Blog

Small Scale Specimens Drawn from Life

I spent a lot of time making slow-paced drawings from life during the break between the spring and summer semesters. These two drawings were of some things I found on my daily walks with Cate. I realized first hand how my eyes have changed as I’ve grown older–they don’t accommodate so well to looking through a magnifying glass. I had to take multiple breaks to rest my eyes.

tree bark lichen sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Bark with Lichen (5/1/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

crassula mucosa sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Crassula mucosa (5/2/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

Save

Minimalist Art Supplies

crocus watercolor sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Crocus Vernus (5/12/2017). Watercolor and rubber stamps in large moleskine.

A few weeks ago I came across this blog post about how to implement a minimalist strategy with art and crafts supplies. Some of the author’s opinions are a little extreme and I prefer high quality materials even for sketchbook work. That said, so many people out there have a problem with collecting art supplies and she definitely has some good points. I also have realized how much I have veered off track from my minimalist roots. Going through nursing school is tough (I’m halfway done with the program!) and I have definitely used art supply purchases as a reward for getting through school in one piece.

At this point, I have plenty of interesting supplies to play with and I’m going to focus on using them to their full extent. The biggest thing that has helped me maintain control is to decline purchasing supplies that do not relate to my chosen media. Right now I only work in watercolor, pencil, and ink. Until I have a bigger studio space, I have decided not to pursue acrylic, pastel, oils, printmaking, etc. It’s not that I don’t have an interest in experimenting with other media; it’s more of a practical way to stay focused. For the rest of the year, I am going to make a concerted effort to stay out of art supply stores and use up what I have. I do have some new supplies that I have not finished experimenting with yet, so stay tuned for some future blog posts about those.

One Year Ago Today: Nothing to do but Relax

lake horizon sketch

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Slow Sketch (5/10/2016). Ink in large moleskine.

What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives? -E. M. Forster

I’m looking back into my sketchbook from one year ago today. I made this little sketch while sitting on the wall by the shoreline looking out over the lake. The weather was very pleasant and I remember taking my time making the individual marks with the pen. On that day I had no commitments and nothing special to do. It was lovely.

Trying out new paints: Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections

Recently I got an email from a reader asking me what brand of watercolor paint I use. I generally use Winsor & Newton and M. Graham, but I recently purchased a new set of watercolors and spend the last few weeks testing it out. I originally heard about this set on the Artist Journal Workshop facebook group that I am a member of (a great resource for hearing about new supplies).

The watercolors are made by a company called Prima Marketing based out of South Korea. The set comes with 12 half pans in a handsome metal enameled tin with a numbered color chart that fits nicely in the box. There are several sets available: The Classics, Tropicals, Decadent Pies, Shimmering Lights, and Pastel Dreams. I decided to go with Tropicals. Upon reading the reviews, some of the colors in the other sets are metallic so be aware of that.

The paint is advertised as being professional grade, but I beg to differ. The paints are numbered and there is no pigment information listed, which is a red flag. I was able to find this lightfastness chart, but the color names sound more like makeup than paint names (e.g., lilac rain, pool party, etc.) I, like many others, bought the set solely for the tin with the intention if filling it with my own paints later on. The paints are actually not that bad though, and I will definitely use them in my sketchbook, where I am not concerned about lightfastness. I was able to mix all sorts of muted and intense colors. I especially like #16 (avocado) which is a pale yellow green and nice to mix with blue or brown to make some nice earthy greens.

The best thing about this set is the price, which is very reasonable and worth it for the tin alone. This would make a nice gift for a budding child artist or someone just getting introduced to watercolor who was hesitant to spend a lot of money.

I used the paints for the following sketchbook pages. I also included an image of the color chart that came with the set.

hibiscus sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Hibiscus Study (4/21/2017). Watercolor (with notes in ink) in large moleskine.


camellia japonica sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Camellia japonica (4/27/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.


prima marketing watercolor

Prima Marketing Tropicals color chart

Butterflies!

Over Spring Break I delved into my reference photo archive and sketched some butterflies. I have a nice collection of photos, some from the butterfly conservatory and some from outside. I tried to identify the butterflies in the last two sketches but had no luck. I did waste a few hours looking at photos of many beautiful varieties though.

swallowtail butterfly sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Swallowtail with Ragged Wings (3/4/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

orange butterfly drawing

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Orange, black, and white butterfly (3/6/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Watercolor butterfly on leaf (3/8/2017). Watercolor and ink in large moleskine.

Pliny’s Allée

tree lined path drawing

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Pliny’s Allée. Copic sepia fineliners and watercolor on blank greeting card, 4 x 6 inches.

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

It’s actually feeling pretty spring-like today, but there is still snow on the ground. I can’t wait until it is consistently warm and sunny outside.

For this piece, I used my new set of sepia Copic Multiliner Pens. I really do like them and they offer a nice alternative to black. The only downside is that I wish they were just a tad darker and that the nibs were not so fine. I usually gravitate toward the thinnest nib in the set, but for some reason, these pens were especially fine.

Deep Roots

tree root drawing

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Deep Roots. Pen and ink and watercolor wash, 4 x 6 inches.

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. -John Muir

This is a little drawing I made last July, from one of the photos I took at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in the springtime. I hadn’t used my dip pen in quite some time, and it was nice to get back to it. Drawing with a dip pen offers such a different experience than any other sort of pen. It is slower going, and there is more variation. It was interesting to draw the negative space (the dirt) around the various leaves. The end result is quite bold.

Product Review: Slate 2

I admit, I’m someone who likes gadgets and I recently got a new one, the Slate 2, which I thought I’d review for you here. This device acts like a clipboard that digitalizes your drawings when used with a drawing utensil surrounded by a metal ring. It is advertised as a way to combine digital art with “the pleasure of drawing on paper.” Basically, you draw on the paper and then your lines appear on the screen. You can change the color, opacity, nib size, and simulated drawing utensil (pencil, ballpoint, felt tip, marker, chalk, airbrush, and eraser). There are a few downsides, though:

  • The equipment is glitchy. There were unwanted lines that appeared on the screen when holding the utensil just above the surface. This may be useful for the airbrush feature, but it is a big problem if you want to do detailed hatching, for instance. I read in the help forums that this issue can be made less noticeable by placing the stroke smoothing setting on LOW and the speed sensitivity on HIGH. This did help, but it did not totally eliminate the problem.
  • There were also issues with the calibration of the utensil because there was a slight discrepancy between where my pencil was on the paper and where it showed on the screen. I found myself attempting to correct for this (you can see it a little bit on the replay). Therefore, the paper drawing I ended up with was not anything I wanted to keep afterward.
  • There is no pressure sensitivity. With the pencil setting, you can choose between different hardness levels, but this feature is very limited.
  • There is no bluetooth feature on a PC. It is annoying for me to have to use a USB cord at all times, especially when there are strict guidelines about how far away you must keep the unit from other metal objects, magnets, and computers/electronics.
  • The company is located in France and I read in some comment threads that it was next to impossible to return it.

Even still, I think this is a fun toy. The price was not that bad, but if I wanted to get something for serious digital art, I would probably get an iPad Pro. The Slate 2 is definitely not anything I would use to create a serious piece of artwork with unless the glitches were corrected. I do like the replay feature and I think I would like to experiment with this some more. There is a feature to use the device without being connected to the software and then transferring the image to the computer afterward, but I have not used this yet and I am hesitant to do so with the problems I’ve encountered thus far. You can see my sketch and replay video below. I hope this review is helpful to anyone who may be considering this device.

frog sketch

©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Frog Sketch. Sketched on Slate 2 (pencil mode).

Warm Woolens

wool socks sketch

©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Warm Woolens (12/27/2016). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

February can be a rough month for me, mostly because I am so sick and tired of winter and its unpleasantness, such as driving in snow. On the other hand, I think winter is a visually beautiful season and I do love the way snow transforms the world outside. I love looking out of the window and seeing the snow pile up, while being cozy in my house and not having to be anywhere all day. I was recently gifted some absolutely wonderful wool socks and I really enjoy wearing them while relaxing at home. They found their way into my sketchbook, of course.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save