Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trying stuff

I recently picked up a tube of Derivan Liquid Pencil. The website shows pictures of it in little jars, but mine looks like this.

As far as I can tell it's graphite in some sort of medium and was conceived as a substitute for powdered graphite. It comes in a few different colours, each of which is available in a permanent and rewettable variety. I got the permanent kind but I have since learned that the rewettable variety is not only rewettable but erasable too! It has a consistency close to oil paint and can be extended with water.

I don't generally write reviews of art supplies, but when I got this thing home and did a little research I was very discouraged by what I found. Despite having been available since 2007 (who knew!) there were very few user reviews or demos of the product outside of the company website. Most of the samples and techniques on the Derivan site seemed to emulate realistic pencil renderings of various degrees of complexity. Nobody seemed to be talking about the weird things this stuff can do, or using it in an exciting way. So without further preamble here is a short list of things you might not know or expect about Derivan Liquid Pencil: Grey 9 Permanent.

1) It is friendly to watercolour. After a certain amount of dry-time (more on this later) you can paint right over Liquid Pencil. I was also able to tint the product by wetting my brush in some watercolour before wetting and extending the Liquid Pencil, which gave an effect I would imagine is similar to the available coloured varieties. In fact, the product itself can be used much the same as watercolour: You can put down a stroke of Liquid Pencil and then come back in with a wet brush to drag, lighten or disperse the colour. It can also be used wet-on-wet for ink-like effects.

2) The permanent variety is rewettable. Sort of. Unlike ink, Liquid Pencil has some body and doesn't dry straight away. Before it dries completely the product can be worked with a wet brush and clear water (see above) to lighten areas. Doing this pushes the pigment around and areas of greater density begin to build up. Working this way has a vaguely sculptural aspect, not unlike using an eraser with powdered graphite.

3) The coolest thing about it has nothing to do with a pencil. Whatever binding agent or medium the graphite is in is incredibly slippery, making the product very mobile. Because it won't dry on contact, Liquid pencil can be pushed around on itself and the resulting brush strokes and textures can be pretty interesting. Once dry, it doesn't make the paper's surface slick like waxy or oil-based materials, or even like a regular pencil. As such it can be layered and would no doubt be a great tool for underpaintings.

Do you use Derivan Liquid Pencil? Do you know someone who is using it in a cool way? Let me know! For more reviews of this and that check out my other blog, Various and Sundry.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lynda Barry

I went to the Lynda Barry talk. There were a lot of people getting books signed and she spent a really long time with everyone individually and giving them each a chunk of drawing-wisdom. She is one nice lady and she had a lot of nice things to say when I told her I am also a lady-cartoonist. She even drew a picture for me in my sketchbook! Am I a lucky duck or what? I'm hoping my sketchbook has become enchanted by her Lynda Barry essence, and maybe my drawings will be half as lively and joyful as hers.

I don't exactly take notes, but I doodled and jotted down a few things.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Little painting

Dee, of allergen house fame, wrote a really super story about maps! I was so jazzed about it I made this little painting to go with the story. You can read the brief but lovely story about maps here. You can click his name to see some pictures he took.

I haven't been doing very many ink washes or watercolours for the past little while so it is kind of a pleasure to do. I also did my thumbnails in brushpen for the first time. Look how keen they turned out!

In other news, my blog looks like hell. Blogger has changed the image insertion thing and now when I align my images left all my text wants to line up beside them, like a magazine layout. I really dislike that, but fighting it means a whole bunch of soft returns and checking back and forth in the preview. SO, internet savvy readership, what should I do here? Is there a better template for me in the sea of hideous free templates? Should I finally switch to wordpress? Should I brush up on my CSS and try to sort this out myself? I am eagerly awaiting your advice!