Fun with Black Paper Part I

Way back in late December, my 2020 January Sketch Box had a sample pad of Stonehenge black watercolor paper. This is a medium weight paper at 140 lbs with a typical water paper bumpy surface. But it is not bumpy enough to be called rough. The description does not say cold-pressed but that is how I would describe it. I have purchased black art papers in the past including a black Moleskin sketchbook and Carson XL drawing pad but both were rather low weight and meant for dry media not wet. I also have a heavier weight Strathmore Black Mixed Media pad at 140 lbs but the surface is rather smooth like drawing paper. I do like a sopping wet watercolor style and generally buy 300 lbs in watercolor papers this Stonehenge paper is not a good paper for that style. As you can see on the butterfly below the paper did start to buckle a bit with the heavy application of green gouache.

But I find 140 lbs fine for illustrations with ink and watercolor. I was very intrigued by the unique properties of this paper. I set out to create something using what had come in that box. I had a blast with the contents and this was my all-time favorite box.

I also have some gouache I purchased for an online illustration class that I have hardly touched in the last year or so. Gouache just pops on this paper. I have a new fascination with the media because of this paper. I also love metallic, interference, and mica based paints and ink which are really striking on this paper. If you own Finetech pearlescent paints give them a go on this paper you will love the results! This sent me on something of a black Stonehenge pad buying and painting spree.

I started with space illustrations because black naturally makes me think of space. Below are a few of things I painted last month.

Solar System Illustration
Nebula with Finetech Paints.

Next, I think I will move on to the ocean and deep ocean creatures as this seems a fitting subject for black paper.

Happy Art Journey,



New Year Reflections and a Gift for My Nieces

Happy New Year! It has been a very long time since my last post. More than nine months actually. I had considered canceling my Word Press subscription as I was not utilizing it. But, I came to the realization that I did not have the extra bandwidth in my mind to write reflectively about my art practice, and that was a temporary state of being. So I choose to keep my subscription for one more year.

Happy New Year

In the last year, I moved twice and started a new job. I was barely managing to do a few doodles every week, let alone dedicate the time to thoughtfully write about my efforts and progress. Now that I am settled in my new house, I am not spending time thinking about furniture purchases and mortgages. Likewise, I have completed my first year at my new job, and I am finally feeling comfortable there as well. My mind is far calmer than it was a few months ago.

Many of my art supplies were in a storage facility for five hours from my old apartment. My acrylics and pastels are out of storage finally, and I hope to get back to working with those soon. I feel I have the mental space to write about my favorite hobby again and hope to post several times this year. I also have a nice physical space for art now in my new home. It is a little four seasons room on the east side of the house. There is plenty of good light and a nice view of the trees and bird feeders. This is also my yoga and meditation space. Having space for the mind and body can bring a lot of ease back into one’s life. I plan to set up space in the basement for acrylics next month.

However, this statement to post more is not a New Year’s resolution. I don’t really believe in those. I have never had someone state to me that they manage to keep their resolutions. I know when I did them in the past, I always gave them up by March at best. I don’t think taking on a goal at the start of the year makes it any more achievable. This idea that I can blog more is a realization that just happened to occur to me around the New Year.

Moving on, I did quickly want to share a project I spent a good chunk of November and December on. That was designing an Alphabet chart for my nices. It is a simple design, but I had a hard time settling on what I was going to do.

Ant Sketch

At one point, I had drawn several different candidates for the letter A: Apple, Ant, Asteroid, Astronaut, and Alligator.



I waffled on a theme quite a bit. Should it be forests, space, nature, animals, insects, or the backyard? Eventually, I settled on the garden, but I will likely pick up Space, Forests, or Insects as a theme for a chart to gift to my nephew next year.

My process for this was to draw and paint each element separately. This is more a security thing for me as I have two small boys. One of which likes to look over my shoulder and often bumps me. There is a lot of risk in doing a single piece to have ink spilled all over just as I am wrapping up the letter Z.

B is for Bumblebee
B is for Bumblebee

Each element was scanned, and I then used the open-source image manipulator GIMP to tie them all together into one file. I also purchased a font license for this project. Even though I have been practicing my calligraphy, it still was not quite print-worthy. Finally, I uploaded the file to RedBubble and had to 9″x10″ copies printed.

I used a similar process to create my son’s solar system last holiday season. 

Solar System

I was actually surprised by how well they were liked by my sister. It is always a great feeling to put a smile on someone’s face with your work.

Happy Art Journey,