Sunday, April 10, 2016

Purple Flower ends a Visual Journal

Purple Flower botanical, pen and watercolor
3" x 5" Strathmore Visual Journal 140lb Cold Press paper

Well, this is it! The grand finale, a last botanical picked this morning and painted from life. These flowers bloom in great profusion right across the driveway, still on my daughter's land. The scale of the farm never ceases to amaze me, bits I think must be the neighbors' yard turn out to be still more of ours and the longer Spring blooms on, the more I see in these patches of unknown vegetation.

I liked the Strathmore Visual Journal. It has a whimsical lightweight cardboard cover printed with an example sketch and its information, which I didn't tear off but kept as a protector for the sturdy, glossy, heavy brown alligator print board. On the front cover I taped off a picture area, painted it with Daniel Smith Watercolor Primer and did a pen and watercolor rose on it - thus had a reason to keep the glossy whimsical outer cover to protect it.

It's been banged around a bit. I started it in 2011 and filled about a third of it, then left it behind when I moved to San Francisco. When I came back it was out on a bookcase with a few other supplies that hadn't been packed off into the attic. So it went through two moves without me, got handled and kept out and still protected its contents well. It has not yellowed at all, being good watercolor paper. It's 140lb cold press, probably cellulose or it would've listed a cotton or rag percentage, did not mention acid free or buffered but the evidence is there. Most likely because Pacon used a standard decent paper in it. I'll know more in a few years, but it is just as bright as when it was new.

The surface is a bit coarse. Cold Press watercolor paper has a range of textures from very fine grained to texture valleys so deep and large it might as well be listed as Rough. The sizing was just right for my techniques. I prefer not to stretch watercolor paper and to paint on the sized paper as it is. That gives me a little more control and less unwanted blurring when I want sharp edges.

Overall it's a good journal! I may replace it with another one, or get several sizes. The pocket size is very convenient and easy to fill. Big spiral binding did not get mashed or come undone over the years either, a big plus compared to some of them. It's got a double-wire spiral binding, not single wire, also the wire is coated. This is good if you don't want loose wire ends catching your sleeves or skin or scraping pages once they work loose.

Well made, reasonably priced, handy little thing. I'm happy with it and happy with all its contents. The strong paper let me play with a variety of water media and techniques and not one page leaked through to its following image, so that's a big plus for the full strength heavy paper vs. some other journals. 

Not the super quality of a Stillman & Birn journal but this was a good one and I did enjoy it. At its price, it's much easier to relax and just use it as a sketchbook! I've filled it mostly with life studies that I'll use for later reference in paintings.


  1. Always glad to read your blog! What a wonderful surprise. Picking up that journal again must have felt like finding an old friend. Give Ari some scritches from Auntie B! I'm doing well.

    1. Purr thank you! Oh, it did. I was so happy to find it that I put it on top of the stack and started using it more than any of the rest. Now it's full! I'm tempted to replace it.

  2. Purrfectly simple and beautiful! It does look like the vinca back in New York.

    1. Thank you! I'm pretty sure that's what it is, some people call it a periwinkle. Which makes that hue make sense!

      The small size Strathmore Visual Journal is discontinued but the mid-size 5 x 8ish size is still available so I'll get that next time.