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The Essence of Watercolour: A Book by Hazel Soan

Near the end of this past summer I received a note from Batsford asking if I would like to review a the Hazel Soan book: “The Essence of Watercolor.”  (I provided the above link to Amazon so you can read more about the book and see a flip through one reader has put up. I’m not […]

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Even More Television Viewing

Yep, a couple more TV show reviews today. I’ve been trying to keep track of what I’ve written about already.  Earlier this fall I watched “Trapped” on Amazon Prime. The action takes place in a remote Icelandic town. A headless torso shows up just as a storm blocks the town from outside help. The police […]

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More Television Viewing in October

While under the weather in October I used my couch time productively to binge watch the remaining episodes of the Netflix Comedy-Drama “Orange is the New Black.” I’ve enjoyed the show since it first came out. Set in a women’s prison the show has a strong cast of female leads and over the first five […]

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My Love Affair with the Pentel Brush Pen

I love the brush pen so much that I write about it almost constantly. Every so often I make a concerted effort to get people to try it. That’s what this week is about. My blog posts are all brush-pen related. I’d like to begin by mentioning that I didn’t always like the brush pen. […]

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Another Word about Fluid Hot Press Watercolor Paper (not Fluid 100)

I’ve been doing a lot of sketches in free moments, to decompress from the computer-internet connection issues I’ve been experiencing lately. I’m using up papers that I have on hand. I’m finding 10 minutes here and there to sketch. Often I’m sketching while waiting for the computer tech to come (there isn’t a lot I […]

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Gouache In the Hahnemühle Nostalgie

Above: In the 8.27 x 11.69 inch (A4) size Hahnemühle Nostalie Journal I sketched this finch from pet store photos. I used a Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy pen and then painted with gouache. I played with different layers and reworked areas, specifically in the background because I wanted to push the paper—it was so fun to put paint […]

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Looking Back at Prepping for the Minnesota State Fair

Above: Warm up contour sketches of live finches in an aviary setting. I used a Tombow Calligraphy pen (hard tip) for the sketching and an extra bold (chisel tipped) Uni Posca paint pen for the purple background. I outlined the bird on the recto page with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen after the purple was […]

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Sketching at the Charlie Maguire and Steve Cormier Concert

Above: Pencil and watercolor sketch of Steve Cormier in a Moleskine with the new whiter and more absorbent paper. Click on an image to view an enlargement. It was great to get out and hear Charlie Maguire and Steve Cormier singing songs of cowboys and farmers on Friday, May 20 at the Ginkgo on Snelling […]

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Notan—What It Is and Why You Need to Know about It

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Left: Spotting Notan, a diagram from Arthur Wesley Dow's book Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color, ©2007 Dover Publications. Click on the image to see an enlargement.

We learn and then forget things all our lives. Sometimes we learn things and they fall from the top ten useful things we think about everyday, but somehow they still impact us. Notan is one of those things for me. I grew up in a home where a mother with an artistic bent would bring in little bits of beauty (knick knacks, paintings, ceramics) and combine them with other objects to create tableaux of beauty. Because of proximity and travel many of the items that drew my mother’s attention were Japanese. My childhood immersion has created a life-long interest in line and compositional cropping which people might dismiss as, “well that’s just Roz, she designs books after all,” (images are always being cropped for cover design effect or to make interesting chapter opening pages in textbooks). It runs deeper than that. It has to do with notan.

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Calligraphy: from Traditional to Funky

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Visual journal keepers tend to do at least some writing along with their sketching. I'm not a calligrapher but I love looking at beautifully written script. I enjoy colorful, rich, and textured layouts of text, text, text, all handwritten with flair and gusto. Because of this I keep my eyes open for interesting books about calligraphy.

The other day at Barnes and Noble I came across Lisa Engelbrecht's Modern Mark Making: From Classic Calligraphy to Hip Hand-Lettering. Even though I have no intention of mastering the art of calligraphy I had to buy this book. It is filled with stunningly beautiful and visually intriguing samples by the author and other calligraphers. (Traci Bautista, Glen Epstein, Teesha Moore, and Stephen Rapp are just some of the talented letter artists whose work appears in this book.)

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