During my quest to find the `perfect’ media for my artwork, I have experimented with different types to see what suits me best. I have tried canvas, wood and card. Trial and error have shown that some materials are not suitable for certain media. I found this out when it came to the paper I was using. When I was young, I used the standard printer paper, not acid free, no tooth or tolerance of wet media. The results: bending and warping when watercolour paint was applied.
After my parents had realized my sister and I were into art, they started to buy us sketchbooks. Our first sketchbooks were paper back and were the same quality of paper as the printer paper (these were your typical kids sketchbooks, not aimed at art students or Art Professionals). Eventually we invested in some good quality Sketchbooks, A4 hardback. These are worth every penny as they support a variety of media (pencil, paint and ink). The brand I use is Daler Rowney Ebony artist’s sketch book. Available at most art shops, hobbycraft etc. It has acid free paper, 50 sheets and 160 g/m2 .
Next was the actual art media itself. When little, it was Crayola colouring pencils or brandless outliners. This changed when I went into GCSE art. I started using Acrylics for assessments, charcoal and chalks/pastels for work and watercolour everywhere else. I was never fond of charcoals and the like as they always crumbled and smudged even if you sprayed a good load of hairspray on them. I will always remember going back to art peices done in charcoal in my book as it completely transferred onto the other page. Charcoal didn’t even stay on the art piece itself.
The watercolour they used was a cheap. It had a horrible pastelly texture and always created dull tones no matter what colour you used and it didn’t blend well. The acrylics were special though. Influenced by my step mum and mum’s work, Acrylic seemed like this magic art material. It had the feeling that just by using it, your work would instantly become detailed. I was naive in this though, as I soon realised by the end of the art exam that I was not good at using it. While I had consistently got B’s and an A-, the acrylic work I did for the final resulted in me getting a C. This was partly due to my skill of using the perceived magical paint and the head study I did not being interesting enough for the final exam.
Thankfully, this did not stop me from getting into Uxbridge College as a level 3 art and design student though. I had learnt my lesson from the final exam piece and have not relied on it so heavily since.
In the holidays of secondary school, my step mum and I had grown attached to a watercolour DVD tutorial named “Alwyn Crawshaw’s a brush with art, the complete watercolour course”. The three DVD course inspired us to pursue watercolour, we brought our own sets of half pan watercolour paints in a convenient carry case. It was a Windsor and Newton Cotman water colours (pocket plus 12 half pans). Watercolour was a lovely medium, beautiful colours and brush strokes, easy shadowing formula (given by the DVD) and the most interesting thing about watercolour was the special effects like spattering and salt effects. I completed three successful pieces using them (a colourful feathered t-rex from the Dinosaur Island film, a blue and gold macaw and the lorikeet picture shown in my origins post) and I brought a fairy watercolour book.
Soon though I began to realise why watercolour was called the “brave medium”, it was easy to make mistakes. All my work had a problem with it, whether it was small like bleeding or outline pens spreading into wet paint or large like the paper warping severely or ripping. Last summer holidays I stopped using them for free time, I packed away my Aqua brush and put my set and brushes in my college bag. I do want to get back to watercolour. I think I will try not to be detailed and let the bleeding colours and gradients make the picture.
At the moment I am trying new forms of media. For my birthday last year, I got a Derwent Studio 24 coloured pencil set. The art peices I create may be dark in comparison to Prismacolour pictures I have seen but they make up the majority of my coloured pencil pictures so far. They are able to be sharpened t0 a point, blend, layer many colours and can be erased easily. To supplement my colour pencil set, I am using Faber Castelle Polychromos. I have four individual pencils: Phthalo blue, Light cobalt turquoise, May green and Dark cadmium yellow. As I can add as much colour and detail as I want, they are my favourite art material so far. Unlike the watercolour, I can layer as much as I want without worrying about it ruining my paper.
For my final major project at college I am working in 3D. I have used aluminium wire and have done a third piece using my college’s new 3d pen. Both don’t feel as nice to me as colouring pencils but they are pretty interesting to use.