Making my Halloween card with the Valentine’s Day card

I ordered packs of cards for intaglio and block printing but the blocks aren’t ready, and the editions are intended to be nine prints only per concept while the packs of cards and matching envelopes are plentiful and commonly in stock with my arts materials pushers. So I repurposed one of the cards for Valentine’s Day and, while I had brushes and gouache and other tools out, made a Halloween card as well. That’s economy of scale!

Notice that the tree stump in the illustration in the Halloween card, above, reaches above the fold, just for a bit of added movement and tension in the design. Also, it isn’t made quite clear whether the bats are in front of a moon over a green sea or a horrendous sky, or just a pumpkin on a lawn. I like that sort of ambiguity in my sketches.

In the Valentine’s Day card, the two red roses stand in for those I rose too late in the day to buy.


Technical Notes for Artists

I used Winsor & Newton’s Designer’s Gouache, of which I have a selection of only the most lightfast single-pigment colors. It’s a mistake for an artist to buy either of the W&N gouache pre-packs, even if they’re labeled “Artist’s” because they aren’t selected for artists but for designers. You have to throw out too many tubes of paint for being inadequately lightfast or for being mixed pigments or for bleeding or whatever. But the range is so large that you can start from scratch and build up a wide-ranging palette. As you can see on the cards and the porcelain palette at the right of the photo, with the W&N Gouache you can achieve any mix of attributes and colors you want, same as in watercolor, but with the added attraction of flat, solidly opaque colors when the fancy takes you. The five tubes of paint I used between the two cards are at the top of the clipboard and the rest of my palette of about twenty colors are in their storage tin at the left of the photo.

For the outline on the Valentine’s card I used a Platinum Carbon Ink Desk Pen with its standard Platinum Carbon Ink for Fountain Pens. (I also use this ink in my Kuretake K13 Fude or fountain pen brushes.) It’s the first tool, nearest to you, on the clipboard. As you can see, it is not exactly a pretty pen: you’re supposed to discard the clumsy nib cover and keep the pen in a stand on your desk. However, this pen is famous among sketchers for its very fine steel nib with some width variation (very nearly as good as my Platinum 3776 Century Fine Soft, a much prettier but also much more expensive fountain pen) and it’s ability to use pigmented ink without wrecking itself, all for a tenner or so. Some sketchers saw off the elongated tail end of this pen to make it pocketable, but when I take it into the field it travels with other pens in one of my repurposed leather cigar cases, just seen disappearing into darkness at the top left of the photo, so I leave my Desk Pen at its normal, well-balanced length. A highly recommended pen.

The five brushes include several favorites. At the top of the row of brushes is an inexpensive Royal synthetic comb, without which no landscape artist should be. Next to it is a 5/8in Kolinsky Sable Oval from Handover that I use as a wash and edge brush when good control is required. The half-inch sable and synthetic Rosemary & Co Sword that’s next is super as a liner and figure brush. The angle brush below it, also from Rosemary, is a 3/8in Series 78 Sable; this is an important brush if you want close control when following curves. The final brush, first above the pen, is a W&N Professional Watercolor Sable Pointed Round size 6, a long-point brush more commonly called “designer’s” which for a spread of jobs I find more convenient and versatile than the fat-bellied style of round sable brush; note that these brushes are substantially longer than the same size in round brushes so that the size 6 shown is bigger than a size 8 in most maker’s round series.

The surface for the Halloween image is generic card and envelope set sold to crafters, a good thick quality but smooth and shiny. I know nothing about its cotton content (likely zero) or achivability; the truth is that I was in a hurry to put in an order and added these cards to make the total at which I got free carriage.  For the Valentine’s Day image the surface is Fabriano’s Medioevalis card and envelope, cotton, acid-free, deckle-edged on four side, beautifully textured, handmade in Italy, very high quality paper, in some ways, especially the pronounced creamy color, more attractive than the renowned watercolor paper Fabriano makes in the same place.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who lives in West Cork. Click the links to see more of his work. Or use the Categories tab in the sidebar.

Text and images copyright © Andre Jute 2017.

Merry Christmas!

With technical notes for painters: The Christmassy image is of Dee-Dee Jonrowe racing down the Yukon in the Alaskan Iditarod race. The “green” and the “black” is the same paint, Perylene Green PBk 31, self-shading by glazing layers. The only other colour is Pyrrole Red PR254, universally available as Winsor Red. These two mix well for a deeper black, or if you want a black hole, mix Perylene “Green” with Dioxazine Violet PV23. All three are from Winsor & Newton’s Professional Watercolor range. The trees were made with a Royal Softgrip synthetic filbert comb which I bought locally for €3 and the dogs, sled and musher were painted with a size 12 Kolinsky sable simply because I had it in my hand already. The paper was handmade and bound into a sketchbook in India, imported by a sister-company to The Diary Shop, is 100% cotton and came in a beautifully embossed leather cover I bought on Ebay.

If you want one search British Ebay for the Star Pilgrim refillable diary at The Diary Shop. I bought green and brown A5 covers which are handy for working at either a desk or en plein air, and the refillable sketchbooks from the same source give me choice of smooth or textured paper. The design carries from edge to edge across the spine, so I show the front of the green one and the back of the brown one. The covers are big enough to hold 9x6in sketchbooks like Fabriano’s Venezia, but I like two of the three kinds of paper in The Diary Shop’s A5 refill sketchbooks, the cartridge, which appears to contain cotton too and is sized and advertised to handle wet media (it does, very well), and the hard-sized cotton which is also fabulously versatile — but you have to ask for this one especially, or you get the standard cotton paper, which I’m sure, by analogy with the two I have, fulfills its brief admirably, but without wet media resistance because (at a guess) The Diary Shop’s owner sketches in his, whereas the dry-est media I carry is a fountain pen with a water brush handy for shading.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who lives in West Cork. Click the links to see more of his work. Or use the Categories tab in the sidebar.

Text and images copyright © Andre Jute 2017. Readers and artists may use the e-version of my Christmas card on the net including social media, to wish family and friends seasonal greetings, as long as they give me a credit in the form Art by Andre Jute No printing and no commercial use without a license in place.

Weird Goings-On with Winsor & Newton Color

You know for a fact that Winsor Green is PG7 or PG36, depending on whether it is, respectively, blue shade or yellow shade, right?

Not anymore, it ain’t. A new 14ml tube of Winsor Green Blue Shade arrives here without any fanfare. It is numbered 719 as Winsor & Newton has always numbered it. But it isn’t the same paint at all. In fact, the pigment inside the tube isn’t even green but officially yellow. (It looks green to me.) There is no, repeat no, PG7 or PG36 anywhere near this #719 Winsor Green Blue Shade, nor any other “Green” pigment.

As far as I can tell, nobody announced the change. It just happened one fine morning, for reasons unknown. Months later Jackson’s in London, the suppliers of my tube (hereinafter “the evidence”), haven’t changed their netsite, which still gives the superseded information that Winsor Green Blue Shade is made with PG7.

Winsor Green Blue Shade, still numbered #719, is now made with PY184, which stands for Pigment Yellow 184.

I suppose, after that shocker, it isn’t overly surprising to discover that a century-and-some old English colorman with a Royal connection (Good Queen Vicky’s fave brushmaker’s Series Seven is still named after the brushes she commanded Winsor & Newton to make) cannot even spell “lightfastness”.

Or perhaps that is the signal that this tube of paint is, as President Trump would say, “Fake!”

You heard it first on Kissing the Blarney.

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

PS: The mystery has been solved. I’ve now heard from Debbie Bryan of Winsor & Newton UK, who assures me that:

“It is an error on the label artwork. It should of course be PG7. We are addressing this issue, but, please be sure that this is not a counterfeit tube, but, a mistake on the label.”

Case closed.

Andre Jute: Early morning mist over the Bay of Quinte, watercolour and gouache

A year or three ago John Saxon, a chum from the Thorn cycling forum, published a photo of the backyard of his friends from just over the mountain where I was born, the mountain separating the two towns strikingly prominent in his photo. I promised to paint the scene but, when eventually I finished the painting, it was wretched, not fit for consumption by man or beast. If you think I’m joking, even my cat sneered at it. I’ve earned my living in the arts for too long to be sensitive to the vagaries of critics and, having been a critic myself, am only too familiar with the constant struggle to keep criticism pure from contamination by external considerations. But my cat keeps my knees warm in the winter, which no critic has yet offered to do, so I pay close attention to her opinion. Between my cat and I we buried that painting.

All the same, not wanting to offer John an explanation that starts, “My cat and I…” in the tones of Her Majesty’s Yule tidings from herself and her Corgis, I was glad when he published another inspiring photograph, albeit from another hemisphere and a different continent.

John’s first photo and my discarded painting are of the Karroo at Prince Albert in South Africa, the Karroo being a semi-desert area though John’s friends live in a charming green spot on a river. John’s second photograph is of the Bay of Quinte in Ontario, Canada, an entirely different milieu. Not that either painting is representational, because I can’t be bothered with those when a superior camera fits in your shirt pocket and adds only a few grammes to your cycling paraphernalia.

As you can see, it’s the inspiration that counts, with the two images serendipitously influencing the final outcome.

Andre Jute: Early morning mist over Bay of Quinte, watercolour and gouache on grey Ingres paper, A4, 2017
Andre Jute: Early morning mist over Bay of Quinte, watercolour and gouache on grey Ingres paper, A4, 2017

For the painters and sketchers reading this, a few technical notes:

The paper is Fabriano’s Tiziano, which has a substantial cotton content but is all the same intended for pastel work. I don’t work in pastels often but I like this 160gsm paper for binding sketchbooks because you get in quite a few pages without making the book too clumsily thick and heavy, and it lends itself to watercolor work by flattening well after moderate buckling. Water media in some form or another accounts for possibly three-quarters of what I do in my custom sketchbooks so paper which buckles permanently under water is papyrus non grata.

Though I generally don’t do a pencil sketch before I start work with the brush, in this instance the division of the area into large blocks was so critical to the outcome that I made a rough pencil division. The 5.6mm clutch pencil I used belongs to a small pen and pencil kit carried with A6 (say 6x4in) sketchbooks; it is a Koh-i-Noor 5311, a recreation of a vintage clutch pencil. It’s a favorite of mine though my brush cases each includes a perfectly good 2mm clutch pencil.

The palette chosen consisted of the watercolors Cerulean Blue PB35, Ultramarine Finest PB29, Perylene Green PBk31, Dioxazine Violet PV23, the latter two for the mixes to a greenish near-black since I don’t normally have a “real” black in most of my go-to paint boxes, plus the gouache Permanent White PW6, all from Winsor & Newton except the Ultramarine which is from Schmincke. You can see the sort of palette that I choose from in the photo of the box of paints after I’d already taken out the gouache white, as that one was obvious.

Here the gouache white lies on the brush case for this size of watercolor with the first obvious brush already taken out of the elastic. Generally speaking, I usually manage to complete any A4/Imperial Octavo (11×7.5in) painting or smaller with one to infrequently as many as five brushes selected only from this case.

The brushes selected consisted of a cheap supermarket synthetic for mixing paints and scrubbing on the surface if required (not required, in this instance done by local blotting with a folded sheet of kitchen roll, included on far right of photo, and overpainting by gouache, but you never know when you need a scrubber), a 5/8″ Handover Kolinsky Sable Oval Wash brush with a keen edge with which I did the main work, including some dry brushing that may appear to have been done by the specialty brushes mentioned next, a Red Sable Fan branded by Jackson’s, my London art materials pushers, and for painting the grasses and leaves a Taklon Filbert Comb from Royal’s Soft Grip line, from which line of several series I have quite a few brushes in various sizes and shapes.

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

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.

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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 ( 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!