Posts Tagged ‘American Journey Watercolor’


Easy-Peasy Way To Add Color To A Journal


Adding a little color to a journal is easy with watercolor dots, a brush and some water. Contrast or complement with fountain pen ink for a unique twist to doodling in a journal.

American Journey is a line of watercolors from Cheap Joe’s and rumored to be produced by DaVinci. Whatever the source, it is artist quality and reasonably priced. Not long ago Joe began offering small dots of paint to get acquainted with the colors. Then last week one of the Essentials Sample Color Sets jumped into my shopping cart just to show me what I had been missing. At less than $6, it was an offer too good to refuse.

The packaging is simple but functional with a box that feels like a cardboard egg carton and a paper label that slides on easily to keep it closed. It is very portable though it lacks a mixing area. That can be overcome with a piece of Yupo trimmed to fit inside the lid. Or just allow the colors to mix together on a journal page by placing them next to each other for a variegated effect.

There is a sheet of paper inside the box with the names of the paints, characteristics, and pigment codes with enough room to paint a small sample of the color. It is printer paper so use a minimal amount of water, but it is a handy way to know which color you are grabbing.

The paint dots are small so a round brush is best for lifting color. The website claims it’s enough to make a painting. Heh, maybe a small one. However, it is enough to see the color though limited for making mixes when you consider how many you can create with a dozen colors.

Single pigment colors are preferred by most watercolorists and there are six in this set. The six multiple pigment paints are fine, but can make color mixing more complicated.

  • Aureolin lacks the brown/gray aspect of other brands of Aureolin and for me that is a plus. It’s more true yellow which is better for mixing purposes, the primary use for yellow. It is a multiple pigment paint, but the two pigments are both in the yellow family. So Aureolin behaves more like a single pigment paint.
  • Joe’s Yellow is benzimidazolone, a watercolor sold by Winsor & Newton as Winsor Yellow. It’s a good mixing color and useful as is for florals.
  • Gamboge (hue) is a double pigment color that is achieved with a single pigment in the Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton lines. At least both pigments are yellow and the combination does produce a more even color transition from orange to pale yellow than what some companies produce. I could get used to the AJ version.
  • Raw Sienna is slightly less red than many brands, but it is single pigment and makes very smooth dark to light gradients. When diluted to its palest form, it can be used for skin tones in landscapes where features are not defined.
  • Rambling Rose is made from the same pigment as Daniel Smith Quinacridone Rose and Winsor & Newton Permanent Rose. It is a versatile color that can be used in place of red and mixes well with a wide range of colors.
  • Joe’s Red is pyrrol red like Winsor Red and is closer to a true red than Rambling Rose.
  • Brown Madder (quinacridone) is similar to Transparent Red Oxide though a touch more orange.
  • Quinacridone Gold Deep is more golden than some similarly named paints. Like Raw Sienna is can be diluted to make a flesh tone for landscapes. This version is made from a yellow and a red pigment so if you add blue, it will produce gray.
  • Ultramarine Blue is exactly what it should be. It mixes well with the yellows in the set to create lovely greens or with Raw Sienna to produce gray. Try it with the reds for some lovely purples.
  • Blue Stone was reluctant to release color and never became as saturated as the other paints. It resembles Daniel Smith Lunar Blue though more green. It is not an essential color. Joe’s Blue (phthalo) or Cobalt Blue would have been better choices.
  • Royal Amethyst is a beautiful dioxazine purple and rightly called amethyst. Add yellow to make neutral and warm browns.
  • Skip’s Green is a yellow biased spring green and is a novelty color rather than an essential. I think the set would have been better served with a more useful green.

Add a #4 or #6 travel brush or a waterbrush to the Essentials Sample Set for a simple kit of basic tools to decorate your journal. Dots, dashes and doodles are all it takes.

Note: Daniel Smith offers watercolor dots on 8.5″ x 11″ sheets that aren’t nearly so portable. However, if you really want to fool around with a lot of different colors, it’s another way to go. There are three other American Journey sets, if the Essentials selection isn’t right for you.









Green With Watercolor


While working on a very long review of Jackson’s Pan Watercolours, I took a break and played with some Daniel Smith and American Journey tube paints.

The idea was to allow the colors to mix on the paper rather than mix them on the palette. The former produces a more variegated, fresh color rather than a flat, single tone.

Paper has an influence on the result and the less smooth the paper, the more textured the result. The paper in this case is in a 6 x 9″ spiral journal of Aquabee Super Deluxe Heavyweight Drawing Paper, 150gsm. It has a “textured surface with excellent tooth” and does make fountain pens write quite dry. But with a brush, it’s a great place to doodle in color.


Another Basic Watercolor Palette


Here is the latest iteration of my basic palette tucked in a Winsor & Newton metal box.

Another Basic Watercolor Palette

These are tube paints squirted into full sized pans from Daniel Smith. Indian Yellow and Scarlet Lake are from Winsor & Newton. Hansa Yellow Medium, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Turquoise, Green Gold, Sap Green, Perylene Green, and Shadow Violet are from Daniel Smith. Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue are American Journey colors from Cheap Joe’s.

The green paints seldom get used, but I like to have them handy. It may be more satisfying to mix yellow and blue to make a color that is harmonious with the basic triad (yellow, red, blue) of a painting. However, Daniel Smith Green Gold is so beautiful that I make an exception for it. Sometimes I like a green that pops off the paper and Sap Green does that well. Perylene Green is subtle, has a huge range and is useful for landscape subjects like trees, mountains, and greenery. Sometimes I just want to paint rather than fiddle with color. These three paints make that easy.

Ultramarine Turquoise is uncommon in a basic palette, but it is very good for mixing and can produce a lovely pale teal. So it earns a spot in most of my kits.

Shadow Violet is at the experimental stage. It might get swapped for Neutral Tint or Payne’s Gray or it might not. For now, I am undecided.

A few favorites did not make the cut. Daniel Smith Transparent Pyrrol Orange and Quinacridone Rose plus AJ Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet would have been included, but there is only so much room in a 14-pan palette. Maybe next time.

Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Mixes


Canson Art Book: Inspiration – A New Cahier


Yesterday I discovered a new cahier journal at Swain’s Art Supplies. It’s from Canson and not only does it work for light water media, it is good for fountain pens, too.

Canson is a very old French company that offers paper for artists under the Arches and Canson banners. This past year one of their Mix Media spiral notebooks became my testing ground for watercolors and brushes. Fountain pen ink works in it, too. I had high expectations for the Canson Art Book: Inspiration and was not disappointed.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration

Canson Art Book: Inspiration

The cover is bendable and unadorned except for an unobtrusive logo embossed at the bottom of the back cover. The interior of the cover could hold a lot of data including contact info or an index. The paper is acid-free and fine grained though with an almost imperceptible tooth. It works beautifully with pencil and erases easily. This may well be its first and best use.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Writing Samples

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Writing Samples

Other writing instruments performed well with only a few exceptions. The Sharpie Ultra Fine Point demonstrated mild show-through with the Copic and Tombow showing even more. The Copics also bled-through but a blotter (a doubled sheet of printer paper in this case) prevented damage to the succeeding page.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Fountain Pen Samples

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Fountain Pen Samples

Just because a paper is good with a variety of media doesn’t mean fountain pens will take to it. But even writing with wide, free-flowing nibs turned out well except for the Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses that suffered a smear. There was no feathering, no bleed-through, and only the faintest hint of writing visible on the reverse. The paper might be a bit dry but that control makes this journal good for two-sided use.

There is only an unlined version so it won’t suit all writers. I tried a sheet of Rhodia with its lavender lines as a guide beneath the Art Book paper and that worked well enough under good lighting. Something with darker lines would be even better.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Watercolor Swatches

Canson Art Book: Inspiration Watercolor Swatches

I used a fairly wet, #8 round synthetic brush for the watercolor samples using straight Daniel Smith and American Journey paints. The colors turned out suitably rich and very bright. The paper did wrinkle slightly but much less than I expected. There was no bleed-through and the blotter prevented any moisture from seeping though to the next page. Each remained pristine and ready for immediate use.

If you are a Moleskine fan, this is a fair competitor should you need a different grade of paper. It isn’t a substitute for a specific Moleskine product but rather an additional journal for certain uses.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration is targeted at artists but good for anyone. A blotter sheet between pages for tools that are very wet like the Copic brush pen tip or watercolor media is essential. That really is the only caveat.

The minimalist form and quality paper make this cahier a real treat for an urban artist. Just tuck in a small box of watercolors and a tiny bottle of water and you can discreetly catch any subject. If you are a writer, especially one who uses fountain pens, anything in your kit should work just fine. No need to match pen to paper since the paper handles most every ink and pen equally well.

Do I sound enthusiastic? Well I am. Nothing since I was introduced to Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks has hit the mark for my paper needs so well. Now there is a very portable cahier to complement my S&B hardcover journals. Color me very happy indeed.

Canson Art Book: Inspiration specifications:

Comes in a package of two journals

Sizes: 8.3″ x 11.7″, 3.4″ x 5/5″, 5.5″ x 8.5″

Contains 30 sheets of 65lb/96gsm, acid-free, heavyweight Mi-Teintes paper

Simple sewn binding

Flexible cover in four colors:

  • Cover: Indigo, inside cover: Lavender
  • Cover: Black, inside cover: Grey
  • Cover: Tobacco, inside cover: Oyster
  • Cover: Wine, inside cover: Red

Confessions of a Color Addict


Time to ‘fess up. Color is my weakness especially when it comes to the liquid applied to paper variety. Fountain pen ink and watercolor paint not only grab my interest but keep it glued to their gorgeous hues. If only I could make a living working with them or creating them or anything that would keep us close, I would be thrilled.

Last weekend was the perfect example of what happens when I let my addiction run amok. Despite a number of interruptions, I spent nearly an entire day working with swatches, catalogs, samples, tubes and bottles as well as color theory and new palette combinations. Not such a big deal on a weekend but it is easy despite pressing matters to get lost for a weekday evening the same way. Addictions are like that.

A Summer Palette of Inks

A Summer Palette of Inks
Swabs of Diamine Sepia, Diamine Maroon, Caran d’Ache Caribbean Sea, Diamine Royal Blue, and Sailor Gray

Admittedly ink attracts me in a different way than watercolor for ink needs no alteration. Straight from the bottle and plied with a pen, its best qualities come to light. Not that watercolor doesn’t look beautiful directly from a pan or tube, but it is made for mixing. A simple palette of three colors, red, blue, and yellow, can produce a rainbow of hues. Bump that up to a dozen colors and the sky’s the limit.

Five tube colors produced these results and that from a rank novice to be sure.

Watercolor Palette Derived From Five Colors

Watercolor Palette Derived From Five Colors
Cheap Joe’s American Journey Cadmium Yellow Light, Indian Red, Ultramarine Blue, Raw Sienna, and Burnt Umber across the top with mixes below.

There is no help for this addiction but I should like to put it to better use. I’m open to suggestions…

Oh, have you an interest in watercolor? I have a few unused travel sets to sell now that I’ve moved on to creating my own kits with tube paints and old paint boxes. Contact me at inkophile*at* for more info.

See also Glorious Color from Inkophile on Pinterest.

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