Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Staying awake...

I had to watch over some students taking a test today, which means sitting still doing nothing for two hours - just about the worst thing anyone could ask me to do at work. Since I became a teacher, I forgot how to sit still and be quiet. I´m used to running around helping people with things, or talking to students or standing in front of a class teaching. Being active. Sitting still with nothing to do makes my brain shut off - I am the one who´s head starts nodding after a while during meetings if I have nothing to say...

There´s nothing better than pen and paper to stay awake at times like this. I had filled a sketchbook page before the two hours came to an end. Added the colours at home in the evening, I figured I´d probably be thrown out if I started painting as well while the students were concentrating on their tests...

12.5 x 15 cm, Micron pen and watercolours on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New paintbox

A longer post today, for the paintbox nerds out there! :)

I´ve been looking for years for the perfect outdoor sketching watercolour box, but either the boxes are too big or the mixing surfaces are too small. I always end up modifying my boxes a lot, but they still don´t really work the way I want them to. So I decided to go for it and order a handmade Pocket box from the Paintbox Company in England.

Now, to me this is a very expensive paintbox, I really thought twice before placing my order, but I figured it would be worth it since I probably wouldn´t have to buy another box EVER. The description of this box on the homepage sounded just like the thing I was looking for - small but not too tiny to hold in a steady grip, with room for the luxury of 16 colours and a lot of mixing space for a small box.

There is a long queue for these boxes, I think I waited almost two and a half months for mine, but it was worth the wait. I´m incredibly happy with it so far. A tiny review:

The box is sturdy, the mixing space is perfectly enough for me - you can remove the whole tray of colours in the box, if you want to use the mixing surface under there too. There´s a strong ring underneath for holding the box (unlike those thin and wobbly ones on all the boxes I bought before), and I can change a single colour if I like since I chose the model with room for half pans (slightly bigger box than the one for tube colours). I´ve read some reviews on these boxes, and one or two mentioned the weight as a minus, and it isn´t as lightweight as the thin metal boxes you can buy from all art suppliers. To me that´s not a problem - it´s a very small addition to the weight I´m always carrying around in my bag anyway - to others it may be something to take into consideration.

The only minus to me, and it´s only a "cosmetical" one, is a little brass plate that looks a little unpolished on the lid of the box (not pictured here). These boxes come with your initials on a plate on the lid. I didn´t quite like the look of the initials, and I didn´t really want them there no matter how they looked, so I chose not to have them there. But for some reason the initial plate is on the lid anyway, though empty, and the edges of it are a bit rough. After using the box, I found that the plate actually helps holding the box firmly fastened in the water container (I don´t know if that was the thought behind it, but it does), so it fills a function anyway, but it looks a little less worked on than the rest of the box.

The colour mixing chart in this post is something I always do with my watercolour palettes when I change colours in them. I like trying to mix all colours with all others at least once, just to see what combinations I get. Of course a mixing chart like this is not at all complete - you can mix two colours in so many different proportions, and this chart just shows one. Still, it gives an idea of where I can go with this particular choice of colours. I often find new surprising combinations, and some interesting grays when I do these charts. From here I go on to examine a few of those mixes a little closer, trying out different proportions of the two pigments in the mix, for example.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I went to see my dad a few days ago, and found this beautiful spot near his house where the sunshine fell through the tiny leaves of some spring green birch trees. I didn´t quite manage to capture that sparkling play of light and shadows among the trees, so this is a somewhat simplified version of what I saw in front of me.

I always mix my greens, and I got to try out a lot of new-found mixes here, since I´ve changed a few colours on my palette. It was incredibly fun to do, and the weather permitted me to sit in shorts and a t-shirt (for the first time this year!) and just enjoy myself.

A trick I use sometimes, especially on bigger sketchbook pages like this one: I put some masking tape on the left and right side of the page. I like to get those straight edges there like margins in the book.

17.5 x 26 cm, pencil and watercolours on Arches Satinée watercolour paper. (Sketchbook page.)

Drawing in the car

Car rides are great for sketching (unless you´re driving). I like trying to make quick watercolour sketches while the landscape quickly changes outside the car window. Of course, this place doesn´t exist exactly as it looks here. This is just some kind of composition from several glances out the window, kind of trying to catch the character of a landscape.

12.5 x 9 cm, pencil and watercolours (working with a Niji waterbrush here) on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.

Friday, May 09, 2008

New toys

Tried out some new Staedtler triplus fineliners, and they are SO nice to draw with. They are incredibly smooth on the paper, and the colours are clear and bright. At first I thought it was a pity they aren´t waterproof, but then I thought Oh what the heck. This waterproof, acid free, archival hysteria drives me nuts sometimes. My childhood drawings are still around, they didn´t evaporate or explode or anything - and they were made with probably the cheapest pens ever, all permeated with acid and unwaterproofness. My guess is that this drawing will last at least as long as they have. :)

12.5 x 15 cm, Staedtler triplus fineliners on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I look like a real snob here, don´t I? I had the mirror on a table below me when I drew this, hence the strange angle on the nose and eyes.

Self portraits are amusing. You always end up with a half decent/half wonky image of yourself, that most people can recognize and that EVERYBODY can see something wrong with - but they don´t dare to tell you since they don´t want to hurt your feelings, either about you drawing badly or about how you actually look. ;)

You always get a certain concentrated, almost mad, look in your eyes when you draw yourself. I also get that fine looking angry wrinkle in my forehead. :)

12.5 x 15 cm, dip pen and Pelikan Burnt Sienna ink on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The pavilion in Ghost park

Another drawing from the walk I took the other day. This pavilion stands in a small park in central Stockholm, the Ghost park (they say there´s a ghost haunting the park, I just wish I had heard of anyone who actually saw it...). The pavilion looks a bit sad with those plywood sheets in front of the doorways and the rusty roof. Looks like the perfect place to sell ice cream in the summer...

12.5 x 15 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s black ink, and watercolours, on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Back to drawing

I finally got almost a whole day of drawing today, and my hands have been itching for drawing for a while now. Bookbinding is fun (see earlier posts), it´s almost too fun, it´s easy to get caught up in it, trying out new techniques, new covers, modifying book models... But in the end I always long to start using the paper inside those books.

Went for a walk around the city center in Stockholm today, and sat down for a coffee. This is the view from my little table outside the café. I love spring, it makes drawing outside so much easier.

12.5 x 15 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Lexington gray ink and watercolours on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper.