Archive for the ‘Watercolor Supplies’ Category

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On My Desk – July 2021

07/31/2021

Five fountain pens were my tools of choice for July. It was a stub and fude month with a varied assortment of inks. Iroshizuku and Herbin contributed two each with a Diamine ink for the fifth. The Delike New Moon fude got the most love and a review should be finished in a couple of days.

Not pictured is the pink Tombow MONOgraph 0.5mm mechanical pencil with Uni Nano Dia HB lead. Its companion is a MUJI hard type, black plastic eraser.

In the category of non-writing tools are a Metro Stylus, a Silver Black Velvet 3/4″ flat brush, and a Princeton Neptune 1/2″ square wash brush. A cinnamon oatmeal cookie scented candle, an e.l.f. cooling under eye refresh rollerball plus four rolls of washi tape round things out. Oh, and lots of photos so I am never alone.

What’s on your desk?

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Links To Inks, Pens, and Watercolor Supplies

06/01/2021

Getting back into the swing of things after a long holiday weekend…

From the archives:

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Friday Links And Clever Spy Pens

07/17/2020

Despite the temptation to think that lockdown days are all alike, retaining optimism for the coming weekend adds a little spiciness to Saturday and Sunday. A few pen links should start things off right.

From the archives:

Five years on, this passport cover continues to have a place in my life. It is no longer available but there are several at Amazon that might entice me to add a second notebook to my writing routine. The Traveler’s Notebooks tucked inside are good with fountain pen ink, Uniball-Signos, graphite as well as a variety of felt tips and gel pens. The paper is thin but will tolerate a light wash of watercolor. In other words, I can use any tool on my desk. Having no restrictions suits me just fine.

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Sometimes A Rollerball Beats A Fountain Pen

01/21/2020

Yes, you read that right. Sometimes a fountain pen isn’t the best choice, especially when a pen might be idle for months at a time. Recently, I became acquainted with the Uni-ball Signo 307, a gel pen that suits such situations admirably.

The 307 was recommended for use with watercolors due to its permanence and saturated black color. Unlike some gel ink, the Signo does not produce globs that dry slowly. It is smooth, archival, and skip-free. According to Uni-ball, the 307 contains “Super Ink™ that protects against water, fade, and fraud.” In addition, rollerball pen tips do not fray or wear down on textured watercolor paper like felt tips do. The combination of permanence and durability makes the 307 a useful addition to my collection of watercolor tools. It is a bonus that it fills my need for a maintenance-free, always read to write pen.

It is comfortable in the hand, extremely light weight, and should tolerate normal use easily. It has been many years since I used a rollerball and it is good to see there has been improvement in the quality of the ink.

My 307 has a medium 0.7 nib that comes with black, red or blue ink. The kicker is that it requires absolutely no pressure to write a consistent line. My hand is very happy with it even if it is an inexpensive plastic pen. My fountain pens aren’t remotely jealous. The little stinkers have no fear of being replaced by a no-class upstart. Have they been raised right or what?

You don’t have to take my word for it. The Pen Addict posted a review in 2015 if you want to learn more from a trusted source.

On Amazon, I bought several to keep in locations where I write only on occasion but don’t always have a fountain pen handy. Note that there is an earlier model 207 that does not seem to have the same ink though it is a smooth writer. It does come in more colors if that is important for your needs.

Inkophile is an Amazon Affiliate. If you buy through these links, I get a tiny commission that will help finance new products to review.

Signo 0.7mm black ink

Signo 0.7mm assorted color set

Signo 0.5mm black ink

Signo 0.5mm assorted color set

Signo 307 Refills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bee Paper Can Be Quirky

12/16/2019

For those of you who play with watercolors, note that Bee Paper can have an issue that is frustrating. My former recommendation now comes with a caveat.

On the plus side, Bee is 100% cotton and 140 lb/300gsm just like any good quality watercolor paper. Cotton brings out the full range and depth of color that paint has to offer and the 140 lb. weight will reduce warping. That’s all to the good.

The best paper will cost more than student grade or pulp content paper, but to be sure, the investment is worth it. Cost-wise, Bee is at the low end for cotton paper. For swatches, brush practice or color exploration, it is perfectly fine. Just don’t be surprised if the paint does not perform as it should.

My issue with Bee paper is how it accepts the paint. Sizing prevents watercolor paper from absorbing too much fluid. Instead, the color remains on top of the surface where it pools, puddles and mingles with its neighbors in intriguing ways. Sizing is an essential component of good paper. When inadequately or improperly applied, paint blotches and flows in ugly, spidery lines like the worst feathering you ever saw from fountain pen ink and then some.

To demonstrate Bee Paper’s quirky behavior, the edge shows an irregular border that should have been smooth and even, just as the paint appears elsewhere.

The back of the paper reveals that paint soaked through. We may tolerate that with fountain pen ink, but it should not happen with watercolor paper especially when the paint is lightly applied. In the center of the same sheet, there is a 6mm by 3mm spot that did not take paint normally and bled through to the back of the paper. All of the problems would have been eliminated by a more consistent application of sizing.

Not every sheet has this issue but who wants to get well into a painting only to find the paper is flawed and the effort ruined. Note that Bee is fine for practice and experimentation, especially with new brushes and paints. My stock won’t go to waste. It will have its uses and eventually get replaced.

In the future, I will stick with Arches and Fabriano Artistico. They are readily available in the U.S. and never disappoint. A number of other companies offer 100% cotton paper and are worthy of consideration as well. Putting aside one brand is no great loss when there is such a variety of others from which to choose. 

Two Trees on Bee Paper

Brush practice with watercolors on Bee Paper scraps. Blue tree is 8.2 x 11cm. Autumn tree is 6.8 x 11.4cm.

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Sunday Reads: Iroshizuku, Lamy And A Drama Queen

07/21/2019

Unlike those silly drama queens seeking attention from social media, this baby’s got the right moves – not too much victim but just enough to earn appreciation for a well-executed whine…

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A Watercolor Palette Plus A Few Tips and Tricks

04/17/2019

Before fountain pens caught my fancy, watercolors were my favorite distraction. Over the years, a number of brands and kits have come my way. After experimenting with the lot, the Sennelier Aqua Mini set has become my favorite.

The Aqua Mini is very good value for money at about $20 for eight small cakes of artist grade paint. They are cheerful, transparent colors reminiscent of Impressionist paintings and can be mixed to make a satisfying variety of additional colors. Perhaps because they are made with honey, they are sticky and yet creamy at the same time. They moisten readily and put down significant color with no effort. They really are a pleasure to use.

Unfortunately, the box and brush are somewhat less exciting. The brush is tiny though suitable for small details. I prefer a #6 or #8 round travel brush for painting in the wild. When at my desk, anything goes.

The box has very little space to mix colors. This is a design flaw that can be remedied by placing a flat container nearby for mixing purposes. White porcelain is the best at revealing a paint’s true color. It shouldn’t stain and cleans easily so I would recommend it over other materials. However, plastic might be more practical for travel.

Tip: A dessert or sushi plate can make a useful palette. Pans of paint can be attached temporarily to the plate with tape or a removable adhesive or putty. Following a session, allow the paints to dry. Then cover with plastic wrap or store in a resealable bag to prevent dust from accumulating on the paint. When it comes to working at my desk, this is one of my favorite arrangements.

Or you can pry the paints from the original tray, move them into plastic watercolor pans and then to a variety of containers from a mint tin to a proper watercolor box. A different option would be to pry the entire plastic tray out of the original Sennelier box and put it into a mint tin of similar size. One with a flat, metal lid would provide a more useful mixing area. If it’s white, so much the better.

Below is a Simply Gum Mints (not the chewing gum) metal box that will hold six large pans or nine small ones like those from the Aqua Mini set. Mia discovered how well these tins work and I am so glad she passed that along. My family has gone through a large box of the mints leaving me six containers for a variety of color groupings.

If you just want to play around with paint, the supplied brush and box will do. But don’t be surprised if you get hooked and need a better brush and not long after that, a real watercolor box. Then more paint and brushes and, well, you get the picture. Such things happen even with the best of intentions. Collecting paint is very much like collecting ink. Brushes are comparable to pens. You have been warned.

As for paper, Stillman & Birn make lots of journals for the traveler. Tomoe River paper will take a light wash of color as will a number of other brands. Should painting charm you beyond the occasional doodle, go for 100% cotton watercolor paper. It can be pricey but totally worth it.

My enthusiasm for Sennelier watercolors is what I really wanted to share with you. The container and brush deficiencies are easily overcome so don’t let that be a deterrent. The paint is great and that is what really counts.

Amazon Shopping List:

  1. Sennelier Aqua Mini
  2. Travel Brushes from Escoda, da Vinci, Silver Brush
  3. #8 round brush from Escoda or Silver Brush
  4. Metal Palette with plastic pans from Meeden, Honbay or JCT ECO
  5. Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook smooth enough to accommodate fountain pen nibs or the Beta for a slightly textured surface.
  6. Winsor & Newton Watercolor Journal, Arches, Strathmore, Fabriano (All are 100% cotton with a slightly textured surface.)
  7. Sennelier Watercolor Tube Test Pack (Fewer colors than the Aqua Mini but a larger volume of each color. Will need a palette/container and plastic pans.)
  8. Small (half) pans and large (full) pans
  9. Simply Gum Mints
  10. Sushi plate or appetizer plates or small porcelain palette
  11. Uhu Reusable Adhesive

At Parka Blogs, Teoh reviewed the Sennelier Aqua Mini set with similar conclusions.

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