Testing, testing

I bought a new sketchbook the other day. I’m trialling it for a trip I’ll be taking later in the year. On previous trips I’ve treated myself to Moleskine sketchbooks, but I’m not completely convinced that I’m not just paying for the name. Given the ‘status’ of the Moleskine, it’s not surprising that other art supply companies are making ‘clone-skines’ to tap into the same market but at a much lower price-point.

The clone I’ve bought from my local art shop is slightly wider than the Moleskine sketchbook which I normally buy, not to mention being half the price. The clone does have the elastic strap and pocket at the back of the book. The paper is 150gsm, acid free, so pretty standard. I don’t expect this paper to be good for watercolour. However, when I assessed the types of  drawing and painting I did on my last trip I realised that it was sketching, not painting, that dominated my output. So a watercolour friendly paper is, realistically, not my first priority.

So far I’ve tested my acrylic paint markers and have been pleasantly surprised at the result. Not only does the paper take my thick marker quite well, it doesn’t bleed through to the back of the page.

A drawing on the back of a page which also has a thick black acrylic paint marker drawing on it.

A drawing on the back of a page which also has a thick black acrylic paint marker drawing on it.

Only one slightly disparity has occurred. The paper loves my Posca paint markers, soaking up the black lines to a matt finish, but it doesn’t react so well to my Liquitex paint markers. In the drawing below the black is the Posca and the red is the Liquitex. I couldn’t get any sort of smooth coverage with the red and repeated applications would have ended up tearing the page.

Two brands of paint markers, two different quality of coverage.

Two brands of paint markers, two different quality of coverage.

Here’s a close-up of the two colours side by side. I have been happy with the coverage of the  Liquitex pens on a range of other papers, so all I can conclude is that they don’t like this specific type of paper. This is a bit of a drawback as I have quite a good range of colours in the Liquitex and I’m not desperate to spend more just to buy similar colours in another brand.

Close-up of the coverage of the two brands of markers.

Close-up of the coverage of the two brands of markers.

I’ve also taken my Lamy Safari pen for a test drive on the paper and once more I was really pleased with the line and the way the paper took the ink.

Drawing using the Lamy Safari pen in the new sketch book.

Drawing using the Lamy Safari pen in the new sketch book.

I’m planning to try watercolours and a few other things in this book before I make a final decision on whether I go with the clone or not. I’ll keep you posted.

Cafe Wednesday – Wheelie Bins

Latest from the cafe, after a somewhat unfortunate drawing of a person at the cafe – drawing people isn’t my strong point – I decided to move on to a subject that was more forgiving, the wheelie bins outside the cafe.

Wheelie bins at the Cafe, 2 April 2014.

Wheelie bins at the Cafe, 2 April 2014.

I think I’m getting the hang of using just enough of my paint markers.

This week’s cafe drawings

It has been fairly quiet this week. I’ve been working on exhibition applications of my own and also with friends so there hasn’t been too much going out and about.

I did have a quick coffee at the National Portrait Gallery, one of the newest national institutions in Canberra. They have a very welcoming attitude and encourage drawing and community participation.

Napkin and condiment box at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, 24 march 2014.

Napkin and condiment box at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, 24 march 2014.

I had my red paint marker in my bag so the red box and table number just begged to be drawn.

Back to the Bakery the next day, looking up the street in the opposite direction to my last Bakery drawing.

View from the Italian Bakery, Mawson, 25 March 2014.

View from the Italian Bakery, Mawson, 25 March 2014.

I bravely decided that I didn’t have to use my red paint marker in all my drawings.

Saturday at the Italian Bakery

It’s early days working with my new paint markers. I took several colours with me when I went for coffee on Saturday morning, being mindful that I didn’t want to ‘paint’ my subject, just sketch it. The view is out the bakery window and looking at the back entrances of the shops across the road.

The Italian bakery, 22 March 2014 pen and paint marker.

The Italian bakery, 22 March 2014 pen and paint marker.

As my partner commented the trick is not to lose the drawing amidst the colour. I’m not sure that I have the balance right yet. I also scanned this image in ‘grayscale’ to give me an idea of how my tonal values are working. It’s something I hadn’t thought about before and I’ll probably do again. If anything it probably reinforces the benefits of limiting my colour palette.

'Greyscale' version of the Italian bakery, 22 March 2014.

‘Greyscale’ version of the Italian bakery, 22 March 2014.

Paint marker practice

Yes I have gone out and bought myself several more paint markers. I’m pretty much sticking to the tried and true colours, including a cadmium yellow, cerulean blue and yellow oxide. I’ve also selected a bright green, a lighter blue and two greys.

Liquitex paint markers, testing for colour and opacity.

Liquitex paint markers, testing for colour and opacity.

The two colour patches were done using wet over dry and as you can see these colours are quite opaque. There are several colours in the range which are transparent but I haven’t tried any of those yet. The other aspect I like about these markers is that they are very quick drying. So that is a plus for my sketching.

I thought I’d better try the colours out in a ‘real’ drawing, so I did the following sketch of my stainless steel teapot, sitting on a table outside.

Teapot using Liquitex paint markers and ink, 18 March 2014.

Teapot painted using Liquitex paint markers and ink, 18 March 2014.

I don’t plan to use so much colour in my regular sketches, but I’m pleased with how they worked in this quick sketch.

I see red

These drawings contain evidence of my even newer, newest art ‘toy’, paint markers. I am testing a Liquitex Paint Marker, which is a water-based acrylic paint in a marker-style tube. I have the smaller nib version 2-4 mm, but a larger 8-15mm is also available.

It started like this. I dropped by the art supply shop, just before lunchtime on Friday and as I was the only customer there I took the opportunity to ask the staff to give me their views on the range of marker pens that have become so popular lately, particularly for cartooning and graphic art. I haven’t used a felt pen since primary school and at a general starting price of about $10 per pen it’s not the sort of thing I’m going to buy to try ‘on spec’ (‘speculation’ for the non-Aussies out there). I was pleased that I struck two knowledgeable people who could walk me through what was on offer. One of them suggested that apart from the Copic type of marker I should also consider paint markers. Even better, the supplier had given them a whole stack of these pens to test. So they sent me home with my own cadmium red paint marker to play with.

En route I dropped in to the local mall, where I spotted just the right type of sign – red!

In the Mall, ink and paint marker, 14 March 2014.

In the Mall, ink and paint marker, 14 March 2014.

I did also manage to get in a practice sketch of a some people, without even using the marker pen.

People studies, ink, 14 March 2014.

People studies, ink, 14 March 2014.

Today I had another chance to use it. Our favourite bakery cafe has been re-decorated, as has the wall on the other side of the road.

Graffiti outside the cafe, ink, pencil  and paint marker, 15 March 2014.

Graffiti outside the cafe, ink, pencil and paint marker, 15 March 2014.

The paint marker has a chisel point so it can make quite fine lines as well as thicker marks. It will also give good flat coverage, should you want to do that as well. There are 50 colours available and packets of replacement nibs can also be purchased. My thinking is that I would like get a few colours, and one or two greys, based on what I normally paint with, in the smaller tubes so I can add them to my ‘field’ sketch kit. The bigger tubes are just way too jumbo-sized to consider taking them with my regular sketching setup.

Has anyone else used these paint markers? I’d be interested in your thoughts. I see from their website that Liquitex has been offering a free sample to European and American customers, although UK, US and Canadian requests have apparently outstripped currently available supplies. Anyway keep an eye out for them or ask if your local art shop has some samples you can try.