Posts tagged collaboration
More Art Supply Love -- Kuretake Watercolors and Some Pens

A few weeks ago I wrote about how much I was enjoying playing with acrylic craft paint and mentioned there were other art supplies I wanted to share. I find it so hard to resist the pull of new art supplies. It’s probably a good thing that there isn’t an art supply store nearby! The internet does make it easy to order whatever I’m looking for (and then some), but I try to restrain myself. I don’t want to be an art supply hoarder, I want to actually use what I have. (Ahem… time to go play with some supplies that have been sitting untouched in my studio).

New supplies can be energizing. The desire to try them out can be an inspiration in and of itself.

When I wrote about acrylic craft paint I said I hadn’t considered using it because it was inexpensive. Calling something “cheap” isn’t usually a compliment. And somewhere along the line I guess I became a bit of an art supply snob.

I felt the same way about the Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors I’d seen around the internet. Were they too cheap to be good?

I gave in to the lure of all those beautiful and colors bought a set of of 36 on Amazon for less than $30.*

Kuretake Watercolors Are Inexpensive and Come in Sets with Many Beautiful Colors

And then, after I swatching, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them!

Swatching the Kuretake Watercolors in My Sketchbook is a  Good Way to Get to Know the Paints

I was nervous about using them in a “real” painting, so I used them to play.

Playing Around with Kuretake Watercolors in My Sketchbook

The colors are rich and deep. The only downside I see is that when it’s very saturated the paint tends to sit on top the paper and looks a little shiny.

Loose, Messy Iris Flowers Painted with Kuretake Watercolors in My Sketchbook

I guess it’s just a matter of getting used to them. They seem softer than my other paints, making it easy to pick up a lot of paint with my brush.

I used them in my recent collaboration with Dana Barbieri (I’ve shared some pages from this second batch of sketchbooks, but not all of it like we did with the first project).

Vegetables on My Page (on the Right) of My Second Collaborative Sketchbook with Dana Barbieri (her fruits are on the left)

For some reason this spread makes me so happy! I painted vegetables in answer to Dana’s fruit and it was such a playful exercise.

Collaborating with Dana (both times!) was so inspiring for me. I love the way artists inspire each other, whether in collaborations or not**. Inspiration from another artist can be as simple as following their excitement with a certain medium or even a subject. The other day when I saw Dana painting rainbows I was inspired to paint some of my own.

Watercolor Rainbows in My Sketchbook were a Joy to Paint

Oh and by the way, if you haven’t hopped over to Dana’s new website, go take a look. On her blog she’s having a giveaway for a sweet butterfly painting.

But back to the paint… I’ve enjoyed using them so far but I still haven’t used them in a real painting (I’m having too much fun playing!).

If you’re looking for an inexpensive set of watercolors with LOTS of colors, the Kuretake sets would be a great choice.

Using Kuretake Watercolors in My Sketchbook

One of the cheapest ways to indulge in new art supplies is with pens.

Some of My New Favorite Pens

I love drawing with pens, but I’ve also been enjoying playing with Krylon Leafing Pens.

Gold Krylon Leafing Pen in My Sketchbook

I’ve tried metallic pens in the past and none have been as shiny and metallic as these.

Krylon Silver Leafing Pen on Black Paint in My Sketchbook

It’s hard to quite capture the shininess in photos, but you can see it a bit better at an angle.

Silver Krylon Leafing Pen in My Sketchbook

I probably need more practice to get a smoother application with less visible lines, or maybe that just adds to their charm. I guess when you’re using gold leaf it isn’t completely smooth, either.

I have the Silver and the 18 KT Gold, but there’s also Copper. They do smell a bit and I wouldn’t recommend using them if you already have a headache, but other than that they’ve great.

Black pens are one of my favorite art supplies. I use them in my sketchbooks a lot. I usually use Micron Pens and have a bunch in different sizes. At some point last year I started using Tombow Calligraphy Pens and I really enjoyed the versatility.

A Spread from the Second Sketchbook Collaboration Between Dana Barbieri and Anne Butera

I drew my beetles (the painted bugs are Dana’s) with them and was able to achieve a variety of line sizes without changing pens.

I used them for my page of chickens, too.

Playing With Pens in My Sketchbook Tombow Calligraphy Pens on the Left and Pentel Brush Pen on the Right

For even more versatility and a bit of an uncontrolled, even messy, look I absolutely love the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. It’s refillable, though I haven’t had to use my refill ink yet. It works well on top of paint, even acrylic.

Sketching with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on top of Acrylic Paint

When I’m sketching with pens I’m usually fairly precise and careful. This brush pen lets me be looser. A fun change of pace.

Tulips Sketched with the Pentel Brush Pen in My Sketchbook

I don’t use a lot of text in my art, mainly because I’m not very confident with it, but this brush pen makes it fun. And it doesn’t matter if it’s messy. Actually, the messier the better.

I hope you’re inspired to try some new things, or maybe pick up some supplies you’ve haven’t used much. One of the joys of a sketchbook is that it can be whatever you want it to be, but mostly, I hope it will be fun.

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Artist Pep Talk in My Sketchbook

Tell me, what new things have you tried lately and loved? It doesn’t have to be art-related. I enjoy hearing about inspiration in whatever form it may take.




*What is expensive and what is cheap is relative, I guess. I saw one review on Amazon say that the Kuretake watercolors are pricey. As a comparison, my set of Sennelier half-pans which has 14 colors costs more than twice that (even with a nearly 50% discount at Dick Blick).

**If you’re looking for inspiration like that, an online challenge could be fun to try, too. I see them all over the place on Instagram.

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Trying (and loving) New Things: Acrylic Craft Paint

Recently I’ve had to edit the wording of my bio for a few different things. In one version I say “She works primarily in watercolor but also loves challenging herself to try new things.” It’s true.

Trying new things is fun and exciting. Part of the fun is getting to play with new supplies. Whenever I hear another artist mention a certain brand of paint or sketchbook or other tool, I can’t help but start fantasizing about trying it myself. Even if it isn’t something I would otherwise have considered.

Maybe I’m just very suggestible. Or maybe it stems, in part, from early in my art journey when I believed other artists had the secrets to making good art. The right supplies were one of them.

Over the years I’ve learned the true secret: make a lot of art.

But knowing it doesn’t stop me wanting to try new supplies and tools (doesn’t trying new things ensure I make more art?).

Last fall I purchased a set of acrylic craft paint and have been using it in my sketchbooks. You might remember me sharing some of these spreads from my collaborative sketchbook with Dana Barbieri:

a spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) second collaborative sketchbook

a spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) second collaborative sketchbook

Dana used gouache on the left side of the book to paint her swan. I painted mine with cheap craft paint.

Craft Smart Paint is Available from Michaels

It’s Craft Smart brand from Michaels. The set I bought comes with 24 beautiful colors. Just seeing the bottles in my studio in their thrifted colander makes me happy.

Thrifted containers store my paints and other supplies in my studio

The colors mix beautifully and I’ve had fun experimenting with them.

I would never have considered using craft paint in my art practice, but when I saw it mentioned in Katie Daisy’s list of favorite supplies (she prefers the Martha Stewart brand) I began thinking about it. Then I took a class with Pam Garrison on Creativebug and in it she recommended the Craft Smart brand. Of course I couldn’t resist after that!

Here’s a spread in my sketchbook inspired by Pam’s class:

Sketchbook pages with craft acrylic paint inspired by Pam Garrison's Creativebug class

One beauty of these paints is their versatility. They work a bit like gouache and using more water with the paint gives delicate watercolor effects.

another spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) collaborative sketchbook

another spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) collaborative sketchbook

If I hadn’t painted those swatches, I wouldn’t have been able to guess that they were created with acrylic craft paint.

Use less water and it is very opaque.

another spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) collaborative sketchbook

another spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) collaborative sketchbook

Layering and blending work equally well. I’ve even used them mixed with gouache. The deep pink of my flamingo was painted with gouache, but the rest of my page used craft paint. I can’t see much difference in how the paints look on the page. Can you?

another spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) collaborative sketchbook

another spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) collaborative sketchbook

These paints are beautifully matte. They don’t feel plastic-y or heavy on the page, either.

another spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) collaborative sketchbook

another spread from Anne Butera’s (right) and Dana Barbieri’s (left) collaborative sketchbook

Although I usually recommend you use the highest quality materials you can afford, I actually think in this case the cheaper paint would be a better option for someone who’s just starting out.

a page of birds in Anne Butera’s sketchbook painted with acrylic craft paint

a page of birds in Anne Butera’s sketchbook painted with acrylic craft paint

It’s easy to work with and gives beautiful results. The price is nice, too. Spending $14 for a set of 24 paints in 2 oz bottles means experimenting and playing and making art isn’t quite as scary as it would be with a set of 12 1/2 oz tubes of gouache that cost $40 (or more).

When I was a beginner I worried about “wasting” supplies and I’ve heard from many people over the years that one of the big things stopping them from working in their sketchbooks is a fear of “ruining” them. Paint is meant to be used (In fact, sitting in its tubes or bottles for years can ruin it).

The only way to learn how to make art is by making art. Experimenting. Playing. “Wasting” paint

monarch sketches in pencil and acrylic craft paint, decorated with gold leafing pen

monarch sketches in pencil and acrylic craft paint, decorated with gold leafing pen

and markers and pens* and pencils… Trying new things opens up your creativity. (And gives you a good excuse to shop for some new supplies!).

I even used acrylic craft paint for this canvas I painted for the  KVR Art Fundraiser **

I even used acrylic craft paint for this canvas I painted for the KVR Art Fundraiser**

What “new” thing have you tried lately?


*the gold leafing pen above is one of a few new pens I’ve tried and loved recently. In future posts I’ll share my thoughts on them and other art supplies

**The Kickapoo Valley Reserve hosts a community art event each year. The canvases, created by area artists “of all ages and talents”, are auctioned off to support their programs. This is the first year I’m participating. The theme is Nature in Flight.