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.
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.
Happy New Year everyone! As the title states it has been a year of many changes for me. Most have been good and there are still more to come. The biggest so far has been a move of house, and in turn, my creative space. Both have been for the better as we gained desperately needed living and home working space. If any of you have moved from a well established home, aka you’ve collected so much stuff you scarcely know where you’ve been keeping it all, you will know how much work it is. Ugh! This did however present a perfect opportunity to purge and boy was it a gooder. 🙂 What’s the saying ‘cluttered space, cluttered mind’? Well the clutter has been minimized and with it has come a burst of inspiration.
There are a number of things in the pipeline for this year and the goal is to hopefully be able to achieve most of them. Fingers crossed. By stating them out loud I’m hopefully giving it the power to keep me on track and make it all real. 🙂 So what are these things you ask? Well I have some new items in the works for the Society of Curious Creatures. There are some new dimensional objects I’m calling mini cabs ,which I posted about oh so long ago it seems, plus ones I’m calling Matchbox Curios. I’ll also have some mini zine type books called Explorer Journals that will be giving everyone some insight into these little trouble makers. Oh and stickers! I think the world needs creature stickers. 🙂
There will be some new watercolour work starting with the Year of the Rooster skull and flower painting out next month. Stay tuned. Over the latter part of last year I started doing some plein air watercolour sketching/ urban sketching. I’ll be heading to Portland for a week and plan on doing some drawing and painting there. I’m hoping to post a few so follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for those. At the very least I’ll be back with inspiration to work up some new paintings in the studio.
As for the now, I’ve revamped my website so head on over and have a poke around. That pretty much covers it…or at least all that I want to admit to. 🙂 I leave you with my best nine of 2016 images from Instagram. Oooo…ahhhh.
Things have gotten busy the last month. No surprise to most I’m sure being December and all, but it’s not Christmas things. What was supposed to be a very slow month of work for me at the theatre and a great time to work on some of my personal projects has turned out to be the complete opposite! Gah!
These two are more simple than previous posts but there are a few things that happened in my haste that I like and am hoping to explore more.
I chose to take refrain to mean to avoid. My repeating flower numb (I know you all totally got that form this 😉 ) not only repeats, but it repeats unevenly and not the same in colouring and detail. The colours are pretty extreme from the originals. It’s done in watercolour and ink. Not happy with the scan, but no time to do a little colour correction. Note to self …figure out the settings on scanner. 🙂
In any case, what I’m liking is some of the watercolour/ ink line combos. Not much variation in my line weights which is something I’m trying to work on. Liking some of the things in the second one in from the left and the fourth and fifth in from the left.
This guy was about about simplicity and repetition. Though I think I failed a bit since the “pattern” doesn’t really repeat so much as it’s the same image. Oh well 🙂 What I got out of it was the desire to work on images that are more “simple” but thought out. I tend to want to get very complicated and intricate. It stalls me sometimes. Simple images, while buy no means easier, are a good wrench to throw into the works every now and again to think about what’s necessary and what is just being used as filler.