Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014 and my goals for 2015!

2014 is over.

I went through my diary and looked at what I did this year. In 2014, I:
* Completed 14 video games.
* Read 54 books.
* Did 51 paintings or other art things.
* Did 173 Japanese lessons.

2014 was a year of monthly goals and art challenges, really. Monthly goals stopped after the illness from hell around September. Art challenges continued until December. I didn't have time for the first one of December, and I had even less time for a second, so much so that there wasn't a second one at all. Paintcember didn't make it very far and neither did my goal of catching up with all my blogs. In December, I was 1) working full time, 2) teaching a class at a local school and 3) doing two part-time training courses. I didn't have time for much else. The working thing is ongoing through half of January at least and so is one of the training courses and I have no idea what's happening after that, so I don't think it's at all realistic for me to go back to monthly goals for next year. I also don't see myself being able to do art challenges, either.

To be honest, after meticulously planning out most of my free time this year, I think I'm going to enjoy being more free to do whatever I like.

So, yearly goals is born. It's kind of like resolutions but without the monthly goals, it's probably going to be easier for them to all collapse. So, exactly like resolutions, then, but purely based on hobbies.

In 2015, I want to:
* Complete 15 games.
* Complete 30 paintings or other art things.
Read 30 books.
* Complete 50 Japanese lessons.

Every month, this breaks down into:
* 1.25 video games.
* 2.5 paintings or other art things.
* 2.5 books.
* 4-5 Japanese lessons.

I would also like to:
* Practice brush painting and calligraphy.
* Work on digital art. It's hard with an ancient and huge tablet and nowhere to really do it, but I'd like to give it a go again. 
* Sell something. I say this every year, but maybe this will be the year that it actually happens.

That should be possible, even if I work myself to death. Hopefully I'll have more time to do what I want to do when I feel like doing it. If I manage to beat all these goals then I'll make more, but that should be enough for now.

Here's to 2015!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

My Winsor & Newton watercolour collection.

This has been sitting in drafts for ages, but I thought I'd post it. Hopefully it'll be useful for anyone looking to buy a Winsor and Newton set.

I'm trying to keep track of the colours I use, the replacements I have and the sets I have. I've never used the professional watercolours: they're for when I'm a bit less shit at painting. Lately, Cotman colours don't seem to be cutting it for me like they used to, though, so I'm itching to move on but I have so much Cotman paint still. This will help me organise my palettes so I can use them up.

I've noted which sets contained which half pans on arrival and what I have loose for when I need to replace a colour, but the whole pans are all from the whole pan studio set, which has 24 whole pans in it. Tubes were all bought individually, and I bought the colours I use the most (with the exception of Chinese white and intense blue, which someone gave to me. I hate intense blue and I've never used Chinese white).

I got bored and made a spreadsheet for my Cotman watercolours so I could see exactly how many I had of each (yay for spreadsheet calculations!), and I used the numbers to make up three different palettes: 12, 24 and 32. At the moment I'm using the 24-pan palette. I'm tempted to switch back to the 12-pan until I've used a few more of them, but I'm using a lot of pinks and purples lately and it's nice to have to do less mixing as it speeds the process up a bit. I can't paint outside in winter anyway, so the size of the paintbox isn't really an issue at the moment. The spreadsheet is colour-coded according to which palette the paints are in. Dark blue is the 12 pan palette, mid is the 24 pan palette, and light is the 32 pan palette. Each palette contains whatever was also in the smaller palettes.


T = tube (8ml Cotman, 5ml Professional)
WP = whole pan (can't buy Cotman whole pans separately, unfortunately, so when they're gone, they're gone)
HP = half pan

W&N Cotman Watercolour:
*Lemon Yellow Hue: 1WP, 7HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 3HP loose)
+Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue: 1WP, 6HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
*Cadmium Yellow Hue: 1T, 1WP, 8HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
Gamboge Hue: 1HP - (1HP studio set)
Cadmium Orange Hue: 1WP, 2HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP painting plus set)
*Cadmium Red Pale Hue: 1WP, 8HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
Cadmium Red Hue: 1WP, 2HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP compact set)
Cadmium Red Deep Hue: 1WP, 3HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP painting plus set)
*Alizarin Crimson Hue: 1WP, 9HP - (1WP studio set, 2HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
+Permanent Rose: 5HP - (1HP studio set, 4HP loose)
*Rose Madder Hue: 1T, 5HP - (1HP studio set, 4HP loose)
+Dioxazine Violet: 5HP - (1HP studio set, 4HP loose)
+Mauve: 4HP - (1HP studio set, 3HP loose)
*Purple Lake: 1WP, 7HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 3HP loose)
*Ultramarine: 1T, 1WP, 9HP - (1WP studio set, 2HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
+Intense Blue: 1T, 1WP, 6HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP painting plus set, 3HP loose)
Indigo: 1HP - (1HP studio set)
Prussian Blue: 1HP - (1HP studio set)
*Cobalt Blue Hue: 1WP, 8HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP painting plus set, 4HP loose)
*Cerulean Blue Hue: 1WP, 8HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 4HP loose)
+Turquoise: 5HP - (1HP studio set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 3HP loose)
*Viridian Hue: 1WP, 8HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
Hooker's Green Light: 1HP - (1HP studio set)
Hooker's Green Dark: 2HP - (1HP studio set, 1HP painting plus set)
+Intense Green: 4HP - (1HP studio set, 3HP loose)
*Sap Green: 1T, 1WP, 8HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
+Emerald: 5HP - (1HP studio set, 1HP painting plus set, 3HP loose)
*Yellow Ochre: 1WP, 9HP - (1WP studio set, 2HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
Raw Sienna: 1WP, 1HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set)
*Burnt Sienna: 1WP, 8HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
Light Red: 1WP, 1HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set)
Indian Red: 2HP - (1HP studio set, 1HP painting plus set)
Raw Umber: 1WP, 2HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP painting plus set)
*Burnt Umber: 1T, 1WP, 8HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 1HP loose)
Vandyke Brown: 3HP - (1HP studio set, 2HP loose)
Sepia: 3HP - (1HP studio set, 2HP loose)
Payne's Gray: 1WP, 3HP - (1WP studio set, 1HP studio set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP painting plus set)
Lamp Black: 4HP - (1HP studio set, 1HP painting plus set, 2HP loose)
*Ivory Black: 2T, 1WP, 6HP - (1WP studio set, 2HP studio set, 4HP loose)
*Chinese White: 1T, 1WP, 11HP - (1WP studio set, 2HP studio set, 1HP pocket sketchers set, 1HP deluxe pocket sketchers set, 1HP pocket plus set, 1HP field plus set, 1HP compact set, 1HP painting plus set, 3HP loose)

W&N Professional Watercolours:
Lemon Yellow: 1HP (metal box set)
Winsor Yellow: 3HP (bamboo box set, metal box set, field box set)
Aureolin: 2HP (metal box set, field box set)
Transparent Yellow: 1HP (bamboo box set)
Cadmium Yellow: 1HP (loose)
Winsor Orange: 1HP (metal box set)
Scarlet Lake: 1HP (bamboo box set)
Cadmium Red: 1HP (loose)
Winsor Red: 2HP (metal box set, field box set) 
Rose DorĂ©: 1HP (loose)
Permanent Alizarin Crimson: 2HP (bamboo box set, metal box set)
Alizarin Crimson: 1HP (field box set)
Permanent Rose: 2HP (metal box set, loose)
Rose Madder Genuine: 1HP (loose)
Permanent Magenta: 1HP (loose)
Permanent Mauve: 1HP (loose)
Winsor Violet: 1HP (metal box set)
French Ultramarine: 2HP (metal box set, field box set)
Ultramarine (Green Shade): 1HP (bamboo box set)
Cobalt Blue: 1HP (loose)
Winsor Blue (Red Shade): 1HP (bamboo box set)
Prussian Blue: 1HP (metal box set)
Winsor Blue (Green Shade): 2HP (metal box set, field box set)
Cerulean Blue (Red Shade): 1HP (loose)
Cerulean Blue: 1HP (metal box set)
Winsor Green (Blue Shade): 1HP (bamboo box set)
Viridian: 1HP (loose)
Oxide of Chromium: 1HP (metal box set)
Permanent Sap Green: 3HP (bamboo box set, metal box set, field box set)
Olive Green: 2HP (metal box set, loose)
Yellow Ochre: 3HP (bamboo box set, metal box set, field box set)
Raw Sienna: 2HP (metal box set, field box set)
Burnt Sienna: 3HP (bamboo box set, metal box set, field box set)
Raw Umber: 1HP (metal box set)
Burnt Umber: 2HP (bamboo box set, metal box set)
Indigo: 1HP (metal box set)
Payne's Gray: 1HP (metal box set)
Ivory Black: 3HP (bamboo box set, metal box set, field box set)
Chinese White: 3HP (metal box set, field box set, loose)
LE Phthalo Sapphire: 5T
LE Yellow Titanate: 3T
LE Gold Brown: 3T
LE Transparent Orange: 3T
LE Indian Red Deep: 3T
LE Dark Brown: 3T


I have banned myself from buying Cotman sets. Sort of. I bought the vast majority of them just for the boxes but that's left me with so much paint it's ridiculous. The 12 whole pan box is probably next, though. Cotman whole pans aren't available separately, the colour range for this set is great (no Chinese white! YES!) and best of all, it's the same box as the deluxe sketchers' set but with the extra divider included, so when I'm not using it I can steal the divider for my half pan box. I don't have a small set for whole pans already, either. I haven't used my whole pans much but they've taken a bit of a beating already, so it'll be nice to have another 12 spare, and when they're done I can replace them with professional grade paints. Since whole pans are only available in the studio set and this set, they don't really count towards the ban. I'll update this post when the whole pan box gets added to my collection. But I'll just have to ignore the fact that I can find a tiny Cotman mini plus box but the professional bijou box appears to be discontinued. Yup, totally ignoring the cute little Cotman paintbox. Definitely don't want one. Nope. Really not interested in it at all.

Look! A distraction! Photos of paints! Here are all the Winsor & Newton sets that I own. There's quite a few. 

Cotman sets

* Pocket Sketchers' Set (12HP):

These paints are from another set - I put the paints I'd used into the set I'm currently using instead.

This was the first set I started to use. It was the set I used for painting outside and inside and everywhere, actually. I like how small it is: it doesn't take long for me to set up to paint or for me to clean up afterwards, and the 12 colours meant that I was given a crash course in mixing paint right from the start, which was great. As a total beginner, I really didn't need more than that. I also really love how the pans are stored. They don't budge when I'm lifting paint off of them. No rattling, no sliding along the row, nothing. They're also all individual, which makes any mess very easy to clean up. The only problem I had with it was that the paint palette, while okay at first, just wasn't big enough for everything I wanted to do, so I bought a folding palette with a thumb hole and used that when I needed a bit more space. It wasn't the end of the world. The mini brush isn't great, though. It looked quite used quite quickly and now I use something else instead, but this set has been used a lot so that brush has put up with a lot of my crap already.

* Pocket Plus Set (12HP):

The other palette also comes out of the lid so you can clean it.

This set is basically useless to me now with the other sets that I have, which is a shame. The palette slots into the lid for storage and you can also attach it to the other side, but if you do that it hangs over the paint pans slightly and my brush catches on it when I'm lifting paint, making a mess. The blue thing is actually a thumb loop but using it makes the box very unsteady and it has a tendency to come off where it's attached to the box underneath. The angle of the palette (both palettes, since the second one being in the way of the paints annoys me, so I always attach it to the lid) depends very much on the wobbly thumb loop, and I've never yet managed to hold the box in a way that makes the palette actually level. They're only almost level if the thumb loop isn't in use, so I'm not entirely sure why it's there. The brush is a proper mini Cotman brush though, which is nice. You also do get more mixing space with that extra palette, so it may remove the need I had to buy one. The cartridges are great, they really do lock the pans in place. The only downside to them is that they aren't that much fun to clean up: it's a much bigger chore to keep this set looking nice than it is for the regular pocket sketchers' set, and I hate working with dirty paints and a dirty paintbox. The gaps between the pans and the openness of the cartridges make it very easy for them to get very messy rather quickly. This set is the same size as the regular pocket sketchers' set and it certainly goes some way to fixing the problem of mixing space, but that thumb loop is my nemesis, the cartridges are a pain to clean and it's much easier for me to just use the regular version with the external palette.

* Deluxe Sketchers' Set (16-24HP):

It didn't occur to me to photograph it with the original paints, so you'll have to use your imagination.

This set rattles. A lot. Those pans are NOT fixed in place at all. It's not so bad when the set is new and the pans are all overflowing with paint, but when you need to dig the dregs out of your beloved half-dead pans, the fact that they run away from the brush all the time makes it quite irritating. The palette is great though, easily one of my favourites from the sets. I don't care about the pencil or the brush, but the pencil can always be replaced with a proper mini brush if you have one. This is the set that I'm currently using. When I looked at which paints I had the most of, they wouldn't fit into a 12-pan box. 

I noticed that you can add a third row of pans to the box if you have a spare divider, making it a 24-pan box instead, but I don't have a spare divider and I don't know anywhere that sells them. I searched the internet all over and then emailed Winsor & Newton about it. Unfortunately, the reply came back that they were never sold separately. The 12 whole pan set for this box comes with the divider but it's impossible to get if you get the half-pan set. The bottom part of my box had an eraser and the pocket brush in it, but the pocket brush still fits with a third row added and I never use the eraser. I've put the extra row in anyway but they aren't very secure (so they rattle even more than usual). I'm going to try and see if using the set with the palette facing me makes it any easier. I'm also thinking of adding wedges of folded tissue to stop the rattling. As an added bonus, they'd also absorb splashes. If I can have a 24-pan box that's so compact that will be almost perfect for me.

* Field Plus Set (12HP):

Magical box is magical. Water bottle and pots can be attached to either side, too.

This is the set that I really wish I could use all the time for everything ever. It's basically a transformer. The palettes are fantastic, there's plenty of mixing space and they're all level even when I'm holding it. The two water pots mean I can use one to clean my brush and one for when I need to paint with clear water. The water bottle clips into whichever thumb hole I'm not using so I can't lose it. The pans are practically glued into place with those cartridges. Yes, they're harder to clean up, but when painting outside I really don't want my pans to be moving around, so I don't care. It makes painting outside with less-than-full pans less painful. The brush is a proper mini Cotman brush again. The box isn't too heavy to hold for ages. I could write poetry about this set, I'm pretty sure. Unfortunately, at the moment I need more space, so it's been left to cry in my watercolour supplies box while I chase my paint pans around the deluxe sketchers' set instead.

* Painting Plus Set (24-32HP):

Palette in the lid is removable again. I hate the new paint packaging.

This set comes with tubes, tubes and half pans, or half pans (I think). I got the half pan set (obviously). There is space for two more cartridges to be added and I happen to have spare cartridges, so I can fit 32 pans in the box instead of 24. The cartridges click into place so they don't fall out or rattle. I could also remove cartridges and store my tubes there instead, but I won't. There's plenty of mixing space again, you get a full-sized Cotman brush with the set (on a proper brush holder, so you can put it there when it's still wet and it won't get the box messy) and a nice selection of colours. The cartridges are still annoying to keep clean but that's not the end of the world, considering. Even without the water bottle and containers from the field plus set, this set is still suitable for painting outdoors thanks to the cartridges and the amount of mixing space. It's smaller than the full studio set by two inches or so, but with two extra cartridges you're only missing out on 8 of the Cotman colours. Personally, I can spare them. I'm not sure that I'll use this set outside a lot when I have smaller ones, but on days when I'm sick of spending time mixing colours in the freezing cold, I might want the extra 20 half pans with me to speed the process up. 

* Compact Set/Travel Bag (14HP):

Seriously, why are those ridges even there.

I got the compact set with the travel bag. The kit as a whole is great: watercolour pad, water bottle, paintbrushes, pencil, eraser, collapsing water container: everything you need to go for a walk or on a holiday with your paints, basically. The bag doesn't have a shoulder strap but I think it's possible to add one and it does have a carry handle and waist strap. But I've never gotten along with the compact set. There's a good selection of colours: with 14 pans you get more colour mixing options, but why they had to put little ridges where the pans go I don't know. The pans don't slot into the gaps, they balance there on those ridges and then wobble from side to side like drunken sailors when I'm using them. You'd think that they'd just make the spaces like the ones in the pocket sketchers' set only twice the size so they fit two pans in them, but no. The little tray I gather is for mediums because it's useless for water, but I don't really use any and certainly not when I'm out, and the palettes aren't bad but they aren't nearly as good as the field plus. If I hadn't got the field plus set, I imagine I'd think a lot more highly of the other small ones. The compact set just didn't seem half as useful to me. If the travel bag ever does make it outside (when I live somewhere less windy and rainy) then I'll probably switch the compact set out for something else, because it's a nice kit to have. There's a lot of extra space in the bag for adding other things to the kit, as well as all the things that are already there, which I like.

* Sketchers' Case (12HP):

Bottle still has water in it from the last time I painted outside. Usually enough for 3-4 small paintings.

I also have this for painting outside, which is now discontinued. I got mine for a reduced price as it was one of the last ones the store had and it's the set I've used the most. It comes with a pocket sketchers' box: because I already had one, I salvaged the paints, dumped them in my box for Cotman spares and used the box to store my 12 spare professional paints instead. You don't get a mini brush with the paint set because you get a full-sized Cotman one in the kit. You also get a sponge, an eraser, a pencil and a water bottle. There's no collapsing water container this time, but the one in the travel bag isn't very sturdy anyway and there are plenty of alternatives to buy. There's also no watercolour paper pad like the travel bag. You get a little A6 hardback sketchbook. Winsor & Newton apparently don't make watercolour notebooks, which is a shame, because the paper in the sketchbook just does not survive watercolours. I have to paint almost everything dry on dry or it dies very quickly. It is possible to make some nice and very quick sketches in the book without the paper falling apart, but it's not suitable for proper watercolour painting. The small size Moleskine journals do fit in the pocket though (the large size also fits in the travel bag if you want to replace the Cotman pad you get) so it is possible to use a watercolour notebook with the set, it just isn't a Winsor & Newton one.

* Whole Pan Studio Set (24HP):

Poor sap green and cobalt blue.

This set has a good range of colours, plenty of mixing space and the larger whole pans are better suited for larger brushes and therefore larger paintings. It's exactly what it says it is: I doubt it would be very nice outside because once the palettes are out it's quite large. There's space for a brush but the set doesn't come with one. The lower palette is removable so it's easier to clean (or it takes up less desk space, depending). It's a shame that the whole pans aren't sold individually, but they can always be replaced with half pans or professional whole pans once they've been used up. My only real gripe with the set is the sliding pans. They don't fit in the box; there's a gap at the side and nothing to stop them from running into it when I'm trying to lift colour. It's possible to wedge something there to stop them from doing that, but it seems weird that there isn't something included to prevent it in the first place. A removable plastic block would be enough. As it is, I'm stuck with making more tissue wedges.

* Half Pan Studio Set (45HP):

Paints still in packaging have been killed previously, or moved to other sets.

This set has all of the available Cotman colours "plus an extra one of the 5 most popular colours". Alizarin Crimson, yes. Ultramarine, yes. Yellow ochre, yes. Ivory black and Chinese white? Are you kidding, Winsor & Newton? That aside, this set is the ultimate one because it has all the colours. The five extra colours that it comes with can always be evicted in favour of ones that you're actually going to use. It's the exact same box as the whole pan studio set, so you get the same mixing space and removable palette (but it doesn't come with a brush either). However, the pans don't slide. They're pretty well secured by little ridges that the size of the whole pans totally ignores. Unfortunately, this gets annoying when the set is used up. 

There are currently 96 colours in the professional range. I have two studio boxes from the two studio sets. Half 96 is 48. The boxes hold 15 pans per row with those ridges: without them, they'd hold 16 per row for a 48-pan total. The ridges leave a gap at either side of the row that doesn't make much sense to me. I'd prefer it if the ridges weren't there at all, or if at the very least they allowed for the box to be full. As it is, when my Cotman paints are all over and done with, I won't be able to fit the full professional range in the studio boxes. But then again, it's the Cotman studio set, and for that it is absolutely perfect. It's just a shame that it isn't perfect for graduating the student grade paints as well, because it's a very nice box and I like to have a full set of paints (just to be awkward).

Professional sets:

* Bamboo Box Set (12HP):

Original on the left, my additions on the right.

For professional paints, I only have three sets. I bought the bamboo box set when it was being sold off at a fraction of the price due to damaged boxes and missing pieces, etc. I didn't know what state it was going to be in when it arrived and I didn't much care because it would still have professional paints in it, but I ended up with one that was barely damaged at all (it's there, but it's really hard to find it) and everything that was supposed to be there was. I bought the oil and acrylic ones at the same time, as all three of them reduced was roughly the same price as one. My oil one has slight damage to the box and my acrylic one is missing the palette, but I have a stay-wet palette for acrylics anyway, as well as tear-off sheet palettes, so I didn't care.

The set comes with a pocket sketchers' box with 12 professional paints, a cloth, two sable brushes, an A5 pad, a sponge, a pencil and an eraser. Apart from the problem of water (which really isn't a problem at all, water bottles and collapsing containers are hardly rare), it's everything you need for painting outside (or inside too, I suppose). The box is spacious, so I've been able to add extra paintbrushes that I've bought and I also have the box with my 12 spare pans in it. I didn't include them in the photo, but I also store the 6 limited edition tubes in here and they fit just fine as well. The only problem I really have with it is that there's only the mixing space that the pocket sketchers' set has so when I start to use it, I'll probably have to use an external palette again. The compartments are built into the box, so they can't be moved around or removed to allow for more mixing space. If this set had just the space for the 12 pans, a brush, sponge and a palette (removable, so you could clean it), it would be heaven for me. Mixing space aside, I still can't wait to start using it. It's a very nice box.

* Metal Sketchers' Set (24HP):

The fold-over palette looks kinda useless, really. Not a fan of this box at all.

I got this for such a ridiculously low price that it felt like robbery (it's really the only time I can justify buying them, considering how much Cotman paint I have), so having any minor problem with it feels a bit cheeky, but the minor problems remain. The set as a whole is very nice: I got a wide range of colours, plenty of colours that I didn't already have, and the mixing space is good. You can also remove the metal piece that holds all the pans and underneath it, there's some more mixing space. The set is quite small, if a little heavy because of the material, but it's a good size to take away somewhere. Unfortunately, the box scratches quite easily, including wear and tear on the lid's palette caused by just opening the tin. It has a metal thumb loop underneath it, which means it never really lies flat when it isn't being held (mine doesn't anyway). There's a row in the middle for storing brushes, I assume, but it doesn't actually fit the Winsor and Newton professional brushes in it. The largest brush it will take is a size 3, and that's really pushing it. It's also without any kind of protection for the bristles, so if the box is being carried in a bag or something, the brush could easily be damaged. Also unfortunately, this row isn't quite wide enough for a third row of pans. But, it is if you fit them in on their side. I haven't opened the paints yet, so with their packaging it's a little hard to tell, but at the moment I would guess that I can fit 11 pans in the brush space on their side, and another 1 on each of the two rows, totalling 37 pans. Not bad for a box that size, so hopefully it does fit! Once I've opened them and started using them, it'll be easier for me to tell what I can squash into it.

* Field Set (12HP):

Useless baby sponge. I still hate the new packaging.

I got this set at the same time as the above set and for the same reason. I have seen so many amazing artists using this set, so I was looking forward to it. The sponge in my set takes the piss. There's no other way to describe that. The sponge shown on the box and the sponge shown in my box don't even look related. My sponge shares a lot more characteristics with sock fluff. It's scrap sponge. The water bottle doesn't look like it can handle much, but again, they're hardly difficult to come by if that's the case. The water bottle does affect the sizes of the fold-out palettes, though. They all have to fit on top of each other when the set is closed, so there's some wasted space. If you aren't using too much water I suppose you could use that space anyway. The set has three mixing wells, so it's roughly the same space as the pocket sketchers' box and if it's not enough then the problem can be solved in the same way. I love the little water pot. It's a great idea and it's nice and sturdy, too. The pocket brush seems to be a better quality than the ones that come with the Cotman sets, but as I haven't tried it, I'm not 100% sure. The ultimate question is whether I will use this box over the field plus box or not, and I honestly don't know the answer to that. They're both good for different reasons. I suppose I'll find out when I start using the professional paints. Looking at them both, and ignoring the paints because I can always swap them around, I'm probably leaning towards the field plus set.

That's my sets done! December's self-imposed watercolour thing is imminent, so it's nice for me to know what I'm starting out with. I'm hoping to use up at least a few half pans of Cotman paint by doing this. I have quite a few that are already on their way out, luckily. More than anything though, I'm hoping that this sets me on a routine of painting more often, even if it is just a tiny scribble, because everything I do helps me to improve. Cotman paints are perfect for things like that because I don't feel like I'm "wasting" anything by messing around. I have 199 half pans, so I have a lot of messing around to do!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Updates and stuff.

I keep forgetting that updating my drafts is not the same as updating my actual blog.

I haven't posted goals for a while because I haven't made them for a while. July's goals were mostly done and I did set goals for August, but I spent the entirety of August and September ill with the virus from hell. I didn't get a whole lot done for those two months. At all. In October I was recovering a little still, so it was nice to spend time doing whatever I felt like doing (I read a loooooot of books). Now that it's November, it's NaNoWriMo, so there didn't seem to be much point in setting goals.

I know I quit NaNoWriMo last year, but this year I decided to do my own NaNoWriMo. I'm not doing it officially. I'm not doing 50,000 words. Instead, I'm doing 30,000 words.

I bought Scrivener at some point since my last blog post and now I'll never write a novel in Word ever again. Unfortunately, the entirety of my current novel is in Word and it's still an editing nightmare after the last NaNoWriMo. My 30,000 words covers whatever ends up in Scrivener. I want 30,000 words of a new draft. So far, it's been a total rewrite, which is fine and I expected that I guess, but I am taking the odd bit from the old one. It's certainly helping me to write it out with the old one right there that I can refer to, but the story has changed so much with all the planning that I've done that it really isn't worth just editing what I had anymore.

So, at the end of November my goal is to have 30,000 words of my novel in Scrivener. It's doable enough that I'm unlikely to go off on a tangent and write a lot of shit that I then have to edit with a chainsaw. It took me eight months after the last NaNoWriMo to figure out how to solve the mess that I had. I'd really rather not do that again (although the end result is certainly interesting).

Finally, for December, after spending an entire month writing, I will be spending an entire month painting. I aim to get 25 paintings completed. I don't care what size they are, as long as there's 25 of them. I have an obscene amount of student paint that I need to use up. 25 paintings won't even scratch the surface I don't think, but it certainly can't hurt. I am really tempted to do one of the paintings with artist quality paint, but I think if I do that I'll just be stuck with my student paints forever while my artist paints get used up instead.

I would go through and write down all the things that have been done since July despite no goals, but that involves crawling through months of my diary and none of it will really be relevant anymore, so I won't.

I had an epiphany between the last post and this one about my paintings that's probably worth a mention, though. The WIP paintings that I still have no real desire to finish off have been finally abandoned. I think it's okay (at last) to admit when a painting has served its purpose. Either I learned something and want to move on or I made a mistake (and thus learned something) and there's no point in continuing. I want to finish the forget-me-not and the deathclaw and I think one other, but the rest are going to be scrap. I'm not going to force myself to work on them when I'd be much happier working on something else, there's no point. I no longer feel like I have to finish everything for the sake of having everything finished.

I aim to have the blog up to date, art-wise, by the end of the year. That includes all the paintings for December. Also all the art challenges, which are still lying around somewhere. I'm hoping that December's painting spree will stick around after December is over. I think if I managed my time a little better, I could do 1000 words and a quick painting each day. So that's another goal, I guess. Partly to improve my painting, mostly to use up all my student paint so I can move on to my artist quality paints at last, instead of sitting and staring at their packaging.

Also, I finally have an idea for what to paint for my blog header, so with any luck that'll be one of December's paintings!