Monday, October 10, 2016

The best watercolor palette in the world

… is not a palette at all but a white porcelain serving platter! This particular platter is from World Market (no collaboration). It measures 19”x14” and has a flat palette surface of roughly 14”x10”.

Watercolor palette aka serving platter in porcelain
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

The advantages:
  • There is a LARGE palette surface for those of us in need of mixing space
  • The palette surface is completely flat (as opposed to the metal tray palettes I have tried in the past, where there was a valley along the edges)
  • The porcelain surface is smooth to the brush and lovely to work on
  • The white color allows you to see your mixes clearly
  • It cleans easily in the sink (provided the sink is large enough)

The one thing that would have been better would have been flat edges, more like this dinner plate (of which I also have a few in my studio!) Flat edges allow for dollops of paint to remain in place without sliding down onto the palette surface.

In fact, I so love this smooth and sturdy kind of white porcelain, that I also have a few ramekins (3.5" and 4.5" diameter are the most useful sizes for me), crème brulée ramekins (5" and 4" diameter) and a deviled egg plate(!) in my studio for use as palettes. (These are available separately in stores, as far as I know.)

Världens bästa akvarellpalett är egentligen inte alls en palett utan ett uppläggningsfat i vitt porslin! Det mäter hela 48x36 cm, med en platt palettyta på 36x24 cm.

Vitt porslin har många fördelar som palett: 
  • Just detta fat är precis så stort som jag önskat mig
  • Själva palettytan är alldeles platt
  • Penseln glider lätt över den släta och glansiga ytan
  • Den vita färgen gör att du ser färgblandningarna tydligt
  • Det är lätt att rengöra

Jag använder ofta olika slags porslin till paletter, tex tallrikar med så horisontell kant som möjligt, ramekin/suffléformar (9 eller 11.5 cm i diameter), låga brylépuddingsformar (13 eller 10 cm i diameter), samt till och med uppläggningsfat för deviled eggs/fyllda ägghalvor, alla i vitt porslin. Se ovan för länkar.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Benefits of completing a project

The act of completing a project is important for creativity for at least two reasons.

Completion is one of the final phases of the creative process. It involves:
  • Tying up loose ends and closing open trains of thought
  • Perhaps sending the project out into the world
  • Cleaning up both studio/office/house - and one's mind
  • Time for rest and recuperation
  • Moving on

Accomplishment builds confidence

The feeling of accomplishment when completing something cannot be overestimated. Every time we complete something, confidence builds. I did it! I can do this! And, most importantly, I can do it again.

Tip! In order to build confidence, you can start small! Do a small piece of art, write a short story, take a day-trip. Each sense of accomplishment, of completing a project, albeit a small project, is a building block in the confidence arena.

Completion makes space for new possibilities

Once I complete a project that has previously occupied a large amount of mental server space or working memory, there is a mental release of sorts. As old information is filed away, physically as well as mentally, there is space for something new. An opening for new possibilities.

See this post for more about my spiral-shaped model of the creative process in 4 phases and 11 steps.

Fördelar med att avsluta ett projekt. När du avslutar ett projekt så stärks inte bara självförtroendet utan både fysiskt och mentalt utrymme frigörs för nya möjligheter.

Se detta inlägg för min spiralformade modell av den kreativa processen.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

What is the creative process? A spiral model.

The creative process is the process of creating something new that did not exist before. It's the process of conceiving of, executing, and completing a project.

The project can range from writing a book to painting a piece of art, taking a journey, moving abroad, or finding a new job. The possibilities are endless.

The phases of the creative process are often listed as preparation, incubation, illumination or insight, and verification (Wallas' model, 1926), implying a fairly linear process.

However, I find that the creative process moves along an ascending spiral, not along a straight line. You keep coming back to the same stages over and over, but each time you reach a higher level on the spiral path.

The following are the phases of the creative process as I see them. Note that, at any point in time, you may circle back to a prior phase.


1. Idea

I usually come up with the idea first, or - the idea comes to me! If I don't yet have an idea, I start with the next step, Brainstorming. I firmly believe that ideas are best developed unhurried in the mind, not forced or rushed.

2. Brainstorming

Let your thoughts develop freely and associatively around the idea or topic. A mind map might be helpful.

3. Active Resting

Active resting is an important step that should not be overlooked. For best results, it should be incorporated in all of the phases.

What does active resting mean? Taking a walk, exercising, knitting, gardening, picking berries, and similar simple and repetitive tasks are all examples of active resting that allow the brain to sort information, do necessary filing, make connections and associations, etc., on a deeper level. It does not mean reading a book, surfing the internet, watching television, listening to music, talking, etc., tasks which only provide more information to mentally sort and file.

4. Research

Now it's time to gather information. There may be a feedback loop going back and forth between Brainstorming and Research, each spurring the other along.

5. Preparation

The idea is defined and necessary information has been gathered. This is setup time, the final step before getting started. Set up a work space, gather necessary tools and supplies, learn new techniques, practice.


6. Doing the Work

It's finally time to get started, to write, paint, build, travel, whatever the project is. Here is where the work gets done.

7. Review

This is where you check in with your idea, goal or intention. Are you going in the right direction? Are there more factors to take into consideration or include? More research to be done? Do you need to change anything – or start over? Starting over is more common than you think, so don’t shy away from this option. Better now than later!

This is the main loop, between Doing the Work and Review. After reviewing, it's time to keep working, sometimes even go back further for more preparation or research. The key is to do regular reviews, but not so often that the Work is constantly interrupted. Generally, there are natural stopping points in the process. Stay in this loop until you feel done.

Depending on the length and intensity of the project, it may be necessary to take a break at times and get the mind a fresh start after the weekend. After a break is a good time for the review, as you then have some distance to the project and can see it with fresh eyes.


8. Completion

Congratulations, the project is done! The very act of completing a project is important, as it signals to the brain that it could get done, building confidence in your abilities and making the next project easier to start. Read this post for more about the benefits of completion.

9. Cleanup

As you clean up your physical environment, the studio, workshop, office, house(!), etc., the mind also begins to file away information it has previously kept accessible. This physical and mental clearing opens up space for new ideas, projects, and possibilities.

10. Rest and recuperation

Time to rest. It's important to take some time off after each project to allow both body and mind to recuperate.


11. Evaluation

After a few weeks, it's a good time to revisit the project. How did it go? Would you like to continue and do another one? Did this way of working suit you or do you need to tweak the process? What went well? What could be done better? Is there a next step?

Sometimes this phase brings you back into the process again, you come up with a few ideas for improvements and do another round in the creative process!

Vad är den kreativa processen? I denna artikel beskriver jag min spiralformade modell där varje fas eller steg återbesöks om och om igen, men på en allt högre nivå i processen. 

  • 1. Idé
  • 2. Brainstorming
  • 3. Aktiv mental vila - viktig punkt som bör ingå i alla faser
  • 4. Samla information
  • 5. Förbereda och sätta upp projektet
    • 6. Utföra projektet
    • 7. Genomgång - dessa två steg, utföra projektet och genomgång, utgör den främsta iterativa loopen inom den kreativa processen, stanna här eller återbesök tidigare steg tills projektet är klart
      • 8. Avsluta projektet
      • 9. Fysisk och mental uppstädning
      • 10. Återhämtning
        • 11. Utvärdera projektet

          Monday, October 3, 2016

          What makes a good book?

          This is not only an art blog, but also a blog about writing! In 2014-2015, I studied writing full-time for a year at the Writing Academy in Stockholm, Sweden (distance). There I learned to write fiction, drama (theater and film), and poetry, for both adults and children.

          Since then, I have thought about what to me makes a good novel. This, of course, varies from person to person and also between genres, but books I enjoy often share a few common denominators. The books mentioned are all mysteries (and one thriller), but I think the traits can be applied to other types of fiction as well.

          1. A competent character

          Competent characters know their profession. If amateurs, they quickly go through the necessary steps to gain the competence needed and they usually have quite a bit of wherewithal to begin with. A few examples of competent characters:

          • Kate and Charles, Victorian-Edwardian era writer and peer/amateur scientist respectively, apply their combined wits to mystery solving in this series by Robin Paige (Bill and Susan Albert).
          • Lady Frances Ffolkes, the Vassar-educated, Edwardian-era suffragette in R.J. Koreto's series, applies her college training to mystery solving and keeps a clear head together with her lady's maid and assistant Miss June Mallow.
          • Vish Puri, New Delhi-based private investigator in the mystery series by Tarquin Hall, knows his way around corruption and bureaucracy in India. As a boon, his assistants have the most colorful names, Facecream, Flush, and Handbrake, to mention a few.
          • Inspector Chopra, another private investigator in India, this time in Mumbai, in the mystery series by Vaseem Khan, has a past as an inspector in the police department and the most unusual companion, see below.
          • Jonathan Quinn in Brett Battles' thriller series about "the Cleaner" removes bodies and traces after assassinations.

          2. An original character

          It is not always easy to find a competent character, let alone a competent character that displays originality. Here is a shortlist:

          • Mrs. Pollifax. No list would be complete without Mrs. Pollifax, the retiree-cum-spy heroine in the mystery series by Dorothy Gilman. Mrs. Pollifax has a penchant for hats with large flower arrangements and, in the first book, she decides to act on her childhood dream and travels to the CIA to inquire if they might need any spies. Mrs. P. does indeed have the wherewithal needed for the task, including unorthodox problem-solving abilities and a soon to be had brown belt in karate.
          • Kate Ardleigh Sheridan in the above-mentioned Kate and Charles series is a writer who not only solves mysteries, but also starts a school to help educate young women, buys a car, learns to bicycle - wearing pants no less, all unusual things to do for a woman in turn-of-the-century England.
          • While Inspector Chopra, also mentioned above, may not be too original of a character, his companion certainly is. Baby elephant Ganesha is gifted to him around the same time as he retires from the police force. Ganesha turns out to be a big help in solving mysteries and together they form the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency.

          3. An interesting, balanced and well-paced storyline

          There is a delicate balance between descriptions and forward-motion, dialogue and text paragraphs, character deepening and action. This balance has changed over time.

          When I compared the dramaturgical arcs of a few different books, I found that the more traditional mystery book slowly built the suspense until the final climax or action scene at the end. The corresponding arc looks like a ski slope with its top at the final chapter and a steep slope down toward the end and resolution.

          In recent books, there is a trend toward multiple action scenes, the arc a series of spikes, sometimes even one per chapter. A book with less action, in contrast, may have a dramaturgical arc more like a horizontal line with gentle waves reflecting the storyline.

          I think the above books do quite well in achieving a well-paced storyline, building up to the final resolution with a few action spikes placed throughout the book.

          Översättning. Vilka är beståndsdelarna i en bra bok? 

          Detta är inte bara en konstblogg utan även en skrivarblogg! Läsåret 2014-15 så gick jag Skrivarlinjen distans vid Skrivarakademin i Stockholm, en heltidsutbildning i skrivande på ett år. Jag lärde mig bland annat att skriva prosa, drama (teater och film) samt lyrik. 

          Sedan dess så har jag funderat på vad som utgör en bra bok. Detta varierar naturligtvis från person till person och även mellan genrer, men de böcker jag fastnar för har ofta följande gemensamma nämnare:
          1. En kompetent huvudperson
          2. En originell huvudperson
          3. En intressant och välbalanserad historia
          För exempel, se ovanstående titlar på engelska.  

          Sunday, October 2, 2016

          What is archival watercolor paper?

          There are many terms associated with paper, all useful for the artist to know. Here I make an attempt to sort a few of them out.

          Acid free paper / Syrafritt papper

          • Paper with a neutral or basic pH value (7 or slightly greater)
          • Can be made from any cellulose fiber (plant based) as long as the acid in the wood pulp is removed/neutralized
          • Sizing additives must also be acid free
          • Lignin and sulfur free  
          • Much more durable than acidic wood-based paper

          Lignin/ Lignin

          • Lignin is a substance in the cells and cell walls of wood and most plants, making them rigid

          Sulfur / Svavel

          • Sulfur is a chemical element that is used in several chemical methods producing wood pulp from wood

          Wood-based paper/ Trä-baserat papper, cellulosapapper

          • Made from wood pulp
          • Contains acids, acidic
          • Contains lignin
          • Turns yellow and brittle with time
          • Deteriorates faster if exposed to light and/or heat

          100% cotton paper / 100% bomull eller lump

          • Made from 100% cotton linters or cotton from used cloth (rag, also called rag paper)
          • May still contain some acids so should be tested/certified before use as archival paper
          • Stronger and more durable than wood based paper

          Permanent paper, ISO 9706 / Åldringsbeständigt papper (ISO 9706)

          ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization.
          • pH value between 7.5-10.0 / pH-värde
          • Alkali reserve of at least 0.4 mol acid per kg paper (at least 2%) (neutralizes acid from aging or pollution) / Alkalisk reserv
          • Tearing resistance of at least 350 mN (index of durability) / Rivstyrka
          • Kappa number of less than 5.0 (may contain only a small amount of easily oxidized material, about 1% lignin) / Kappatal
          • This standard does not cover optical properties, such as brightness

          Archival paper, ISO 11108 / Arkivbeständigt papper eller arkivpapper (ISO 11108)

          • Made from cotton, cotton linters, hemp, flax, or mixtures thereof, but may contain a small amount of fully bleached chemical pulp
          • Folding endurance of at least 2.18 (MIT, Köhler Molin, or Lhomargy instrument) or 2.42 (Schopper instrument) / Vikstyrka
          • Archival papers also meet the requirements for permanent paper

          Permanent paper, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R2009)

          ANSI/NISO stands for American National Standards Institute/National Information Standards Organization. ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R2002) is an American standard similar to ISO 9706 for uncoated and coated paper.

          Uncoated paper
          • pH value in the range of 7.5-10.0
          • Minimum alkaline reserve equivalent to 2% calcium carbonate
          • Tear resistance of at least 5.25 mNm2/g
          • Kappa number no greater than 7 (shall contain no more than 1% lignin) 

          Coated paper

          • pH value of core paper in the range of 7.0-10.0 . The paper as a whole (core and coating) must meet the alkaline reserve requirement
          • Minimum alkaline reserve equivalent to 2% calcium carbonate
          • Tear resistance of at least 3.50 mNm2/g (this generally equals a core tear resistance of 5.25 mNm2/g)
          • Kappa number no greater than 7 (may contain no more than 1% lignin) 


          There are several ways to define archival paper, both in terminology and different types of certifications.

          Even the definitions themselves may vary between standards, for example, also a slightly acidic paper may in some instances be considered acid-free!

          And, as long as the paper follows the requirements, long-term effects of for example additives may yet to be discovered!

          Still, when I look for a long-lasting paper, I look for a 100% cotton, acid-free paper, keeping in mind that other factors also affect the longevity of the paper.

          Environmental factors such as heat, light, humidity, acidity all have an effect on paper, as do the ways paper is stored (do not store between acidic sheets of paper or on wood, for example) and handled (best handled with cotton gloves), as well as the pH of the water you are using to paint.


          Översättning. En kort ordlista relaterad till beständighet hos akvarellpapper, inkl. syrafritt papper, träbaserat eller cellulosapapper, papper av 100% bomull samt ett par olika certifieringar (ISO 9706 och ISO 11108).

          Thursday, September 29, 2016

          Tips for the Göteborg Book Fair visitor

          Here are a few tips for the English-speaking visitor to the Göteborg Book Fair (Göteborgs bokmässa) in Sweden. Göteborg Book Fair is the largest cultural event in Scandinavia with close to 100,000 visitors over four days in 2016.

          Göteborg Book Fair
          © 2015 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          1. Wear comfortable (and cool) shoes

          You’ll be walking miles on concrete floors over the span of several days. It may even be a good idea to bring an extra pair to switch it up with. I also recommend keeping it cool as the fair is hot. Nice yet comfortable sandals can be an alternative, too.

          2. Wear cool (and comfortable) clothes

          This is not your air-conditioned-until-freezing-cold American convention center, but its much warmer European counterpart, so dress accordingly. It may be cold and rainy outside, but inside the mercury will soar as the fair fills up. Leave outdoor clothes in the coatroom and dress in light layers.

          Still, you’ll want to be dressed up as this is not just a fair but also a prime networking and mingling event!

          3. Bring a shoulder bag for all those books

          This is a book fair, so you’ll most likely leave with more books than you came, especially if you can read Swedish. I would recommend a light shoulder bag or a tote bag, or perhaps a combined tote/backpack such as this lightweight travel tote pack. The most versatile size can fit an A4 (approx. 8 ½”x11”) book or pamphlet.

          I would not recommend a backpack, since the space is so tight you’ll risk tearing down a display or someone’s drink.

          4. Bring a water bottle and a snack

          Self explanatory. Maybe also bring band-aids for sore feet!

          5. Bring a physical map and the seminar and floor program catalogs

          Yes, there is WiFi, but with 20-30,000 people trying to access it at the same time, signals may be weak so better come prepared.

          6. Find out seminar locations ahead of time

          For the same reason as above (see 5.) you'd better find out seminar locations ahead of time. They are not listed in the seminar catalog. Ideally, check online the evening before as this is also the way to find out any cancellations or changes to the program.

          Write down the seminar rooms and study the map to see if it will be possible to get from one seminar (or program event) to another in time.  

          To get from a main floor event in the southeast corner, via crowded floors and escalators, to a seminar on the upper level in the northwest corner can take a long time!

          7. Find out the best way to pay

          As Sweden is moving toward becoming a paperless society, cash is also on its way out, and credit cards are not that popular either. Inquire ahead of time about the best ways to pay. Cash and credit cards may still be ok, other options are debit cards and Swish payments.

          8. Bring an umbrella (unless staying at the convention hotel)

          As Göteborg is located on the west coast of Sweden, it is bound to rain at least one out of the four days of the fair. As the line to enter the fair snakes around the block, it is not uncommon to see drenched fair goers holding up newspapers for protection.

          9. Stay at the convention hotel

          To stay at the convention hotel (Gothia Towers) is the easiest way to go, but there are many other nice hotels in the area as well, most of which will involve cab rides to and from the convention center. There is an attached parking garage right next door for those inclined to drive.

          10. Get there early

          As in first thing in the morning or the first day of the fair. That’s the way to avoid spending much time in line (both to get a cab and to enter the fair) and to get a chance to browse the exhibits before the density at the fair reaches its high. This may be especially important for the introvert or extra sensitive person.

          11. Plan your seminar or program event schedule (and buy your seminar pass) ahead of time

          The seminars are, in my opinion, the best part of the fair. Here is an opportunity to catch up on the latest in literature for adults and children, discussions related to current events, talks, readings, and debates. The seminar catalog is available in English. You can buy your seminar pass online, about $400 for the four days, $200 for one day. 

          While most of the seminars are in Swedish, I counted over 50 seminars in English in both 2015 and 2016, most on Thursday and Friday (approx. 20/day), some on Saturday (10-15) and only a few on Sunday.

          There are also many program events held by the exhibitors and on numerous stages around the fair. These are generally noisier than the seminars as there are no walls. However, many seminar topics are often discussed at other program events as well, and these are all included in the entrance fee, about $30 for one day.

          Be aware that the sheer volume of people coupled with lines to get in, to get lunch, buy a snack, have a book signed, go to the restroom, will make it difficult to quickly get from one place to another. Give yourself some extra space in your schedule. I recommend planning your seminar schedule ahead of time, noting seminars that are absolute must-sees, since you may not have time, or energy, to attend all on your list.

          It is worth saying again (see 6.): To get from a main floor event in the southeast corner, via crowded floors and escalators, to a seminar on the upper level in the northwest corner can take a long time!

          12. Remember to plan time to rest, have lunch, a snack, and restroom breaks

          … each of which can easily take 20-30 minutes depending on time and location (see 11.)

          There are numerous café options offering sandwiches for sale, a few hotel restaurants right outside the fair area (you’ll show your entrance pass to get back in) and a larger restaurant, Estrad, on the second level in the southwest corner (you can order lunch passes ahead of time).

          13. Networking opportunities

          Many publishers, magazines, and organizations arrange mingling and networking opportunities, usually on Thursday or Friday evening, some at the fair, some at other locations. Check their social media to find out more and to sign up.

          14. If you are a writer with an unpublished script, this is not the time to contact a publisher

          They are way too busy and may not appreciate being cornered during one of the busiest weeks of the year. However, you can always look for mingling and networking opportunities (see 12.)

          15. And lastly, enjoy yourself!

          Going to the Göteborg Book Fair is time well spent! Enjoy browsing the many exhibits, meeting like-minded people interested in reading and literature, going to seminars, and maybe meeting your favorite writers!

          You may also like this post, an introduction in English to Göteborg Book Fair.

          Tips för engelskspråkiga besökare till Göteborgs bokmässa.

          Wednesday, September 28, 2016

          Göteborg (Gothenburg) Book Fair - a guide in English

          A short introduction and guide to Göteborg Book Fair (Göteborgs bokmässa) for the English-speaking visitor.

          Göteborg Book Fair is, with close to 100,000 visitors, Scandinavia’s largest cultural event. Among its program events are literary seminars, poetry readings, and discussions on many topics by writers, researchers, Nobel Laureates, politicians, and thinkers from all over the world.

          In 2016, there were over:
          • 4,000 program events
          • 800 exhibitors on 12,000 square meters (130,000 square feet) exhibition space
          • 400 seminars
          • 800 authors and lecturers at the seminars
          • 38 countries represented at the seminars, 28 at the exhibits
          • 56 international agents and publishers at the International Rights Centre

          Göteborg Book Fair takes place annually during four days, Thursday through Sunday, at the end of September. Its host city, Göteborg (Gothenburg), is Sweden’s second largest city with 550,000 inhabitants (990,000 in the metro area) located on the west coast of Sweden.

          The event is held at Svenska Mässan (The Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre) on the east side of Göteborg. Svenska Mässan is a 148,000 square meter (1.6 million square feet) facility with 41,000 square meter (440,000 square feet) of exhibition and congress space and an attached 1,200-room hotel, Gothia Towers.

          The logo of Göteborg Book Fair, a mermaid, is an illustration from the first printed book in Swedish from 1483.

          Göteborg Book Fair before opening
          © 2015 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


          Göteborg Book Fair was first launched in 1985. Aimed at schools and libraries, the first event had around 5,000 visitors. Already then, they set the trend of inviting well-known authors and saw among others Nobel Laureate in Literature Isaac B. Singer and author Michael Ende among the illustrious guests.

          In 1986, they opened up to the general public. Since then, there has been a focus on education and libraries during the first two days of the fair.

          Göteborg Book Fair
          © 2015 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


          According to a 2016 survey of about 600 people, 33% of visitors (35% in 2015) are cultural sector professionals, representing education, libraries, documentation, information, and culture. This includes authors, publishers, media and photographers, graphic professionals, illustrators, translators, bookstores, museums, and more. Teachers and librarians are still the two biggest groups.

          According to the survey, 79% of the professional visitors were women (67% in 2015).  

          1% of the professional visitors came from abroad (4% in 2015).

          Of the general public, most visitors came from Sweden and 82% were women, (67% in 2015).

          Note that the survey sample size was small enough that there is a margin of error.


          Each year has a theme. The theme for 2016 was Freedom of Expression, commemorating the 250-year anniversary of the Swedish 1766 Freedom of the Press Act, the first in the world.

          In 2015, the theme was Hungary with a special focus on Iceland, and in 2014 Brazil.

          For 2017, the theme is set to be Bildung (language, reading, and literature), with a special focus on Finnish literature as Finland celebrates its centennial as an independent nation.


          Göteborg Book Fair can be said to have two main parts:
          1. The exhibitors and their events on the main floor and second floor
          2. The seminars on the second floor

          There are about 400 seminars offered each year, with over 800 authors, scholars, and lecturers taking part. To attend, you need to purchase a seminar pass (about $400 for the four days, $200 for one day).

          Topics range from authors discussing their latest book or a related topic, children and youth literature, illustration and translation, to the annual theme and debates related to current events.

          On Thursday and most of Friday, there are many seminars geared toward education, schools and libraries.

          Exhibitors and events

          In 2016, there were about 800 exhibitors on a floor area totaling close to 12,000 square meters (130,000 square feet), the majority being publishers, companies, and organizations. They, too, arrange numerous events featuring authors and other speakers, all included in the entrance fee (about $30 for one day).

          The exhibitors also offer evening mingling and networking opportunities, which you sign up for through each company's or organization's social media. 

          The total number of seminar, exhibit, and stage events at the book fair are over 4,000 and include over 3,000 participants.

          International Rights Centre (IRC)

          The International Rights Centre is a place for publishers and agents to meet and buy and sell rights, meet international colleagues, and get a feel for the market in the Nordic Region.

          In 2016, there were 54 international agents and publishers at 74 tables (63 agents at 79 tables in 2015).

          For the English-speaking visitor

          While most seminars and events are held in Swedish, there are several discussions held in English as well. In both 2015 and 2016, there were about 50 seminars held in English, most on Thursday and Friday (about 20/day), some on Saturday (10-15), and only a few on Sunday.

          In general, if the invited speaker is from a country other than Sweden, Norway, or Denmark (the Scandinavian languages are quite similar), then the seminar or event will be held in English.

          In 2016, 38 countries were represented in the seminars. In addition, 28 countries were represented in the exhibits.

          And, if you need assistance, most Swedes speak English very well!

          You may also like this post, tips for the Göteborg Book Fair visitor.

          The 33rd Göteborg Book Fair will take place on September 28-October 1, 2017.

          En introduktion till Göteborgs bokmässa för engelskspråkiga besökare.

          Monday, September 19, 2016

          Comparing watercolor papers – conclusions

          I have now tested and compared 32 different watercolor and mixed media papers and here are my results. See this post for introduction and photos of all papers, as well as links. Did I find a watercolor paper that did not cockle? Read on for the answer!

          Paper color

          All papers tested were some shade of white. Despite its name, Arches Watercolour Bright White is a slightly warm and creamy white, whereas Fabriano Artistico Extra White is whiter. Strathmore 500 Series Gemini was the only natural white paper tested.

          Watercolor brightness

          Watercolors remained bright on all papers except the darker papers (colors on Strathmore 500 Series Gemini looked a bit subdued due to less contrast between paper and watercolors), the most absorbent papers (colors on Strathmore 500 Series Aquarius II looked more pale), and also Winsor & Newton Cotman 200 lb. (colors looked a bit darker).

          In general, I recommend not to use too much water on hard sized papers (such as mixed media papers and Canson Montval) or the color will look washed out, nor to use too much paint or it will remain on the surface looking pasty.

          Paper texture

          When using granulating colors, it is important that the texture is neither too prominent nor too smooth.

          Most rough textures looked very prominent (especially Fabriano Artistico rough and also Winsor & Newton Cotman 200 lb.) whereas hot press textures looked too smooth (Arches Watercolour, Fabriano Artistico and Canson Moulin du Roy). Note that Arches Watercolour rough does not look very rough once painted upon and is a good, if more absorbent, alternative to Arches Watercolour cold press.

          I like the Strathmore paper textures, such as Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor and Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut, cold press (harder sized). Strathmore 500 Series Imperial is another hard sized paper with a similar texture. In comparison, Arches Watercolour cold press has a rougher surface and Canson Moulin du Roy cold press is smoother.

          Paper sizing and absorbency

          Similarly, there needs to be some sizing but not too much or too little. That way I can keep adjusting the colors for a while but it does not take hours for them to dry and they do not keep spreading causing backruns (too much), and they also do not sink in too fast (too little sizing, too absorbent).

          To me, the papers mentioned above have the right balance, with Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut being harder sized and Arches Watercolour more absorbent.

          Paper cockling

          Did I find a paper that did not cockle and that would not need prewetting and stretching? The short answer is no!

          All of the papers tested cockled to some degree, some more than others, such as the rough papers and hard sized papers including hot press and mixed media papers. Fabriano Artistico (rough, cold press, hot press) cockled the most for me, with Arches Watercolour (rough) coming in second. Not even the 300 lb. papers were immune to a slight waviness. Note that I used a lot of water for my tests and did not stretch the papers.

          The only paper that did not cockle is technically not a paper but a board, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board and Illustration Board for Wet Media. (There is also an even thicker illustration board available that I did not test.)

          Pencil/pen/brush and ink

          In short, I would say that on rougher papers, pencil lines also look very rough, whereas hard sized papers may feel less responsive to the pressure of the pencil lead or pen.

          A few good papers for pencil work in my opinion are Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor, Fabriano Artistico soft press, 140 lb and 300 lb, Canson Montval 140 lb, Arches Watercolour hot press, Canson Moulin du Roy hot press, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media, Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media, Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media, Canson All-Media Art Book (containing Canson Montval 90 lb) and Moleskine Watercolor Album.

          Pens work better on hard sized papers, but when there is too much sizing the ink will take longer to dry and will smear if you use watercolors or attempt to close the sketchbook before it has dried. If there is too little sizing, the paper will absorb the ink too fast and the lines become uneven. In the same vein, on very absorbent as well as hard sized papers, brush and ink strokes may look uneven.

          There are variations between pen brands as well, as some brands are more prone to feathering than others (such as Pigma Micron, in my experience). In general, I prefer Uniball Vision Fine and Staedtler Pigment Liner. In these tests Uniball worked best with most papers, with black and glossy lines, whereas the linework of Staedtler Pigment Liner often looked a little gray. Still, Staedtler Pigment Liner rarely, if ever, feathers.

          Good papers for pen work in my opinion are Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor, Fabriano Artistico soft press, 140 lb and 300 lb, Canson Montval 140 lb, Winsor & Newton Cotman, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board, Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media, Canson All-Media Art Book (containing Canson Montval 90 lb), Moleskine Watercolor Album, and Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper. I also thought these worked well with brush and ink.

          “Joy factor”

          A few of these papers felt extra fun to paint on! This is of course personal, but for me, the 300 lb. watercolor papers, the illustration boards, and the acrylic paper score high in the joy department. Yupo (not tested) would fall in this category as well. These are all papers that have something special and that I do not use regularly.

          Cost and availability

          This varies a lot between the different papers and also depends on where you live. My advice is to find a paper that works with your pocketbook! If the paper is too precious, you may not dare to experiment as much as you would on a cheaper paper. Some of my best drawings have been done in the margin of a cheap lined paper! Still, if the paper is too cheap, then your art may not reach its full potential but be limited by the material.

          For a good student grade paper, I like Strathmore 400 Series watercolor. Canson Montval is harder sized and works well with pen, though I found it a little more difficult to work on as colors take longer to sink in. (I preferred the smoother block surface.) Both are acid free but not 100% cotton.

          History and continuity

          As I researched each company, the most interesting thing I noticed was that most of them belong to larger corporate groups, often with some fluctuation in ownership and manufacturing locations. I believe that Stillman & Birn, at the time of this writing, is the only small, privately owned company of this lineup.

          Final conclusions

          Of all the papers I tested, these are the ones I liked the most for watercolor painting:

          Student papers

          Artist papers

          Mixed media papers


          “Fun” papers

          Nu har jag testat och jämfört 32 olika akvarell- och mixed media-papper från Strathmore, Arches, Fabriano, Canson, Winsor & Newton, Moleskine och Stillman & Birn. Här kommer mina slutsatser. Se detta inlägg för introduktion och bild på de olika papperen samt länkar.

          Papperets färg -  Alla papperen jag testade var vita, men Arches
          Watercolour Bright White lutade mer åt det varma hållet medan Fabriano Artistico Extra White var betydligt vitare. Strathmore 500 Series Gemini var det enda naturvita papperet som jag testade.

          Akvarellfärgens lyskraft – Akvarellfärger hade störst lyskraft på de vitare papperen. På ett lite mörkare papper som Strathmore 500 Series Gemini såg färgerna dovare ut pga mindre kontrast mellan papper och akvarellfärg. På ett papper med hög absorptionsförmåga som Strathmore 500 Series Aquarius II såg färgerna blekare ut. Och på Winsor & Newton Cotman 425 gsm såg färgerna mörkare ut.

          För störst lyskraft rekommenderar jag att använda vitt papper, färg av konstnärsgrad (ej student) samt varken använda alltför mycket vatten (då kan färgerna se blekare ut) eller alltför mycket färg (då kan färgen klumpa sig).

          Papperets ytstruktur – Om man som jag använder granulerande färger så är det viktigt att papperets ytstruktur varken är alltför grov (Fabriano Artistico grov gräng, Winsor & Newton Cotman 425 gsm) eller alltför slät (Arches
          Watercolour, Fabriano Artistico och Canson Moulin du Roy fin gräng) för att färgpigmenten ska komma till sin rätt. Se nedan för rekommendationer.

          Limning och absorptionsförmåga – Det är även viktigt att hitta balansen mellan alltför hård respektive alltför lös limning. Då kan du fortsätta justera färgerna ett tag men det tar inte alltför lång tid för dem att torka och de sprider sig inte alltför mycket (alltför hårt limmat) samt färgerna torkar inte in alltför snabbt (för löst limmat). Se nedan för rekommendationer.

          Buckling – Alla de papper jag testade bucklade utan fuktspänning. En del bucklade mer än andra, tex de i grov gräng samt de hårdast limmade (fin gräng och mixed media) papperen. Fabriano Artistico bucklade mest, Arches
          Watercolour kom på andra plats. Till och med de papper som var av 640 gsm vikt (jfr 300 gsm) bucklade lite. Obs att jag använde mycket vatten!

          Det enda papper som inte bucklade var tekniskt sett inte ett papper: Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board and Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media.

          Blyerts/tuschpenna/flytande tusch – På ett grovt papper ser blyertslinjer också grova ut, medan hårt limmade papper kan kännas alltför okänsliga för pennans tryck.

          Tuschpennor fungerar bra på hårt limmade papper men om limningen är alltför hård kan det ta ett bra tag innan tuschet torkar, vilket kan vara ett problem om man vill färglägga sin teckning. Är papperet alltför grovt, poröst eller löst limmat absorberas tuschet snabbt och linjerna kan se ojämna ut.

          Tuschlinjerna kan även sprida ut sig om papperet är alltför poröst. Jag tycker att vissa pennor sprider sig lättare än andra, tex Pigma Micron, medan Staedtler Pigment Liner sällan sprider sig och Uniball Vision fine (min personliga favorit, SPL kommer tvåa) sprider sig på vissa papper.

          På alltför hårt limmade papper samt papper med hög absorptionsförmåga kan större ytor med flytande tusch se ojämna ut.

          “Glädjefaktorn” – Jag tyckte att ett par av de papper jag testade var extra roliga att måla på: de tjockare 640 gsm papperen, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board och Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media, samt Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper. Även Yupo, vilket jag inte testade här, tillhör denna kategori. Dessa är är annorlunda jämfört med de papper jag vanligtvis målar på.

          Pris och tillgänglighet – Detta varierar ju mycket mellan olika papper och beror även på var man bor. Om papperet är alltför dyrt så vågar man kanske inte experimentera, medan om det är alltför billigt så kommer kanske ens målningar inte till sin fulla rätt.

          Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor är ett bra, billigare papper, liksom Canson Montval, vilket är hårdare limmat och kan ta lite tid att vänja sig vid.

          Företagens bakgrund – Det var intressant att få reda på att de flesta av pappersföretagen tillhör större grupper, ofta med viss fluktuering i ägarskap och tillverkningsplats. Stillman & Birn var det enda mindre, privatägda företaget.  

          Mina rekommendationer


          Akvarellpapper av studentkvalitet

          • Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor – ett ganska mjukt papper med bra ytstruktur och limning.
          • Canson Montval, fin gräng – ett hårdare limmat papper som även fungerar bra till tuschpenna. Jag gillade speciellt det block som var kantlimmat på fyra sidor, vilket var slätare än det block som bara var kantlimmat på en sida  

          Akvarellpapper av konstnärskvalitet, 100% bomull

          Mixed media-papper

          Illustration board

          Papper med “glädjefaktor”

          Thursday, September 15, 2016

          Selecting papers for watercolor ACEOs

          As I now have tested 32 different watercolor and mixed media papers, here are a few tips for selecting papers for watercolor ACEOs. Painting small format art is for me a way to awaken my creative flow! So of course I also tested how well suited these papers are to small format art, or in this case ACEOs.

          ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. It is a small piece of art, only 2.5”x3.5” (64x89 mm), the same size as standard trading cards such as baseball cards. An ACEO may be sold, whereas its subcatecory ATC (Artist Trading Cards) may only be traded.

          Testing papers for watercolor ACEOs
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Two of the most important factors to consider when painting watercolor ACEOs are paper cockling (a distortion of the paper in areas with a lot of water or paint; curl, warp, waves, etc.) and texture.


          I generally cut my ACEOs to size prior to painting. If the paper cockles too much during painting, it will curl around the centerline or diagonally, causing the paint to pool either in the center or along the edges. If you cut the paper after painting, you may instead be dealing with waves or ripples across the entire sheet unless you pre-wet and stretch it.

          Most papers cockle during painting, often in relation to the amount of water used, but the main question is which papers curl too much. Note that I used a lot of water for my tests, so if you use less water, your results may be different.

          The following papers curled the most during painting causing paint to pool along the edges: Arches Watercolour rough, Fabriano Artistico rough, cold press and hot press, Canson Moulin du Roy hot press, Canson Montval, Winsor & Newton Cotman 200 lb., and Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media. Again, note that I used a lot of water - and note that this applies specifically to ACEOs, not larger format art!

          In general, the papers that curled the most were rough papers, hot press papers, thin papers (less than 140 lb), and hard sized papers.

          Several of these unfurled once dry, but the Fabriano and Arches papers remained the most curled, especialy the rough and hot press.

          For a rough surface with less curl, try Strathmore 500 Series Gemini rough or cold press or Arches Watercolour 300 lb. (640 gsm) rough or cold press.

          For the least amount of curl, I recommend Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board or Illustration Board for Wet Media. An alternative is to try to keep the amount of water down!


          Texture is another important factor as a distinct grain will look even more prominent in a small format. Some art may benefit from a more textured look, but there were a few papers I thought had a texture that distracted from the art itself. The papers I thought had too prominent textures were: Fabriano Artistico rough, Arches Watercolour 300 lb. hot press(!), and Winsor & Newton Cotman 200 lb.

          The paper textures that I thought worked well with a small format were:
          Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor, Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut cold press, Strathmore 500 Series Gemini rough and cold press, Arches Watercolour cold press, Canson Moulin du Roy cold press, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media, and Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper.


          Of all the papers I tested, the following are the ones I would primarily recommend for ACEOs, having less cockling and less prominent textures:

          For best results, use less water and keep removing paint or water that cause pooling. Good luck!

          En ACEO är ett litet konstverk, bara 64x89 mm, samma storlek som ett idolkort. ACEO står för Art Cards, Editions and Originals, och kan alltså vara antingen ett original eller ett print i begränsad upplaga. En ACEO får säljas, medan en ATC, Artist Trading Cards, enbart får bytas.

          När jag testade akvarellpapper så testade jag även hur de fungerade till detta lilla format och fann då att två av de viktigaste egenskaperna var papperets ytstruktur samt tendens till buckling. Notera att jag använde mycket vatten till mina tester och skar till formatet innan jag målade, dvs jag fuktspände inte papperet.

          De papper jag tyckte bucklade mest var Arches Watercolour grov gräng, Fabriano Artistico grov, fin och slät gräng, Canson Moulin du Roy slät gräng, Canson Montval, Winsor & Newton Cotman 425 gsm, och Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media. Obs att detta enbart gäller ACEOs, inte större format.

          I princip kan man säga att de papper som bucklade mest var de i grov gräng, slät gräng, papper tunnare än 300 gsm och hårt limmade papper.

          En del av dessa slätade i viss mån ut sig igen, men de papper som behöll mest buckling när de torkat var Fabriano och Arches, främst grov men även slät gräng.

          De papper jag tyckte hade en alltför prominent ytstruktur var
          Fabriano Artistico grov gräng, Arches Watercolour 640 gsm slät gräng(!) och Winsor & Newton Cotman 425 gsm fin gräng.

          De papper jag tyckte passade bäst till ACEOs, dvs bucklade minst och hade en inte alltför iögonfallande ytstruktur var:

          För bäst resultat, använd lite vatten och torka snabbt upp vattenpölar på papperet med penselspetsen. Lycka till!

          Tuesday, September 13, 2016

          Compare watercolor papers: Strathmore Acrylic Paper, 400 Series

          This is the last part in my series of twelve watercolor paper tests, comparisons, and reviews. Here I am testing Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper - using watercolors! See this post for introduction and photos of all the papers and this post for conclusions.

          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper

          • Finish and weight: Linen surface, 246 lb (400 gsm)
          • Composition: Acid free
          • Website

          Paper color

          This paper is a beautiful creamy white that works well with its linen texture.

          Color brightness

          Yes, but in larger washes it is important to keep the watercolor saturated to avoid it looking diluted.

          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Paper texture

          This is not a watercolor paper, but it nevertheless has a linen texture that takes watercolors quite well!

          Paper sizing and absorbency

          Very hard sizing, so it will take a few tries to get used to in order to avoid backruns, especially on larger size papers. Use less water and saturated paint for a wonderfully textile effect.

          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper with watercolors
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Paper cockling

          This paper also cockles when wet, but straightens mostly out again as it dries.

          Pencil/pen/brush and ink

          This paper is fun to draw on, both with pencil and pen. The pencil shows off the linen texture with a responsive line that deletes well. With pen, you get a glossy black line and smooth flow despite the texture. The ink brush also glides smoothly over the paper even if the ink may dry unevenly.

          Joy factor

          Don’t deprive yourself of the joy of trying out a completely unexpected surface to paint on – such as this acrylic paper with a linen surface!

          Cost and availability

          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper is available in sheets and pads.
          • List price for a 9”x12” 10-sheet pad is $11.79, online it can be found for about five dollars less.
          • List price for an 18”x24” 10-sheet pad is $40.35, online it can be found for a bit over $20.
          • List price for a 20”x30” sheet is $3.65, online it can be found for about one dollar less.

          History and continuity

          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper was introduced in 2006. For more information about Strathmore, see this post.


          I enjoy watercolor painting on Acrylic Paper on occasion, just as I enjoy painting on Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board or Yupo. It gives me a fun challenge to keep exploring and keep things interesting!

          Översättning. Här testar jag Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper, ett papper med linnestruktur som egentligen är avsett för akrylfärg men som tar akvarell förvånansvärt väl!

          Detta papper är hårt limmat, så det kan ta ett tag att vänja sig vid då mindre vatten och mer färg är att rekommendera. Det bucklar en del när det blir vått men slätar till största delen ut sig igen när det torkar. Det fungerar bra med blyerts, tuschpenna och flytande tusch (tuschet torkar dock lite ojämnt).

          Detta papper är, liksom Yupo, ett papper som jag tycker om att använda då och då för att utmana mig själv och för att lära känna nya material.

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