Category Archives: tools and materials

Materials – Watercolor Pencil and Mixed Media paper

I should mention the medium for the previous post since it was an eye-opening experience in itself. I used the Marine Assortment set of Caran D’arch Museum watercolor pencils on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.

I don’t know why I haven’t thought to use pencil on the smoother Mixed Media paper before. This time I found that darker values could be achieved by applying the pencil to dry paper and wetting it afterward. Lighter wash-like effects resulted from wetting before applying the pencil. I was very pleased with how easily the pencils moved across the surface.

I’ve purchased an embarrassing number of sets of different brands of both watercolor and regular colored pencils. They sit largely unused in their dedicated drawer in my art materials metal filing cabinet. They each have their own degree of hardness and flow. I just never liked the grainy residue they leave on #140 lb cold press paper. Why didn’t I try a smoother surface before?

It’s not like I haven’t previously tried pencil on smooth surfaces. The botanical art class I attended at Filoli estate in Woodside, California featured Prismacolor pencils on bristol vellum. The results were fantastic, almost photographic. But you had to be willing to put on so much pencil that techniques needed to be learned to reduce the waxy residue. Perhaps I was put off by that. More likely it was the bad memory of how the instructor seemed to choose favorites by lavishly praising the work of some but not others, including me.

In any case, I will definitely be taking my w/c pencils and some smooth paper on my next vacation.

Local Resources for a Father’s Day Project

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Fifth Element at Cap Sante

In between completing the Atmospherics Landscapes class, I decided to hand-paint a Father’s Day card.  There’s a fairly good little art store within walking distance of the marina, Good Stuff Arts.  We are even given a coupon for 10% off this local business when we check into Cap Sante marina.  They do carry my favorite Pro Art tape, but they only had the note-sized frame cards.

I checked Bayshore Office Supply across the main drag, Commercial Ave,  and they had the Strathmore photo-mount cards.  I was looking for the frame cards that have a 3.5×5 opening, but this would have to do.   

Read my next post to learn how I created this card.

An Apple iCloud Notes Solution

I have embraced Apple notes as my go to app for capturing ideas when I’m on the road, but I ran into a problem this week. I thought I would write this up because it was a problem that even Apple Support did not understand. (I have not included an exact step-by-step of the Apple device settings, so if you want to know more information, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.)

I’m not a big fan of the cloud because I’m often out of WIFI reach. The remote coves we enjoy on our boat have no internet service, and the advertised WIFI at marinas is usually woefully lacking. (I’m writing this in the Anacortes Starbucks.). However, I have found putting certain items in the cloud useful.

One of these is my ongoing Notes. I have several folders of notes for my art endeavors that I like to share between my desktop iMac, iPhone and iPad. These include Admired Artists, Art Materials, and Art Techniques. I recently wanted to add a scan from a magazine to one of my existing Art Techniques notes on Color Mixing.

It’s easy enough to take a scan or photo with the iPhone. You can save the scan to Photos, but you can also directly Share the scan or photo to Notes. The problem was that I could not select my iCloud based Color Mixing note after I chose Share.

I knew my iCloud notes were there because I could see them if I looked for them in the Notes app. So why couldn’t I Share to them?

I discovered there is now an app for Apple Support and downloaded it (so my WIFI was obviously strong enough), but could find no reference to sharing to iCloud Notes in the Knowledge Base. The app suggested the best way to get support was to telephone, and as usual, I am amazed at the quick response one gets when calling Apple. They do ask for your Apple ID, and I’ve paid for the extended Apple warranty for my mobile devices, so I guess I’ve paid for it, but it still amazes me how quickly you can reach a real person at Apple.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to describe my problem over the phone. Taisha did her best and rounded up all the mobile Notes support articles for me to read later, but none of them referred to this problem. She had some odd idea that you needed to do iCloud backups of your device to get to your notes. I happen to only trust iTunes for backup and didn’t think that was the problem. I’m sure I’d been able to save from my iPad to a note originally created on my iMac, so what was wrong now?

I guess it’s my engineering background, but I couldn’t rest until I solved this problem. Artists would do well to adapt the engineering approach. All it requires is asking yourself a question and testing to find the answer. So, my first question was, could I do this on my iPad? Yes, it turned out! I could select a photo from Photos and then Share that photo to a Note from the iCloud Notes folder. This was a clue! Could there be a setting on my iPad that i did not have enabled on my iPhone?

There were two places in the Settings to look- one in the iCloud section and one in the Notes Settings area. The iCloud settings are oddly located at the top of Settings under your name. Here I noticed all the iCloud settings were the same except iPhone iCloud Drive was off. Could that be it? I enabled iCloud Drive on the iPhone, but nothing changed.

Then I looked at Settings/Notes. Here I noticed that the very top option, Default Account was On My Phone. For my iPad, it said simply iCloud. I switched the option to iCloud on my iPhone as well. I wasn’t hopeful this would do anything because the description was “Choose a default account for Siri and the Notes widget in Today View.”

However, this did seem to be the solution! Now, when I went to Share to the Notes app, I could only see my iCloud notes. So I guess you only get one or the other.

It’s tempting once you fix something to leave it be or it might “break” again. However, the final engineering verification was to switch it back to Settings/Notes/Default Account=on my iPhone. Sure enough, I could now only share to notes on my iPhone. Switching it to Default Account=iCloud allowed me to share to my iCloud notes. So, Solution Found!

Art materials snipped

A tidbit of captured info, this time for my Art Materials folder

Camel Hair Brushes

I recently was given some very old brushes.  I thought it would be no problem looking up the manufacturer’s series number since they were still clearly visible on the handles.  However, I quickly found that a Google search yielded very little information

My husband pointed out that these brushes were probably made and discontinued before the internet even existed.  This is the case for the Murillo company where I found business records from New York indicating closure in 1982. 

I was especially curious about a brush marked 1” M. Grumbacher N.Y. Meissonier ® U.S.A.  After some research I determined that this is a “Camel Hair Mop”.  But even more interesting, even though you can find many “Camel Hair” brushes for sale today, very few vendors indicate the real hair used for this brush.  

Finally, I found a good description for all brush hairs at www.dickblick.com/info/brushhair/

It turns out, Camel Hair is certainly not from a camel.  As they describe:

Camel Hair does not come from camels at all. It is found in watercolor and lettering brushes and usually is made of squirrel, goat, ox, pony or a blend of several hairs, depending on the desired softness and intended cost of the brush.

Grumbacher appears to be owned by Chartpack now. (grumbacher.chartpak.com/categories/brushes/#)  The closes brush I could find on their website is the Academy Natural.  The info box says their natural hair is a combination of goat and pony hair.  It does look like it would carry a lot of water and color, so I will try it in my watercolor work.

Grumbacher Academy Natural