Review of the Canson Mixed Media Sketchbook XL Series

Our weekly housekeeper thought to clean my art nook last time and arranged my art books, paper pads and sketchbooks according to size (!!!) Naturally I went a little crazy when I started looking for this and that. I know that my stuff look more like a clutter. But honestly: I do know where my items are and I’m the only one who can make sense out of my elaborate system of organization that is – OKAY – clutter. Anyway, to make myself calm, I gathered some of my favorite sketchbooks last night and put them in plastic envelopes and pouches. I’ve yet to provide a nice home for my two Canson mixed media XL series sketchbooks that measure 9” x 12” and 7” x 10” respectively. And while they’re literally beside me as I write this and waiting to be put away, I thought I’d do a little review of these mixed media papers.

canson xl series

A bit of side story: I got my first Canson mixed media sketchbook sometime in June or July last year. A dear friend based in California learned that I had just renewed my passion for drawing and painting. We had a chat last summer (around March 2014) and he asked me what art supplies I might want or need. I said I just need papers for sketching and watercolor. So he shopped for a few items at Blick’s, got additional items for my cardmaking/scrapbooking projects, and shipped them. Unfortunately, the parcel was returned to him because there was some problem with our town’s postal system. Right! And then in June, his sister came here for a vacation and mailed the stuff to me from Bicol via LBC. I was so surprised ‘cause I didn’t expect anything to arrive at that time. It was a #YEHEY moment indeed! Now, my second Canson XL series pad (the smaller one) was purchased by my brother while he was vacationing in New York. It came with the Sakura Koi pan set, the Derwent Inktense pencils set, and a foldable watercolor palette. Yes, I am the spoiled one.

On to the review: I asked for mixed media papers at that time because I wasn’t sure yet which medium I’d want to settle with. I was doing pencil, watercolor, and acrylics mostly. I first tested the paper with a graphite pencil. Here’s a profile sketch of a fairy:

fairy profile sketch

No doubt, this paper is good for pencil works. It’s pretty much like a thick cartridge drawing paper. I’ve never tried using colored pencils on this paper and blending the colors with a stump. But I supposed they’d turn out well too.

After doing the preliminary sketch, I gave the fairy a light wash using Sakura Koi watercolors, Derwent Inktense pencils, and Tsukineko Memento markers:

fairy profile wash

Watercolor is okay as long as you’re going for light washes only. I don’t think this paper would be good for color mixing or WIW techniques. Another thing: the Inktense pencils didn’t seem to rub well on the surface and when I tried to activate and blend the colors with a wet brush, the pigment settled quickly on the paper! I was really disappointed. What I should probably do next time is to just pick up the color from the ink pencil using a brush and then lay down the pigment on paper.

Here’s another ink and watercolor sketch that I did on the Canson Mixed Media XL series. The paper buckled a bit but it straightened out later.

pear on canson xl mixed mediaMy recommendations: This paper is absolutely good for dry media so go ahead and play with your pencils, charcoal, colored pencils and pens. If you wish to do wet media like ink, watercolors and acrylics, I suggest that you do light washes/alla prima only or coat the pages first with gesso before laying down the paints.

Other good points: The sizes are superb! I’m actually happy with what I got. Check out the other sizes and dimensions available for portrait and landscape illustrations. I also like the perforated pages. I use these sketchbooks mainly for studies and practice. But there’s this happy thought of tearing off a page of study that turns out perfect for framing. :o)

And that’s all there is, there isn’t anymore. If you’d like to give the Canson XL series a try, you might want to purchase it through my Amazon aStore. Remember to read the product details and costumer reviews of the Canson Mixed Media XL Series before buying it.

Diptych Painting: Orange Tulips in Watercolor

There is this immense feeling of joy every time I finish a painting and actually see that painting in a frame. (For it’s not often that I get to have any of my artworks framed and displayed. And that’s fine: don’t feel sorry for me.) So when these watercolor paintings of orange tulips got their humble frames, I found myself smiling in delight and staring at them ‘til my eyes grew tired. Yes, I can be this neurotic and mababaw.

framed tulips

These paintings take after an exercise from a watercolor book. It’s meant to teach the learner wet-in-wet techniques using only three colors: cadmium lemon, permanent rose, and cobalt blue.  I’ve done a few WIW exercises before but this one pushed me to go beyond my limits, quell my fears, and unite my paints and tools. While working on these paintings, I also chose to do away with the black pen for lining. In the course of doing several watercolor exercises, I have learned to add depth by using just pencil and paints. I don’t know how to thoroughly explain it all at present. But I suppose there are watercolor enthusiasts out there who do the same and know what I mean. :o)

second half

It took me about a week to finish the two paintings. The diptych idea was mine. I wanted to do the exercise in its suggested size (something like 18×24, I think.) But I didn’t have watercolor paper in those dimensions so I thought to split the whole. And I loved it.

I used Sakura Koi watercolors on 140 lb Canson Montval. You can view my watercolor supplies HERE and read another blog post about this diptych project HERE.

Thanks for coming over. May the angels of creativity surround you all the time!

Beef Taco at Pancake House

Happy Easter! It’s been more than a week since I last posted. The early part of the school break has commenced so I’ve been on a sort of work hiatus and spending more time with hubby and the girls. I’m also still working on my small paintings and learning from art books and videos while I can. I’m overeager to write about the themes/subjects I’m working on, but I think I’ll have to save that for another post. :o)

Let me just share with you a picture of this taco which I had for lunch at Pancake House last Holy Wednesday:

taco at pancake house

Our family stopped by for lunch at the Harbour Square near the CCP complex. We love the place and make it a point to visit once a year. I now prefer that side of Manila Bay as the Roxas Boulevard area doesn’t look appealing anymore what with all the traffic and pollution going on there.  Besides, good restaurants can be found at Harbour Square and it’s relatively easy to traverse from bay side to the CCP where we can enjoy exhibits and performances.

Oh, and the taco…? I wish I could say that having it again after many years was a great experience. Unfortunately the magic’s lost. [#Sawi] I think I’d rather make my own taco at home! But the other dishes at Pancake House are still great like the pancakes, waffles, tapsilog, and pan chicken. It won’t be a waste to come back for another round.

On a Silent Art Retreat

This morning’s thunderstorm was a blessing: I’ve been dreading the onset of the dry season and hoping that April and May wouldn’t be as grueling as last year’s. While I have a week to spend in anticipation, I try to be as positive as an angel and remind myself often that *oh wow* I’m finally getting a break from waking up at 4 a.m. every weekday. What more, there’s a good chance that I can have more time for drawing and painting.

holy water angel 3Actually, I have been drawing and painting almost every day — on my art journals and on separate sheets of watercolor paper. My small project has been growing quite steadily as I try to work more consistently. I stay away from social media and blog hopping  if I can afford to and spend more time in my art nook instead. It’s a kind of “silent art retreat” that I have imposed on myself: a self-designed regimen that requires me to be still, be quiet and be productive. There won’t be any posting of WIPs or latest artworks for now. Maybe not until I’m done with everything that needs to be done. It’s obviously a huge challenge for me.

So far this withdrawal of sorts has been helping me keep up with my planned schedule. I find myself issuing a huge grin every time I cross off a task on my to-do list or count the number of items available for a certain theme/category. This art project isn’t much. It’s not going to be big, fancy or grand. It’s an important item in my bucket list that just needs to be carried out.

The small watercolor sketch that you see in this post is one that I made about 2 months ago. It’s one of those little angels that carry a basin of holy water in church. I painted on a 9×6 watercolor journal using Sakura Koi (+ a Cotman raw sienna in tube) and a medium Niji waterbrush.

This is all for now. I hope you’re having a creative day/night whatever kind of art you’re in to! :o)