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Prepping for the Minnesota State Fair—Testing Sakura Pigma Sensei Pens

Left: Quick sketch using the .3 Sakura Pigma Sensei Pen on white Stonehenge. Yes, most pens work fantastically well on Stonehenge (I can't think of one that doesn't right now), but the Sensei works particularly well, giving you a line that looks reminiscent of using a dip pen. When you blow up the image it […]


Wave Paper and Pilot Lettering Pens: A Quick Review

See the full post for details.


Sketch Night at the Bell in March

See the full post for details.


Dog Practice—Two: Pentel Pocket Brush Pen?

Trying out another approach.


Snow Piles: A Fact of Life Revisited

Sketching snow piles during the melt.


Draw What Interests You: Sketching at the Minnesota State Fair


Above: My fourth journal card from my first visit to the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. Here I caught a black-faced ewe sitting in a protective canvas jacket with a large green collar. (Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils used dry on a 9 x 7 inch card of Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper. Notes were written with a 0.3 Staedtler Pigment Liner.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.

The eye and aspect of this ewe, sitting in her protective coat with its high green collar attracted my attention. First she was sitting still and "promised" to do so for a few minutes more. Second there was something lovely about her eye. Third there was the delightful shading of black on black across her face. And then there was the crispness of the collar against her shorn beige neck.


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#7: Sketching Animals (or People) at the Fair

050829CCow Left: Sketch of a cow from my 2005 State Fair Journal. Pen sketch with gouache wash on prepainted 8 x 8 inch square cards made of 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper. This cow was in the birthing barn and I stood on bleachers to look down into its pen. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

This post continues the Minnesota State Fair Prep Series begun on August 12.

Everyone who knows me knows that the big draw for me about the State Fair (no pun intended) is the way you can get up close and personal with the animals and sketch them. There are huge barns filled with pens and stalls, each filled with animals competing to be the best in their category.

Everyone who knows me also knows I’m a carnivore (just take me out for barbequed ribs if you want to understand what this means). Yes I am sketching animals that I eat. I don’t have a problem with this. If you do, please stop reading and come back to my blog on another day. (Some of my friends are vegetarians. I was a vegetarian for 18 months once. It isn’t going to happen again. I deal with my carnivore nature and my love of animals by asking questions and by supporting humane farming practices.)

I have a great deal of respect for Minnesota farmers. They work hard, in difficult situations, to create a living for their families, supply quality food for the country’s citizens, and deal with the vagaries and risks of farm life. I have had wonderful conversations with farmers about how they work, how they raise animals and crops. When I am at the Fair and talking to them I believe my role is to listen and learn. In all the years I have been going to the Fair I have never met a farmer who didn’t respect his animals. I have been privileged to hear stories about families who have farmed for generations.


Just in Time for International Fake Journal Month!

Left: Sketch of the yard bunny (that's the sweet name for him) on a water resistant paper from Alvin, using a Staedtler Pigment Liner and then painting with washes of Schmincke Gouache.
Click on the image to see an enlargement.

Last week my errands took me to Wet Paint and after I found the things I needed I did a quick run around the store—just 'cause.

This is how I find things when the staff moves them to new locations! I like to know where things are.

I've also been thinking about what I'll do when I stop binding books. That thought led me to search the shelves of commercially bound sketchbooks (and hence the report Sunday on Venezia sketchbooks from Fabriano).

During this search the upcoming International Fake Journal Month was also looming large in my life. This is always the perfect time for me to try out new commercial journals.

Imagine my glee when I found a 4-5/8 x 7-1/4 inch field notebook from Alvin. (Alvin Field Book NP430; $6.95.)

Judging from the curve formulæ, charts, and trigonometric formulæ crowding the inside front and back covers, this must be the type of book surveyors like to use. The bright yellow cover probably helps them locate the book when they drop it in the tall grass! And the two types of grids (a wide spaced one on the verso page and a narrow one on the recto, as shown in the bunny image) probably help them note down all the data they need to record.


Not Quite Portrait Friday

Left: A sketch of an elderly woman waiting in the doctor's office. She moved just as I finished the arms and before I could define the fingers, but it was the arms that interested me. I threw the paint on quickly after she was called away. (Cropped down from a page of notes.) Staedtler Pigment […]


It’s Not Waterproof until It’s Waterproof


Above: An ink-test page from my current journal which uses Velin Arches (formerly Arches Text Wove) for text paper. I was concerned about bleeding ink lines with pens usually dependable in their waterproof qualities. (My rubber chicken puppet Gert is always willing to be a test subject.) The page size is approximately 6.5 x 8.5 inches. The right side of the page spread didn't fit on the scanner, but it isn't crucial. The page tab in the center of the spread is from a page I removed when I started the journal; something I do to make room for eventual collaged items. Click on the image to see an enlargement.

So is it bad Karma or the phases of the moon, or more likely the change in humidity as the earth gives up the last of the melting snow moisture into the air? And of course one can’t discount manufacturing tweaks and changes in the products and papers used. But whatever is causing “the change” in how my pens have been working on Velin Arches the last two weeks, it has made me out of sorts. My favorite waterproof pens have been bleeding when I paint over the ink lines.

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