New Art Supplies from London Graphic Centre

LondonGraphicCentre_Art Supplies

A few weeks ago the London Graphic Centre very kindly sent me some new art supplies to try and I thought you might like to see what I received. I haven’t had the time to try them out properly yet but these are my first impressions.


Fluid Watercolor Block

As you probably know, I use watercolour paints a lot in my work so I was excited to received this hot press watercolor block from the brand Fluid. I’ve never actually used a block of paper before but the idea is that the sheets are glued together *almost* all the way around, meaning that the paper should stay nice and flat while you work on it. When you’re finished working, you find the tiny gap in the glue and run a sharp knife around the edge to remove the top sheet.

Watercolor Block

This paper is 300gsm, acid-free and feels lovely and smooth. I’m a big fan of smooth, thick watercolour paper so I’m sure I’ll enjoy using this.

Winsor and Newton Watercolour Pad

I also received this Winsor and Newton watercolour pad. This one is cold press paper, which means it has some texture to it and again, is 300gsm.

Winsor and Newton Cold Press Watercolour Paper

I was convinced I hadn’t tried the Winsor and Newton watercolour paper but I actually have a tiny spiral bound sketchbook which I’ve used for one or two urban sketches and the paper is really nice to use and takes watercolour washes very well.


Tombow Pen

Tombow pens are really handy and they have 2 different nibs – a brush nib at one end and a finer bullet nib at the other. They’re not something I use every day but I find them quite useful for quick sketches.

When I did the One Week 100 People challenge I found this was the best pen for loose, fast sketches, especially the finer nib. It doesn’t drag and because it’s a bit thicker than a standard fine liner, it forces you to be less precious about the outcome.

All Kinds of Pencils

Derwent Pencils

During my current 100 Day Project I’ve started using coloured pencils combined with watercolour paints so I was really excited to receive this selection of pencils by Derwent. I love their watercolour pencils and lately I’ve loved playing with the Inktense range, so I know that I’ve got some really high quality pencils here.

I haven’t tried Derwent’s Procolour or Coloursoft before but I really like the look and feel of both of them. As the name suggests, the Coloursoft makes a nice soft, almost grainy texture, while the Procolour is slightly more waxy so it will be interesting to compare them in a bit more detail soon.

Derwent Pencils
Derwent pencils from top to bottom: Procolour, Graphic 2B, Inktense, Watercolour, Pastel, Coloursoft

I didn’t know that Derwent made a pastel pencil. It feels almost chalky to use and I’m already trying to think of ways to incorporate it into my work.


Derwent 2B Pencil

Very occasionally I make pencils drawings but usually the only time I usually use graphite pencils is for sketching outlines or making rough sketches before I start a final piece of work, but this Derwent  Graphic pencil may convert me. For a 2B it has quite a light coverage and doesn’t smudge easily so I think I’ll get along with this one very nicely.

Derwent Mechanical Pencil

One thing I had been thinking about buying is a good quality mechanical pencil, partly for the convenience when out and about, and partly for achieving a consistent pencil line without having to sharpen it. This Precision pencil, also from Derwent, looks really nice. It has a 0.5mm lead and a full metal body which suggests to me that it should be sturdy and long lasting.

Watercolour Stick

Winsor and Newton watercolour stick

Something else I haven’t tried before is this watercolour stick from Winsor and Newton. It feels almost like a wax crayon and goes on to the paper in that sort of way too. But then when you add water over the top it transforms into a lovely watercolour wash. I’m wondering if I could use it in my 100 Day Project and I think they’d be really handy for urban sketching too. A few of these and a water brush could be a very practical part of a sketching kit.


Caran D'Ache Gouache

I also have 2 colours of gouache from Caran D’Ache. I love the watercolour pencils I have from Caran D’Ache but I didn’t realise they also made gouache so I’ll be interested to see how this pan and tube compare to other brands I’ve used.

Watercolour Pencils

Winsor and Newton Watercolour Pencils

Finally, I have this set of 12 watercolour pencils from Winsor and Newton. The label states that they are ‘premium artist quality’ and highly pigmented. They go onto the paper very smoothly and certainly seem to produce a vibrant wash when water’s added so I’m very keen to start using these regularly alongside my Winsor and Newton paints (and paper!).

A big thank you to London Graphic Centre for adding to my stash of art supplies. If you’ve used any of the things I’ve mentioned here I’d love to here your thoughts about them and if you’d like to see a more detailed review of any of them, please let me know!


Sketchbook Skool: Whimsical Sketchbook


This week I started a new kourse with Sketchbook Skool. I haven’t taken one of their multi-teacher kourses in a long time and this one – called The Whimsical Sketchbook – looked like fun so I signed up.

The first teacher was illustrator Rebecca Green and the assignment was to illustrate a character or scene from one of your favourite books. I chose to illustrate a short story from a book by Tove Jansson called Letters From Klara. I didn’t feel confident enough to draw a character so I decided to draw all the details mentioned in the first short story of the book – also called Letters From Klara.

I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out and I felt slightly out of my comfort zone but I was pleased with the finished drawing, although I feel like I could keep tweaking this one for ages.


Copying Mamma

Ink and coloured pencil copy of Moomin Mamma image

I’m slowly catching up with Sketchbook Skool’s Boot Kamp but I’m not quite there yet. I have another assignment that I’ve not started yet and I’m expecting a new one to arrive in my inbox tomorrow. Oh well.

This is the most recent one I’ve finished. The assignment was inspired by Tommy Kane who suggests making copies of work by artists that you admire or are inspired by. Not, of course, to pass it off as your own original work, but to learn from the artist. His argument is that all artists (not just visual artists either) are by-products of the people whose work they admire.

I went to see the Turner exhibition at the Tate Britain on Monday and a tiny part of me was tempted to choose him as the artist whose work I’d copy for this assignment. I decided against that in the end and went with someone whose illustration work on first sight might appear quite simple – Tove Jansson.

As well as being a fine artist and an author, Tove Jansson illustrated her series of Moomin books. I’m currently reading her biography and am a huge fan of her and the Moomins so she seemed like a good choice for this homework.

I chose this particular drawing because as I was reading the biography I came across a description of Moominmamma and instantly recognised it because I have a postcard of the picture framed on my bookcase.

‘Berries, shells and roses surround her body with a symbolic world of fruitfulness, birth and love. The sun shines in brilliant glory behind her head… Mother is love.’ (Tove Jansson, Life, Art, Words, Boel Westin).

In copying this illustration I learned just how much detail there can be in a seemingly simple image. There are white outlines separating some of the details from what’s next to them and the background reminds me of a Matisse cut-out (Matisse was one of Tove’s favourite artists).

So, doing a straight copy of someone else’s work isn’t something I’d seriously considered doing before but it’s a really interesting exercise.

Compromises With Paper

Coloured drawing of a red pencil

I seem to be a tiny bit behind with Boot Kamp. Maybe at some point I’ll catch up – or maybe not, it doesn’t matter too much.

This assignment was about creating a watercolour wash background to draw on with coloured pencils. It left me with a bit of dilemma – should I use my current sketchbook, a Leuchtturm, which is great for coloured pencil drawing but not so great for watercolours; or use up the last page of my last Moleskin watercolour sketchbook, which is obviously perfect for watercolours but a bit too textured for coloured pencils?

I went with the latter, just so I could really play around with the watercolour paint in the background without it drying quickly, causing the surface of the paper to come away or bleeding through the page from the amount of water used.

I discovered from my selfie drawings that the texture of watercolour paper really doesn’t allow you to get much detail or sharp edges to a drawing when using coloured pencils. So I’m not massively happy with this one but it’s much better than I thought it might be and it’s another one of those drawings that I got a fresh perspective on once I saw it scanned and on a screen.

A Small Bottle of ‘Paranoia’


Another one from inside my bag. I almost always have a bottle of hand gel in my bag, mainly because of a tiny bit of paranoia that I have about germs, which is probably fuelled a little bit by living in the centre of a huge city with all its people and all their germs (and also having watched the film Contagion once a few years ago! 😉 ).

This was supposed to be a soft, coloured pencil drawing but something went wrong and it became a wobbly pen and coloured pencil drawing instead but that’s OK.