Thursday, March 31, 2016

Intersection - Variations on a Pattern #Zentangle #ZentangleInspiredArt #Patterns

Earlier this year I needed to stay awake and take stuff for a routine medical procedure (yes. Many of you know exactly what I'm talking about) .  I was looking for ways to stay awake.  It's amazing how you can still draw when your eyes are drifting shut, and you know you've nodded off for a few seconds.

Anyhoo, to try and keep my brain engaged, I started playing with a base pattern...

...seeing how many different ways I could use it.  I'm sure someone has done step-outs for this pattern before, but I'm too lazy to try and find it.  My friend Linda Brown Levin felt it looked like an Intersection, so I'll call it that until such time as I discover an earlier name.

NOTE: I've found that Silke Wagner created step-outs for this pattern back in 2015, calling it Abbey.  She shows you some ideas for adding to it as well.  I suspect it has been out there under other names over the years.

There are a few other patterns salted in there, because I saw a row of apartment buildings appearing and decided to go with that, but then I decided to just stay with the one base pattern and build on it.
If I hadn't said anything, you might not have even noticed that the whole drawing used the same base pattern throughout.

Later, I played with Intersection again, and this time I stayed with the base pattern, only using shading and the size of the repeating pattern elements to make each section different.

It is amazing what you can do with the most basic of patterns!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Prima Watercolor Confections Classics Pan Set Review #PrimaConfections #Watercolor #WatercolorReview

Recently, Prima came out with three sets of pan watercolors. I immediately got the itch to try them out, and bought the 'Classics' set.  I paid $21.99 plus S&H, so that puts this set in the same price range as Cotman and Koi watercolor sets.

Prima claims the paints are professional grade. If so, this would have made the set a fantastic buy over the others.  I can't usually sum up a review item so easily but this time, let me make it easy.


  • The paints come in a professional metal tin.  These tins range in cost around $18-$20 dollars, so if you really wanted a tin (and some people do), you'd be getting the paints very cheaply. 
  • The paints are comparable to Koi paints, which come in a plastic case.
  • The set does fit nicely in your hand, and there is room for a small travel brush.
  • Three of the colors are white, gray and black


  • There is NO information about the pigments in the packaging. Not even the names of the colors. Nothing to back up the claim of professional grade.  I looked online, but couldn't find anything there, either.
  • They don't impress me as professional grade, but as said, they are comparable to other brand sets in the price range.
  • Some of the colors are opaque (this is true of the Koi as well).
  • No brush comes with the set so you have to supply your own.
  • The Koi 12-color set is cheaper, and includes a waterbrush.
  • Three of the colors are white, gray and black (later I'll discuss why this is in both pros and cons)

If you want a nice set for quick sketches when you travel, or are a casual painter who intends to only do small paintings, this is a definite possibility.  The paints are good enough that they won't cause a lot of frustration, though they won't give you large, glowing washes (neither would the other sets in the price range).  Although Prima does not call this a travel set, that is what it most closesly compares to in other brands.

The metal tin case counts for a lot.  It is durable, though I think you could easily bend the fold-out mixing piece.  The paint pans slide around.  I do know how to secure them, in this kind of tin, but was not able to get all of the pans to stop sliding.  That isn't of great importance -- eventually, they'll stick just from use, but meanwhile, there will be rattling.

There is a ring on the bottom of the tin, that is meant to help you hold the tin stable if you have no place to set it down.  This is a standard feature.

When you open the tin, you see that the lid has areas for mixing paint, and that there is a middle insert.  Again, standard features.

I've included this photo so you can get a feel for what the tin looks like after a little use.  The metal does stain slightly, and you need to take a little care in handling the middle insert while cleaning it off, so that it doesn't bend.

As with all small travel sets, the colors are close together, so you can get some color contamination.  It's very easy to simply wipe away the contaminating color though.

So what colors do you get?  (Please forgive the white. My scanner did something weird there.  To the eye it is almost exactly the same shade as the Arches watercolor paper I used).

White, Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Lt. Blue, Blue, Purple, Brown, Gray and Black.

Since I felt this set was most likely to be used as a travel set, I felt a waterbrush was the best for painting examples that would reflect that usage.  I used Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper for the rabbit and the nuthatch, and the Zentangle-Inspired Line and Wash was done in an EarthCare sketchbook, with mixed media type paper.  All of them are 5.5 x 5.5.

The pigments in the Prima Watercolor Confections Classics Pan Set are bright, and you can easily work up a range of values, from the barest tint to a dark black.  The colors move well in water and blend easily.  The colors are a bit more opaque than I like, but then that helps with creating darker values, so it's a bit of a trade-off.

I used lots of water in this next example, so you could see the colors in their lighter range. Almost too much so, because I couldn't get the scanner or camera to pick up the red or purple.  It's the paper, I believe, rather than the paint.  I decided to go ahead and include, because it does give you a feel for the range you can get with the colors.

One of the things that would make this set a must-have versus a no-go for many people is the white, gray and black pigments.  Many watercolorists will not use these colors as a pre-mixed pigment, preferring to mix their own blacks and gray, and to use the white of the paper for their white.  At first, I was a little disappointed.  Then I realized that I had just been telling myself that I needed to do more value studies, using only white, black and gray.

Since you can build up some nice dark value with these pigments, this set is obviously great for value studies.

Would the Prima Watercolor Confections Classics Pan Set be the best choice of a travel watercolor set for you? It is a definite contender in the price range.  The main way in which it stands out from the others is with the metal tin.  I believe it will be more useful as a travel set, or for very small paintings.  It would be great for color books that have suitable paper.

If you don't think you will use the white, gray or black, you might be happier with one of the other Prima sets, or another brand.  If having a brush come with the set is a must, you'll need another brand. If you are looking for a set that will give you a professional range of colors and effects, you should probably look for something less like a travel set altogether.

If having a metal tin is a must, this is the set for you. Or after comparing the colors available in other sets you really like what this set offers,  you may find this to be the set for you.

Other Reviews
Katherine Warner

Disclaimer: I bought this Prima Confections Classics Watercolor set on my own dime.  Prima did not ask for a review or send me anything, and probably won't even take notice of this review.  I was curious about the set, and thought my readers probably were too, so I reviewed it.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Unshown #Stillman&Birn #Zentangle #ArtJournal

This week I'm going to share some of the artwork that I did last year in my Stillman & Birn Delta, and never got around to posting for one reason or another.

This page was done using Copic marker for the color background, and Ohto Graphic Liner drawing pens for the linework.

I've finished this Delta sketchbook and I miss it.  No doubt about it - I'll be getting another one soon!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Green Woodpecker and the Dangers of Packing Tape #Watercolor #52WeeksOfWatercolourBirds #WatercolorBirds

The prompt for week 10 of '52 Weeks of Watercolour Birds' was Green Woodpecker,  I was happy with my previous experiment in pouring paint, so I decided to try it again for the background sky.

As with my previous bird, I masked off the whitest areas -- the face, chest and stomach of the bird -- using clear packing tape cut into the proper shape.

I poured on a light wash of Daniel Smith's Lunar Blue, which worked nicely.  I then let it dry for several hours and proceeded to remove the packing tape.  Oops!  I've had problems in the past with Fluid watercolor paper tearing, even from low-tack masking tape.  But I didn't have a problem with packing tape on my last bird.

This time though, the entire taped area tore, especially at the throat, extending out and including the beak.  Not sure why.  I'm reasonably sure the paint was thoroughly dry.  However, the humidity was a little higher than usual.  Possibly that had something to do with it.  Whatever--I won't be using packing tape to mask, again.

I wasn't sure I'd be able to save the painting, but I think it came out okay considering.

The paint mixes were the go-to my bird paintings, with the addition of the Lunar Blue background, and Ko Vermilion Hue for the woodpecker's head..  The pigment in my mixes  are M. Graham: Anthraquinone Blue; Daniel Smith: Hansa Yellow Light; Qor: French Cerulean Blue, Naples Yellow, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna, Permanent Alizarin Crimson.  I adapted this palette from the one suggested in 'Domenic DiStefano's Painting Dynamic Watercolors',

To paint the birds, I used a Silver Black Velvet Round size 6 and size 16.

This bird was done in the Global Art Materials Field Watercolor Artist Journal Hand Book, 7 by 10-Inch that I'm using for the '52 Weeks of Watercolour Birds'.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Journal52 Week 11: Favorite Creature #Journal52 #ArtJournal #Gellyroll

Truthfully, I can't say I have a favorite creature.  But I have fond memories of lions.  When I was child, my father worked at a zoo.  Back then they didn't have nurseries and if a mother rejected her babies, the staff would take them home and raise them.  So along with our cats and dogs, I had tiger and lion cubs to play with.

So when I saw the Journal52 prompt 11, I decided to draw this lion, using metallic gold, green, and copper, and classic white Gellyroll pens.

Done in my Pentalic Traveler Pocket Midnight Sketchbook, 8" x 6",

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MetalloCornucopia #SakuraOfAmerica #Zentangle #Gellyroll

Another page done in my Pentalic Traveler Pocket Midnight Sketchbook, 8" x 6", this time using Metallic Gellyroll pens.  These aren't considered 3D ink pens, but I've found they give almost the same look as the Glaze pens.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The First Page on Black #SakuraOfAmerica #Zentangle #Gellyroll

I don't publish my art in the order that I do it.  Some weeks I have sort of a theme going, all birds or something like that and some weeks I'm showing art done in one particular medium, or I'm doing reviews.  Sometimes, I'm just really excited to share something with you, so I post it ahead of things already done.

I'm pretty prolific (you hadn't noticed?) and am usually working in more than one medium in a given day, so it doesn't take long for things to pile up.

Although I've been showing lots of other work from this book, this was actually the first page I did in my Pentalic Traveler Pocket Midnight Sketchbook, 8" x 6", using fluorescent Moonlight Gellyroll pens.  I think I've got close to half the book full.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sparrows Bathing and Pouring Paint #Watercolor #52WeeksOfWatercolourBirds #WatercolorBirds

For quite a while I've played with the notion of playing with the pouring paint technique.  I'd also been eyeing this reference photo at the Morguefile archive of two sparrows bathing in a puddle.  I really liked it, but felt a bit intimidated by it.

When I saw that the prompt for week 9 of '52 Weeks of Watercolour Birds' was House Sparrow, I knew it was time to try the photo.

I also decided to tackle the background by pouring paint.  I used a bit of packaging tape to mask off the 'white' areas of the sparrows and a ripple or two.  This was done by drawing the birds lightly with a pencil, applying the tape, cutting the shapes I wanted with an exacto knife, and peeling away the excess tape. A bit nerve-wracking, but it works.

Then I made a very watery mix of Cobalt Blue, wet the paper well, and poured the paint.  I tilted the paper every which way, until I was satisfied with the coverage.  Quickly, I mixed some watery Lunar Blue paint, and poured it into the still wet cobat blue.  Lunar Blue granulates wonderfully and seperates out into different tones, ranging from bluish gray to robin's egg blue.

I'm not quite happy with the composition.  I think I got the birds too close together, and that the shadows dominate too much.  The lighting isn't quite correct.  This I could fix, but I love the clean color that came from pouring, and decided, for now at least, I wasn't going to fiddle with the painting any more.

All in all, I'm happy with the result of my exercise in pouring paint.

For the birds I chose the same palette that I've used for several of my bird paintings.  The pigment in my mixes  are M. Graham: Anthraquinone Blue; Daniel Smith: Hansa Yellow Light; Qor: French Cerulean Blue, Naples Yellow, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna, Permanent Alizarin Crimson.  I adapted this palette from the one suggested in 'Domenic DiStefano's Painting Dynamic Watercolors',

To paint the birds, I used a Silver Black Velvet Round size 6.

This bird was done in the Global Art Materials Field Watercolor Artist Journal Hand Book, 7 by 10-Inch that I'm using for the '52 Weeks of Watercolour Birds'.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lady with Two Deerhound #SakuraOfAmerica #Pentalic #Gellyroll

I was looking through an old Dover Fashion book, and had the idea for this drawing.  It's all done with Sakura of America's Fluorescent Moonlight Gellyroll pens in a Pentalic Traveler Midnight Sketch Journal, 8 x 6.

I play around with layers of Fluorescent Vermilion, Fluorescent Orange, Fluorescent Yellow, and Fluorescent  Pink to get my skin tones, letting each layer dry for at least 15 minutes in between.  It's difficult to layer new ink on wet Gellyroll ink.  You tend to lift ink away rather than add new.

The purple was the closest way I could think of to get the gray for the deerhouse, though thinking back, I wish I had played with using a Classic white.  Now that I've got the Souffle pens Grey, I'll have to try something like this again.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Wren - Week 8 Prompt for '52 Weeks of Watercolour Birds' #Watercolor #52WeeksOfWatercolourBirds #KoiWatercolors

On Monday, I wrote a review of the 30-Color Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box.  I did all the examples using the waterbrush that came with the kit.  I was eager to try the paints using one of my good watercolor brushes though, so that's what I did for this Week 8 prompt.

I used one of my go to brushes, Silver Black Velvets Round size 6  in the Global Art Materials Field Watercolor Artist Journal Hand Book, 7 by 10-Inch that I've been using for the '52 Weeks of Watercolour Birds'.  I consider the paper in this book to be high student-grade, so it was a good match for the Koi watercolors.

Normally I would have used a size 16 round for the background.  The small size of the Koi watercolor pans makes it difficult to use a large brush though.  The main difference with using a smaller brush is that you get more streaks because you can't cover as large an area, and have to do more blending.  I expected to have problems with blooms (aka backruns--that sort of cauliflower look you see in some watercolors), but that didn't happen.

All in all, I much prefer using my good brush, which isn't surprising.  It's a very good brush.   was better able to control the amount of color, and have larger wash areas.  I painted in the trees with far fewer strokes.  The only thing I missed from the waterbrush was the ease of cleaning the color from the bristles.

I needed to do more glazes (a thin wash of color over a previous layer of dry paint.  In essence, all glazes are washes, but not all washes are glazes.) to build up my values and get those darks.  The colors are bit more chalky than I'm used to, although I was using Cerulean Blue for the sky and mixes.  Cerulean Blue is an inherently chalky color because it contains white.

While I wouldn't consider this Koi set my go to watercolors, it gets the job done, and I'm pleased with the results I get.  You can't ask for much more than that!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Braces Tangle Pattern & Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set Review #SakuraOfAmerica #Koi #Zentangle

Today's review of the 12-Color Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set is my last based on the items I received in return for some artwork that Sakura of America shared.  I can't tell you how much fun I've had doing up these reviews. I hope you've enjoyed reading them and that they've helped you learn whether the items were meant for you.

Ink: Dye based, Odorless, water-based solvent
Nib: Flexible Nylon
Packaging: Reusable plastic case with front clasp
Available in 48 colors + colorless blender
Colors in 12-Color set: red, pink, pale orange, orange, yellow, yellow green, green, blue, sky blue, purple, brown and black colors (there are 36 other colors available, including a clear blender)

Look and Feel
The 12-Color Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set comes in re-usable packaging, with a flap that lets you reseal the package.  They are watercolor brush pens, meant to be used like a marker while giving watercolor effects.

The colors are bright, and move well in water.  In fact, out of all the watercolor-type brush pens I've used, I think these move the easiest and blend the best.  That said, you do still get a hard line between the pure color and the water-blended color.  That's par for course with a water-soluble pen of this type, in my experience.

To get the chart below, I used the waterbrush from a Koi watercolor pan set.  I laid down a stroke of pure color from the pen, and then ran the waterbrush about halfway down for a second stroke.  With the exception of the Pale Orange they all moved into the wash of water creating a nice paler shade of the color.  The Pale Orange was very light to begin with so that may be why it didn't move as well. It's a great shade for painting skin!

The pens aren't the shortest I've ever seen but they are shorter than many.  They may be a little uncomfortable for those with large hands.  Capping the pen helps, but only so much.

The tip is a long flexible nylon that gives a brush-like feel, but won't splay like bristles might.  My experience with similar tips tells me that the tip may lose its point after heavy use.  If you use the technique of touching the tips of two different colors to get a third, then the tip might become contaminated.  I didn't want to try it.

This kind of tip is very good for getting into those small tight areas.  You can dab lightly, and still get fresh, bright color.

On the Sakura of America website, they recommend: "For best results, use on a heavy weight, plate-finish paper (smooth but not coated)".  That means this pen would be great for most quality coloring books, and many marker/pen papers, but will be damaged if you use it on watercolor paper, or other paper that has a rough surface.

This warning didn't surprise me.  I had many nylon tipped pens fray after I've used them on rough paper -- even like that of a Zentangle tile.  It's just part of the nylon-tip experience.  And even though I only suspect that the ink might dry out if I leave the pens uncapped for long -- I'll be keeping them capped as much as possible.  It's only logical.

I wanted to try these pens on watercolor paper, but was afraid I might damage them, so I did something I shouldn't have done.

There is another technique where you touch a wet brush to the tip of a watercolor pen, to pick up the color, and then paint without ever touching the pen itself to paper.  That's what I did on this 4" x 4" painting.  As you can see, the color is bright, and moved well in the water.  I was impressed.

But there was a reason I shouldn't have used this technique, at least not with a waterbrush where you squeeze it to get water out.  While I was taking some of the color from the Pale Orange, I squeezed a bit too much, soaking the pen tip.  I have not been able to get any color out of the pen since.

As I said before, the Pale Orange is a light color, and I probably got water into the ink, diluting it so it is colorless.  This has happened to me before with other brands of similar tipped pens, so it's a problem inherent with a nylon tipped pen and that particular technique.

So while the results can be wonderful, use that technique at your own risk!

For my second example, I  used a page from a 12" by 12" coloring book that I reviewed  last year.  No problems here.  I was able to negotiate even the tiny detail areas, get a wide range of values and it was easy to control the flow of color, so that I wasn't slopping over the lines.

Next I decided to use the pens on a smooth Fountain-Pen-Friendly paper.  The color didn't move as well, which didn't surprise me.  You don't want fountain pen ink to bleed all over while you are writing, so the paper is formulated to control that.  That's the reason I like to try at least three different ways of using a product.  How your product reacts over a range really helps you learn about it.

There was good coverage, and I was able to get some light color.  The colors were almost brilliant on this surface.

About the Tangle Pattern: As I was drawing this pattern, it made me think of a row of teeth, lol, and I remembered what the old wire braces were like when I wore them.  I'm sure someone else has come up with a pattern similar, though I'm not aware of one, so I'll call it a tangleation.

This set of flexible nylon tipped pens are the best watercolor pens that I've encountered in my experience, with the best flow of color, staying intense even after water is added.

They are susceptible to the problems you would encounter with any flexible nylon tipped pens - fraying if used on rough paper, picking up stains from other colors (I didn't have a problem with this, but will be taking care anyway) and losing color if tip gets soaked in water.

I've sounded a bit dire, I think.  These nylon tipped pens are wonderful to work with.  Easy to use, with bright color capable of producing a wide range of values from a light tint to brilliant pure color.

Disclaimer: I received this 12-Color Koi Coloring Brush Pen Set as part of a thank you for artwork that Sakura of America shared.  I was not asked to do this review, and received no other compensation. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

30-Color Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box Review #SakuraOfAmerica #Koi #Watercolor

Today I am reviewing the 30-color Koi Watercolor Pan Set, which is one of the items I received in return for some artwork that Sakura of America shared.

If you are here for the giveaway (a black tile Zentangle® tool set, a set of 6 Pigma Micron pens in assorted colors, and a Sakura pen pouch), please go here.  This giveaway ends tonight.

If you have spent any time in an art or craft store, you have probably seen a Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box.  They've been around for years, and are available in 12, 18 and 24 colors. NOW, they are also available in a 30 color size, and that is the set I am reviewing.

Size Dimensions for both sizes: 6 3/8” x 4 5/8” x 1 1/18"

  • Waterbrush 
    •  9mL reservoir barrel
    • Size 6 brush tip
    • Plug for water barrel
  • Dabbing sponge
  • Detachable, pegged palette
  • Snap lid that acts as an easel for postcard size paper
  • The  secures to the kit base either to the right, left or center sides
  • A base pull-down ring 

Look and Feel
The Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box is a compact set of watercolors, designed for the person who wants to carry their paints everywhere.  They are also handy for the casual, once-in-a-while painter who wants something they can easily store when not in use.

To give you an idea of the size, you can see that the set is easily held in one hand.  Keep in mind that I have small hands.

Cake watercolor (aka pan watercolors) sizes are usually called half-pan or full-pan size.  I don't believe there is a standard for those sizes, but I believe these are smaller than the average half-pan. The whole kit is smaller than most (for this amount of colors), so that isn't surprising.

Everything is laid out nicely for carrying.  The waterbrush is in two parts (more about that in a moment) so you do have to put it together for painting.

As with most travel kits, the paints are close together, so cross-contamination of color is possible.  If you do get another color mixed in, it is fairly easy to wipe it off with a wet brush or moist towel though.

The small pan size doesn't work well with large brushes, but the expectation is that you'll be using the set for small paintings and smaller brushes will be the norm.

The set does include Chinese White, Payne's Gray and Ivory Black.  There is a purist point-of-view that the only white should be the white of the paper and the only gray and/or black should be mixed from other colors.  That said, if you are painting on the go, where spontaneity is the prime goal, it isn't going to hurt to use those colors once in a while. If you really don't intend to use those colors, you could pop them out of the set, and add other colors of your own.

There is a mixing palette with pegs that fit into the set.  When the set is closed the palette sits over the paints without actually touching them.  When you are painting, you can remove the palette and either put it in the lid, or use the pegs on one side.

The lid can be used like an easel for a postcard-sized piece of paper, or instead, for more mixing space.

The waterbrush barrel can be filled with water, and holds enough that you could probably do a postcard sized painting.  Much more than that, and you'll need to have an extra supply or water (or you can refill the brush at any available sink). There is a little black plug that you can put in the barrel opening to keep the water from leaking out while the set is closed.

The brush tip screws on and off of the barrel, and comes with a tip to keep the bristles from getting bent or splayed.

The bristles are a synthetic plastic that hold up reasonably well (I've used these brushes in the past).  They will stain, but it doesn't affect the paint color.  They're wonderfully easy to keep clean.  A quick swipe on a towel, and you're ready to load up the next color. If you use the brush too much while it is dry, or press down too hard while painting then the bristles will start to splay, and may eventually stay that way.

You do need to learn how to control the amount of water that flows from the brush. It's easier than you might think, and the tendency is to squeeze too much, getting huge beads of water.  Those beads are great for dropping onto the dry paint to pre-wet them, or if you are using wet-in-wet, but can cause back-runs and bleeding if you get them accidentally.  A little practice, and you'll be fine.

The set includes a synthetic sponge, that can be use either for clean-up or for texture in your paintings.

There is a plastic ring on the bottom of the set, that you can slide your finger into to help you hold the kit, if needed.

Packaging counts! There is a color chart on the back of the box that the set comes in.  While you should always make your own chart to see what the colors truly are, this could be cut out and kept with the set to help you learn and/or remember which colors are what.

There are also instructions on how to assemble the watercolor brush.

Performance - Koi Waltercolors

When it comes to evaluating the performance of this set, there are two parts--the waterbrush and the watercolors.  I debated about including examples done with another brush, because I think the waterbrush is the most limiting aspect of this set.  In the end, though, I decided that I was reviewing the whole set, and for clarity, should only include examples done with items in the set.

I started out with a with a color chart, of course.  Always a good way to learn not only your true colors, but the range of each color, how opaque or transparent it is, whether it granulates (takes on a sort of salt & pepper effect) and whether it moves well in water, or tends to resist spreading.  Once you know these things you can plan for certain effects and know which colors will work for that effect.

The colors included are Chinese White, Lemon Yellow, Aureoline Hue, Permanent Yellow, Permanent Yellow Deep, Permanent Orange, Jaune Brilliant, Vermilion Hue, Cadmium Red Hue, Crimson Lake, Quinacridone Rose, Purple, Cobalt Blue Hue, Cerulean Blue Hue, Ultramarine Deep, Turquoise Blue, Prussian Blue, Indigo, Permanent Green Pale, Permanent Green, Viridian Hue, Permanent Green Deep, Sap Green, Olive Green, Yellow Ochre, Light Red, Burnt Umber, Sepia, Payne's Gray and Ivory Black.

I dropped a large bead of water on each color to pre-moisten the cakes, and let them sit for a moment.  Then, using the waterbrush, I picked up pure color without adding any more water.  I lay down a stroke of color, then immediately squeezed out a small bead of water, and laid down a second stroke, just along the edge of the first.

All of the colors softened nicely, and gave me a good solid stroke of color.  All of the colors moved well when water was added except for the Sap Green.  This means the Sap Green won't give you lots a gradations in tint, but is a good color to use in smaller areas where you don't want the paint to run.

Veridian Green and Permanent Green Deep seemed a little chalky, with solid bits appearing in the second stroke.  These are normally granulating colors, where you might expect a salt & pepper effect, but the bits seemed a bit large.  I didn't see any bits while painting the remaining examples, so it might be something settled during shipping, or it could be the paint isn't quite consistent all the way through. 

Overall, though I was impressed with the depth of color, and didn't find the greens disturbing. 

My next test was a 4"x 4" painting on a 140 lb cold-press high-end student grade paper.  I drew my flowers using a Pigma Micron, because I wanted to test the brush in small areas, and knew it would be easier to note if I were filling in a pre-drawn area.

As cold-press papers go, this was a fairly smooth one.  I actually used a lot of water, and was surprised at how much color remained once the paint was dry. 

The colors were nicely transparent, allowing both other colors and the line-work to show through.
The brush is very good for small spaces, and holds quite a bit of color.  Once you get the hang of how much water needs to be squeezed out, and when not to squeeze any, you can get smooth coverage and build up gradual glazes (glaze is the watercolor terminology for layers of paint transparent enough to let previous layers show through).

I've been painting a bird once a week for the '52 Weeks of Watercolour Birds' event, and decided I would this week's bird (a Blue Tit) using the Koi set.  I had already done my preliminary sketch in pencil on a piece of Shizen Hotpress watercolor paper.  This is handmade, soft and has quite a bit of texture, so I knew it would be more of a challenge for the pigments.  The painting is approximately 7" x 10".

Here I found the limitation of the waterbrush.  The brush is too small for a very large wash, and though the brush picks up quite a bit of pigment, it releases it quickly, so where I would normally stroke a sweep of color from one side to the other, I had to keep picking up new pigment.

Given the paper, I expected less intensity and some trouble building up darker values, and that is what happened.  I think I would have had less of those problems with a different brush.  As it was, I was happy with the results. 

Since coloring books are so popular right now, I wanted to see how the set would work for that purpose.  Last year I reviewed the Majestic Mandalas Adult Coloring Book by Orna Ben-Shoshan, and decided to color a page from that book for my last example.

These pages are 12" x 12" in size, so it took a great deal of time to paint.  I was able to lift color a little bit, which was good because they all came out so bright.  I needed to get a little value contrast.

The waterbrush was great for all the detail, but I did have to take extra care with how much water I squeezed out.  I also did this in one setting, which was a mistake.  Afterward, my wrist ached from all the brushing and squeezing.

The paper quality of coloring books varies tremendously, so these paints wouldn't necessarily work in all cases.  But if you wanted to use watercolor as a medium for coloring, this would be an excellent set for the purpose.

Given the price point for this set, the colors are surprisingly bright, spread well, and blend nicely.  To my eye and experience, I would consider them high-end student quality. The set is a good size for travel, and for easy storage.

This is a good set for beginners, supplying a large range of colors for a decent price, while avoiding many of the pale pigments that end up frustrating so many.  The set is good enough for experienced painters, as well, who might want a set for on-the-go quick watercolor sketches.

Disclaimer: I received this 30 Color Koi Watercolor Set as part of a thank you for artwork that Sakura of America shared.  I was not asked to do this review, and received no other compensation. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

Souffle 3D Pen Set Review #SakuraOfAmerica #Glaze3DPens #Zentangle

Today I am reviewing a 10-color Souffle 3D Pen Sets, which is one of the items I received in return for some artwork that Sakura of America shared.

If you are here for the giveaway (a black tile Zentangle® tool set, a set of 6 Pigma Micron pens in assorted colors, and a Sakura pen pouch), please go here.  

Look & Feel
It's obvious from the first look that the Souffle colors are different than those found in the Glaze pen sets.  Both have 3D ink, and in many ways, the two pens are the same.  The difference in those colors is important though, because Souffle pen colors can be seen on dark paper.  They are pastel, almost chalk colors, and as such are different from both the Glaze and Gellyroll ink colors.

The colors in the Souffle set are Yellow, Orange, Light Orange, Pink, Purple, Green, Light Green, Blue,  and Gray.

As with the Glaze pens, these are considered a craft tool rather than an actual pen.  The ink leaves a slightly raised line if you draw or write slowly.  The ink is water-based and waterproof (once dry) on most surfaces.

The pens are plastic, and non-refillable, with caps that are close to the color of the ink.  I think the cap colors in this set are closer to actual color than with any of the other sets. 

When you use one of these pens for the first time, you'll find a bit of plastic that keeps the ink from flowing. You'll need to remove that before using.  The tip is a hard metal, so it will hold up to a heavy hand.

The raised line left by the ink is subtle, almost something that you will feel rather than see, and the effect may not happen if you draw too quickly or on a paper that is too absorbent.  It works best on a harder, smoother paper, such as Bristol vellum.  Even then you need to draw very slowly giving the ink time to build up. 

This slow build-up also means the drying time is long, up, a good minute or two, depending on the paper you are using.

You can also use these pens on almost any clean, non-porous surface.

The ink comes out of the pen looking and acting like thick, tinted water.  As the ink dries the color becomes opaque. In the photo above, the white on the right is the ink a second or two after coming from the pen, and on the left is the same color ink (white) after it has totally dried.

Patience is key.  Let your ink dry before planning too far ahead, because you might change your mind once you see the final effect.  The inks can flow into each other if you apply a second line too close to another.  This can be annoying if it happens by accident, and you can get some cool effects if you do it on purpose.

Once dried, the ink can be written on, flattened, or punched with a pin for different effects.

When you finish with a pen, it is best to wipe the tip on a paper towel to remove left-over ink.  Otherwise, it may dry, and clog the pen.  The dried ink can be removed, but it's a lot easier to do when it's still wet.

You are more likely to use these pens for accents than complete drawings (though I've done both).

Performance with the Souffle pen varies with the surface you are writing on, and with your own technique.  I found that some colors flow easily and bead up well, while others require more work.

Because of the slow speed needed to get the 3D effect, these aren't pens that you would likely choose for long writing sessions, but they'd be great for art journal quotes, a chalk board effect or mixed media wording.

Obviously, the white doesn't show up on white, off-white or very light colored papers.  The yellow isn't terribly visible either, but both are highly visible on dark and black colored papers.  Conversely, the gray doesn't show up on black, but may show on some darker colors.

It is possible to add layers of color, so white/yellow could be used for highlights, and gray for shadows.

I went with full color drawings, because that's how I tend to use these pens, and I think it gives you a better idea of just what you can do with them.  Most people probably wouldn't use them quite this extensively, though.

Souffle colors on Black Paper

In some ways, completely coloring in a black page is a waste of the black itself, but I like the look and feel of a work like this.  It was done on a fairly hard, smooth, black paper, more like card-stock than construction paper. The raised effect is apparent in some areas. I controlled it by the speed at which I laid down the ink, so the flowers and leaves stand out more.  It makes me think of the puffy pages you find with some of the children's book for toddlers.

I couldn't get a very good representation of the color in either photo or scan.  The green and yellow look almost identical here, but in real life they are different.  That said, they aren't too different. Just more so than it looks on the above piece.

This second drawing was done on an ATC-sized piece of black Elephant Poo paper (yes, you read that correctly).  Elephant Poo paper is extremely soft and absorbent, and it took two and in a few cases three layers of ink to get color even this bright.  However, I made use of that to get two-toned colors. On paper this absorbent, the raised effect doesn't exist, except where the ink is layered on top of another layer.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend using these pens directly on this kind of paper -- why do so if you can't get the 3D effect?  Using them on top of other inks or paints would work though.  That said, I kind of like the chalkboardy look even without the 3D.

Souffle colors on Colored Paper

The Official Zentangle® Renaissance tile is a tan paper with an almost gritty surface.  It isn't too absorbent, though more so than on the Bristol Vellum. 

Without a dark paper contrast, it is harder to photograph and scan the Souffle colors than it is to pick up the Glaze colors. 

The raised effect is apparent, but I had to work hard to get it, so I only worked for it on the centers and dots.

Souffle colors with Mixed Media

Acrylic Paint Background

This drawing was done on an ATC-sized piece of bristol vellum (very hard and smooth) that I had painted with Ultramarine Blue acrylic paint, and scratched with some squiggly lines. It was very easy to get the 3D effect, and, of course, the colors popped!  In some areas, I applied the paint fast and thin, leaving them transparent enough that you can see the blue of the background beneath.

This is probably closer to the way most people would use the Souffle pens.

Watercolor Monoprint

A monoprint is made by painting onto plexiglass, letting the paint dry, and then pressing wet paper onto the paint.  You can get more than one print sometimes, and this was a second print that didn't have too much detail.  I decided to use the Souffle pens to bring out and add more detail.  It was on a fairly hard smooth paper, so I got the raised effect pretty much through-out.

Again, this shows how well the Souffle pens work, using them with mixed media, where some other medium of ink or paint supplies the main color.

As with the Glaze 3D pens,  Souffle 3D pens are considered a craft tool rather than a writing or drawing pen.  I think that's important when considering a purchase of these pens.  They aren't a Gellyroll pen, though similar in some ways.  

They work very well on dark paper, especially if is is smooth-textured, and hard (non-absorbent). The 3D effect is subtle and can be lost entirely on some papers or if a line is drawn too fast.

Some patience and care is needed to use these pens, and most will use them for effect in mixed-media projects.

For both technical information about these pens, and for crafting tips, visit the Sakura of America Web Page.

Disclaimer: I received this 10-color Souffle 3D Pen Set as part of a thank you for artwork that Sakura of America shared.  I was not asked to do this review, and received no other compensation. All opinions are my own.

Monday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

Zentangle Challenges The Daily New Tangle Challenge Pattern-Collections Daily Pattern Focus Zentangle All Around-Taking it to the Next L...