Sketchbook Wrap Protection

On January 3, 2020 I posted about my participation in Roz Stendahl’s group testing of the Clairefontaine Watercolor Sketchbook. In addition to Roz there were five additional artists who tested the book, each of us completing a single signature which Roz returned to us when her review was complete and published.

As a single signature it was vulnerable to creasing without the protection of its companion signatures and hard cover. The best way to offer additional protection would be to either make a slipcase or a wrap.

I would have preferred to make a slipcase but since the signature was so thin I realized it would be difficult to measure, cut and glue a slipcase that slim; the wrap was the better alternative.

I first painted a sheet of 300 gsm / 140 lb. watercolor paper with dilute acrylic paint and cut it to allow the flaps to overlap and cover the signature. I rounded the corners and made two tabs with corresponding slots for the closure.

The wrap has nearly no spine thickness to accommodate labeling so I put all the necessary information on the front of the wrap.

It’s now off my work desk, well-enough protected to be filed away as finished, tucked away with my other previously completed sketchbooks in one of my “remote” storage boxes and I’m ready for the next project.

TWSBI Mini Pen Save

Auuuugh!!! It broke! If I tried gluing back together it would only break again because the clip would put too much torque on the cap.

But look… there’s a hex nut holding the clip and top together. If I can remove the clip I can screw the top together and glue it back onto the cap.

Since it’s one of my older pens AND I have one of the newer versions already inked I wasn’t afraid to mess around.

Superglue to the rescue!

Not bad. I’ll be able to cap the pen and at keep it for home use.
Too bad that the clip keeps it from rolling off the table… I guess I’ll have to MacGyver something for that.

One for the road and one for home. Win – Win.

Testing New Brush Pens

I love watersoluble pen and ink work because sometimes you feel like keeping a line and sometimes you don’t.

On Roz Stendahl’s blog and her Patreon site, Roz Interim, she demonstrated the Pentel Sign Pen – Artist Micro Brush. They’re dye based and water-soluble, perfect for shading with a touch of water, and on top of that they have a super fine brush tip! You can see that in the photo below.

I was able to find both sets of 6 at my local Michael’s and immediately set to testing.

Portraits don’t always have to be realistic, do they?

Hahnemühle Nostalgie – A5 portrait

Testing the Clairefontaine Watercolor Sketchbook

Back in May 2019 I was asked by Roz Stendahl to be one of a few artists to help her test an A5, landscape format, Clairefontaine Goldline Watercolor Sketchbook provided by the Clairefontaine representative.  Roz started out the testing before sending the book along for each us to fill a few spreads using various techniques and media.

I decided to fill a signature by testing assorted techniques: watercolor, water-soluble inks, gouache and watercolor pencils.

I was the fifth to work in the book and unfortunately by the time I received it the stitching was coming undone and the book pages and signatures were separating. I really enjoyed working in it but even the best watercolor paper can’t overcome poor construction. This can be seen in the video Roz posted in conjunction with her comprehensive review of the book. You can also see Roz’s testing and the testing from the other artists at the same link. Their work is exquisite and their comments enlightening.

This was a great opportunity for me to clarify what I look for in a visual journal. I know I’ll continue to experiment with commercially bound books because it’s just too much fun not to… but I also won’t give up binding my own books with my favorite papers in my favorite formats either!

Thanks Roz!

Toys Are Us!

As we come to the end of January I figured I’d share some of the art supplies I’ve been playing with. 

Remember my childrens quality multicolored pencil?  I like it so much I’m putting the artists quality Koh-i-noor Magic Pencil on my wish list. 

See how the colors run the length of the pencil… that means that you need to rotate the pencil as you draw to get color variation. The Koh-i-noor has the colors all swirled together. I’m betting that will be even more fun!

I also bought a new white ink pen… a Uni-Ball Signo Broad. I’ve had nothing but trouble with the previous incarnation Signo pen but this one is a winner!  The barrel on the newer pen is opaque while the barrel on the “inferior ” pen is translucent. It may be coincidental but I thought I’d mention it in case you’re thinking of getting one for your arsenal. 

Lovely opaque white ink. Here I’ve layered it over many layers of watercolor. 

We have a lovely new stationery, card, and art supply shop in the area… POST… in White River Junction, Vermont.

I bought myself a few Palomino Blackwing pencils to try and the corresponding long point sharpener. I’ve heard so many glowing things about them I just couldn’t resist. Now that they’re sharpened I need to make some time to test an experiment to see which level of hardness I prefer. 

And finally… I found out that it’s possible to sketch on my phone using only the Note app and my trusty index finger. 

See ya… gotta use some of these things and go make some art!

Learning New Tricks (Test)

Yesterday I learned a technique or two I’m hoping will streamline how I post my sketchbook photos.

Previously I scanned my pages and loved its bright, clear look… but my scanner has since stopped communicating with my laptop. The last time that happened I lost nearly a week of my life on the phone with tech support. I have no desire to experience that again. Over the years I’ve also found myself relying on my phone to handle more and more of my life. In fact, last October I started posting with the WordPress app for iPhone.

Since the scanner debacle I’ve only been posting photos of my work. They’ve been OK but I’ve had to do quite a bit of editing to get an acceptable image.

Enter Tina Koyama of Fueled by Clouds & Coffee. Tina did a test post in preparation for her July trip to Manchester, UK as an Urban Sketchers Symposium  correspondent. She’s testing various apps and methods for uploading photos and images of sketches to the urban sketchers blog. Her June 7, 2016 post, Green Lake Intersection (Test) prompted me to ask why she preferred to use a scanning app, in particular Cam Scanner. (available for both Android and iOS)

Based on her images I downloaded CamScanner and gave it a whirl. Fantastic! It saves me multiple steps as it brightens, straightens, and crops with just one click.

See for yourself… the image was done with carbon black ink and watercolor on Strathmore 500 Mixed Media paper.

Natural evening light… dusk, approximately 8 PM. 

Same, with Cam Scanner. 

Indoor LED desk lamp. 8 PM. 

Same, with Cam Scanner. 

Natural morning diffused light, west window. 

Same but with Cam Scanner. 

The mid-body yellow was burned out in both of the other attempts but the Cam Scanner image from yesterday  morning shows the yellow glow and came the closest to the true image in my sketchbook.

One more thing. The majority of this post was dictated!  Yeah, I felt funny talking to my phone but it worked surprisingly well. I need to brush up on the commands, like what to say to get the program to capitalize, but I think I’ll be dictating more and more. 

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Last Day! Jinhao BOGO at Goulet

I needed more ink… specifically De Atramentis Document Black, and Goulet Pens has it on sale through midnight tonight.  Goulet also has this BOGO buy one-get one sale on Jinhao pens.  Buy one regular priced Jinhao that’s NOT an X750 Shimmering Sands and get a FREE X750 Shimmering Sands.  I’m usually not a sucker for these things but I looked.

OMG… they have an ORANGE pen!

Did I ever tell you how much I love orange?


Yes… all mine.

I bought the ORANGE Jinhao 159 for the grand price of $12.50 and got the sparkly Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands for free.  The photos don’t do it justice… it’s lovely.


Here’s a visual comparison.  From the top… Pilot Metropolitan, Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands, Jinhao 159, and Lamy Safari.


Both the Jinhao’s are quite heavy (twice as heavy?) but even with my small hands I’ve enjoyed using them for drawing.  Both come with medium nibs installed and I’ve found they’re really smooth… haven’t had one skip since I’ve inked them up… De Atramentis Document Black is waterproof and the pens have handled it well.  If you find you’d like a finer or broader nib it’s possible to exchange the nibs and put in a Goulet Nib.  Both are #6 and from what I can see are easily exchangeable.  As you can see, the #6 nib is larger than the nib on the Pilot Metropolitan. I’m going to play with these a while before I decide.


I know I’m not giving you much time to mull this over… offer ends at midnight.

Just thought you ought to know.

Antidote for Cabin Fever

I’ve got a bad case of cabin fever.

It’s been way too cold to even think of sketching or painting outside; temperatures have lingered in the teens for so long, I feel sure if I removed my heavy expedition-weight mittens for a minute, ice crystals would form!

But then my friend, Michelle Goldsmith of Pleading Quilty, gave me this gorgeous “Drawing Glove” she found on Etsy.  Incredibly, my spirits lifted as I put it on and imagined all the places we’d go.


Funky isn’t it?  No, it’s certainly not heavy enough to use right now but it’ll be perfect in spring when there’s still a cool breeze… and it’s in my favorite color too!drawingglove4


Ahhhhh… spring.

Tomorrow, March 1st, marks the beginning of Spring… meteorologically speaking. I know it’s still three weeks ’till astronomical spring but I feel better knowing we’ve left the three coldest months of the year behind.

And I’m just that much closer to sketching outside again!