Moleskine and Watercolors

It pays to know your supplies! A while ago I tried doing some watercolor sketches in my Moleskine sketch book. Even though the company bills this as a sketchbook that you can use with watercolors, it isn’t as easy as you would think. The sizing on the paper is resistant to watercolor and so instead of absorbing the paints, it leaves the pigments sitting on the surface. And if you use a fancy Kolinsky sable brush like I did in the beginning, that just compounds the problem. The brush just glides ocross the surface. I put the book away in exasperation.

A year later, here I am trying to do watercolors in the book again. Now I’ve switched to a round nylon brush (a sturdy one from Princeton that has a snap to it) and switched to a honey-based paint (I’m using Sennelier). Now I’m doing better though I am not totally happy with my pen (a Pentel Slicci) because the ink blurs when I add watercolor. I had to redo the lines with my Sharpie pen. 

After much trial and error, I am beginning to understand what makes this little book happy. It likes Sennelier watercolor paints and it likes sturdy nylon brushes and Sharpie pens. It pays to know all of your materials!

Here are some of the first few pages:


Printing and Breaking the Rules

Lately I’ve been exploring Japanese woodblock printing and linocuts. This is a small woodblock carving I’m currently working on. When I’m done I’ll run some test prints and post them. Some will be done with multiple color blocks and others will be created using a single block.

Here’s a good video about the linocut process, Picasso-style:

Traveler, Find Your Own Way

Machado’s poem:

Traveler, Find Your Own Way


Traveler, there is no path.

The path is made by walking.

Traveler, the path is your tracks

And nothing more.

Traveler, there is no path.

The path is made by walking.

By walking you make a path

And turning, you look back

At a way you will never tread again

Traveler, there is no road

Only wakes in the sea.

                                -Antonio Machado


2nd translation:

Traveler, your footprints

are the only road, nothing else.

Traveler, there is no road;

you make your own path as you walk.

As you walk, you make your own road,

and when you look back

you see the path

you will never travel again.

Traveler, there is no road;

only a ship’s wake on the sea.


Coyote Howling (or Whatever Coyotes do!)



Video by Sara Grew, taken at Djerassi, up in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. It’s a very short video. Be sure to put your sound on.

The drawing here (a one line drawing) is actually of a grey fox. Why is it accompanying a video of a coyote? Because I thought the fox was a coyote, until a wise guy pointed out that grey foxes have fluffy tails and look nothing like coyotes. Pfft! Who knew?!

The Endless Fascination of Printmaking

transfer-print-on-fine-gold-backgroundThis is one of my hand-made transfer prints. It is part of a Brooklyn rooftop graffiti scene. The boy in the painting was appropriated by the artist, Chris Stain, from the photographer, Martha Cooper. Now I have appropriated it from Chris. Here I give the piece an old world, weathered charm, by transferring it onto a fine gold basecoat. For the final touch I scoured it gently with fine steel wool: I didn’t want the gold to take over from the drawings and other elements of the work.

If you are starting out in printmaking, you will find it is equally rewarding as well as frustrating. Working on intaglios, getting the lines right, distributing the ink in the right amount and in the right place may be all well and good, until you find you’ve used the wrong paper! Then you have to start all over again because the paper just refused to cooperate and help you create your masterpiece! But you learn from your mistakes. Printing is as much about the process as it is about the print. I’ve wasted many sheets of $28-$30 print paper trying to get a print right. I am still learning what works and what doesn’t. In all of this, the artist’s eye is most important. Watch Kiki Smith prove this point in the short video below.


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