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.

Paper

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.

Ink

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.

Graphite

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.

Gouache

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!

 

Review: Back Pocket Notebooks

Back Pocket Notebooks

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing out the Back Pocket Notebook. Although it’s not specifically a sketchbook, I’ve been using it for some lettering and drawings to see how it compares to sketch specific books.

To summarise, if you’re looking for a good quality, robust little notebook to carry around, I would definitely recommend the Back Pocket Notebooks.

Back Pocket Notebooks Back

I have a set of 3 Kraft Plain Notebooks, each of which contain 18 sheets or 36 pages of 120gsm paper and a stapled spine.

Back Pocket Notebooks Spine

At first glance they reminded me of the A6 Eco Starter Sketchbooks from Seawhite of Brighton. The Back Pocket Notebooks are slightly smaller, measuring 9 x 14 cm. The paper isn’t quite as thick as the Seawhite cartridge paper but there are more pages than the Eco Starter and the paper has a nice smooth surface, which I really appreciated when using fine liners and markers.

Back Pocket Notebook Inside

Although it’s described as a ‘plain’ notebook, I think that refers to the cover because it’s pointed out on the band holding the 3 notebooks together that the paper inside is actually cross grid. It’s similar to dotted paper but each ‘dot’ is a tiny cross. I’d never used that kind of paper before but it was kind of handy for keeping my hand lettering straight!

Back Pocket Notebook Felt Tip

The paper in the Back Pocket Notebook is perfect for either pen or pencil. I used a few different fine liners and felt tip pens, and the only pen that bled through to the other side of the page was the Copic marker. But Copic markers seem to bleed through almost all paper in my experience so this wasn’t a surprise or a big deal. I covered some large areas with Koi brush pens and even with the darker colours the dots on the paper do show but that may or may not be a problem for you. It didn’t bother me because I wasn’t trying to create a finished piece of artwork.

Back Pocket Notebook Gouache

I was able to apply a light wash of watercolour in the Back Pocket Notebook without any problems and the paper took gouache quite well too. The paper does buckle with both watercolour and gouache but even some dedicated watercolour paper does that so, again, this wasn’t a surprise or a problem for me.

I’ve carried the Back Pocket Notebook around in my bag and it’s stood up well to that without getting damaged so far. I wonder if rounded corners might make it a bit more robust in that respect if you were carrying it around in your bag or pocket every day.

The Back Pocket Notebooks are excellent quality, and the size means that they’re really easy to carry around without adding lots of extra weight or bulk. I wouldn’t use them to replace a dedicated sketchbook but as somewhere to keep notes and ideas, make simple line drawings and practise hand lettering, the Back Pocket Notebook is an excellent option and, as the name implies, highly portable too!

Thank you to Justin at Back Pocket Notebooks who gave me this set of Kraft Notebooks to test in exchange for an honest review.

Creative Links #9: The Power of one Sketch, Friendship and Tiny Paper Houses

Leaves

Every Friday I share a few links to things I’ve enjoyed or found useful. Here’s my selection for this week. I hope you find something you like.

My Current Art Kit

Two pens resting on a notebook, books about drawing in the background

‘Art’ Kit

I thought I’d write briefly about my current art kit – the things I’m using for my drawings. I feel a little bit like a fraud talking about my ‘art’ kit because I don’t really class myself as an artist but it seems like as good a term as any.

I’ve started to get back into drawing a bit more recently. My past attempts have been short-lived. This time I’m doing better and have done a little bit of drawing every day or so for about 6 or 7 weeks.

Sometimes the drawings are rubbish and other times I’m quite pleased with them. None of them have been perfect but that’s not really the point for me. I share some, I hide others but I’m drawing.

Keeping it Simple

Anyway, one thing I was conscious of when starting to draw again was the risk of me going out and buying lots of new art materials. The problem with this is that I love stationery in general and I know I could spend so long trying to find the perfect book, a set of pencils, maybe a pen and some paints that I’d never get on with actually making any drawings.

This time around I decided to NOT go out and buy loads of things. I did buy a few books about drawing (and made a point of reading them) and I’ve joined a few online groups, all for inspiration, guidance and encouragement (it’s nice to have other people doing the same thing as you to cheer you along the way). However, I haven’t bought any pens, pencils or sketchbooks.

2 pens resting on a brown notebook

Sketchbook

Instead, my current art kit is a plain paged A5 notebook that I already owned. I used a craft knife to cut out the first few pages that I’d written things on and it was ready to use.

Two black pen nibs, edge of notebook

Pen

At the moment I’m drawing in black ink, with no colour or shading (other than what I might add digitally). I’d never really drawn with pens in the past so I was interested to see what I could produce when the lines can’t be erased.

The pen I use is a Zebra Jimnie Gel rollerball pen. It’s definitely not my favourite pen to write or draw with but we have a lot of them lying around at home so it was the first black ink pen I found when I started to draw.

I tried a black Sharpie (again, one I already owned) but I found the nib too fat. And once or twice I’ve used a Pilot V5 Hi Tecpoint liquid ink fine liner with a 0.5 nib (another pen lying around at home) for more detailed bits of drawings.

Apart from avoiding the over-excitement of buying new stationery and using that as a distraction from the actual drawing, I was also conscious of the possibility that I may lose interest in drawing (and have wasted lots of money in the process).

Testing my commitment

So by just using the materials I already own I’m kind of testing my commitment to drawing. If I fill this book I’m using, I’ve got a tiny sketch book to use and if I fill both books then I think I can be pretty certain that I’m reasonably committed to doing regular drawing.

Once I reach that point I may go out in search of a nicer pen or a new book as a reward but until that time comes I’m keeping things simple and keeping the focus on the drawing bit of drawing rather than buying new things!

What are the most basic tools that you need/ use for the creative things that you do?