Category Archives: Art Explorations

Peerless Watercolors in the Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Not too long ago a friend gifted me with a sampler set of six Peerless Watercolors. What are they? Forget about tube or pan watercolor paints – Peerless Watercolors are these awesome PAPER-BASED paints that when activated with water perform like any other watercolors.

Here is the 6-color sampler set my friend gave me:

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Peerless Watercolors are available online from Amazon and other retailers. I was lucky enough to find them in person this weekend when I was visiting a local store, Two Hands Paperie in Boulder Colorado. I found the Peerless Watercolor Papers Bonus Pack (Small), a set of 40 different 2×2″ square watercolor papers.

The bonus pack was arranged in order, as was described on the packaging – important because the individual color swatches aren’t labeled. Once I got it home, I was so excited to show them off and test them I got them all mixed up, and couldn’t put them in that same order again.

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They’re really fun, vivid bright watercolors. And so travel-friendly and portable! So I have this laminated “dashboard” for my fauxdori / midori traveler’s notebook planner. I bought it from ToDie4Planning on Etsy. Dashboards are used to hold sticky notes, washi tape, images, basically a more solid surface for whatever you want to use them for. I picked this one because it’s a glittery seafoam green color called “mermaid” on the outside (just plain white on the inside) – a perfect match for my planner cover.

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Problem is, I really didn’t use it. Like, at all. It was basically pretty but pointless, sitting there in my planner. So I was posting pics of my new Peerless Watercolors this weekend to Instagram, and in looking at the hashtag noticed a couple of people had cut up the sheets into little pieces and made traveling palettes for their planners. And I thought, AHA!! That’s a perfect use for this dashboard – it’s a sturdy plastic base for these paints.

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I assembled some supplies. The watercolors, the dashboard, a composite wooden board I use to clip drawing paper to, a waterbrush, glue, scissors.

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First, I cut a sheet of watercolor paper into two pieces the same size as each half of the dashboard. This was to be my surface, because not only did I want to glue the Peerless pieces to them, I also wanted to dab a swatch of paint next to each one. And the laminated surface of the dashboard as is wouldn’t work for that at all. I rounded the corners of the outside edges, and glued them to the inside of the dashboard.

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It’s a little lumpy looking now, but that won’t be noticeable by the time I’m done.

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So then I had to decide what size pieces of watercolor to arrange in my palette. I had 40 colors total in the Bonus Pack, so knew I needed 20 per side, and needed a decent spot next to each to dab the actual color with the waterbrush. I cut a 1/2″ strip off each square, and then cut that into a 1″ piece – so each piece ended up being 1/2″ x 1″.

I was going to start numbering each mini piece to the larger square, hence the white numbers in this pic, but then figured eh, screw it. They were already hopelessly mixed up anyways!

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Arranging the colors. The thought was two columns of 10 colors per side. Problem was, all the handling of these pieces gets your fingers mega messy! And then the white watercolor paper I was going to glue to started to get all messy too. I had to move all the pieces off of my base and get them in the order I wanted and erase all the marks they left on my paper.

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So then I started gluing one by one, struggling to remember to glue the pretty painted side down, so that the actual transparent watercolor side was available for me to use.

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Problem is, the glue kinda seeped out over the edges of each piece as I glued it – and I soon learned that if I wiped it off, it either got glue all over the top, which I didn’t want, or would get color over the white spaces. Take a look at these close-ups.

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The next step was to take my waterbrush and make a sample of each color next to each Peerless Watercolor piece.

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I’m going to take some onion skin/Tomoe River Paper and cut a piece to fit over the watercolor pieces so they don’t rub against each other. Hopefully the glue sticks!! So far they haven’t popped off yet. I slid the old dashboard / new watercolor palette through an elastic in my fauxdori cover – my plan is to leave it as a standalone insert in the planner, and not piggyback it around any other refill – I want to see both sides of the paints in one glance. Here it is in my planner.

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I had extra pieces of Peerless Watercolors left over, 1/2″ x 1″ because of those strips from each square cut in half. So I thought I’d make another portable palette to use with my various sketchbooks. But I didn’t have any extra laminated “dashboards” left over to use as my base.

I did have some extra plastic cutting mats thought, the result of my plastic Circa planner cover experiments. Most of my sketchbooks are 8.5″ x 5.5″, so I cut a sheet into a 8.25″ x 5.25″ piece, rounded the edges, and cut a piece of watercolor paper to glue to it, following the same process as above. Then glued down the pieces and made swatches.

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Problem is, the watercolor paper top wouldn’t stick to the plastic cutting board base no matter how much glue I used! It’s already popped off. I have glue dots holding it on for the time being, but don’t think those will last very long – that’s what experimenting is for though! I’ll just slide this sheet into my other sketchbooks when I’m not using the planner palette.

Meanwhile, some other links on Peerless Watercolors:

Tombow Marker Color Chart, New and Improved

A different approach to the color charts I so love to make. This time as colored blocks done with a waterbrush to see how the colors blend with water, and with minimal white space, on the front cover and first page of my new hardbound Stillman and Birn 5.5 x 8.5 hardbound Zeta series sketchbook. Now every time I open this sketchbook I’ll see bright, glorious color.

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Tombow Dual Brush Markers, oh the pretty colors!

For my birthday last month I was lucky enough to receive the full set of 96 Tombow Dual Brush markers (with stand!), and they. Are. AMAZING.

Here is the box they came in (along with some Iroshizuku Yama-Budo fountain pen ink I also received):

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Just look at all the pretty colors!!!

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Such fun!

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So of course, first thing I did was try and organize them into an approximate ROYGBV order, because the color, it must be organized. It’s not perfect, but there will be several attempts in the future haha.

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I also had to do a rudimentary color chart of course! Just quick scribbles in my Stillman and Birn Zeta 7×7 series sketchbook.

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The color chart.

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Tombow Color Chart in Stillman and Birn Gamma Sketchbook

Because I have color charts in most every sketchbook, I thought I’d see how my new Tombow markers worked on my Stillman and Birn Gamma Series paper. Results? It took the marker pretty well, although the streak lines from the marker are more evident on this thinner, rougher paper.

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Stillman and Birn Beta Series Sketchbook

I have been a big fan of Stillman and Birn sketchbooks ever since getting my first Zeta Series 7×7 sketchbook. So recently decided to branch out and try the Beta series 7×10 spiral-bound since I’m getting into watercolors more. I was so excited, I even used the inside cover and first pages, which is rare for me as I usually make a few tentative scribbles in the back first.

On the inside front cover I decided to make a color chart of the watercolor tube paints I have in my Altoids tin sketch kit, using my Noodlers Ahab inked with Platinum Carbon Black.

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And on the inside back cover, I created another color chart of my Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box.

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First Impressions? I’m really like the Beta paper, it is a nice thick paper that handles watercolor beautifully. I am eager to continue my experiments with it.

Fountain Pen Ink and Stillman and Birn Beta Sketchbook

Experimenting with how fountain pen ink and a waterbrush works in my new Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook.

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REALLY loving how these colors blend together!

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Coloring Books for Grown-Ups

Adult coloring books – so called not because of any questionable content but because of their intricate and time-intensive patterns – have become mega-trendy lately. Case in point, this excerpt from an article posted in The Guardian last month:

“The bestselling title on Amazon in the US right now is not Harper Lee’s hugely anticipated second novel, Go Set a Watchman, or George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, or even Zoella’s much-mocked but much-bought young adult hit, Girl Online. Instead, Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford is topping the charts, with her colouring books for adults taking top spots on Amazon.com’s bestseller lists.

Basford’s intricately drawn pictures of flora and fauna in Secret Garden have sold 1.4m copies worldwide to date, with the newly released follow-up Enchanted Forest selling just under 226,000 copies already. They have drawn fans from Zooey Deschanel, who shared a link about the book with her Facebook followers, to the South Korean pop star Kim Ki-Bum, who posted an image on Instagram for his 1.6 million followers.

“I think it is really relaxing, to do something analogue, to unplug,” said Basford. “And it’s creative. For many people, a blank sheet is very daunting; with a colouring book you just need to bring the colour. Also there’s a bit of nostalgia there. So many people have said to me that they used to do secret colouring in when their kids were in bed. Now it is socially acceptable, it’s a category of its own. These are books for adults. The art in my books is super intricate.” ”

Source: Alison Flood, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/05/colouring-books-for-adults-top-amazon-bestseller-list

 

Coloring provides a fun, safe and creative outlet to those who may not have the skill or time to draw images and then color them in themselves. Coloring has also proven itself to be a good stress reliever and relaxation or meditation tool – one that is easily used by anyone with markers, crayons or colored pencils. And it’s fun!

I haven’t tried a particular coloring book yet myself, but have been researching the most popular, so I was excited to come across this link this morning. It’s about this new coloring book full of architecture and cityscape scenes. Which, since am a huge architecture and urban design fan, SOLD! I mean, how awesome does this look!?

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This beauty by Steve McDonald is available for pre-order on Amazon, and has a release date of August 11th.

Here are some of the other popular coloring book choices.

The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford (as mentioned in the quote above)

The Secret Garden Coloring Book

The Secret Garden Coloring Book

 

 

Balance by Angie Grace (Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders, Volume 1)

Colored by Angie Grace - from Balance (Angie's Extreme Stress Menders Volume 1)

Colored by Angie Grace – from Balance (Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders Volume 1)

 

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford:

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

 

Splendid Cities: Color Your Way To Calm by Rosie Goodwin:

Splendid Cities by Rosie Goodwin

Splendid Cities by Rosie Goodwin

 

Detailed Designs and Beautiful Patterns (Sacred Mandala Designs and Patterns Coloring Books for Adults) by Lilt Kids Coloring Books

Detailed Designs and Beautiful Patterns Colored Books

Detailed Designs and Beautiful Patterns Colored Books

 

Helpful Tip:

As I was researching these coloring books, I learned from reading the reviews on Amazon that marker bleedthrough is a big concern in some books. Some are printed on only one side of the page, which minimizes the concern of markers bleeding through – and can easily be combated by inserting a blank piece of paper underneath the one being colored. But in other cases – particularly the most-popular Secret Garden – the pages are printed double-sided, and if you are not careful with what medium you’re coloring with, the markers will bleed through to the other side. Lesson learned: always read the reviews first!