My very dear friend - and cousin by marriage, Glenys, had suggested we go together, so off we went on Monday morning, through the gorgeous autumnal Cotswold countryside to the Farncombe Estate near Broadway, Worcs.
Fiona is a top class teacher, and I learnt such a lot. She's very generous with her knowledge and advice, as well as being a really lovely lady - and of course, a wonderful artist! Derwent were very fortunate, as they needed someone able to make the new products 'work' for what was, predominately, a more traditional audience.
The workshop was based around two new products, the Graphik Line Makers and Graphik Line Painters Pens. A selection of these was included in the cost of the workshop, plus the Inspire Me sketchbook, a new H20 waterbrush and a set of 12 Inktense blocks. Fiona had asked for the Inktense in addition to the Graphiks, having quickly recognised the new products have limitations for line and wash. I think we were all very grateful!
Let's talk about the Line Makers first: these are similar to a number of artist pens already available. Packaged in some funky new pouches, they felt nice and light to handle and I liked the range of nib widths ( 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8) in black only. You can see in the video that Sepia is more a mid brown tone, but I did like the grey, Graphite, very much.
The Line Makers are similar to a number of artist pens already on the market. They come in sets of 3 or 6 (black only). Retailing around £4-6.00, or around £12.00 for 6.
I did a wash test on all three colours this morning, using my original line test ( made 4 days ago, so plenty of time for the ink to dry). I found Black isn't water resistant, but there was good holding power from both Sepia and Graphite.
I'll be sticking to my Black Pitt pens when I don't want a blurred line! I'm assuming Derwent are primarily going for the Zentangle market with the Line Markers and Sketchbook. Having said that, they are both a useful addition to my supplies - although I probably wouldn't have just bought them if I hadn't done the workshop.
The Line Painters are basically acrylic ink in an applicator style format. The colour range is vibrant (if you like a muted palette - be warned, the colours aren't subtle, and mixing is not easy!) They all have names like 'Tickled' (pink) and 'Herring' (red) You get the idea......!
The pens have to be primed before you can use them, and they work best on very smooth paper. The drying time is very fast! The ink soaks in/dries immediately on any dry, absorbent surface. (I actually find this useful as it's an effective way to get vibrant, controllable colour on fabric, but that's another story..... )
You can also dampen the paper surface first. You do need to work quickly though. Fiona gave a demonstration using them to paint a landscape, but they are really more suited as an addition to mixed media work. You'd probably be better buying traditional acrylic inks if you want to use them more extensively. They come in a nicely designed pouch ( there are 4 pouch sets - 20 colours, 5 different pens in each), but the colour choice is a bit odd. Another important point (which is only mentioned on the underside of the pack label) is that they must be stored flat. Not good for those of us who like our pens and pencils accessible in pots/containers.
If you have a vibrant, linear, style you will love these pens. They would be wonderful for mixed media work and lettering on smooth paper, and also work well on dark papers. Single pens are around £2.76 each and sets between £10-16.00.
I would probably buy a couple more, as white would be very useful, and a green - however that's purely because they do what I want on fabric. I'm less likely to use them on paper.
It was fun using these new products, but the most useful parts of the day for me were done using good old Inktense, and getting Fiona's expert knowledge and advice. Using a size 12 mop for the first time ever was liberating, so I ordered some of her brushes, and her new book straight away, (and I never buy art books these days - so you know I've been impressed!) A signed copy was waiting for me when I got home today, together with her DS dot card, and a handwritten thank you card - how lovely. Do check out her website, she has some great tutorials, like this one.
Can't wait to try the brushes! I'll let you know if they help me in my quest to 'free up'!