Fabriano Ingres Pastel Paper

IMG_1574While I have beginning a relationship with pastels, I have been watching a few YouTube videos of the pastel artist Colin Bradley and I noticed that he uses Fabriano Ingres pastel paper, so I thought I would get some.

On a certain jungle-y internet retailer, you can get 50 sheets of 160gsm, 35 x 50cm sheets for around £20.00 – which surely is the bargain of the year? I chose to get grey as I do most of my drawing on grey paper. Colin Bradley tends to use sand coloured Ingres but that’s too warm for my tastes. Grey is a great neutral, but neutral with an edge.

It is a nice paper and while I can’t give you a complete review having not used it yet, I can tell that I will like it – even for coloured pencil. It is quite like Mi-Tientes but instead of the waffle texture there is a subtler, rectangular, grid-like texture. It’s smoother too yet robust enough to deal with my heavy hand. And luckily I have plenty to play with!

 

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Black Moleskine

IMG_1575Moleskine has turned to the dark side and I approve.

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They have released some black paper sketchbooks that come in the landscape version I have, A4 and the smaller sketchbook. The paper in them is very matt black and very smooth. Curiously, mine (and I presume all) comes with black corrugated paper at each end to help keep its shape. This is loose so can be removed. The little envelope at the end is also black. I see a lot of buyers are using them to make little photo albums which is actually a very cute and nice way to use them. I plan to use it for sketches using white and silvers. It’s a very lovely addition to the Moleskine range that we all love so dearly.

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Cretacolor Hard Pastels

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Another welcome birthday gift  – a box of 72 Cretacolor Hard Pastels. Well-presented in a sturdy cardboard box and the pastel information below each pastel. A great range of colours and the dense laydown of pastel without the dust and crumbliness. I think these would be great for backgrounds and detail. Some of the pinks and lilacs are just divine. The greys are dense and true.

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Koh-I-Noor Giaconda Pastel Pencils

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I love Koh-I-Noor for their high-quality art materials at low prices. For £30 you get 48 pastel pencils in this Giaconda set and you really cannot get better than that. If you overlook the bog-standard tin box – mine came bashed and dented – you get beautiful pencils in the livery of Luminance pencils with smooth pastel laydown – non-scratchy to say the least. They are not dusty and lay down neat and clean. A lovely range of colours and perfect control. These are going to become a fast favourite I am sure.

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Koh-I-Noor Toison D’Or Pastels

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We have known for a long time that Koh-I-Noor are the best art suppliers when it comes to money versus quality. For little money you get great, reliable quality – quality that some of the best art suppliers cannot match.

These Toison D’Or pastels are no exception. Round sticks of bright, dense pastel that have little dust and a great range of colours.

For around £30 you get 48 pastels which really is hard to say no to. They come in a standard box, protected by foam and with a smaller wrap of plastic to protect your fingers. They go down easy and so does the price.

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Unison Soft Pastels

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It was my 40th birthday recently. I can say that now, after the event, and in some ways I am kind of proud of turning 40. It was a very different story prior to the event of course. Anyway, this auspicious event meant that I received some very lovely pressies – a lot of which I will be posting about over the next wee while.

But this has to be first – A box of 72 Unison pastels, the basic colours. This, the most handsomest set of pastels, came in a large, sturdy black box with a simple, elegant label. It opened up to a delight of colour, each pastel an individual shape, hand-rolled using the finest pigments. The pastels themselves are butter soft, crumbly and with the lightest of touches lay down thick, dense pigment. The range of colours are organised in value and hue and the pastels are thumb-thick. Gorgeous.

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Beagle Welfare Fun Day

IMG_0759I own a beagle and in this day and age there are many outlets for you to actively ‘own’ something. So I joined a few beagle Facebook pages and sometimes go to the Beagle Racing in Kincardine. It exists! And it is fun! Through all this I became aware of Beagle Welfare – an amazing charity that solely concentrates on re-homing and fostering beagles. Back in early June, there was a Beagle Racing Fun Day held at Kincardine and the main aim was to raise funds for Beagle Welfare.

Many great people did various things to raise funds and I offered to put a pet portrait up as a raffle prize. The organisers decided to make it part of an auction. I am so pleased to say that it raised £90.00 for Beagle Welfare and the winner was a lovely lady called Paula with her lovely beagle Max.

I have been working on that the last few weeks in between various things; school closing for summer, going into hospital when a mean horsefly bit my arm and gave me cellulitis…that’s the skin infection not saggy bum. I’ll be able to post pictures soon once Pauls has received the finished piece.

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Watercolour Word of Warning

A good couple of months ago, I did a very stupid thing. I was adding some information to my coloured pencil information page and a few impatient clicks of my mouse and I deleted all the information. Deleted. I even got my wonderful Mr. S. onto the case to see if any of the info was just floating about in the ether. It wasn’t. So I resigned myself to redoing it all when the summer holidays started.

This meant re-photographing all my pencils and swatches. Now, each time I buy new art materials I do little swatches of them and stick the swatch card into a A5 Derwent ring-bound sketchbook. This book sits on a shelf, closed, and is only brought out when needed or updated. No sunlight gets to it. The pages are closed. Y’see where I am going with this? Lightfastness.

When I re-photographed the swatches for my blog, I noticed something very alarming. Most of the watercolour pencil ranges had several pencils that had faded very badly. With these pencils I use them dry to make a bar of colour then I wet half that bar to show the watercolour effect. In the worst cases both the wet and the dry sections had disappeared but here I will focus on the wet unless I note ‘complete’. Without exposure to light, sunlight, air…It has made me rethink my use of watercolour pencils, even my purchase of them.

So here’s a rundown of the worst and the best watercolour pencils:

Bruynzeel Sakura – Greys have all but disappeared. One grey has gone completely. 3 light pinks and peaches almost gone. 3 light blues almost gone.

Derwent Inktense – As fresh as the day they were laid down. All colours remain intact.

Derwent Signature – Wet areas of Pink Oxide, Rutile Green, Rutile Yellow, Co Green, Paynes Grey and Taupe Oxide have disappeared. The rest are intact.

Caran D’Ache Prismalo – 011, 403, 402, 003, 002, 161, 231, 051 – all have disappearing wet areas. Some of the greys have disappeared completely.

Derwent Watercolor (New) – Flesh Pink and Turquoise Green have fading wet areas but are still visible. Otherwise all other pencils are intact.

Derwent Watercolour (Old) – Thankfully these are the old versions as they are one of the worst offenders. Primrose Yellow, Flesh Pink, Pink Madder Lake, Rose Pink, Sky Blue, Turquoise Blue, Turquoise Green, Water Green, Straw Yellow, Magenta, Silver Grey…all almost disappeared.

Prismacolor Watercolour – All intact.

Derwent Aquatone – All intact.

Derwent Graphitint – All intact.

Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft – This is frightening. Caran D’Ache is one of the finest supplier of art materials and Supracolor was one of the worst, if not the worst, offenders. Deep breath…Silver, Cocoa, Beige, Ash Grey, Cream, Bluish Pale, Light Grey, Grey, Dark Grey, Brown Ochre, Salmon, Jade Green, Olive, Lime Green, Light Olive, Pale Yellow, Light Green, Granite Rose – all but disappeared. And the others are paler versions of themselves.

Faber Castell Albrecht Durer – Mostly all intact. Light Flesh and 3 Greys – Warm grey 1,2,3 – are disappearing.

Cretacolor Marino – Tan Light, Yellow Light, Glacier Blue, Ivory – disappearing.

Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Mondeluz – All intact.

Caran D’Ache Museum Aquarelle – All perfectly intact. Kind of makes up for the Supracolor huh?

Just have a look at this quick photo of the Supracolor swatch card and even from distance you can see how many have faded or disappeared –

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So there you have it. Worth thinking about.

 

 

 

 

 

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Faber-Castell Polychromos Pastels

We all know how much we love Faber-Castell’s Polychromo coloured pencils, so I couldn’t resist getting a box of their Polychromo Pastels. I envisioned a real workhorse of a pastel block, bright and dense colour and pigment, unbreakable and fun.

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Well, you can see from these pictures that I wouldn’t be disappointed. A box of 60 pastels and a great range of each colour – especially the blues and green. The metal box also matches perfectly with the Polychromos and Pitt Pastel boxes – which is nice, like a little Faber-Castell family.

The square pastels are 8cm long and about 7mm thick and don’t break easily. They came through the post without any damage at all. Unlike the Contes. But they are thinner so maybe not fair to grumble.

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I do my colour swatches on rough cold-press watercolour paper, and I had to go back and forth a little to get a good covering.  There was dust and crumbles but this is common on the sharp edges of the pastel. Faber themselves point out that the pastels have a outer shell that needs to be worked off with a few swipes before you start using them. Then they are lovely and smooth. Nice bright selection of colours and hues though. The Silver, Gold and Copper pastels aren’t dusty at all – waxy and super smooth instead. They are more like crayons.

I thought also it would be worth including the Faber-Castel Lightfastness information for their Artists range – hopefully you’ll be able to see it. * for reasonable lightfastness, ** for good and *** for the highest degree. From left to right you have Albrecht Durer, Polychromos CP, Polychromos Pastels, Pitt Pastels and Pitt Pens. The Polychromo Pastels range between ** and ***.

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Knitty Gritty

I took a notion to try out some knitting. My mum taught me some basics a few years ago and I knitted a small scarf then never bothered again. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s my restless mind or maybe it’s just a need to have something in my hands while watching telly at night other than food, but I picked up the needles again and with the help of a how-to book got down to it.

Many things went awry. I was too scared to attempt casting off, so kept knitting. I knitted to the end of the wool without leaving wool to cast off. I had to enlist the help of my mum again to un-knit and show me how to cast off. When that was all finished, I noticed that my scarf started at about 30cm wide and ended at about 60cm wide. It also wraps around my neck 5 or 6 times – with scarf to spare.

I can’t possibly wear it outside but for the winter months, couch-surfing, it will be super-cosy.

Photo on 2014-05-10 at 15.01

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