Do you remember that last September Lori sent me this wonderful Altoid / chewing-gum-package test kit of M. Graham watercolor paints? Here’s the little video I made about it back then:
Thank you so much, Lori, for your kind gift. I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to try these paints!
Back then I hoped to review the paint soon because I was particularly curious about this paint of which I’d read such wonderful reviews. But a lot happened in the following months and I only got round to reviewing this wonderful paint today. But not after doing a painting with them to try these magnificent paints before I’d review them. This painting is called “Seeding” and it is for sale in my shop, here.
Someone asked me what I mean to say with this painting and when that happens, I find my mouths quickly half open, ready to ventilate what I see in it. But then I find myself torn. Isn’t it much more important to let the viewer see their own story in it? I really prefer the latter, feeling that my own interpretation would only limit the freedom with which the viewer can behold a story.
So, even though I’m not spillig the beans on the little story I meant to paint, I can say a little about the conditions under which I painted this little fellow. I intended to record the M. Graham review yesterday, but the duvet of clouds was so heavy and grey that I felt all color had been sucked out of the world. Any filming would have required artificial lighting and as you can guess, that is no way to film the swatching of watercolor paint. It contaminates all the colors with flares and whatever hue the light throws onto them mixed with whatever your camera picks up of it. I was a little gutted because in spite of my planning, it seemed I could not film my review.
Looking at this guy, I can’t help but wonder if he took over my aggrevation and was longing for the blue skies and the sun, for the return of light and colors, just as much as I did. The plant he sits on clearly couldn’t wait for it either and has already begun seeding. Real-life nature around me can’t wait either. This morning on my walk I saw the first crocuses of the year! Even though they were only a frail lilac, I almost felt like jumping for joy. Yay, spring is on its way! I can’t wait!
For “Seeding” I used both these wonderful M. Graham watercolor paints and the Sennelier Pagoda Indian ink that I’d been dying to try and I’ve found it is really good.
M. Graham Watercolors Swatching and Review
I absolutely love the M. Graham Watercolor paint! It is 100% to my taste, but I shan’t give all away here yet. You can see all about it in my video review. Of course I swatched all the colors Lori sent me and did a few tests with it to see how these paints behave. Here goes:
Here is the color chart I made in the M.Graham review video:
I have tried to manipulate the scan as little as I could but still give a proper representation of what these swatches look like. Please keep in mind that should you buy colors, colors may differ from what you see on your screen. Despite careful color adjustment (individually for all swatches), they may come across very different on your screen due to the defaults of all different screens and our individual settings. More information can be acquired in my video in which I comment on the colors so that you may find more clarity on them.
I hope you enjoyed my review and if you’ve painted with these watercolor paints then please let me know what your experiences are. And even more…should you have any experience with their gouache, I’d love to hear about those! Those are the next I definitely want to try and get my hands on…
I’ve just finished this week’s illustrated Dear Diary mini-journal and I can’t help loving this super simple process of recording my days. I really like working within limitations because it makes me boil things down to the essence and that helps simplify life somehow. When I scanned this spread I realised I also had the second week to show you guys yet. So, here goes…
Mini-journal spread of week 2
So here’s my week 2 spread. The pages are only 8,0×11,5cm in size, so you can imagine the space I have to record daily affairs is rather minimalistic…especially the Saturdays and Sundays. But still…that limitation really helps being creative. It is impossible to go all artsy fartsy here. It’s even hard to ‘design’ anything when you work on one little rectangle a day. But I still love trying to capture some of the essence of it. These spreads may not mean much in the eye of the reader, but to me they hit home straight away, remembering all of that day in an instant.
On the top right corner you can see the outline of a flying parakeet. My budgies flew for the fist time that day. What you can’t see on the scan, is that it’s filled out with a holographic transfer foil that I tried for the first time…bought at Xenos. It wasn’t a big success, but that may well have had a lot to do with the deplorable quality of the paper in this journal. And that poo on the right bottom corner (how convenient a spot for a turd at the bottom, right?)? Well, that was when our Giant Schnauzer was a little over-enthusiastic and tried to run right through me instead of around me and with his velocity and weight, he bumped me off my feet and I keeled over with my right knee straight into a deer turd! How’s that for a soft landing! 🙂 Fortunately, it hardly smelled at all…thank god they are vegetarians (besided the occaisional bug that didn’t get away from an eaten leaf quick enough…).
This was the week of great insights. I’m not getting into the details because I’m pretty sure it’ll bore you out of your socks. What’s ultra Eureka for one may be a dead bore to another, right? But I kinda liked how I managed to get a watercolor face I painted this week in extreme miniature in this journal. Didn’t expect that! Then there’s that little scribble of our dog that I did on the fly that I’m not too chuffed about, although it captures his ultra-happy enthusiasm spot on. And it’s only 1.2 cm in height, so it’s not too bad, I guess…
Me, the soup tureen
And that pot of soup? Well, I am a HUGE soup fanatic! When I was a little child, my grandmother used to lovingly call me her soup tureen…and I even inherited hers. It’s ugly, but the story attached to it means so much to me that it still conquered a place in my living room. But anyway, soup…I cook pots of soup very regularly and I tend to toss everything into it. I like to make them really well-filled with loads of veggies and meat or fish. I have roots in Flanders where they have a ‘soup’ called “Waterzooi”, which would literally be translated into “Water Mess”. It is a good broth usually made of chicken with good chunks of vegetables in it…a whole pile of them in a soup plate and on top of that pile you will find half a chicken breast or a leg…whatever’s been cooked in that broth. Some restaurants add potatoes and nearly all add cream, although by now there’s a huge variety in recipes. But that is the way I make soup. A good broth from meat and bones or fish and bones with lots and lots of fresh-cut vegetables and meat. I don’t always add cream. I’ve discovered I like it better when I first take out the cooked meat, then add one or two kohlrabi or one whole celeriac AND a whole bunch of pak choi and fist cook that and blend that to a silky smooth soup and THEN add finely cut vegetables like carrot, celery, parsley, spring onion, leaks, cauliflauwer, etc. And once that’s cooked, I add back in the plucked meat/fish. And that is just SOOO good. One good pot makes really awesome lunch meals for myself for 5 days. My recipes are never the same and they depend very much on whatever’s left over or in my fridge, but in my experience, it’s always good. Soup is simply always good… 🙂
Soup’s a process anc so is my mini-journal. In the process of working in this mini-journal – within the limitations of the miniature size and the bad quality paper – I’m making some really odd discoveries, one of which you can see in this little video I made to show you…images speak louder than words, right?
Last Summer I went on a holiday to France travelling light. I had only brought some Bruynzeel Design watercolor pencils with me. But, as it goes, when I was in an art store, I wanted to buy something new as a souvenir from France. I chose to supplement my travel-set of watercolor pencils with some Art Grip Aquarelle pencils and chose a fairly nice set of colors on their own:
Faber Castell Art Grip Aquarelle watercolor pencils in my visual diary
In all honestly, I didn’t expect much from them, expecting them to be school quality. When I first tried them on my Cangini Filippi Paros notebook I had brought with me, that seemed to be true. But later it turned out the paper had played a massive role in the disappointing quality. Later at home I tried again in my visual diary / art journal. And it turned out these color pencil do an impressive job with layering to the point where you can fully saturate your paper to give it a super satin feel:
I really love the feel and look of this page, material-wise. Image wise is probably only meaningful to myself since it is a story from my life. But if you can picture satin, you can picture the feel of this page.
Faber Castell Art Grip Aquarelle Video watercolor pencil review
To show you a little more about the pencils, I did a swatching/mixing/demo/review video. This review is not sponsored by Faber Castell!
Faber Castell Art Grip Aquarelle Color Chart
For further detail in the color chart, click on the image below for the high resolution full size image:
This is a scan of the little demo image I painted in the video:
It’s painted on cold press Fabriano watercolor postcard paper, 140 lbs. Other supplies used are the Uniball uni pin black waterproof fineliner 0.7mm.
As you can see, the background ended up a bit stained by the way I painted the watercolor pencil and in the face you can see the red pencil marks a bit. Due to the grain of the paper you can still see some color pencil texture after wetting with a brush, especially in the face.
Concluding, here are the pros and cons of the Faber Castel Art Grip Aquarelle watercolor pencils (to my experience):
– mid-price and affordable
– hard oil-based core perfect for detail
– great layering capacity
– little dust
– fairly strong coloring capacities
– great for combining with watercolor
– also make great color pencils without using water; absolutely great for coloring books
– breakage while sharpening, but that may well be the result of a broken core due to transport; I haven’t seen this complaint anywhere online
– takes quite some hard work to lay down thick layer of color
I highly recommend these watercolor pencils for any kind of work. They are much harder than wax based (water-) color pencils, but in that lies their quality. I like to alternate between hard and soft pencils in one drawing, often.
Do you keep track of your days?
And if so, how do you do it?
Should you love the idea, but have no idea how to do it or need some inspiration to do it, at the bottom of this post you will find a big bunch of videos and links to inspire you.
I’m finally keeping track of my days and here’s how
I never thought I was capable of doing it, but apparently it was all about finding a way that fits me, I am…and I’m loving it!
2018 is twelve days on the roll today and I wanted to give a little update on the thus far…
What you see above, is the first spread in my illustrated journal for 2018. I’ve been meaning to keep a journal of my days in this form for years now. Not a year went by that I didn’t buy myself a beautiful one-day-a-page diary to do this in. Moleskines, mostly. And I always did start. But I never got much further in the process than that. At some point sooner or later I simply didn’t find the time or the vibe to do a page.
How Karin kept track of her days
A few weeks ago, this little video appeared on my timeline. Karin leafs through her illustrated year log…she does it swiftly and I was so caught by it, that I pauzed at every turn of the page. This was magnificent!
A little journal has BIG advantages
It turned out that Karin’s diary was little. And by little, I really do mean LITTLE! 12×8,5 cm, in fact.
At first I thought that would be impossible for me to work in. But then I watched her video again. And something began to dawn on me. This micro-size journal was perfect! It was so small that every little drawing would only take a fraction of your time which made it far more doable than an entire moleskine page. And the simplicity of this cheap little diary got rid of any sense of infringing on the distinguishedness of a real book, which sometimes paralyzed me.
It was already well past 1 January when I saw this video, but I rushed into town and managed to find a left-over identical journal to Karin’s. Holding it in hand I began to doubt again. Would I be able to pull such a thing off, journaling on a literal daily basis? I decided to go ahead with it and try something new for a change. Don’t they say that growth takes place outside the comfort zone? Well then…outside it is!
The paper of this journal is awful, the size unfamiliar and my record for being able to keep up with habits like these deplorable. And yet…I am loving it! Not only did my late purchase grant me a 50% discount, which bought me this journal for only 1 € !!! Which is amazing, because that amplified my sense of casualness about it. This really helped me start working in it. But also, working on such a minute scale is fab!
Working MINI means boiling down to the very essence. And then you will feel you leave out important stuff, but you simply have to stop caring about that because there is no room to fuss about it anway. This is therapy in pocket size! 😉 So after giving this a go for a week I’ve decided to keep doing this and share my new spreads here.
But there is another journal: Hello Tanka Diary!
The illustrated mini journal is not the only daily challenge I set for myself this year! I actually agreed with myself to have another little journal that I keep…a tanka log!
Last year I found out that I love the concise limits of the Tanka to write my daily stories and I decided this year I wanted to add some daily practice to my routine to get better at them. The wonderful thing about writing Tanka is exactly what is wonderful about the mini journal. It is so small you can’t fuss too much. Writing a daily poem doesn’t take forever. It can, but normally it doesn’t. It’s that way of capturing a day in the wordy form of a photograph that makes this way of journalig so special. Boiling down our days to moments…to fleeting essences…it so brings out the preciousness of our lives.
I love the practice part of it too – training to get better. Not the hard toil of intense workout, but a daily repetition of the same calm ritual. I can feel it works more wonders for my writing than hardcore binge writing.
So two logs it is, this year! How about that!?
If you want to keep track of your days too…
So…enough about me. How about you?
Do you keep track of your days? And would you have an idea of what way would fit you?
Should you feel infected by my journaling enthusiasm and feel an itch to pick up a daily journal of your own, you can! It’s only 12 January. You can easily pull it off to make up for a fortnight. Especially if you choose to keep it simple. But maybe simple and small are not your thing. Then make it elaborate and big! By all means, if you feel the itch, then do it…but make sure you find a way that goes with you and go YOUR way…
Of course I’ve gathered some finger itching for you guys here…some inspiration of how others keep track of their days. Definitely bound to inspire us:
Brace yourself for a serious inspiration boost
- Geninne Zlatkis has a wonderful blog post with mouthwatering photos from her journal right here. And here you can find Geninne’s Flickr photo album of a lot of her journal spreads. These are bound to make your fingers itch uncontrollably!
- And here is a lovely flip-through video that deserves a cup of tea on the side. Palestblue gives extensive comment to a journal which I find has a wonderful combination of written words and illustration. I love how her comments illustrate so well her process of journaling and the choices she makes in doing this. A true journal from life:
- Palestblue has another (and more, so go check it out!) wonderful video online of a flip-through of such an illustrated journal:
- Documented Journey also keeps track of her days, as the name suggests. It’s got some similarities to Palestblue’s work, but the style is different and her comments are interesting, so here goes (and don’t forget to check out her other videos, because she’s got loads!):
- Anna Denise Floor is one of the people who gave me itching daily journaling fingers back in the days when she still had another name. Her work has changed much over the years. Here’s one of her more recent journal flip-throughs and there are more to find on YouTube:
- rainbowholic TV keeps a very different kind of illustrated journal, but should you like stashing, smashing and collage, this may be it for you:
- Hoodlumsx4 is seriously enjoying her journal! That is obvious from the next video:
- Oohhh…the joy of browsing to find inspiration for you guys! I just discovered Sailor Mimzy’s journals. I love them! They’re so different from what I’ve done thus far, but seriously contageous. I actually really love the ratio text – image. I might give that a go myself…
- For those who do want to work bigger and more artsy, there’s this every-day art journal. I think key to this kind of journal is that you keep it simple, like Hali Karla did in this one. For me the crash always comes when I make things too difficult and when I full too much about things. This daily journal looks casual enough, so could be very inspiring should you like to start a daily project for this year
- Truth be told…I don’t think this journal is actually really a day-to-day project, but I love Mitsib’s work so much that I’m sharing anyway. Her painting style is naive and original. I feel that it does show very well that when visualizing our stories we don’t always need to attempt to do so in a realistic way. Mitsib gets her story across in a very figurative way, which only makes it all the more powerful:
- And just take a look at these uber-cute hobonichi journal pages at this websta page.
- My art-in-heart friend Marit Barentsen has been keeping her mixed media Chronicles for a looooooong time now. She’s got a fabulous galery online where you can browse all her chronicles from 2010 until now. Be sure to get a cup of a hot, soothing beverage with you because you might find you lose yourself here a little. Although maybe it helps most of my readers here that Marit journals in Dutch…it may save some time.
- And I’m finishing off this blog post by a lovely article with Sally Mao, a graphic artis who also keeps a daily journal which looks very yummy…VERY!
we’ve come to the end of this year…already!
Time is rushing by so fast I feel its velocity might toss me off the planet sometimes.
Gosh…almost 2018 already! High time to review, look ahead and fuel our minds with a little, or no…a lot of inspiration ♥
LIVE workshop Writing and Illustrating Tanka
Two weeks ago, I taught the LIVE workshop Writing and Illustrating Tanka. It was a great success…I’ve never before had a group work so diligently and quietly. Teaching online is great, but teaching LIVE and seeing the immediate response was very fulfilling as well. The moment that little blush appears on a cheek is priceless! It sure is worth doing again.
Here are some photos and Tanka of the day, with kind permission of my students:
We spent the day in a cabin in a lovely garden. A little less picturesque in winter than in the summer, but nonetheless a nice place to be.
We spent a day of color and word play and I’ve never seen a group of students work so quietly for so long.
The results were colorful.
And it was so enjoyable to see how every one of the students worked in their own style.
I love teaching art classes that don’t go from A to Z. I like to invite people to make the lesson their own, their work their own. I’m one of those teachers who is proudest of those who don’t really listen… 😉
Besides a lot of color there were also a lot of lines, some abstract, some more illustrative.
And as always the power of visual communication was great!
I will do a post about the Tanka that the students wrote that day another time. They’re in Dutch, so they deserve a little special treatment before I post them here.
Art Supply Swap and Bullet Journal Vlog
Yesterday I uploaded a new vlog on YouTube. I had received a lovely bullet journal to review from Mint Printcess that I wanted to show you guys. And the weeks before I had swapped some art supplies with Claudine. She was keen on the markers I didn’t use at all and another thing or two. And she gave me the oil-based art supplies she never worked with. It’s so cool to have all this new stuff without slaughtering your piggy bank for it. And our fingers are itching to get started with them!
It is a really good idea to clear out art supplies every now and then. It seems so much fun having a lot of them. But sometimes it just reaches that point where they weigh on you instead of inspire you. And that is the time to say goodbye to some of it. I know that everytime that I do, I feel that much better and more inspired because of it…and as you can see in the video, swapping is a great way to do it!
What’s in store in 2018?
For me, this past year has been one of self reflection. I love teaching art. But something else was tugging at my sleeve that I couldn’t shake off. I am not yet going to spill all the beans because it’s in a premature and fragile stage. I’ve decided I’m going to dedicate (most of) my time to writing the book I’ve been working on for two years now. I had planned on doing it side by side with online teaching, but in reality it felt a little like doing both half and that didn’t feel right. So, for now I will not be launching new online courses and write my book instead…(although I’ve already felt a new surge of dynamic energy and inspiration straight after taking my decision, so who knows what might pop up this year anyway!?)
I will keep making and sharing art. And I will certainly keep uploading new art supply reviews and process videos on YouTube. I just love connecting that way. And besides, what better way to cool down a steaming mind, right? I have welcomed more than 1.000 new followers on YouTube this year and have found it to be a really great social medium.
My wishes for you…
This week I attended the funeral of a man over whose loss nobody mourned. People mourned over the grief he’d caused during his life and the things that they’d missed from a father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a brother-in-law. In a way it was the saddest funeral I’ve ever attended in so many layers of grief.
And still we can learn from people like him, whose example we shouldn’t take (which is exactly why). So let’s do the exact opposite of what this man has done throughout his life. What I wish for you is this:
I wish for you to feel gratitude during your life…during big moments, but even more so during the wee daily moments we tend to take for granted. Life and everything in it is not a right…it is a gift.
I wish for you to look your loved ones in the eyes and take a little moment to feel what they mean to you. Look at them. And SEE them. What do you mean to them?
And I wish you a sniff of courage to tell your loved ones what they mean to you. Thank you, sorry and I love you are the six most important words and also the six most forgotten words between two people. Make sure you feel them. Make sure you say them. Make sure you receive them.
Christmas Break Inspiration
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, happy Yule and a really great New Year’s Eve!!! That you may be sparked with inspiration and that all your wishes may come true ♥
I’m leaving you with some wonderful inspiration for you this X-mas/End-of-year holiday, hoping you will be able to enjoy some creative time to let your sparks take the shape of art…
If you feel inclined to close the year and welcome a new one, I can highly recommend these for a moment of reflection:
Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year
Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word
The Year Compass in many languages
A super endearing video about a little boy making the most touching clay art dolls:
Paulus Berensohn isn’t with us anymore, but he’s cooperated to do this wonderfully inspiring video:
And if this video makes you hungry for more, you could check out To Spring From the Hand, a documentary about him, his life and his work
If you feel like Art Journaling a lot at the moment and if you’re crazy about music, my friend Marit’s Top 2000 Blogparty may be just what you’re looking for! Go check it out here!
Then this lovely video about Journaler Kolby Kirk and the Muir project:
A peek into some really lovely sketchbooks by PearFleur
Have you ever tried this painting technique yet? It’s really nice to do and brings lovely, unexpected outcomes. You can do it both with fluid acrylics and with watercolor paints:
Well, that’s it for now…I’m stretching out for some holiday fun and relaxing the next couple of weeks. Meeting up with friends, having family over, beach walks with dog planned and just a whole lot of cocooning to refuel and get started with the next year. How are you spending these holiday weeks?
Love and many hugs, Mandy
Summer has fallen and my Tanka couldn’t but follow…
English translation of the Tanka:
every day raindrops
on the map – it’s sunny now
beckoning me out
but I find my feet frozen
in the work I have to do
The skies have turned a dull kind of heavy and specks of blue light up the world only every now and then. The wind is blowing us the first tidings of approaching winter, so it’s chilly. Sitting at my writing desk where the heating can’t reach me, the cold of the wall grips my calves and stiffens my feet to a point where it hurts. To loosen its hold on me I now have a little blanket by my side and when I feel the icy hand caress my legs, I cover them with softness and warmth. I must look like a granny bent over her writing desk. If only my room looked like a Victorian parlor and a fire were burning in my hearth.
Sometimes it’s not so much the cold itself as the grey that stops the warmth inside of me. Or my blood freezes when I get caught in my work and sit still for too long. If only my long walks could free me from the ice cold satyr then. But most times these days one moment in silence will bring the nay with the gentle ticking of my weeping window.
Yesterday I had planned to do a mighty bulk of work. There are some preparations I want to do for my LIVE Writing and Illustrating Tanka workshop for 9 December. And I wanted to finish preparations for a big project I want to work on after that. Not even mentioning that I have so many Tanka left to illustrate for which my fingers are itching and so many illustrations that are crying out to be united with a Tanka. I other words, my hours were filled to the brim and beyond.
And then the sun shone. So brightly, so merrily. It made my feet itch for a walk…my nose itch for a sniff of decaying summer and my ears itch for the sound of the geese gathering in a field nearby. A friend hopped by and when she set out on her walk, I felt caught between the sun and my pen. Afraid to let a rare moment pass me by, afraid to fall irreparably behind with my work.
While my angel and devil were fighting their battle on my shoulders, the war was won by my writing desk. I put on my granny garment, hoisted up my pen, feasted my eyes on the bleak powder blue sky and bright gold of the leafless stems waving hello in my garden and set to work.
LIVE cursus Tanka Schrijven en Illustreren
Lijkt het jou ook leuk om Tanka te schrijven en te illustreren? Dat kan!
Op 9 december aanstaande vindt de ééndaagse workshop Tanka Schrijven en Illustreren plaats op een rustieke locatie in Zeeland. Op deze pagina leest u meer.
It’s time for a little bit of weekend inspiration and an update on what I’ve been working on.
The past week I’ve been practising my collage skills. Inspired by the work of Sara Fanelli, I finally got started on a collage journal, something I’d been planning to do for I don’t know how long.
And then there is a little bunch of lovely collage inspiration for your weekend….
A really great idea for a weekend project…a super great collage project!
So….I hope that despite my fatigue you will enjoy yourselves with this week’s vlog and inspiration boost because right now I’m going to bed…catch up on some lost sleep…
Have a colorful weekend! Sleep well tonight…(I know I will!)
Hi and Welcome! I’m Mandy.
I’m a Dutch artist, art journaler and teacher and I am a passionate visual storyteller. It is in the stories we share that other people read or see a reflection of their own. It is through stories that we connect. That’s why I make art.
I help people use art and language to tell their stories and show them it is the stories we carry that make us unique. They determine how much we allow ourselves to heal. By looking at all of them, those in the light of our lives and those tucked away in the shadows, we can find strength, healing, joy, relief and confidence.
People talk a lot, but opening up to the essentials is something altogether different. In our own unique visual language we can do so safely. And I go to any length to help people do so, because…“What’s wrong with being personal anyway? Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”
– Meg Ryan in “You’ve got Mail”