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Treasures uncovered while looking for the gesso:

  • A pack of a dozen 4×5-inch canvas panels, pre-primed, ready for painting.
  • A small desktop easel.
  • An old AOL bisk tin, filled with colored glass aquarium stones, of the type gamers use to track various game resources (hit points, Fate points, etc).
  • My copies of four games from Cheapass Games’ “Hip Pocket” series: Light Speed, Agora, Nexus, and Steam Tunnel.
  • The power supply for my old Belkin seven-port USB hub. I now have all of its pieces in one place! And no strong need of it.
  • My copy of Asterios Polyp, which I still haven’t read.

Treasure still to be found:

  • The gesso.
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sky monster

If I’d been thinking ahead, I’d’ve made this guy red or orange, to stand out against the clouds.

But anyway, I dug out some of my old brushes. Using a stiff bristle brush to pick up paint solved about 80% of my problems with watercolors.

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old man thumbnailBack on the art horse. Straight copy from this portrait I found on someone’s Flickr account. There’s a bigger image behind the cut tag.

Scary-looking old dude, at 600x600 pixels! )

This is pretty much all Pitt black and grayscale artist markers; initially the new “big” size, and then the old smaller size for details. I seem to just be using the three “warm” grays, mostly because the lightest gray in their range is one of the warms. But comparing them, there’s a pretty big leap in value between the light and middle warm grays, so I may have to start sticking the lightest cool gray in there to moderate things. Or maybe start working with ink wash.

For the whiskers, I tried using some Liquitex titanium white acrylic ink (or “ink!” — the label actually has the exclamation mark) and a dip pen (Speedball Hunt 56), but that came out all thin and watery. Maybe next time I’ll try dipping deeper into the bottle. But anyway, instead, I tried my trusty Sakura Gelly Roll white pen, and it performed like a champ. Seriously, I got a much more opaque white than I’m used to getting with this pen.

The paper is a page from a Flexi-Sketch sketchbook, the 6-by-8-inch one. These are made (or at least distributed) by Global Art, the same people who do those great hand•book travel journals.

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thumbnailMan, this art stuff is hard.

I want to do a bunch of watercolors of various TV celebrities, and figured I’d start with Jon Hamm as Don Draper, and oof, my skills are rusty. Though actually, I don’t think I’ve ever really drawn a celebrity likeness that satisfied me.

Complicating matters is a new artistic technique I wanted to try out: Shaving bits of color off my Inktense pencils into a palette cup, adding water, and using a dip pen. This works, sorta, but I’m having a hard time getting the color density that I want. Also, my collection of pen nibs has vanished. I picked up some Japanese G-pen nibs at Books Kinokuniya yesterday, and they’re OK, but they only had the Tachikawa nibs in stock. I hear the Zebra nibs are a lot more flexible, and that’s what I need to get a thick, juicy line. (Just realizing now how much my tastes have changed since I was a kid, and I was all about the thin, controlled line.)

Anyway, Jon Hamm has some remarkably thick eyebrows on ’im.

Four views of Don Draper )
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Y’know those Inktense pencils I was talking about the other day? Derwent has expanded the line to 72 colors. Actually 70 colors, since one of them is the outliner, and another is Antique White which is pretty much useless. You can order them from Dick Blick, and the Dick Blick store on Bond Street carries the individual pencils. I picked up Golden Yellow and Carmine Pink to swap out for Antique White and the outliner in my 24-set.

Places that did not have the full range include: DaVinci Art Supply on 23rd St, AI Friedman on 18th St, Utrecht Art Supply on Fourth Ave, and New York Central Art Supply on Third Ave.

While checking NY Central, I discovered that Faber-Castell now makes a “superfine” (or “XS”) black Pitt marker.

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Yeah, looks like coloring over the grayscale markers (Faber-Castell Pitt brush markers) sucks the vibrancy out of the color. I managed to get some of it back by layering on color from the pan watercolors. But I think the best results will come from using the Inktense pencils for establishing the underlying tonal drawing.

parking in Park Slope
©2010 Avram Grumer

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A few days ago I dreamed that I, and several other people, had superpowers, but to activate them we needed to eat crystallized ginger. I’ve still got some crystallized ginger candy that I bought at Fairway last year, and just ate a piece, but no superpowers. (Hm. It also tastes a lot stronger in real life than it did in the dream.)

I also recently dreamed that Crayola had a crayon color named after the French and Indian War. I remember thinking, as I woke, that the really odd thing was that this crayon was purple instead of green. See, I figured, green could make sense, as a combination of French Ultramarine (the most valuable pigment of Renaissance Europe; a reward was offered for anyone who could come up with a cheap synthetic version) and Indian Yellow (a pigment made illegal because its manufacture required the mistreatment of cows). Later I remembered that there’s also an Indian Red, which Crayola makes in crayon form, though they changed the name to Chestnut almost a decade ago.


Mar. 25th, 2008 10:50 pm
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woman's head and monsterMore doodling in that pocket Winsor-Newton. I’m using Inktense pencils for the colors, and mostly they make me want to try real watercolors again. Well, that and seeing Enrico Casarosa work on the cover to his new book. And the juicy colors in this cute little Miyazaki sketch of an island.

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Woman's headI was digging through a box of still-not-unpacked art supplies, and I found that pocket-sized Winsor-Newton watercolor sketchbook I was so into a couple years back. Flipping through it, I found this doodle, which I apparently hadn’t bothered to scan. I probably drew it while still living in Jersey City.

This page, on the other hand, is from my hand•book sketchbook that I generally carry around with me nowadays. Both these were drawn at Prospect Perk, one of the very many coffee shops to be found in Brooklyn’s North Slope. The woman in the coat was done a few weeks ago; the ink drawing of the seated man a few days ago.

Big image cut to preserve your precious Friends-page layout )
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Here’s a tip for anybody who uses Faber-Castell PITT pens: After the tip gets all worn and frayed, you can pluck it out with tweezers, spin it around, and put it back in backwards. There’s a second tip on the other end! Make sure not to spill the ink out of the marker’s body while you’re doing this. Here’s a YouTube video of the process, from Adam “Ape Lad” Koford.

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girl with katana and bootsI’d been assuming — not sure why — that the Pentel Pocket Brush’s ink was water-soluble. Wrong-o, me! I hereby declare the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen the most awesomest brushpen ever, and I wish I’d cleaned out Hudson County Art Supply’s stock back when they were selling them for $5 each.

(Not to be confused with the Pentel Color Brush Pen; that pen’s ink is water-soluble.)

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military guy with big eyebrowsNothing special, just proving that I did, indeed, draw something today.

Inktense for the colors. I was doing this over at Sweet Priscilla’s, which I’m gonna hafta stop, because the light’s just too dim. The fleshtone was particularly difficult.

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head with hatA vintage 1998 copy of O’Reilly’s Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference isn’t very definitive anymore, but it’s pretty handy for using as a weight to press my sketchbook down flat against the scanner glass.

This is just noodling around with Inktense pencils and a water brush. I just keep liking the Inktense pencils more and more. That’s “ink black” in the foreground, and “charcoal grey” in the back. The gray has a pretty strong greenish cast to it that makes me think of rainy city days drawn by Eisner. I’ve got a thing for moody, complex colors (after visiting Seattle I wanted to move there just for the local palette), and the Inktense are good for those, since they’re waterproof when dry, so you can layer ’em over each other without worrying about later layers disturbing earlier. I haven’t been doing that much, but clearly it’s time to start.

And I really like how the hat looks.


Jan. 2nd, 2007 07:55 pm
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squidThe first drawing of the new year!

Used the Derwent Inktense pencils this time. You can get some pretty decent color if you put down two or three layers. Still, not as intense as real watercolors. I need to figure out how to work with those Winsor Newton half-pans I bought a few months back. (Hm. No reason I can’t use both; the Inktense colors are waterproof once dry.)

I’m also starting to feel unsatisfied with what I’ve been doing recently. Reborn ambition is swelling in me. I’m not sure what to set it to.

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I was in a Chipotle today — pause here to allow for mockery from [livejournal.com profile] immlass — OK, done? So, I was in this Chipotle, and they’re playing music on the sound system, and I hear that familiar “doo da-doo da-doo doo-da-doo” and I realize that they’re playing “Walk on the Wild Side”. Actually, a Spanish-language cover of “Walk on the Wild Side”. But here’s the thing: If you were to travel back in time fifty years and tell Ray Kroc that one day that restaurants owned by the corporation he was founding would one day be entertaining their customers with a song about a transvestite who gives blow jobs to support a drug habit, what do you think his reaction would be?

Melorn headIt’s been a while since I’ve posted about art supplies, hasn’t it? I stopped in at the Dick Blick art store on Bond St to see if they had the new Copic Multiliners in stock, the ones with the aluminum bodies (they didn’t, only the old ones with the hideous speckled plastic casing), and I noticed some new sketchbooks.

Designed by Artist Hardware, Inc; manufactured distributed by Global Art Materials, Inc, and labeled as the hand•book journal co line, it’s as if they’re intended to be hard to google for, but here: a page on the Artist Hardware site, and another on the Dick Blick catalog site. These are obviously designed to compete with Moleskine sketchbooks, and they do that very well. They have almost the same form factors (just thicker), plus a square book. They’ve got the bookmark (orange instead of gray), and the elastic band to keep the cover closed (but slightly tighter), and a pocket in the back (clear plastic instead of manilla cardstock — less stylish, but probably more durable). The paper’s a slightly brighter white, and they’re 128 pages, rather than the 80 of a Moleskine sketchbook or the 60 of Moleskine’s watercolor books, but most important — the paper takes watercolor well. Moleskine’s sketch paper has a slick surface that resists ink and wash, and I’ve read that the watercolor paper isn’t much better.

Here, a color test:
color swatches

I dabbed both books with a bit of Winsor Newton Winsor Red watercolor (artist’s quality) on a water brush. My first dab was a bit thin, since I didn’t pick up much color from the pan; that’s the thin wash on the hand•book. The second dab has more color on it. See how the paint breaks up on the Moleskine paper?

Furthermore, the hand•book journals list for the same price or less than Moleskines, despite having more pages.


Jul. 11th, 2006 08:11 pm
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snoozing woman on PATH trainDuring my train trip home my eyes were for some reason refusing to stay pointed at my copy of Accelerando — I’m enjoying the heck out of it, but I just wasn’t in a reading mood — so I pulled out the old modded Winsor Newton pocket sketch journal and the .005 Pigma Micron I keep clipped inside the cover flap and sketched a woman who was napping a couple seats over. Used a Pentel Pocket Brush for the blacks.

Pretty good for a quick-and-dirty shaky train sketch. I need to do this more often.

Hey, I just realized something. Remember those drawings from college that I scanned and posted four years ago? I’m much more skilled now. Sure, duh, I’m twenty years older, but I don’t think I realized that four years ago. I was much more energetic and imaginative in college, but I’m more perceptive now, and have a better repertoire of marks and tools, and know more anatomy. Damn. If I can get that energy and imagination going, I’ll be in great shape.
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guy at Starbucks

Hey, here’s a sketch from Friday night. I managed to grab one of the comfy seats at the Starbucks on Broadway and 17th, and this guy here, right across from me, was also sketching people, using a red earth pencil on drawing paper. So I sketched him.

I’m using a new pen here, a Lamy Safari fountain pen, loaded up with Noodler’s black bulletproof ink. (It’s water-soluble in the pen, but when it hits the cellulose in paper it undergoes a chemical change and becomes waterproof. Pretty cool.) Nice thing about the fountain pen is I can flip it upside-down and draw with the back of the nib to get a thinner line. That’s what I did here for the background.

After a few weeks of using this pocket-sized sketchbook, I’m jonesin’ for a 9x12 book again, and some big, sloppy brushpens.
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blue-haired girlLike I said before, I wish Faber-Castell made a portrait set of their Pitt brush markers, with some pale pinks and oranges. They seem to think the terra set is suitable, but it’s too dark and saturated for caucasian fleshtones. Yeah, I know, at long last a set of art colors that leaves us white folks feeling excluded.

But here, I’m thinking a set like this:
color swatches
Or maybe drop one of the rightmost colors in favor of a blender! That’d be pretty cool. Maybe I’ll hunt around and see if any of the blending markers I’ve already got work on the Pitts.
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blond woman in sunglassesStill using the Winsor & Newton pocket sketch journal, and Faber-Castell Pitt grayscale brush markers. And a mechanical pencil. I wish I could find my landscape and terra sets. And it would be nice if they came out with a portrait set. Maybe I’ll write and ask about that.

April 2017



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