Archive for January, 2009

Boatbuilding or Artwork?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

The boat builders up in Maine declare winter as building time. They either have better heated shops than mine, or own more layers of clothes. The past couple of weeks have been colder than in recent years, leaving the boat to sit lonely in the cold shop.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing a little bit of artwork.  A brief encounter with a group of people in an online workshop reminded me of an experience at the Wooden Boat School last summer. The reminder came as people in the workshop introduced themselves, one being from Maine’s Mt. Desert Island, home of Bar Harbor.

Greg's weekend mapOn a Friday morning Greg Rössell, our Wooden Boat School instructor, produced a hand drawn map of the area’s weekend attractions. (Click on the image to the right for a larger view.)  He had color coded the map with museums, old tool sellers, forts and lighthouses, walks and cheap thrills, etc.

Two places on the map were marked with skull and crossbones markings. One was at “Bah Hahbah,” and the other at Camden. Both were warnings about the “artsy fudge and scented candle crowds.”

Salty ole boat builders apparently have low tolerance for art, at least the touristy kind.  Here, I appreciate both activities … but don’t have any kitsch or scented candles.

hand*book journal co. – BETTER Than Moleskines

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

The people who market the current line of Moleskine products have done a fabulous job. They’ve turned a rather mediocre product into something with a cult following. The hype they publish about VanGogh, Picasso, Hemmingway and Chatwin using their notebooks is pure mythology. Those people used notebooks of a bygone era, notebooks that were published by a firm that failed and went out of business long ago. Today’s Moleskines are similar in name only. Whoever bought the brand name bought the legend, and the myth too. Fabulous marketing!

I have a couple of Moleskines and use them for sketching, but nothing more serious. The standard notebooks, the ones that have a manila or yellowish paper are OK for pencils and some pens. Some of the pens I favor don’t work well with them, and as others in a workshop have noted, they’re really not good at all for water media. Most water media makes the pages buckle too much and gets so absorbed that the colors turn out as pale pastel images of what they should be. I like the Moleskine watercolor books better. They have WHITE paper in them and it works well for most of the media I use.

…and as we have heard recently, new Moleskine notebooks from China have a tint and paper quality that many people don’t like.

hand-bookThere is a BETTER Alternative. At least in my opinion. A new firm, based in Kansas City Mo., has popped up recently. Their notebooks, “hand*book journal co.” have many features similar to Moleskine notebooks, but far superior paper. I find the paper for more suitable for the media I use: pencil, pen and ink, colored pencils with and without water, and watercolor. (I haven’t tried them with acrylics, gauche, or other media.) First, the paper is not as yellow. It is called “buff,” what I would label as ivory. It has good tooth for pencils, but not so much as to be difficult with pens. It accepts light water application and, best of all, water based media stays rich and vibrant instead of fading away. I’ve found that they also handle erasures well. Some fairly aggressive scrubbing with a plastic eraser failed to damage the surface.

Click the image at the right to see my test page, actually the back page of a landscape size regular notebook. Included is part of the envelope inside the back cover.

The covers are fabric, available in several colors. There have the usual features: a ribbon place mark, an elastic band, and a clear plastic pocked inside the back cover. They are labeled as acid free. BTW, these are made in India. Here’s hoping they don’t show up someday with a green tint like that batch of Moleskines.

Here are some other opinions:
http://ducly.wordpress.com/2007/03/30/handbook-journal-co/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/snowangels/2349323389/
http://ymzalawalks.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/hand-book-journal/

Here are some places to buy: Amazon and Dick Blick

Oh yeah, they’re also cheaper than Moleskines.

Clementine – VSD Jan 2009

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

clementine

This is Jeanette Jobson’s clementine. She left it out where we could all see it as the subject for this month’s Virtual Sketch Date (VSD). A reference photo is published on the Virtual Sketch Date blog once a month. We are invited to render the subject as we please, publish on our own blogs, and then notify the VSD folks about where we published.

Mine is done with Derwent watercolor pencils and Aquaflo waterbrush on a pocket size Moleskine watercolor sketch book. (5 in. by 3.5 in. )

Holiday Interlude

Monday, January 12th, 2009

madrid

We traveled a bit. This is one of the points along the way. People familiar with Madrid will recognize most of the objects in the drawing. The crown might lead some to learn about Zarzuela, a form of operetta unique to Madrid. “The King Who was Rabid” is a delightful comedy, supplemented by a dancing chorus that is highly skilled in acrobatics, tumbling, trapeze artistry, and juggling, as well as the usual singing and dancing.

Moleskine pocket notebook – 7 by 5 1/2 inches

Micron pens (005 to 2)

Click on the image to show a larger version.