In Context: Looking at the Arteza Watercolor Book Part 6

June 21, 2019
Quick brush pen and quickly applied colors, working standing, as if in the Fairgrounds’ barns.




This isn’t strictly an “In Context” post. I don’t have things written on these pages and I’m going to show more than one spread. But I’m keeping it in context because these are all from the Arteza Watercolor Book and all these posts together constitute my review of that commercially bound sketchbook.


Why I Won’t Be Taking the Arteza Watercolor Book to the Minnesota State Fair

I’ve been posting work from the Arteza Watercolor Book to comment on how I find the paper and the book structure. 

Detail of the chicken sketch.

While my other 5 parts of my review point out some problematic issues with the books and paper, there are some nice qualities to this book—main one is of course that they are inexpensive. Paper you aren’t going to fret about using, and paper which you can use wet media on.

So a few weeks ago I decided to do a speed sketch session, pretending that I was at the Fair sketching a live chicken.

I don’t have access right now to live chickens so I used a photograph but set a time of 5 minutes to keep myself honest. The clock went off before I had finished the color in the body of the chicken, so I did what I often do at the Fair after a subject walks away, I made simple contrast adjustments, darkening a couple of washes before walking away. Based on the clock that was 8 minutes total, that would work for time at the Fair.

But the trouble is you can’t really do that on this paper.

At least in my two tries I wasn’t able to do it well. Not so that I would be happy with the results if I were at the Fair.

Quick sketch and quickly applied watercolor, which forced the issue of simulating working at the Fair.

I was using a Niji Waterbrush (as I often do at the Fair). I’m able to control my water with that brush after years of practice. I sprayed my paints, as usual before sketching to get them to soften.

My main problem is that in getting the washes down and using the water amount I use at the Fair the paper didn’t dry fast enough for me to go in for a second shot at the color. And where I didn’t go in for a second shot I found the color had sunk into the paper so much that it looked wimpy.

I first noticed this situation with the paper the previous day, when I was painting a beard portrait. I found that the watercolor was soaking in more that I like, and I was in a rush so I was working very quickly. I just didn’t have the contrast I wanted. 

“So check it out, sketch a chicken.” I think that’s my motto.

I knew immediately when I sketched the chicken that the Arteza Watercolor Book was out of the running for the Minnesota State Fair.

Detail of the beard portrait.

I’ll still use it at home for pieces I can hit with a hairdryer or leave to dry and come back to.

Of course if I took gouache and just went opaque…

I guess you never really know until you get up on the Fair opening morning and make the decision.

Currently I’m thinking about 8 x 10 inch journal cards or something that occurs to me next week.

I hope that you are all thinking about the Minnesota State Fair and SKETCHING! I’ll have some announcements coming up about the Sketch Out coming up shortly.


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