Momentary Disappearance (Pt. 1)

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I wasn’t expecting to have a break in content but it’s been a busy few weeks. I decided earlier in the year that I wouldn’t force new content through if it wasn’t forthcoming- and it really wasn’t- so that’s why I took a break. But if all things go according to plan (which they never do) things should be more consistent soon. I’m hoping that this consistency will also reintroduce creative content as a more regular inclusion, as that has been practically non-existent for some time. There are reasons for that, though.

Most of which are related to the acquisition of materials.

There’s definitely been a continued trend of running into issues with various materials for numerous reasons this year. But (hopefully) those issues should be sorted with recent acquisitions. I wouldn’t count on every issue being sorted, though. Just that things are easier to do now because I’ve got materials that I’m confident won’t repeatedly stop working properly.

I’ve managed to get the full set of Faber Castell Polychromos, which is a pretty important acquisition as I can now illustrate so many more things than I ever could before as I had such a limited selection of colours with the old set. I also decided to try a 0.05 Copic Multiliner as I’ve run into more problems replacing the 0.03 nib. I’m starting to think that it’s just too small (and therefore too fragile) to replace properly. It’ll either work or it won’t, which, if it doesn’t, I’ve pretty much wasted my money. As I’ll just need to get new nibs again. So (hopefully) the 0.05 nib will be thicker and sturdier. The 0.05 is also a more appropriate nib for the things I like to do. It’s a nice compromise between the 0.1 nib and something thinner.

I’ve also spent a while sorting through my various materials and old sketchbooks recently. I’ve mostly worked out a way to store things that works for both long term storage and short term usage, which is nice, as I’ve been trying to do that for a while, which should hopefully make me more productive. Especially when I’m now able to select a set of materials easily. I’ve even got a box of painting supplies which has my recently acquired Winsor & Newton Galeria tubes in it. I’ll be testing those to see if they’re any better than the Daler Rowney System 3 tubes.

I really hope you’re enjoying the use of acquired and/or acquisition.

I’ve even invested in digital painting and illustrating by replacing my Wacom Bamboo with a Wacom Intuos Pro. It’s a fairly standard upgrade, which is ridiculously noticeable as I’m now somewhat capable of sketching digitally. So I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to do something good with that. I’ve still got much to learn about digital approaches, though.

In many ways it has been an interesting period of time that has opened up many new opportunities, but, due to being busy with innumerable things, I’ve yet to capitalise on any of them. But the good news is that they aren’t going anywhere. So it’s not like I’ve got a specified time limit within which I need to use these materials. As I said above, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do something with them soon but I’ll undoubtedly be rusty at this point. Which only really means it might take a few attempts to get a passable result. But I thank everyone for sticking around and listening to my ramblings (and overuse of acquired and/or acquisition). It is very much appreciated and I hope you enjoy the content I’ve got in mind for the next few months.

Have a nice week, all!


Expensive Mistakes

Not so much a mistake but a lapse in judgement.

Not that it was really a lapse in judgement, either. It was more of a calculated logical thought process tempered in the fires of reasoning. But there really is no point in trying to explain why I do the things I do, mostly because that would take far longer than just explaining that I’ve done them. I’ve been working towards a collection of materials for some time, though. So this is hardly something unexpected. Mostly because I’ve been looking to get a nice set of flat brushes that compliment the nice set of round brushes I bought some time ago.

I’ve got this thing about brushes. It’s kind of concerning.

I also bought a fan brush because they’re neat and I’m sure I’ll find a use for it. At some point. For some reason. In any case, I’ve finally decided to settle (for lack of a better word) on a collection of materials which I believe suit what I’m attempting to do. I don’t know if they’re the materials I’ll be sticking with forever- but they’re the ones I’m sticking with for now.

Spontaneously purchased some gouache tubes while I was at it, too. It’s… an interesting material. I’ve not used them for much outside of a small test piece, but I’ve learned a little more about them in the process of painting that test piece. I’ve also discovered the joys of layering gouache. Which isn’t actually as easy as it might seem, as the paint never actually dries (as far as I can tell) and can always be reactivated even after several hours. Well, no, it does dry, but it doesn’t stay dry. That might be a better way to explain it. It’s an interesting detail that I wasn’t too aware of and so my first attempts were somewhat flawed. I’m really enjoying the creamy texture of the paint, though. The styles I could create with it are gorgeous.

Moggie makes the mistake of going to the local art store.

I suppose it’s more that I’m approaching it wrong as it’s kind of like acrylic and watercolour had a baby. A very creamy baby. Which means you need to approach it in a similar way to how you would approach watercolour, working light to dark instead of dark to light. Not that you can’t overlay colours. Just that you’re going to run into issues if you’re trying to overlay incredibly light colours over incredibly dark ones. As the darker ones will reactivate and blend endlessly into the lighter ones. Some of my issues are definitely my own.

Which I’ll work out by learning more about the material in time.

It’s kind of exciting, though. I’ve really enjoyed being able to learn new things about acrylic (and even digital) painting. Gouache is just another test that I’ve forced myself to go through for reasons I can’t quite explain, but will appreciate once I do something I really like with that particular material. Like every other material I own. It’s, again, a thing I’ve got for materials.

That doesn’t mean I’m entirely abandoning acrylic painting, either. I’ve got my own set of issues with that particular style of painting as well. But, as I mentioned in Mushroom Inspired, I’m starting to change what I consider are my conventional approaches to different subject matter. I may be doing more watercolour painting in the future. That could extend to gouache and acrylic painting, too. It also may not. I may continue with things as they are. But there’s definitely something different about how I see things, how I approach them, and my level of confidence with the range of materials that I use. I can’t tell if that’s just experience evolving into confidence or whether I’ve reached another artistic plateau. The latter sounds terribly conceited.

Have a nice week, all!


Seasonal Tradition

Unlike most traditions for this season it isn’t about mince pies, trees, or gifts.

Well, it’s kind of related to trees. If you know where paper comes from (and I do). This tradition of mine goes back as far as 2004-ish? Maybe earlier. I can’t remember when I first went to this particular art shop, nor when I started going there frequently, but given I had just started exploring graphic markers around 2002-2003 this is a good guess. As that was one of the first things I bought there. Went in with some Christmas money and came out with £60 worth of markers.

Since that Christmas it has been a yearly tradition to go back every Christmas.

Of course, much to the lamentation of my wallet- I go there more than once a year. Last year I probably went there about ten-twelve times. Mostly to improve the various materials I use for painting (brushes and canvas paper primarily) which was a long overdue affair. (Mostly because I’d been using the same basic watercolour and brush set since I started painting in 2009.)

You might wonder what there is to buy year on year as once you’ve established a set of materials you’re mostly good to go. However, being a traditional artist means my materials are finite and they might need to be replaced. Mostly this would be pencils and paper. I haven’t gone through too many tubes of paint (watercolour or acrylic), I haven’t run my ink pens dry, I haven’t exhausted my brushes, and I haven’t run any of my graphic markers to the end of their time. Yet. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be new things to buy or interesting new materials to sample.

Seasonal Tradition

This is but one stack of materials.

For instance, when I first picked up the Copic Multiliners, that was a test to see if they were more appropriate to my needs than the Faber Castell Pitt Pens. A test that has since cost me £30-40 in pens and nibs and replacement ink. Despite the fact that after years of use they still have some ink in them. You can never be too prepared, though.

Which seems to be the main reason I go there these days- stocking up.

I do buy new things from time to time, but, for the most part, I’m just there to increase my stocks so I’m not in danger of running out. A few erasers here, a half a dozen replacement pencils there, a few pads of paper here, and a knife blade or two just in case. I have found some love with the recent (new?) range of Daler Rowney cartridge paper which ranges from the incredibly light 130gsm to the incredibly heavy 250gsm. The latter reaching the weight of the Winsor & Newton/Daler Rowney Bristol Board I use. It’s kind of funny because I would avoid cartridge paper like the plague years ago. I used to primarily use Winsor & Newton 170gsm acid-free paper.

I guess that’s my own little artistic evolution right there.

I actually started using the Winsor & Newton/Daler Rowney Bristol Board to replace the Tria Letraset marker pads which were significantly lighter (70gsm opposed to the 250gsm of Bristol Board). They also resembled tracing paper. They’re pretty good for certain kinds of work and not so great for others. There’s also the matter of personal preference in that I just prefer the heavier smoother surface of heavier papers and boards. It’s not for everyone, though. Tria Letraset marker pads are also cheaper.

In any case, as it’s Christmas, and we’re being all festive, I figured I’d talk about one of my quirky seasonal traditions.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Those Wasted Resources

Surprisingly this is not related to a video game class with a particularly complex series of skills that often results in a waste of their precious resource. It really isn’t. But it could be if you just believe!

It’s related to the age old theory of new artists who believe that they shouldn’t/can’t use expensive or rare materials for fear of wasting them. Admittedly it’s a logical conclusion as I know from having, well, let’s say expensive taste in art materials, that you often may end up using an entire batch of something in a wasted fashion. Look at graphic markers- £5 a piece! You wouldn’t want to waste that would you?

Now the answer to that question may shock you as it’s not “no”.

Not to say that you should willingly throw away great materials or deliberately run down rare supplies for the sake of it. But there is a certain amount of waste that comes with using new materials.

For example, in the case of bristol board, perhaps one of the most expensive boards you can buy, you need to get used to the way it works. How it can absorb that much ink. How it can be layered with colour, liquid or dry, and how you can continue to pile on the abuse which it will keep on taking. As far as even applying watercolour to it.
This is something that you can only learn in one way- by using it. You can psychically talk to it and discover its precious secrets (though I figure most people feel that way about women rather than paper).

So there is an amount of time you must spend wasting something.

Sure some materials are very expensive, like marker, or watercolour paper, or oil paint tubes- but you need to get hands on. You need to know what they do. If you shy away from them until you’ve “learned enough” you’re never going to touch them and that’s an even bigger waste. You’ve spent the cash- might as well use it for whatever you can.

It also begs the question of “how do you learn something without doing it?”

Think back to school, I’m sure we’ve all been, and all had to study something like mathematics with the endless hours of equations and theories, which lead to final exams. Why do you think that was? (And the answer is surprisingly not confusing torture with equations that no longer had numbers but letters.) It’s because you need to get the practice- you need to learn- before you can apply it.
Applying it came in the final exam where hours of (horrid) equations which (completely destroyed and) taxed your brain were finally put to good use. Well, as good as it could.

Point is- there’s a methodology in learning and using materials and you cannot skip that stage. It’s like trying to start a drawing with absolutely no sketch or concept, you likely would end up with something either perfectly illegible or a lucky brilliant streak.

So the next time you sit there, comforting your sketchbook for the loss of it’s brother sheet, as I can’t be the only one who does that, remember that there is a point to waste.

Or, rather, what you perceive as waste. Some people who’ve seen it probably really love it. Art is funny like that as most of it comes down to perspective, or personal or social factors, that influence what something means to you. To you it’s a horrid scrawling of lines and colours. To someone else it could be an example of primal use of colour and line to create something.
You really cannot tell. Which is both great and horrible…but that’s a story for another day.

Have a nice weekend, all!