Sunday, August 7, 2016

Focusing...finding our true interests, our gift, our path not always easy.  I have a questing mind, as many creative people do.  I love to explore mediums, subjects, approaches.

Our truest interests, our unique path, can be--and usually IS--plural.

In the past, there were not so many choices for people, at least those of us of peasant stock.  We worked the farm, or followed our father's trade, or raised our children.  Period.  A few adventurous souls left house and home and "lit out for the territories," or sailed for the New World to escape those limited expectations, or poverty, or oppression both societal, religious and economic, or the Potato Famine.  I'm very grateful my ancestors did just that, though I still have Ireland in my bones two and a half centuries later.

And I am in NO way suggesting that we need to find Our Style or our medium and settle on it, as some galleries will tell you to do "to be taken seriously," or make ourselves into a brand.

How I paint or draw depends on what interests me, how much time I have, what medium seems to suggest itself, if I'm feeling bold or contemplative, peaceful or angry or excited, what the subject matter is, why I want to capture it!

No thanks.  I am not a factory--or even, truth be told, particularly driven or focused.  Fine for those who can, and find satisfaction in the process, but--not for me.

It's the same with challenges, or prompts.  Fine for those who enjoy them, but not for me.

I believe that as an artist, I personally need to be free to expand and explore.  To be inspired--and yes, to inspire.

That IS my path, as an artist.

And so...I experiment, and try different mediums and approaches and subjects.  I'm always surprised when someone says they recognize my me, it's very different, and influenced by where I am on my path on any given day.


What works for you?  What makes you itch to paint or sketch?  Why do you respond to the things you do?  What has influenced you?  What tool feels like part of our hand?  What colors make your heart sing or express an elemental sadness or capture a special tenderness?  What does life demand?  How much time do you have?  What new medium do you want to explore? What matters to you?  What makes you feel safe, or loved, playful, nervous, or challenged?  What do you need to get outside of your brain and heart and down onto paper or canvas?

The answers to those questions and a hundred others are signposts on our path.

And paths change, and branch, and have dead ends and interesting side trips and wondrous surprises as well as frustrations along the way.  As long as we keep going, at our own pace, in our own way, we will arrive where we need to...and always, always, it's more about the journey than the destination.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Playing with Papers!

Sometime back I got a variety of papers from Legion Paper, and since I love bookbinding I put them all together under one cover and bound them into a Sampler Journal...check out their Sampler Department for a dizzying array of choices for all kinds of paper needs:

It's quite a big book with multiple signatures...and I left the stickers on the papers so I would remember what I was using!

I'm only partway through this book...maybe 2/3--but I decided (since I'm expecting more papers to test!) that it was time to share my impressions thus far. 

As usual, I am most interested in papers that would work well in a journal, with a variety of mediums: fountain pen as well as disposables, graphite pencil, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, and of course, watercolor. 

I generally enjoy a cold-press or its equivalent, but sometimes hot press and a bit of rough as well.  I look for a pleasing surface that not only looks but FEELS good with these varied choices--I prefer a tough surface that will take some punishment, too.  It's a lot to expect from a paper, but some of these really stand out.  I'll be ordering more for my next bookbinding marathon!

Some of these papers are not meant for watercolor, but pleased me mightily by working just fine for that medium.  Loved them...

Other papers are lovely for the purpose for which they were intended, but for the way I work, not so much.  A soft surface drives me crazy with its tendency to drag both pens and pencil points, as well as absorbing watercolor too readily.  I think they're likely perfect for printmaking, but not for my needs. are my findings so far, in no particular order or ranking--they're just how the ended up bound into the book, sorry.

Saunders Waterford was quite nice with a variety of's a watercolor paper, with a slightly soft surface but very nice with ink as well.

For some reason colors dried lighter on the Waterford than I put them down...that often happens with a paper with a lot of sizing, but this was more than I'm used to.

On the other hand, these brush tests worked beautifully on the Waterford.  I'd give it a big thumbs up and remember to mix my washes stronger.

I adore Drawing Bristol, I just do--always have.  For a variety of mediums.  WANT MORE.

I use Stonehenge a lot when I'm binding books, mostly because I love the Kraft paper tan (this isn't it's darker and warmer.)  I was disappointed to find ink feathering more than I expected, so I'll be careful how I use it.

It's delightful with dry mediums. though!  Stonehenge stays in my arsenal.

Somerset Velvet--not for me.  Too soft, pens and colored pencils tend to drag on it. 

Arturo Cover on the other hand is wonderfully versatile!  LOTS of thumbs up, and I definitely want more.

I really didn't expect the Arturo Cover to work this well with juicy watercolor, but it performed like a champ.  Love!

More Somerset Velvet.  Nope.  Not for me.  Way too soft.

I had three weights of Multimedia Aquarelle and loved all three!  Great, bright, strong paper, handled pretty much any medium I threw at it, including a fine pen.

This is the lightweight 90 lb. Multimedia Aquarelle...I deliberately made a wet, juicy wash to see how much it would buckle.  Absolutely minimal!  The thinner, lighter paper would allow more pages and more signatures in a journal.  Thumbs up!

Yep, I'm in love...brush testing on this page, pleased with how true the colors remained, too.

MORE Multimedia Aquarelle.  Must.  Have.  Gorgeous stuff, and truly multi-media.

Folio, nope.  Probably as its name suggests, a printing paper.  It took pen okay but not all that exciting.

Folio is definitely NOT pleasing with watercolor, the wet pigment soaks in and looks gray.

Lanaquarelle, on the other hand--YUM.  Same colors on this paper as on the Folio were much more vivid.

Lovely with all these mediums, too.  Ordering more...

Ink wanted to feather on the Folio, especially if the pen writes rather wet/juicy.

Sorbet text is quite lightweight, and comes in rich for light washes, a dryish application of gouache, or colored pencil, though.

This is Arches Cover, not their watercolor paper, but--I wasn't thrilled with it for ink, either, it felt a bit soft.  (But then I don't like their watercolor paper...)  It DID work well with a different pen, and as always that makes a huge difference.

Again, ink wants to feather some on Coventry Rag...not high on my list.

So overall, for me...not Arches Cover, Coventry Rag, Folio, or Somerset Velvet, but the others have definite possibilities for my artist's-journal keeping self!  (As they say, YMMV.)


And this from Legion Paper's website...they're good folks and very helpful: 

"It is our mission to continue to travel the world in search of the most intriguing and best performing papers - from delicate handmade papers that reveal striking texture and color with every sheet to the most technologically advanced digital printing papers produced today.

Following [on their page] are just some of the mills that we represent.  In addition to these, we have over 40 other mills all over the world with whom we work on a regular basis to have papers made to our, and our customers', specifications."

If any of these interest you as much as they did me, go to the Legion Paper link, above, and then to the specific paper you want to know more about.  On each paper's page there's a "where to buy" link in the bottom right hand corner! 

Going there now...wheeee!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin