Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN


Leave a comment

Is That a Pencil in Your Pocket?

There’s been a lot of attention paid in the media to the pushback against digital tablets in favor of, well, tablets.  It seems that more and more folks are discovering (or rediscovering) the appeal of making marks on paper.  And while you hear a lot about all the different kinds of notebooks out there, the tools that are doing the actual writing and drawing are sometimes less recognized.  What better way to “fix” that (pun intended and explained below) than to cast a discerning and appreciative eye on our old friend, the humble pencil?

IMG_6447For many people, a pencil has a wooden, yellow barrel with a pink eraser on top.  That describes Dixon’s Ticonderoga, amongst others, and we’ve got ‘em at Wet Paint.  We’ve also got lots of pencils specifically made for drawing.  Artist-grade pencils are like the fancy cousins of the “yellow pencil”…they’re related, in that they have lead encased in a wooden barrel.  The big difference is the very high quality lead they contain and the fact that this lead comes in a bunch of different hardnesses (see the guide below), allowing the artist to make a range of marks from smudgy dark to scratchy light.  Caran d’Ache produces a remarkable artists’ graphite pencil called Grafwood – 15 hardnesses of the nicest graphite you’ve ever used.  Czech company Koh-I-Noor is credited with the creation of the graphite pencil we know today…Wet Paint stocks their Toison D’or line of artists’ pencils.  We also carry high quality pencils from German Faber Castell, Austrian Cretacolor and English Derwent.

Koh-I-Noor-Pencil-Point-of-Purchase-Sign

Sometimes a pencil is that thing that clicks when you push down on the eraser and lead comes out.  Those are known as mechanical pencils and we’ve got tons of those, too.  Modern mechanical pencils are available in four standard lead sizes – .3mm, .5mm, .7mm and .9mm – and a variety of lead hardnesses (though not as many as artists’ pencils).  Pentel’s new Orenz actually comes in a teeny tiny .2mm, but it’s the exception!  One of our favorite new mechanical pencils is the OHTO SHARP .5mm wooden mechanical pencil.  It looks like a small, regular pencil, but it clicks!  Available in three appealing colors…I think everybody on staff owns at least one of them!

IMG_6448

The architects and engineers reading this may have their hands in the air at this point, because there are also mechanical style pencils that hold larger lead sizes than the four I mentioned above.  Lead holders, as these are called, accept lead sizes from 2mm to 5.6mm.  This heartier lead is perfect for the demands placed on it by makers…of buildings and art.  One of our most popular lead holders is the Fixpencil (remember my pun?) from Caran d’Ache.  Available in several lead sizes, color accents, and surfaces, the Fixpencil combines workman-like durability with sleek Swiss design…they are very handsome tools.

Back to the basic yellow pencil.  Some of our favorite writing tools are essentially “regular” pencils, just more stylish.  The Blackwing pencil, for instance, only comes in a few different hardnesses, but in a multitude of limited edition finishes and colored barrels.  The unique square ferrules and replaceable erasers make them stand out from the crowd.  Speaking of standing out, my favorite #2 pencils of all time have to be the Viarco Vintage series pencils.  Both pencils and packaging are faithful reproductions of Viarco products from the 1940s to the 1970s. These boxes are so authentic, a slip of paper had to be added to accommodate a bar code! These six unique 12-pencil boxes are designed in Portugal using long-established production methods, and the quality you’ve come to expect from Viarco.  They are almost too fantastic to use.

Oh, and we’ve got notebooks, too….


Leave a comment

Water Soluble Drawing Materials…Like Watercolor Without the Commitment!

Drawing is fun.  If you’re reading this, you’ve probably done it all your life!  I liked to draw as a kid, like many kids do.  On a trip to the Ben Franklin, I begged my mom for a set of crayons that the package told me could be activated with a wet brush…just like paint.  What could be better than watercolor you can draw with, I thought.  The world is a wonderful place!  Imagine my crushing disappointment when I got home and my new crayons did not perform as advertised…they weren’t even a little water soluble!  It obviously still haunts me.  I’m happy to report that Wet Paint has a bunch of top notch drawing materials that play nicely with water…we’re not gonna wreck a little kid’s day (or a big kid’s, either!).

Painting with watercolor is hard.  It’s very immediate – like drawing – but there’s no backsies.  It’s transparent and – mostly – not removable.  The beauty of working with water soluble drawing materials is that they’re easier to “fix”…you have the option to use water, but you don’t have to.  Draw dry and leave it be if you want.  But – if you want to activate part (or all) of your drawing with a painterly flourish – go for it.  You can move & blend  as much or as little as you want, in a very controlled way.  It truly is like watercolor without the commitment (thanks to my friend Megan Vossler for this line which I’ve used hundreds of times since she first coined it!).

A few years ago, one of our favorite importers started bringing in Artgraf products from Viarco, fine art drawing materials manufacturers in Portugal.  Their “Tailor Shape” carbon disc quickly became my most favorite art supply.  It had almost everything: – Dense, dark marks?  Check.  The Carbon Disc is basically a black crayon, but what a black crayon!  The line is reminiscent of a finer litho crayon or China marker, but it’s more versatile than either (see below). – Easy to use, easy to hold?  Check.  The unique “Tailor Shape” (it’s like the little tablet the tailor uses to make marks on your clothes for alterations) fits comfortably in your hand and allows you to use the edge for fine lines, the sides for broad strokes. – Blendable dry or wet?  Check. Sure, you can smudge it like any old crayon, but its water solubility is its magic.  Pass a wet brush over a line and watch it move.  Touch a wet brush to your Carbon Disc and brush it on paper…you would swear it’s India ink!  Deep, dark passages, or subtle, barely there washes…they are all available to you.

monochromatic

ArtGraf Monochromatic Set

Remember I said the Carbon Disc had almost everything?  Well, it was only black.  Hardly a problem, but I had dreams of a white to go with the black.  Instead I got six fantastic Earth Color Carbon Discs, then – later – three Primary Color Carbon Discs (same shape, same properties, lotsa colors that mix beautifully), but no white.  Until this past November, when the Monochromatic Set arrivedMy favorite black Carbon Disc was joined by Graphite Grey and long-awaited White!  Now you can draw with an entire range of tones, tints and colors…take that childhood disappointment!

Speaking of childhood, the watersoluble crayons I should have gotten as a youngster – if I had Wet Paint there to help me – are Caran d’Ache’s Neocolor II.  84 colors of water-blendable goodness that are perfect for coloring and drawing.  Many people are familiar with these crayons as face paint.  Though that is not their intended use, it does give you a sense of their creaminess and water solubility.  Neocolor II’s are a staple at Wet Paint…we’ve got all 84 colors individually as well as in sets.

museumwatercolorpencilsCaran d’Ache also produces the most highly regarded water soluble colored pencil, the Museum Aquarelle.  Marks made with Museum pencils that have been blended with water are indistinguishable from traditional tube or pan watercolor.  The 76 colors are remarkably lightfast, just like an artists’ grade paint.  These are the best of the best.

2302009

Derwent XL Charcoal Blocks

English pencil manufacturer Derwent has been producing pencils since 1832.  Their Inktense extra vibrant, “ink like” watercolor pencils are still one of the most asked for products at Wet Paint, years after their introduction captivated artists worldwide.  More recently, Derwent launched a short range of traditional graphite and charcoal blocks, but with a few twists: the blocks are BIG, the blocks have color, and the blocks are water soluble.  They are: Derwent’s XL Blocks!  The XL Graphite range contains four super subtle shades, plus traditional graphite tones in soft and extra soft.  Imagine a big, squared 4B pencil without the wood!  Similarly, Derwent’s XL Charcoal Blocks come in four rich, natural colors, plus black and white.  They handle just like the less hearty compressed charcoals you’ve used in the past…they’re just bigger and stronger!  XL Blocks are available individually, or in handsome metal tin sets of six Graphite or Charcoal Blocks.

And this just scratches the surface.  I could fill a whole other post talking about watercolor pencils from Faber Castell (Durer & Durer Magnus), Koh-I-Noor (Mondeluz), Bruynzeel and Prismacolor, as well as water soluble graphite from Faber Castell, General’s, Cretacolor, Viarco (kneadable graphite…wow!), and Lyra.  But you get the idea.  We’ve got the water soluble drawing supplies to make every artists’ dream come true!


Leave a comment

Only at Wet Paint: Caran d’Ache Wood Box Sets

These Caran d’Ache Wood Box sets are the crème de la crème! Choose from three different drawing media, each the pinnacle of quality and performance, each in a sumptuous wooden box: the 80 piece Luminance box contains the most lightfast, velvety-smooth colored pencils available; the 80 piece Museum box has one each of the most paint-like watercolor pencils you’ve ever seen; the 84 piece Neocolor II set collects everyone’s favorite watersoluble crayons, all in one big box.  Just get a big bow or two and put ‘em right under the tree!

 

This holiday season we are featuring some of the unique, creative supplies that are regionally, or nationally, exclusive to Wet Paint. These items are great gift ideas that you will not find anywhere else.


Leave a comment

Week 9: Getting Neighborly with Alice Neel

slide_223773_926880_freeAlice Neel is a famous portrait artist and, although her deserved recognition didn’t come until late in her life, throughout her career she painted everyone.  Find a neighbor, friend, partner, niece, child- anyone besides yourself- and draw from life.  Take note of Neel’s beautiful blue outlines and their illustrative quality.  Start by drawing the framework of the face and features, then continue by filling in with bold painted color.  The perfect medium for this assignment is the Neocolor II by Caran d’Ache, because it is a crayon that you can paint with!  Don’t focus too much on detail, keep the portraits loose and if you want the challenge, set a 20 minute time limit (your subject may thank you for that, too).

hartley-ginny-1970This week at Wet Paint all Neocolor II crayons will be 15% off our everyday price.  This is a great tool to add to your mixed media work and is perfect for travel.  They are available in sets and open stock of over 120 colors!

These Weekly Workouts will be posted as Events in our Facebook Group, click here to join!
We will also post our exercises here on our blog
Click here to see our list of suggested art supplies


Leave a comment

Summer Session Art Date 2: Outdoor Observations

1575

Paul Cezanne “Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan”

It’s springing into summer rather quickly here in MN and that means we all need to get outside and see some green! For this Art Date, take yourself (and your journal) on a nature walk. Any time of day, check out a nature preservation, take a simple stroll around a lake or just walk over to your neighborhood park. Take some time to observe the details, the scenery, and just enjoy the presence of being in nature. Document what is growing around you. Is there a unique leaf, pattern, or texture? Is there a new nest of birds nearby? Share your natural observations with the group. We suggest using watercolor pencils because they are convenient to carry, colorful, and can be used wet or dry. If adding water, don’t forget your water brush!

For the next two weeks (6/4 thru 6/17) Wet Paint will have all Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencils in open stock and sets at 15% off MSRP!  These are available in a beautiful range of colors, are lightfast, and permanent.

These Weekly Workouts will be posted as Events in our Facebook Group, click here to join!
If you are not on Facebook, share your photos in our Flickr group
We will also post our exercises here on our blog
 Click here to see our list of suggested art supplies


Leave a comment

WP Weekly Workout- Week 12: Petal Painting with Paul (Cezanne)

Paul_Cézanne_207Dip, draw or paint your favorite blooms or the whole bouquet! Looking at this Paul Cezanne painting for inspiration, notice the focus on color and form.   Don’t get caught up in the details, try to concentrate on the larger shapes and the interplay between outlines and blocked-in color.  Need some inspiration?  Swing by your local florist or, if you’re lucky enough, maybe you have something growing in your flower beds already. Set them where natural light will enhance their splendor and sit back and paint the view. Caran d’Ache Neo-color II crayons are the happy medium between drawing and painting! Just add water!  Have some fun with these crayons and really see all that they can do.

This week at Wet Paint Caran d’Ache Neo-color II crayons are 15% off our everyday price, in both open stock and sets! They are a great addition to any travel kit, plein air set up or every day tool box! Also great for mixed media and art journaling!

A note on our last workout:

Hey Weekly Workouters!

Stay tuned for info about the upcoming WP Weekly Workout: Summer Session!  These workouts will be every other week for 12 weeks (6 total workouts) and will encourage you to take yourself and your workbook on  “Art Dates.” We also have put together a special package of travel supplies to keep with you for your summer outings. Details coming next Wednesday, May 14th!

These Weekly Workouts will be posted as Events in our Facebook Group, click here to join!
If you are not on Facebook, share your photos in our Flickr group
We will also post our exercises here on our blog
 Click here to see our list of suggested art supplies