Saturday, June 09, 2012

Caran d'Ache, Watercolours and Other Stuff ...

In my last post I mentioned that I'd discovered a new way to use Caran d'Ache water-soluble crayons as watercolours, so I thought while I'm at it, I might as well show you my *new* portable art kit that I've put together. As my friends have heard me say (perhaps a little too often?), if I'd known how much I was going to love these crayons I would've bought the big box. I bought a set of 30 while at Artfest a few years back, and even though they were on sale, and the store was giving Artfest attendees a further discount, I still hesitated. It's not that I didn't think they were worth it, but I already have way too many art supplies that "other people love" only to find that I can't make them do interesting things in my hands. My problem, not theirs. Anywho ...

For the first three years of their lives, my Caran d'Ache sat in a neatly spectrumized row in their original tin, and then one day I needed to do a background, and the most efficient way to do it was by breaking a crayon  (gasp!) and using it on its side. I paused, thought about it, and then, ceremoniously, broke my first crayon. And then I broke them all, one after one. And I lived. I know that might sound weird, but I'm funny about keeping things pristine in the package, just in case, oh I don't know, I get audited by the Art Police or something (I didn't say it was logical). Two things happened after that ... every trip to Port Townsend and Akamai Arts led me to buying more Caran d'Ache, and I moved my little half-crayons to a lovely thin little tin (less prone to coming open and spilling and all that sort of un-Virgo stuff). But (and you saw this coming, didn't you?) one day, even broken in half, I'd bought so many new colours that they could no longer fit in the lovely little tin. Uh oh. I graduated to a larger tin, and the new tin had room for Other Stuff. This is the story of the Other Stuff, and how, at our last retreat, I discovered I might actually *like* watercolour painting, something which has mystified (and possibly terrified) me for years. 

So ... left to right in the photo ... elastic hairband (more about that later), Mini Mister, scribbles of Caran d'Ache on label backing sheet, bit of old t-shirt (don't tell Mr. B.), dollar store paintbrush (cut to fit in tin), pop bottle cap, the Caran d'Ache I scribbled with, and the traveling tin. Oh, and the artwork? More on that later. It's taken about a year to perfect this little traveling kit. All packed up it measures 6.5" x 4.5" by 1", and is in fact, an old Maya Road tin I got years ago, its contents long gone. I've never been one of those people who likes BIG containers of water when I paint ~ too many opportunities for tragedy to my mind (hmmm ... must be the Virgo thing again). I prefer pouring a little water from the Mini Mister into a pop bottle cap, and cleaning my brush on the t-shirt scrap, or (truth be told) on the back of my hand (I know, I know, I'm a symphony of contradictions). But then I've never been the kind of person who slathers on acres of acrylic paint either, which would require the large pot of water and the Big Brushes.

Finding out that certain label backing sheets make excellent palettes was another bonus. Oh yes, I know, it *sounds* logical, but I discovered that not all label backing sheets are equal. Some are so slick that you can't scribble the crayons on them and that's no good either. Also (and quite coincidentally), a standard label backing sheet folded (or cut) in quarters, neatly fits in the Maya tin, too. Double bonus. The elastic headband holds the whole tin together because heaven knows it was *no good* at keeping my hair in place when I wore it. I think I must have a spherical head. But that's a discussion for another day.


Here's everything packed up to go ... the bit of damp T-shirt is rolled and tucked away so the wet is well away from the water-soluble crayons and the now dry bottle cap and the mini mister make sure it stays that way. The label backing sheet has been wiped clean of any residue and is folded in quarters ready to lay on top of the crayons and the little brushes, and the elastic headband waits to wrap it all up. The headband goes around the tin twice by the way, which is perfect when I want to elastic the tin to my journal for traveling.
Well, that's about it ... unless you were hanging around to see the artwork, in which case ...

These are my first attempts at illustrating somebody else's words ... in this case, the song "Parkette" by Bob Snider. I could rave on here about Bob Snider for awhile, and you'd probably understand him better by listening to him, but he's amazingly elusive online, which fits somehow with his persona. My first encounter with him was years ago when I was volunteering on the Admin Committee at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. A couple of us spent some time trying to track him down for a scheduled performance only to discover later that he'd been busking in the downtown eastside. I'm no musical expert, but I don't think I would describe his playing as dazzling or virtuoso. In fact, his style of playing and his banter are so warm and casual and understated that it's only about halfway through the song you realize your heart has been sucker-punched (in the best way possible) by his lyrics. "Parkette" is one of my favourite little nuggets of his work, a brief 1 minute and 40 seconds. The pages are not in order in my painting, in case you're wondering why it doesn't make sense ~ and I'm only show you half, since the final project will be printed back-to-back. When I say "printed" I'm being optimistic. I thought when I got inspired to paint his lyrics that it'd be an easy thing to contact him and get permission to create and print my little book, but as I say, he's darned elusive online, and I've yet to get through to someone who can ask him if it's cool with him that I've created this. But when I do get through, and if he gives the okay, there may be a minizine in the making. But, in the meantime, I've definitely gotten over my irrational fear of watercolours.

1 comment:

Bunny Roller said...

Great article, i would love to buy Caran D' Ache because of the uniqueness !!