Posts filed under Watercolor

Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 Watercolor Pencils Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

There's an element of "jack of all trades, master of none" to these...pencils? Crayons? Paints? But that doesn't stop the Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 Watercolor Pencils from being a fun family activity. They're designed for kids and they passed my rigorous kid-test with flying colors.

The wood case is made from sustainable wood, with a break-resistant core. They're short and bulky, like the jumbo crayons marketed for preschoolers. They're a bit uncomfortable to hold, I felt, and the thick core only allows for the boldest of bold lines.

The core is very soft and lays down a smooth thick layer of color. It could easily achieve solid coverage on smooth paper. When you add water to the applied color, the results vary somewhat. Some colors are more soluble than others--black dissolves almost completely and spreads nicely, but silver doesn't appear to be soluble at all. Most colors are somewhere in-between, with at least a little of the original crayon line still visible after painting. I also tried dipping the crayon in water and drawing, but the core is too waxy to work well that way. It repels water rather than absorbing it, so I'd get maybe two strokes of painted line, and then it would return to a normal dry crayon line. Wetting the paper first and applying the color to the wet page created a neat feathering effect as some of the pigment ran, but the crayon line is still clearly visible. This could make for some really fun blending techniques.

Despite the heavy line put down by these, it doesn't take much color to get a rich puddle of watercolor. I think a wonderful use for these (for those of us who aren't inclined toward thick crayon art-making) is in creating washes or backgrounds for journals or other media. A fine layer blends into a lovely background with enough remaining texture to add some nice depth. Once the wash is dry, you can write or draw over it. The crayons even write well over themselves, creating some fun layered effects. They also work on different colored paper--and, because they are water-soluble, on chalkboards and glass. I haven't tested them on glass yet, but I'm envisioning some festive holiday window art.

After asking my eldest to test these, he has officially claimed them. He's never been the type to sit and color (or sit at all, for that matter), so he only reluctantly agreed to try these, and promised only a small, quick sketch. Instead, he patiently covered every inch of the large A3 watercolor paper. And then he liked them so much just as crayons, he resisted my suggestion to add water. And then when I convinced him to at least try adding water, he enjoyed that so much, he painted over the whole thing. Y'all, I got a good half-hour of peace and quiet out of it. And a lovely piece of art.

The crayons/pencils/paints come in sets of 6, 10, or 18. They're also available as open stock--but as far as I can tell, you need to buy a set to get the custom-sized sharpener. I'm not sure what other sharpener might fit these beasts. One thing the sets do not come with is a paintbrush. Instead, the 18-color set comes with a perplexing cardstock-cutout of a paintbrush in a compartment where you're clearly meant to place your own brush. I imagine it's there to indicate that "no, we didn't forget to add your brush--you just don't get one". These sets aren't cheap, and I feel like they really ought to come with a brush. Even a skimpy plastic one. If you plan to order these, be sure to have a brush on hand, or order one at the same time.

As for offering my recommendation, if you have an aspiring young artist in your life, I think these would be a big hit. But if your resident artist is old enough to take care of their art supplies, I'd actually recommend the Derwent Inktense Pencils instead. They create a better watercolor effect, are fine enough to color smaller details, and are considerably less expensive. They can't tackle as many surfaces as the Woodys though. If you want to color on the windows (and I had no idea how much I really do want to color on the windows until today), you want these. They'd also be great for drawing strategically-placed mustaches on the bathroom mirror. Art is art.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

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Posted on December 8, 2016 and filed under Stabilo, Pencil Reviews, Watercolor.

JetPens Watercolor Starter Kit: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

I’ve always been fascinated by watercolors and the people who can paint with them. I love seeing Hobonichi and Traveler’s Notebook pages that people have done in watercolor and envisioned myself one day doing the same. Although I may never get to the point where I can record every day using watercolor and washi tape, I wanted to give watercolors a try.

JetPens has a terrific watercolor starter kit for $36.00. It includes a Maruman New Soho Series Sketchpad, a Pentel Aquash water brush, a black Sakura Pigma Micron pen, a white Uni-ball Signo Broad gel pen, a 3H Uni Mitsubishi 9000 pencil (I never used this), and a set of Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors..

I sat down one morning and began painting. I started with my usual horse picture (that’s one thing I can sort of reliably draw, though this one’s legs are a bit long).

Then I did a small pumpkin that was decorating our dining room table.

Next I made a rather sad attempt at an empty coffee mug.

Then I painted what I think is a pretty darn good rendition of an antique vase.

And finally, I painted one of our kitties, Hermione.

I must say I’m impressed with this kit. The paper works reasonably well, though it does curl up after being wet. Maybe all paper does that with watercolors, I don’t know.

You can see the paper curled slightly.

You can see the paper curled slightly.

The Sakura Pigma pen is terrific for the base drawing, and it definitely doesn’t smudge when wet.

The Pentel water brush is adequate, though I also used a bowl of water to rinse the brush out between colors. I’m sure, if I continue this watercolor thing, I’ll want to buy some nicer brushes. But for now, this one works.

I absolutely love the vivid colors of the Kuretake set. Usually, when I think of watercolors, I think pastel. But I really like the dark reds, browns, blues, and greens in this collection. The black is a true black, and the white is a great addition for lightening colors or adding subtle highlights.

I used the Uniball Signo for stronger highlighting (and whiskers) and for covering up mistakes.

I highly recommend this set for anyone who wants to try their hand at watercolors. I’m planning on buying The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook to help me learn better techniques. There’s something incredibly soothing about painting with watercolors–it’s like meditating with a brush.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on November 4, 2016 and filed under Watercolor.

Winsor Newton Watercolor Markers Review

(This is a guest post by Nick Folz. You can find more of Nick and his work on his blog, Smallberry Drive, Twitter, and Instagram.)

I’ve been on a real watercolor kick recently. It was one of those mediums I ignored for reasons I could never put a finger on, but when I came across these Windsor Newton Watercolor Markers I had an excuse to give them an honest go.

The markers are double ended, one felt brush tip, one fine tip. The option for two widths is nice, but I end up just using the brush tip most of the time. The pigment just seems to flow from the brush side better. Some times the fine point tip would be too harsh on an area I have washed over and sort of eat up the paper, so I would occasionally use it pre-wash.

There are plenty of ways to experiment with these markers. · Use them as markers, straight up, no water. · Rub the marker on a plastic palette with a touch of water to make watercolors to brush on. · Brush water down and draw while wet to create a “spreading” effect, I just call it "Wash Under". · Draw with the markers, wash over the drawing with water to spread the pigment and fill in with color.

I did the last option most often. I would ink a drawing and then follow the outline of the ink with the marker color of choice, then wash inward to fill with color. You get a very pleasant gradation of color, while still keeping that watercolor look. The control of a marker and the style of watercolor got me hooked. One of my favorite watercolor effects is when you lift some pigment from one area and move it to an area with too much water. When it drys, the pigment gathers on the edges of the wet area and has a really pleasant appearance.

You can’t let the marker sit too long; the pigment gets less apt to move around the longer it sits. So I would do one area at a time, washing with water as soon as I inked. While that may sound tedious, it is actually very satisfying. The brush tips make this sort of technique a joy. After I would finish the area coloring I would re-work some stuff with water and adding different effects. I would add an area of water and tap the brush end of the marker to make the “spreading” look. Or I would add drops of water to the washed area and let the pigment dry at the edge of the re-watered area.

The markers do seem to leech into the paper, meaning if you apply the marker to dry paper you can never completely wash away a mark, you might see a line of pigment even after washing most of it away, but being aware of that just made me use it to my advantage.

The main drawback to this set has to be the variety. I usually ended up only using the green and blue markers. The yellow and orange are extremely similar to one another and the red is under saturated, making it turn out pink. The black is, well, black. I guess I could mess around with it for shading and maybe even inking, but I just prefer ink for that, not watercolor.

I would still wholeheartedly recommend the markers themselves, just not the set as much. They really opened up a whole medium to me that I normal steer away from, and have a level of forgiveness and control that make them approachable.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

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Posted on October 10, 2016 and filed under Winsor Newton, Watercolor, Pen Reviews.