Santa Cruz watercolor process

Two long time projects of mine came to fruition in the past few weeks. The first is to invest more time and focus on strict watercolor work. With adequate time, material and focus, I was able to establish an average of one finished watercolor piece per week (with a few quick works and tests in-between), mostly because of the approaching exhibition deadline.

The other goal was to get started on filming and posting watercolor processes. This is what I want to present you now:

The merciless ocean of Santa Cruz, Portugal, as seen from the cliffs. I took the reference photo for this piece last summer, during the Santa Cruz International Watercolor Meeting, surrounded by world class watercolorists. But it took half a year to gather the confidence and skill to have a go at it! I invite you to take a look at the video and see what you think.

Dois projectos meus de longa data concretizaram-se nas últimas semanas. O primeiro era investir mais tempo e concentração estritamente em trabalho de aguarela. Com tempo, materiais e concentração adequada, consegui establecer a média de uma aguarela terminada por semana (com alguns estudos e trabalhos mais rápidos nos entretantos), principalmente, por causa do prazo da exposição próximo

O objectivo seguinte era começar a filmar e publicar processos de aguarela. É isto que vos quero apresentar hoje:

O mar implacável de Santa Cruz, em Portugal, visto da falésia. Tirei a foto de referência para esta peça no verão passado, durante o Encontro Internacional de Aguarela de Santa Cruz, rodeado por aguarelistas de topo. Mas levou meio ano até ter a confiança e a capacidade para lhe dar uma chance! Convido-vos a ver o video e a dar a vossa opinião.

 

 

Watercolor exhibition / Exposição de aguarelas

I am very happy to announce my first solo exhibition of watercolors and sketchbooks!

Thanks to a generous invitation from the Orlando Ribeiro Municipal Library – to which I thank for the opportunity! – I will showcase some of my sketchbooks and several watercolor paintings done in the beginning of 2020. These will be available for purchase for the duration of the exhibition.

I would like to invite you to join me in the opening, for a bit of art, a snack and a a nice chat. Waiting for you in Telheiras, Lisboa, on April 18th, at 5pm. See you soon!


Estou muito feliz em anunciar-vos a minha primeira exposição de aguarelas e cadernos em nome individual!

Graças a um generoso convite da Biblioteca Municipal Orlando Ribeiro – a quem agradeço a oportunidade a disponibilidade – irei expor alguns dos meus diários gráficos e varias aguarelas feitas no início de 2020. Estas últimas estarão disponíveis para venda durante o período da exposição.

Gostaria de vos convidar a aparecerem na inauguração, para um pouco de arte, um petisco e dois dedos de conversa. Espero por vós em Telheiras, Lisboa, no dia 18 de Abril, às 17h. Até breve!

About the exhibition

The sketchbook is an introvert – a laboratory of techniques and ideas, light and textures, colors and styles. It’s our travel companion and an open spirit, where nothing is final or definite – mistake and incompleteness are a natural part of the experience of each page. It is a tool of memory and build up of knowledge.

The watercolor sheet is an extrovert – a territory where ideas are expressed to an audience and the sketchbook knowledge is distilled. Colors, water and brushes coordinate to build a coherent and consistent image.

This exhibition tells the story of a journey from introversion to extroversion, from the sketchbook to the watercolor sheet.


Sobre a exposição

O diário gráfico é introvertido – um laboratório de técnicas e ideias, luz e texturas, cores e estilos. Acompanha-nos nas viagens e é um espírito aberto, onde nada é final nem definitivo – o erro e a incompletude são parte natural na experiência de cada página. É uma ferramenta de memória e de acumulação de saberes.

A folha de aguarela é extrovertida – é um território onde as ideias são expressas a uma plateia e se destila a aprendizagem feita no diário. As cores, a água e os pincéis coordenam-se para construir uma imagem que procura ser consistente e consciente.

Esta exposição conta a história desta viagem da introversão à extroversão, do diário gráfico à folha de aguarela.

SM.LT Art Layflat Stonebook review

(cliquem aqui para a versão em Português da avaliação)

SM.LT‘s Layflat watercolor stonebook is a fun surprise to pull out of your backpack. The stone cover is a neat, whimsical feature that garners attention, but the true value of this sketchbook is in the fine watercolor paper inside. The Lithuanian manufacturer generously sent me one to try out last year, after their collaboration in mine and Pedro Alves’ workshop in Barcelona, and I’m finally ready to publish some results.

Outside

The feature that gives the name to the sketchbook is its real stone cover. It’s actually a thin slice of dark slate stone glued on a hard cardboard panel, both in the front and the back cover. The slate feels uncanny, in a fun sort of way. Like you’re carrying around a slab of stone to chisel a landscape from it. Also, this makes every sketchbook unique, as the texture and pattern of the slate is never the same.

Both paper and cover are cut together to the size of 195 x 195mm, in angled corners, with no cover overlap, which makes the sketchbook a bit fragile to carry around in a bag or backpack for long.

Its weakest spot is definitely in the spine: the seams are showing, covered and held together only by a layer of transparent glue. With time and use, the glue starts peeling away as a whole – in my case, after a month of use – exposing the seams to wear and tear.

Paper

Despite the unusual cover feature, the strongest feature of this sketchbook is inside, in the paper. 32 sheets of quality 300gsm watercolor cotton paper, with a slightly coarse texture – just the way I like it – but soft enough for a nib pen to glide over it acceptably. The texture works wonders with dry watercolor brushing. Wet-on-wet techniques also handle very well, although drying is quicker than in professional watercolor papers.

The water absorption capacity is pretty good. My sketches usually take between one and three layers of watercolor, and the white of the paper still shines through in the latter case.

The endsheets are the same kind of paper, so your sketches can go end-to-end in the page flow.

Pros final count

  • Affordable cotton paper sketchbook, for your watercolor dailies, or for making watercolor tests for later serious paintings.
  • Stone cover gives it a unique look and feel.
  • Square formats are usually very flexible.
  • Just small enough to carry around, but big enough to paint a large scene.
  • Opens flat.
  • Robust stitching

Cons final count

  • Spine protection subject to tearing away with transport and use.
  • Fragile angled corners.

Final veredict

The SM.LT Layflat Stonebook is a good introduction to heavy duty cotton paper sketchbooks. Although better cotton paper sketchbooks might be available in the market, the Layflat is still a very affordable one, and finds its niche between sketching and watercoloring. The titular stone feature just makes it a bit more appealing.

Avaliando o SM.LT Art Layflat Stonebook

(click here for the English review)

Layflat watercolor stonebook da SM.LT é uma surpresa engraçada para tirar da mochila. A capa de pedra é uma extravagância com piada que chama a atenção, mas o verdadeiro valor deste caderno está no no interior, no seu excelente papel de aguarela. O fabricante Lituano graciosamente, enviou-me um exemplar para experimentar, depois da sua colaboração comigo e com o Pedro Alves, na nossa oficina em Barcelona, e estou finalmente pronto para publicar alguns resultados.

Exterior

A característica que dá o nome ao caderno é a sua capa em pedra autêntica. É, na realidade, uma folha fina de ardósia escura colada numa placa de cartão cinzento, quer na capa quer na contracapa. A ardósia parece estranha, de uma forma engraçada. Como se estivessemos a carregar uma placa de pedra, para gravar uma paisagem nela. Isto também faz com que cada caderno seja único, já que a textura e o padrão da ardósia nunca é o mesmo.

O papel e a capa são cortados juntos, à dimensão de 195 x 195mm, em cantos rectos, sem sobreposição da capa, o que fragiliza o caderno, se o tivermos na mochila ou mala durante muito tempo.

O seu ponto mais fraco é, sem dúvida, a espinha: as costuras estão à mostra, cobertas e seguras por uma camada de cola transparente. Com tempo e uso, a cola começa a separar-se do caderno por inteiro – no meu caso, depois de um mês de uso – expondo as costuras.

Papel

Apesar da singular capa, a característica mais forte desde caderno está no interior, no papel. 32 folhas de papel de algodão com 300g/m2, com uma textura ligeiramente rugosa – mesmo como eu gosto – mas macia o suficiente para que canetas de aparo deslizem aceitavelmente. A textura faz maravilhas com pinceladas de aguarela seca. Molhado sobre molhado também tem um bom comportamento, apesar de o tempo de seca ser mais breve que papel de aguarela profissional.

A absorção de água é bastante boa. Os meus desenhos costumam levar entre uma e três camadas de aguarela, e o branco do papel ainda brilha através das três.

As folhas de forra das capas são o mesmo papel. Assim é possível desenhar de uma ponta à outra do caderno.

Contagem final dos prós:

  • Caderno de papel de algodão acessível, para a vossa aguarela diária, ou para testes de aguarelas mais sérias.
  • A capa de ardósia dá-lhe um aspecto e toque únicos.
  • O formato quadrado é muito prático e adaptável.
  • Pequeno o suficiente para transportar, mas grande o suficiente para pintar cenários maiores.
  • Abre por completo.
  • Costuras robustas.

Contagem final dos contras

  • Protecção da espinha frágil e sujeita a desgaste rápido.
  • Cantos fragilizados pelo corte.

Veredicto final

O Layflat Stonebook é um bom caderno introdutório aos papeis de aguarela mais espessos. Apesar de haver melhores cadernos de papel de aguarela no mercado, o Layflat beneficia por ter um excelente equilíbrio qualidade-preço, e encontra o seu nicho entre o desenho e a aguarela. A característica titular da capa de pedra apenas o torna um bocadinho mais apetecível.

SM.LT Art Authenticbook review

(cliquem aqui para a versão em Português da avaliação)

It has been more than a year since Lithuanian manufacturer SM.LT Art were kind enough to sponsor mine and Pedro Alves‘ workshops in a sketching weekend in Barcelona, and in the Winter Sketching School in Riga. It’s due time I reviewed one of their awesome products.

SM.LT’s Authentic Albums collection includes the Authentic Watercolor stitched sketchbook. This is a laid back piece of design, perfect for a relaxed sketch, for your daily practice, or for your long weekend away doodles. It’s lightweight, super portable and the A5 format is large enough for your wide angle sketches. In Portugal, it retails online at 4.99€ in Olmar.

Outside

The blue recycled soft cover makes the watercolor paper book stand out from the rest of the Authentic Albums collection.

Being made of cartboard, the cover is of course subject to staining, but that’s ok if, unlike me, you’re careful with your stuff. The good part is that you have a couple of blue extra “pages” for a different kind of art experiment. The soft cover can be challenging if you’re used to sketch standing up or without a hard surface underneath.

The cover and paper are cut simultaneously, so there’s no setback between them. The rounded corners of the sketchbook reduce damage, but the main feature preventing wear is the briefness of the sketchbook – the 24 pages that compose it go by pretty fast! So far, each of the three Authentic books I’ve used lasted only a month each. There’s little chance for any major wear or damage in such a short time.

Paper

The 12 sheets of 280gsm cellulose watercolor paper are bound by a red stitching line, visible in the gutter of the central spread. It’s a cute detail, kind of a red dotted line, letting you know that you’ve used up half of your sketchbook, maybe time to order a new one.

I’ve thrown my best and worse on this sketchbook, and the results are mixed. It’s a very good paper for your watercolor experiments, and you can get some vibrant tones out of it. It has a slightly rough texture – something like a rough pressed down grain – but smooth enough for fine nib pens to glide easily over it.

It opens completely flat, so you get a nice spread for an uninterrupted panoramic sketch. It sucks up the water pretty quickly, so you better be fast with the brush if you want the colors to blend. The use of intense colors causes the paint to transfer from page to page over time. So, be sure to scan your sketches soon after you finish them, as smudges will appear on the opposite pages of the stains.

Pros final count

  • Balanced cellulose paper for your daily fix of sketching and watercoloring.
  • Small enough to be exhausted in a short trip or a weekend event.
  • Portable and lightweight.
  • Very inexpensive.
  • Opens flat.
  • Friendly landscape proportions (taller than other sketchbooks)

Cons final count

  • Transfers intense colors from page to page, over time.
  • Cover subject to wear and tear in prolonged use.

Final veredict

I feel a sense of accomplishment when I manage to compile the sketches of a weekend away from home, or a professional event, into a single sketchbook. The SM.LT Authentic Watercolor Book provides that feeling! It’s a relaxed and brief, but competent watercolor sketchbook, that allows plenty of range in watercolor and sketching experiments. It’s well suited for fast sketchers, as watercolors dry pretty fast. I’ll use more of these in the future, no doubt.