Monday, November 30, 2009

Uni-ball Signo RT 0.38mm Lavender Black

How could I resist a pen with the colour lavender black?  Just as blue black manages to be entirely unlike either blue or black, lavender black is different yet again, but in a subtle way that does not call too much attention to itself, making this pen suitable for use in nearly any situation.  I would describe the colour as a very deep purple, with more blue than red in it.  Probably the colour could have been just as easily called purple black, but lavender black does sound much more interesting.

As for the pen itself, it writes very smoothly, with a beautifully fine line.  It is very satisfying to write with and is one of my current favourite pens.  The grip section is comfortable and (unlike many other pens that I have used) actually manages to cover all parts of my hand that touch the pen.  The overall appearance of the Uni-ball Signo RT is not particularly exciting but I have no complaints about it either.

Because this pen is designated "RT," it is of course retractable, which may be a plus or minus for you.  I personally prefer lidded pens, merely because of the satisfaction I get from removing the lid of a pen and snapping it onto the end, but that is definitely not a major issue here.

In other news, check out this great giveaway at Notebook Stories for a chance to win a Moleskine Color-a-Month 2010 planner and other Moleskine products.

Related reviews: Gourmet Pens, The Pen Addict, No Pen Intended, OfficeSupplyGeek

Friday, November 27, 2009

Art Journaling, Part 3: Collage

Here's the first page spread of my art journal after applying collage materials.  I used various origami papers, scrapbooking papers, magazine cutouts, and miscellaneous scraps of coloured and patterned papers.  Part of one of my mandalas that I drew with compasses and a straight edge and coloured with pencil crayons is also featured at the top of the right-hand page.  For attaching the collage materials, I used a tape roller rather than a glue stick.  For once, I didn't get glue all over my desk and my fingers weren't sticking to everything.

So far I am really liking the way these pages are developing.  After I made the border, a circular theme started to develop (and now that I am looking for it, I can see lots of circular patterns in the border as well).  I absolutely love the colours, which I tried to keep muted and not too light.

The next step will be work with various pens and markers, which will hopefully make these pages look like more than just a bunch of pieces of paper stuck on a painted background (which, after all, is all they are right now).

Other posts in this series:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sakura Permapaque Opaque Paint Markers

Despite my resolutions to post more frequently, life inevitably gets in the way.  This past week I have had far too many tests, quizzes, lab exams, and assignments due.  Whenever I have had any spare time, I haven't felt like doing anything other than curling up with a good book.  (Actually, considering the amount of time that I should have spent studying, I am rather appalled at the number of books I have read recently.)

I'm not going to write a proper review of the Sakura Permapaque Opaque Paint Markers.  I have never used any kind of paint markers before so I don't really have anything to compare them to.  That said, I recently bought a pack of ten colours: white, black, brown, red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

So far, I'm liking them.  They definitely have a different look and feel to them than your basic markers that you can buy at the grocery store.  The only disappointing thing about them so far is the white marker.  At best, all it does is lighten the colour of the paper beneath it.  At worst, the white is practically invisible.  I have tried it on several different surfaces with the same results.  I am rather puzzled by this as the yellow marker (also a light colour) writes on dark surfaces fairly well.  Oh well.  I suppose my quest for a good white pen/marker will continue.

Mandala drawn with the Permapaque paint markers.

I am planning to use these markers in my art journal, which I have not forgotten and which I do intend to write more posts on.  (I warned you about my inconstant journaling habits.)  I have a short break between exams right now, so hopefully I'll be able to get another post up here soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Back to the Art Journal, Part 2: Painting the Backgrounds

In my first art journal I used craft acrylics for painting, which were okay since that was all I had, but they had a tendency to remain slightly sticky after drying (especially the metallic colours) and they killed a number of my pens.

So for this art journal I decided to spend the extra money on Golden fluid acrylics.  So far I have a grand total of two different paint colours, but that's okay.  I'll add colours gradually.

First page spread.

Because the paper I used in making the pamphlet journal had two different sides, rough and smooth, the paint behaved slightly differently on the different sides.  I think the rough side looks better than the smooth side, but I'm not too worried about it as the pages are ultimately going to be mostly covered with collage, pen work, and writing anyway.  It is something to keep in mind for future projects however.

Second page spread.

I love the look of the varying colour intensities over the page.  Next step: collage.  Stay tuned!

Other posts in this series:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sakura Gelly Roll Stardust in Lime Star

If you are truly obsessed with pens as I am, you have probably accumulated, as I have, a few pens that have absolutely no practical uses.  Such a pen is the Sakura Gelly Roll Stardust in lime star which I bought for no other reason than that it had glittery lime green ink.

How could I pass by a pen with glittery lime green ink?  I am NOT usually a glitter type of person, but sometimes you just have to indulge yourself.  The only place I could see myself actually using this pen is in my art journal, but even then it would have to be used sparingly so as not to appear overdone.

So what sort of pen is the glittery lime green Gelly Roll?  Well, it has a smooth, sleek body of clear frosted plastic, a cap with a hint of glitter in it, and the nice touch of an iridescent shooting star decoration on the clip.

The barcode is printed directly onto the pen rather than onto a sticker that I could remove, which is a bit annoying.  It writes very smoothly, although the ink does have a habit of coming out all at once in a glob as you begin to write. 
But seriously, it writes with glittery lime green ink - what more do you need to know?

Related reviews: Journaling Saves, QuinnCreative

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back to the Art Journal, Part 1: The Journal

If you are interested in art journaling and you haven't yet seen Teesha Moore's series of videos on art journaling - including painting, collage, pen work, lettering, as well as making the journal itself - then I urge you to check them out now.  My own journaling practice had deteriorated lately into a sketch here or a few lines jotted down there, but after watching Teesha's videos I was inspired to go back to keeping a regular art journal.

But to begin with, I needed a blank journal.  Teesha's video showed how to make a simple, 16-page, single-signature pamphlet, but I used Gwen Diehn's (very similar) instructions in The Decorated Journal.  The only suitable paper I had on hand was a Heinz Jordan watercolour pad that had come in a package with my watercolour pencils.  The sheets are 10x14 inches; folded in half, this makes pages 7x10 inches.  I used three sheets and didn't worry about a cover (the simpler the better) and sewed them together with some green upholstery thread.  (Maybe not the usual thing for bookbinding but it was all I had on hand - and it worked.)

The journal.  Not much to look at so far.

The result - a 10-page (counting the inside "covers"), 7x10 inch, single-signature pamphlet journal that took just minutes to make.  In the future, I will probably want something that looks more like a book and has a few more pages, but knowing my inconstant journaling habits, this is probably good for a start.

Stay tuned for more of my art journal adventures, as I venture into the weird and wild realms of painting, collage, pen work, and more.

Other posts in this series:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper

The Fourth Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper is now up at Black Belt Productivity.  It contains many excellent posts and reviews on pens, notebooks, and more, including my own review of the Uni-ball Fusion.  Find out more about the carnival, including how to submit a post, at Notebook Stories.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Book Review: Keeping a Nature Journal

Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth is a delightful, inspiring, and beautifully illustrated book for artists, journal keepers, naturalists, and scientists alike.

The book begins with an introduction to nature journaling - what it is and why someone would want to do it. As Leslie and Roth write, "Nature journaling is your path into the exploration of the natural world around you, and into your personal connection with it." They present nature journaling as a simple, rewarding activity that is accessible to everyone, yet they also stress the importance of practice to improve your writing and drawing skills, and of making the time to work in your journal.

The next chapter gets into the actual practice of keeping a nature journal. It describes the equipment you need - nothing more complicated than a blank book and some basic pens and pencils. Leslie and Roth then describe a basic format that can be used for any journal entry. This format is very useful for beginners, who might be intimidated by the blank page. They discuss basic drawing techniques and give suggestions on how to overcome your fear of drawing. The chapter finishes with specific suggestions on where to go and what to look for while journaling.

The third chapter presents a sampling of pages from various journal keepers, many of whom have very different styles. Both beginners and more advanced journal keepers will find much to inspire them here. Following this are four chapters that focus on journaling in the four seasons. Leslie and Roth write, "To get the most out of journaling, try to integrate the practice into your life, day to day and year to year." Interspersed throughout this section are exercises on drawing specific aspects of nature, such as leaves, trees, birds, and insects.

The next chapter gives more detailed information on drawing techniques. Its placement at the back of the book allows those who are more experienced in drawing to easily skip over this chapter if they wish. The last two chapters are about how to teach nature journaling to both children and adults and how to use nature journaling in schools. If you are a teacher, I am sure you would find these chapters of interest. The book ends with a lengthy list of suggested books to read and a list of some famous (and not-so-famous) naturalists and journalists throughout history.

Overall, Keeping a Nature Journal is an excellent book filled with practical information, inspiration, well-chosen illustrations, and quotes from a variety of naturalists, artists, and journal keepers. I recommend this book whether you want to expand your journaling style or if you want to become more attuned to your natural environment.

Note: Keeping a Nature Journal has also been published as Nature Journaling: Learning to Observe and Connect with the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth.
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