Tag Archives: art

Fuertenventura Feb-March 2017

A lightweight art kit- Fuerteventura

Three Points of the Compass descending from Morro Jorjado via the Cuesta de la Villa, Fuerteventura , March 2017

Three Points of the Compass descending from Morro Jorjado via the Cuesta de la Villa, Fuerteventura , March 2017

I have just returned from a fortnight’s family holiday on Fuerteventura. This is the second largest and the longest of the Canary Islands. I stayed in a large hotel in the centre of the east coast. It was to be a holiday of many parts. The primary aim was to rest from the rigours of work, to see some early sun, to get a bit of walking in and explore the most interesting sites, history and geology that the island had to offer, to discover flora and fauna never seen before and to, hopefully, get in a little bit of sketching. To this end, a modicum of space was found in the suitcase for a compact art kit that could also go into the day sack on days out.

I continue to not only work on my, woefully inadequate, artistic skills, but also to refine a lightweight art kit that can accompany me on longer walks, in particular my Three Points of the Compass walk in around a years time. I wrote last year of a lightweight art kit that accompanied me to Sicily in 2016. This was another opportunity to further drill down the equipment I will carry.

Three Points of the Compass urban sketching in Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura. Time was always limited and I attempted to work pretty quickly

Three Points of the Compass urban sketching in Puerto del Rosario. Time was always limited and I attempted to work pretty quickly, at least before my spouse became totally bored and wandered off…

I will be blogging later in a little more detail on the specific materials I took with me and others that never made the cut, but for this trip, all I wanted was a simple little self contained pouch in which to keep most art materials together. Something that could be pulled out almost anywhere and provide me with a small, discreet and self-contained choice of medium.

I took a small pouch containing the majority of materials, two small sketchbooks, a cotton wrist band and all important bottle of water

I took a small pouch containing the majority of materials, two small sketchbooks, a cotton wrist band protected in a baggie and all important bottle of water, the latter was for my hydration as I made use of a water brush for painting

Whereas I would normally wish to sketch directly into a hike journal, this wasn’t that sort of break, so I took two of my favourite little sketch books. One is a 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ (88mm x 139mm) that has somehow become my default sketchbook for churches, the other a square format 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ (140mm x 140mm) – though page sizes come in a little smaller, used for anything else. Both of these hand books are from Global Art Materials.

For such a small kit, I had a fair amount of choice and flexibility in materials

For such a small kit, I had a fair amount of choice and flexibility in materials

My palette was a home made affair that, again, I will be blogging on in the future. This contained a minimal selection of single pigment watercolours- Quinacridone Gold- (PO49), Hansa Yellow medium- (PY97), New Gamboge- (PY153), Cupric Green Light- (PG36), Cerulean Blue- (PB35), Ultramarine (Green shade)- (PB29), Monte Amiata Natural Sienna- (PBr7), Permanent Rose- (PV19).

This is an exciting selection only recently developed by myself that is going to prove a little challenging for me to use, being much reduced from what I am more used to, so this trip was an excellent opportunity to try it out. My intention was to increase the quantities of each pigment in my small palette so that it was more useful on longer trips, but still offer good mixing capability. As it transpired, I did so little painting that I have not, by any means, fully explored its capability nor identified any faults. Though I have already noted the difficulties presented by such limited mixing space. You can see the seven small wells I have built into the lid.

The small selection of coloured leads fro Koh-I-Noor that I took allowed me to occasionally swtich medium. This poor and scrappy drawing was completed in less than ten minutes whilst standing on the pavement waiting for a bus to hove into view. With a few minutes to spare, the windmill opposite me in Tiscamanita was a superb subject

The small selection of coloured leads from Koh-I-Noor that I took with me allowed me to occasionally switch medium. This poor and scrappy drawing was completed in less than ten minutes whilst standing on the pavement waiting for a bus to hove into view. With just a few minutes to spare, the windmill opposite me in Tiscamanita was a superb subject that could not be ignored

To accompany this, I had a medium Pentel Aquash Water Brush. My lovely little Lamy Safari Fountain Pen was loaded with black Noodlers Bullet Proof waterprof ink, Pentel black ink brush pen (not used at all), Rotring Tikki Graphic 0.1 technical pen with pigmented waterproof black ink and a white Uniball gel pen. I simply cannot eschew my pencils entirely, so took one of the gorgeous Koh-I-Noor Toison D’Or 5900 clutch holders loaded with 2mm 2B graphite from Faber Castell. Despite there being a sweet little lead pointer in the cap of the clutch holder, I slipped in a 2mm lead pointer made by Faber Castell. To be honest, I should really have taken a pointer that would retain graphite slivers when sharpening, such as my Uni pocket sharpener from Mitsubishi, but I forgot it. As there was room in the pouch, I took a small, thin lead holder made by Acme for their spare graphite leads, but instead of their leads, I loaded it with the waxy 2mm coloured leads made by Koh-I-Noor (brown, blue, green, red and yellow). Also carried was a shaped eraser from Derwent and a small bulldog clip. All of this was carried in a zippered Lihit Lab Compact Pen Case.

Three Points of the Compass hiking in Fuertenventura February-March 2017

Three Points of the Compass ascending to Degollada de la Sargenta, Fuertenventura. March 2017

Sicily- pen and ink drawing in holiday journal

A lightweight art kit- Sicily

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare

W. H. Davies

The Leuchtturm1917 journal Three Points of the Compass kept in Sicily 2016

The Leuchtturm1917 journal Three Points of the Compass kept in Sicily 2016

I have just returned from a family holiday on the quite lovely island of Sicily- Prior to leaving, when preparing for half a month in this hot and historic location, situated just off the ‘boot’ of mainland Italy, I was considering what artists’ materials I should take with me. I am a strictly amateur ‘doodler’, attempting to occasionally capture sights and impressions in my notebook/journal.

In recent years I have been attempting to capture more of my experiences in my notebooks. Beyond a few notes or ticket stubs stuck in, I find that spending just a few minutes attempting to produce a poor drawing forces me to look more closely at my subject, noticing more, understanding and ‘seeing’ aspects that a cursory glance may have failed to appreciate. Taking a little time to ‘stand and stare’.

Three Points of the Compass walking in the Madonie Mountains, Sicily,

Three Points of the Compass walking in the Madonie Mountains, Sicily, August 2016

My artistic skill set is low. In the past, I have frequently just relied on the pen and notebook I am carrying with no supplementary materials. More recently, not only have I been looking at the lightweight and less bulky options open to me (a work very much still in progress), but have also been experimenting slightly with mediums, moving away from simply pencil or pen and into watercolours or coloured pencils. To this end, hoping to find the time to do a little drawing on Sicily, I left my usual selection of graphite pencils at home, pared down my artists’ kit but also took a few inks with me to have a play with this medium and see how they suited a lightweight set up.

Six Winsor & Newton inks were transferred to small glass bottles

Six Winsor & Newton inks were transferred to small glass bottles. This reduced the bulk taken immensely

I selected a small sample of Winsor & Newton inks and, with a pipette,  transferred these to glass 5/8 dram (2ml) bottles with orifice reducer. I also use these in my First Aid kits and, with a little care, they are robust and have never broken on me. Just for extra care though, they were encased in a small ‘lock ‘n’ lock, box and double wrapped in bags in the suitcase which went in the airplane hold.

Colours chosen were Black, Scarlet, Blue, Peat Brown, Apple Green and Canary Yellow. Amongst these, only Black is actually permanent to light in the long term but this is less important when simply doing simple washes in a notebook. All these inks can be mixed with each other, or thinned with distilled water.

For painting washes I took no traditional brushes at all. Instead, encouraging further experimentation, I took one of the 7g fine tip Pentel Aquash water brushes.

Fine tip Pentel Aquash water brush. Also available with medium, broad and flat tips, these brushes each hold 10ml of water in their 'water tank'

Fine tip Pentel Aquash water brush. Also available with medium, broad and flat tips, these brushes each hold 10ml of water in their reservoir. A gentle squeeze on the body sends a little water down to the nylon brush tip

Small, lightweight, plastic pallets

Small, lightweight (16g and 11g) plastic pallets were also taken for watering down and thinning, or mixing inks

I must say that I rather liked using this brush and am keen to experiment further. I think one of the flat tip water brushes might compliment this fine tip water brush quite well. The brush did away entirely with the need for a little water pot, which as they get smaller and made of lighter materials, can easily be knocked over or even blow away. I have frequently upset a little collapsible lantern water pot in the past. These brushes also work well with my Derwent watersoluble sketching pencils (not taken this trip). I presume also with watercolour pencils or sticks, but I am keen to experiment further using a small travel pallet of watercolours.

Sakura Pigma Micron 01 pens

Black and Brown ink Sakura Pigma Micron 01 pens

Pen and Ink- Temple of Juno

Pen and Ink drawing of the Tempio di Giunone, Agrigento, Sicily, August 2016

Eschewing my normal Faber Castell PITT artist pens, I decided to take two of the superb Sakura Pigma Micron 01 drawing pens. The 01 pens have a 0.25mm line width opposed to the 0.3mm of the S and 0.1mm line width of the XS Faber Castell. The waterproof Sakura ink shows through the pages to a lesser extent than the ink from the Faber Castell pens. I also feel that the 0.25mm width is more suited to the small notebook I was using.

I took Black and Brown ink Sakura pens, each weighing 9g, and they performed faultlessly. I also used these for my note-taking, seldom bothering to pull out the tiny 8g telescopic True Utility pen that I took for the purpose.

Incidentally, my journal on this family holiday was the Leuchtturm1917, soft-back, 121 page, pocket A6 notebook I have written about before.

 

Beside experimenting with ink, and in the end I did very little for reasons I shall come to later, I still wanted at least one pencil, so settled on the quite lovely Palomino Blackwing 602. This is a modern revisit of a classic design and is very well made. The smooth graphite is akin to a 2B. Not cheap and purchased by the box, they each weigh 6g prior to sharpening. The extendable black rubber in the flattened ferrule is replaceable.

Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil

Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil

Pencil sketching- The Telamons. Valley of the Temples, Sicily, August 2016

Quick pencil sketching with Palomino Blackwing 602- The Telamons. Valley of the Temples, Sicily, August 2016

I was able to include another graphite pencil by taking a mechanical pen with me. This was a 115mm ‘shortie’ pen made by Koh-I-Noor. This clutch pen takes 2mm leads and has a tiny sharpener under the push button. It weighs 12g with pocket clip and an HB lead installed.

Kol-I-Noor 5228 mechanical clutch leadholder

Kol-I-Noor 5228 Versatle mechanical clutch leadholder

A favoured form of transport- Sicily

Pen, pencil and coloured lead. A favoured form of transport- Sicily, August 2016

A 13g Staedtler pencil sharpener and 27g Faber Castell kneadable eraser (in case) were also taken. Lighter alternatives could easily have been used instead

A 13g Staedtler pencil sharpener and 27g Faber Castell kneadable eraser (in plastic case) were also taken. Lighter alternatives could easily have been used instead

I also wanted the opportunity to add a little colour to my drawings without breaking out the ink all the time. So took a little Koh-I-Noor plastic holder with their coloured ‘leads’ within- these waxy leads come in black, brown, blue, green, red and yellow (16g, total weight). These are Koh-I-Noors longer 120mm leads and required shortening slightly for use. 2mm coloured leads can be difficult to find and I wish I could locate a wider selection of colours.

Plastic holder and coloured 2mm leads for Kol-I-Noor mechanical clutch holder

Plastic holder and small range of coloured 2mm leads for Kol-I-Noor mechanical clutch holder

One last item I took along in my 22g Derwent pencil wrap was a 7g highlighter. This bright orange ink pen is made by Muji and features a thin nib at one end and a broader nib at the other. I use this for highlighting notes in my journal and for marking routes on maps. I notice that the design of these has changed since I purchased mine.

Two ended, orange highlighter from Muji

Two ended, orange highlighter from Muji

Derwent Pencil roll with my selection of artists materials

Derwent Pencil wrap with most of my small selection of artists materials

I am fairly content with the selection of artists materials I took. My kit was light without considerable bulk. I had opportunity to experiment with mediums unfamiliar to me yet also fall back on quick and easy materials where necessary. I had intended to include another pencil in my armoury, this was to be a Prismacolor Col-Erase 200028 Copy Not Non-Photo Light Blue. This produces a very light mark that I use for initial lines on drawings. However, discovering I had none in the house, a frantic order was placed which failed to turn up in time for my trip. Having turned up today, a week after my return, I have yet to use them but I note that production has been switched from the USA to Mexico, some have reported on a fall in quality in the pencil as a result.

Prismacolor Col-Erase 200028 Copy not NP Blue pencil. The mark produced by this pencil is barely discernible on the paper

Prismacolor Col-Erase 200028 Copy not NP Blue pencil. The mark produced by this pencil is barely discernible on the paper

Pen, graphite pencil and coloured pencil. San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Palaermo

Pen, graphite pencil and coloured pencil. San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Palermo, Sicily, August 2016

A minimal kit

A minimal kit

Much that I enjoyed using inks on some drawings, I found they simply didn’t work for me as an ‘on location’ medium. I will definitely use these again at home, but I found them unsuitable for use en plein air. I much preferred to compose a picture, a rough sketch perhaps, in the field, and spread the inks out for use across a table in a hotel room later.  If I had ever attempted to use these within the confines of a tent for instance, I would now be the disgruntled possessor of a multi-coloured ground sheet. My biggest problem though was the extent to which they bleed through the lightweight paper of my notebook. These inks really needed my taking a small Moleskine watercolour album with its far heavier 200g/m2 cold pressed paper.

As I said at the start of this post, I am no great shakes as an artist. This is one reason why I am not sharing more than a handful of my artistic efforts in this post. However I do get much enjoyment from my sketches, no matter how poor. So I shall continue to not only strive to improve my technique and renditions, but will also work on refining the type of materials that I cart along with me in a lightweight set-up. I may follow up with a further report should I develop my travel kit to any great extent.

Three Points of the Compass drawing en plein air, Sicily August 2016

Three Points of the Compass sketching en plein air, Parco delle Madonie, Sicily August 2016