Judith Lang Main’s New Blog and a Nature Lab at RISD

November 30, 2011

NMNJudith2978Left: Journal page from Judith Lang Main's journal, while sketching at Minnesota's North Shore. Image ©2011 Judith Lang Main. Click on the image to view an enlargement; click on the link in this caption to go to her original post which contains many more images from this day's outing.

Twin Cities artist Judith Lang Main has just started a new blog: Brush and Pencils.

I first met Judith at one of the first Bell Museum Sketch Nights in 2010. I have since seen her at several of the local sketch outs. She works quickly with pencil and brush to capture both intimate details of wildlife as well as vast vistas and full scenes. Her journal work manages to exude a great sense of place.

At our first meeting Judith worked fearlessly, with wet media, on paper of an unknown origin. (A friend had saved the paper from a dustbin and Judith had then bound it into a book.) Since that time I have seen Judith also work frequently in a Fabriano multi-colored artist journal. She has a wonderful knack of making the often brightly colored papers work well with her vision. She used such a journal at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair.

I just learned of Judith's blog, but it has been up since September of this year. Visit now to catch up from the beginning. Her posts are short on text and focus on her sketches and related photos.

From Judith I learned of The Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at the Rhode Island School of Design. Visit this link to view a short little video which explains the lab while giving a visual tour. For people familiar with the Bell Museum of Natural History's Touch and See Room the lab will have a very welcoming ambiance. It is definitely on my list of places to visit.

    • Louise
    • November 30, 2011

    Roz, Thank you for posting links to Judith Lang’s blog. It’s definitely going on my list of favorites!

    • Jill
    • December 1, 2011

    This multi-colored book must no longer be available. I love the colors with the watercolor and gouache! Thanks for posting it.

    • Louise
    • December 1, 2011

    I looked online and called several places. I could not find the Fabriano multi-colored artist journal. Apparently, Fabriano has discontinued its Ingres paper. I liked the colors in that journal too. I did find the Stonehenge pad with 5 colors. I might have to settle for that.

    If anyone has other info about the Fabriano multi-colored journal, please let us know.

  1. Reply

    Louise, Journals go in and out of fashion and become unavailable all the time (I still remember fondly the pentallic square journals with blue covers I used in the early 90s; I think pentallic made them), but when I read your note about Fabriano discontinuing the Ingres paper as well I went ARRGH.

    I actually just got off the phone with Wet Paint because I had to call and ask them what is going on. They have some black Fabriano Ingres still in stock but when it’s gone…

    It wasn’t one of my favorite papers (and I never used one of the multi-colored journals because the bindings weren’t something I cared for) but I hate to have papers disappear (it happens more frequently that I care to think about).

    If you make your own books you can get Fabriano Tiziano still, and it comes in a lot of different colors so you could knock yourself out. Like Fabriano Ingres it isn’t a watercolor paper, but I’ve put light washes on Tiziano as well as some dry-ish washes of heavier gouache.

    Hahnemühle Ingres paper is still out there, with it’s lovely laid surface. It’s a softer paper than Fabriano Ingres. I also wouldn’t use wet media on the Hahnemühle Ingres, but use it mainly for colored pencil and pen and ink, but it’s a good sheet and inexpensive and great for dry media journals.

    Wet Paint confirmed that the Fabriano multi-colored journal was discontinued. You might write to some other independent art supply stores and see if they have any still in stock and buy them up if you’re interested. (WP doesn’t have any more.)

  2. Reply

    Jill, alas yes the journal Judith used is discontinued, but that’s all the more reason to make your own journals, then you can put the different color sheets that you want in your book!

    I recently made a journal out of Bockingford watercolor paper, which comes in 6 or so colors (I only used 4 colors).

    The BEST TINTED PAPER FOR WATERCOLOR OR GOUACHE is Twin Rocker’s Simon’s Green—at least it’s the best that is still in existence, don’t get me started on other papers that have fallen from existence.

    And of course you can always simply take your favorite watercolor paper and tint it before you (or after) you bind it! I prepainted the paper in the two journals shown in this gallery on my website

    The walnut ink journal was problematic because the walnut ink always remains watersoluble so I couldn’t work on top of it with watercolor, but instead used colored pencil and pen. The blue/purple pages were acrylic inks. The entire sheet was painted on both sides before I tore it down and I actually painted the book cloth to match the pages

    It can be fun to work in books like that because the painting doesn’t always “help” your drawing, but you also get some serendipity rising up as well.

    So when one paper dies we can look at other ways to approach things.

    • Jill
    • December 1, 2011

    Thanks Roz, for the painting ideas. I have a lot of Stonehenge paper that I use for printmaking and have always wondered how it would be bound into a book for pen and ink and watercolor sketches. I may have to paint up a few sheets and make a little book to try it out. I also thought ‘what about Canson MiTeintes?’ Do you have any experience with that paper? Funny, if I’d seen one of those multi-colored journals in the store previously I would have backed away from it, but seeing Judith’s sketches, I really like the effect!

  3. Reply

    Jill, except for the Canson MiTientes that they used to mount on board and sell and then discontinued and then about a year or so ago (I loose track) reintroduced with more limited colors of paper, I don’t do hardly any wet media on C MiT. By that I mean I have some dry brush techniques I use with acrylic paints that I’ll use on it to make decorative paper, but I never use it for pages in my journals.

    (I used to do gouache and colored pencil “paintings” on their premounted board, but when they discontinued it I went in a different direction with my artwork, and I like the other papers I work with now more, for all the stuff I do, so when they did reintroduce the C MiT mounted to boards it wasn’t interesting to me any more—frankly I don’t know if they still make it this second time around or have discontinued it again.)

    Canson MiTientes buckles when wet (if any amount of moisture is used) and I don’t like that it has two different textures (one on each side so I have to collate the pages to match across the spreads—and I know that I do this for other papers and I’ve written at length how to do this on the blog, but I’m not willing to put in the trouble for this paper, it has little to recommend it for journal use for my work, except as I’ve said as an occasional decorative paper or as end sheets and such. I use a lot of it for collage.

    If you want to make a multi-color paper book for yourself I think using a few of the early stonehenge colors (not the new colors like Kraft and ice blue which I’ve written about—which have cracking problems) would be a good bet, or if you do watercolor, the Bockingford I mentioned is readily available and made for wet media.

    Strathmore papers makes some colored sheets, I wrote about them when I was doing my workshop for them this spring. I don’t recall what they call them. They worked well with gouache for a thin paper. They do buckle a little, but if you can find them they might be worth a try. I do NOT mean their charcoal paper line—that line is too light weight and doesn’t like wet media at all. Sorry I can’t give you the name, I can’t find the swatch books. The paper isn’t available locally so it just fell off my radar.

    You might want to check out some of the printing papers you can get from the large mills. A friend of mine is working with Speckletone from French Papers for letter press and I used to color pencil on it a lot—used it for making journals for dry media. Don’t recall if it is good for painting on or not, but frankly you’d have to test what they are making now anyway.

    Painting on toned paper is always wonderful!!!! You can check out suggestions in my two part series on papers for visual journaling

    Several of the papers are toned or can be made so. Many, like Magnani Pescia come in several colors (albeit more muted colors than what was in the journal Judith bought). My favorite Pesica color is the robin’s egg blue.

    Here’s a pen sketch with watersoluble crayon (used first wet and then dry) on that paper

    You have to alter your working methods on print making papers like that which aren’t sized for watercolor, but you can quickly adapt and I have some friends who only watercolor on Rives BFK now (which is a printmaking paper).

    Hope you have fun, whatever you decide.

    • Jill
    • December 1, 2011

    Thanks again Roz. I haven’t used MiTientes in years and only used it for pastel work. With all of its issues, it sounds like a no go as far as painting. I will explore the other papers you mentioned further and play a bit with the Stonehenge. Yes Rives BFK is my go to paper when I really want to get down and dirty with all kinds of media and layers. It’s tough!

    • Louise
    • December 16, 2011

    I am late replying to you. Thank you for posting so much information about good papers. I took notes (the old-fashioned way …. on paper)!

  4. Reply

    No problemo Louise. Glad it’s helpful. Yep, it’s always helpful to have a couple notes on paper actually on a slip of paper, so that when you go to the paper store if all one’s devices fail (I only carry an old phone so I don’t have devices that can fail, as I have my journal with me and it usually contains a list) you still have access to it.

    Paper is a wonderful thing and no one will ever convince me that it isn’t. I was at dinner with friends the other night and a woman there let me work around with her iPad (she doesn’t understand some things about it and I’ve used Macs forever) and everyone at the table joked that “Roz has iPad envy and wants one,” which actually couldn’t be further from the truth. The more I worked with the thing the happier I was that I didn’t have one. I had thought they might be nice but it was so slow and I would have to have an attachable keyboard to type at the speed of light like I normally do—it would be so much to carry.


    I do think that it would be fun to have in classes to show students examples of things on my blog or website, and to use to project slide shows (I think I saw somewhere there was a little projector that would hook up to it. Tiny.

    But I digress, it isn’t worth much to me.

    Where as everyday paper makes me swoon.

    • Louise
    • December 16, 2011

    The Asus EeePad has an optional keyboad which attaches. It closes and makes a nice portable case. I have the EPad, but not the keyboard. Asus has lowered the price, probably to compete with Amazon’s offerings and because it might be replaced with the latest Asus tablet product. I am very pleased with my Asus tablet.

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