Gansai swatches

2019 04 11 - 00:15

There’s something peculiarly satisfying, meditative, and therapeutic about swatching paints or coloured pencils. These are the Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36 set, and the Boku Undo Gansai ‘blackish’ six set paints, minus the Boku Undo reddish black, and the Kuretake numbers 57, 66, 67,, and 34 (I used the numbers, because there is some discrepancy on colour names between different folks and what’s on the packaging), which others tested and deemed not lightfast, and the white, which I didn’t botber swatching on white paper.

I’ll do my own testing at some point.

I’ve found a couple of other gansai sets on, but have yet to discover any info on them.

I really love the way these feel when you’re swiping your brush in the pans, which is due completely to the hide glue binder. It’s very slick, but with a ‘pull’. The colours are uncredibly vivid, even after drying, which is not a thing one always gets with Western-style watercolours, unless you do many layers and/or buy the good stuff.

My biggest regret is that you can’t buy the gansai pans empty. I’d so much prefer them to the Western style full pans, especially when using big brushes.

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What to do with your art

2018 12 08 - 02:29

I just saw the saddest thing. I was watching a DIY video on YouTube of a lady doing pretty much what I've done with my watercolours, gouache, and pigment sticks, and lawdy mama, the people who shat on her for having more than a 12 colour minimal palette, was unholy. The arrogance of it was saddening. If you ever wonder why some non-artists hate artists, or why some artists hate each other, there's one reason; some of 'em really get up on the high horse. It's nauseating.

Should you have a large palette? Should you stick to a basic one? Should you multi-brand, or stick with one? Should you learn to mix paints from raw pigments and binder? Should you buy convenience colours or only the basic mass tones?

You know what you should do with art? What you want. That's it. Do what you want. Do what makes you happy. If you want to stick to the six basic primaries, then go to it. If you want to buy every single Daniel Smith Primatek, all the Senneliers, all the M. Grahams, all the Van Goghs, Turners, Mission Golds, Rembrandts, Paul Rubens, Schminkes, QORs, Holbeins, and Winsor & Newtons, then go to town. Go nuts. I would personally applaud you, but I'm biased.

Is it necessary to own all those paints? No, but if you like colour, options, and have the money, then have at it. I would if I could. My personal dent in the watercolour medium is very small, but I have at least one or two from almost all the brands I've mentioned above - except for Mission Gold, M. Graham, Paul Rubens, and Schminke - I have Winsor & Newton gouache, though; also Jack Richeson and Turner. Believe me when I say that I'd make as much a fuss over watercolour and gouache as I do over coloured pencils if I could. Well, maybe not quite the same amount of fuss, but you get the idea. It is a good idea to start off with a small palette while you're learning, this is true, but you don't need to stop there.

One thing that is particularly true of watercolours, I've noticed, is that every brand could have a version of Indigo (for example) but no two will look or behave the same way. Every company has a different way of dealing with pigments, different binder mixes they use. Sennellier and M. Graham, for example, use honey-based binders. QOR doesn't even use gum arabic like all the others do. So, sure, I have two different indigos, and they are quite visibly different from other. I could learn to mix paints if I wanted to. In fact, I do know how, I just can't be arsed, and am happy to buy pre-mixed paints. This means I get consistency, though, which can't be said of any attempts I've ever made to mix my own colours.

Are there rules? Sure, but most of them are fluid. Like I said, what you should do, is what you want.

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Acrylic Pouring

2018 08 20 - 20:35

Acrylic pouring (fluid painting) has become a huge craze over the past couple of years. There are quite literally hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of videos on YouTbue of various means and methods of doing it - which is why I haven't linked one, because it would be impossible to choose something without wanting to choose a dozen more.

Since it's quite a messy process, it's something I've only tried in a minor sense. I have no room to do this kind of work properly, and no room to store canvas, so I only work on paper (for the time being - which you can also do pouring on, and not only with acrylics, but watercolour pouring is a much different kettle of fish that I'm not going to touch on - but you can find that on YouTube as well). This kind of creation is not new, and forms of it have been around since Jackson Pollock and the other action abstractionists splattered their first canvas. I tend not to like action painting, and have never hidden the fact that I hate Pollock's work; but I've also never hidden the fact that I adore the doors it opened.

I have always disliked the barriers artists, or at least some aspects of the arts community, have placed between themselves and the masses; making art a niche meant only for the few. I have always believed that everyone is capable of creating, it's just a matter of finding the means by which it works for them - and that's not always traditional arts.

I've always wanted the creative in others to be encouraged, which is why this acrylic pouring craze is so fabulous. While it may be messy, it's also easy (and cheap, if that's required, since you can use dollar store paints to do it if that's what you can afford). It's allowing people who previously didn't do much that was creative, whether through fear or something else, to do something that gives them a feeling of accomplishment; and, more importantly, a great deal of joy. The results may not always be beautiful, but they're always interesting; and it's so easy to start and keep going, that it encourages them to keep trying, and trying different things. The only downside, if it means anything to you, is that they are apparently hard to sell. Straight-up non-representational abstracts can be like that.

So here's to acrylic pouring, the current great democratiser of acrylic painting.


Fill Watercolour Pans With Derwent Inktense Blocks, ArtBars, Watercolour Tube Paint, Watercolour/Pigment Stick, Other Wet Media that can be reactivated, Etcetera

2018 05 31 - 19:42

If you decide that you're only going to use your various types of paint sticks as paint with a brush, rather than freehand to draw with, then here's some notes on how you can cut them down and put them into watercolour pans. This allows you to create multiple sets from one package of Inktense Blocks, for example, so that you can have a set for home and one for travel. How you cut and fill, though, is up to you. Please note that all of the instructions are based on using full pans, not half pans. Whichever you choose, is up to you.

You will need:

Now, to work:

If there's anything I've left out, please don't hesitate to email me so I can add it to the sheet.

Brands used include:

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Get me off this stage

2018 05 17 - 15:01

Every once in a while my sensei makes us teach - to explain a waza, to refine a point, etcetera. I loathe this. I don't mind teaching or explaining, but only to one person at a time. I don't like talking in front of groups, even if it's groups of people I have no trouble communicating with otherwise.

I do not like being the centre of that kind of scrutiny or attention.

I've tried to figure out how or when this started. I can't source it, though I do know some of the reasons I continue to have the problem. I'm not going to share them; they're too embarassing. I might have no fear of discussing some personal matters openly, but even I have my limits. Increased frequency has never made it easier. I barrel through it without looking anyone in the face, getting to the end of it all as fast I can so it can be over with. It's always been that way, with anything I've had to do in front of others.

Someone once suggested - in respect of singing in public - that I put on another guise, be someone else so I could get through the performance. I can't. I am who I am. I am, as I just said to someone else, no good at pretence. Faking it doesn't change the fact that I'm still the focus of attention. I'd be a lousy actor, because I'm no good at pretence. It's also been suggested that I deal with it the same way I deal with explaining my art to people. Here's the thing, though - I don't. I will tell people how I made things, what process I used, but I leave it up to the audience to find a meaning.

art, iaido, personal
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Holbein Coloured Pencils

2018 05 04 - 03:04

Only 131 of the 150 full set of Holbein coloured pencils are acceptably lightfast - either a two or three star rating, and this is the complete list of those colours. The marked (*) ones are the ones I have. The email I received from the manufacturer, indicated that the reason they aren't available in Canada (yet!) is that they haven't yet received a license to do so - something to do, I think, with some of the pigments used in their making. They are working on it, though. That'll be a monumental relief to anyone looking to acquire them who doesn't either want to spend a month's rent to get them, or doesn't have a buddy travelling to Japan who can pick up a set (or open stock) and bring them back. I have found a seller on eBay from whom you can buy open stock (which I have, so I know it's legit as far as that goes; and they apparently offer some sort of discount on bulk orders, but I haven't inquired about that yet) (reds, blues, greens, blacks/whites, violets, yellows) (or by set), but they're about $5 to $6 each. The charts on each of the linked pages for the open stock, give the lightfastness of each pencil.

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Canson Art Board - review, tips

2018 03 16 - 09:35

It's nice to have a sturdy surface to work on without going directly on matboard. In fact, working on this stuff is rather like matboard - only this is thicker and has archival papers glued on to its surface. I can only speak to the finer textured version, but there are versions with more tooth than what I got.



I had actually soaked one in water for just a few moments, so not long enough to saturate it completely; but it was long enough to make it good and wet. It did come out bowed, but that can be combatted by laying the board between two flat, heavy items flatten the board as it dries.

The issue with the tearing and fraying of paper when you remove the board from the binding, could be solved by the application of some acrylic medium both before and after the piece is done.

I've worked over and over some areas with a lot of pencil, and this stuff is holding up nicely - both oil- and wax-based pencils. Of course, I'm not 'scrubbing' into the paper with a heavy hand, but multiple layers can produce a lot of piling on paper depending on its quality. So if you were looking to use this for pencil work, I'd say it's a safe bet. And given the ability it has to take water, I'd give it a go for acrylic and watercolour as well. I don't know about oil, as it's not a medium I've touched in over twenty years.

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T'Gaal Sharpener - review, tips

2018 03 15 - 20:17

A good sharpener is any pencil user's dream.



I once came upon the tip that one should turn the sharpener around the pencil, rather than turning the pencil inside the sharpener, when it comes to using the hand-held type; as this apparently causes far less breakage. I was never able to manage it easily, so finding a decent sharpener, rather than going the sandpaper route, was always a thing for me. I quite like this one, and the tip choices; as the lower number tips will lead to less tip breakage, but still offer a nice point. You also still have the option of the pencil version of a rigger brush with point 5, if you need something long and thin and need to get into a tight area.

On the note of pencil breakage, I'm sure you're aware of the issues with Prismacolor Premiers, so I won't go into that; but will tell you that my own personal fix is a hair dryer - and I'm guessing you could use a heat tool also. Lay the pencils down somewhere they won't get blown around much by the dryer, and blow-dry each pencil end to end for at least a minute or so - it doesn't have to be a minute or so for every centimetre of the pencil, but so long as the whole pencil gets heated for a good amount of time, it'll be suffice. I'd rather this method than the microwave option, given the shiny lettering. I've found the hair dryer method works well, and can be repeated if necessary. If a tip does break off in this sharpener, just turn it so the pencil hole is facing down, tap it against something a time or two, and the lead should fall right out.

Also, remember to every once in a while sharpen a regular graphite pencil with your sharpener, to help clean the blade of the waxes and oils from your pencils.

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The Delight of White

2018 03 12 - 17:12

Everything I have that will make white that isn't a paint or a bottled ink, on "black" cardstock. I don't have true black pastel paper at the moment (just this cardstock), nor any Caran d'Ache whites.


Here's what I believe about the art world, and art itself

2017 10 29 - 03:20

This list is, of course, subject to alteration at any time - and it no doubt will - especially in the middle of the night when I get extra chatty.