I have been using a daylight lamp in my art studio for many years but thought it was time to replace my old lamp once the wiring began to fray. As it got worse, no amount of electrical tape would keep it secure and it became a safety risk.
I received an email from the online art store Cassart, notifying me they had a sale on their daylight lamps, an ideal time to replace my old one and get a brand new one for a good price. After much deliberation, I chose the Lumi LED task lamp. It looked sleek and with a 20" wide head and I knew it would provide more light than my previous model.
Here, I offer my thoughts on this product.
With the Lumi light measuring 20" wide, it provides balanced coverage over a large area. The head itself can twist 180° and provide light where you need it most. It can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally, but can be maneuvered into varying positions.
The 'on' button is found on the top of the light. It offers two levels of brightness which can you can adjust by pressing the button twice.
Although the LED lights cannot be replaced which may concern some people, they provide over 50,000 hours of usage. Continuous usage at 8 hours a day, 5 days a week means your light could last around 24 years so this does not seem much of an issue after all. LED lighting also uses less power than bulbs whilst emitting the same amount of light. They are less susceptible to breakage and last far longer than a traditional bulb.
" Light is a natural resource that is mostly taken for granted. We know, however, that the right light in the right place can have a dramatic, positive effect on your life and work. We also know that natural daylight can help improve work performance and efficiency. Since the 1980’s, we have made it our mission to design the best lamps we can, to make a significant improvement to people’s lives. "
My personal rating: 8/10
I give 8 out of 10 for a few reasons. I am quite sensitive to bright light and personally find it too bright even on the lowest setting though this is not the fault of the manufacturer, so I remedy this by positioning it at a distance. The second concern is the plastic head which is not as durable as the rest of the light. I feel it may weaken over time when twisting the head, especially if you are turning it the wrong way, so it is important to do this with care. The lights cannot be replaced so should they become damaged, you would need to replace the whole light.
Which light do you use in your home/studio for your craft/art? What do you love about it or wish you could adapt to make it perfect for you?
Comment below and share your experience
I was invited once again to create a coloured pencil tutorial for the American Colored pencil magazine workshop series. Past tutorials contributed to this series are the Blueberries (2018) and the Peacock Feather (2019). This year I chose the Hare, a very popular subject among artists. Click the image below, which links to the page where you can purchase a digital (or print) copy of the magazine. If you are in the UK, the digital copy costs less than £2.50 and you can download it in seconds. A great read at a cheap price.
What is included in this issue?
Spotlighting Art-n-Fly - Art-n-fly is an affordable oil-based coloured pencil which is covered in this edition. There is a link to a You Tube video demonstrating these pencils used with Art-n-fly alcohol markers.
Finding the Unique You - Alexandra Zeres showing her artwork framed in flowers, birds and butterflies
Creating Prints of Your Art - Learn how to navigate the options in order to get started printing and providing your followers and fans with gorgeous prints of your artwork.
Hare Tutorial - Workshop series by Karen M Berisford
Pairing with Pitt Pens - Sara Ostlund compares the pros and cons of using the Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens with your coloured pencils. Follow her demo to try it for yourself.
Creating a Beautiful Layout - Learn how to create beautiful layouts by Erin McManness in an excerpt from the book of the month.
Sketchbook - See what's new and in the news
Challenge Met Gallery - Artwork of 18 artists who undertook every monthly art challenge in 2020 and won themselves a free digital subscription.
plus Selfie challenge and December art challenge winners.
Featuring: Ambro Jordi
Ambro brings animals to life when he puts pencil to paper. Learn how he went from pursuing a career in animation to one in fine art. Read how he enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and offering words of encouragement.
FREE Art-n-Fly Oil-Based Colored Pencil inside the USA Print Issues only - While Supplies Last
Price: USA $3.99 UK £2.87* Euro €3.31*
*Price may vary due to exchange rate when you purchase.
Download the CPM app
You can also download the Colored pencil magazine app on your Android or Apple device and purchase this edition, although there are no discounts available. The price is $2.99 and £2.99
About the reference image
If you haven't read this magazine before, you may find it a valuable resource as not only does it provide plenty of data on coloured pencils, it occasionally covers other mediums like pastel pencils and marker pens. There is an abundance of articles offering hints and tips, tutorials like this Hare above, regular competitions, a peek into the lives and studios of other artists and even guidance on the art business. They also have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages too so you can get involved in those competitions wherever you are in the world - I even had a go myself a few years ago!
Jackons's Uncradled Gesso Panel provides artists with a pre-prepared fine tooth surface that’s ideal for all painting styles, including oil paints, acrylics and mixed media. It features a professional acid-free gesso ground that is lightly textured, professionally applied to warp resistant, sturdy, tempered panels.
I have been working with acrylics for over 10 years and found that canvas just did not suit my needs very early on in my journey. I like to create fine detail in my work and the weave of the canvas does not allow me to do this. I found the Ampersand boards back in 2017 and their smoother surface were far more ideal, and the rigid nature of the board was more supportive. After researching the different surfaces available, I began with the Gessobord, followed by the Pastelbord because I was able to buy this in other colours other than white, which are grey, tan and green. I can only purchase the white and grey in the UK however at the time of writing this article. I have always worked exclusively on tonal bases, as it offered me a mid-ground for which to build my layers on. As the Gessobord is only available in white, I had to apply a colour wash before I began, so when I came across Jackson's Art Gesso panels back in 2019, they looked ideal. My preferred base colours have always been grey and tan, so the fact that the Jackson’s Art Gesso panels provided both these tones were perfect. As the panels are already treated with a gesso ground, I could get straight into the painting without initial preparation.
Comparing Ampersand Gessobord and Jacksons Art gesso board
The surface appears almost identical in texture, but the Ampersand boards are treated with a gesso ground that do not contain any animal derivatives. The latter is also archival and made from renewable sources. I have emailed Jackson’s Art to check this information for their gesso board, and am awaiting a reply. Once I receive it I will add it here.
The Jackson’s Art Gesso board is 3mm thick, as are the Ampersand boards. The edging around the board is flat with square corners and hard edges, the Ampersand boards have curved edges and corners making them smoother to the touch. Once framed though, it does not make a difference. When viewing the back of the board, they are almost identical. The only difference between the two is the Ampersand one has the board name stamped on the back, the Jackson’s Art brand is plain.
The Gesso board is available in various sizes and shapes from square, rectangular and panoramic sizing. Prices vary from £3.00 to £43.00 (prices correct as of March 2021)
Click the link below to find out more about this product at Jackson's Art (Local, national and international deliveries available)
This is an independent review. I have not received a commission for this article.
A while back I purchased a couple of sheets of the latest Colourfix paper. It is a smoother version of the standard paper that was launched by Art Spectrum in 2017
Available colours are the same as the standard Colourfix options which you can view HERE
Art Spectrum® Colourfix™ Smooth is manufactured by screen printing Colourfix™ Smooth Primer onto European Archival 300gsm Hot Pressed watercolour paper making 340gsm pastel paper.
Comparison between the standard Colourfix paper and the smooth version
Below is a magnified image of the Colourfix standard paper versus the smooth surface. As you can see, the standard surface appears quite gritty next to the smooth surface. You can see how the smooth compares to the very popular Pastelmat paper below.
How does the Colourfix smooth compare to Pastelmat?
Here is a magnified image of the Colourfix smooth and Clairfontaine Pastelmat paper comparison. They look and feel exactly the same and I suspect Art Spectrum brought out the Colourfix smooth paper in competition with Pastelmat, knowing how popular the paper is.
Violet flower on Colourfix smooth paper
Having completed a soft pastel drawing on this paper, it reminded me of the popular Pastelmat paper. Pastels go on smoothly and is easy to blend on. As I blend by overlaying pastels rather than using my fingers or tools, this paper makes it easier to do this due to its smoothness, not as easy on the original surface which has more of a tooth. This paper is great for those just starting out with pastels and is suitable for other mediums such as pencils and acrylic paints.
The latest tutorial available on our website, created for inclusion in our autumn newsletter 2020, shows you how to create a Violet flower on the Colourfix smooth paper. Using soft pastels on the Leaf Green Dark tone (you can use any colour surface) we break down the process of base application with pastel blocks to creating the fine details using the PITT pastel pencils (you can use your own pastel range)
**NEW** COLOURFIX™ OPTIMUM BOARD
Loxley spray fixative 200ml is a high quality, colourless, non-yellowing protection medium with UV Filter and is CFC free.
It protects artwork from atmosphere damage caused by moisture and the suns UV rays as well as preventing smudging and is recommended particularly for use on charcoal, pencil, pastel, crayon, chalk drawings and paintings.
This is available in two sizes: 200ml and 400ml.
I have used this product for many years to help seal my graphite and coloured pencil drawings as well as my pastel portraits too. I have tried some other fixatives, but I personally like this one due to the fact that it also includes a UV filter, which offers extra protection. Some fixative nozzles can become blocked which is when spitting happens and this can leave marks on your drawing, particularly noticeable if you use it for your pastel paintings. I have never had that problem with the Loxley one.
When working on my coloured pencil portraits, I sometimes apply a fixative between the layers which helps to extend the working surface and minimise saturation if I have applied a large amount of layers to a particular piece. As the fixative secures previous layers, ensure you have finished blending as you may not be able to do this after sealing it with fixative. In the video above, you can see the Loxley fixative appear in the video showing you where I apply a spray of fixative. There are around 8 or 9 layers on this area alone and as I need to apply highlights to the dark fur, the fixative allows me to do this without muddying the colours. I can then continue with more layers. Once the portrait is complete, I treat it with two layers over the whole of the portrait to minimise smudging and to offer extra protection to the framed portrait, particularly as many people do not choose a UV or museum glass when framing.
If you work with pastels, you may wonder if you should use a fixative on your drawings. Take a look at the comparison photos below and see what may happen if you do. The one on the left is before applying fixative and the one on the right is after. See how the fixative has darkened the colours, creating a more translucent finish. The fixative has dampened the pastel application, causing the darkening of the pastels. This may depend on the pastels you use though as higher quality pastels may not react in the same way as cheaper brand ones due to their being more pigment in them. Many papers, particularly textured ones, do not require a fixative as they hold the pastel well with minimal pastel drop. At the end of the day, the final decision is yours alone.
When spraying, hold the can about 12" away from your upright drawing and spray evenly from top to bottom. It has also been suggested to me that you can turn your drawing 45 degrees and respray, so you are applying a balanced amount over the whole of your drawing. Spray too close and you may create speckling from the aerosol.
Never use hairspray as a fixative. Manufacturers of hairspray make this product for use on hair, not artwork. As hairspray is not acid-free, should you spray it over your artwork, it could cause it to yellow over time. The acid in the hairspray can cause discolouration of the pigment and may also make the paper brittle too. If you have ever used hairspray, you'll note that some can leave a tacky residue behind, not good for your work. It really is better to buy a fixative made for art, which will help protect your work properly for many years.
If you wish to see the final portrait of the Boxer dog being created in the video above, click this link
This paper is generally used for watercolour art but can be used with pencils, pastels and acrylics too. This article covers coloured pencils on the paper.
Suitable for: Watercolour, Acrylic, Gouache, Pastel, Pen & Ink, Pencil and Charcoal
- Superior surface stability
- Acid Free & Archival - The paper will last for hundreds of years (in good storage conditions) and won’t discolour or fall apart.
- Quality at an Affordable Price - High quality paper at a much lower price
- Excellent Colour Lifting Abilities - Easy to lift the colour wash to get back to the white base paper.
LAYERING & BLENDING
Easy layering & application of fine detail
Using Zest-it pencil blend on Bockingford tint paper
I recommend that you soak and stretch the paper before applying a solvent such as Zest-it to avoid the paper cockling (buckling).
(Ken Bromley ship worldwide)
These pencils have been available to 'pre-order' for a while, but online stores, are now receiving stock and getting them sent out to everyone. My set appeared on Saturday morning (18.07.20) and I have to admit to being very excited upon opening the box.
You can view our Luminance article by clicking the link below.
The two day, coloured pencil workshop that was booked to run over the weekend of 15th and the 16th of August has now been rolled over to next year.
The Coronavirus has turned many lives and businesses upside down this year, and although we are all trying to get back to normal, it's going to take some time adapting to the new normal. Government regulations offer advice for all businesses and event planners to follow so they can provide a service as safely as possible. For many, this is possible, for others, it isn't. This workshop comes under the latter, and unfortunately there are too many hurdles that I, as the art tutor, am unable to fulfil.
The room where the workshop is held, is simply too small for social distancing. The raison d'etre of my workshops is providing demonstrations and one to one help, any social distancing means the whole point of the workshop is lost. Other guidelines, understandably, cover strict sanitation and it would be almost impossible to follow all the requirements.
As many are still concerned about gathering in groups, the interest in this workshop has been low, meaning people are simply not booking and the workshop is not viable.
I have decided to roll all my 2020 art workshops over to 2021 whilst adding in a Coronavirus caveat which may affect a workshop depending on the situation at that time. Anyone who wanted to attend the workshops this year, can still attend next year if they are able. You can click on any of the images below to find out more information on each workshop. I will open up bookings in the new year.
Stay safe everyone,
Artist & art tutor of Step by Step Art
2020 Art Workshops
Every year I choose 3 or 4 subjects for the Coloured pencil & Graphite pencil workshops which include varying techniques and surfaces to previous years, ensuring each workshop is different to another. Coloured pencil workshops using textured paper are somewhat easier for a complete beginner than the workshops working on smooth paper, however every workshop available can be attended by any artist regardless of their calibre, even if they have NEVER drawn anything since their time at school!
To find out more about our workshops, click any one of the following links to visit the page of interest:
Reviews & Tutorials
Latest product reviews
Derwent released their first 100% lightfast Coloured pencil range this year and I decided to try them out on both smooth and textured surfaces, see how I got on.
The CarbOthello pastel pencils offer 60 vibrant colours and would make a great addition to the colour palette of any Pastellist. Find out more about this range.
In this article, I mixed pencil blend and Derwent Lightfast pencils on both the Pastelbord surface and the Strathmore bristol plate surface, check out the review.
This canvas is an ideal surface for many different mediums, not just pastels and in this article I show what is achievable using Acrylics & Coloured pencils.
New Mini Tutorials
Requested by a 'SBS Art' subscriber, this tutorial shows you how to create depth and movement in water using Coloured pencils. For all art abilities.
Originally published in the USA Colored pencil magazine in 2018, this tutorial explains the process of how to create Blueberries in Coloured pencil. For all art levels.
An in depth guide explaining how to create a dogs eye using Graphite pencils and other accessories that will help you achieve a highly detailed, 3D drawing.
Finally, you can always SUBSCRIBE to our quarterly newsletter, ensuring you receive the very latest articles, delivered straight to your E-mail.
Karen M Berisford
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Rabbit Coloured Pencil Art Workshop#
Rabbit In Coloured Pencils
Ring Tailed Lemur Art Workshop
Robin In Coloured Pencils
Shetland Sheepdog UK Pencil Workshop
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Sumatran Tiger Art Workshop
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