Featured Story

Best Colored Pencils 2017

January 18, 2017

Colored pencils are an amazing medium. Take a look around the net and you’d see amazing renderings by pretty talented folks. That said, if you’re a beginner, picking a set for yourself can be a pretty daunting task. Not all colored pencils are equal. That’s the truth. The hard way to find out would be to try out all the brands for yourself. That’s just not practical, obviously. Personally I stick to a few of my favorite brands. While they’re not the best per se, I know how to get predictable results from them – that the important thing.

If you’re not sure, try out the smallest set from a popular brand. They usually work well for beginners and offers good value for your money. However if you’re progressing along and you find them inadequate for your needs, I suggest you head to your local arts store and take a look at more expensive brands. Some of them come individually or as sets so you can try them out.


There are a few things artists look for in a set of colored pencils. Take note though the order of importance varies from artist to artist. This is what we came up with:

 

  1. Soft vs Hard/strong lead
  2. Pricing
  3. Vibrant and bright colors
  4. Smooth
  5. blendability
  6. Longetivity
  7. Wax based or oil based
  8. Color range
  9. Quality of outer case (helps with sharpening)
  10. Quality of lead

Think about how you draw. Do you have heavy strokes or light? What kind of paper do you use? What kind of techniques do you use when you draw? Remember, no one artist works the same way. What works for me may not work for you. There are no real manuals in art, just basic guidelines. For what its worth, these are my personal opinions when it comes to colored pencils, I hope it helps.

  1. Prismacolor Colored Pencils

I own a 24 set tin of Prismacolor myself (plus a few others I purchased throughout my career) These pencils are really wonderful. They feel amazing (smooth and not scratchy) their pigment is top notch and can easily be layered and blended. Plus some of their lines are lightfast (an ability to resist fading when exposed to light) They no longer mark which sets are have lightfastness so you can check on their lightfast color chart if you’re interested in that feature. While they have had negative reviews in the past about color quality, I personally haven’t found anything wrong with them. Again, that comes down to preference.


  1. Faber-Castell Polychromos

Faber-castell is one of the most popular colored pencil brands. However that doesn’t mean they skimp out on quality. I find them to be reliable with smooth lush pigments and easy handling. They just have the right softness that you can easily layer them – but they won’t crumble on you (leaving a terrible mess you have to clean up) The Polychromos can be a bit expensive but trust me, they’re pretty good and are great value for your money. You will not be disappointed.


  1. Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils

Alright, these are less colored pencils and more water color. They’re a bit harder to work with since these run at just a hint of moisture but in terms of color, handling, blending… these are amazing. I’ve been using with Albrecht Durer pencils for years and I’ve found them to be indispensable. If I were stuck in a desert island with only one set of colored pencils, the Albrecht durer are my first choice.


  1. Caran d’Ache Luminance Colored Pencils

If you’re looking for a colored pencil that can be layered similar to an oil pastel, the Caran d’Ache Luminance colored pencils is my first choice. It has a really waxy formulation that is pretty soft and crumbly on paper at times but if you use them in conjunction with another colored pencil (less waxy) you can get pretty amazing results. In fact, a lot of artists use this technique. Use a harder less waxy colored pencil for the under layers and using the Caran d’ache for finishing. You have to check with their color charts for lightfastess (if that matters to you)

 


  1. Derwent Studio Colored Pencils

The popular Derwent colored pencils has a few popular sets. One of their higher end ones is the Derwent studio (a cousin of the Derwent artist range) personally I don’t like it. It’s pretty hard so it can deliver fine crisp lines and requires more precise handling than the softer Derwent Artist rage. It’s actually pretty popular among newsagents and is often the first “upgrade” art students choose when they move from Crayola. As I said, I prefer softer pencils for my work and the Faber Castells are really great for that (good value too) but if you prefer a drier waxier colored pencil, the Derwents are for you.

 


  1. Staedtler Ergo soft colored pencils

Of all the brands I’ve reviewed these are one of my all-time favorites. Each set comes with a stand up easel case with an ergo soft grip. They just look premium. From the outer packaging to the actual quality of the pencils, no detail was spared into making one of the best sets out there. Each of the pencils comes with what staedler likes to call A.B.S. (anti break system) which protects the lead and prevents them from cracking. The pencils are triangular shaped similar to some faber-castell pencils. There are 12 piece sets available going up to 36 pieces in their largest set.

I’ve never tried this brand before so I was pretty excited to try it out. I walked away extremely impressed. The largest (and most expensive) set is the 36 piece one but man, are they worth it. They glided on the paper like it was coated in butter. The pigments were rich and they filled every nook and cranny of the paper surface. The colors are simply gorgeous on colorit paper. If you love to shade and blend, these are the perfect colored pencils for you. The downside is, the ergosoft grip was not the most comfortable thing in the world. I don’t know whether or not I was simply unused to the pencil but I was holding on pretty tight and had to take breaks as my fingers were starting to cramp. That aside, these pencils are ideal for anyone who takes art seriously. The high quality lead allows you to simply expand your techniques and the case makes it pretty easy to lug around should the inspiration to create hit you.

CONCLUSION

Ultimately, you decide what’s best for your art. Use the information we have provided and make the right choice for you. That said, remember that art is fun. Don’t take it too seriously. If you’ve got cheap supermarket colored pencils, well, you can make that work. Art is art. Technique is technique.

Featured Story

Best Prismacolor Colored Pencils 2017

January 18, 2017

These pencils are loved by many artists and students because of their high quality. They have soft leads made of brilliant pigments. They blend and shade better than other products. Prismacolor colored pencils are superior to other products on the market mainly because they are oil-based, compared to similar pencils that are chalk-based. Whether you are a professional artist, a graphic student who has an art project to work on, or a tattoo artist that is looking for color pencils to give you excellent results, you won’t be disappointed with Prismacolor. After you have purchased your prismacolor colored pencils, be very careful to not drop them and don’t ever use an ordinary sharpener on them!

There are different categories of prismacolor colored pencils and come in variety of sets. Listed below are the descriptions of some of the most popular pencils available for you to purchase on the internet at great prices:

Sanford Prismacolor Premier Colored pencils

these have high ratings by most people that have used them. They are water proof, easy to blend, and don’t wear easily. They have rich colors, and have smooth and creamy leads. They come in hundred and thirty two brilliant colors that you can purchase separately or in sets. The price depends on the set you purchase. The set of 72 costs hundred and thirteen dollars but can be purchased on sale for around $50.00. The set of 48 costs seventy-five dollars and can also be purchased on sale for $42.00.

 

Prismacolor Premier Lightfast Colored Pencils

come in forty-eight brilliant colors and can be purchased in set of twelve, twenty-four, and forty-eight. They are great for school art projects. The color pigments and rich saturation is high quality. They meet the highest standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D 6901 for light fastness. Some of them comes in collectible tins and include bonus products of similar brand. A pack of 24 cost around $45.00.

 

 

Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils

these pencils are ideal for outlining and perfect for intricate details and edges. They come unsharpened so you can sharpen its hard cores to a fine point of your choice. It is recommended that you use other prismacolor pencils for coloring large sections and use the Verthin colored pencils for the finishing touches and detailing. They blend beautifully, come in forty assorted colors, and perfectly match other Prismacolor colored pencils. You can buy these individually or by sets of 36, 24, or 12.

 

 

Prismacolor Watercolor Colored Pencils

Blends smoothly and work well in conjunction with the Premier Colored Pencil, the Art Stix, and the Verithin Colored Pencil. They are said to produce professional quality work, and are water soluble. To get the watercolor effects, simply add a dab of water and blend. They can be bought separately, or in set of 12, 24, and 36. A set of 36 cost about $70.00 and smaller sets cost less.

Other Categories of Prismacolor Colored Pencils are the Prismacolor Scholar which are intended for advanced artists, and the Prismacolor Art Stix which are excellent for coloring large areas.

Watercolor Painting – Techniques and Tips

January 18, 2017

Watercolor painting may appear difficult for the beginner and some people even find it a daunting task.  However, just a little training will bring you right up to speed.  For the serious learner, painting can be learned through books and classes.  You will also find plenty of resources online to help you understand the various techniques associated with watercolor painting.

The phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ is a common one but a very true one.  The best tip of all is to practice and when you are done practicing, you need to practice some more.  You have to find the techniques that best suit your painting style and practicing with the different techniques is the best way to go about finding out.

Watercolor painting is an art that is enjoyed by kids and adults alike.  Children learn it in school, at summer camp and also at home.  Both adults and kids alike use painting as a form of expression of feelings and emotions.  You will find below some tips on watercolor painting to help you improve your painting skills.

  • Washing technique – use a cloth to wet the paper before you begin painting and paint beginning at the top of the paper and work your way downward.
  • For background areas use a wet in wet technique, which allows colors to bleed naturally into one another.
  • Lifting off is a real fun way to make use of watercolor painting – put the paint on the paper and use tissue to blot it.

Watercolor pencils as well as tips and tricks on how to use them.

January 18, 2017

If you are into art, then you will certainly find watercolor pencils an interesting medium to work with. Even though you do need some skill, watercolor pencils take out some difficult tasks (for example: water-to-paint ratio, color blending…) that usually only get better with experience. So if you don’t have experience, watercolor pencil is perfect for you – but don’t expect miracles, you will still need to practice to get the hang of.

You need to understand that you can’t simply draw a picture and then spray it down. That can be done only on simple drawings. For everything else, you need to know some tips and tricks.

If you think that by using watercolor pencils, you don’t have to use watercolor paper, then you are wrong. You do need to use it. Since normal regular papers aren’t made to be used for watercolor, they tend to fall apart. Besides, the color doesn’t spread the way it should and the way you want. That affects the overall quality of the picture and image.

Another great tip is to use watercolor pencils only on those places where you want to get the darker color. Simply draw a line in that area and after that use brush and water to pull the color out of it. That will give you image that classic watercolor look that you want.

If you want to get opposite effect of what I’ve wrote about above – achieve completely light color – then you need to do the following thing.  Lay down water in the area you need light color. But be careful (it comes with experience) not to overload it with water. If you overload it, it will be hard to control it and it will spread around even though you don’t want it. You need to lay down only small amount of water. After that lightly draw a line and use the brush to smooth out the lines. This technique is usually used for bigger areas. You can use it to paint for example sky or background.

Another useful trick is to draw detail lines with something else. By saying something else, I’m thinking of regular color pencil, pencil or maybe ink. Just bear in mind that you should use regular colored pencil before using watercolor pencil or water. If you don’t, the texture of the paper will change and it will be a lot harder to draw on it if it’s wet.

Those tips are all from my personal experience and they’ve come by using common sense. It’s expected that you should know all that if you’ve been using watercolor pencils (Prismacolor watercolor pencils) for some time. If you’ve haven’t then you

What Comprises a Do-It-Yourself Painting Kit Ideas

Before undertaking a do-it-yourself painting project, you must be equipped with the proper tools and equipment. A do-it-yourself painting kit usually consists of patching paste, drop cloth, a putty knife, plastic gloves, a paint thinner, primer and a paint-can opener. Other necessities include masking tape, assorted paint brushes, a paint roller and a roller cover.

Painting kit basics

Aside from the different objects listed above, there are other essentials in order to accomplish your do-it-yourself painting job. For example, to be able to reach the ceiling, an extension bar for the paint rollers will come in handy. This will also spare your clothes from paint spatters. Another tool is a paint tray with a disposable liner. A pail with a screen grid is also needed to remove excess paint from the roller brush. Capping this list is a multipurpose paint tool used for cleaning caulk, applying putty or glaze, pulling and driving nails, scraping paint and cleaning roller brush covers.

Wall preparation

Preparing the wall for a paint job may be the most tedious task in a do-it-yourself painting project. You can just apply a new coat over the old one, but the outcome may not be that pleasing. A much better way is to first get rid of the old paint by scraping the wall with sandpaper and filling any gaps with patching paste. This should be allowed to dry for several hours after which the primer may now be applied. The primer is generally a mixture of white cement and water. To check the consistency of the primer, several strokes may be tested on the wall, after which the first coat of the paint is then applied using the same brush.

How to bring out the ultimate paint effects

There are different paint brushes for different kinds of paint. For latex paint, nylon or synthetic-bristle brushes are recommended, while for oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes, natural-bristle brushes work best.

To minimize the mess, a working paint pot with a wider mouth should be used rather than immersing the brush straight into the paint can. Dipping of the brush into the paint is done halfway up the bristles. And to prevent blotches when painting the wall, the brush should be pressed at the side of the pot to get rid of excess paint.

With the availability of do-it-yourself painting kits, even a novice can get a painting job done in a jiffy.

Art Ideas of Granite – What is Granite?

Granite is a hard, igneous rock of made up of a combination of various minerals. Granite is tougher than sandstone, limestone and marble, and therefore more complicated to mine. Granite is best used as a building stone because of its extreme weather-resistance property. Granite is made up of orthoclase and plagioclase feldspars, quartz, a small amount of mica, and other minerals such as zircon, apatite, magnetite, hornblende and muscovite.

What are the properties of granite?

Granite, together with other crystalline rocks, makes up the surface of the earth as well as the other land masses. Granite forms from the slow cooling of magma as it penetrates deep into the earth, resulting in a coarse-grained type of granite called pegmatite. Granite is generally white or gray with a spotted or blemished appearance due to the darker crystals. Potash feldspar contributes to the granite’s red or flesh color.

What are the features of granite?

Granite may be considered as an antibacterial stone often used in kitchens and bathrooms. You have the option to choose between a polished finish for that lustrous effect and a flamed finish that displays granite’s unique texture.

How to do your own granite project

Before embarking on a do-it-yourself granite project, it is recommended that you first undergo a tutorial (a step-by-step instructional guide on how to go about a granite project), which is now available in VCD format.

There are endless options in the use of granite, a few of which are: setting a wall tile, producing an Old World kitchen, or enclosing a shower cubicle and bathtub wall. Things to be considered are the quantity of granite required and the proper way of laying it out. The tools to use, such as the circular saw and grinder, plus some cement mix and polishing equipment, are readily available in the market at reasonable prices. Installing your own granite countertop in your kitchen or bathroom saves you about 50% of what you could have spent for professional installation.

Add the Christmas Spirit to Your Home

For many of us, we don’t have much time left at the end of a busy day to do anything extra, but still want to do something to make our homes look festive and special during the Christmas period. Here are some ideas for quick and simple ways to add a festive look to your home without spending a lot of time or money.

1. Decorate everything with bows

bows

  • Tie a range of ribbons to chair backs, candlesticks, picks in plants, wreaths, garlands, basket handles, drapery tie-backs, stair railings, and doorknobs.
  • Bows look really festive. The ribbons you choose should tie together with the rest of your decorating. Choose ribbons in colours and patterns that coordinate with your decorating scheme; personally, we love tartan for this time of year!
  • You don’t have to stick with red and green. Nevertheless, if you can’t find anything that looks quite right, then choose contemporary metallic silver and gold or stay traditional with green and red.
  • Choose a ribbon that you can untie and re-tie each year. This will save money in the long run, and you’ll end up with a good collection.
  • When the holidays are over, untie the ribbons and press them lightly. The bows won’t get crushed and the ribbons will be ready when you want to take them out the next year.
  • A handy tip is to use wire. By using wire to make your bows, you’ll be able to attach them to many objects.

2. Table decorations

table-decor

 

 

  • Make sure you have a matching table set. Laura Ashley is a good place to look for a chic table set.
  • Be sure if you select a table set with a pattern that it can be reused year to year. When in doubt keep it simple and just add table decorations, such as candles and bows. These little touches if chosen well add a touch of Christmas.
  • If you’re brave, you can opt for different place settings for each of your guests. Arranging different dishes around the table will give a boho chic feel.
  • This doesn’t just suit Christmas however, it works all year round. Furthermore, when your table sets are not in use, they can be displayed around the room.

3. Lighting

candle

  • Arrange lots of candles on the dining table and dine by candlelight, making the main meal on Christmas day feel special.
  • If you have a fireplace, light it!
  • Arrange candle throughout the house. My mother chooses cinnamon and spice scented candles for Christmas time. ·Nevertheless, be very careful with candles around the house.

4. Hang wreaths

christmas-wreath

  • Putting a wreath on every door you have will add an instant Christmas feeling. If this is too much, be sure to put one on the front door to welcome guests.
  • When making wreaths, use real pine, holly, or grapevine, decorated with bows, berries, fruit, pine cones, raffia, ornaments, birds, photos, or even sweets such as the traditional candy cane.
  • Wreaths will last year after year if you buy artificial wreaths and accessories.

Modern VS Classic Designs

November 24, 2016

Modern or classic designs…which one? This is a question many people, including me, have pondered upon and it takes a lot of time to come to a final decision!

When contemplating design ideas, one thing that designers have in common is whether to go for a modern look or take a complete u-turn and go for a classic look (I personally love to mix and match).

Modernist designers will almost always have square cut furniture which is supposed to bring up a feeling of accomplishment while portraying futuristic images of chrome and black and white designs. You can usually spot a room decorated to modernist views by looking at the colours used and the way the furniture looks.

In the bedroom, the bed is usually lower to the floor with a very minimalist feel to the whole room because white paint is used and only very basic furniture is used to make the room look more spacious. In the living room, white furniture is also preferred with the same feeling of ‘large spaces’ are conveyed. The furniture used is large but kept to a minimal and like the bedroom; modernists like to show their accomplishments through their expensive furniture and artistic decor. Canvases are very popular with this design style.

Classic designers, on the other hand, like furniture to be round and curvy with the emphasis placed on quality and quantity. A bedroom decorated to a classic taste will include as much furniture as the room can take; apart from basic furniture, classical bedrooms will also have side tables, dresser tables and chairs and more than one wardrobe. The colours used are mainly browns and oak related, with splashes of black sometimes included because this style is usually trying to convey a sense of warmth and richness. A living room in this style would also include many pieces of furniture with the same colour theme with an object being to ‘fill the space’ up.

Here are my very simple 3 steps to deciding which design style is for you:

  1. Consider your favourite colours: darker colours will normally suit classical designs, while lighter colours will usually suit modern designs.
  2. Consider the type of look you are going for: if you like feelings of warmth and homeliness, classical designs would suit you better, but if you like feelings of open spaces and light, then modern designs would be the one for you.
  3. Consider you budget: remember that classical designs usually command furniture suggesting a sense of quality so you may have to pay a higher price. Also, consider that modern designs are expressing a sense of futuristic designs so quality is not a factor here.

How Much are Stuhrling Watches?

Stuhrling watches are definitely more distinct than traditional timepieces. Although they’re a high-end item, the designers combine a sense of playfulness and elegance in the designs.

A lot of people are asking this question, Are Stuhrling Watches Junk? Regardless of whether the watch materials include rubber, metals of lesser value such as silver and stainless, or genuine leather, and platinum. Stuhrling watches quality workmanship is evident in each piece.

Many of the available selections are “skeleton” watches; a watch in which the movement can be seen through a transparent face. While other skeleton watches are somewhat conservative, I assume because designers believe the exposed movement should be the focal point, Stuhrling adds detail in the form of color, and abstract qualities to enhance the quirkiness of the undisguised movement. Even the more traditional, opaque faces feature the distinctive characteristics of Stuhrling watches.

Some of the Stuhrling watches review contributors mentioned that they felt the style is similar to designs by Nardin and Chopard, also designers of fine timepieces. These designer timepieces are worn by high-ranking politicians, such as Bill Clinton, movie stars, including Nicolas Cage, and other wealthy consumers. All of the reviewers believed that the similarity in style, offered at a lower price, was to their benefit. Although the designers’ approaches are similar, there are distinctly recognizable differences, too. Stuhrling watches website, as well as several others that offer customer reviews of Stuhrling products, also included discussion forums. Stuhrling is considered a high-end collection, but is not as expensive as other well-known brands.

Stuhrling watches prices are more of a middle of the road option, for those who want quality, but cannot afford thousands for a single piece. Given that the timepieces are not at the far end of the scale, a few customers are concerned that the level of quality may not be in line with the pricing. Mainly, customers contributing to the forums asked, “Are Stuhrling watches any good?”

People have always gravitated toward products that make them look good. Stuhrling watches definitely accomplish this goal. All the designers’ pieces, even the less expensive selections, are stylish, and have a polished, refined appearance. Just the right blend of modern and traditional elements allows the wearer to feel comfortable in a variety of settings, professional, semi-casual, and casual, but also enables them to choose a style that it consistent with their personality, and taste. However, now, more than ever people require that their purchases offer more than a simple accessory that adds to their sense of style. Customers considering any purchase that entails an expense in excess of $100, especially for a single accessory, are beginning to put more time, and thought into their selections. They need to feel as if the money is well spent; possessing quality, and functionality, as well as style. Moreover, they’re interested in durability and longevity.

The entirety of the Stuhrling watches history can be found on their website. Descriptive articles, mainly regarding the corporate development of the brand, are available on Stuhrling watches wiki type encyclopedia sites. Both options detail the dedication of the designer, and corporate officers to maintaining the brand in a manner consistent with the original commitment to quality workmanship, and the use of exceptional materials. The current collection of Stuhrling automatic watches best represents the company’s vast expertise in watch making, and the meticulous passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. Although the movements initially tend to confuse consumers used to the convenience, and ease of use associated with quartz-powered watches, automatic, self-winding watches have been commonplace far longer.

Other corporations have been forced to outsource their production, and reduce the quality of their products to alleviate the struggle to stay in business. However, there are no indications that Stuhrling has had to make the same sacrifices; the traditions of precision, attention to detail, and pride in a well-produced piece, key to the industry, continue to be embraced throughout the production cycle. Consumers interested in timepieces that will withstand continued use over long periods, as well as those interested in potential heirloom items can be confident that the current watches are every bit as well made as their predecessors.

Stuhrling prices range from as little as $50 to $1,500 or more, depending upon the crystal, metal composition, style, complexity of the movement, and number, and size of precious stones. Limited editions are priced higher according to the above criteria and their projected value as collectors’ items. Used, and special edition watches can be found at lower prices through private parties, vendors dealing exclusively in collector watches, discount outlets, and auction sites. In general, new limited edition pieces are priced at about $2,000. When selecting any designer item, care should be taken to ensure that it is not a counterfeited version. Regardless of price range, Stuhrling watches represent an excellent investment.

General Contractor Gone Wild?

November 24, 2016

In my line of business right now I don’t work for general contractors at all, but in my office, I have a fellow coworker that this is all he does.

I don’t mean to laugh at him but at times I just can’t help it. I mean Rob works his ass off and bids everything that comes his way. Yet, he gets so upset because he does not get most of the bids that he spends hours and hours on. Why?

Well for one, general contractors just use him as a bidding Guinnea pig because they need several bids for their project.

So Rob is always asking me what he is doing wrong? Rob bids about a million a month and gets about 10% of the work he bids. Yes, $100,000 a month is not bad for Rob but he really wants more.

My answer to Rob was to fire a few of his general contractors! Yes, he looked at me like I was nuts but then I sat him down and explained.

Do you remember the 80/20 percent rule post I wrote awhile back? Well, this is where it all comes into play. I had Rob list all his general contractors and next to their names, had him put a check-mark next to the ones he sold something to in the last 6 months.

Remember, when you bid for general contractors it can take up to 3 months for them to get the nod they have the project. This is why I had Rob go back 6 months.

By doing this we dropped 50% off the list. This was the 50% that he received no work at all for 6 months but he spent hours and hours bidding.

Then I went one step further and cut 1 more month off the list. This got the list down to roughly 30%. This 30 percent is truly his very best client base. This is where Rob gets 99% of his income from.

So by doing this small exercise Rob is able to fire 50% of his general contractors and constraint on his 30% core clients but also continue  bidding on the other 20% that he does receive a job from now and then.

Plus if he truly wants to get more income then he will find out what he needs to do with the 20% and work hard to get more of their business because he already knows that he has a good lock on the 30 % he already gets most of the work from.

Just think how much more time Rob has now to devote to his core client base. I can tell Rob is much happier now because he does not jump up and down as much. And if he is, he is jumping for joy because he just landed another contract from his general contractor.

Take the time and see who your core client really is. I’ll bet you will be surprised.