Last week I decided to unlaunch my Patreon, to pause it indefinitely. Why? Well, the short of it is that it's time for me to go back to basics. The long of it is that... ...I need to practise 'Amor Fati' When I launched my Patreon my head was bubbly and sparkly with...

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Rembrandt granulating watercolors

Exploring Rembrandt further, this time I’ve painted swatches from their granulating watercolors and compared them to other brands that used the same pigments. I included Daniel Smith, a comparison many people asked for.

Below you can find the high-resolution color chart. Remember that digital reproduction inevitably leads to color changes. I’ve tried to scan and process the color charts for the best color rendering I could manage on my configuration, but due to browsers, screens and video cards, images can look very different on other screens. Keep that in mind when choosing colors and make sure to refer to the manufacturer brochures below for more accurate representations of the colors. Click the links below the video for the original files.

Rembrandt granulating watercolor
Click for high-resolution image

This review is not affiliated. I just love Rembrandt watercolor paint and feel it is somewhat under-represented on YouTube and deserves better. Here you can find more information:

Rembrandt watercolor

Rembrandt vs Van Gogh watercolor comparison

Having both the complete Rembrandt and Van Gogh watercolor collection, I could now do a comparison of sorts of the both. Here’s the video:

And here are the three hi-resolution color charts. Remember that digital reproduction inevitably leads to color changes. I’ve tried to scan and process the color charts for the best color rendering I could manage on my configuration, but due to browsers, screens and video cards, images can look very different on other screens. Keep that in mind when choosing colors and make sure to refer to the manufacturer brochures below for more accurate representations of the colors. Click the links below the video for the original files.

Van Gogh01
Van Gogh02
Rembrandt vs Van Gogh

This review was not affiliated. I just love both these brands and feel they are somewhat under-represented on YouTube and deserve better. Here you can find more information about them:

Rembrandt watercolor

Van Gogh Watercolor

Do you want a Hug from me? You can have it!

Do you want a Hug from me? You can have it!

Person X hug by Mandy van Goeije

A personalized Hug

Did you like the Hugs that I posted online last week? And would you like to get a personalized Hug for yourself or for a loved one? You can! I’ve decided to draw Hugs for other people who really need one or who would like to give one to someone they would love to hug but now can’t.

On this page you can read all about it!

What the Hugs have done so far

I can’t wait for the Hug requests to come. The past weeks I got so many wonderful responses from my friends whom I’d sent a hug. They felt exactly the same way, missing the embrace, the short moments of showing and receiving affection. I’m all for keeping a distance in this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard. Worse, even, when friends are going through rough patches and you can’t do what you’d love to do most…hold them and comfort them.

I know I’m not alone in the experience. I know there are many people out there feeling ‘cold’ in a sense. And if the Hugs are something I can make people happy with, it makes me happy. It’s still not a real hug, but a Hug drawing is absolutely the next best thing!

Ready to go!

I can’t wait to start! My sketching pencils are sharp, my paper’s eager, my ink jar is full and my pens can’t wait to race over the paper again! We’re ready for you!

Drawing one Hug takes me a full work day, usually. Sometimes a tad more. But I think I can manage doing 5 a week. If you want a Hug from me, let me know quickly by filling out the form. I’ll let you know when I expect to be able to work on it. Thus far my schedule is free as of coming Monday.

Shipment can take a while in this pandemic, so be mindful of that if you’re ordering for a special occasion. However, I did think of that and for such cases, I’ve drawn ‘a promise’ that can be printed as a card to give on the date, should the drawing arrive late.

I think I’ve thought of everything. If you are missing things after reading the page about the Hugs, please contact me.

A week of Hugs

A week of Hugs

A week of Hugs is what I have for you today. Hugs because I mis hugging my friends and family. Hugs because I know you might miss that too. Many people do. So, let’s start by a hug from me to you:

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Hugs, India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

My week of hugs ended up being in India ink due to Inktober. I was half planning to join, but knowing that I never do a full Inktober challenge I was a bit half-hearted about it. Plus…ink! Yikes! I don’t know if you remember drawing with dip pen and ink in school when you were young? Do you remember the scratching of the metal pen? The tearing of the paper? The blotching? The accidental swipe over wet areas blackening everything? Well, I wasn’t that into ink, to tell you the truth. And yet…

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Big Hugs, India Ink on Bristol paper © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

And yet, all my hugs ended up being in India ink. Why? There’s no reason behind it. I just drew the first one, the one at the top of this post, and was startled by how much I liked the graphic feel of it. It made me want more. And also…I had managed an A6 ink drawing without scratching and according goose bumps, smudges and blotches. So I gained some confidence to proceed:

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Hugelele, India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije

One hug after another flowed from the tip of my pen…I sent them all to friends. And all these hugs refer to the relationships I have with these friends. It was super fun to be able to do something for my friends to show them my affection, which I now cannot do in a physical hug. This certainly feels like the next best thing. And maybe it’s even better because it lasts. Maybe a week of hugs any shape or form other than actual hugs isn’t so bad after all. If we eventually get to embrace eachother again, that is. Nothing really beats that, does it?

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Long time no see Hug, India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

Some of my drawings are not based on actual friendships, but on concepts…on ideas that sprang to mind, like the one above in which a man is SO eager to hug this woman that she’s totally overwhelmed by the intensity and enthusiasm of it. I think it’s so cute! And I can imagine this feeling so well after so many months without hugs and embraces…

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Hug Turpin, a “Dick Turpin” hug in India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

Then one of my peers in an online poetry class wrote a poem about how a covid facemask gives room to fantasies about being a Dick Turpin-like hero behind a facemask and how one could cheekily blow a kiss to the cleaning lady from behind their masks. As my mind works, it immediately envisioned the scene one step further… Glad it’s just my comic-styled imagination or else this Dick Turpin could be in for a slap with the mop. Whoops! 😉

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Huggoween, a Halloween Hug in India ink on Bristol paper, © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

And how about this couple? No friends of mine. Although the cat’s a cuty I see almost every day whenI walk the dog. But aren’t they just adorable? I am so proud of this ink drawing. I love its graphic character. It turned out exactly like I wanted. Simple as these drawings may look, they take a long time. More than a work day, sometimes even two full work days. There’s sketching, studies sometimes, practicing, drawing and then the inking, which happens in phases. So it’s just really, really great if they turn out pristine like this one because in the final stages there is so much risk of a little accident and with inks the accidents are rarely happy ones…

India Ink hug illustration by Mandy van Goeije for a week of hugs
Chronicled Hug, India ink on Bristol paper © Mandy van Goeije, 2020

This is another drawing that took a lot of time to get right and make. It’s for a friend I really, REALLY wanted to hug firmly this week and couldn’t, which was especially frustrating. It was so good to be able to turn to my ink jar. It offered consolation again because it allowed me to do the next best thing I COULD do.

You know, making someone feel they are loved, appreciated and missed, even if you see them every day, is so incredibly precious. I don’t think I would have appreciated that for what it’s worth if it weren’t for this pandemic. It’s not just the care or worry I can feel for someone, or the desire to hold them for a while and let them feel my affection. It’s also the sheer energy I feel when drawing these hugs for people. And the best thing of all? My friends feel it too on opening their mail.

Can I Hug you?

If you like this idea of getting or sending out a Hug, I hereby offer to make commissioned Hugs. A Hug for yourself or a Hug for a friend of yours. Custom made A5 size for € 100 plus shipping. E-mail me for possibilities. I take only a couple of commissions per week.

So, covid or not…we can always let people know we care about them. My way of doing so is in ink. How do you do it? And if you don’t do it yet, what would be your way of doing it? Can you think of something? What would your week of hugs look like?

Back to black with Inktober

Back to black with Inktober

Normally I don’t do challenges anymore because I don’t like how they intrude on my own flow, but Inktober is different. Just like writing Tanka I love limiting myself to just one medium. Creative wings are often born within limitations. It happens with writing poetry within the preset structure of the syllables and lines of a Tanka and it happens within the limtations of white paper, black ink and the use of dip pens. I’ve experienced this in ink before, but not as powerfully as I did this year.

Tree felling illustration by Mandy van Goeije
“Tree felling”, Indian ink on Bristol paper

The night before October I took out the collection of dip pens, nibs and Indian inks that I’ve collected over the years. I started inking to compare them but all of a sudden I found myself drawing my daily life and laying down my own illustrative style in ink. And then I was hooked! And I still am! I’m drawing my diary. I’m drawing cards. And I’ve come up with a project, about which I’ll tell you more soon. All in inks. All black and white.

I don’t really ‘do Inktober’. I don’t ink and post daily and I don’t follow the prompts, but my own life and flow instead. And still…it feels fun to know that there are so many people out there in the world who are inking right now. It kind of feels like a community revolving around little jars of black ink. When I sit down behind my drawing table, I can almost hear them scratching and cross-hatching away. I can hear them say “Ouch!” when they accidentally puncture their skin with the sharp nibs. I can see them jump up and dash for a towel to clear up the growing puddle of ink on their desks. I can hear them curse at an indelible mistake. For thirty one days in a year I’m not alone in the experience. And for some reason, I love the idea.

migraine illustration by Mandy van Goeije
“M. Igraine”- Indian ink on Bristol paper

Besides the inspiration I find in the limitation of the medium, I also find that “simple” ink illusrations like these can be quite poetic in a sense. It’s fun to draw something simple and to imply a lot more than what can be seen in the image. I believe it’s a consequence of the limitations within which I work at the moment. And it’s becoming a sport to come up with ways of expressing things I express so differently when working with other media. This is SO black and white, SO clear, such extremes. If you’re looking to express something delicate, it takes a different approach. The medium won’t help you there. Then it’s all about symbolism, about line style, about the distribution of black and white.

If you are intestered in drawing with ink and if you feel like challenging yourself but a daily ink is too much, Inktober came up with Inktober52, which is a weekly challenge. I don’t know if it’s my cup of tea to do prompts anymore at all, but I might just take a look at the weekly prompts when I run out of inspiration. Who knows?!

Maximum extraction in translation

Maximum extraction in translation

As it happened, I was reading Zucked by Roger McNamee when I heard that celebrities were sending a signal to facebook by boycotting it and instagram for a day with the #StopHateforProfit campaign. I immediately remembered this tanka I drew and wrote last year and decided it should be translated into English so that I could share it with the world. The message is very important, you see.

Maximum extraction - illustrated Tanka by Mandy van Goeije

I read quite a bit about surveillance capitalism and “social” media and I watched a lot of documentaries about it. And some time ago, I wrote an article on Medium about my own ordeal in deciding whether or not to stay on facebook. And even though many people think objections to facebook are “just” about data sharing, the reality of what goes on in facebook’s backoffice is way, way more serious.

Earlier this year I experienced just how bad it was myself, during the BLM protests. One of my facebook contacts is a white woman, married to a black man and they have two black kids. At some point during the BLM protests, she wrote a facebook post saying how she felt forced to publish something on the subject when it seemed obvious that she supported the BLM movement, being a wife to a black man and mother of two black kids. She wrote how awful she felt for being pushed by some of her contacts to write about it and expose herself to the hateful noise that was loud on facebook at that time.

What was horrible, was not her post. She wrote eloquently and full of love for her husband and children and she basically asked people not to push her to take a stand when it was obvious how she felt. But the response was everything she seemed afraid for. As I read on, I noticed the post had a truck load of comments, mostly by two women, herself and a few of her friends and it was a very fierce row. The two black ladies who commented most were hateful, disrespectful and incredibly rude and mean and my contact’s response grew more and more defensive as the argument wore on, eventually saying things that – out of context – could seem anti BLM. And since few people read an entire thread and see only the latest remarks, that in itself generated even more hateful comments, driving my contact to tears and frustration.

I wanted to stand up for her. But at the same time something in the back of my mind said: “Stop! Don’t interfere. Think!” So I did. I turned off the computer and sat quietly for a moment, allowing my adrenaline levels to sink and then it suddenly hit me. There was something very odd about the comments the two black attackers made. So I went back online, opened facebook and looked up her post and started reading the comments again. Contentwise the comments were just a repetition of one another, only more rude each time. They didn’t put forth new arguments or examples, they didn’t refer to events in their own lives. And that made me click the profiles of these ladies.

What I found, made my heart bleed. Neither of these two profiles were real. This argument – evolving around REAL lives – had been fired up by trolls, instructed by who knows who, to destabilize people, to destabilize society as it is. It made me sick as I realized in that very moment how fucked up facebook is. I knew that the platform only grew this big by using unethical procedures, using their users as raw materials to suck data from for sales to who cares who. But I had never with my own eyes seen how damaging and disrupting the platform could be by offering a stage for hate spreaders set out to ruin the society we have. I informed my contact about what I’d found, we both reported the profiles as fake and I decided to leave my timeline and look up only those people I really wanted to see from then on. My only active use would be to update my Art page with new work and reply to any comments there and some direct contact with friends.

Facebook isn’t worth my attention. And the thing is…people think it is a side-effect, but it’s not. Facebook algorithms are programmed to piss people off and to scare them to pieces because those negative emotions generate “engagement” – being the time you invest there and the activities that come out of that – each generating new data facebook can sell to third parties for whatever purpose. So everytime you thought you were an emotional wreck because your timeline affects you…no, you aren’t. Facebook is doing that to you. Purposely. Everytime you feel drained after reading your timeline, it’s not you being a mop, it’s facebook doing that to you. Purposely. And all the gruesome things you see and the fake news and the bickering going on, it doesn’t happen accidentally. It is facebook doing that to you. And guess what. If you are a thinker or a sensitive person, facebook will dump more gruesome shit on your timeline because that is what you will be most responsive to. People who are not easily moved by such things get puppies and kittens.

But even beyond our timelines stuff is going on with facebook that makes you sick once you know about it. Sucking and selling our data to whoever pays is not very ethical, but they get away with it by pretending ‘oops’ and loopholes in legislation. Making us addicted to dopamine by dripping notifications is alsno not very ethical. Nor is the spread of fake news and giving foreign governments the chance to meddle with our national elections. Facebook says it’s all a case of “whoops”, we didn’t know, we’ll fix it. Only, they never do. But where it gets really, really, REALLY bad is that facebook costs lives. Literally.

Facebook is all about groups these days, right? Well, guess who look eachother up in groups. Not just pigment-crazy ladies or art journalers. Also hateful people look eachother up. And without society around them to correct them and keep an eye on their behaviour, these people get the chance to encourage their unethical behaviour and thus “social” and “freedom of speech” becomes blatant crime when facebook groups lead to violence and even death. Ethnic cleansing, even. It is an inconvenient truth that people choose to look away from. Maybe you too would rather not see it. But I’m asking you, please, inform yourself. Know it. See it. And ask facebook to change their policies. I know it’s easier not to see things when they are off-putting or confusing, but this is so, SO very important. Facebook plays a huge role in our daily lives today. Not just your timeline, but also in our elections, in the distribution of our news and on our markets…we cannot condone a service that does not do ethics as long as they grow, grow, grow.

Growth for the sake of growth is cancer.
Facebook has become a social cancer.
And it’s up to its users to aks them to stop and become what they ougt to be: a SOCIAL platform.

I highly recommend Zucked as a read on this topic, but there are many more books on facebook and surveillance capitalism. If you want, I can give you tips. Just let me know in the comments below.

Thank you so much for reading my plea. And please, please…be informed.

As an encore, here’s my original, Dutch Tanka:

Maximale extractie - geïllustreerde tanka door Mandy van Goeije
Cobalt Teals compared

Cobalt Teals compared

One of my favorite pigments to work with, was PG50, a bright cobalt teal, or bright turquoise that is very much in fashion in art today. It holds a super vibrant and bright middle between blue and gold, although I prefer those that lean more towards the blue. I say it ‘was’ one of my favorite colors, since Rembrandt has brought forth a contender in their new collection, a turquoise made of the PB28 pigment.

Stroke, an art journal page

Both the PB 28 and the PG50 pigments granulate, which makes them a perfect first layer for texture paintings.

first layers of a journal painting, using cobalt teal as a ground texture layer. See the finished painting at the bottom of this post.

I use this paint in a great many of my paintings, even when the many layers on top no longer show this color. So I was a little apprehensive to see that Talens had added a PB28 turquoise to their collection instead of a PG50 and of course I needed to test and compare these two pigments side by side. So I did a little video testing Rembrandt, Horadam, Qor, Daniel Smith, Sennelier and Kremer.

Do you like to use cobalt teal or turquoise in your work? And which one of the paints I used in my video would you prefer? Below you can see the strips with the swatches.

Strip of the six cobalt teal turquoise watercolor paints
Finished journal page. Cobalt teal almost gone, but it’s there…without it I couldn’t have made this page.

Paints used in this video: