead and turn.  Easy!  

The casing is heavy but it didn't seem to bother my hand.  There are three grooves that run the length of the casing which gives it a nice grip when holding it.  They would probably help keep the clutch pencil from rolling but the clip stops that anyway.

UPDATE 4/22/16:  The more I play with this clutch, the more I appreciate the weight.  It just feels good.......balanced.

The lead was a real joy to work with.........smooth and blended well.  It was also easy to erase with a putty eraser.

UPDATE 4/22/16:  I'm still trying to find out what hardness the lead is that comes in this clutch pencil.  One individual on Amazon thinks a 6B and another thinks it's only a 2B.  To me it seems softer than a 2B but until I purchase the other hardness leads you can get (4B and 6B), I'll personally not know for sure.  Here is another page I quickly worked this morning with the lead that comes in pencil:

2nd UPDATE on Hardness:  Company wrote me back and said the lead is definitely a 4B :-)

Here is a first example worked in the Handbook.  I was a bit conservative with my darks but I'm sure this pencil lead can go much darker.  (Yep as the value chart above shows uploaded today 4/22/16)

New Bird for Me

Yesterday I happened to be looking outside my Florida room when a bird grabbed my attention when landing on one of the arms of our bird feeder pole.

I eased up closer to the windows and saw it was a bird I'd never seen before.  I debated whether I should bother running for my camera or not as I figured by the time I chose to do so, he'd fly off.  However, he didn't.  I managed one photo while on the feeder arm but he then swooped down to the ground and up in the tree immediately above.  As I aimed my camera, he flew up to another branch but then stayed there long enough for me to get a few photos.

As a bonus to capturing a bird I hadn't seen before, he had breakfast in his mouth but I had no idea until I pulled the photos up on my computer.  Lucky shot for me!

I've surfed the internet trying to identify this bird and even posting on Facebook hoping someone might recognize it.

Between a few people saying what they thought it might be and my surfing the net, I've narrowed it down to two main possibilities.  It's definitely a flycatcher but the actual name or type is what I'm still a little unsure of.

At first I thought maybe an eastern phoebe but the color and markings didn't quite match up with various photos I came across.  Then thought maybe a Yellow Belly Flycatcher but it appears to be rare for this area so I kind of dismissed it.  Continued looking and thought maybe a Great Crested Flycatcher or even an Acadian.  Between these mentioned, this bird leans more towards either the Great Crested Flycatcher or the Yellow Belly Flycatcher.  Due to the brightness of yellow and the two definite white wing bars, I'm really thinking it's the Yellow Belly.  If it is, then I'm extremely fortunate to have seen this beautiful bird in my own back yard.

Here is the photo and my watercolor sketch of it in my hand sewn journal.  Used a Platinum Carbon Desk pen for the line work.

UPDATE on Identification:  I now am 98% sure what type bird this guy is.  He showed up again just a little while ago and I was able to get a closer look and at a better angle where I saw his crest.  So he's a Great Crested Flycatcher.  I paid attention to his call and immediately went online to listen to sounds this species makes and the sounds I heard are identical to what this guy was making.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Darsie Beck Field Easel Art Bag - UPDATE

What I have done to make this bag even more convenient for myself.  Here is the original post when I first received the bag........

Here is how I've set it up.......(click on each for a larger size image)

1)  The strap by itself has ribbed material that I felt was too uncomfortable around my neck and shoulder.  I purchased the strap wrap through Amazon which has made a huge difference in comfort.

2)  Cut the backing from a watercolor block down in size to fit in the back pocket and added four bull clips.......two medium and two large.  Later picture will show what I use them for.

3)  Another angle of bag with sketching gear.

4)  Inside has my 5 x 7 sketch journal, wallet, tool pouch you attach to strap with velcro (comes that way), and painting palette I created using a NeoColor II tin.

5)  Also purchased this Cacoon Grid it Organizer from Amazon.  I have that for additional sketching tools but primary reason I bought it was to add stability to the bag itself for when I use the easel.  This goes into the under flap zippered compartment.

6)  That compartment zipped closed.  Partially showing on either side of the bag is a tiny flask with water (left as you view this) and camera and keys attached on the other side.  In mesh pockets are tissues and folded paper towel plus the top cut off of a sock to wear on my wrist to wipe my waterbrush on between colors.

7)  This shows what I use that watercolor block backing cut down I have clips attached to.  This gives me added room making easel area wider.  I slip the backing board inside the back cover of my journal; the two larger clips holding journal, backing board to easel flap of bag, and then the medium clips holding my palette in place.

8)  My husband modeling for me :-)

Friday, April 15, 2016

What Happened to Me in March?

Getting ready to file my digital art files in the proper folders, I discover I have basically skipped the Month of March with the few journal pages I managed to work.  I've been a bit out of it ........ just haven't been all that inspired.  But I did manage a few pages other than what I have shared with the Pokemon catches.

This first is a palette/color chart I added to my home sewn journal I am working in.  

While watching TV, I did these pen sketches in the PaperBlank journal using a ballpoint pen.

Page in the Handbook journal using pencil of one of my Jade plants.

Another page in the PaperBlank journal with ballpoint pen.

Hand-sewn Journal recording one of my Christmas gifts hubby and sons gave me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Following an Excellent Video Tutorial - Graphite

I am always surfing the web looking at other peoples' artwork, ideas, and tutorials.  One of my favorite go to spots is YouTube as there are so many excellent tutorials shared by many generous artists.

When I stumble on a favorite, I will subscribe and this is one I just came across a couple of days ago and was eager to try.

I was so impressed by his video and ease in following the steps that I replayed and worked right along with him pausing as I needed.  What made this particular tutorial special is the fact it covered the type owls we have in our front yard hooting and screeching every evening.

Not taking credit as my own (as the credit goes to Chris) but instead just sharing what I managed from following this fantastic tutorial.   I truly enjoyed doing this!!  I love the technique shared by this particular artist, and am sure I can apply it to my own references down the road.  In addition, I truly believe a beginner would find the tutorial easy to follow as to me it was just that good.

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your methods and encouraging viewers to try their hand at it.

Worked on Bristol Smooth paper pad (5" x 5") and two mechanical pencils..........I believe one is an .07 lead and the other (which I mainly used) is a Staedtler Mars Technico with 4B lead (love this mechanical pencil!!).  I used a tortillion to smudge the graphite as I worked the layers.

The Nomad Artist Satchel

I've held off writing about this only because I've tried very hard to like it and say all good things about it.  Unfortunately, it is not going to work for me.

When the first kickstarter came out selling this satchel, I was interested but wanted to wait until others had actually tried it.  Plus at the time it was a bit pricey for our financial situation.

A friend in one of my groups had purchased from the first kickstarter and decided it wasn't for her and offered to sell it to me.  Although interested, again bad timing.

At a later time, I had my name added to a mailing list showing interest should the Nomad be offered again and missed out on a limited supply that remained after the first kickstarter.

Then last year orders were being taken by those who were interested in pre-ordering a second production and I decided to go ahead and purchase even though the price had gone up.  The gentleman selling these Nomads was super good at keeping us all informed with updates on every step of preparation and production until months later they were finished and shipped out.

The concept is wonderful and if you really would like to know more about it, this link to their site would better explain it.  What I found to be a problem might not be for other folks.

And here is one of several videos showing the Nomad and what you can carry in it and how you use it.

My personal findings:

1)  The satchel appears to be made with good materials and craftsmanship minus an issue I found with mine I'll explain later.

2)  I find for me the satchel to be a bit on the heavy side even without anything added to it.  I can't even imagine the weight once it's loaded with materials I'd like to put in it.  But in all fairness, what might be heavy for one person may not be to another.

3)  Personally, I would have liked it better if a little roomier inside.  Even without anything in it, it's "full" just with the inserts.  Once art supplies are added, along with a paper sketchpad, it bulges.  So much so that I wouldn't want to take a chance adding an ipad to the outside padded pocket that is shown on site and/or in the video.  I would also worry about extended stress on the outer zipper over time and whether it would hold up or not.

4)  There are two inserts that have these bands (one on either side of the with vertical bands and one with horizontal bands......that velcro to the inside front and back covers.  One side has the zippered netting that helps keep supplies in place.  Major problem with mine is the fact these inserts are cut too close to the overall size of the satchel making it difficult to zip closed.  The banded insert on the side of the zippered netting is too large for the area and to make it fit causes the center to buckle (won't lay flat).  Even then, I struggle zipping the netting without catching the edge of the insert.

Because of this buckling, anything I place on that side is going to be pushed into the other side where the sketch pad is.  To me that might present a problem marring the pad with dents or impressions, etc.  No way could I consider putting a thicker journal or sketchbook (which I would prefer over a sketch pad).

Not sure if all are like this or if only a few.  Maybe this second order production is different from the first because pictures I saw showed the inserts that hold the sketch pad and supplies to be smaller than the overall case.

5)  I love the fact it has the tripod adapter plate and I love the idea of the sling making it into a portable table.  Unfortunately the most important aspect of any satchel is being able to take the materials needed when out sketching on location and for me it's not going to work with the satchel I received.

This photo is one angle showing the bow or buckle with the insert in place.

Second photo with it laying flat on the table surface and how it bows.

Shows just how close the insert fits compared to the overall size of the satchel and zipper.


I'm actually sorry I spent the money for this.  Great concept but............falls short for what I need and to my liking.

I actually prefer the Darsie Field Bag over this and it's less expensive.

New Brush Set by MyArtscape

Always looking for new travel sketching toys, I came across this brush set on Amazon, manufactured by MyArtscape (aka Pegasus Guild).

What I liked about this set are the ultra short brush handles and the nice travel case they come in.  The brushes themselves are about 5 3/4" from tip of brush to bottom of handle.

Click on each picture and you can see a larger image.......


Upon receipt of this set, I discovered one little issue and that was the ferrules on five out of the seven brushes felt loose and "rocked" a bit on the handles.  Initially I was rather disappointed but it's an easy fix adding a bit of glue to secure those loose ferrules and the brush hairs really appear to be of a good quality.............and honestly speaking, the price is very reasonable.

With the discovery of the loose ferrules, I submitted a review on Amazon about my disappointment and to my surprise I received a response (soon after the review went live) on Amazon as well as an email from the manufacturer reaching out to me about what I had written about.

MyArtscape's customer service is superb!  It's not every day a company writes to the customer.........normally it's the other way around when a problem arises.  Quality control and customer satisfaction is very important to this company and I find that to be an extreme positive attribute!  They were quick to want to make things right for me and said their production and quality of these brushes would be followed up on.

One of the biggest pluses (to me) with this set is the case itself....especially the size.  Because I'm always looking for new ideas for small sketching travel kits, it took no time to come up with this idea.

One can lay a small moleskine watercolor sketchbook inside between brush area and the flap that folds over and closes with the magnetic closure (which I love).  Close that up and then slide a thin watercolor palette (in my case a converted NeoColor II tin) and pull the string tight to secure the palette in place.  Perfect little glove box or grab and go sketching kit.

As for the brushes, one might find they prefer to carry other sketching tools in addition to a couple or instead of the brushes that come with the set.  In my case, I chose to include the small flat and liner brush that came with the set and replaced the other brushes with tortillion, Micron pen, Waterbrush, Platinum Carbon Pen (cut down to size), and mechanical pencil.

Am I happy with my purchase???  YES, I am!  I even made a few marks on paper with each of the brushes and liked my initial feel of how they performed.  The flats have nice flat and crisp edges and the rounds are nicely pointed.  Of course I'll know more after I've used them a few to several times if they maintain the nice edges and points.  :-)

Note:  The set includes a 1/2" rake brush (believe that's what it's called).

Example page worked in the Strathmore Watercolor Journal.

Friday, April 8, 2016

What I've Been Up To Lately

The last several weeks have been interesting to say the least with a few various challenges and changes for the family.  One change -adapting to new daily routines.  Youngest son obtained a Presidential Scholarshop for HVAC schooling out of the clear blue and left for six weeks in Texas.  It happened within just a few days and he was gone.  Daughter in law and oldest son obtained jobs needing us to keep the granddaughters after school (oldest early in the morning as well).  And dealing with another aging dog and issues that come with that.

With all the changes, I haven't exactly been in the art mode so as a change of pace (or escape), I've been playing Pokemon.  Yes at almost 60 I like the Pokemon games.  My youngest son, husband, nephews and I all play these games.

Almost two years ago I started Omega Ruby finishing the main game and collecting all the game's pokemon to fill the region pokedex.  Then I concentrated on completing the National Pokedex that has over 700 pokemon (a collection from all the games to date).

Note:  One of the primary reasons I was determined to fill the pokedexes was to obtain what is called a Shiny Charm in order to make shiny hunting odds a little more favorable should I decide to attempt that (more about this below).

When I learned that Sun and Moon would be coming out this Holiday season marking the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, I decided to get Alpha Sapphire and work it.............also completing the game pokedex and the National on it.  To complete the National, I needed to go back and finish my Pokemon X game and worked through Pokemon Y until I reached the area for a legendary I needed and traded with family for the rest.  I still needed about eight legendaries total and most were provided to me by my youngest Nephew.

I had heard about and read so much about shiny hunting that I decided to try my hand at catching the rare shiny pokemon.  One needs a lot of patience to continuously search for particular sprites until a shiny shows up.  Shinies are nothing more than different color pokemon from the normal colors (what might be a normal brown pokemon might be all green, etc.)  No special abilities or anything.  But because they are rare, people find it exciting to hunt and actually come across one.

Although I haven't been much into the art mode, I did record my achievements in my Paperblank journal.  As you can see, I've been quite successful.

It started out I just wanted to catch one to say I'd caught one.  In the first day, I caught three.  After that when I didn't have anything better to do, I'd pick the game up and hunt for others.  As of today, I have nine.  It can be addicting :-)

Summary Sheet I put together from my journal pages and other notes I had scribbled while hunting.  

SL stands for Search Level or how many encounters it took for me to finally get a shiny of a particular pokemon (you decide on a particular pokemon and then repeatedly perform a search for it.).  As you can see, a few took awhile and a lot of patience/perseverance.  :-O  

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