On The Go Watercolour Painting Kits

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Over the last five or six years I’ve been slowly falling down the rabbit hole of watercolour painting. I think what sucked me in was the range that this medium can have. Some of the things that have been catching my attention have been super loose and washy work with a few suggestive strokes to set the scene. Ink and wash urban sketches. Illustrative, photo real work and even mixed media pieces. The scope seems endless and with the advent of watercolour sticks and pencils I’m starting to feel like there is a version of watercolour out there for everyone.

My last post was about my secret sketching adventures while waiting for the train on my commute home. It has become something I look forward to at the end of the day and helps me decompress before I get home AND get in some sketching each day. This, of course, has piqued my interest in urban sketching in a big way and has lead to me taking a small watercolour sketch kit with me on vacations. Just like my secret sketching adventures, I tend to get really excited about something and over do it. Maybe it’s my Italian/Greek heritage. Nothing can be subtle 🙂 In any case, I simplified my sketching supplies and now that’s happening with my watercolour travel kit as well.

So I thought I would take you on a little journey to see where I started with my paint boxes and where I’m currently heading and why.

 

These were the first two. Both Winsor and Newton and both well used in the studio. Out and about only somewhat.

PROS: The small one on the left, called the Pocket Box,, is nice and small and holds a small collapsing brush that came with it. The palette is plastic and nice and light weight. The one on the right, called the Field Plus, is considerably bigger. It came with a brush also and it has plenty of mixing room as well as a water bottle that nests into the pallete and water cups.

CONS: The Pocket Box only takes Winsor and Newton pans. It’s bit hard to tell but one of the other half pans I bought from a different brand doesn’t fit in. This makes mixing and matching colours a bit of a problem and water needed to be carried separate. Also unless I had a super skinny collapsing brush it didn’t fit in the brush holder part. The Field Plus has many features that the smaller one doesn’t but it ultimately was too bulky and I wanted more room for colours.

 

Next I moved into the world of metal palettes.

PROS: The large Schminke pallete is awesome and I use it all the time. It’s filled mostly with Schminke pans and a few Windsor and Newton. It fulfilled my need for a good amount of mixing space and the ability to hold a lot of colour (including a variety of brands pans) and the space in the middle holds full size brushes. The smaller palette is very portable. Holds my ideal number of pans and can hold both a small pencil and a collapsable brush in the centre.

CONS: The large palette is just that, large, and way heavier than the plastic palettes. So I rarely ever took it anywhere. The small one has travelled with me many places and is still a favourite but does weigh a fair amount and I find carrying it around with me on a trip when we are out and about does get a bit much along with a sketch book.

My current palette favourites are now are DIY palettes. Most are still a work in progress but I’m getting closer to finding a good combo between weight, variety of colours I can carry, and brush and pen supplies.

 

The first DIY palette I made was out of a small Altoids tin. I painted the lid interior a gloss white with a metal spray primer from the hardware store. It’s a great surface to clean up when glossy vs matte. Less staining too. The pans have double sided tape on the bottoms and I have a sponge in the base to fill up any holes and keep things from shifting. The tape does give way over time and the depth means I need another piece of sponge to keep things from turning upside down. I also found it hard to find a pencil or collapsing water brush that was small enough to fit in this one.

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The most recent version is an old Staedtler pencil tin that when you pull out the inserts hold pans just perfectly. I was very pleased with myself when I figured this out. 🙂 It holds plenty of colour and is super light. I should mention the reason I have stuck with metal tins is that I use clip magnets to attach the palette to my sketch book so I can hold palette and sketch book in one hand and brush in the other. I can also clip a cloth to the top and still have plenty of room for mixing colour.  The pans are held in place with a floral adhesive or that gummy poster tack you can find in stores. Works way better than double sided tape and still lets me make additions and subtractions of pans easily. The downside to this palette is that I can’t fit a water brush in when I remove a row of paints cause the palette is too thin.

While this Staedtler tin is pretty great right now it will not be the last DIY palette I make. I have a few other versions waiting in the wings. First is a deeper pencil tin. I was gifted an empty Caran d’ache pencil tin and it is absolutely deep enough for a water brush. I have a few combinations in mind I can try out with this, but it might mean I can get down to the tin with only a pot of water to carry extra if I decide to use a collapsing brush instead of a water brush.

I also plan on turning a gift card tin into a small paint box. This particular tin pictured has a lid that isn’t attached to the base but it would let me carry both a water brush and collapsing brush. I have made a divider out of some scrap foam core board and put a magnet on the bottom so I can adjust the size of the paints section vs brush and pen section on this one. This palette is also a great size for everyday purse travel with a small sketch book.

There it is. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey and maybe it’s inspired you to add or subtract something from your own kits. Have a good DIY kit item I haven’t thought of? Want to share it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

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Miniature Cabinets of Curiosity

The most interesting part of creating something, for me, has to be the journey of figuring out what it is. Some ideas come out fully formed and others change and morph over time so that only a semblance of where it began remains. The Society of Curious Creatures is a project that I think more and more will have an interesting life. Just when I think I may have to abandon this project, another piece of the puzzle falls into place and things start to morph and change.

Enter the mini cab. This is a miniature version of the larger cabinets I have made in the past but with a few more elements. I’ve been struggling to figure out a way to link a lot of these ideas I have about what is part of this world and starting this “mini cab” helped me figure a lot of that out. When painter’s embark upon larger works they tend to do a lot of small paint studies or drawings that will help them figure out a number of things about the larger work. This was exactly the same thing only dimensionally for me.

Process, process, process. Here it is.

The Aviary

drawing and scaling

Figuring out the door layers and the scale.

building the main cabinet

Starting to build the shape of the main part of the cabinet.

doors and box finished

Main cabinet and door completed.

some artifacts

Trying out the placement of the egg collection.

all the parts assmbled

Painted and fully assembled.

surprises within

Door has working hinges and a surprise growing within.

 

 


The Year Of The Monkey

Short and sweet this time. I’ve missed the actual day that is the Chinese New Year, but we haven’t left the month yet. Better late than never. 🙂 So this month’s skull and flower painting is inspired by the Year of the Monkey. A little owl monkey skull surrounded by some lucky peony flowers and jade plants. I quite enjoyed building up the layers of colour in the flowers as well as in the eyes of the skull. I’m especially happy with the depth in the eyes. I’m also offering this guy up online in my Society6 shop where you can get prints or other various products with his mischievous little mug on it. Here’s a few examples.

To see more variants click on over to my Society6 page. They have also been offering  a number of sales this month so you can’t go wrong there. Thanks for the support.


The Parakeet and the Crocus

EPSON scanner image

What’s so fascinating about a skull? It should be kinda gruesome but I don’t see them that way. In some ways they are kind of mysterious. Maybe it’s ingrained early on in our lives with museums and dinosaur bones and wondering what these massive creatures might have looked like roaming the lands we now so completely inhabit. Oddly enough, even though the creature whose skull I’m drawing is no longer alive, their bones still seem to have a personality and they all want their portraits drawn.

Want to own this guy? Have a peek over at my Society 6 page and see some of the products I’m offering with this guys portrait.


Step away from the plan…

I’m a planner, researcher, prepper or whatever you want to call it. I like figuring out what I’m going to do before I do it. That usually involves a small sketch or an outline or even a small ” sample” version before I attack a project. This is partly due to how I was taught and partly to get the fear of how to start out. Lately I’ve been thinking about the idea of where inspiration comes from. Not just in art making but life in general. It’s so different for everyone. So in a fit of inspiration 🙂 I’ve decided to try doing this excercise where I set up and just start. No thinking, no planing just putting down whatever marks and seeing where it goes.  I decided to start with paint but I don’t think I’m going to limit it. Whatever medium suits me at the time. The duration is no more than a half hour so I won’t have time to start thinking and planning. Plus I find the “stress” of wanting to put something down before the time is up makes me just do it. I’m going to try posting a session to session progress of what I do and we’ll see how it goes.  No judging right, wrong, good, bad, beginning or end. Just what happened. Ready, set, GO!




Cabinets Of Curiosity Show Update

Hello all! The time is finally upon us! We are two days away from the Kaleido Festival. For those close by the festival runs for three days September 12-14 in the Alberta Avenue District from 90-94th Street.

This will be the first showing of the Curiosity Cabinets I have made tied to the Society of Curious Creatures concept I’ve been working on. I’m pretty excited. I have a few things planned to go along with this unveiling to hopefully keep the momentum going. Please follow me along on Instagram and Twitter for more info on how you can get involved.

Thought I would post some pics of the bits that make up my cabinets before they became permanently affixed. Enjoy!

 


Sketch Exchange and Experimenting

"Geometry in Nature" (2014)

“Geometry in Nature” (2014)

 

Lately there are more “experiments’ in my art life than their are finished intentional works. Maybe this is a good thing because it certainly doesn’t leave me feeling self conscious about the things I am making. As I mentioned before I’m working through a backlog of projects. This one is for the sketchbook that my sister and I pass between us. I’ve posted more in depth explanations on this in the past. You can see the posts here and here.

This one was totally inspired by doing something with many textures and mediums. In previous exchanges between the two of us part of the fun for me was trying to push the idea of what our format was. The “postcard” exchange was all about that for me. So feeling nostalgic I wanted to try something like that again. A little metal leaf, acrylic paint and some pink thread later this one came out of my brain. It’s got me thinking about other possible explorations along these lines. More experiments to come I guess 🙂

It’s also been awhile since I’ve shown any process work so I’m adding in a few shots of the work in progress.

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