Testing Paper and Pens

11:42 AM

Kitten and Yarn
Watercolor and Carbon Black Ink
BFK Rives 175 g paper
With the upcoming trip to New Orleans getting ever closer, my search for a sketchbook paper that makes me happy is picking up pace. The kitten above was sketched in carbon black ink and then painted with watercolors.

The BFK Rives is a printmaking paper and accepts watercolor well. The paper has a very soft finish to it that allows for wild and varied results from the pens I normally use on location. (It always pays to check how your favorite tools act on a new paper!) I finally used a flex nib fountain pen with the Carbon Black ink to sketch this. My Lamy (with the same ink) bled and feathered to the point of distraction. Not pretty!

I've also found there isn't too much correcting on this paper. If you click to enlarge the kitten, you'll see I had difficulty with his mouth. I like the paper and I think it would work well on location, but I'm still searching!

I also tested out Cartiera Magnani Acquerello watercolor paper and knew as soon as I started out with my color swatches I wouldn't be taking this paper. The paper has a very distinctive pattern to it that become very evident when I put down my washes. Not unpleasant, just not what I'm looking for in my sketchbook!

Next up is a test I did to see how lightfast the ink in the Tombow® brand pens is.....
Tombow Lightfastness Test
The swatch on the left went up on a shelf in my studio for 3 weeks, while the swatch on the right sat in a south-facing window for the same period of time. You can see some fade as well as more pink showing on the righthand side. To be clear, Tombow does not advertise these pens as lightfast nor permanent.

Does this mean you shouldn't use these pens in any artwork? That depends. If you are concerned about longevity of your work or want to display your work, it doesn't seem like the best of ideas. If, on the other hand, you're not displaying and you consider your sketchbook your personal playground and only want it to outlast you, then by all means, play and have fun!

These pens give some great effects when diluted with water and can make some very interesting textures.  

What new adventures in art supplies have you had lately?

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9 Creative Thought(s)

  1. What a darling kitten--I love the detail of his face, and then the soft wash of his body.

    I've been playing with the Strathmore Visual Journal made with 140 lb. watercolor paper. I like it pretty well--the paper is thick enough that you can use both sides and not have bleed through. However, it's harder to get a soft wash (at least for me), because the paper seems to absorb the water and pigment quite easily. Overall, I really like it for a sketchbook, though!

  2. Gorgeous kitten sketch, Laure!

    I can never settle on one pen alone that suits me - I've ended up with all sorts and can't ever decide on which one to use. LOL. x

  3. Love your kitty. He has such a pretty face.

    Have you tried Canson Edition Multipurpose paper? I bought some at Dick Blick and have been pretty happy with it see it here . It's fairly inexpensive too.

    I had more change with the Tombow experiment than you did. I'll have to post my results. It's been over a month so that should be pretty telling. I will still keep using it but only in a journal where it won't get the sunlight. I think it will hold up well enough for that kind of use. I enjoy seeing the water spread it into different colors of blacks when wetting the lines for shading and it definitely can make a quick shaded sketch!

  4. Wow, Who knew that watercolor papers could be so varied and inks too. I learn so much coming here. Kind of scares me tho .. I am such a novice here. I still like learning about these things tho. I love your kitty. Its so cute. Looks fine to me.

  5. What a precious kitten rendering, just awesome job!!!! You always have such informative posts too!!!

  6. Great test on the Tombow. I can definitely see some fading. Cute kitty!

  7. Wow.... don't know how I missed it before now, but this cat sure caught my attention now! Those eyes! and all the other details of the fur and much, much more. This is a wonderful image of a cat - it looks so real!!

  8. ...somehow I missed this post. Your little kitty is a cutie! Good luck with your preparations for the trip to New Orleans!! You and the group are going to have so much fun!

  9. What a beautiful kitty...the ball of yarn is fascinating and just the best...it draws your eye to it for a while, then back to kitty...I love it! Are you selling this???


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