Wednesday 20 July 2016

Peek Week {Crayons, Watercolour}

Leandra here again for another Peek Week Post

Crayons and watercolours seem to be pretty hot products at the moment, as they offer so much flexibility for the mixed-media artist. This year we have added a lot of new things to our website in this category, so I thought i'd run through the basics. I have tried to stock cheap, mid-range and high quality brands and options. Tonight we take a look at this category up close to explore colouring options surfaces to work on, brushes etc.

Water Soluble crayons - product options

So crayons are a bit odd. How IS a wax water reactive? Well, that is one for the chemists, but for all, but there must be pigment, and a binder. Some are creamier than others, and some are more easily dissolved in water.

1. Portfolio Oil pastels (Crayola) £9.95 pkt of 24,  0.50p each
Student grade product, pigmentation and blendabililty varies from colour to colour, yellow, orange, reds, pinks seem to perform wonderfully, blues/purples are less pigmented and harder to blend out, some colours are a bit naff, a very good starter set.

2. Neocolour (Caran D'Ache), £12.00 Tin of 10, £1.20ea
Very similar to the above, more expensive, pigmentation more consistent, nice range of colours, cute tin, overall slightly creamier.

3. Slick Stix (Crayola) £12.95 pkt of 12, £1.08ea
Super-Creamy, really pigmented, easy to blend. 2 metallics included. Nice colour range, easy to make any colour of the rainbow.

3. Distress Crayons (Ranger Industries), £10.95 pkt of 6, £1.82ea
Matches the distress palette of colours, creamy, well pigmented, a bit crumbly when applied, smallest pen/ stick size, probably 1/2 or 1/3 of the slick stick in actual product to use.

4. Gelatos (Faber Castell), £20.50 pkt of 15, £1.35 ea
Pigment varies colour to colour, lipstick style container, very little permanence once dry. Spray fixative required, or combine/ activate with Gum Arabic or glaze to help permanence.
{NB we are not selling these at present, as the price from kit to kit style varies and single colours not easy to source of newer shades, larger kits very expensive}

More Crayon Information:
(A) Pinterest: For more examples of crayons and ideas, go here to my Pinterest Page

(B) Videos: Videos listed below.

(C) PaperArtsy Blog: use the search bar at the top of the blog, type in Distress crayons, Slick Stix, Portfolio Oil pastels etc and posts using those products will pop up. Idea posts below.

MY TECHNIQUE TIPS with crayons:
  • Working on a sealed surface (snowflake chalk paint, PaperArtsy Matte glaze, Clear gesso, Distress crazing collage glaze) are all brilliant ways to give tooth to the surface, and allow your crayons to 'grab' on the surface more easily.
  • Working onto stencilled texture (remember Grunge Paste has awesome tooth) also gives an interesting surface for crayons to grab onto.
  • Blending can be with your finger, a baby wipe, but also with a brush or Cut n dry foam wet with mediums like matte glaze, Snowflake paint
  • Heat setting does not necessarily make a crayon permanent, but with Distress, Portfolios and Slick Stix, it seems to help a lot. Not with Gelatos though.
  • Applying direct through a stencil is easy, soften with a baby wipe or your finger.
  • Grating your crayon into texture pastes can be fun! You then can alter the colour of GP to anything you like
  • You can even dissolve the crayon in water and make sprays.
  • Try working on watercolour papers (unsealed) to achieve more traditional watercolour effects.
Kim Dellow Comparison

Sandy Allnock Comparison

Sandy Allnock Distress Crayons used as traditional watercolour

Neocolour Crayons

Blog Posts:
Chris Cresswell, making sprays from crayons

Lin Brown, Blending crayons with Snowflake paint...

Hazel Agnew, Using crayons to watercolour doodles on vintage papers...

Anneke using gelatos in all kinds of ways to create a notebook...

And if you go back to the Wax challenge bog post here, scroll down and I summarised a bunch of samples i made with various Portfolio techniques from about 5 years ago...

Surfaces to work on

1. Smoothy 
This is an incredible, super smooth Italian Card stock available in Regular (£2.90, Pkt 10) and Heavyweight (£3.40, Pkt 10). It is beautiful paper that accepts all media, from paints to inks. Images such as photographic stamps will show fine detail of the images beautifully. The card is an un-coated, matte, surface, so inks do not bleed into the 'grain' of the paper as it is so smooth, but not shiny. This paper is perfect for journalling, scrapbooking, and all your stamping or mixed media crafts.

2. Watercolour Papers
In the online shop we have numerous brands of Watercolour papers. My comments are based on information I have read or videos I have watched online.

Paper comes as Hot Pressed (smooth), Cold Pressed (more tooth/ texture) or Rough (even more textured Cold Pressed), which relates to the smoothness of the surface (may be important for those stampers out there) and affects how you want the colours to sit and grab on the paper, how fast you want them to dry, vividness of the colour, and layering. On the hot pressed you will get paints pooling and sitting on the surface more than on the cold pressed.

Watercolour papers can also come in different weights, and artists will wet and stretch the paper, tape it to their working surface. This prevents buckling when you work with it. If it buckles/ cockles, the paint will not lay down onto the paper properly.

As crafters, we generally don't bother with the stretching paper process, but maybe you should try and see if you notice a difference. make sure you stretch onto a sealed surface, and its important to wet both sides of the paper.

Obviously the quality of the watercolour paint products you work with also plays a big part on how they sit on the paper. High quality will wet out, blend, dry and layer colours better, low quality may separate the pigments and look more grainy. There are lots of videos about this online. If you are using cheap paints, then use cheap paper, Don't use cheap paints on expensive paper. Craft brands are less likely to represent value for money than artist brands, you can get reasonable quality artist grade papers for less than some of the craft brand papers.

Arches- One of the top end brands. You might find it easier to work on the more expensive stuff, due to the way it absorbs the liquid, and allows colour to blend nicely.

Canson XL - Good quality product at a reasonable price.

Prima - cream in colour, better than Ranger, but still a cheap option. Type not differnetiated on packaging.

Ranger - Fairly low quality, very white paper, but the paint seems to struggle to sink into the paper, not clear which type of paper it is, seems to take time to wet.

3. Vintage Papers
As some old book papers are quite absorbent and sucky, you can get surprising results on this type of paper.

4. Sealed Surfaces
By adding tooth to a surface by sealing with a matte glaze, chalk paint, gesso (white or clear) you will create a surface for the watercolour to pool on. 

This can be fun to get 'tide mark' effects, but I am sure watercolour artists would be horrified at us experimental crafters using them on sealed surfaces! 

Personally, I have never understood why you would buy good quality watercolor paper and then seal it with gesso. I think it makes more sense to use a cheaper heavy paper, eg cartridge paper. If you are working onto of gesso, then logically what does it matter what paper is underneath, and certainly I wouldn't be wasting my Arches by putting gesso anywhere near it, perfect with the Ranger or Prima stuff though.

Watercolour Paints

Watercolour paints either come in tubes or pans, both options can be in various sizes. You can make your own palettes using tubes into an empty palette. The advantage of this is you can use the colours you prefer rather than standard primaries. (see picture below where I used tubes to create colour wheels onto cold pressed paper)

Tubes are creamier, more pigmented and wet out more easily. Pans are good to be spritzed with water a few minutes ahead of working with them to soften before you start using them

We have a few travel size pans for sale, which are compact and good if you scrap on the go, or take stuff with you places.

Kuretake Gansai, 36pan £49.50 - High quality for a full pan, nice range of colours, wets out nicely.

Koi - 18 pan £25.50 or 24 pan £29.95, reliable, blends well, nice range of colours, travel box with useful palette.

Prima - Confections (3 colour options) £22.50 Considered to be quite opaque for a watercolour, but cute tins, and you can stack way more extra pans in the tin if you re-arrange how they sit onto a magnetised backing.
We also have a range of masking fluids and paint mixing palettes online too.

Watercolour Brushes: 

We have a range of watercolour brushes, the set of 3 pentel is useful, and its a great pen. 

As far as real sable or squirrel brushes go, you probably need to visit an art store to see the size, feel the brush, and decide what you need. Sizes from brand to brand are not consistent, and price varies too depending on the quality you wish to purchase. 

A basic set you would need a large mop, a small, medium and large point, a flat wash, and maybe a rigger.

I hope that helps as a starting or reference point if watercolour or crayons are new to you. Remember, pinterest and YouTube are a great source of information!

People to watch online if you are getting started as a crafter.

See you Friday! We are off out tonight for Courtney's graduation meal, postponed from last night as it was too hot! And we were too tired after being oop North for the ceremony!



Helen said...

I wrote a lovely comment on my phone and then swiped the wrong way and lost it.....
what a wonderful, in depth post with lots to learn.
Have a fabulous evening and well done again, Courtney!

Miriam said...

What a great post - I'm looking forward to watching the vids.

Hope you have a great evening..... congrats again Courtney

Craftyfield said...

Fantastic detailed post to make an informed decision as to what crayon to buy... My 2 pennies' worth on the watercolour subject.
When painting on a large surface (30x40cms or more) for me the rougher the better... However for stamping, only Hot press will give a reliable impression. Paper quality is often linked to the cotton content of the paper (cheaper paper are made with wood pulp, like standard paper). Wood pulp raises the acid free question, which for cards I tend to ignore (they're only going to be binned!)
You mention the Prima paper is not very absorbent, which can be a plus for beginners, and this could be due to a heavy "sizing" of that paper, sizing is the gelatin coating which allows the watercolour to stay on top of the paper.
Watercolour tubes are great for large paintings but otherwise a box with pans or half pans is easier to carry/store and use.

Inky and Quirky Designs said...

Brilliant, really helpful. I love Strathmore Mixed media paper for watercolouring too. Windsor and Newton do good value student quality watercolours that I find really good.
Donna xx

craftimamma said...

Thanks Leandra, I'm catching up again tonight so working backwards. This was a fab post to start with and very helpful. I'm looking forward to watching the videos on another evening too as it's too hot tonight and the laptop is making it hotter, lol!

Congratulations to Courtney once again and have a fabulous evening together.

Lesley Xx

Mac Mable said...

Fabulous informative information. Thank you so much for all the hard work in putting this together...I've pinned it for future reference, thanks again x

PaperArtsy said...

Awesome! Great info. Thanks for adding !!

PaperArtsy said...

Yes strathmore is popular and the cotman travel watercolour sets by Windsor & Newton are also rated! Thanks for the reminder.

pearshapedcrafting said...

I really found this useful - there are so many products around! Can't watch the videos till I get back from our caravan although have seen one of them! Thanks for putting this together! Chrisx

Artmadnana said...

What a great post. So informative. I love Strathmore for art journaling but I adore Arches when I can afford it!! I love the hot press heavy and tend to buy it in large sheets and cut it down. Bockingford is another good buy, reasonably priced. Again I like their hot press heavy - at least 340lb. You can really tell the difference when you use high and lower quality watercolour paper. I use both!

Cocofolies said...

Taking the time for a bit of catching-up on your blog Leandra and Mark... Thank you so much for this fabulous informative post Leandra, so detailed and useful. You put certainly a hard work writing this. Pinning it for future reference, thanks you so much again!!! xx