Allow me to dive right into what I've been obsessed with of late: watercolours, mixed media, and the aforementioned Elias Pad.
Now, normally I would pick up either a Corona or Canson sketchpad for my art. I'd been using the former since I was eight and the latter beginning college. But I needed something that would serve two purposes: doodling and actual writing since I do carry around at least six fountain pens on an average day.
Most people in a local fountain pen group, the Fountain Pen Network Philippines, recommend Rhodia pads as the best paper tablet or notebook for fountain pens. I can't comment on that as I've never used one myself. Plus I'd never found one that suit my needs or requirements--at least until I found out through independent research that yes, Rhodia pads are micro perforated. (Yes, I'm looking at you, my dear friend who shall, for now, remain unnamed.)
For a long time I used Filed. Their filler notebooks were perfect for my use and took to most of my fountain pens (generally of the fine or medium point variety) very well. But I found the filler binder too heavy for my daily carry and slipping just the filler in my bag meant a greater potential for torn pages if I get careless in slipping things in and out of my shoulder bag. I never did try to sketch in those but I can tell that the paper would not take kindly to being saturated with water.
Then came Elias.
First there were notebooks which, by the time they came out, I had already hoarded a lot of so I didn't pay that much attention to them. But then they came out just a few months ago with their own tablets in sizes that I felt I could work with.
My first hoarding of pads came from Pengrafik. I bought myself two of them, both dot grid pads of the 5.88 x 8.25-inch variety. It fit beautifully in my bag, and rather snugly against my Belle de Jour Planner which kept the front of the pad (the pad has a paper front cover and a board backing) well protected.
And I have to admit, the paper takes so well to ink that I can't stop doodling!
And then one day, I decided to buy a new watercolour set and did this, sketching this random snarky bird in pencil first and then doing the outline with a 1.0 Staedtler Marsmatic loaded with the standard technical pen ink. Colours were done using Prang watercolours and Pentel Aquash watercolour crayons for the body, the beak was filled in using Crayola washable markers and Pentel Aquash watercolour crayons.
It took me several washes to get the shading and intensity I wanted and I was amazed. You can tell even from this photo that the paper wrinkled a little bit. Here are close up shots:
But despite the wrinkling, the paper remained smooth and there was very little bleed through to the next page (which I forgot to take a shot of, my apologies.)
Impressed yet? I know this paper was not really meant for watercolour work. But you know what, give me my materials, and a sheet of paper and really, I'll go to town with whatever comes to mind that I want to do at that moment.
I believe the true test of the Elias paper was achieved with the help of my two-year-old though. Here's his work:
which he did because he saw me painting and wanted to make his own piece of art. Everything here was done using Prang watercolours.
Now let me bring your attention to the lower left corner of the piece.
Since my son is used to painting with poster colours and fingerpaints, I think he expected my watercolours to behave in the same way: a few dabs in the pan and he can swipe on intense, vibrant colour.
I was using a waterbrush at the time so obviously, with every dab he made on the paper, out came more and more water that washed out the layer of paint he'd put on. So he would dip the brush in the pan again and go over the same spot with much vigour as though his energetic pounding of brush against paper will somehow induce the pigment to deepen.
Even in the photo you can tell that the paper was wearing out from being over-scrubbed with water and paint. But here's a look at the back.
Exact same spot. Wrinkled but not much worse for wear. The roughness of the front of the sheet had done no damage to the back of the sheet although you can somewhat see the colour bleeding through from the other side.
And it stayed smooth.
This, above anything else, may be the reason why I will stick with Elias from this point on. And well, it does help that as much as I love the French, I prefer to support local. Best way to bump the local economy is to go with whatever is local and of excellent quality.
This definitely falls under that category, as proven by a two-year-old who has no idea how to use watercolours.
Other examples of pieces I've made and am currently working on, all done on the Elias Dot Grid pad (this time the larger 8.25x11.875-inch tablet), the first two done free-hand using Prang watercolours, the last is a segment of an attempt at something more abstract (not my normal type of art) and is a mixed media piece done in Crayola and Prang markers, Colleen coloured pencils, and Prang watercolours:
For those who do not like the idea of seeing little dots on their sheet of paper (which is probably my only criticism of these sheets--the dots on the dot grid are still too dark for my liking but I like having the dots) these tablets come in lined, dot grid, and yes, blank. List price for the small tablet is PhP230 while the larger one is PhP380.
To order, head on over to Everything Calligraphy or the above-mentioned Pengrafik. I assure you that the proprietors of both websites are very easy to talk to and will happily help you with any concerns regarding the products on their website.
You may want to time your visit to their sites when you are at your most awake and sane though. There is far too much eye candy on both websites. ^_~
Full disclosure: I was not paid to write about any of the items mentioned in this blog post. I really am just a fan and user of each one and bought all these items from their respective sources.