Favorite new paintbrushes: the Loew-Cornell ultra round series 7020 These amazing brushes are synthetic and super affordable! At one online store, the size 14 brush costs $11, while the size 14 round kolinsky sable at the same site costs $100! The best part is, I far prefer them to my expensive sable brushes! They hold a wicked point forever, they allow you to control and understand the amount of water you have on your brush (which is, guess what, the whole key to watercolor painting) and they have long enough but not- too- long handles, so you can take them with you on your various jaunts, like I do! I feel so clever to have discovered them ;D. YOU'VE probably been using them for years, of course.
Favorite new paints: Daniel Smith Lunar Blue and Lunar Black. I'm still a loyal Schmincke girl, but for that added bit of texture and pizazz, I look to the concoctions of Daniel Smith. I'm not crazy about many of their mineral- pigmented paints (often too pale or too lumpy or too contrived for my tastes) but with Lunar Blue and Lunar Black, they've got themselves some winners! I started using Lunar Black on some illustrations for a local food guide to my area. I love color, so it was hard to restrict myself to black and white, but Lunar Black is such an exuberant, granulating black, that you think you're painting in vibrant color! It also layers beautifully with itself, so you can get some very velvety, black, black blacks!
As for Lunar Blue, it's just sheer magic. It's a combination of pthalo blue and mars black, but the way Daniel Smith puts them together, the effect is much greater than the sum of these two parts. It's like painting with kaleidoscopic pigments: you put them down and they form into wonderfully crazed crystals! I often add sparkly texture by spraying water on the washes as they dry. And, for trying to quickly convey the winter land- and seascapes above the Arctic Circle, you can't do better than these blacks and blues!
Favorite new pens: Memory brush pens I really started with these on my trip to Barcelona last year. They make you draw like a wizard! The point is more supple than that of my longtime fave, the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, more sensitive to pressure and speed. I just love them, even if they aren't waterproof---and maybe not lightfast, either, but what the heck. You've got to live life with gusto, and these pens have gusto! I used them again in Brittany for some of my watery sketches and also in Norway. You brush on some water to the drawn lines, and, presto, you've got yourself a cool gray wash!
Favorite new pencils: Cretacolor oil pencils What a great discovery these are!!! They're charcoal pencils, fixed with oil, so they don't smudge (much) when you add watercolor washes and you can take them traveling without turning your entire self and every article of clothing you own dirty black. I found them in an art shop in Auray, France. There you can buy them separately. In the US, you have to buy a set of them, with white, sepia, and brown thrown in. More expensive that way, of course. Guess we'll all have to go to France and get them cheaper ;D.
Here's a sketch using these: And, finally, here are some of the last Norway sketches, done very quickly, from a moving ship. I've used all of the above in these. See you Thursday----I'll be here with my plans and schemes for a (better, we hope) year!