Practicing with new art materials – brush pen and Peerless watercolours on shikishi

I’m honestly quite lazy when it comes to art supplies, but both 2014 and 2015 so far have been pretty productive for me in terms of actually trying new art materials and tools. This past weekend was the Japanese Paper Place’s annual warehouse clearance sale, and combined with the prior weekend’s stop at Curry’s, meant I had a few new things to play with!

Shikishi brush pen test drawing 2 Shikishi brush pen test drawing 2

I was fortunate enough to chat with the Japanese Paper Place’s owner and founder, Nancy Jacobi (many years ago I interviewed her for a school project, and she’s a very lovely lady!). I was eyeing the stacks of shikishi (Japanese rice paper artboards with gold trim, frequently used for calligraphy), and she very kindly allowed me to try my Pentel pocket brush pen on both the front and the back! I really liked the end result and ended up buying a whole bunch of gold and silver squares, as well as a few larger pieces and some ingenious folding frames for display. Above are two photos of my test drawings – the Japanese lantern is on the “back”, while the quick doodle of hanging paper stars was on the actual “front”.

Japanese Paper Place warehouse sale purchases - shikishi and framesPeerless watercolours - concentrated watercolour films

The weekend before my friends had also gifted me with some art supplies, namely Peerless watercolour concentrated films. I’d always seen them and wondered how they were, but never tried them. They’re really neat, basically highly concentrated films of watercolour – you snip off little bits of what you want to use, and add water. (A small pillbox or other segmented box would be very handy for holding/storing the pieces.)

Shikishi wip of Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho with brush pen and Peerless watercolours

For my first test piece, I did an illustration of Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho. The character is a thousand-years+ silver youko (demon fox), so the silver backed shikishi made for a really appropriate colour and texture (visually, the back almost looked like fur). I roughly sketched in pencil, then inked with the brush pen before applying watercolours – Flesh Tint, Japonica Scarlet, Sky Blue, Light and Dark Greens.

Closeup of Kurama shikishi

As you can see from the close up above, the ink and paints both bleed slightly. The front of the shikishi also have tiny flecks of silver that shimmer in the light, but don’t necessarily photograph/scan that well.

Front of the Kurama shikishi in its display frame

Back of the Kurama shikishi in its display frame

The paper is strong, but feels very thin, so I kept worrying when I was erasing by pencil lines. I’m going to use some softer erasers on it for future drawings.

I’d also like to try looser, even more ink wash/sumi-e-like and minimalist illustrations in the next go around.

Front and back of the Kurama shikishi