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MCBA Visual Journal Collective: Update on the October Meeting

October 27, 2009

A recap of the recent meeting with favorite tools from the members.

091017Budgie Above: another look at what's going on in the weirdo journal. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on Magnani Annigoni Designo paper with Stabilo Tone for color. (Go to the category list and click and scan through "Colored Pencils" to see additional posts on using Stabilo Tones and similar watersoluble crayon products.)

Last Monday we held the October meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective. Twenty three visual journal keepers showed up to exchange thoughts on various tools they use in their visual journals. I wanted to share the suggestions here because many people can't attend the meetings and while some art materials may be familiar to all of us it always surprises me how many times I whip out my Niji waterbrush and someone says, "Wow, I didn't know they made such a thing."

Clare talked about her favorite pens: Faber-Castel Pitt Artist's Brush Pens. She loves to use several different colors. Other members are also smitten with these pens and use them for sketching with watercolor. The pens are waterproof and you can wash over the lines almost immediately, with your watercolors. They are great for writing bold lettering as well. Now they come in larger sizes too (I mentioned this in an earlier post) which make an even bolder brush mark. So you might want to think about adding one or two of these (or several) to your drawing kit.

For Chach, her Kunst and Papier sketchbook with a fabric covered spine and bare bookboard covers was a necessary tool. She loves that she can fold these back on themselves just as you would a ringbound book. They are sturdy and well made. 

Ann and several other members and visitors admitted to using "nothing fancy" and finding pleasure in using up what they had collected over the years. Marty (more on Marty's project below) agreed with Ann and recommended using Pilot Better Retractable ball point pens.

In addition, Marty shared that he liked to do sketches in the soft-covered Moleskines and then cut them out and paste them in the sketchbook Moleskines and work over them with ink. He also enjoys scanning the sketches and printing out an outline version of his sketch created in Illustrator (software from Adobe) and then gluing that into his journal and working over it with ink. The result is a wonderful mixed-media approach.

Printmaker Jean spoke to the group on using a sheet of Plexiglas with a Sharpie drawing underneath it as a guide for her paints that she applies to the plexi and then makes a monoprint from. She also enjoys using the Pentel Water Brush which is like the Niji Waterbrush, but shaped slightly differently. She gets many, many months of use out of one so the tip is obviously resilient.

A triangular ruler inherited from her mother is Anita's favorite tool. It's easy to hold and keeps its position because of its shape. She also brought in a peg alphabet rubberstamp set to show us. The letters were about a 1/2 inch in height, great for text.

Laurice finds the Derwent Watersoluble Graphite Pencils are her favorite sketching medium in her journal at the moment.

For Mary, acrylic medium (matte or satin or glossy depending on the look you want) is a must have for journal work. She is currently using Liquitex brand, but has had great results with all the brands she's tried. I felt the pages of her current journal and was amazed that there was no acrylic stickiness (something that always happens when I've used acrylic medium in my journals). Based on her success with this, if you don't live in a totally humid environment you might want to give it a try when you have items to glue into your journals, and then want to paint over them as well. Note that if you cover both sides of the item you are sticking in your journal you are also sealing it from the air and for people who like to use a variety of ephemera this can be useful to keep the items from deteriorating.

Parallel Pens from Pentel, which use color ink cartridges (not lightfast, but still fun to work with) have Beth excited these days. She has several nib sizes so that she can make a range of lettering sizes.

Lori finds herself working with watercolor crayons (any brand) these days, and ink. For the latter she likes any cheap gel pens

A kneaded eraser is Marsha's favorite and ever present tool! Not only can it pick up graphite it can be used to model lights back into a shape. Additionally she always carries her retractable X-Acto (great because you never inadvertently stab yourself when reaching into your bag). And Marsha's important find that had everyone in the group ready to run to the store was a fly fisherman's hanging bag from "Fish Pond" (available in artistic colors). REI is one possible store to check out for this fabulous, foldable, carry everything accessory!

Briana remains loyal to her Zig pens (which are lightfast and archival). She loves the Memory Systems 2-way glue because it has a smaller applicator tip for small bits of paper. Tombow dual tip markers with their brush and fine tips are also something Briana is currently working with in her journal.

Dian is in love with Post-its right now. That's right Post-its. There are lots of creative ways to use them. Think about it.

If you are going to use pencils you're going to need a good pencil sharpener that's portable. Carol loves the Faber Castel Pencil sharpener that has two holes, one just right for the fatter colored pencils. It's about 3 inches tall and opens in half like a clamshell. One side for each type of pencil, and each half is also a container for shavings. (Still carry it in a plastic Ziplock bag because it will still leak a little.)

Molly loves to collage and she brought along a sturdy plastic envelope in which she stores collage bits. She also uses a plastic shoe box for larger collections of scraps and bits. She has discovered Reader's Digest Condensed Books at garage  sales and used bookstores and loves to use them to create Altered Books.

Storage of supplies was also on Deidre's mind. She showed us a knitting box which she found could carry all her supplies and look wonderful and even a little retro at the same time. She loves the Robert  Bateman Sketchbooks which have 100 lb. bright white paper that she finds will take all the work and wear she dishes out. She likes that they are ringbound and can be folded back on themselves.

It's colored pencils for Pam, Derwents and other brands. She is also working with Caran d'Ache Neocolor II (a watersoluble crayon line). And she recommended brayering ink across pages to begin building backgrounds on which to paint or collage.

It was my turn next and as usual I put a plug in for my favorite: the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. I also showed a Stabilo Tone and explained that I had been using them a lot and examples were up on my blog—but that I recommended, since the line was so reduced (10 colors from 60) that people just getting into the watersoluble crayon or pastel medium should go with Caran d'Ache Neocolor II or their NeoArt line.

Marty Harris, a local designer and illustrator who was joining us for the first time also brought along several STUNNING examples of the Moly_X project he started. Groups exchange accordion Moleskines and work in them and return them to the originating artist. Check out what is happening in this exciting project.

The last order of business was new projects. The Lake Street Project is a group sketching project that I'm organizing and most people present expressed interest in joining in. I'll have details in another post. I'm excited about getting everyone out sketching this dynamic and changing artery of the Cities (as it runs into St. Paul with only a name change).

And in upcoming news we will be having a sketchout at the Bell Museum of Natural History on Sunday the 31 of January, 2010. More details will be coming on this too—but plan to join us. Admission to the museum is free on Sundays, and it will be a great way to practice your animal sketching because all your subjects will be stationary! (And I was vaguely promised cake somewhere in Dinkytown afterwards, but I don't remember what the suggested venue was!)

I hope that this run down of recommended tools and supplies from the group will give those of you who live too distant to attend a meeting, an idea of what other folks enjoy using in their journals or with their journals.

If you do live in the Twin Cities area plan to join us Monday, November 16, at 7 p.m. for our next meeting (also the last meeting of the year!). We will begin with a short program on calligraphy, see all the Altered Book Journals from the Round Robin, and as usual have time to take a peak in each others' journals. See you then!

  1. Reply

    I always love it when you talk about and review art materials. But it looks like I really missed the boat when Stablio Tones were available (probably before I got into art). Blue is my favorite color so you can imagine my oohing and ahhing over your latest entry in your weirdo journal. Absolutely stunning Roz! The blending is gorgeous on the breast–your finger must be killing you.

    • elizabeth
    • October 27, 2009
    Reply

    Oohhh! I really like posts about favorite art supplies. I am new to art and never know what is good to use. Also, I don’t have any artist friends to ask, so posts like this really help me out.

    Thanks.

    • Roz
    • October 27, 2009
    Reply

    Donna, my blending finger is just now recovering from earlier experiments with Stabilo Tone so I’m just getting back to blending (in this and another recent piece, not shown yet, in this journal). I’m finding that I don’t like this paper for Stabilo Tones much, but want to give it until my blending finger is fully functional!

    If you want to work with this type of media go for the Neocolor II or NeoArt lines from Caran d’Ache because they have a lot of similar working properties. You’ll have fun, and get all the lovely blues and other interesting colors that you could want. I think there are 90 Neocolor IIs. Don’t recall off the top of my head how many NeoArts there are (I only have a small 10-color set of them). Maybe 30?

    • Roz
    • October 27, 2009
    Reply

    Elizabeth, you can have all of us as friends as an extention! I have to remember to get a list of the collective members and any blogs they have so that you can be better virtual friends. Some have websites. I’ll remember to work on that at the next meeting! It would be great if you could see some of what they recommend actually being used! I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t take a photo of Marsha’s fly-fisherman’s hanging bag!!!

    • elizabeth
    • October 29, 2009
    Reply

    Roz,

    Thanks!! I would love to see the websites (and get some more virtual friends!). Seeing how to use the art materials are great for me because it will give me more ideas as to what the medium can do.

    For the Stabilo tones in this picture, did you use water or just blend with your finger?

    I don’t have gouache (which I know you really like) but I really like the effect it has when you use it with the underlying brush pen (which I have but havn’t gotten the hang of how to use it yet).

    • Roz
    • October 29, 2009
    Reply

    Elizabeth, if you go to the “category list” and find “colored Pencils” and then scroll through those back a bit you’ll find all sorts of discussions on how I use Stabilo tone. The brief version is that I draw, then I lay in rough color dry. Then I wet the dry color and move it around like a first watercolor wash. Then I let it dry and start adding layers of dry color on top of that, and those get blended. Playing around with it, on whatever paper you like to use, will give you a feel of how much you can push it around.

    So what’s the deal with the brush pen? Not enough time to play with it? Something else?

    • elizabeth
    • October 29, 2009
    Reply

    Roz,

    I will check out the discussions you recommended. I think my problem with the brush pen is it is just so …. permanent! I have been using graphite because I know I can erase and all that black ink — staring up at me all dark and cranky… Maybe if I slapped a little colour in top of it I could distract myself from my constant mistakes.

    • Roz
    • October 29, 2009
    Reply

    elizabeth, throw away your eraser. The sooner you do that the sooner all your sketching will go better. Even when you are sketching in pencil don’t erase. Just use moderate pressure with your pencil to state a line at first, until you know it’s going to be the right one, and then you can restate it. The lighter lines won’t be an issue. After you do this for a while with pencil and pen then moving to the brush pen will be an easier transition.

    Look, for example at the following sketch I made while Dottie was staring at me https://rozwoundup.com/y4_9.html

    You have very little time and you need to put the lines in and then start developing things before your subject moves. You can see “mis-placed” lines here, and in other sketches of Dottie, but they are “lighter” in pressure.

    Also leaving the lines down instead of erasing them helps you build your hand-eye-brain coordination because you have a line on the paper which helps you judge where to go next. If you erase that line you are starting over, and over, and over again.

    Give it a go and see if you can live without your eraser!

    • elizabeth
    • October 29, 2009
    Reply

    Roz,

    A wave of fear just ran though my heart — throw away my eraser?!!?? YIKES!

    Actually, what you say makes sense and I will definitely give it a try. thanks! 🙂

    • Roz
    • October 30, 2009
    Reply

    elizabeth, if it makes you feel a little better you can simply throw your eraser into a drawer and not have it near you when you sketch. If it is a kneaded eraser they are great to have around if you want to pick up smudges after the fact OR if you are sketching with charcoal and want to restate some highlights.

    Good luck!

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