Saturday, January 5, 2013

Marker World Adventures

I have to admit I feel much more comfortable with a paint brush, chunk of charcoal, graphite pencil or pastel in my hand than a marker. There just seems to be something, well... so permanent about a stroke of marker color that freaks me out. Of course, as an artist I believe that where I am uncomfortable or unknowing I must go! Here is where some of my recent experimentation has lead me into Marker World...

Text and Border play with Chartpak black marker on Strathmore Bristol Vellum 300 series paper.

Just before the December holiday festivities I was watching Tuesday Schmooseday livestream art demonstrations (for FREE) on and was turned on by artist Tracey to a new book, "Journal Bliss" by Violette. Tracey lives in England; I just loved how she said in her British accent that Violette's book contains her favorite inspirations for art journaling, so I immediately went on my store (see the link at the top of this page) and ordered "Journal Bliss".

I am enjoying working through the book, and especially like the curly, fun text styles shown in it's colorful and extremely graphic pages. I decided to test out my large Chartpak markers with some of the book's letters and borders. If I let the marker nib sit for a split second on the paper before starting or when ending a stroke, the color tended to soak & disperse into the paper slightly. Where the color soaked in, there was a little bleeding onto the page underneath. I recommend that if you want to try the Chartpak markers to work with a heavier paper than the Strathmore Bristol Vellum 300 series (100lb - 270g/m2) and look for a more dense smooth surface so the marker is less likely to spread or bleed.

Also, the Chartpak markers are large round (a little difficult for me to manage in my hands) and solvent based, so they have a strong smell. The solvent has it's benefits, though, one of which is that the clear blender can be used to transfer laser copies (from the large copy machines at Kinko's or other office supply stores) onto other surfaces by simply laying the copy printed side down on the surface to be transferred to, rubbing the back until saturated with the Chartpak Blender Marker. burnishing, allowing the paper to dry, then removing the copy. Remember when using this transfer technique to copy any numbers and letters mirror image so that they come out right when transferred. Here's a tutorial on this technique:

Playing with Utrecht alcohol based colored markers on Strathmore Bristol Vellum 300 series paper.

The Utrecht markers are an economical alternative to more expensive professional markers. They have good color coverage and are low odor (slight smell of rubbing alcohol), but I found their round size a little large for my hands. Also, I would use these markers to work out a design idea, but would not use them for a finished professional product that I would sell unless the coloring were to be used as an accent to a bold black/grey image. They are, however, perfect markers to use while enjoying an art activity with friends and family or for scrapbooking! These are the markers that I used with friends when creating the artwork in my last "Doodle Mania" post.

Playing with Copic alcohol based colored markers on Strathmore Bristol Vellum 300 series paper.

While playing with a group of 20 Copic Sketch markers in my stash for the above picture, I found the markers to be low-odor, the size of the marker is just right for my hands, and the color is brilliant The ink flows on the paper smoothly and the coverage is dense. I did not experience any soaking or spread when working on the Bristol paper; the color went right where I put it with perfection! I can say with confidence that I could use these markers to make finished artwork that would look professional and bright. 

Even though purchasing the Copic Sketch markers is a BIG investment (there are 358 colors at about $8 per marker retail - check out Dick Blick online for a cheaper price), the brilliant thing is you can replace worn nibs and they are REFILLABLE!  Each ink bottle will refill the markers anywhere from 10 to 12 times. Purchasing these markers is an investment to last you many years. However, if for some reason you were to want to give up all or a portion of your Copic Sketch marker stash at any time, there is a thriving community of art enthusiasts on eBay looking to buy the used markers.

There are lots of video tutorials for how to use Copic markers on YouTube and a bunch of informative blogs by certified Copic teachers, including showing the different methods of refilling the Copic markers. One of the bloggers, Sharon Harnist, is kind enough to have a chart available on her blog that can be printed out, then simply color in the spaces with the markers you own so at a glance you can see what colors and blending options you have. I printed my chart on a light cardstock rather than plain printer paper so it can withstand being dragged in and out of my car when buying more markers - especially when they are on sale at Michaels! Click this web address to get the free chart or cut and paste it into your browser: . If the link here doesn't work, just go to (no www) and search on "marker color chart" in the archives. Select the first article that appears and there will be a link in that blog post to the free Copic marker chart.

One of the many benefits I found with the Copic Sketch markers is they are designed to create beautiful blends by "flicking" the colors into one another, and I intend to practice this technique more to see where it takes my art-making and journal adventures...

Devon's poem, "I love you" and drawing with Utrecht markers and Sakura pens.

As usual, while I had out the markers from this article, my 13 year-old grabbed some of the Utrecht markers and a supply of my Micron and Sakura Souffle and Gelly Roll pens and drew the poem and pictures above. There's nothing like seeing the beauty created by those in an environment where the creative juices are flowing!

Happy Experimenting!


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