Monday, December 26, 2016

Swedish podcasts about writing and reading

Here is my current shortlist of podcasts about writing (and reading!) - all in Swedish:


The first writing podcast I encountered was Författarpodden, by writers Frida Skybäck and Agnes Hellström. They decided to start the kind of podcast they would have liked to listen to when they began writing, with inside information about writing and publishing. The first 39 episodes were published in 2014-15, but a new episode 40 was published in September 2016 and I keep my fingers crossed for more.

This podcast is still one of my absolute favorites as it has the perfect mix of personal experience and  information about the writing and publishing business! You can listen to it here.

Skriv en bestseller - eller en annan bok

The brand-new podcast Skriv en bestseller - eller en annan bok only started this fall (2016), by writers Ninni Schulman och Caroline Eriksson. In 40 episodes spread out over a year they intend to take the listener from idea to finished text.

Ninni and Caroline have set up a great format with 10 steps or topics, each split up into four episodes. In the first two episodes, they discuss the topic (e.g. ideas or characters), in the third episode they interview another writer about their take on this topic, and in the fourth episode they respond to listener questions.

I was excited to hear that they have partnered with the Writing Academy (Skrivarakademin, where I studied writing for a year) and that they will interview several of the teachers in subsequent episodes, such as principal Anna Schulze in episode #7! Listen to the podcast here.


Begun in 2014, Skrivarpodden is published by Kerstin Önnebo, an aspiring writer who decided to find out what it takes to write a book and get published. Her podcast is still going strong with over 63 episodes at the time of this post.

She not only discusses the writing process, but also interviews a plethora of people, from published writers, editors, publishers, and agents, to writing teachers, PR people, critics, legal representatives, booksellers, librarians - and even readers! Listen to it here.

Mellan raderna

Mellan raderna is actually a podcast about reading, by Karin Jihde, PR person and writer, and Peppe Öhman, journalist and writer. Begun in 2015, they discuss books they have read (or listened to), both fiction and non-fiction. At the time of this post, episode #60 was recently published.

As an extra bonus and a nod to Peppe's heritage, quite a few books in Finland-Swedish are reviewed, books written by the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland! Listen to it here.

Bladen brinner

Another podcast about reading started this year is Bladen brinner by writers Lisa Bjärbo och Johanna Lindbäck. They discuss literature for children and youth, interview writers from both Sweden and abroad, and give tips about books for young readers. However, the podcast is aimed at adults, from teachers and librarians to parents and anyone else interested in children's literature. At this point, they are planning to do 20 episodes and have been funded on Kickstarter.

For a sample in English, check out the interview with German fantasy writer Cornelia Funke in episode #2! Find the podcast here.

Översättning. Poddar om skrivande och läsande som jag gillar!

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Pen drawing
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Admiring the architecture of the trees
Columns, beams, cantilevers
Tension, compression
Contraction, expansion

So much stillness, patience, strength, and beauty

Stillness and calm on a gray winter day

 Översättning. Jag beundrar trädens arkitektur.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winter zinnias

Winter Zinnias
Pen and watercolor
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Seeing the beauty in these faded zinnias,
their contorted petals and leaves
have never been more beautiful

As I draw
I see their bounty,
the beauty
in all aging

Översättning. Jag ser skönheten i det vissnade, åldrade.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube redesigns - a graphic design review

I recently noticed that I have no less than four different Winsor & Newton Professional (formerly Artists') watercolor tube designs among my art supplies, so I thought I’d write a brief review of the graphic design of their tubes - ending with a comparative design review of Daniel Smith's watercolor tubes as well.

1. The original tube

This is the original graphic design, which has been around for a long time.

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube - the original design
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Tube color

White, which makes black text easy to read (and permits personal notations with a permanent marker on the tube, such as purchase date, pigment characteristics, etc.)

Label and text

Black text on white label in easy-to-ready fonts, both serif and sans-serif, and font sizes. The most important information is emphasized in serif; color name in English and the product range “Artists’ Water Colour”.

Color swatch

A color stripe circles the tube at the top, also on the back. This makes it easy to see what color it is at a glance from any angle (even if you store your colors upright in jars like I do). Color name in white within the stripe in a serif font that makes it easily legible.


Very small logo on the side of the tube.

Color names

In addition to the color name prominently noted in white (serif) within the color swatch, color names are noted in five languages in black on the label (English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian) with English, in a serif font, being the most prominent, the others smaller and sans-serif.

To me, this not only provides an international flair but is also very helpful if you speak another language - the German color names are quite close to the Swedish color names, for example!

Color code

Not to be confused with pigment code, the color code is the code used as a reference by retailers (ex. 0105 178). This code is located right next to the color name on the front of the tube.

Pigment name and number

Pigment name and number (aka color index name) noted on the back, important information for the watercolor artist so you know what is in the tube (e.g. Synthetic Iron Oxide PR101 in Indian Red).

Other information

Series number (relates to price, 1 through 5, series 5 being the most expensive) noted on the front together with permanence rating (AA through C (and i through vi)) on yet another color stripe for increased visibility. Lightfastness (ASTM; I through V, or N/L) noted on the back, but for some reason not on all tubes.


To me, the original tube has it all in terms of easily legible and easy-to-locate information. Both the color swatch and color name are prominently located at the top of the tube. The entire color swatch wraps around the tube. The tubes and labels are white with black, easy-to-read text, emphasizing the color name with a serif font. And both pigment name and number are written on the back.

Graphically, the design is less balanced, but there is still an equilibrium of sorts that works between color stripes and white areas, horizontal and vertical text, serif and sans-serif fonts, large and small fonts.

2. Redesign #1, 2013

In 2013, Winsor & Newton decided to change their watercolor tube design, bringing back historical elements, such as the metallic tube, and making the griffin logo more prominent.

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube - the first redesign (2013)
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Tube color

Metallic, which reflects light and makes text difficult to read.

Label and text

Black text on transparent label (metallic shows through) in small, hard to read font sizes, most sans-serif on a reflective surface. The only words in serif are “Winsor & Newton Professional”. I actually prefer “Artists’” to “Professional”; this sounds more inspiring and creative to me!

Color swatch

A color stripe on the front below the center of the tube and a thinner color line on the back, making it difficult to see what color it is unless the tube is lying on its own on a table.


Prominent logo at the top of the tube.

Color names

Color names in three languages (English, French, and Spanish; German and Italian have been removed) in black capitals, but small font sizes. This is the only location where the name of the color is noted.

Color code

Noted on the back.

Pigment name and number

Pigment number only (e.g. PR 101), leaving out the pigment name, in a tiny font on the back.

Other information

Permanence rating and series number noted on the front in a tiny font, transparency noted graphically on the back with a square symbol that is filled in for opaque colors and left unfilled for transparent. Lightfastness noted on some tubes


The first redesign put the logo first and, in doing so, forgot about the readability and usability of the product for the end user! Neither color swatch nor color name is easy to to read, the same goes for the black text on a metallic background which reflects light. The small sans-serif font is not improving the legibility. In addition, I miss the pigment names and find the tiny and narrow font used for color characteristics very hard to read.

Graphically, the logo, company and product name take up more than 50% of the front of the label, crowding out the actual color information. The label feels top-heavy, with only the color stripe providing an anchor at the lower half.

3. Redesign #2, 2014(?)

Fairly soon thereafter, a second redesign was

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube - the second redesign
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Tube color

Metallic as before.

Label and text

Black on metallic as before, but font sizes beefed up on the front.

Color swatch

An even smaller color stripe on the front below the center of the tube, and the same thin color line on the back as before.


A much smaller logo at the top of the tube.

Color names

Color names in the same three languages in black capitals, but now in larger font sizes, albeit all the same size which I find confusing. This is still the only location where the name of the color is noted.

Color code

Noted on the back as before.

Pigment name and number

Pigment number noted in a tiny font on the back as before.

Other information

The series number is now more prominent on the front, permanence rating is noted in a smaller font below. Lightfastness noted, at least on my tubes, transparency with a symbol on the back.


Enter the second redesign, now with a larger color name but a smaller color swatch. The back sides are identical.

Graphically, the logo is still on top but is now reduced in size to a third of the available real estate, making its thin black lines all but invisible on the metallic surface. Still, balance is lacking in the composition as there is no one feature anchoring the design, only several disparate elements floating in space without anything tying them together, or separating them.

4. Redesign #3, 2015

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube - the third redesign (2015)
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Tube color

Metallic as before.

Label and text

Black on metallic as before, but the color names moved to within the color swatch and are now in white.

Color swatch

A wide color stripe right at the top on the front, but not circling the entire tube. Only a thin line on the back. Color name in white capitals within the stripe in three languages, all in a sans-serif font.


Small logo, but larger than in the prior redesign, now below the color swatch.

Color names

Color names in three languages (English, French, and Spanish) in white capitals on the color swatch.

Color code

Noted on the back as before, but now further down.

Pigment name and number

Pigment number noted in a tiny font on the back as before, but now further down.

Other information

Series number and permanence rating noted on the front as before. Lightfastness noted in a small font on the back (but still not on all tubes?!), transparency with a symbol.


The third, and probably final, redesign returned the color swatch to the top of the tube and widened it to boot, yet did not extend its entire width to the back side but left it only a slim line. The color name is located within the swatch as it was in the original design, but in a sans-serif font in white ink that I find hard to read at a glance. I would have liked to see some hierarchy between the color names as all three languages are now located within the swatch.

The information on the back has also been reconfigured, but I must say I found the prior version better, which established the hierarchy of information with color characteristics at the top and company information below instead of the opposite, which is now the case.

All in all, this design works much better than the prior two, but is still a bit hard to read.

Graphically, the color swatch and color names now take center stage, but the logo is so small and thin that it does not quite manage to balance the composition, which carry most weight at the top.

Daniel Smith comparison

Daniel Smith watercolor tube
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Why not take a look at the graphic design of a Daniel Smith watercolor tube as well?!

Tube color

This tube is black, which makes it impossible to make notes on unless using a white marker.

Label and text

However, the label is white and could be written upon! Black text in sans-serif fonts (except the company name, which is in serif), are just a bit bigger and less narrow than Winsor & Newton's, making this tube easier to read even if the fonts still are small.

Color swatch

A color stripe right at the top, circling the entire tube. The flower logo is also printed in this color, as an extra bonus, very elegant! Color name in black right below the color swatch.


Located at the bottom half of the label in the same color as the color in the tube!

Color names

Color names in five languages (English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian) in black, with English more prominently displayed.

Color code

Noted on the back.

Pigment name and number

Pigment name and number noted on the back, and not only that, also the vehicle (gum arabic solution) is noted, in both English and French.

Other information

Series number and lightfastness noted on the back, also in both English and French. Separate permanence ratings or transparency not noted.


A very clean and well balanced graphic design, in my opinion. The yellow stripe on top is balanced by and connected to the logo below and the font sizes lead the eyes to the most important information, something you can easily see if you hold the tube at an arm’s length distance.

On the front, only the necessary information is noted: Color name, in five languages no less, company name and logo, and volume/weight.

The back side is less clear, with company information on top, then color code, series and lightfastness, with pigment information located below the bar code. As with W&N, I recommend locating the company information on the bottom and keeping color characteristics on top where the eye first travels at a glance.

Översättning. Genomgång och kritik av den grafiska designen av Winsor & Newtons fyra senaste akvarelltuber - samt en jämförelse med konkurrenten Daniel Smith.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why are watercolor prices going up?

I recently received an order of seven Winsor & Newton Professional watercolor tubes, all 14 ml (Sept 2016) and compared this cost to an order from about 1 ½ year earlier (April 2015). The totals (without sales tax) came to $115.85 and $97.02 respectively, a price increase of about 20%!

Already in early 2015, an art supply store owner was quoted in Huffington Post stating that art supply prices have increased between 10-20% over the past several years.

This gave me the idea to dig deeper into the world of pigment manufacturing and what could be behind continuously rising art supply costs.

Consumer price index and inflation

First, a comparison. During this same time period (4/15-9/16), the consumer price index went up 4.8%. Inflation was 1.5% during the past year (10/15-9/16).

Watercolor tube price comparison
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


Did you know that the pigments used in watercolors are the same as those used in other industries? Examples are paints and varnishes, automotive finishes, plastics, textiles, printing inks, and construction, although the exact formulas, pigment sizes and treatments, and therefore costs, vary with the intended use.

These pigments are mostly produced by large chemical companies, such as Sun Chemical in the United States and BASF in Germany. (There are also a few smaller companies, such as Kremer Pigments, that sell pigments directly to artists.)

These companies, in turn, rely on suppliers, often located in other parts of the world such as China and India, for pigments and intermediates needed. This global supply chain means that pigment prices are very sensitive to global events.

Factors affecting pigment costs

As with most commodities, such as cotton, wheat – or cobalt -, in a global world everything affects everything. Here are a few of the many factors and events that affect pigment costs.

Global events
  • Any global or political unrest
  • Global trade agreements
  • Political events and elections, e.g. presidential elections, Brexit
  • Fluctuating currency rates, e.g. the Euro declined 20% in 2015
  • Rising oil prices and transportation costs
  • Climate changes and weather related catastrophes

Supply and demand
  • Pigment demands by the above mentioned sectors, such as the automotive industry. Automotive finishes are one of the biggest pigment uses and as the trends keep favoring black, white, and gray colors, less reds and yellows are manufactured
  • Less demand for, and use of, heavy metals in pigment manufacturing, such as lead and cadmium
  • More demand for, and use of, a certain metal. For example, cobalt went up from $13/lb to over $50/lb from 2006 to 2008 (and later went back down to $13) due to increased demand (for instance for rechargeable car batteries) coupled with a moratorium on export from the DR Congo
  • Changes in demand, such as increased demand for new, customized pigments and colors with special features based on new technologies

Regulations and legislation
  • Environmental regulations of plants, e.g. in China, where much of the production takes place. Plants that refuse or cannot afford to comply are closed
  • New legislation and regulations, such as the REACH Regulation in the European Union
  • Varying compliance regulations by country governments or even large brands and end users

 Business decisions
  • Consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, or sales of companies and plants, in attempts to increase profitability, which reduce the supply base, limit choices, and drive up prices
  • Plant closures due to lack of enough profitability
  • Reduction in inventory by the supply chain due to less global demand

What’s an artist to do?

As I see it, there are two sides to this question.

First, how do we cope with constantly rising art supply prices?

Solutions range from buying less art supplies and smaller tubes or do smaller paintings, to switching to cheaper brands or substitute colors. (Or switching from professional to student grade colors, but this is nothing I would recommend due to increased use of fillers and less vibrant colors.)

Still, as the entire industry faces the same challenges, comparable products often have comparable prices. In addition, it is important to remember that the performance may differ between brands and colors.

The second, and perhaps more critical, issue is, how can we artists help ensure that our favorite art supplies stay on the market?

The answer here is to keep supporting our favorite brands and colors! I, for example, don’t know what I would do without Winsor & Newton’s Cobalt Blue, so I will keep buying it, writing about it(!), and using it. Ditto my other favorite palette colors, papers, and brushes.

Perhaps we should also contact the manufacturers and let them know how important their products are.

In the extension, may I recommend that those of you with deep pockets start purchasing colorful cars if you want to keep that red or yellow pigment on the market! ☺


Översättning. Varför blir akvarellfärger allt dyrare? Svaret ligger i den globala försörjningskedjan. Det mesta som händer i världen påverkar utvinning och framställning av pigment och färger.

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 or Gothenburg Book Fair) in Sweden. The 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 temperature at 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 with, 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 may not be accepted everywhere. 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 a small 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. Remember that thousands of other people also will be needing cabs, parking, or public transportation to get to the fair.

          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 people density reaches its high during the weekend. This may be especially important for the introvert or highly 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.

          In addition to the seminars, 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 the program events as well, and the program events are 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, etc., 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 ticket to get back in) and a larger restaurant, Estrad, on the second level in the southwest corner (you can order lunch tickets ahead of time, get there early to avoid lines).

          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 13.)

          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 and Guide in English to the 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 the Göteborg Book Fair (Göteborgs bokmässa or Gothenburg Book Fair) for the English-speaking visitor.

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

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

          The 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 the 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.


          The 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 the fair up to the general public.

          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. Within the cultural sector, teachers and librarians are the two biggest groups of visitors.

          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.


          The Göteborg Book Fair can be said to have two main parts:
          1. The exhibitors and their program events on the main and second floors
          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 include authors discussing their latest book or a related topic, children and youth literature, illustration, translation, 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 program 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 program 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 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.

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

          You may also like this post, Tips for the Göteborg Book Fair visitor, a must-read if you are a first-time visitor!

          The official site for the Göteborg Book Fair can be found here.

          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!