A Watercolor Sketch of My Palette

I thought it would be a fun project to create a sketch of my watercolor palette that I’m currently using.

I did a blog post a little over a year ago on how I filled my half pans. You can find my post here.

The mixing areas of my palette still looks fairly new. That’s because I enjoy using my porcelain tray to mix my colors in. When I’m at my studio desk, I have a bit more room to accommodate this larger palette and my porcelain mixing tray. I can also create larger pieces of artwork and my mixing tray can hold a bit more paint.

I’ve decided to stick with this one palette for the next week or two and get reacquainted with the paint colors and get my palette a bit dirty. This will help me figure out what colors I want to keep for a scaled down palette of colors for urban sketching.

Palette: Meeden Empty Watercolor Tin Box Palette Paint Case with 24 piece half pans

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors (15ml tubes)

Brush: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Synthetic Travel Brush in size 6

Paper: Master’s Touch Fine Art Studio Watercolor 140lb cold press paper in size 6″x8″

Back into My Watercolor Paints

Sometimes I just have to let go and see where my creative juices flow. Right now, it’s creating some artwork using my watercolor paints. I’m thankful for my sketching muscle memory and for having the ability to sketch quickly and spend more time painting.

It’s been a year since I last picked up my paint brush. My recent painting was from the previous post where I used my Sennelier paint set and created the teal pumpkin. That was my practice painting session to see if I could create something with my brush.

My watercolor mojo is back and I’m taking advantage of this wonderful creative moment by sketching more pumpkins. I remind myself to use less water and patiently build the layers of colors. Also, to sit back and let my painting breathe a bit and not overdo my artwork with too many layers.

For this painting, I used my favorite Daniel Smith Watercolor paints. I used a generic 24-pan set where I squeezed my tubes of paint into the pans. I wrote a post about this process and you can find it here. I also used my favorite brushes from Cheap Joe’s.

For the main body of my pumpkins, I decided not to mix any colors and just use the colors from my pans. I went with Quinacridone Coral, Quinacridone Sienna, and Pyrrol Scarlet. For the stems, I used Quinacridone Gold for the base layer. I created a browny mix using Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna and used it to darken the stems.

For the shadows under the pumpkins, I used the browny mix from the stems and added a bit more Ultramarine Blue. I also added a dab of paint color I used from the pumpkin’s base color.

I tried to remember all the watercolor tips and past painting skills I developed and I have to say it all came back quickly.

Just for fun, I used an inexpensive watercolor pad of paper that I found at Hobby Lobby. I liked the size of the paper and I thought I would give it a try. I was surprised at how well it handled the layers of water and paint I laid down.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor Paints

Brushes: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Synthetic Travel Brush in sizes 6 & 8

Paper: Master’s Touch Fine Art Studio Watercolor 140lb cold press paper in 6″x8″

Getting My Sketching Mojo Back with a Pumpkin and a Prompt

After eight months of sketching non-stop with my fountain pens and inks, my creativity finally went missing. For the last two months, I was hoping it would come back. It has slowly. I try not to force it. There are some days when I feel as though I should be doing something creative, but all I do is stare at a blank page for a few minutes. Then I would close my art journal and carry on with my other daily activities.

My Graphite Sketch

When I get stuck in a creative rut, I always fall back to sketching with my favorite art medium using graphite pencils. I used my mechanical pencil to sketch out an outline. I used my 2.0mm clutch pencil to create the dark lines and shading. I used my blending tortillon to blend/smudge the graphite onto my paper and to soften the harsh lines.

My Pen & Ink Wash Sketch

A few days later, I created a pen & ink wash sketch of my pumpkin. I used my Copic Multiliner to sketch the outline and also added contour lines to create the darker areas of the pumpkin. I used two fountain pen ink colors Oklahoma City and Steely Days for the pumpkin. For the stem, I used Kansas City and Melon Tea. For the shadow area under the pumpkin, I used Oklahoma City and then dabbed a bit of Thunderstorm and used my water brush to blend out and away.

My Watercolor Sketch

I was toying with the idea of getting back into using my watercolor paints for my artwork. Why not, right? I pulled out my Sennelier watercolor set and enjoyed my time mixing my paint colors. I used mostly a wet on dry technique since the paper I was using could only take light washes. For the last layer, I used a damp brush with my teal paint mix and created a few contour strokes to enhance the shape of my pumpkin.

Challenge: Find a pumpkin to use in your sketches. Use a picture if you can’t find a real or fake pumpkin. Use your pencil to create a graphite sketch. Then use your fountain pens and ink to create the second pumpkin sketch. If you have another art medium available (watercolor, charcoal, pastel, etc) create a third sketch.

My Art Journals:

Leda Art Supply Medium-size (5.7″x8.25″) with graphite pencils.

Stillman & Birn Alpha 7.5″x7.5″ softcover with fountain pen & ink.

hand●book journal co. 5.5″x5.5″ square with watercolor paints.

My Art Mediums:

Graphite – Pentel Energize Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead and Staedtler Clutch Pencil 925 35-20 with 2.0mm HB lead.

Fountain Pens & Inks – TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. Robert Oster Oklahoma City, Steely Days, Kansas City, Melon Tea, and Thunderstorm

Watercolor Mixes: Sennelier French Artists Watercolor Travel Set (12). Lemon Yellow and Sepia to create yellow ochre. Ultramarine Deep and Sepia to create dark brown. Forest Green and Ultramarine Deep to create teal green.

Watercolor Brushes: Escoda 1548 Versatil Series Artist Watercolor Travel size 4 & 6

One Subject and Two Different Art Mediums

Sometime last year I created two beach sketches. One was a watercolor sketch in my watercolor journal. The other was a pen & ink sketch created in a different art journal.

This year, I thought it would be fun to create another one. This time I used one sketch book to create the two art samples.

Here’s a side-by-side view using the two different mediums.

The left side was created using my fountain pens and inks. The right side was created using my watercolor pans of colors.

I have several watercolor palettes in my collection and I chose a palette where I thought the colors would be similar to the fountain pen inks I used. During my watercolor session, it was amazing to see how close I could capture the colors I used in my pen & ink sketch.

My pen & ink sketch took less than an hour to create. I used three layers to build up the colors and contrast.

My watercolor sketch took a few hours to create. I started with the lightest colors first and built each layer using a darker color. I also had to wait for each layer to dry completely before I could paint additional colors. That is why it took so long to finish this piece.

I love working with this watercolor paper. It can handle the brush strokes and all the water I lay down on this paper. There is hardly any paper buckling and no bleed through on the back side of the paper.

Pens: Platinum Preppy in 02 (extra fine nib) with Carbon ink. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs

Inks: Diamine Candle Light, Vintage Copper, & Black Ivy. Robert Oster Thunderstorm

Watercolor Paints: Art Philosophy Confections Palette: Apple, White Mocha, Pistachio Cream, mix of Blackberry and Pecan (grays), and a mixture of Key Lime and Blueberry (teal)

Journal: Franklin-Christoph Watercolor VN

Journal Cover: Franklin-Christoph Vagabond NWF

New Paint Palette and Another Turban Shell in Watercolor

The month of January has flown by rather quickly for me. I had plans (goals) to create some artwork, spend time with my Cricut Maker, sit through some online courses, and publish a few blog posts. I managed to do a little bit of everything and at the same time not a whole lot.

I thought I would end the month with another sea shell sketch. Oh and I might as well write about it here and include a new paint palette I used to create my artwork.

Sometime last year, I kept seeing some beautiful watercolor sketches appear on my social media feed. It was the paint colors that made the sketches appear to pop off the paper. I ended up acquiring two sets of palettes in different color themes: Currents and Tropicals.

Today’s post is about a new palette of colors from the Art Philosophy Confections series called Currents. This palette has some beautiful blues and greens and everything in between. The colors are gorgeous straight from the pans. I’ve also mixed a few colors to see what other color ranges I could create.

Here’s my latest creation of a Turban shell. Look how bright the colors are!

I found the Art Philosophy paint colors to be quite opaque. At first, I was not too sure how I would like using them. After working on a few pieces of artwork, I found I enjoy painting with this type of paint. The colors are bold and bright as you can see from my swatch of colors.

Art Philosophy advertises their Confections palettes to be “artist-quality” paints and highly pigmented. So far, I find their colorful paint pans to fall somewhere in between student-grade and artist quality paints. There’s no chalky look or feel to this paint so I would not classify it as student-grade. Plus there is quite a bit of pigment in their colors. I’m sure I’ll have a better description/classification for their palettes the more I use them.

There’s plenty of mixing space in the metal case. Clean up is easy and certain pigments will leave a slight stain.

I had to roll up some paper towels and place them strategically around the sides of the palette to keep it from sliding around inside the case and banging against the edges of the case.

The journal cover and watercolor journal I’m using are from Franklin-Christoph. This dark denim cover is called Vagabond and is similar in size to the normal Traveler’s notebook cover. The F-C watercolor journal came out late last year and well, I had to give it a try. I like this paper a lot. For watercolor sketches. I’m still on the fence with using my fountain pens and inks on this paper. I’m working on a future post on how this paper handles various art medium.

Watercolor Set: Art Philosophy Watercolor Confections – Currents

Brush: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Travel brush in size #4.

Pen & Ink: Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine with Platinum Carbon ink

Journal Cover: Franklin-Christoph Vagabond NWF (natural wood fiber) Notebook cover in Dark Denim

Watercolor Journal Paper: Franklin-Christoph Watercolor Paper refill (100% cotton). Vagabond/Traveler’s notebook size.

Pumpkins & Acorns in Watercolor

I finally finished my watercolor painting. I know from my previous post I was rather vague or did not show a complete picture of my artwork. I was testing out a new watercolor paper (journal) from Franklin-Christoph and wanted to see how well the paper held up to the copious amount of water and paint I used. Here is my setup from this morning:

The last few layers of colors involved adding the shadows underneath the objects. Before my pumpkins looked as though they were floating on the paper. Now, they should look a bit more grounded. That’s what I was hoping for.

I also added a bit more color to the curve of the objects to make them look rounded and give more depth.

To keep a consistent feel in my artwork, I used my favorite yellow color called Nickel Azo Yellow to mix the final paint colors. I mixed that yellow paint with Alizarin Crimson to create a soft orange color. I mixed the same yellow with Cascade Green (fave color) to create a pretty olive green color. I do enjoy mixing colors together to see the cool surprises I can create. Like creating the olive green color.

You can see in my middle pumpkin I used the orange with a bit of green (colors used from the other two pumpkins) to create a bit of harmony in my painting. While I was thinking about this, I also added a bit of orange to the green pumpkin.

For the acorns I included both orange and green colors since they sit in between the orange and green pumpkins.

For the shadows, I used Neutral Tint in the darker areas and added dabs of the associated pumpkins colors to show a bit of its reflective color. I use this technique quite a bit in both of my pen & ink and watercolor artwork.

Another composition item I think about while planning my artwork is numbers or quantity. Odd numbers make an artwork look visually pleasing. It also forces your eyes to move around the artwork. I also think about odd numbers when I take my pictures.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time using this watercolor journal. There’s over a dozen layers of colors and the paper has held up well. No noticeable ripples on the backside of the paper. Love this bound watercolor journal concept with 100% cotton paper. It fits nicely in my Franklin-Christoph VN Vagabond NWF Notebook Cover or a normal traveler’s notebook cover. This journal size is about 4.3″x 8.25″.

Remember I mentioned the epiphany I had in my previous post? It was about using less water in my watercolor paintings. This made a huge difference especially when using this new journal paper. I did notice when I used too much water, the paper would produce spots in the overly wet areas. You can see it on the orange pumpkin (far left).

My favorite watercolor paper is Arches and I’ve never had any issues with that paper brand. I wished Arches still created a journal with their papers. I have one from early 2000 that I stumbled across and will eventually use it (when I get better). In the meantime, F-C’s journal is perfect for my practice and to take along with me on my travels.

In regards to using this paper with fountain pen inks, I have done a few test sketches and I’m not too happy with the results. I might need to spend another week and perhaps change up my pen & ink techniques to see if this paper changes my mind. I will definitely be back to share my thoughts on this and also a few pictures and let you, my readers, decide how to use this journal with pen and inks.

My paper thoughts: Does a decent job with watercolor paints

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Brushes: Cheap Joes American Journey Round #2, #4, and #6

Palettes: Art Toolkit by Expeditionary Art Folio Palette (large) with paint pans and Pocket Palette (regular) with mixing pans

Journal Cover: Franklin-Christoph VN Vagabond NWF Notebook Cover

Watercolor Journal: Franklin-Christoph VN Watercolor Refill

Watercolor Epiphany!

I’ve been struggling with watercolor painting. I was not getting the instant gratification like I would receive when I completed a pen & ink sketch. My watercolor creations were just mediocre and appeared lifeless. I felt as though I was in an endless loop of creating some paintings and then never completing them. I would also fall back to creating my artwork using my trusty fountain pens and inks.

Today I had an overwhelming desire to do a watercolor painting. Several things came into play with this desire. First, I had received the new Franklin-Christoph watercolor journals and could not wait to try this paper out. This new journal can be used with watercolors, guache, and pen and inks. I thought I would start out testing this paper with my watercolor paints and then do another test using my fountain pens and ink. A review will be forthcoming later this week.

Second, I had just completed a few pen & ink sketches of pumpkins and acorns and I wanted to see what I could do using my watercolor paints. That would require some color mixing techniques as well playing with different colors which I enjoy doing.

I spent less time thinking about the process (a good thing) and just started sketching with my pencil. Next thing I knew I was mixing paint colors and then applying paint to paper.

Somewhere along the layers of paint I was laying down, I experienced a huge epiphany in what I was doing. I used smaller round brushes like #6 and #4. I used less water in mixing and wetting my paper. My painting came to life.

Here’s a sneak peak from this morning’s session. I know it’s a partial shot of my painting. It’s still a work in progress.

At this point, I’m really happy about what I uncovered and I feel as though I can move forward in this creative adventure.

I had another realization this morning. I was mixing my watercolor paints and creating colors that I currently have in my TWSBI GO fountain pens. I am having too much fun!

I’m Here!

It was 28 days ago when I last wrote an entry on my blog. Since then I’ve been radio silent and you were probably wondering what I’ve been up to. Right? Maybe? Hahaha!

For the whole month of September I felt like I’ve been running non-stop. I had appointments, projects, and deadlines to take care of. I had out of town relatives stop by for a visit and ended up needing my assistance and staying a bit longer. As always, it was great to catch up and spend time with them. The next thing I knew September came and went.

On the creative side of life I have been keeping up with my artistic hobbies.

I have been busy practicing my not-quite Copperplate handwriting using my Opus 88 Omar with the lovely Stylosuite EF Xwing Harpoon nib. I’ve noticed my hand and arm movements are more free flowing and not as jerky as before. I’m now dabbling into creating my own style of writing and adding flourishes.

I’ve been keeping up with my pen and ink wash art. I’ve been practicing and creating sketches of grapes. For some reason grapes have been tripping me up. In the past, I’ve started my sketches and never finished them. I decided to break down my “grape picture” I’ve been working on and just focus on a few grapes versus huge clusters of them surrounded by vines and leaves.

Here’s my pen and ink wash version:

While I was on this “grape” adventure, I decided to break out my watercolor paints and see what I could do. It’s still a work in progress and I need to tackle the leaves.

My watercolor grapes took a few hours to create as I was working in layers of colors. Each layer had to dry completely before I could add another layer of color on top. I love watercolor painting, but I rarely have blocks of hours to devote to a painting. I think that is why I enjoy using my fountain pens and inks for sketching as I can quickly get bold and vivid colors and instantaneous results.

Before I forget, I found a new toy. I managed to snag a fantastic deal on a Cricut machine. So now my baby Joy has a big sister the Maker.

I procured some sample paper packs and I immediately created some stickers from my artwork. This is still a work in progress as I’m testing out different brands and types of papers. Can you tell? I’m having way too much fun!

I’ll be back with more artwork, new inks, and other interesting finds that I forgot to mention. Be well and stay safe!

Blueberry pen & ink sketch: Robert Oster Tokyo Blue Denim, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Thunderstorm

Grape pen & ink sketch: Robert Oster Sydney Lavender & Melon Tea. Van Dieman’s Ink Beetroot Relish and Eucalyptus Regnans. Jacques Herbin Amethyste de l’Oural and Vert Atlantide.

The Art Toolkit – Folio Palette

I came across what I would call the ultimate portable palette. It’s called the Folio Palette from Art Toolkit.

It looks like one of my other pocket palettes, right? This folio palette is actually a larger version that holds more pans of colors. Some folks actually use it on their desk/table and then take the pocket version for travel or plein air painting.

Here’s a picture that shows the size comparisons. On the left is the regular Pocket Palette. On the right is the new Folio Palette.

There is quite a difference in the size. To give you an idea, the Pocket Palette holds 14 standard (small rectangle) pans while the Folio Palette can hold 30 standard pans.

Here’s a picture from an earlier post in regards to the different pan sizes.

Here’s the care and maintenance instructions for the Art Toolkit’s palettes.

Along with the new palette size, there is also a new XL mixing pan. It’s their largest square size mixing pan.

My Folio Palette came with these assorted pan sizes

Remember my “mini doodle kit” metal container that I reused to store all of my metal pans of paint? Well, here it is next to the Folio Palette.

I was able to fill my Folio with all the pans I had filled previously. I like having a larger mixing space.

If I need additional mixing space, I can always reuse one of my Pocket Palettes as a mixing palette.

My Pocket Palette with a standard mixing pan and the new XL mixing pan

Once I’m done with my current projects, I hope to get back into watercolor painting and actually use my new palette.

Filling My Half Pans With Paint

I had found a few empty half pan palettes sitting in my storage bin waiting to be filled with paint. I hate to see an empty palette not being used. I pulled out my 24-pan palette case and decided to fill them with my tubes of Daniel Smith colors.

Look at all the lovely colors!

I sorted through my tubes of paints and selected my must use colors. I took my empty half pans and labelled each one with the paint I was going to fill them with. Then I arranged the tubes of paint according to how I was going to arrange them in my palette case. I started with my primary cool and warm colors in yellows, reds, and blues.

My half pans waiting to be filled

I used the smallest Avery labels I could find and wrote out the color names using my Platinum Preppy with Carbon (permanent) ink.

I spent a little over an hour filling my half pans with paint. I tapped the sides and corners of the pans to get the paint to move around and spread out to the corners and edges.

The initial fill can be a bit lumpy
Tapping the sides and corners will spread the paint in the pan
The last sharp tap on the bottom of the pan smooths out the paint in the pan

I let my pans sit in the palette case to dry overnight. The paint will shrink along the edges and a few may crack as they settle into the pan and dry. I could tell that the first few pans I filled were not as full.

I pulled out a few pans that had shrunk quite a bit and filled them with a second layer of paint. My New Gamboge pan was a good candidate for another fill.

My pans requiring a 2nd layer of paint
The 2nd layer of color added and more tapping
Here’s a pan with a crack or separation in the paint
A quick fill and a few taps….
A few of my pans after adding the second layer of paint
My lovely 24 pans of color

To keep the dried paint from falling out of their pans later, I made sure the paint touched the corners as well as the bottom of the pan. That’s why I spent some time tapping the pans to get the paint to settle.

I started to notice some colors (e.g. Phthalo) will stain the metal palettes.

This palette has become a favorite of mine. It has generous mixing areas and I have the ability to swap around the pans to fit my painting style.

Yes, my 24-pan palette is a bright pink color! I plan on decorating it and using my Cricut Joy to add some personalized vinyl stickers.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Palette: Meeden 24-pan watercolor palette