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.
Text and images copyright © Andre Jute 2017.