Another Watercolor Sketch in an Arteza Watercolor Book

July 29, 2019
Sketching with watercolor (used opaquely) and a little bit of white gouache in some colors—in a large Arteza Watercolor book. I began with a very loose color pencil contour sketch (raspberry color pencil is still visible at the shoulders and neck). Then I built up the colors.




I’m still working my way through an Arteza Watercolor book. 

It’s 8.3 x 11.7 inches.

I wrote a review of this journal and paper in a ninepart series (I think it was only nine). 

You can enter the words “Arteza Watercolor Book” in my blog’s search engine and all the posts will come up. Scroll down to find the first unnumbered one which will be the first part, if you want to look at them in order.

What’s Good About This Sketchbook?

It’s inexpensive. The paper also has some good characteristics, which you’ll have to read about in the review posts, but that’s not a hardship as I have visual examples.

What’s Bad About This Sketchbook?

The paper isn’t the best—again, you’ll have to read the review posts I wrote. The structure falls apart easily—again covered in the reviews.

Why Post About It Again Today?

I had pages left in the book when I finished my reviews, and I wanted to use the rest of the pages. And since I bought several of these sketchbooks because they were inexpensive and I had some projects they would be useful for, you’ll probably see more work done in them over the years when I work on those projects.

What’s Up With Today’s Image?

Detail from today’s image.

Today’s image is fun with perylene green and watercolor used opaquely. (I just don’t add much water.)

Why work this way with watercolor?

Well, why not? It’s fun. That and the fact that the paint was out and I didn’t feel like painting with transparent washes.

I was using filberts of various sizes—it helps to use a flat or a filbert to push the thick paint around. Turn the brush on its edge if you want to get a thin line of paint on the paper.

A nice thing about the paper in the Arteza Watercolor Book—one side of the sheet has a cold press texture (the other side of the sheet is flatter and more like a hot press finish). When you work on the cold press side opaquely you can get some lovely dry brush effects by dragging your loaded brush over a previously painted color. The paper texture’s “hills” and “valleys” break up the color application and let a bit of the previously painted color pop out.

Note: Perylene Green is classified as a black pigment (the tube isn’t next to me or I would tell you which black pigment), but it lays down and washes out a dark green. All the dark neutrals used in this sketch were mixed using complementary colors. In the detail image check out the top of the hair to the left. There you can see some red pigment popping out from the the dark green of the hair, creating a warm neutral. 

    • Lisa
    • July 29, 2019

    So interesting to see watercolor used opaquely.

    I’ve given up on finding “good” watercolor sketchbook that allows you to use watercolor as freely as you can on Arches or Fabriano Artistico. So, for economy and convenience, I’ve just settled on the Aquabee deluxe and am learning to KISS with my watercolor application, too. I actually love acrylics, but they aren’t practical for plein air or trips, so I’m going to try to paint with watercolor as opaquely as you are, here. My kit + white gouache is portable.

    Do you use natural or synthetic hair brushes when you paint opaquely? I’d love to hear about the brushes that you are favoring these days with watercolor.

    1. Reply

      Lisa, I don’t care for the Aquabee Deluxe—don’t like the paper, don’t like the wire binding. You might try the Hahnemühle watercolor journal, it has better paper, as does the Handbook Watercolor journal. Also the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media soft cover journal has sewn sigs and you can work across the page spread like the other two I’ve mentioned, and that paper is so much more fun than Aquabee Deluxe, and the Strathmore 500 MM book is also great for ink and pencil.

      I use both natural and synthetic brushes, but mostly I use synthetic brushes now all the time. I have my great Isabey mops and some sable brushes I use for traditional watercolor approaches, but I rarely get them out these days.

      You can read all about my favorite brushes on the blog—simply put brushes in the key words search on any page of the blog and a list of posts will come up, including posts from this past 12 months discussing flats and mops.

      And this post
      will give you links to my series on brushes. While they were written in 2010 things really haven’t changed that much. Except that I don’t use the Isabey etc. much as I’ve already stated. I have some other mops that I use for the quick sketches I’ve been doing, listed in those other posts. Synthetics have really blossomed in the past 20 years.

      I guess one thing has changed—I use a lot of Princeton flats and filberts. They have exploded their lines from “Snap” to “velvet touch.” Also Robert Simmons has some good filberts and flats. You’ll need to try some and see what feels good for you, both as balance in the hand and brush tip.

      The way I paint is very hard on brushes so I like using the inexpensive brushes for the quick sketches like today’s image.

      Have fun with your painting adventures!

    • Pascale
    • August 1, 2019

    Just seizing the opportunity to tell you how remarkable your blog is. Creative, free, knowledgeable, well written, a unique tone, so incredibly generous. Really grateful to have found you.

    1. Reply

      Pascale, thank you for your very kind words about my blog. I’m glad that you enjoy it!

    • Lisa
    • August 1, 2019

    Hi Roz,

    Thanks for your thorough reply. Good timing as I’m about to place an order. I actually love ink and graphite, too. . .and combining different materials at times, so I’ll give the Strathmore MM soft cover a try. I’m used to firm backs and spirals, so this will be an adjustment.

    Also, thanks for the advice on the brushes– I actually love flats, but you rarely hear about them used for watercolor. . .and I like the idea that I can use synthetic flats and filberts for all water media.

    I fell down the rabbit hole of reading about your marker preference, too. I’ve tried the Montana empty refillable marker with golden high flow paint (I love the Golden high flow), but I thought the marker tip was too ‘spongy’. All those empty refillable markers felt over-priced to me, which is a shame. I do like the tip on the Faber Castell artist big brush pen, but it’s not the same as an acrylic marker which seems more saturated to me.

    Anyway, thanks again for your advice and blog. I LOVE that someone still blogs about their art process!

    1. Reply

      As for the soft cover Lisa, if you’re using it outside, out and about, you will want to carry a piece of foam core board or a piece of coroplast (corrugated plastic board) that is a little larger on all sides than the open book. Place the book on this and use bulldog clips at each side to hold it down. Otherwise, especially in humid conditions (like the Minnesota State Fair) the books can get a little limp and it can be difficult to sketch if you sketch STANDING UP. If you hold it in your lap, no worries.

      Flats are used in watercolor all the time, some artists only use flats, even when working with glazing and traditional techniques in watercolor. Branch out on the watercolor books you’ve been learning. You may have to look at ones that were written 30 years ago, but there are tons of them. A whole new world for you to explore.

      With markers for best results you need to use the ink-paint they were manufactured with. Montana’s marker-ink-paint goes through their markers beautifully. They were made for each other.

      Also because they are made and formulated to work together you’ll find that the refills work great and the markers last a long time, as does the ink.

      Faber Castell’s Pitt Artist Brushes aren’t acrylic paint. The Pitt Brushes are filled with an India Ink (color) formulation.

      Comparing them to acrylic markers isn’t fair to either. The both have their own uses and strengths and if you work with them in that way you’ll also learn to love them and find additional things to do with them in a mixed media way, because you understand their strengths.

      So glad you enjoy the blog!

    • Lisa
    • August 8, 2019

    Excellent advice, Roz, thank you! You’re right. . . and thank you for the reminder to find the strengths and merits for what each art tool can offer. And then play to that strength! Adapt, compromise, figure out your mood, and choose accordingly. It sounds so obvious, but I just had a lightbulb moment on that.

    On a whim, (before I read your response) I took 2 sheets of artist’s grade WC paper (Arches and Fabriano), ripped it up, and took it to a big box store and they put a vinyl cover and spiral binding on it for me for a reasonable fee. Although I won’t always be able to sketch this way due to cost, I LOVE knowing that there is a way to use good paper in a portable sketchbook in any format and quantity that I want. (I’m not ready to take on binding– I need to focus on painting.)

    I’ll check out those more affordable options that you mentioned and see if I can chase down the Fabriano mixed media paper that you seemed to like. Thanks again for the awesome advice and inspiration.

    • Rachel Kopel
    • August 12, 2019

    Roz, I so appreciate your posts, reviews, experiences. You are my *go to.*
    Question: A few years ago I leveled up to professional paint, mostly Daniel Smith, some WN, A little M. Graham. Then I moved on the brushes, kolinsky sable, mostly Escoda. But was still using Canson XL watercolor paper. This year I went up with paper, Arches 140 CP, from the 10×14 pads. Cut down to half size, using both sides.
    I have used this paper, supposedly the gold standard, for my daily watercolor sketch for two months. I have been trying hard to like it, but I just don’t. I am mostly going direct to watercolor with no preliminary drawings. I cannot get an even wash. I cannot lift mistakes, I cannot get any shading in a color, it all waters down to the same. I cannot get a nice mixed edge where two colors meet.
    This month I am using the Strathmore 500 MM that you mentioned above, in the small Visual Journal format. It is working SO MUCH BETTER in all of my problem areas.

    All of my other *improvements did indeed help my work to get better, but not in the case of the paper. Please, what am I doing wrong with the Arches?

    1. Reply

      Rachel, I have a lot to say about paper as you know. I will be writing a post about your questions later. I’m out taking time off because of eye surgery and my father-in-law’s memorial service. More later.

        • Rachel Kopel
        • August 13, 2019


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