Posts Tagged ‘watercolor journal’

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Easy-Peasy Way To Add Color To A Journal

04/28/2016

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Those Last Few Drops Of Ink

01/30/2016

Do you hate throwing out even a few drops of ink? Instead of sending it down the drain or waiting forever to use the last of a fill, make a colorful background for some unique journal pages.

I used leftover watercolor in a mister, but ink will work just fine. Dilute it with water so the color is soft enough to let the written word show clearly. Let the page dry thoroughly before adding words.  These mini misters at Amazon have long straws to suck up the last drop so even a small amount of fluid will be sufficient to decorate a page. As little as a single spritz can add visual appeal to plain paper.

The farther the mister is from the paper, the more diffuse the dots. Once applied the color can be smeared for a different effect. Tilt paper to make large drops spread color in any direction. Absorbent paper will reduce the time available to manipulate the fluid, but the misting will dry more rapidly. It’s a trade off.

If the result lacks color, touch a fountain pen to the wet surface to add more dimension. The same thing works with a rivulet of clear water as Leigh Reyes does in some of her ink and pen videos. If using more than one color but you don’t want the colors to mix, let the paper dry between applications. In my example, the first layer was Daniel Smith Transparent Pyrrol Orange that dried completely before adding Ultramarine Turquoise. The colors mimic this evening’s sunset and will make a suggestive background for the day’s musings.

Most journal paper will buckle, so use a light application. This Midori #013 with Tomoe River paper only wrinkled where there was a substantial amount of water. This technique will also work on plain stationery and blank greeting cards that are compatible with fountain pen ink.

Experiment with mixing colors. Even the muddy neutrals that can result from mixing more than two colors will make subtle, misted backgrounds.

Whether you play connect the dots or write daily musings, have fun with it. That’s what color is all about.

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Another DIY Notebook For Fountain Pens

07/22/2015

Re-purposing binders and notebooks was covered recently, but a new idea has emerged in the last couple of days that deserves mentioning.

For some reason, pretty paper sneaks its way into my shopping cart whenever I hit one of the crafts stores or stationery shops. Recently, this very attractive pad of scrapbook paper managed to follow me home. I had no use for it at the time, but realized this morning that folding the sheets in half would make them fit perfectly into a checkbook cover. But would fountain pen ink work on the coated stock? Remarkably well to my surprise. The paper is textured which allowed some of the ink to appear to feather, but a smoother scrapbook paper might not. I wasn’t offended by it regardless. Even a Sharpie worked beautifully and there was no bleed-through whatsoever. So you can write on both sides of the paper and even over the printed designs. Does that not open all sorts of possibilities?

This is how I put it together. The package of Jodie Lee Designs Nature Garden Collection 6″ x 6″ Paper Stack contains 48 sheets and retails for $5.99. Sales and discounts can reduce that to much less. Since both sides are usable and they get folded to create four pages each, that’s 96 blank pages and 96 decorated pages on which to write. All it takes is a checkbook cover to protect it and a rubber band or 1-2mm elastic string to hold the pages in place. Make sure there is a little tension when the band is placed in the crease. If not, the paper will fall out too easily. A second band around the outside will hold it together and even secure a slender pen or pencil just inside the edge of the cover.

Another way this can be assembled is with vellum between the pages for a very fountain pen friendly paper and more room to write. The decorated pages will show through as a soft background to your musings. Torn edges might be especially nice and vellum does that very well.

Has your checkbook cover seen better days? Use washi tape to strengthen edges and cover worn areas. it’s all part of personalizing your notebook.

If you like the scrapbook paper idea, but are a Midori fan, the 12″ x 12″ pages can be cut to fit the Traveler’s version. The elastic band will hold the pages together without having to bind them together. Simply adding a few pages here and there inside a Midori would add a little color and interest.

For less than $5, I put together a new journal with some very pretty paper that works with wide nibs and fountain pen ink. I’d say today was a day well spent.

 

 

 

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Grid Format and Why Didn’t I Try This Before?

01/31/2015

It’s only a month into this journal so my opinion might change in future, but for now, the grid format is working very well. That’s something I never thought would happen.

Ruled notebooks are designed for writing. Like the yellow brick road, just follow the path. I’ve used them for years and doodled in the margins, but with a few exceptions like when Gene Kelly danced across a page, seldom added anything else.

Blank journals have no limits, but do invite filling the empty space creatively. However, I miss the lines that keep my writing level and so use blank journals mostly for water media rather than words.

As my daughter pointed out, the pale grid format is like a background pattern. The horizontal lines can be followed for writing or I can ignore them and doodle in any direction. Turning the book sideways, allows for long sentences and a fresh perspective.

Line spacing on Miquelrius paper is 4mm so skipping a line when I write full-sized looks fine or I can use a fine nib and write on every line. For my journal use, this grid is just the right size. For comparison, the Moleskine and Rhodia grids are 5mm so there isn’t much difference.

Glad I didn’t spring for a dated planner since the freedom of decorating pages my own way is liberating. Plus I don’t write in my journal every day and some days I write more than a page. Despite the useful design and appeal of a Hobonichi or Midori, I need room to roam.

Things like Washi tape, paper cut outs, stamps will enliven pages, but not add significant bulk. Watercolor squiggles applied with a dry brush is another option. Filling in some of the squares to make various designs is relaxing and can add more details. No talent necessary for any of these embellishments.

Trying something different has paid off this time and added an element of adventure to keeping a journal. Predictable can get ever so boring. Where’s the fun in that?

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An Antidote To Bad News

08/16/2014

Banish the world’s woes for a few minutes with an upbeat journal entry and a splash of brilliant color. Consider it a restorative and no doubt you deserve one.

This month orange and turquoise have been happy distractions from the turmoil outside my sphere of influence. Diamine Aqua Blue in the Platinum Century Chartres Blue broad nib and J. Herbin Indien Orange in the Platinum #3776 music nib along with some hits of Daniel Smith Permanent Orange watercolor made this happy page.

Not an artist? Me either. But anyone can decorate with colorful doodles or fill in different elements like a kid with a coloring book. In this case, coloring outside the lines is totally acceptable – even desirable.

If you aren’t ready to create a mini-masterpiece, go abstract. Put down some shapes and lines with a waterproof ink. Then fill it in with markers or paint.  Enjoying a time out at your local bistro? Even black coffee applied with a spoon, straw or toothpick will do in a pinch. Sometimes let it get away from you with drips and spatters that create unexpected results. Who says art must be tidy? It is whatever you make it.

The only requirement is that the paper will withstand your choice of tools. Below I’ve used Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks and Strathmore Windpower Sketch. The former is high quality while the latter is inexpensive. You can tear out the pages of the Strathmore if the results don’t meet expectations. However, it can be useful to retain disappointing entries to appreciate your progress and you will progress. Just keep at it. The more often you are creative, the better you will get at it. Promise!

 

 

 

 

 

More journaling inspiration from Susan Gaylord,  maria mercedes trujillo a, observeclosely, Marsia Bramucci, and Mia.

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Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor Set

04/10/2014

On occasion a company sends a truly fun product to explore. Jet Pens did so this time with the Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor set. It is a kick to use and a very cheap thrill at $5.25.

The colors are a challenge to photograph since the pearlescent effect is light-dependent. But at just the right angle, some of the reflective properties show very well. The darker colors can be used alone while the paler ones work better over another color like black paper, marker or paint.

Excellent for a background if your journal is friendly to water. Fountain pen inks write just fine over Niji Watercolor even when the ink is applied thickly. Other writing tools are good as well. Layering colors proved intriguing and worth exploration.

It takes some pre-wetting to get a good load of color on a brush. If you don’t have a watercolor brush, a waterbrush is an easy to use tool. Just squeeze a drop or two into the dry paint and give it a minute to saturate the surface. Then swish the brush around to create a creamy consistency. A spray bottle is another way to wet the paint and works great with a standard paint brush.

A thin layer of paint can be used for glazing. Many of  the colors are very transparent and will shine on dark paper. Combine with a white or metallic rollerball pen for some very unique pages.

The paper used in the tests is Canson Mix Media, 98 lb, which is suitable for pen, pencil, watercolor, and acrylics. Paper weight is what counts, but most sketchbooks should work especially if you don’t overdo the water to paint ratio. Once fully dry, add words. My Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook is getting a number of pages decorated for future use. When the perfect words come along, the page will be ready for them. If the muse doesn’t strike, the colorful pages have their own appeal and can be filled with doodles or famous or perhaps infamous quotes.

Add something extra to a handmade greeting card or decorate stationery with a metallic  swash or doodle. Use a template if freehand won’t do. Just let each color dry thoroughly before adding another so they don’t mix on the paper unless that is the effect you want. Even a stamp dipped in paint could pick up enough pigment to leave a colorful impression.

The Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor kit is an inexpensive way to dress up your journal or add a flourish to your correspondence or a crafts project. At the price point, the set is an easy addition to add to an order of a bottle or two of fountain pen ink. Not that you couldn’t meet the minimum order for free shipping with other goodies. Just sayin’…

See also Ardith’s Art Journal Review.
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I Cheated But Just A Little

03/28/2014

Taking a cue from my Colorful Background post, I sploshed some blue and green watercolors on a page in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook. Unlike the artist who made the video in my post, I didn’t want to write on the painting so I cheated, but just a little.

The trick was to make the words temporary without obscuring the background painting. After a few so-so ideas, I remembered a packet of translucent vellum that disappeared years ago. It took some time to locate, but provided the perfect solution.

With a Pilot Prera/Plumix Italic and Noodler’s Black ink, I wrote the Eurythmics lyric several times on the vellum until it looked suitable. A little paper tearing produced uneven edges that echoed the watercolor. Then I made another written piece using a Uchida Gold Opaque Paint Marker. With a Scotch Wrinkle-Free Glue Stick, I attached the written words to the watercolor. Lastly, a swath of gold dots on the left side and the page was complete.

The Daniel Smith watercolors are from my basic palette and include Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Turquoise, and Green Gold with a touch of Ultramarine Blue. I may have inadvertently dipped my brush in Sap Green on one pass, so that could be added to the list or not.

Epsilon paper is 150gsm so it can handle a fair amount of liquid, but it still required quick work to keep things fresh and flowing. The Isabey Petit Gris Mop brush from Leigh was perfect for the loose wash. It holds a huge amount of paint and added to the fun of getting the colors to mingle on the paper.

If you aren’t into painting, a similar background effect can be achieved with wide or brush markers. The latter works extremely well when held horizontally, almost parallel to the paper. Another option is to doodle with Sharpies and write with a fountain pen over your design.

If you want to write with a fountain pen more than paint colorful backgrounds, Jet Pens has a fun palette that could be used to create a pale wash of color over which ink will stand out nicely. More about the Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent set next week, but it could make a good starting point paired with a waterbrush. It does take a few drops of water to get the paint thick enough to put down significant color. However, a less saturated look might be just the thing to make your writing stand out on the page.

Whatever way you go, writing over a colorful background adds pizazz to your words. If it inspires you to write, so much the better. Play with it and have fun. That’s what should happen with all artistic endeavors.

Speaking of having fun, I think I’ll add a few more gold dots. One can never have too much gold, right?

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