Sunday, 16 December 2012

Learn how to pack, post and ship art

Have you ever found packing art or shipping art to be a bit of a challenge?

This is a time of year when a lot of artwork gets packed and mailed or shipped. Here's some polls from my website How to pack, post and ship art - Resources for Artists which highlight what most people find a challenge - and what some of the best solutions are in terms of which mail or courier service people like to use and will recommend.

POLL: Packing or shipping - which is the biggest challenge?

The top three challenges for artists are:
  • Which is the best mail / courier / shipping service (27.3%)
  • Which are the best packing materials (20.9%)
  • Where to buy good packing materials (16.5%)
POLL: Packing or shipping - which is the biggest challenge?
POLL: Packing or shipping - which is the biggest challenge?
You can find lots of information and links to resources and yet more information on my website.
Given that choosing the best mail/courier/shipping service is such a major challenge, I have two more polls on this website which review which are the best post/shipping services in the UK and the USA respectively.

Here's a reminder of how the votes have been cast.

POLL: Which is the best post/shipping service for artwork in the UK?

Which is the best post/shipping service for artwork in the UK?
Which is the best post/shipping service for artwork in the UK?

POLL: Which is the best post/shipping service for artwork in the USA?

Which is the best post/shipping service for artwork in the USA?
Which is the best post/shipping service for artwork in the USA?
At the end of last year I also ran an independent poll and this also confirmed that Shipping art: FedEx is the most trusted service

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Creating and Mounting Pastel Supports

Two new sections have been added into my 'resources for artists' website dedicated to sharing information about Pastel Paper and Pastel Boards.

In addition to:
it now also includes
I've included links to all the information that I could find online

However, if you know of any article or online website which provides information which would be useful to share with pastel artists please leave a comment below.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

NEW Drawing Books in 2013

2013: NEW Books About Drawing is my new website which will track:

  • new drawing books in 2013
  • revised editions of some well regarded existing publications
  • new editions of some historical books about drawing.

Listings are on a month by month basis - as books are listed for publication (however note that its' not unusual for some of these dates to slip a month or two).

The books listed include:
  • art instruction books about drawing and sketching - designed specifically for artists working in drawing media and those keeping sketchbooks / journals.
  • academic books about drawing
  • catalogues for exhibitions about drawings
I don't include every book published and to be frank my aim is to try and identify quality publications rather than more "same as same as" books and those which I regard as dumbed down.

Perspective and Urban Drawing and Sketching

To be published by Wiley
in February 2012
For those who have difficulty drawing buildings and tackling urban sketching there's some books being published by Wiley early in the New Year which might provide help.  In February, Wiley is publishing:
Although their target audience is students and practising designers, architects, planners, and landscape architects, I'm sure there's bound to be content of interest for anybody who is serious about drawing buildings or anything involving perspective.  They've not got to the "see inside" stage as yet - but could be worth a bookmark for those who have an interest in these areas.

Art History

There are also a number of excellent books coming up about drawings by master draftsmen and famous painters.  Examples include:

To be published by D Giles Ltd
in January 2013
January 2013
February 2013
  • Raphael: Drawings - based on the remarkable collection of Raphael's works in the collection of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.
March 2013
June 2013
  • Hopper Drawing (Whitney Museum of American Art) - this is an exploration of renowned painter Edward Hopper’s detailed compositional studies and figure drawings.  It also appears to be connected to exhibitions although I can't yet confirm this from the museum websites.  Here are the 'maybe' dates of the exhibition
    • Whitney Museum of American Art (05/23/13–10/06/13) 
    • Dallas Museum of Art (11/17/13–02/16/14)
    • Walker Art Center (03/15/14-06/22/14)
To be published by YaleBooks
in June 2013
This is what Yale Books (the publisher) have to say about the book
In 1967, Hopper's widow, Josephine Nivison Hopper, bequeathed her husband's artistic estate to the Whitney Museum of American Art, including a fascinating collection of more than 2,000 drawings spanning his entire career. This group of works has never been the subject of in-depth study and many have never been reproduced before. Hopper kept these drawings for personal reference as he revisited various themes throughout his career. Carter E. Foster carefully examines how Hopper used his drawings to develop his paintings, arguing that the artist's work can only be fully understood after in-depth study of these preparatory sketches. Foster also argues that Hopper was, in many ways, a traditional draftsman who methodically developed schematic ideas into detailed studies to refine content.
YaleBooksHopper Drawing by Carter E. Foster 
Commentary on Drawing

There's to be a revised second edition of the well regarded Vitamin D book - although I have to say Vitamin D2 doesn't have quite the same ring! 

Vitamin D2: New Perspectives in Drawing will be published in May 2013 by Phaidon and will feature contemporary drawing by 115 artists from around the world.

More drawing instruction and Andrew Loomis

The publishers of the venerable art instructor have not finished - we have one more. Fun With A Pencil by: Andrew Loomis was first published in 1939 and is going to be republished in April 2013 by Titan Books.

More Books about Drawing

Below you can find my other websites relating to books about drawing

The Best Books about Drawing and Sketching
Do you want to learn how to draw? Not sure which book to buy? Want to find out which are the best books about drawing and sketching? SCROLL DOWN to find lin...
2012: NEW Books About Drawing
This site lists BRAND NEW books about drawing and sketching due to be published in 2012 on a month by month basis and highlights major new books which I reco...
2011: NEW Books About Drawing
Find out about new books about drawing and sketching published in 2011 - in hardback, paperback and ebook editions. Listings on a month by month basis but ar...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Studio Product: IKEA Råskog Kitchen Trolley

IKEA is proving to be a very useful place for providing equipment suitable for artists' needs.  My latest find is a Trolley called the Råskog Kitchen Trolley

One of the challenges of drawing with coloured pencils is getting my kit organised.  First I got my pencils into white painting tubs.  Then I got an IKEA Lazy Susan so that I can access them easily - however it would be nice to have all my other drawing equipment as easily accessible and in one place.  I've been thinking of getting a trolley - and spotted this one in the new IKEA catalogue.

IKEA Råskog Trolley


Materials: It's made of steel with an epoxy power coating.  These are the assembly instructions

Dimensions: The dimensions when assembled are
  • Width: 35 cm (13.8 inches)
  • Depth: 45 cm (17.7 inches)
  • Height: 78 cm (30.7 inches) - that's the equivalent of desk height
Price: It's priced in the UK at £50 - in the USA it's $49.99.  I'm guessing VAT accounts for the rather wonky currency conversion.

Looking at it online, here are the pros and cons from my perspective

  • I love the turquoise colour! (who needs grey?)
  • the shelves have edges meaning that "stuff" does not fall off and everything is held securely within the space
  • ease of access to shelving - no need to pull out a shelf
  • tubs of pencils can be swopped around between the shelves depending on what is in use
  • the castors mean it can be moved easily
  • the website indicates that the middle shelf is adjustable - however I think they mean it's optional
  • Steel means it's robust and can be cleaned easily (helpful for those wanting to use it for paint)
  • its dimensions means it doesn't swamp the area when you have it out and it can fit in small spaces when you want to put it away
  • the castors also mean it can move inadvertently - there's no obvious locking device to keep it one place
  • the base of the shelves is meshed steel which I'm feeling a little ambivalent about.  Good for veggies and ideal for losing small items? (Probably need to use cartons within the shelves for small items/ things which roll)
I'd be interested to hear from anybody who has bought one and/or anything similar which they'd like to recommend.

More about IKEA for the studio

Previous IKEA items - reviewed on this blog - relate to:

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Big Watercolour Debate - Tubes versus Pans

I've added a new section into Which is the best brand of watercolour paint for artists? - my new "resources for artists" website.

Watercolour paints - tubes and pans. 
Brands represented here include
Winsor & Newton, Rembrandt Van Gogh, Schmincke, Maimeri and LeFranc & Bourgeois

The new section Watercolour Paint: Pans versus Tubes (click to review) examines the Pans versus Tubes debate - and I've rounded up all the references I can find.  Here's three of those links examining the pros and cons of tubes versus pans by people who I rate highly - (1) Bruce McEvoy of Handprint and (2) Roz Stendhal of Roz Wound Up
If you have a preference one way or the other - or maybe like both - please vote in the Poll also on the blog - see POLL: Watercolour paints - Pans versus tubes?

If you've written online about your preferences for pans versus tubes or have reviewed the different options please let me know and I'll add a link to your blog to the new website.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Best Art Books about London and the River Thames

I've recently created a new website - The Best Art Books about London and the River Thames - which was prompted by review of the book Spanning the Thames: The River and Surrounding from the Barrier to Teddington Lock - see Book Review: Spanning the Thames.

It made me ponder on how many good books there are about artists who have painted London and I decided to try and assemble them all in once place.

My new website comprises my recommendations about the best art books about London and the River Thames. You'll find it has three main sections:
  • Art Books about London - these are ones which focus on places in London - often places people are trying to get to
  • Art Books about the River Thames - the theme of painting at points up and down the River Thames is a popular one and many artists have developed this theme
  • Artists and London - some artists are very closely associated with painting London eg Canaletto and Monet to name but two
It includes books by a diverse set of artists past and present
  • Edward Bawden CBE, RA (1903 – 1989) was a British painter, illustrator and graphic artist. (This is a link to the Edward Bawden Archive
  • David Gentleman - a very popular artist who paints London in pen and ink and watercolour
  • various artists who have produced sketchbooks of London
  • Plus books about the paintings, drawings and fine art prints produced of places in London by artists from the past such as CanalettoMonetWhistler and Dore.  
It also includes a lot of artwork related to transport in London.  There has always been a very strong association between good graphic art and its use on the London Underground, in stations and on posters around the capital.

I've not yet finished adding books to this website but this seems like a good start.  I've got the Camden Town Group on my "to do" group and am happy for people to suggest other artists whose artwork about London and the Thames should also be on this website.

I am also planning a guide to the guide books about seeing art in London!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Book Review: Spanning the Thames

Spanning the Thames: The River and Surrounding from the Barrier to Teddington Lock

Reading Spanning the Thames: The River and Surrounding from the Barrier to Teddington Lockprompted me to think about the number of books there are about the Thames or reference art and artists who have painted the Thames which led to a new website - of which more in the next post!

The Best Art Books about London and the River Thames
Do you like drawings and paintings of London and the River Thames? If you do then you'll want to review the best art books which show you places in London and along the banks of the River Thames.

However, first my review of this book.  The list of artists whose paintings appear in the book is at the end

Title: Spanning the Thames: The River and Surrounding from the Barrier to Teddington Lock
Synopsis: This is a book about the tidal Thames - in paintings, drawings, prints, stories and historical anecdotes. Twenty five artists were commissioned to illustrate their favourite bridges and buildings along the Thames and this book is the result.  These are accompanied by a story or historical commentary by Michael Harrison  The title is of course a pun on the topic of bridges!
Summary review and recommendation: This is a small book for a small niche market.  Those who buy it are very likely to enjoy it a lot - although I'm not sure it will ever find a large audience. I enjoyed both the artwork and the history stories and the background information about the different bridges and buildings along the tidal Thames.  You think you know something - and then you see it in a completely new light and learn something brand new!
  • excellent range of good artists - producing good paintings and fine art prints in a range of different ways using different media
  • the diversity in the artwork produced for this project. 
  • strong on figurative landscapes
  • no photorealism (why bother painting if you can photograph it to achieve this result?)
  • interesting stories
Think Again?
  • no artists of note from the past (ie Monet's paintings of London Bridges and the Houses of Parliament in the fog do not feature in this book!).  This isn't a negative but anybody wanting wanting or expecting such paintings need an another book
Who should buy this?:
  • people who love London and/or the the River Thames and/or marine art
  • people visiting London - it makes a great and unique souvenir
Who should not buy this?
  • those who don't like art and prefer photos
Author / (Publisher) Commentary and stories by Michael Harrison / Images by various artists / (Artists Choice Editions)
Technical data:
Publication Date 2008
Hardcover - 84 pages, 160 × 160, casebound with dustwrapper, £12.95
ISBN-10: 0955834309
ISBN-13: 978-0955834301 Spanning the Thames: The River and Surrounding from the Barrier to Teddington Lock  Spanning the Thames

    The list of artists whose paintings appear in the book are:

    Monday, 24 September 2012

    The Best Sketching Chair - An Update

    This is an UPDATE about the availability of the Phillips Folding Chair which I use for plein air work.  I've written previously about it
    I cannot recommend this chair highly enough for people who want a very good quality chair which will be robust, reliable and longlasting.
    My Phillips Folding Chair on a trip to sketch Walden Pond in Massachusetts in 2006
    A Reader's Query

    This morning I got an email from a reader of Making A Mark which asked as follows
    I've followed and loved your blog for quite a while. Now I have the opportunity to do a 10-day workshop pastel near Avignon in Oct. 2013 and am looking for a portable, comfy travel chair with back support. On your "what I pack when I travel" post you mentioned such a chair. Please can you share the brand? I'm in the U.S. but perhaps could find it over here.

    I took a look at the two links I'd previously provided to supplier in the references above and found that neither now led to a live website - partly because both suppliers have updated their websites!

    Here then is an update which goes along the lines of first the bad news and then the good news.

    I'm setting out the situation as per the different suppliers I know have had it in stock in the past

    Green & Stone

    This is how Green & Stone list the chair on their Portable chairs and stools page

    Phillips Folding Chair
    This product is currently unavailable
    Lightweight metal frame with strong canvas seat and back. Two heights
    Lo Luxe Chair | Weight 1.48kgSeat height : 40cm62.30
    De Luxe chair | Weight 1.6kgSeat height : 45cm63.25

    That means they do NOT have a folding chair with back support in stock.  They do however have three stools by Phillips available.  I'd certainly recommend Phillips as a good quality brand if you can get on with only having a stool.

    Heaton Cooper

    Since I last wrote about this chair Heaton Cooper have introduced a super duper new website for art materials and supplies.  This has a Seat Easels, Chairs and Stools page.  This does not have my Phillips Folding Chair - in its original incarnation - either.

    Phillips Bag Chair - available at Heaton Cooper
    However what it does have is the Phillips Bag Chair - listed as costing £54.50. The product description indicates the following:
    • Tubular aluminium frame, compact and easily portable with a shoulder strap.
    • Spacious integral bag with zipped side pocket.
    • Seat height 18 inch (46 cms), In green Cordura fabric
    Which means it keeps the tubular aluminium frame and the green cordura fabric (which is very strong).  The seat height is slightly higher (presumably to accommodate the bag).

    I can't find any other supplier online for this product - so if you're after a very reliable sketching chair with a back, then I suggest you give this product a review. The Heaton Cooper Website also allows you to Send To A Friend | Add to Wish List if you want to bookmark this for future reference.

    If you balk at the price, I'd just comment I have taken mine on several long haul international trips involving all sorts of carriers and apart from arriving a day late (to my door) on both American trips, it has had absolutely no mishaps.

    and finally......

    You too can ask me a question and I'll answer it to the best of my ability - or refer you to a person who can!

    Tuesday, 7 August 2012

    The Best New Art Books: May - July 2012

    I've updated The Best NEW Art Books for the period May-July 2012.

    I've not had time to update this site each month since March although nearly pulled it off twice! Hence I think what I'm going to be doing in future is display the best new books in the last three months and that way I'm updating a few at a time.

    I do however regularly maintain the following in which new books are listed by the month they are published - and you get to see which books are coming up for publication!
    The Main Changes

    Fewer art books from print book publishers: It seems to me that fewer art books are being published by the major publishers.  I can still see a lot of self-published books around but I'm not persuaded that many of these are high quality

    Manipulation of Amazon ratings: I've also observed what I regard as manipulation of Amazon.  One book in the list somehow managed to acquire 134 customer reviews within 3-4 days of publication.  When you see a very high number you have so fast you have to wonder what that was all about.  Is it genuine?  Who knows?

    The Kindlisation of art books continues.  I don't tend to list these as new books unless they have also been out of print for some time.  I've also still to see many publishers who have managed the transition from print to ebook successfully.  I've seen a lot which are "so so" and some which are downright poor.

    Did you know that Amazon now sells more ebooks that print books in the UK?  eBooks outsold print books in the USA4 years after the introduction of the Kindle.  It only took 2 years in the UK
    For every 100 print books sold through the site, Amazon said it sold 114 titles for its Kindle e-reader device.
    This of course is "hype" by Amazon as an awful lot of those who are reading ebooks - like me - are not dong this on a Kindle. We're using our iPads!

    Valentin Serov (Best Of Collection)
    The Best New Art Book

    Of all the books in the list I think the one I'm most interested in buying is about the Master Russian Impressionist painter Valentin Serov.  I keep trying to get to grips with the Russian painters and this particular one reminds me very much of John Singer Sargent so I should really try to find out more about him.

    Another reason is because the image websites don't have a lot of images of his paintings eg see paintings by Valentin Serov here

    I'm also quite intrigued by the "look inside" Blogging for Creatives: How designers, artists, crafters and writers can blog to make contacts, win business and build success by: Robin Houghton.  I don't there's much it contains for me to learn but I'm interested in how it's presented.

    You can see what I've actually bought this year in Making A Mark - My Book List

    More about Best Art Books

    You can find out more about my "best books" series of websites in Making A Mark's Art Book Lists

    Saturday, 21 July 2012

    Art Bookshop Review: Foyles (Charing Cross Road)

    This is a review of the Art Bookshop area on the second floor within Foyles Flagship book store at 113-117 Charing Cross Road in central London. Below you will find a review including photographs of the bookshop.

    Foyles Art Books
    about half of the shelving in the art section on the 2nd floor of this bookshop
    First a note for those who know the Foyles of old and have not visited for some time.

    I first started going to Foyles when I was a student in the 70s when it was ran by Christina Foyle.  It was a complete and utter maze interspersed by book stacks on the floor as well as the shelves.  It had the most books of any bookshop in London but finding them wasn't easy and the process of paying for them was completely antiquated and very slow.  As a result, it's one of the few bookshops that has made it into Wikipedia.
    Foyles was once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest bookshop in terms of shelf area (30 miles/50 kilometres) and number of titles on display.[1] In the past, it was famed for its anachronistic, eccentric and sometimes infuriating business practices, so much that they made it a tourist attraction.[2]Wikipedia - Foyles Bookshop
    However all that was swept away and the shop has enjoyed a complete and comprehensive makeover.  The shelving is now exemplary and shopping for books is a complete pleasure.

    RECOMMENDED:  I'd go so far as to say this is probably my bookshop of choice for art books.  The only improvement I can think of would be the addition of a few comfy chairs and a rethink of the location of books on shelves relative to the demographics of its customers!

    Name of Art Bookshop: Foyles Bookshop
    (Branch) Address: 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0EB
    • conveniently located for people visiting Oxford Street / Tottenham Court Road / Covent Garden / Leicester Square area. 
    • Two minutes from Tottenham Road Tube station (involves a walk around the CrossRail development between Centre Point and Tottenham Court Road Tube Station
    Shop hours:
    • Monday - Saturday 9.30am - 9.00pm
    • Sundays 11.30am* - 6.00pm (*11.30am - 12.00pm browsing only)
    • Public holidays 11.00am - 8.00pm: Closed on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day
    • Easter Good Friday and Easter Saturday, normal hours apply; Easter Sunday, closed; Easter Monday, 11am - 8pm
    Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7437 5660
    Of interest to:
    • art students (beginners through to Higher Education);
    • amateur artists;
    • professional artists;
    • art lovers;
    • graphic designers; illustrators; typographers
    Major section on Art Theory and Aesthetics
    • very well laid out with good labelling; 
    • includes a “new books” section specifically for art plus a section on catalogues for current exhibitions
    • absolutely huge section devoted to art history and artists
    • biggest selection of books on art theory that I’ve seen in a long time (this shop is close to a leading art school)
    • good selection of books relating to art instruction targeted at amateur artists
    • very extensive sections devoted to graphics, design, type, illustration and photography
    • a selection of art DVDs - including fictionalised films about artists
    • very wide range of specialist art journals
    • lots of knowledgeable assistants and speedy processing of purchases
    • a very good bookshop for other books as well (the music and history sections kept my other half absorbed for over two hours!)
    ART DVDs and Catalogues for Current and Future Art Exhibitions
    specialist shelving features not often seen in art bookshops
    Think Again?
    • not for those who like their art “dumbed down”
    • you have to be able to bend down to see the art instruction books - Foyles might like to think about the fact that a lot of (less bendy) older people take up art in their retirement
    • a visit could get expensive - because you see so many books you want!
    Art Instruction books a little too low for my liking
    A bit too low for those whose backs and knees don't bend as well as they used to
    Art Instruction: Anatomy for Drawing and Portrait/Figure Drawing section
    Summary: This is the bookshop to go for art books if you like a good selection and you enjoy a better quality art book. I’ve got a very good awareness of art books in print and on offer and I was generally very impressed with the books they’d chosen to stock.  This is a very good place to start if looking for books on a particular art topic.

    A New Bookshop and a Move for Foyles

    Foyles is due to move to a purpose-built bookshop in the adjacent former Central St Martins building in late 2013 or early 2014. They are now actively involved in planning the design of the new bookshop.

    Their leasehold for site of this original bookshop is and other adjacent properties are being marketed for a very considerable sum. One can only surmise that this relates to taking advantage of the development of the new Crossrail station and retail hub at Tottenham Court Road

    Other art bookshops

    You can read other reviews of Art Bookshops in London in the following posts:
    Plus good art bookshops in the UK are listed in Art Bookshops - Resources for Artists

    Monday, 9 July 2012

    Ning's abysmal communication on billing

    I use Ning to provide a framework for online discussion groups about art. The framework they offer and the service they provide is great.

    However I have one MAJOR complaint about Ning. I complained about it last year - to Ning.  The situation is no better this year so I'm going to complain about it again - and this time I'm doing it in public.

    Ning's communication with respect to annual subscription billing is absolutely APPALLING!

    ABYSMAL is another word I would quite happily use.

    Communication is limited to a pop-up message on entry to the network.
    • There are no emails to the network owner prior to payment becoming due
    • There are no invoices delivered via email to the owner's inbox - PRIOR to payment.
    • Continued subscription is assumed and revisions to existing arrangements are made difficult for network owners due to the lack of information on the network dashboard
    • Payment can be made BEFORE an owner has had a chance to review the payment.
    Now as it happens I don't want to revise my current arrangements.  However if I did Ning doesn't give me much of a chance to do something about it.

     However as somebody who is very familiar with the proper statutory requirements and other good practice standards applied to systems for billing accounts I know that Ning's arrangements fall far short of what's required.

     I conclude that Ning's communication on invoices is very poor and below all reasonable expectations of standards for online payments.

     It made me think last year that there's a need for some sort of online financial systems ombudsman. I'm thinking the same thing again this year.

    This is the online billing enquiry they're receiving from me today.
    Please answer the following questions:
    1. Why does a responsible company not have a setting for account details and payments of invoices linked to an individual's personal account and/or the network account.
    3. Why do you not communicate with the site owner via email in advance of the billing date with respect to annual billings.  I do not in any way regard a flash-up message when logging in as any sort of adequate substitute for proper communication.  For one thing there is no online record which is accessible to me that it has occurred.
    5. Are your billing arrangements fully transparent and completely compliant with all statutory legislation and prevailing good accounting practice relating to the payment of bills for online services?
    I'd be very interested to hear about other people's experiences of Ning's Billing arrangements.

    UPDATE:  Here's the automated response which completely fails to address any of the questions asked. Like I said - their communication is abysmal!

    Hi there,

    Thanks for contacting us. You can view all of your account information, including your complete billing and invoice history, by signing in directly to using the email address you used to create your network. You can also access your account from the dashboard of your network by clicking "My Account." For any questions, please refer to our Help Center article located here:
    We hope this helps.

    The Ning Team

    Monday, 18 June 2012

    Which is the best pastel ground?

    There are a wide variety of pastel grounds - and I've finally got round to listing them all out in a poll to find out from pastel artists which pastel papers or pastel boards they like the best.

    You can find the poll in a new "resources for artists" site I've created - Pastel Papers and Pastel Grounds

    This is the link POLL: Which pastel paper or other support do you like best for pastels?

    These are the options:
    • Ampersand Pastelbord
    • Art Spectrum Colourfix Paper
    • Art Spectrum Plein Air Painting Board
    • Art Spectrum Suede
    • Art Spectrum Supertooth
    • Canford Black Pastel Paper
    • Canson Mi Teintes Pastel Paper
    • Canson Mi-Teintes Touch - sanded texture board
    • Clairefontaine Pastelmat
    • Daler Rowney Murano Pastel Paper
    • Fabriano Tiziano Paper
    • Fisher 400 Paper
    • Hahnemuhle Bugra Paper
    • Hahnemuhle Velour Pastel Papers
    • Ingres Paper (various)
    • Richeson Pastel Paper
    • Saint-Armand Sabretooth paper
    • Schminke Sansfix
    • Sennelier La Carte
    • St Cuthberts Mill - Somerset Pastel Paper
    • Townsend Pastel Paper
    • UART Archival Sanded Pastel Paper
    • Wallis Archival Sanded Pastel Paper - Museum Grade
    • Wallis Archival Sanded Pastel Paper - Professional Grade
    • Watercolour Paper (various)
    • Winsor & Newton Tints Pastel Paper
    • Other (please comment below)
    I'm developing a systematic analysis of the range of pastel grounds on the website according to:
    • characteristics
    • made of
    • colours
    • size
    • consumer opinion
    This should make it easier for people wanting to consult the site to find out which pastel ground might suit them best.

    If you are a pastel artist could you please:
    • vote in the poll 
    • share your personal views as to the pastel ground you like the best - lave a comment below or on the website
    • let me know if you've ever reviewed a pastel ground - and let me have a link to the review
    • let me know if I've omitted a pastel ground which should be included in the poll!
    You can find out more about pastels and other papers and supports in two related websites:

    Thursday, 14 June 2012

    Studio Product: IKEA ALEX Drawer unit with 9 drawers

    This is what the IKEA ALEX Drawer unit with 9 drawers looks like for those reading the comments on my Review: IKEA Alex Drawer Unit for paper storage.  This item has already found a useful place in artists' studios.

    ALEX Drawer unit with 9 drawers, white 
    UK - Article Number 501.928.22 £81.99
    USA - Article Number 501.928.22 $119.00

    It's made in the same way as the Alex Drawer Unit on castors (which I've reviewed) - except it's not mobile.  The dimensions when assembled are
    • Width: 36 cm (14.1 inches)
    • Depth: 48 cm (18.9 inches)
    • Height: 115 cm (45.2 inches)
    Looking at it online, here are the pros and cons from my perspective


    • a very useful item for any studio given the size of the drawers.  
    • looks ideal for storing pencils, pastels, paints, other media and smaller sizes of paper
    • Also has space for all those odds and sods of equipment we have to keep on hand for matting, framing etc.
    • small footprint - ideal for studio areas where there are space constraints
    • scope to match the Alex Drawer Unit - same depth and same design.
    • deep - deeper than most bookcases (35-40cm) but not as deep as many standard kitchen items (60cm)
    • very vertical - which means it will need fixing to the wall to be safe, especially if young children are around 
    • no castors and not mobile - which means you need to find a spot and keep it there.
    We recommend you secure this furniture to the wall with the enclosed safety strap to prevent it from tipping over. Different wall materials require different types of fasteners. Use fasteners suitable for the walls in your home (not included).IKEA

    Sunday, 10 June 2012

    Review: IKEA Alex Drawer Unit for paper storage

    IKEA - Alex Drawer Unit on castors (white) 
    Article Number : 401.962.41
    This is a review of the IKEA Alex Drawer Unit on Castors - which is my second IKEA purchase as part of the "let's try and store everything better than hitherto" campaign.

    I've been storing paper for artwork and works on paper in portfolios for ages and frankly, the number of portfolios was getting very difficult to manage both comfortably and aesthetically!

    I have long wanted a plan chest in theory however:
    • they mostly tend to be size A0 or A1 and that's much bigger than I want to house and much bigger than I actually need
    • if big they become incredibly heavy to move when full - plus you need to start thinking about floor strength!
    • they're not that easy to find
    • most would look good in an office but less good in a home
    • if you do find them, they're very often fairly expensive
    Which is why, when I spotted the IKEA Alex Drawer Unit on castors in IKEA, I was so very pleased that at long last it looked like I might have solved the problem of what to do with all that paper.

    The bottom line - I was right.  With one caveat - I actually need two!  Here's the review.
    • If you want to check paper sizes - take a look at the chart at the end
    • If you've created paper storage or reviewed another purchased product providing storage for art paper please leave a comment and a link to your review

    Product: IKEA: Alex Drawer Unit on castors (white)

    • Ease of Assembly: Not overly complicated however you do need 2-3 hours and to be very focused on what you’re doing while assembling it. 
    • Quality / Robustness: It’s particle board not wood. That said it’s good quality and the unit feels robust when finished
    • Functionality: The drawers take large quantities of paper and all move really easily even when full. The castors work well on carpet and the whole unit can be moved easily. This enables the unit to be placed it in front of items you use only occasionally 
    • Value for Money: Very reasonable compared to alternatives - UK Cost £85 plus delivery charge. (USA $119) 

    Technical Details:
    • size: 
      • Width: 67 cm / 26 3/8 " 
      • Depth: 48 cm/ 18 7/8 " 
      • Height: 66 cm / 26 " 
      • drawers are designed to take paper up to size A2 with space to spare 
    • material
      • Basematerial / Drawer front: Particleboard, Acrylic paint, Melamine foil, ABS plastic 
      • Bottom panel: Particleboard, Melamine foil, ABS plastic 
      • Back panel: Particleboard, Melamine foil, Melamine foil 
      • Drawer back / Drawer side: Particleboard, Foil 
      • Drawer bottom: Fibreboard, Acrylic paint
    • colours: available in white and blackweight: 32.4 kg
    • weight: 32.4kg

    Who should buy this?
    • artists who work on paper 
    • artists wanting to increase their flat storage capacity for paper, mountboard and completed artwork 
    • pencil artists needing a neat storage solution for the home
    Who should not buy this?
    • people wanting flat storage for whole sheets of watercolour paper and mountboard
    • large capacity 
    • draw width enables storage of smaller paper/works in two stacks side by side 
    • drawer mechanism makes drawers run very smoothy 
    • castors make it easy to move around 
    • visual instructions are very helpful - and you can download the Alex Unit instructions before you buy 
    • easy to make up - one person can do it - but you do need to concentrate during assembly. It took me about 3 hours working slowly and carefully (I only made one mistake and that was easy to undo!)
    Think Again?
    • if you want to store full size sheets of watercolour paper or mountboard you’ll need something bigger 
    • if you’re not good at using a screwdriver or DIY find a relative or friend who is - and be nice to them! 
    • The USA version indicates the drawers are designed for letter size papers. They are in fact much bigger than this - see paper sizes chart at end
    Manufacturer / Distributor:
    • IKEA - their website helps you find a store near you. 
    • Plus you can order online (but will need to pay a delivery charge)
    • only available new from IKEA
    A series paper sizes compared to Letter and Legal Sizes

    Sunday, 3 June 2012

    Book Review: A Yorkshire Sketchbook by David Hockney

    Title: David Hockney - A Yorkshire Sketchbook
    Synopsis: A facsimile 92 page sketchbook used by David Hockney in 2004 when sketching the the East Yorkshire Wolds.  It contains sketches of the Yorkshire Wolds and Bridlington in watercolour, ink and pencil - and no words.
    Summary review and recommendation: This is a sketchbook which dates from the beginning of Hockney’s reconnection to Yorkshire and painting.  Those who sketch and who like Hockney’s work will love it.  Those who have never ever sketched will be very puzzled by it and may even call it a complete waste of money - but they will have missed the point. I RECOMMEND this book for those who enjoy facsimile sketchbooks.
    • It starts at the beginning of the sketchbook (publishers details etc are relegated to the last page)
    • It feels as if Hockney has handed you his sketchbook
    • It illustrates the motifs which interested him as he began to paint Yorkshire again
    • Take off the dustcover and the hardback cover is just like a black sketchbook used by many in the UK
    Think Again?
    • Those expecting an art instruction book will be severely disappointed
    • The publisher’s description does not indicate at all clearly that this is a facsimile sketchbook (ie all images and no words)
    • This may become a DVD (but I doubt it)
    Who should buy this?:
    • People who love Hockney’s work
    • People who love facsimile sketchbooks
    • People who carry a sketchbook everywhere they go
    • People who want to learn more about sketching and want to see what a real sketchbook looks like
    Who should not buy this?
    • People who don’t sketch and don’t understand the nature of sketching and what a sketchbook actually looks like
    • People who expect words rather than sketches in a facsimile sketchbook
    Author / (Publisher) David Hockney / Royal Academy of Arts, London
    Technical data: Publication Date (December 2011 hardback)
    Hardcover - 92 pages in conventional small landscape sketchbook format (21.2 x 15.4 x 1.8 cm)
    • ISBN-10: 1907533230
    • ISBN-13: 978-1907533235

    The full price version is not cheap! It’s much better value on Amazon which is where I ordered it.

    Those of us who sketch know the joy of looking at one another’s sketchbooks. Having this book in my hand feels rather as if Hockney has just handed me his sketchbook! 

    I own the DVD of his sketchbooks and consequently knew exactly what to expect in terms of content and drawing style. However I do think the publishers should review the publicity profile and the description of this book on the Internet. Nowhere does it indicate clearly that this is a complete facsimile of a sketchbook used by Hockney in 2004.

    In summary:
    • Sketchers who like Hockney's drawings and paintings will love this book. 
    • Fans of Hockney's work will like this book 
    • Those who have never sketched may well struggle to really appreciate it
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