Currently Browsing: August 2009 36 articles


Speaking of Pigeons: My First Visit to this Year’s State Fair


Above: No this isn't a pigeon, this is my first sketch on my first trip to this year's Minnesota State Fair. I walked into the Swine barn at 10:52 a.m. (running late) and met this pig, who was napping, but kept opening his eye and twirling his ears around, listening to all the barn sounds. A 9 x 7 inch, 300 lb. hot press Fabriano Artistico journal card, with Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils used dry. I was just getting used to this card size and these pencils on this paper. I wasn't really interested in drawing the pen as the light strokes there suggest, but the pig looked like it was floating, without that. I miss my definitive ink lines, but I pushed forward because I love experiements and a challange. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Yesterday I did make it to the Fair to test out my new selection of materials. As mentioned in the caption above, I decided this year to go with pencils and not use pens for sketching. This still seems very odd to me, but after the above warm up sketch, I had some good moments. The main difficulty for me is that at 9 x 7 the card size is a bit too large for me when working with pencil. I need to fill up the space quickly and the pencil doesn't do that, the way I use pencils. We'll see, as we move into other visits I may come to love these cards.

Need Pigeons? Can’t Get to the Minnesota State Fair…?

Let's say you live in Antarctica and you can't get to the Minnesota State Fair. (OK, maybe you live in San Francisco, or Philadelphia, whatever.) Well that means you're going to miss out on seeing the pigeons at the Fair. These are "fancy" pigeons raised to compete in a variety of categories. (And outside the […]


Find a Button: Make Something

090819Necklace3Stone Left: Scan of a necklace made with waxed cotton, strung beads, a little bit of wire wrapping, and an antique button. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Even though it's Minnesota State Fair time not everyone can attend. (I can't attend today either.)

Well maybe you can have some fun making a little jewelry (which you can wear to the Fair when you can attend). Last week I was putting odds and ends away and found this neat antique button. (I have some friends that like to go shopping for antiques and when I go with them, since I'm not really interested in antiques, I always look for buttons and for old paper items—the latter because I love the way people solve graphics problems.)

I wanted to make something quick. I didn't want to take time to bead an entire necklace. Also I wanted the button to show at the front of the necklace. I found 3 left over flat stone beads. (Do you recognize the stone? If so write and identify it for me as I've lost my notes on it.)


Commercial Sketchbooks: Exacompta 9920 Sketchbook


Above: graphite sketch (0.7 mechanical pencil with HB lead) of a wild turkey in the Exacompta 9920 Sketchbook. As indicated by the labels placed in the image, there are opacity issues with this paper. The book can be opened flat, the shadow in the gutter results from no weighting while scanning. Read below for a discussion of the paper and book qualities. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

While I will always love pen and ink, especially with watercolor or gouache washes, I do love working in pencil too. I have found that recently I haven’t been doing much pencil work and I miss it. I tend not to work in my visual journals in pencil because of the smudging issues. But I also find, that since I have been so delinquent in going to life drawing, I’m really at a pencil use deficit.

I needed to find some paper to sketch and "think" on so I went off to Wet Paint and started searching their shelves for a commercially made sketchbook for this purpose. I didn’t have to consider binding my own because I knew I wouldn’t be using the mixed media techniques I use on the heavyweight art papers I bind into visual journals. I was looking for something simple, inexpensive, and something that didn’t smell in a way that would bother my allergies (some paper smells are heavenly).


Paper Choices: Strathmore Illustration Board for Wet Media

090820PigeonStrathIllBoardS Left: Pigeon test sketch on the new wet media illustration board from Strathmore. Approx 5 x 7 inches. Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils. This is a pigeon I met at last year's State Fair. I drew it using sketches made at that time for reference. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

The Minnesota State Fair starts today!
Go Sketch!

One of the fun side effects of getting yourself organized for the State Fair—and no I don't go on Opener (as I like to call it to the consternation of fisherman everywhere) because I like to let the food vendors get the kinks out before I show up—is that you have the perfect excuse for trying out new paper. (OK, I don't really need much of an excuse. It just has to be a paper that might prove useful to me.)

Strathmore creates some excellent papers that literally make my work possible. I love their 500 Series plate Bristol for pen and ink work (2-ply) and for painting (5-ply). Many of their drawing papers are suitable for binding into journals used by visual artists. Their 500 Series is their top of the line paper. Now they have an addition to this series: Illustration Board for Wet Media.


Looking into the Promised Land: Gate 5 at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds

Above: Sketch of Gate 5 at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds, using Staedtler Pigment Liner (0.7) and a Nji waterbrush with Daniel Smith watercolors. This is my new journal, which I started today. It's 6.5 x 8.25 inches and has Gutenberg for text pages so the pages are a light oatmeal color, not white. Last […]


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#11: Paper Selection


Above: 9 x 7 inch trial journal card made of 300 lb. Fabriano Artistico Extra White hot press watercolor paper. Wild Turkey sketch using Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

It’s time to make decisions—get paper and other media ready for sketching at the Minnesota State Fair. Yes I've been writing about this since August 12, but I still have some decisions of my own to make.

At the end of last week I was still thinking about what paper I wanted to work on. Since I had already purchased several sheets of 300 lb. hot press Fabriano Artistico I was hoping I liked it as much for the Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils I had decided to use, as I do for ink sketches (which I typically do at the Fair).


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#10: Warm Ups

Above: Practice sketch with Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils, left mostly dry. In my journal made with Old Folio. (Verso page is only partially visible. There is a print of a pear painting I printed on watercolor paper and none of the black ink printed. I stuck it in my journal, across the gutter, so […]


Crop Art Show

Above: Click on the above invitation to view an enlargement. That's right, besides seeing the current crop art at the Minnesota State Fair, you can see crop art from past Minnesota State Fairs at Foiled Again Hair Salon. This retrospective show, Over 40 Years of State Fair Seed Art, runs from today through October 17. […]


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#9: Don’t Make the Fair about Work


Above: a practice wild turkey sketch from my journal (there is a flock along the road where I ride my bike in the  mornings—10, silly adolescent birds; I sketched this on my return). The journal is one I made using old Folio paper, which is delightful to work on in any medium. The sketch is made with Stabilo Tones. I’m still seeking that softer look and experimenting. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

The other day a friend called me and said she probably wasn’t going to go to the Fair. Of course I gasped. She is also self-employed, and as is true for all self-employed people, she has to work when the work is there and when the work isn’t there she has to work at bringing the work in. But there is also a point where everyone has to have a life, and everyone has to find that point for themselves. (And I’m all about bossing my friends to that point of discovery.)

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