Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Adventure with Isabey and Strathmore

I have a natural curiosity when it comes to art supplies. This has cost me dearly. I have invested way too much money in supplies that have not been suitable for my purposes. But sometimes my curiosity works out well! I invested in some Strathmore 400 Series Drawing Paper for sketching but quickly became impressed with its capabilities for ink. It is smooth 80 lb. paper and recommended for dry media.
I have not yet used this drawing pad for my sketches, but I did try my pen practice on it and I was pleasantly surprised. It reacts beautifully to both the pointed and the edge pen.
I can practice with walnut ink on this paper and it does not bleed. I loved the warmth of the cream colour so I tried small gilding experiments and it came through beautifully. I use miniatum ink on this paper without it buckling. Beyond that, it will take watercolour, pastel and coloured pencil. This past week I put it through a strength test with a very ornate piece. I applied mulitple washes of watercolour and detailed inking.
The paper did not buckle. I use a moist brush technique rather than a wet brush which worked perfectly on this paper. I even tried correcting work with a tiny bit of sand paper and pumice powder and the paper did not bruise. However, a heavier application of the sandpaper would likely erode the paper completely. This is extremely lightweight paper. I wish it was just a bit heavier, but it serves its purpose for me when I want a creamy coloured background. I was previously using Somerset Satin Paper for this purpose but it had its own challenges! I will continue to look for the perfect weight and texture of cream paper, but I remin impressed with the Strathmore Drawing 400 Series. My big surprise was the purchase of an Isabey Retouching Kolinskly Sable brush.
This winter I noticed that I needed to replace some of my tired brushes and started shopping online. I have never had to buy a sable brush online before. I prefer to see the brush before I purchase it. But sable brushes and art stores are scarce in my area now! I had seen an Isabey brush at the Dick Blick in Philadelphia and I have been regretting not purchasing it ever since! I ordered a size 4 retouching brush throug DeSerres in Canada and had to wait weeks for them to locate it. I was initially disapointed in the size of it. This brush is far bigger than any I use for miniature painting, so I gave it a cozy home until I finally tried it this week. What an awakening!! I am in awe of this brush. It has a tip that is fine and pointed enough for me to do precise lining and detail work. But the shape of the brush allows for incredible pigment and moisture storage. I could go on and on with a single loading of this brush and it was giving me more precision than my Raphael pointed round brushes. I have a new treasure in the studio!!! This little brush is worth the price. Yesterday I ordered the size 0 and size 2 to add to my collection. I will let you know how they work out. I think I have found the perfect brush..at least for my method of application on miniature work.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Hybridized Script

Early on in my penmanship journey I was instructed to have my Spencerian Script conform to someone else's style. I tried hard to do that and for years I tried to conform my writing to that of A.D.Taylor or Daniel Ames. They both have tighter spacing and slightly rounded turns in their script. But in my mind, I always wondered if this Spencerian is handwriting..why am I trying to copy someone else's script? I know others have the same question as I get lots of email inquries with similar thoughts. Somewhere along the line, I added English Roundhand into my studies. The forms of George Bickham were so appealing to me. I loved his freedom, I loved his expression. Now, when I work on a piece that is to be my signature script...it is neither Roundhand or Spencerian but a blend of both.
It does not conform to the style of anyone else. It truly is handwriting. It retains the nuances of my own style while being subtly influence by Spencer, Bickham, Ames and Taylor. If there are Spencerian Police or Roundhand Police both would have warrants for me. But this is the script that flows from my hand naturally without conforming to any system. It evolves daily. It is a picture of the rhythm of my writing. I am sure it will look different in future years. I encourage my students to practice daily, work on being consistent in slant and texture throughout the page, bear the shapes of the letters in mind...and Write. See what happens.