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After a couple of slow weeks in the studio, this week has begun promisingly. Creativity always has its ebbs and flows, but I do prefer the flow periods more!

I have been trying out two new sketchbooks. One is a small watercolour sketchbook that I got as a gift from an art store in Shanghai, and the other is a sketchbook I bought last week here in New Zealand.

This is the sketchbook I bought last week. It is just an average sketchbook with thin paper meant for writing and pencil sketches. It felt really nice to the touch and that is why I decided to try it out. I knew it was suitable for use with pencil, but I also wanted to try it with coloured pencil and watercolour. The coloured pencil did not work that well with many layers, it is too thin for that. But it will work well with just one thin layer of coloured pencil for light shadowing. Then I tried to paint with watercolours, and with very little water it worked better than I hoped. It will of course not take a lot of water or any washes, but I have other art journals for that purpose. All in all, I am happy with it. It does exactly what I bought it for, and that is to be a sketchbook for bird studies in pencil.

The other sketchbook or watercolour sketchbook is in landscape format. It is a little difficult to guess what kind of paper it is. I am guessing that it is some kind of hot-pressed paper, made out of cellulose pulp. It came without a name and without any information. So I decided to try out many different media to see what will work best. First I tried some acrylic inks and hard pastels. The ink worked quite well, but the pastels did not adhere well to the paper.

Then I tried watercolours. It did not work very well with wet washes or to paint wet into wet, so I have to paint with quite a dry brush if I want to use watercolour. Then I tried coloured pencils and oil pastels, and they both worked well enough.

As coloured pencils worked quite well, I thought that watercolour pencils could work. But not really.

Acrylic inks. These worked really well on this paper.

Then I wanted to try it out with oil colours. I covered the paper in gesso, painted the background in watercolour and then painted the bird in oil. This was very enjoyable. Now when I see it on the screen like this I see that the beak is a little too broad and the blue back has a little funny curve to it. Needs fixing tomorrow.

Same process here. Almost done, but I need to add a little more highlights once this layer has dried. This was definitely my favourite way of working on this paper.

The only medium I did no try out was acrylic paint. But as acrylic paint usually works well on anything I did not see the need to try it out now.

That was it for this week. Happy painting everyone!


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