Posts Tagged 'Art Supplies'

How to be a Starving Artist (with a Full Belly)

So, the Carnival of Pen and Paper is an ongoing series of… well, of pen and paper articles. It’s super-nerdy, and it’s hosted by a different super-nerdy blog every month. This past month, hosted at Daydreamers Welcome, JoniB departed from the typical nerditude for her “Editor’s Pick” choice, and featured an article by Caitlin Burns called 10 Money-Saving Tips for Starving Artists.

I really enjoyed reading an article with a more accessible subject– so much, in fact, that I wanted to assemble my own version. Caitlin Burns’ article had some great ideas, but I want to elaborate some new suggestions and guidelines that incorporate this blog’s specific focus on rurality, art, and technology… and, you know the topic-drill by now. So here are my guidelines, to be customized as you see fit.

1. Don’t be picky.

I’m right there with Caitlin on this first tip: don’t ever think of yourself as “too good” for any art supply. Great art can be made from anything. In fact, you may accidentally say something really profound by using crayons and construction paper instead of oils and canvas. Probably something about childhood, if I had to guess.

2. Do It Yourself.

Hooray! The importance of DIY for artists has been a focus of mine on this blog for a while. And this will absolutely save you money (until you cross the line of too-many-mistakes, where you keep having to buy more supplies and surpass the original cost of the pre-made item). But just as important as saving money is the fact that DIY will connect you to centuries of trades-people and crafts-people, to times where an “Artist” was just another type of tradesperson, like a carpenter or a blacksmith. Plus, learning skills like bookbinding, carpentry, or glassblowing will absolutely enhance your artistic skills. There are some mind-blowing artists out there (like Micheal A. Cummings’ art quilts) who are breaking down the barriers between “Art,” “Trade,” and “Craft.” And you can be one of them!

Here are suggestions for DIY projects for artists: Stretch your own canvas. Bind your own sketchbooks from your favorite paper, and customize them in your preferred dimensions. Learn to mix your own paints. Create a travel palette from a mints tin. Learn how to use a table saw and start making your own frames. Buy some padding compound and make your own watercolor blocks.

3. Invest Strategically.

Here’s where I depart a bit from Caitlin’s list. Because unfortunately, I can’t advocate shopping at Wal-Mart with a clean conscience– but wait! I swear this isn’t a privileged “fuck the corporation” rant. This advice will actually save you money in the long run. Here’s the thing: Wal-Mart will never give you a discount on anything. Even if you build a great relationship with a Wal-Mart employee, they still can’t violate corporate rules and let you try a pastel sample for free, or order a special supply for you. Building a relationship with the folks at your local art-supply store, on the other hand, will totally pay off.

For the times when quality really doesn’t matter (for example, as Caitlin writes, when a black craft paint is equal an expensive acrylic black), there are far better options than going to Wal-Mart (see Number 4). Plus, I have a suspicion that those fluorescent lights can actually drive you insane.

Most importantly, make sure you know the difference between when to invest and when to buy cheap. In many cases, cheap art supplies will lose you money in the long run. Not only can they can hold back your skills as an artist (cheap paints will blend into a muddy mess, and cheap brushes will quickly shed bristles into your painting), but replacing cheap supplies will eventually cost more than the nicer version in the first place. I think fashion magazines are always giving this advice as well: invest in a few staple items that will never go out of style (like well-fitting jeans, little black dress, rain boots…). So, the same goes for your art supplies: investing in a nice palette or high-quality brushes is totally worth it, when you make them last a lifetime. Which also means take care of your supplies when you have them. I’m totally guilty of forgetting to wash my brushes, and that will shorten their lifespan.

Here are some situations to opt for cheaper: Caitlin mentions that art board is the same thing as masonite, which can be bought for much less from any hardware store. Drafting tables, which are super-expensive in art stores, can often be found at salvage yards, on Craigslist, or from architecture firms who are updating the furniture. In fact, most storage and containers, from palettes to pochade boxes to shelves, can be found for less money in different markets: try looking in hardware stores, beauty supply stores, gardening centers, or browsing the medical supplies category on ebay (you might have to explain that last one to your spouse/friend/parent). You can use any large piece of hard material as a drawing board, provided that it does’t have any sharp edges, so browse the hardware store for plastic laminate or search for  scrap construction materials. This post is full of more suggestions like this from various alternative sources.

4. Dumpster Dive.

Yes, that might mean literally. I’ve found some beautiful old cigar boxes in dumpsters that now house my paint tubes. But in a more general sense, this just means learn how to scrounge. So start browsing Craigslist and join your local freecycle network. Another benefit of this method is that you’ll become hyper-aware of how wealthy our society is, and how oblivious we must be to throw away perfectly useful things. Talk about building character.

5. Mailing. Lists.

Two words that artists should never forget.

I once heard an artist say that she would wait until Jerry’s Artarama or Cheap Joe’s was having a big sale, and then stock up for a supply that would last her several years. You can’t really do this with paints, which will go bad after a certain point, but this is a great method when you can’t afford to invest at your local art supply store.

6. Share/Collaborate/Commune.

Needless to say, the benefits of being in a community go far beyond sharing art supplies. If you’re able to live in an area with a thriving artists’ community– where they really do hang out together– that’s great. Opportunities to share and trade are at your fingertips. If you live in a more rural area, take advantage of the online opportunities for community. You can start an artists trade with somebody across the the world who has access to different types of art supplies (I’ve always wanted to do a trade with someone in Tokyo, personally), or you can get instructions on how to construct your own pochade box. You can also search sites like Zapp and Art Fair Calendar to see if an art fair is coming to your area. Instant community!

7. Be a networker.

I know that many artists (including myself) can have some anti-social tendencies. Or, to make a more general statement, artists tend to be really bad at marketing themselves. But here’s a good reason to exercise your social skills: it will save you money (at least, indirectly). Last summer I worked for a guy who would often let artists stay on his farm for a few days, join the family barbeque, and paint the beautiful area. The more you network, the more likely you are to meet people like that. Another good tip is to have a computer geek friend, especially one who works for Apple (hel-lo, discount Adobe).

8. Get your paycheck from within the field.

Until your art takes off and makes you Super Rich And Famous, it’s a good idea to work somewhere that benefits your cause. Working in an art supply store or a hardware store will get you some super-helpful discounts. Working in a gallery, on the other hand, will help you with the whole networking thing (see previous note). And don’t rule out working a different trade– working as a glassblower or in a print shop will also help your career in the right direction.

9. Live Simply

or, “Starving Artists Can’t Go Clubbing Every Night”

This is a hard tip to write without sounding preachy… but hey, I already bashed Wal-Mart, so it can’t hurt now! Plus, I know this one from experience: if you’re a college student and an artist, don’t expect to be able to pay for drinks/concert tickets/karaoke every single weekend. You never be able to invest in that Winsor & Newton palette you’ve been drooling over. And despite the (greatly-exaggerated) myth of the drunken and/or insane artist, living a crazy, elaborate, high-maintenance life will take your energies away from making art.

10. Practice over Theory

or, “Put It All to Use”

All the supply-collecting in the world does you no good when you can’t decide what to pack on a weekend trip. The biggest waste of money is letting materials go bad because you’re not using them. Which will happen, especially with things like paints or mediums. Plus, if you’re not using your supplies, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make money off (gasp!) your art.


Four Things I’m Digging

1. Multi Pens

Okay, so maybe I’m not as ecstatic about multi pens as The Pen Addict, but they’re damn convenient for my new job. I owned the Style Fit a while ago and really enjoyed it, but apparently not enough to prevent losing it sometime during the move across the country.

I ordered the Uni Signo MF3 and the Uni Jetstream 4+1 from Jetpens. The Jetstream was an attempt to branch out from gel ink, but after having played around with it a bit, it’s just not living up to my expectations. Plus, the barrel is enormous.

I was so tempted to buy a Zebra Sharbo X, but I have yet to invent a good justification for spending that much money…

2. Glazing With Acrylics

Acrylics, you say? As in, those mediocre craft-quality paints from high school art class? Oil paints for a poor artist?

…Yes, I mean those. And I am a poor artist, so I decided to paint in acrylic when I needed to fill a lonely blank spot on our apartment wall.

It turned out to be a totally pleasurable experiment. Maybe because acrylics aren’t as “serious” as oils, I was able to have a little more fun with them. I had painted with oils for my AP art portfolio in high school (and damaged my health in the process by turning my bedroom into a turpentine-fume bubble… but that’s another story).

The idea when glazing with acrylics is basically the same as glazing with oils, but it dries in a fraction of the time. Click on the image to the left to view a close-up detail section.

I finished this piece in one day, and I’m moderately happy with it. It’s no masterpiece, but I was able to experiment with a lot of different methods which I want to explore more in the future. The green stripe across the top was a last-minute addition, and I think it really completed the piece.

3. How Pretty Art Supplies Are

Yeah, you heard me: I’m digging my own art supplies. This is such a failing of mine– to see my art supplies as works of art in themselves, rather than as tools for making art. Although both views have their merits, there is also a crucial distinction between them: seeing art supplies as just beautiful turns you into a consumer, while seeing art supplies as tools for making art turns you into a producer. And I don’t want to be a consumer! I wanna produce. Produce beautiful things, that is.

I was reading about DIY watercolor palettes last night, and several different articles warned that you might spend more time creating your palette than actually using it. Oh, sigh, alright.

So, despite how much I enjoy the sunlight glinting through the bristles of my Robert Simmons Sapphire brushes, my goal for next week is to create a piece of art outside of the apartment every day.

4. Cherry Season

I especially love cherry season when they are free from my friend’s back yard. These sour cherries are better for baking than munching, so I’ve been experimenting with cherry tarts and crisps, all with great success. My friend’s family, though, is making cherry vodka –which also happens to be reason #11 that local foods are badass.

Compared: Water-Soluble Mediums

Gentian at Drawing With A Squirrel recently posted a delicious review of Faber-Castell Aquarelle sticks, and it reminded me that once upon a time, I had put together a comparison/review of water-soluble mediums lately that I never got around to posting.

I don’t know what it is about water-soluble mediums that I like so much. There’s something satisfying about the visual transformation from dry to wet, and the unpredictability of applying these mediums wet just turns me on, in an artsy sort of way. From watercolor pencils to water-soluble pastels, these tools are extremely versatile– a handy quality for any artist.

I decided that a good basis for this comparison would be, ahem, “regular” watercolors. My very first recommendation for anyone wanting to work with water-soluble art supplies is to play around with watercolors first. They’re of a much higher quality, and they offer a subtlety and spontaneity that pencils and crayons simply can’t provide. Water-soluble pencils and crayons should not be treated as an “easier” option for those who have difficulty with watercolors– they should be an extension of the skill and instinct that only gets built by using watercolors.

Schmincke Horadam Aquarelle

I use Schmincke Horadam Aquarelles. They’re extremely pigmented, have a thick, consistent texture, and a superb range of colors. I only use the pans, so I can’t say how the tube paints differ (though Handprint Review found them to be syrupy and sometimes separated). I’m hoping to try Daniel Smith watercolors, which have been excellently reviewed.

When it comes to the subtleties of blending, you can’t beat traditional watercolors. Other types of water-soluble drawing supplies leave marks on the paper even when wetted and blended– this won’t happen with watercolors. Traditional watercolor painting is also much more organic, and can range from the most delicate application to the most intensely rich styles. With a rigger or liner brush (a long, thin, flexible brush), you can achieve the same precision in line work as with pencils

The downside is that they don’t have the portability of pencils or crayons– although, with 24-pan travel palette, I’ve never had a problem taking them with me. The other thing to remember is that they require practice (doesn’t everything?). If you’re not very patient, this may be a downside for you as well. Varying the amount of water can lead to a smoother or a rougher application,  but because they don’t apply dry, traditional watercolors are not the best for mixed-media, collage techniques.

Watercolors have excellent transparency, so they can be beautiful layered in delicate glazes. However, they’re not permanent– they can be “re-worked” with a wet brush after they’ve dried. Also, you can’t use lighter watercolors to “cover up” darker layers underneath. So, consider layering and opacity when you choose to use traditional watercolors.

I won’t expand too much on watercolor technique– maybe in another post. But for the purposes of this comparison, watercolors rock. And none of these other products have as rich a tradition as watercolors, as Wikipedia’s article will attest.

Caran D’Ache NeoArt Watersoluble Wax Pastels

These fat, chunky pastels are the lesser-known older sibling to Caran D’Ache Neocolor II pastels (reviewed below). The big difference is that these pastels are wax-based, not oil-based like the Neocolor II’s. This means that they “spread” much more smoothly than the Neocolor II’s.

Mixed Media Artist Kelly Kilmer uses them a lot in her work– so needless to say, they’re good for mixed media work. They can be “smooshed” (Kilmer’s phrase) into the page as a foundation for working on top of, and I’ve seen artists scratch into a layer of them with a knife to create a textured/aged look. They dissolve easily, and can be blended out into more transparent layers. However, they’re definitely semi-opaque enough to layer on top of each other

Applied to a wet page

Applied to a wet page, they become much softer, but still opaque. The NeoArt pastels will last forever, and are definitely worth the initial cost (about $3 a pastel). The downside to such a chunky pastel is that they’re not great for detail work– but excellent for large work. One other thing to note: these pastels are not available in a wide color range– only 60 colors, maybe half of which are widely available on US websites.

Faber Castell Aquarelle Sticks

Unfortunately, these are discontinued, so I won’t spend too long reviewing them. (However, they’re still available on Cheap Joe’s Clearance section, so I thought they would be worth including). As a pastel, they’re most comparable to the NeoArt pastels– very chunky and bright, though it seems like the Aquarelles are slightly less pigmented than the NeoArt pastels (though this depends on the color– I found the lighter colors to be much less pigmented than darker ones).

I can’t for the life of me find out whether these are oil-based or wax-based. I’m going to guess wax, based on their similarity in performance to the NeoArt pastels. Still, they apply more like crayons than pastels– i.e. their consistency is waxier than the NeoArt. I think they’re more useful wet than dry– they dissolve easily, and are more transparent than NeoArt Pastels. They can be layered and blended quite easily.

Applied to wet paper

Applied wet, they don’t transform quite as much as NeoArt pastels. However, they do become brighter and smoother. Albert at Lung Sketching Scrolls has done extensive reviews on these pastels, so I’ll leave the demonstrations to him.

Caran D’Ache Neocolor II Artists Crayons

The product name describes them well– they look like crayons, feel like crayons, but are softer, extremely pigmented, and versatile in application. The fact that they’re oil-based makes them harder to writer over than the wax-based NeoArt pastels, so keep that in mind if you like to art journal. They’re available in a super-impressive 128-color range, including metallics. Unlike some of the other products reviewed here, the Neocolor II’s don’t become brighter with water; they’re equally pigmented whether wet or dry. And just to emphasize, the Neocolor II’s are extremely pigmented.

For some reason, I find that I use a wet brush on the crayon more often than applying them directly to the page. They apply a little like gouache– thick and opaque. Much of the time, the pieces that I create with Neocolor II’s end up looking like oil-paintings– they’re great, creamy texture, and blend beautifully. I would recommend blending rather than layering them, due to their opacity.

Applied to a wet page

Applied to a wet page, the Neocolor II’s become incredibly soft–perhaps as much as the NeoArt wax pastels. It seems like this product is one of the most popular with artists– I’ve seen some incredible techniques with these things, from melting them on quilts to scraping and engraving with them.

Water-Soluble Colored Pencils – Albrecht Durer and Supracolor

Watercolor pencils have the most similar application to traditional watercolors– very transparent and blendable. However, they often lack the pigmentation of traditional watercolors, or they fail to apply well as regular colored pencils. I’ve found two brands of watercolor pencils with great pigmentation and excellent application wet or dry: the Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer and Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft Aquarelle pencils. I think I prefer the Caran D’ache only slightly; both are very smooth and pigmented. Unfortunately, the Supracolors have only an 80-color range, compared to Albrecht Durer’s 120-color range.

The great thing about watercolor pencils is that they can be used for much more detailed work than pastels. You might even be able to aim for (gasp!) realism. The most common technique is to lightly color a drawing, then brush over it with water. More densely colored penciling will create more pigmented washes. But however you use them, keep in mind that their transparency is comparable to traditional watercolors– so you can’t “hide” a layer by coloring over it. This will just create a wash.

Applied to a wet page. (Note the precision!)

I don’t really understand the technique of picking up color from the tip of the pencil with a brush– you might as well use regular watercolors. I suppose it would do in a pinch, if watercolors aren’t available, though. One useful thing about watercolor pencils is that, after drawing, wetting the drawing, and waiting for it to dry, you can go back and add even more subtlety with the dry pencil, using it like a regular colored pencil.

Caran D’Ache Museum Leads

Has it become apparent that I love Caran D’Ache products yet? They’re smoothest, most pigmented, generally lightfast, and…well, you get the picture. However, this means that they’re going to be more available online and in art supply stores, not in the “art supply” aisle of regular stores. Anyways.

I haven’t heard much about Museum Leads in the artist’s blogosphere– I received these as a birthday gift from my mother. These are 3.8 mm colored leads (to be used with Caran D’Ache’s Fixpencil 44 leadholder) which become drastically more intense when wetted. They dissolve instantly with water, and won’t leave behind any of the texture that the pastels sometimes will. Sure, they’re leads. They offer the precision of a colored pencil, and they can be applied like a colored pencil… but that’s not where this product shines. Despite only a color range of 18, the intensity of these pigments plus the unique shades offered allow for endless combinations and possibilities.

This is the only water-soluble medium in this review that is permanent when dry. At first, this was irksome because I kept thinking they would lift and blend like watercolors. However, I’ve found that the permanence actually allows for a whole new range of uses. The Museum Leads are highly pigmented, but also very transparent– and because they’re permanent when dry, you can create amazing glaze techniques. Instead of blending two shades, you would apply one, let it dry, and apply the second color overtop. The result is an amazing, luminous color, like stained glass. I’ve also broken off the last half-inch of every lead, and rolled them onto a wet page with my fingers– super cool abstract results.

Applied to a wet page. (Note the precision!)

I would suggest downloading the brochure from the Caran D’Ache website. It contains some amazing images of artists working with this medium. I have yet to try putting them on a page and misting them with water… but then again, I can’t afford to replace them every time I break them apart. However, taking a small section and dissolving it in water creates a permanent wash that can be applied traditionally with a brush. I’m still experimenting with these, and I promise future posts with demonstrations!


Phew. This review kind of burnt me out on art supplies… I may have to return to politics and farming for a few posts after this.

The big summary is: If you desire precision, go for Museum Leads or Watercolor Pencils. For subtlety, use traditional watercolor, or watercolor pencils. All of the pastels, both wax- and oil-based, are excellent for art journaling and collage techniques. Their opacity definitely creates a different style, though, so if you’re looking for transparency in glazing and washing, I recommend watercolor pencils, museum leads, or traditional watercolors.

Now gather ye spray bottle, brushes and paper, and be off! Experiment!

The Best Things In Life Are Used

"New" cabinet/bench, about to be painted.

Anyone who enjoys fountain pens, typewriters, vintage furniture, visiting Rome, or other antique-y type hobbies knows all the touchy-feely reasons why used is better. Used things are worn in. They’re individual, not mass-produced. We feel that they’re simpler, and yet more romantic, and more valuable. Things that are used contain histories and stories (which are often the same thing).

Of course, “used” is often an ebay catchword for “mistreated” or even “unusable.” But even the “unusables” have a story behind their current state– some child who spilled on it, some backpacking trip where it fell between the rocks… still, the best used items are the ones that are still usable.

And the biggest heartbreak for an environmentally-minded artist (or any vintage scavenger-type) is how many usable used items go into the landfill, where they pretty much lose all chance of ever being used again. And one of the biggest sources of waste in our society is commercial buildings, and their construction.

Especially in the construction. There are some serious problems with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. The sustainable checklist for new buildings rewards only the sexy side of sustainability: the shiny new technologies and innovative designs. And architects will design a building specifically to get LEED points, instead of aiming for a design that is actually most sustainable and suited to the environment.

(So, for example– LEED gives you points for installing solar panels. But if you’re designing a building in Seattle, otherwise known as the “rainy city,” installing solar panels is a huge waste of money and resources. But hey, if you’re an architect, and you were hired to design a gold-standard LEED building, you go ahead and put those panels on the blueprint.)

But back to my subject. If your city has a place to buy salvaged/rescued construction materials, GO. Just, go. It’s a DIY-ers dream. Back in Charlottesville, we had a Habitat for Humanity Store, and here in Boulder, we have Resource 2000, a huge yard and warehouse, where I got this:

Art Shelves!

I’ve always had terribly awkward storage for art supplies, especially with my papers and sketchbooks. So these roll-out drawers were the perfect find.

Top Shelf. Plants and Pencils.

The first shelf (under the top) is stationary, so I keep my laptop and little pads of watercolor paper in there. Oh, and a deck of SET cards, of course.

Drawer 1. Ink Samples in a Cigar Box, and Paper Pads.

Drawer 2. Ink! And a salvaged wooden box that I fill with little office supplies.

Drawer 3. Miscellaneous papers, and a box of pastels that got dumped on the airplane 😦

And my new dream (after browsing Resource 2000) is to have a sink-garden, where I plant vegetables in salvaged porcelain pieces. I have visions of painted toilets and tubs, sprouting with tulips…

Halfway Between a Wish-List and a Need-List

So I just put together my Official Graphic Design Portfolio, which helped win me an internship that I was applying for. But in the process, I realized I’m not going to be able to go much further with design until I get a few items. Right now I’m relying on public resources– using the Internet at my neighborhood coffee shop, printing at Staples, taking pictures with my iPhone and my little point-and-shoot… Sigh. Time to upgrade to a professional life.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i

Canon Pixma MP990

Adobe Creative Suite 5 ...maybe with a student discount?

Raphaël Golden Kaërell Short Handle Brushes

An Assorted (Yet Cohesive!) Paper Review

In this post, I outlined my initial impressions of four different Clairefontaine papers, which I received generously from Exaclair and bound into a short-term, multi-purpose book (what some people call a “journal”). I used this book during the last weeks of classes, as well as through the madness of Senior Week, and Graduation itself.

And it felt good (really good) to put this book aside after graduation– to start brand new, on a blank page. (What a handy metaphor, no?)

As it turns out, my blank page was on the other side of the country. But now I’m here in Colorado, and yes, I promised fuller reviews. So here we go.

Digital Color Printing Paper

Pentel Pocket Pen and ink on DCP Paper

First, to clarify: this paper isn’t meant for traditional writing and media. It’s for machines, and I’m sure it works superbly that way. But I’m not interested in machines (except, maybe, Leo Marx’s). I wanted to test a loose-leaf Clairefontaine paper– one that could be used for bookbinding!

This has perhaps been one of the few drawbacks to Clairefontaine products– they’re more like, well, office supplies than art supplies. So I really appreciate trying out some loose-leaf paper, which can be used as a raw material for a variety of art projects. The DCP paper is also available in a variety of weights (90 to 350 gsm), which allows for even more customization.

The short version: Use your fountain pens, markers, brush pens, and crayons on this paper; leave the paint and wet media alone. Water-soluble pencils/crayons/pastels have the potential to work well (perhaps if they’re more oil-based) but don’t overdo the water. Stephanie at Biffybeans did a review of this paper, and had similar findings.

Also, this is the time to experiment with bright colors. So channel your inner pop artist.

However, for whatever reason, I found that I did less art on this kind of paper. When I did draw, I used my Pentel Pocket Pen, which left beautiful, clean, high-contrast lines. Writing (in ink) on this paper was pleasurable, but the paper was too glossy to use a pencil, and the thinness also encouraged more minimalist approach.

Stamped! Notice the wet spot to the left; that's bleed-through from the drawing posted above

Continue reading ‘An Assorted (Yet Cohesive!) Paper Review’

Handmade Book with Clairefontaine Paper

In this post, I hinted at a new Book that I was binding using several different sample Clairefontaine papers: Graf It sketch padDCP Digital Color Printing Paper,Calligraphy Art Pad, and the Ingres Pastel Pad.

All the papers serve very different functions, so binding them into one journal is a way for me to provide a more extensive review of each type of paper. And, a way to keep me artistically on my toes! (Sure, we’ll go with that).

I used a simple long stitch and then glued the bound signatures into the cover. To make the cover, I used leftover mat board from an art project, and covered it in some blue ribbon.

(Making a new book without buying anything new = so rewarding.)

I’ve already been using this book throughout the exam season, so that’s why there are already some extra papers sticking out of it.

I think the order of use is: DCP copy paper, pastel paper, Graf It sketch paper, and then the calligraphy paper. I’ll try to post more extensive reviews as I finish each section. However, I have played around with all four papers already, so I can at least provide some preliminary thoughts…

  • So far, I’m loving the paper from the calligraphy pad— especially the off-white color, which I’m not used to seeing in Clairefontaine/Rhodia products. This paper is SO smooth, but less “slippery” than regular Clairefontaine paper. Plus, it’s a bit heavier which means it can handle wet media (sort of).
  • I was actually surprised how much I liked the Graf It sketchpad: it seems like a similar product to those “all-use” sketchbooks that you can buy at craft stores, with the rough-ish paper, but the quality of the Graf-it paper is a huge step up.
  • I love the DCP printing paper because it seems like basic Clairefontaine paper, but has the benefit of being available as loose sheets. I think when I bind small books for gifts in the future, I’ll use this paper instead of regular computer printer paper to fill them. Like the paper in Clairefontaine notebooks, though, it doesn’t offer the same versatility that the calligraphy paper and graf it paper do– it’s definitely more light weight, and not compatible with wet media. My guess is that it’s best used for writing and inking (and of course, printing. I’ll get to that in a later post)
  • The paper from the Ingres pastel pad seems really, really similar to the paper in the Exacompta sketchbook: it’s off-white, laid paper. And hey, I love the Exacompta sketchbook, so this just may be excellent paper. I found that it takes both wet and dry media equally well, and pastels are buttery smooth when used on this paper. This will be my first extended paper review, in the next few days.

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