Everyone should have a personal Tree of Life

Today I rode out into the countryside to a Tree of Life to photograph it before the buds grew into too many leaves, too thick to see the branches giving it shape. I’ll put the photographs aside to use as inspiration for a painting I’ll make in the winter.

You may ask why I don’t paint it on the spot. Simple. That field, on which the grass and small flowers look so smooth, is in fact incredibly rough under the grass, so there’s nowhere level to put up an easel, and that is if you don’t first turn or break an ankle just walking the half-mile or so up the length of the field. But that isn’t the worst. The tree stands on the edge of a valley, and the wind howls over that field; it’s uncomfortable and cold. And it is most definitely not an alla prima painting, so a studio job it is.

So many amazing vistas in Ireland, so little time to paint them.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter — and a cyclist — who lives in West Cork.

The quality of #light in #Ireland

andre_jute_drying_rack_23feb16_800pxhOf course it is dull and overcast in Ireland most of the time, which is how come it remains the “green and beloved island”; maintaining greenery requires a lot of rain. But the light always has an eerie quality even when it is overcast, and when the sun shines can be as intense as the (colder) light on the Sahara.

Just outside my bedroom is a large landing under a skylight, where an overflow drying rack from my studio stands. I woke at dawn to see the sun shining through the skylight giving a monotone oil standing on the drying rack a definitely otherwordly quality.

Yves Klein noticed something similar about the light on the Mediterranean coast of France, and he too was into blue paintings. Perhaps I’ll teat myself and my fans to a blue period, though I’ll give jumping off buildings, which is how Klein actually became famous, or at least notorious, a miss as in my reckless youth I already jumped off the Town Hall in Stellenbosch holding an umbrella. Once was definitely enough!

Andre Jute is a writer and painter.

Guernica-Paris 13 November 2015

In the City of Light as dusk fell on 13 November 2015, Muslim criminals committed a vicious mass-murder of innocents who had done them no harm.

andre_jute_9_paris_mon_amour_13_novembre_2015_ink_n_wash_approx_27cmsq_800pxwAndre Jute: Paris Mon Amour 13 Novembre 2015.
Ink and Wash, Approx 27cmsq.

Paris Mon Amour is my response. It is an ink and wash sketch for an oil painting, should anyone want to commission an oil. The sketch is approximately 26cm square but the oil could be any size up to two metres square.

The scene is in Montmartre. My apartment in Paris was behind the viewpoint, further up the steps. My driver would pick me up in the morning and in the evening drop me at the bottom of the steps for my exercise. Sometimes others using the steps more sedately would smile or even cheer politely as I ran up them in my pinstripes.  It is the normality of that  harmless routine life that I want to capture here at the very moment when it is shaken and threatened by alien thugs.

All artworks placed on the net are somehow processed, and the artist normally chooses the image nearest to the paper rendition, and agonizes over the compromise.

Here, instead of agonizing pointlessly if understandably, I’ve used the necessity of processing to make two different points with one piece of art. For the technically curious, the post-photographic computer processing was precisely the same for both versions, but I started with two differently lit photographs to create the difference; that too is a sort of computer processing, except that it happens inside the camera when one chooses parameters or presets. I love modern technology!

andre_jute_9_paris_mon_amour_13_novembre_2015_ink_n_wash_approx_27cmsq_800pxwAndre Jute: Paris Mon Amour 13 Novembre 2015.
Ink and Wash, Approx 27cmsq.

The lights of our liberal society are going out in Europe, amid denial and appeasement, and blaming the victims, and crude reversals to anti-semitism, by our rulers, who claim to know better and clearly don’t. Our grandparents have seen this before during the rise of Hitler.

Andre Jute is a writer and painter.

Merry Christmas



This arrived from my arts materials pushers, Jackson’s in London. Frightening what the bureaucrats in Brussels can get up to, especially when pushed by a bunch of dumb Swedes trying to drain the glee from everyone’s life.



Dear Andre,

Yesterday afternoon, the European Commission issued its communication confirming that it will not adopt a REACH restriction on cadmium in artists’ paints, which would have seen cadmium colours effectively banned in Europe.


In 2013/14 the EU’s Chemical Agency responded to a Scandinavian request that attempted to reduce the quantity of cadmium batteries sent to land-fill waste across Europe. Alarmingly the proposed legislation made no allowance for the entirely safe cadmium compounds used in artists’ paints and if successfully adopted would have seen cadmium banned from use by European paint makers. Without concerted and urgent effort, artists would have been deprived of the vibrant cadmium yellows, reds and oranges that have formed an essential part of the professional palette since the 1840’s!

How we did it

Co-ordinating the campaign were Spectrum Paints, a comparatively small UK paint maker. Their size meant they were unrestricted by legal departments and press officers, so Michael Craine, Rachel Volpé and Angela Brown set about raising awareness and speaking with the EU through the paint maker’s trade organisation CEPE. Artists & Illustrators Magazine was an early supporter and joined the campaign to spread the word and encourage individual artists to contact the ECHA with their views. Michael Craine recalls, “It was a fascinating time through which we had a growing sense that perhaps the strength of our argument might win through. As a result of the Artists & Illustrators publicity and further excellent blogging by Jackson’s Art and other enthusiasts and supporters, the story went global! We were contacted by British broad-sheet newspapers, the story was taken up by Emma-Jane Kirby of the BBC who interviewed me for broadcast on Radio 4’s PM program. We made it onto the BBC news. We appeared in the media in the USA, South Africa, Australia and the French and German press”.

What happened?

The European Chemical Agency ECHA were impressed with the art world’s reasonable, informed and strongly-held view that pigments such as Cadmium Sulphate are indispensible to artists – perfectly safe, perfectly strong, wonderfully lightfast and producing unique shades. There are imitations but no replacements! Rachel Volpé of Spectrum Paints comments that, “whilst we discussed the technical case for cadmium pigments, many artists were passionately able to stress the economic and artistic importance of cadmiums as they uniquely bring a warmth, light, strength and colour to paintings that stands the test of time”.

Have we won just a temporary reprieve?

Michael from Spectrum writes, “this is more than a reprieve. The ECHA recognise our case and acknowledge the substance of our arguments. This astonishing collaboration has taken up a great deal of time for me over the last two years and innumerable emails, meetings and conversations, but it was worth it!” Not only is the change of heart over cadmium a joyous occasion in its own right, the fact that the artist fraternity is recognised as a community in its own right is an exciting development and one that should help us protect our mutual interests in the future. So congratulations and sincere thanks all round!

Can you #guess who this #painter is? #Tip: He painted more in #oil than #watercolour.

???????? ??????????? ???? ??????? ????????? ? ????????? ????????-??????? Gallerix.ru ( http://gallerix.ru )

Can you guess who this painter is? Tip: He painted more in oils than watercolor.

Andre Jute is a novelistpainter and cyclist.

The Sentinels — grabbing a watercolor moment in my little pochade tin

For watercolors en plein air I normally use water brushes but for father’s day I was given a set of Da Vinci 1503 Kolinsky Sable Travel Brushes. I’ll have more to say about them in an interview with Joanna Truscott, who turned up on this day.

The viewpoint is up on the old railway track above the road between Bandon and Innishannon. I’ve been waiting for a sunshine day to block out an oil painting 16x12in of this scene but, as you can see, the Irish weather isn’t being accommodating. So I decided that between showers I’d make a quick watercolour sketch in my little pochade tin and get the details and the oil at home in the studio.


Andre Jute: The Sentinels, watercolor, 6x4in, 2015

Gorse on the Left, Gorse on Right. Into the Moat of Thorns Rides the Cyclist.


Andre Jute: Dawn on the Ruined Castle at the Ford of Innishannon
Oil on canvas, 8x6in, 2015
Click the photo to see a larger version.

Gorse on the Left,
Gorse on Right.
Into the Moat of Thorns
Rides the Cyclist.
(with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who also keeps a bicycling page.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out.

Many artists have stalkers, now that the internet has enabled the spite of those vicious enough to take out their own lack of talent and enterprise on strangers. But one of the advantages of being an artist is that all experience is grist to the mill, and the mill grinds income, so here is a particularly worthless stalker turned into a painting in my Rorschach series.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated. From left to right: Complete painting; detail of The Child Peter Screaming To Be Let Out; two superimposed positioning details, the upper one of the child screaming, the lower of the mother and child; Peter’s Mother Leading Him in Prayer; and a highlight of the three-quarters portrait hiding in the fullface portrait.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated. From left to right: Complete painting; detail of The Child Peter Screaming To Be Let Out; two superimposed positioning details, the upper one of the child screaming, the lower of the mother and child; Peter’s Mother Leading Him in Prayer; and a highlight of the three-quarters portrait hiding in the fullface portrait.

There are more subliminals, what I call “juju details”, for those who want to search them out, so here are some larger versions.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated.Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated.

Still, no-one is unadulterated evil, through and through. Everyone was a child, more or less innocent, once. And most mothers try to inculcate decency in their offspring, though not all succeed.

Portrait of the netstalker Peter Howard aka Little Howie, corruption bursting from every pore, his inner child screaming to be let out. One in a series of Rorschach Paintings by André Jute. Monotone oil on canvas, 6x8in, signed and dated 2013. From left to right: Complete painting; detail of The Child Peter Screaming To Be Let Ou

Note in the black and white version, at the left, that it is a full face portrait. On the right  is The Child Peter Screaming To Be Let Out.

Peter’s Mother Leading Him in Prayer

Above, Peter’s Mother Leading Him in Prayer.

the_netstalker_peter_howard_5__corruption_breaking_out_of_his_skin__the_inner_child_screaming_to_be_let_out_800pxhOil is a marvellously plastic medium both figuratively and metaphorically in what the practised painter can layer with it. But, looking for my M. Graham oils, the first wooden paintcase I picked up held my Winsor & Newton oil bars, which are thick columns of pigment stiffened with wax for direct application, beloved of graffitologists only next to spray cans. (Oil bars were first invented by Sennelier for Pablo Picasso, a noted iconoclast…) It struck me that what stalkers do is slash graffiti across the face of the beloved object, so this would be an appropriate medium. Of course, oil bar on a canvas only six by eight inches isn’t an ideal medium, unless one makes a lateral mental hop. I found the “soft” narrow-blade palette knives Franco Pastrello invented in conjunction with the artisans of RGM at Maniago the ideal tool for getting tiny detail with a stiff medium on a small canvas, and aided their good work with the misnomered “colour shapers”, silicon-tipped tools clay sculptors use. Here you can see that the full face portrait as  well incorporates a three quarters portrait of a toothless old man, which is how I imagine this particular stalker.

André Jute is a novelist and painter described by the NY Times as “wild but exciting”.

Text and images copyright © Andre Jute 2015

Now Paypal tries to grab the copyrights of artists, writers and photographers, free and forever

Paypal has sent out notice of an Amendment to their User Agreement (1) that will grab without recompense the copyright of any “content” sold through Paypal.

I’m not a lawyer but a contract I drew up for my Australian publishers was for many years recommended by the British Society of Authors and used on both sides of the Atlantic, and the chapter in my textbook WRITING A THRILLER (A&C Black, London, St Martin’s Press, NY, translations into Spanish, Italian, French, etc, still in print after a generation) was never once queried. So, if the Paypal amendment answers to plain English and means what it says, it’s an unprecedented rights grab.

If the “content” that Paypal intends to claim rights over is just the promotional copy and graphics in the advertisements of sellers, one can understand that Paypal’s lawyers want to cover their ass and avoid a nuisance suit.

But Paypal isn’t just claiming rights over specific promotional material, it is claiming rights over the very bread on the table of millions of writers and painters and photographers. Not only will Paypal not pay for the use of this copyright material, there is absolutely nothing in the agreement to stop them selling someone’s copyright product for profit.

Worse, the agreement that gives Paypal every artist’s life comes into effect automatically on 1 July 2015 unless you explicitly opt out. “You do not need to do anything to accept the changes as they will automatically come into effect on the above date.”

The “content” that Paypal will claim rights over includes the text and images, the very product and livelihood of artists.

paypal_rights_grabSuppose you’re a novelist. Of course you post a sample chapter to your netsite where you also have Paypal buttons. That’s “content”. It now belongs to Paypal to publish wherever they please. The rest of the novel and even the characters now belong to Paypal: that’s the parenthetical “including of works derived from it”. No serious publisher will want a series when you’ve given a gorilla with clout like Paypal a licence to interfere in the market at will. Amazon went into TV and film production; what’s to stop Paypal following them? With your intellectual property as Paypal’s capital.

Suppose you’re a painter. You show a photograph of an artwork for sale. Normally you either reserve reproduction rights in the art to yourself, the artist, or it goes explicitly, contractually to the buyer. These reproduction rights, which include all photographs, including the one published with a Paypal button next to it, are often more valuable than the physical painting on the wall. But, because you posted the photo to Paypal as an advertisement, Paypal can republish the photo at any time, or sell it to the greetings card industry and pocket that income. Check it out: it says nowhere in Paypal’s agreement that Paypal can’t do this.

The risk is total if you’re a photographer, because control of  the photograph and all its reproductions is your very product, directly the bread on your table. If Paypal has a perpetual free right to publish the photo, why should a stock company want to license it from you? For that matter, would you want a stock supplier to use Paypal when you know that every photograph they show (and how will they license the photographs to graphic designers if they don’t show them?) automatically belongs to Paypal as well?

This is a grotesque case of lawyers covering their ass by throwing in the kitchen sink, without ever stopping to consider whether they shouldn’t first put their minds in gear.

Paypal appears to know there’s something wrong. They say: “Should you decide you do not wish to accept them you can notify us before the above date to close your account (https://www.paypal.com/uk/cgi-bin/?&cmd=_close-account) immediately without incurring any additional charges.”

No additional charges — that’s real generous!

Now Paypal will claim that all this is being done to protect them against chancers bringing frivolous law suits, and against sellers using stolen copyright materials. If that is so, then Paypal should say so in their agreement. Instead Paypal simply grabs everyone’s rights, and takes a bullying “like it or fuck off” attitude about it.

Next Paypal will claim that they are a huge, honorable institution, in the money markets, and have no intention of trading in your copyrights. Yeah, right, ten years ago Jeff Bezos couldn’t even dream of entering the movie business.

Any institution is only as honest as the men in the boardroom. Copyright is an artist’s pension. Do you want to entrust the comfort of your old age to some unknown person, perhaps not even born yet, who will then be in charge of Paypal, and perhaps has dreams of being in the “moom pitcher bidness” with the rights, unpaid for and nothing due, of your copyright as his earnest money? Or have the owners of Paypal sell out to new owners whose primary interest is “monetizing all these copyrights the old management just sat on”?

I didn’t think so.

Copyright © 2015 Andre Jute
No Paypal buttons anywhere!  Free for republication as long as the piece is complete and includes the copyright notice and this permission.

(1) Here is the text from Paypal being discussed above:

Amendment to the PayPal User Agreement.

  1. Intellectual Property

We are adding a new paragraph to section 1.3., which outlines the licence and rights that you give to us and to the PayPal Group (see paragraph 12 below for the definition of “PayPal Group”) to use content that you post for publication using the Services. A similar paragraph features in the Privacy Policy, which is removed by the addition of this paragraph to the User Agreement. The new paragraph at section 1.3 reads as follows:

“When providing us with content or posting content (in each case for publication, whether on- or off-line) using the Services, you grant the PayPal Group a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) right to exercise any and all copyright, publicity, trademarks, database rights and intellectual property rights you have in the content, in any media known now or in the future. Further, to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law, you waive your moral rights and promise not to assert such rights against the PayPal Group, its sublicensees or assignees. You represent and warrant that none of the following infringe any intellectual property right: your provision of content to us, your posting of content using the Services, and the PayPal Group’s use of such content (including of works derived from it) in connection with the Services.”

Does it infuriate you when you are cheated by mailorder on something too small to return?


by Andre Jute aka Brassed Off 

It was only a pencil sharpener, albeit a specialist sharpener for sketch artists and obsessives who must have a fine long point. Being cheated about it is bad enough, but what made it worse is that it is just too small an item to return for the total cost of Euro 7.99 including postage. It costs me more than that to write a letter. Instead I wrote this review on Amazon.


The KUM Automatic Long Point Pencil & Lead Sharpener is worth five stars. The sharpener I received is worth one star because it isn’t the sharpener described in the advertisement on Amazon.

The lies Amazon permitted The Socieity for All Artists to tell about the KUM sharpener. Click on the photo for an enlargement.
The lies Amazon permitted The Socieity for All Artists to tell about the KUM sharpener. Click on the photo for an enlargement.

This statement on Amazon, in the advertisement by the seller, The Society For All Artists, is an outright lie: “Includes … Two lead pointers for 2mm and 3.2mm lead holders…” The headline over the advertisement is an outright lie: “…& Lead Sharpener”.

The sharpener The Society For All Artists sent is the cheaper model with no lead pointers. Nor can the sharpeners for the lead pointers be retrofitted as there are no holes to put the leads through in the casing, only two neat circular ridges where the holes should have been if the The Society For All Artists hadn’t cheated me.

Let me stress: my disappointment and disgust is with the The Society For All Artists for false advertising, and with Amazon for permitting it. The sharpener itself — those parts of it I received — works really well and would have received five stars, or perhaps I might have been tempted to remove half a star because the space for shavings is rather small and must be emptied inconveniently often.

There are two models of the KUM Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener. One, the AS2M, includes separate pointers for 2mm and 3.15mm leads; these are definitely worth having as they are better pointers than you can buy elsewhere, if you can even find any (I have a dedicated KUM pointer for 5.6mm leads and, though pricey, it is wonderful). The other model, the plain AS2, does not have the pointers. Both models have two spare blades in a slot behind the shavings catcher to fit the floating two-hole long point mechanism. The “Automatic” in the name refers to a clever auto-stop feature built into the design of the sharpener. KUM sharpeners are made in Germany and are clearly very fine German engineering.

The Society For All Artists advertised the KUM AS2M with the lead pointers, then fraudulently supplied the AS2 without the lead pointers.

kum_auto_long_point_800pxwFor making really fine long points, there really is no alternative to the KUM Automatic Long Point Pencil & Lead Sharpener except a surgeon’s scalpel and a sanding board, which are much clumsier to carry into the field. I just wish I wasn’t cheated out of the Lead Sharpener part of the sharpener.

One star for a dishonest, disappointing transaction with The Society For All Artists on Amazon.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter.

Spookier at Rosscarbery, Ireland, or Gloucester, Massachusetts? The Synthesis of Memory and Image.

This watercolour, made in my big new sketchbook, is a sketch for an oil that, if it happens, will probably have to be at least 20x30in to support the details. There’s a house right on the tideline near Rosscarbery, down the road here in Ireland, which haunts my memory. A photograph published by the American designer and writer Kathleen Valentine of a similarly placed house near Gloucester, Massachusetts, reminded me strongly of it. This painting is a mental synthesis of the two images.

andre_jute_the_point_watercolor_on_cotton_paper_11x7.5in_2015_800pxw_balancedAndre Jute: The Point, watercolor on 300gr octavo, 2015

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter.

Andre Jute: Translucent Pondlife, 2013, Lavis by Ink, A5, check the snake fluttering her eyelashes at you


Andre Jute: Translucent Pondlife, 2013, Lavis by Ink, A5

Sure, I know snakes don’t have eyelashes.
But I’m rational when I do engineering; painting is what I do for fun.

Simplified Instructions for Making Andre Jute’s Unsewn, Unstapled Sliding Quarter Imperial 100% Cotton Embossed Leather Multimedia Sketchbook

Alitogata wrote:Though I didn’t get exactly how you made it I think that it is perfect! ( and now I’m jealous and I want one of the same).  :)

Here’s a simplified description:

There are four components required to construct this sliding book:

1. Signatures of your preferred paper. The signatures are not sewn, stapled or glued, just folded spreads tipped in. Their height controls all the other measurements. You may also want some thin paper for protection interleaves.


2. A signature holder. I used hollow plastic strips from a magazine holder; they look like an elongated 0. You can make your own from a strip of stiff cardboard or plastic with slits or holes to guide a string for each signature. The string goes right over the paper, with about 5mm space top and bottom, not through the paper. The signature holder also is loose: it “floats” on the inner cover. The signatures are not any way attached to each other. The operation of this book depends on their independence.

3. An inner cover cut to the full height of the space inside the strings, i.e. taller than your signatures. This is used for both vertical positioning control and as a slider mechanism to let the book lie flat. It is fed through under all the strings but on top of the string holder. It is not fixed to anything at all. It is helpful if this inner cover is smooth card or film, but flexible. I in fact use two cards, one for the front and one for the back, overlapping at the signature holder, not fixed to each other, for extra-smooth operation, but a single sheet of card will probably do you.


4. An outer cover, slightly larger than the inner cover. This must on the inside have either a fixed flap on each side inside which the inner cover can slide, or a vertical strip under which the inner cover can slide. This sliding space must be the same height as the total height inside the strings on the signature holder, closely matched to the inner cover. The flap is good also for lateral control, but I found it unnecessary if the materials for the book are chosen right. Vertical control is essential, so match the height of the slide closely to the height of the inner cover. Nothing at all in the book is firmly attached to the cover by glue, sewing or staples.

5. Optional for those who want a hard cover. Two separate stiffeners to slide between the outer and inner covers, one at the front and one at the back.


1. The inner cover is slid under the signature retainer strings on top of the string spacer, so hiding most of it.

2. The inner cover ends are slid into the flaps or strips on the outer cover. Position the signature retainer in the middle.

3. Insert each signature under a string so that the string lies in the fold. Arrange the signatures to lie half to the left and half to the right so that you can see the spine is position correctly.


4. Test the efficacy your choice of material textures and weights, and the punctilio of your construction. Close the book. Clasp it lightly by the spine, hold with opening end downwards and shake. Repeat for the ends. If the paper remains inside the book, and the edge is as even as you can expect with such thick deckled edge paper, you’re done. Your book will lie flat, hold it’s position by friction and weight of paper, close correctly, stay closed, and every spread will be indivually removable and used as an uninterupted spread by simply taking it out and putting it on top of its signature. Try it. Paint something.

5. Optional for those who want hard covers, two stiffeners to fit loosely (unglued, unsewn, unstapled, eh?) between the inner and outer covers at the front and the back. You should not stiffen the spine because the signature retainer needs to take on various attitudes to make this book work as intended. However, 300gsm paper even in a stack a few sheets thick is already pretty stiff, and when you have a block like my big book, stiffeners in the cover are superfluous.

Good luck.

There are three parts to this article:

Andre Jute’s Unsewn, Unstapled Sliding Quarter Imperial 100% Cotton Embossed Leather Multimedia Sketchbook

Simplified Instructions for Making Andre Jute’s Unsewn, Unstapled Sketchhbook (you are on this part)

Tinting your own Art Paper with — wait for it! — Tea

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter.

Copyright © 2015 Andre Jute

Andre Jute’s Unsewn, Unstapled Sliding Quarter Imperial 100% Cotton Embossed Leather Multimedia Sketchbook

Most bought sketchbooks are adequate only to the most undiscriminating sketchers. In almost all cases the paper just isn’t good enough, too thin or too weak to take much water or rubbing out or handling. In a few cases where the paper is good quality cotton, the book is so tightly sewn it won’t lie flat, or difficult to handle because it is ringbound on the short side (landscape format); always something unsatisfactory.

andre_jute_sketchbooksThe solution is to make your own. I have several sketchbooks I’ve made myself in a variety of leather covers, in various sizes up to A5, roughly 8×6. Those are all intended to go outside with me and the smaller ones are routinely popped in my pockets in case I see something I want to sketch.

andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_32sh_300gsm_all_cotton_800pxwBut for my desk I wanted something larger, say up to quarter imperial size, 15×11 inches. It would be useful if the same book handled 11×7.5in, octavo or one-eight imperial size, as I generally don’t have a lot of time and like finishing a sketch in one or at most two goes at it.

The large oxblood item is a custom-made Italian cover of embossed semi-soft leather, lined in silk for reasons that will soon become obvious. Open it measures 19in by 12.25in, edge to edge.

The next task after obtaining a suitable cover is to rip the 100% cotton paper and these are the tools I used: a blunted heavyweight stainless steel scalloped carving knife, bought at the charity shop for pennies, to give my sheets that vintage deckle edge; and a good quality bone folder, lying on the cover.andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_ripping_800pxw

Note that there’s no ruler. The paper is used as its own measure. You simply fold the sheet lengthways in half, flatten the edge with two runs of the bone folder in opposite directions, then rip it along the fold with the knife. You can get a larger deckle by hold the paper down with the blade of the knife, one hand on the blade and using the other hand to tear the paper against the scallops on the knife, but this risks ruining the sheet if you don’t do it right; 300gsm paper can be amazingly obstructive, especially if you’re tearing it against the grain. Then fold one long strip to 2mm short of half, and the other to 4mm short of half, and rip again.

andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_veritcal_fix_800pxwOnce the paper is ripped to near enough quarter sheets of 15x11in, they are folded to 11×7.5in, and signatures of 4 folds, eight pages are made up, the shorter spreads going to the inside in decreasing order, so that the edge of the book can be relatively even. You can staple or sew the signatures into a book; search for instructions on the net. My method is different. I like sketchbooks where all pages lie flat, and where any page in a signature can be pulled out and put in the middle to use as a spread. That requires some innovative thinking.

andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_construction_800pxwMy big sketchbook has no staples, no sewing, no glue, no pegs, no metal clasps, nothing. Instead all the signatures are hung on plastic strips from partwork covers (you could use twine strung on a piece of cardboard instead) and held together by the natural friction of cotton paper. It lies flat when open by the very slight slack in the plastic strips I used as retainers and by sliding against the silk lining of the casing. andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_11x15in_800pxwNote that, unlike in traditional bookbinding, there is no connection whatsoever between the signatures, nor between the signatures and the cover. The red card in the second photo above that appears to be a cover is instead a mechanism for fixing the book vertically by running through the plastic strips and the inside retainers of the leather cover at full height. There are separate front and rear cover cards and they overlap in the plastic strips but are not glued to each other, to the plastic strips, or to the cover. andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_32sh_300gsm_800pxwThe whole affair slides with a little stiction, and that with the good design is enough to hold it together. Furthermore, it opens perfectly flat, at any page or spread, though this assembly method makes working across pages irrelevant because every sheet can be removed and used as a spread by simply putting it on top of the signature to which it belongs.

andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_cold_press_800pxwThis particular version of  my Sliding Quarter Imperial Multimedia Sketchbook was built with one sheet each of Fabriano Artistico NOT  and Hot Press, and one sheet each of Saunders Waterford NOT and Hot Press, all of it 300gsm 100% cotton paper. I also had sheets of Arches NOT and HP standing by but the book was getting a bit thick already. Weight doesn’t matter too much in a tabletop sketchbook, but all the same it needs to be at least briefcase portable  for big adventures, and mustn’t be so heavy that you contemplate moving it without enthusiasm.

andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_cold_press2_800pxwIt contains 16 spreads (counting one side only) of quarter imperial sheet size, or 32 sheets (counting one side only) of 11×7.5in. 32 sheets/64pp of 300gsm cotton paper makes a book that with covers is an inch thick at the opening end and thicker at the spine. Between the thick paper, the stiff card for vertical control, and the silk-lined leather cover, it still weighs less than the two pounds which was my target.  That’s not excessive for such a large, thick, versatile book of novel construction.

andre_jute_s_sliding_quarter_imperial_all_cotton_multimedia_sketchbook_hot_press_paper_800pxwAll the paper will handle wet media like watercolours, pen and ink, etc, and the Hot Press papers will take considerable rubbing out and other handling in charcoal or pencil work. There are thin protective sheets at the back to be slipped between pages that shouldn’t rub, plus bond paper to soak up excess water should I decide to go wild with lavis.

There are three parts to this article:

Andre Jute’s Unsewn, Unstapled Sliding Quarter Imperial 100% Cotton Embossed Leather Multimedia Sketchbook (you are on this part)

Simplified Instructions for Making Andre Jute’s Unsewn, Unstapled Sketchhbook

Tinting your own Art Paper with — wait for it! — Tea

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter.

Copyright © 2015 Andre Jute


May you reach as safe a harbour as this one

Andre Jute: Sampan Harbor, South China Sea, oil on canvas, 2014, 16x12in
Andre Jute: Sampan Harbor, South China Sea, oil on canvas, 2014, 16x12in

Happy holidays, all!

“Stupid books and stupid rumors about sketching and painting!” — Marialena Sarris


Marialena Sarris: Grapes, watercolour, 35x50cm.
You can see more of Marialena’s art here

mlscr14-148x150Marialena Sarris is a Greek painter made very angry by the “stupidity” of Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Every day I see another victim of this stupid book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. This book is the ultimate art alibi. I made the mistake of reading it and became angry with what I read.

Edwards’ book tries to persuade people that they are not able to sketch because they don’t use the right side of their brain and dedicates loads of pages to providing the supposed scientific proof.

We don’t draw with the right side of our brains, we draw with our whole brain, and a well developed right brain hemisphere is the one that makes the difference between a very good painter and the average sketcher.

BUT anyone who can write can sketch. That is a rule. If schools spent the same amount of time, that they spend on teaching writing, to teach sketching, all people would be decent sketchers in the same way all schooled people know how to draw letters on their paper. Asian people literally draw letters on their paper with a brush, so that even the worst of Chinese pupils, knowing how to write Chinese letters, already know how to draw.

Practice and method is the answer.

But so many are misinformed by Drawing on the Right Side of Brain. It is not their fault but the misinformation becomes a handy alibi for not putting in the time and the practice.

Stupid books and stupid rumors about sketching and painting!

Copyright ©2014 text and images Marialena Sarris.


As I was writing to Alitogata about phi, the golden ratio, and the Parthenon, my eye caught a vignette sitting on a drying rack in the window, a painting I made a while ago. So here, just for you Alitogata, SATURDAY NIGHT SACRIFICE AT THE PARTHENON:

Andre Jute: Saturday Night Sacrifice at the Parthenon
Andre Jute: Saturday Night Sacrifice at the Parthenon

I have no idea whether at the relevent time there were orange groves, or cattle, or geese, on the hill below the Parthenon, but they must have kept the sacrifices somewhere. And oranges at the time would have been much smaller than the uniform size Euro-monsters (with zero taste <tm>) that we get today.

SATURDAY NIGHT SACRIFICE will be followed by the village bop.

Bookmark this blog for painting tips, tool and and material reviews, and, of course, paintings, books, controversial articles on any subject under the sun, and general amusement for the intelligent. If you’re a visual artist you may like to know that Andre is often to be found at the Sketching Forum.

Images and text copyright © Andre Jute 2014

A Plein Air Painting Expedition by Bicycle: a photo essay by Andre Jute

A Plein Air Painting Expedition by Bicycle
a photo essay by Andre Jute


This looks like something I could paint!


There’s even an appreciative audience. In the bicycle basket the complete kit of easel, black bag with paints and tools, and shooting stick to sit on.


Set up is quick. Once the easel is set up and the canvas clamped, the repurposed leather messenger bag is just hung open on the easel and the shooting stick opened to lean against or sit on. The paints in the bag are oil bars, which is pigments in wax. I don’t use a palette with oil bars, just holding the oil bars in my hand and digging out as much as I want with a silicon colour shaper, which saves on cleaning brushes. The entire process is solvent free, odorless, non-toxic.


The painting I made.

For more on Andre’s bicycles, see Bicycling.
For more on Andre’s painting see Painting

Text & images copyright © Andre Jute 2014

SuperWhooper Escapes the Isle of the Damned

The Bandon River, on which I live, is one of the places the Whooper Swans overwinter. I often ride out on either of the two roads that flank the field on which they sit. You can get very close on one road, where cars have accustomed them to noise and people, and on the other you can look down on them with binoculars. But you shouldn’t conclude from this painting’s name that it is a realistic rendition of a Whooper; it isn’t, it is an allegory, a Whooper crossed with Dante’s Inferno, and I’ve crossbred it with a snow goose from some vague notion that a snow goose wouldn’t like the heat of Sodom & Gomorrah. The mind of a literarily inclined artist is awfully confused— er, I mean subtle.

Andre Jute: SuperWhooper Escapes the Isle of the Damned, acrylic on canvas, 2014, 6x8in
Andre Jute: SuperWhooper Escapes the Isle of the Damned, acrylic on canvas, 2014, 6x8in

I enjoyed making the Isle in the background so much in acrylic with a colour shaper that I’m ordering an oil bar (a thick stick of pigment mixed into wax that one applies directly to the canvas) of burnt sienna to slash at a larger canvas. I’m not ordering a set of oil bars because I really like working with water soluble oils and have plenty of other media, including normal solvent-based oils; we’ll see how I like one oil bar, then perhaps I’ll buy a set.