When I finally let go and allowed working with markers to be about play, I started to truly enjoy them. But I ran out of pages in the sketchbook I was using.
My new sketchbook did not get along with markers at all. You might remember this page and my disappointment with it:
The paper was too absorbent and the markers bled through with even the lightest of strokes. Blending was nearly impossible.
I stopped using markers for a while, embracing other things in my sketchbooks (I did have three other sketchbooks I was using), but finding a new sketchbook that I could use with markers (and was large and fairly inexpensive) never left my mind.
Then I read a blog post by Mia Whitmore where she shared her favorite sketchbooks and on her recommendation I decided to try a Canson XL Mixed Media sketchbook.
I'd never picked one up before for a few (silly) reasons. I didn't like the look of the cover and I didn't like the idea of perforated pages. I shouldn't have been so biased!
This paper loves markers and even when I layer and layer and layer, they don't bleed through (the exception, as seen above bleeding through from the previous page was the Prismacolor Markers).
These deep purples didn't bleed through at all and I layered a LOT of ink. I did find that there was a little "pilling" of the paper when I continuously worked the wet areas, but nothing that was a big deal. This is sturdy paper.
In addition to the Koi Coloring Brush Pens, I've just started using Tombow Dual Brush Pens. They have a brush tip and a "fine" tip and like the others also have a colorless blender (I started with the Bright Palette set of 10).
The two brands work well together and they also combine well with Pitt Artist Big Brush Pens (which are no longer being sold in the same sets or colors that I bought years ago).
There's something about blending the colors that brings me so much joy. Even adding just a small bit of color to a page of pencil sketches makes for a fun addition (perfect if you're short on time, too).
Many of my Koi markers have smooshed tips from hard use, which makes it hard to make sure the ink goes where I want it go to. I see it as a lesson in letting go. I think the tips on the Tombow markers are a bit nicer (only time will tell how well they last), but I wish that the fine point was a little finer. I'd love to be able to add tiny details.
Even so, this new sketchbook has made working with markers fun again.
Which is perfect timing now that I want to bring my sketchbook out to the garden with me.
Some tips for working with markers:
- To avoid frustration use sturdy enough paper to handle layering and prevent bleed-through.
- Don't get too hung up on details. The most joyful thing about markers is COLOR.
- If you want to add some finishing details, a white gel pen or paint marker and a black micron can help give some finishing touches to your sketches.
- Use a lighter color or a colorless blender to smooth strokes and blend colors.
- Clean the colorless blender and lighter colors on a piece of scrap paper. Just a few strokes made will clear out the other colors from the tip.
- Have fun! Maybe it's an association with childhood, but markers, in my mind, are all about play.
Although I definitely believe in making do and using what you have, sometimes it's worth it to purchase the right tool for your project.
Are there supplies or tools that you wish you had on hand for what you've been working on? Maybe it's time to add them to your collection? (Especially if it's something as inexpensive as a new sketchbook!).
I have one last marker story for you before I end this post.
As I shared before, the cats we adopted in February immediately gravitated to my studio. They are in it most of the day every single day of the week. Their presence here brings me so much joy and I am grateful that they have settled in so well (and oh, do we love them!).
They spend most of their time snuggled up together in their favorite chair and are good about not bothering my work.
Pepper, though, has developed a funny habit.
He likes to explore and is curious about every cabinet, drawer and shelf. His name when we adopted him was Bandit and true to that name he does like to make off with things. His favorite thing to take is markers (which is why I keep the ones I use in the lidded cigar box where he can't find them). I have a tin of other markers on the shelf above my table.
The catnip mice are a recent addition, added to distract him. He likes them, but loves markers. He stands on his hind legs to gently reach up on the shelf and grab a marker from the tin. I've watched him do it. He carries them in his mouth, very gently, and brings them downstairs (or sometimes over to me at my desk and even across the hall to Matthias in his office), not to play with, but to give to us. His record is eleven markers in one night.
I think he's encouraging me to get back to work.