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Scrawlrbox January 2023

NOTE:  Photographs of each test can be found at the end of this blog.

I was very pleased to get coloured pencils this month as this is a medium I use regularly. 

The Derwent Fine art Pencils seem a little harder than the Chromaflow range, so you need to apply more pressure to get the same colour pay-off.  I found this to be the case regardless of the paper I used.

The colours were nice but a struck me as a little odd, given the prompt of ‘Dish of the Day’.  I feel this is a recurring theme with Scrawlrbox and a little more thought could go into how the supplies work with the prompt.  I think Oranges, yellows and greens would have made morse sense with the prompt we were given. 

Whilst I appreciate the potential to ‘think outside the box’ with colour selections for everyday objects, I think someone new to this box – and maybe also new to art – might just want to be creative with colours that ‘make sense’.  Even intermediate or expert artists might just want to relax with their Scrawlrbox and not overthink the process.

Now to the blender pen.

It has a very strong smell which doesn’t seem to fade with time.  I compared the pen with alcohol-based rose water and the results were almost identical.  For that reason, I don’t think I’d buy this blender pen again. I was also disappointed that it is neither refillable nor recyclable.

I tried the blender pen with Derwent Chromaflow, Faber-Castell Polychromos and POSCA pencils, and found that it worked better with these brands than the Fine Art Pencils, which needed at least 4 layers to achieve a nice blend, whereas the other pencils only needed one or two layers. 

I really liked the ‘B2P’ ballpoint pen.  It’s comfortable to hold for long periods of time and writes very nicely.  I’d never thought to draw with ballpoint pen before, but the performance of this pen made me want to try it.

I already have a large ‘Seawhite of Brighton’ sketchbook, which I really like, so I found this ‘concertina’ sketchbook a bit disappointing regarding how it performs with coloured pencils. The paper is incredibly soft, which made getting any decent colour down very difficult, even when using Polychromos and POSCA pencils.

I also found that there was a lot of ‘feathering’ when using Pitt Artist pens.

One area where this sketchbook really gains points is the fact there was ZERO bleed-though when I used the Pitt Artist Pens, which means the other side of the paper isn’t wasted.

Next, I tried Alcohol inks with this sketchbook. The inks sink into the paper quite quickly and the colour spreads easily, so it won’t be possible to create fine lines, but this quality of the paper could still be useful depending on what effects you’re trying to create.  I tried using the Derwent blender pen with these inks and they worked well, and I can see lots of potential for interesting effects.

I found this paper really worked nicely with acrylic inks and the colours layer beautifully if applied when the base layer is fully dry.  You can also achieve sharp lines and detail, unlike the alcohol inks.

The paper takes watercolour paint quite well (although a light touch is needed to avoid pilling) and any buckling disappears completely once the paper has dried.  ‘Wet in Wet’ techniques are particularly nice with this paper.

I also found the paper performed well with a graphite 2B pencil and erased completely.

I find the concertina format a bit unwieldy but that’s an entirely subjective opinion and just takes a bit getting used to on my part.

Lastly, value for money.  As usual searched for the best price for each item with free P&P.  This month’s total came to £25.09 which made this box excellent value for money.

All in all, I really enjoyed this box

Scrawlr Prompt: ‘Dish of The Day’

Scrawlr Prompt, 'Dish Of The Day' completed using the contents of the box.

Birds that migrate together have similar calls, study finds – BirdGuides

I find this absolutely fascinating.

If you’ve just subscribed to my blog recently: ‘Hello! Hi! 😁. You can expect more of this cos I’m a massive Nature Nerd 🤓 🤣.


Watercolour Pencils: Faber-Castell Albrecht Dűrer v Pentel Arts

Price: Faber-Castell Albrecht Dűrer set of 24 = £27.80 (£1.15 each) from Amazon

Albrecht Durer

Pentel Arts set of 24 = £6.69 (27p each) from Amazon

Pentel Arts


  • Pink Pig A5 Textured Ameleie 270gsm Watercolour sketchbook.
  • Mozart Supplies water brush.
  • Steadtler 0.1 pigment liner.
  • Molotow masking fluid pen.
  • Faber-Castell Albrecht Dűrer watercolour Pencils.
  • Pentel Arts Watercolour Pencils.
  • Faber-Castell Polychromos Coloured Pencils.


  1. Colour intensity/Pigment.
  2. Mixing Colours.
  3. Transparency.
  4. Performance when used in conjuction with masking fluid.
  5. How easy is it to reactivate and lift colour once dry?
  6. How do Polychromos pencils perform over activated watercolour pencil once dry?
  7. Comfort and ease of use.
  8. Are the pencils easy to sharpen? Do they break often?
  9. Colour range*.


1. Colour intensity.

1 Pentel Arts Intensity + Pigment

1 Albrecht Durer Intensity + Pigment

Although the Pentel colours are impressive for the price point, when I compare – for example –  the magenta colour in the Pentel range (424) with it’s magenta equivalent (133) in the Albrecht Dűrer set, the difference in the richness and saturation of colour is obvious.  I find the addition of a white pencil equally pointless in both sets, as neither are opaque enough when activated to offer any useful applications.

I also found that the Pentel magenta colour required the application of several dry layers in order to come close to matching the coverage and intensity of colour that one layer of Albrecht Dűrer produced when activated.

2. Mixing Colours

2. Colour mixing

As you can see from my notes above, Albrecht Dűrer provided a nice vibrant, uniform colour when mixed (one layer of each colour) compared to Pentel, which offered a much more diluted colour, which is not necessarily a bad thing if you want to exploit this quality when you’re looking for delicate colours. What was of more concern to me was the Pentel colours’ propensity to separate, or for one of the primaries to ‘dominate’ the tint of the secondary colour, despite applying just one layer of each colour for both brands.

3. Transparency

3. Transparency

For this test, each box was created with Steadtler Pigment liners, then left to dry before applying watercolour pencil over the top.

Again, Albrecht Dűrer performed best, although the red in both sets showed the highest opacity (excluding the white in both sets, obviously). Interestingly, when I activated the white in both sets, it lifted the fineliner slightly.

The Albrecht Dűrer white pencil showed slightly more opacity than the Pentel white.

4. Performance when used in conjunction with masking fluid.

4. masking fluid + reactivate test

For this test, I used the same design in masking fluid, then once dry I applied two layers of watercolour pencil before activating with the watercolour brush, which allowed me to apply the same amount of water to each section.

Both pencils were easy to apply over dried masking fluid, with Albrecht Dűrer providing the most intense and even colour when activated.

The lines between masked and painted areas seemed cleaner with the Pentel pencils, but I am not sure if this is down to user error, as I’ve had this happen when I used this masking fluid in previous product reviews.

5. How easy is it to reactivate and lift colour once dry?

5. Polychromos reativate text
Albrecht Dűrer

5. Pentel reactivate test

Whilst both pencils reactivated readily, the Pentel pencil lifted more easily, with Albrecht Dűrer showing good staining qualities.

6. How do Polychromos pencils perform over activated watercolour pencil once dry?

For this test, I selected Albrecht Dűrer pencils in Helioblue-Reddish and Ultramarine, Pentel colour 443 and 499. The Polychromos colours I chose were Ultramarine, Helioblue-Reddish, and White.

6. Polychromos over Albecht Durer

When I layered the Polychromos pencil over Albrecht Dűrer colours ‘Helioblue-Reddish’ and ‘Ultramarine’, the white pencil had the biggest affect on the Helioblue-Reddish, though it was still subtle.

What I found interesting was that the Helioblue-Reddish Polychromos Pencil looks warmer when placed over it’s own watercolour equivalent and cooler on the Ultramarine Albrecht Dűrer pencil.

6. Polychromos over Pentel

The white Polychromos pencil showed up best when used over the Pentel black watercolour pencil, though neither were particularly impressive.

When I was laying down the dry layers of watercolour pencil, I did notice that the Pentel colours felt more ‘waxy’ than Albrecht Dűrer, and I do wonder if there’s a higher wax content in cheaper watercolour pencils which tends to repel anything you try to put on top of it later.

My general feeling after conducting this test is that Faber-Castell pencils perform in a very uniform fashion across the whole range.

7. Comfort and ease of use.

7. Comfort

My personal preference for barrel shape in pens and pencils is hexagonal or triangular, as I find this most comfortable and effective in staving off cramp, so the basic shape felt good on both pencils. However, the thicker barrel of the Albrecht Dűrer pencil was the more comfortable of the two, and I could use this for longer periods before my hand got tired and I needed a break.

9. Sharpening

Pentel core (left) and Albrecht Dűrer (right) core.

I felt like the higher quality core of the Albrecht Dűrer pencil made for a more enjoyable experience as it took less effort to get good coverage and saturated pigment when activated.

The weight of the Albrecht Dűrer pencil, combined with the thicker core gave me extra confidence in mark-making as I wasn’t worried the point would break if I used more pressure, unlike the Pentel pencil which felt more delicate and as if it could only be pushed so far before it would break.

8. Are the pencils easy to sharpen? Do they break often?

For this test, I used the Faber-Castell 2001 Grip Trio Sharpening box.

Whilst it was easy to sharpen both pencils, I found that the Pentel Pencil broke more frequently despite being handled gently. I also noticed that the Pentel cores were already broken in a few places before I attempted to sharped them. Most of the Pentel cores were ‘off-center’ in the barrel, which may have contributed to their propensity to break.

10. Colour range.

Both sets have a nice range of colours. The Albrecht Dűrer set seemed to offer a more useful selection of warm browns, whereas the browns in the Pentel set all seemed to be more red-hued. The nearest colour to ‘Burnt Umber’ in the Pentel set also appeared to be more of a ‘mustard’ colour.

As for the greens, the Albrecht Dűrer set offered the better range, though I would have liked to see the Phthalo Green and Emerald – which I felt are too blueish – replaced with something like Permanent Green and Leaf Green to better compliment the Light Green and Earth Green Yellowish in this set. I’d even go so far as to ditch the white pencil completely and have 5 good natural, complimentary greens in the set instead.

I’d say the colour range of the Albrecht Dűrer set is more naturalistic, whereas the Pentel colours are pastel ‘candy’ colours which lend themselves to a very particular style of art.

The Pentel set does not come with any information on light-fast ratings (which leads me to assume none of these pencils are light-fast), unlike Albrecht Dűrer which has light-fast ratings ranging from 2 stars (very good light-fastness for 25 years+) to 3 stars (100% light-fast for 100 years or more).  11 out of the 24 pencils in the Albrecht Dűrer set have a 3-star light-fast rating.

One thing that REALLY irritated me about both sets was the gold writing on the barrels which made the colour codes extremely hard to read, especially on the lighter colour pencils. To both companies, I would suggest a black band on the barrel with the colours written inside this band, as this would make them so much easier to read.


Whilst the Pentel set is impressive for the price point, and more than adequate for a child’s school bag, if you’re looking for a decent range of saturated, usable colours that wont fade, I would not hesitate to pick the Albrecht Dűrer range.

The main advantage both the Albrecht Dűrer and Polychromos pencils have is that you can buy individual colours when each pencil runs out, whereas you’d have to buy a whole new set of Pentel Arts pencils if you ran out of one colour.

Another advantage of being able to buy individual colours is that you can try a colour you use very often – like green – before you invest in the whole set. You could even build your collection one pencil at a time if you had budget constraints.

I also feel it’s a good idea to start with a decent brand when you’re venturing into a new medium, as struggling to get decent results with a poor quality item – be it pencils, paints or whatever – could frustrate a beginner and lead them to abandon that medium altogether.

Ultimately, when deciding which of these sets is for you, I would say it’s a case of weighing up the importance of light-fastness and consistent quality against your budget. Would you be happy with a complete set of the cheap and cheerful Pentel pencils (bearing in mind the downsides discussed in this review) or would you rather assemble a quality set one pencil at a time?


Review: Daler Rowney Aquafine Watercolour 12 Half Pans Travel Set, Assorted


PRICE: £14.40 from Jackson’s Art Supplies


  • Pink Pig Ameleie Textured Watercolour Sketchbook.
  • Size 4 Short handle watercolour brush (included in palette).
  • Cotman size 8 111 round watercolour brush.
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliner 0.5.



  1. Colour saturation/pigment.
  2. Mixing Primary colours.
  3. Wet-in-Wet.
  4. Transparency over Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliner.
  5. Glazing (mono and two colours).
  6. Flat Wash and Graded Wash.


  1. Colour saturation is initially quite impressive, even with weaker washes, though once dry, the saturation is less impressive and the paint takes on a chalky quality.

1 palette swatch


2. At first, I wrote this off as a failure, but in better light I realised I had mixed cool and warm colours incorrectly, resulting in muddy secondary colours.

However, when  I repeated the test with Lemon Yellow and Ultramarine Blue, I was left with a nice fresh ‘spring’ green.



  1. Wet-in-Wet with one colour seems to spread well, but adding a second colour was less successful, with the two pigments ‘resisting’ eachother.


Wet in Wet

  1. Colours – once again – have a chalky appearance over Pigma Micron pen when dry – especially yellows and reds (which, surprisingly are rated by the manufacturer as ‘transparent’).

4 transparency all colours


  1. This paint seems to lend itself well to glazing. The base layer does not seem to lift and the upper layer stays crisp at the edges.

Glazing leavesPurple flowers


  1. Flat wash seems consistent, but the gradual wash was a bit patchy, despite having the same water-to-paint ratio and completing the gradient in a single application.

6 & 7 washes dry



This is a student grade set, which is evident by the chalky finish of the dry paint and my observation that the colours seem to lose the initially impressive saturation when dry.

When considering how the set functions for its intended purpose, i.e. ‘on the go’ I am left underwhelmed.

The main negative for me was the design of the case, as I feel more care could have been taken to ensure the over-filled paint pans didn’t stick to the lid, causing wastage and contamination of other colours (especially important saying as the consistency of these paints, even when dry is very ‘gummy’).

Another problem I found was that some pans do not clip into the grid securely.

The limited mixing surface was also an issue for me.  It was possible to remove the grid and pans to get extra mixing surfaces, but this was a very fiddly process and somewhat defeated the whole object of a ‘travel kit’.

If you can live with the negatives I have outlined here, this would be an ideal purchase for an older child to take on holiday or a day trip (though I would recommend purchasing a separate full size brush rather than relying on the one in this set).

As long as you recognise the limitations of this product and don’t expect to create a masterpiece with it, you have a perfectly adequate, fun little kit.




Review: Pink Pig 4” x 4” Sketchbook

Image courtesy of

Pink Pig 4” x 4” Sketchbook

Paper: 150 gsm Cartridge paper
Paper Colour options: White, Off-white, Cappucino Brown
Cover Options: Covered back and Front, Covered front only, ‘Posh’ or ‘Classic’ (various colours – see website).

‘The Pink Pig’ is an independent, family-run British brand which has been in business since 1992. I first came across this brand when I was studying art at University, as their sketchbooks were sold in the campus art supplies shop. I have loved using them ever since, so when I ran out of the books I had bought during my Uni days, I was very eager to find the brand again (all I had to go on was search for ‘artist’s sketchbook, mulberry paper cover’ and the good old interwebs took me to the right place first time!).


1. Coloured Pencil performance.
2. Generic pencil performance
3. Watercolour paints – overworking and warping
4. Watercolour Pencil – overworking and warping
5. Alcohol marker performance
6. Eraser performance
7. Watercolour brush pen performance


• Faber-Castell Polychromos Coloured Pencils
• Steadtler Noris Erasable Pencil
• Pentel and Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils
• Mozart Watercolour Brush Pens
• Pilot Pintor Paint Pen
• Steadtler Lumocolor Marker
• Steadtler Metallic Marker
• Daler-Rowney Watercolour Paints
• Viviva Watercolour Sheets
• Copic Ciao Markers (Copic Ciao Doodle Pack)
• Generic Plastic Eraser
• Sakura Gelly Roll Glaze Pens
• Pentel Orenz Mechanical Pencil

1. Polychromos Pencils lay down very easily with a vibrant colour. Paper can take several layers of Polychromos pencil, but Steadtler Noris erasable pencil cannot be layered so easily and the colour is not vibrant. This paper definitely works better with good quality coloured pencils.

2. Standard pencils perform well, but I found the mechanical pencil performed best. Harder leads seem to leave an impression on the paper after being erased. Charcoal pencil hardly moves, so this is something to bear in mind, depending on what kind of effect you’re after.

3. Both Viviva Colorsheets and Daler-Rowney watercolour paints soaked into the page quickly (but did not bleed through), with limited ability to spread or reactivate the paint. The paper did start to bread down with very little water and brush work.

4. Pentel watercolour pencils didn’t spread well when water was added, but Albrecht Durer pencils performed well.

5. Pilot Pintor paint pens bled through slightly on the other side of the page, as did Steadtler Lumocolor and Steadtler Metallic Marker. Copic Ciao makers performed worst on this test, with the colour not only bleeding through to the back of the page I was working on, but also onto the next clean page. There was no bleed-through at all with Sakura Gelly Roll Glaze pens and they kept their ‘glaze’ after the ink dried.

6. Paper seems to cope well with even the cheaper eraser, and going over the same area multiple times did not damage the paper at all.

7. Watercolour brush pens lay down very nicely, with no bleed-through, even when several layers were applied. A single layer can be pushed quite far with water, but I found that darker colours tend to sink in quickly and can’t be blended or ‘extended’ with water as effectively. When blending colours, doing so directly from the pen produced better results than laying them down on paper first, before blending with a water brush. Layered colour reactivates quite well but a single layer of colour doesn’t.


The things I like most of all about this particular product are the choice of colours and finishes on the sketchbook cover, as well as the size of the sketchbook as you can pop several in a bag or coat pocket so that you always have something handy to sketch out an idea (I don’t know about you but my best ideas always pop at the least convenient moment!).

I also like the sustainability of this product – the company have strived to make as many elements of this product in recycled materials as possible. As a customer living in England I also like knowing my product has a smaller carbon footprint than say one of the bigger brand sketchbooks made abroad.

There’s really nothing I don’t like about this product, although the main suggestion I would give to improve this product would be to add the option of watercolour paper to this range of sketchbooks in order for artists to make the most of ‘Travel’ paint sets like the Daler Rowney and Viviva ones I used for this review, as well as watercolour pencils.

If this review has tempted you to try the product, I would really appreciate it if you used the affiliate link below, which earns me a small commission every time someone buys a product using this link. Thank you!


Review: Viviva Colorsheets – Single set.

RRP: £15.14 ( Optional Vegan – Friendly Flip case and Water brush available (prices vary).

I received this set as part of my Scrawlrbox subscription.


Mozart Supplies 300gsm Cold Press Watercolour paper.
• Steadtler 0.1 Pigment Liner
• Winsor and Newton Cotman 111 #8 round brush.
• Winsor and Newton Cotman 999 16mm Mop Brush
• Motolow masking fluid pen.


• Colour Intensity/Pigment
• Mixing Colours (primary)
• Glazing (one and two colours)
• Wet in Wet (one and two colours
• Transparency
• Flat Wash
• Graduated Wash
• Masking Fluid
• Reactivation of dry paint and lifting wet paint

Colour intensity/pigment.

This paint is very highly pigmented, which can make it difficult to control the colour intensity, as unlike pans or tube paints, it can be difficult gauge how much water to add for a desired opacity.

Blues and reds seem hardest to predict in terms of how much water to add to control the intensity of colour.

Mixing Colours (Primary)

Mixing Crimson and Chrome Yellow gave a beautiful golden orange, slightly darker than the Chrome Yellow in the set.

Chrome Yellow and Peacock Blue created a dullish but still nice ‘teal’, whereas Peacock Blue and Crimson created a rich, deep aubergine colour, different to any of the purples in the set.

Crimson and Chrome Yellow on dry paper bled into each other nicely, giving an affect which reminded me of cirrus clouds.

Peacock Blue seems to bleed into both Chrome Yellow and Crimson with a more feathered effect. I found the patterns it created quite inspiring, reminding me of a distant tree line, which could be used to the artist’s advantage if they were painting a landscape.

Glazing – One and Two Colour

NOTE: 3 layers of paint – with drying time in between applications – were used for this test.

Nice transparency, but the base colour did lift quite easily with very little water. Same-colour glazing appears to work better than two colours as it gives deeper shades with a ‘clean’ colour, whereas the secondary colour in the two colour test tended to stay the same between the 2nd and 3rd layers.

The 2 colour glaze top coat dries with a definite, darker sharp outline.

Wet in Wet (one colour)

NOTE: Paper was dampened with a spray bottle.

Intense colour straight from the sheet doesn’t spread or ‘bloom’ as readily or as softly as Komorebi watercolours. Weaker dilutions tend to spread a little better but you lose the colour intensity, unlike Komorebi colours. However, this might make Viviva colours ideal for skies if you allow for the paint’s limited ability to flow.

Wet in Wet (two colour)

Note: Paper was dampened with mop brush.

Interestingly, I found that the colours ‘bloom’ more readily when the paper is dampened with a mop brush, though the paint is still less ‘mobile’ than Komorebi watercolours.

When I dropped Peacock Blue into the wet Crimson, it almost seemed to repel the latter, and didn’t merge softly. This makes sense, considering way these two colours interacted during the ‘mixing’ test.


For this test, I used the deepest saturation I could create in order to fully test the transparency of each colour.

As I suspected, blues and purples were the least transparent. Magenta was the most transparent in this group of colours.

Slate black gives a nice gradient and seems potentially useful for adding ‘mood’ to a foggy/twilight painting.

The colours were generally nice and clean over black pen, but the Chrome Yellow did leave behind and chalky residue.

Flat Wash

Because the composition of this product is more of a pigment dye than a conventional watercolour paint, washes are easy to apply, however you need to work quickly as the paper stains easily and can show a ‘tide mark’ where layers overlap.

Graduated wash

I was impressed with the softness and transparency of the graduation, due again to the composition of the pigment. Again, you need to work quickly because if you go over an area twice, it will show once the paint is dry.

Masking Fluid

Very crisp borders between painted and masked areas, giving an effect that reminded me of batik cloth. I think this was due to the pigments being more dye-like in composition.

Reactivation of dry paint and lifting of wet paint.

NOTE: Dry paint reactivated with round brush and wet paint was lifted with a paper towel.

Pinks and reds reactivated a little bit, but left a definite stain on the paper.

Oranges and Yellows did not behave consistently – Vermillion hardly budged, whereas Dusky Orange (now named ‘Flesh’ on the manufacturers website) reactivated significantly.

Violet hardly reactivated, whereas Magenta did so quite significantly.

Slate Black was the biggest surprise as it reactivated more easily than I expected.

This test was quite a challenge due to being unable to achieve a consistent dilution of the colours.

The lifting properties of the wet colours were very similar to the reactivation test.

Conclusion and final thoughts.

• Colours seem to dry as vividly as the wet paint, so need more dilution to achieve the tones you want in a finished piece.

• I’d like to see some more subtle greens in the range, as having to mix colours somewhat defeats the object of being able to create ‘on the go’. I would also like to see some cooler reds and the inclusion of a lemon yellow as the yellows and oranges in the set all seem to be more on the reddish/warm end of the spectrum.

• Crimson and Deep Pink are almost identical so I’d either try to formulate a different pink or leave one of these colours out in favour of more greens and a lemon yellow.

• Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna are also very similar and I’d like to see a more ‘chocolate’ toned burnt umber.

• Pigment Papers lift quite easily from the booklet if they get wet, so maybe it would be better to make each page out of the palette paper rather than stick it to the pages of the booklet.

• Packaging could be improved with a closing tab to create more of an ‘envelope’ for those who want to protect their paints but don’t want to purchase the optional cover.

• If you’re not careful to make sure the paints are dry before closing the booklet, you can lose a lot of pigment on the greaseproof dividing sheets, which isn’t easy to pick up with your brush, so I see the potential for waste here.

• Surprisingly this pigment comes off plastic palettes with minimal staining.

• The colours will stain your ‘brush washing’ water very quickly so you’ll probably need fresh water more often if you’re using these paints at home.

Would I buy these paints for the RRP? Yes! When you consider this is a handmade product by an artist who designed them to meet a specific need, I think the concept is a good one and the pigments are very high quality for the RRP.

The key to enjoying this product is mastering how differently they behave to conventional watercolours and modifying your technique accordingly.


Review: The Langton 140lb (300 gsm) Cold press watercolour pad (12 sheets).

RRP: £10.50 (
Material: Wood pulp and cotton.
Texture: Rough.

For the purposes of this review, I will be comparing this paper with ‘Mozart Supplies Watercolour Pad


• Washi Tape
• Derwent Graphic 2B pencil
• Eraser
• Mozart Komorebi Watercolours: Black, Brilliant Yellow, Azurite Blue.
• Winsor and Newton Cotman 999 Mop Brush
• Daler Rowney Aquafine 10 round brush
• Unbranded 0 detail brush
• PLAID Donna Dewberry ‘One Stroke’ Liner/Rigger.
• Pentel Arts Watercolour Pencils
• Pilot drawing pen (0.5)
• Molotow Grafx 2mm Masking Fluid Pen


1. Flat colour wash
2. Graded Wash (one colour)
3. Wet-in-Wet (one colour)
4. Wet-in-Wet (two colour)
5. Detail on dry paper
6. Detail over dry flat wash
7. Masking Fluid under flat wash
8. Glazing (mono and two colour)
9. ‘Lifting’ of dry paint
10. Can paper be overworked?
11. Watercolour Pencils
12. Can watercolours be reactivated?
13. Warping/Buckling of paper

1. Colour is vibrant, with crisp edges between colour and paper, but it does take more work to get a streak-free wash than it did with Mozart Watercolour paper

2. Graded washes are patchy, but this could be used to your advantage for skies. The gradient doesn’t change as softly as for Mozart Watercolour paper.

3. This has a nice ‘bloom’ which follows the grain of the paper. Colour dries without further distortion after settling whilst wet.

4. Colours don’t blend as softly as on Mozart Paper. Strong blue and strong yellow blends into a strong green, but the resulting green is not muddy.

5. Paper drags both ‘0’ detail brush and rigger brush, regardless of paint dilution, making control of detail difficult and paper grain shows in lines. However, I’m not sure if this is down to my rigger brush being too stiff.

6. Brush still drags over grain but the paper seems to handle detail quite well. The base colour doesn’t lift and is still vibrant where it shows through the top colour.

7. Masking fluid dries quickly and releases easily from small areas, but tears the paper when used in a larger area. I think this is the fault of the masking fluid as this tearing also occurred on Mozart paper. Masked text (Pentel drawing pen) rubbed off with dry fluid.

8. Glazing – Mono: Layers smooth with nice clear borders. Two-colour glaze: Base layer lifted slightly, but secondary colour created was vibrant and didn’t look patchy where base layer had lifted.

9. Colour lifts easily from flat wash with some blooming at the edges of the area removed, but I can see how this could be used to the artist’s advantage when creating clouds, for example.

10. Paper can be overworked but only with my finger and it takes quite a while, so I would guess from this that it would be even harder to overwork whilst painting.

11. Watercolour Pencil lays down smoothly with a strong colour – very little effort is needed for good coverage. The colour graduation is very soft when water is added, both for single colour and two colours. Colours do lift, but to a lesser extent to the watercolour paints.

12. Paints can be reactivated more than a week after the sample dried regardless of how dilute or saturated the paint was when first applied.

13. The paper does warp very easily with little water but flattens out to almost normal once dry (Washi tape was used to secure the paper which I think helped the paper to return to its normal state).

Other notes

Interesting textures can be achieved with this paper when using the ‘wet in wet’ technique.

Pencil lines erase with no ‘ghosting’ or damage to the paper (a cheap plastic eraser was used for this exercise).


Review – Mozart 300 GSM Cold-Pressed Watercolour Paper Pad

Product photo.jpg

Today I will be reviewing the A4 Cold-Pressed Watercolour Paper Pad by Mozart supplies.

I signed up to receive emails from the company and I occasionally get an offer or discount on certain products and this paper pad is one of them. The RRP for this pad is currently £13.99 on Amazon.

The tools I used to complete this review are as follows:

  • HB Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Mozart Komorebi watercolours in Brilliant Yellow, Azurite Blue and Deep Black
  • Daler-Rowney Aquafine No.10 Round Brush
  • Winsor and Newton Cotman 16mm 999 Mop Brush
  • Unbranded 0 detail brush
  • Mozart supplies 300GSM watercolour paper
  • Pentel Arts watercolour Pencils
  • MOLOTOW masking fluid pens

The tests I performed are as follows:

  • Flat colour Wash
  • Graded Wash
  • Wet in Wet (single colour)
  • Wet in Wet (two colours)
  • Detail on dry paper
  • Detail over dry flat wash
  • Glazing (mono and two-colour)
  • How the paper handles Masking fluid
  • ‘Lifting’ of dry paint.
  • Was it easy to overwork the paper when wet?
  • Watercolour Pencil Performance
  • Does the paper buckle and if so how severely?

Flat Colour Wash

The paint lays down really smoothly, giving even coverage and a nice crisp edge between the wash and unpainted areas.

Flat wash.JPG

Graded Wash

Paint opacity fades very smoothly, again with nice crisp edges

Graded Wash.JPG

Wet in Wet (one colour).

This is very satisfying! No harsh edges, the paint spreads to a lovely soft ‘bloom’, even when painting a line.

WIW mono.jpg

WIW mono close.jpg

Wet on Wet (two colour).

This was interesting. You get the same soft bloom of colour, but it seems to mix along the grain. Once dry, however the transition from one colour to another is soft. Placing a spot of Azurite blue into the wet Brilliant Yellow produced a nice bloom with soft, spidery edges. The secondary colour it produced was vibrant and transitioned softly into the yellow.

WIW 2 colour.JPG

Detail on Dry Paper

This one surprised me because when I first opened the pad, the grain of the paper seemed very pronounced, which made me suspect the grain may ‘drag’ such a delicate brush where I didn’t want it to go, but I was wrong. I didn’t feel like I was fighting the paper to produce detail.

detail closeup.JPG

Detail over Dry Flat Wash

Again, the detail is good, with sharp lines and the colour underneath was not lifted at all. The details stayed crisp and the colour was ‘true’ not mixing with the underlying wash at all.

detail over dry flat washjpg.jpg

Glazing – Mono and Two Colour


Both the mono and two-colour glazes had sharp edges with uniform colours. The base colour did not lift when new colour was applied, and the secondary colour on the two-colour glaze was even and vibrant.

glaze mono close.JPG

Glaze 2 colour close.JPG

Masking fluid

This is where the paper didn’t perform so well. I left the masking fluid to dry thoroughly overnight before applying a wash with ‘Deep Black’.

Some areas came off cleanly, leaving a sharp edge, whereas others ripped the paper or lifted fibres on the first layer. I’m not sure if this was just down to the brand of masking fluid I used, so I’d be interested in hearing other people’s experiences of using masking fluid with this paper. As you’ll see further down, the paper passed the ‘overworking’ test, so I think this masking fluid test fail may have been down to ‘Pilot error’.

masking fluid.JPG

masking fluid closeup.JPG

masking fluid closeup 3.JPG

masking fluid closeup 2.JPG

‘Lifting’ of dry paint

The colour was allowed to dry for 24 hours before I used a round brush and clean water to try lifting the dry paint.

The paint does lift and you can move it to an unpainted area, but the colour was very pale. The paint left behind in the wash area was a bit lighter but it didn’t come off entirely. I can see this being useful for creating some interesting sky effects.

lifting dry wash.jpg


No photograph for this test as there was nothing to see – it seems impossible to overwork this paper! After multiple brush strokes using lots of water, the paper surface didn’t budge – even when I resorted to rubbing it with my finger!

Watercolour Pencil Performance

Watercolour Pencils performed well and dissolved completely with a nice vibrancy when dry. Colours blended very smoothly. They were not easy to reactivate when dry.

watercolour pencil.JPG

Other brands of watercolour pencil may perform differently.


The paper did warp when washes were applied, but not severely. I noticed the paper warps less when it’s on the pad. I didn’t tape down the loose sheet I worked on or stretch it before use (my bad) but I will do so in future when I work on a proper piece, then I’ll probably amend this review accordingly.


I really like this paper and I’d be happy to pay the RRP for it. The colours are really vibrant and the paper itself is easy to work with.

If I could change one thing it would be to make the sketch pad spiral bound with a perforated line in order to release individual sheets rather than risk unused sheets popping out if the gummed edge wears (this happened with my Mozart Sketch book).

I would also love to see an A5 Spiral bound sketch book version of this paper for painting ‘on the go’.


REVIEW: Mozart Komorebi Japanese Watercolour Paint Set (40 Colours).

Item: Mozart Komorebi Japanese Watercolour Paint Set (40 Colours).

RRP: £22.99 from Amazon (plus P&P) or £22.99 (FREE P&P from Mozart Supplies).

I have not used watercolours regularly, so I was interested to review this product from the point of view of a complete novice. I have bought much cheaper watercolours in the past, just for ‘doodling’, so I wanted to know what it felt like to use a more expensive collection.

The paints are presented in a nice tin box, which closes with a definite ‘click’ and I feel confident it could stand upright in a bag all day, without any spills (especially if you take care to replace the cardboard sleeve after use). The addition of the plastic sheet which goes in between the paints themselves and the lid is also a good idea to further ensure the paints stay put (it could even double as a mixing surface if needs be). :

So, on to the colours themselves.

Firstly, it’s a good idea to fill in the handy swatch card provided in the pack, as the colours look very different on paper to the way they do in the pans.

I filled in the swatch provided by mozart and also created my own, using the Mozart A4 Linen- Bound Hardback Sketch Pad, beause they also look different on white paper compared to the off-white paper of the swatch card provided.

The colours themselves are intense, rich and can be watered down quite considerably without losing any vibrancy. Some previous reviewers commented that they found the colours slighty thicker and with less ‘flow’, but having played around with various amounts of water, I found that I can get them to behave like western watercolours.

The feel when using the paints is very smooth and silky, unlike the grainy and watery feeling I get when I’ve used cheaper watercolours.

The Neon colours in the collection are very interesting! My first impression is that I can see how they could be used to add a coloured highlight if washed over a base colour, but we’ll investigate that further when we get to mixing. I was a bit disappointed with the Neon Blue as it isn’t as `zingy’ as the other neons.

NOTE – If you make a mistake with the Neon Orange or Neon Blue it’s impossible to lift off with a wet brush or paper towel like you can with some other colours!

Now to the Metallic colours. These take a little more water to activate than the other colours, but they still feel silky and fluid in use. I think these might be good for adding shimmer to mattes of the same hue, but again I’ll test that theory when we coming to mixing colours.


For the mixing test I decided to organise my tests in the following way:

* Matte with Matte Primary Colours (CRIMSON, ULTRAMARINE, BRILLIANT YELLOW).


* Neon Orange, Blue and Green with Metallic Bronze, Blue and Green.

I split these further into ‘wet mixes’ and ‘wet on dry base’ to see if the colours behaved differently and if so, how.


Primary Matte ‘Wet’ Mix – Purples, Greens and Oranges come out muddy or insipid, and I think the purples provided in the set would suffice, as you can darken or lighten as desired without losing richness of colour.

Primary Matte ‘Wet on Dry’ Mix – This produces a slightly stronger colour, but I still think the Gamboge, Orange, Grass Green and Violet available in the set are best, and again, can be lightened or darkened to suite the project (although I did note that depending on colour ratios, the combination of Brilliant Yellow and Ultramarine produced a rather nice ‘teal’).

Neon/Matte ‘Wet’ Mix – Matte colour tends to overpower it’s neon counterpart, but if you get the mix right, particularly with the yellows – it produces a nice cheerful yellow, somewhere between the Brilliant Yellow and Lemon Yellow in the set.

The Crimson/Neon Red wet mix was a bit of a non-event but I can see how all of these neons could be used with matte paints to good effect in a gradiated wash, for example in a sky.

Metallic/Neon ‘Wet’ Mix – The Blues and Orange/Bronze Mix were muddy and dull. The Green mix was slightly better, retaining the vibrancy of the green, producing a ‘minty’ green with a slight lustre. Not a colour I’d go out of my way to produce, though.

Overlay ‘Dry Base’ Mix – I will address all colours in one segment here, as they behaved in the same way. Again, I wouldn’t go out of my way to mix the colours produced by this method, as the metallics overpower the neons, regarless of the ratio of colours.

Lastly, I used the paints on one of my many colouring books to get a better idea of their perfomance on a proper design. The colours I used where:
Metallic Red Ochre
Metallic Gold
Metallic Yellow

I also mixed Hyacinth Violet, White, Crimson and Neon Pink to create a pink for the berries.

VERDICT – The metallic collours are very shiny when dry and also very opaque, covering a few mistakes I made with a matte colours very well.


• Beautiful, rich matte colours and moderately useful neons.

• I like the fact you can make colours as opaque or transparent as you want without losing the richness of colour.

• Neon Blue lacks ‘zing’ and is more like the ‘Prussian Blue’ in my Crawford and Black set, so I would rename it as such.

• I’m not sure how useful the metallics would be for everyday use and would probably recommend they were taken out of this kit and replace with some useful matte colours like a rose pink, a limey ‘spring’ green and a scarlet.

• If I could change one thing about the set as it is, I would set out the colours in spectrum order and number them 1-40 on the swatch card provided so that you can select your colours at a glance if you just want to take a small selection if, for example you’re painting ‘on the go’.

• Moving away from the paints for a second, I’d love to see the neons available in the Mozart Single Brush Pen set as I think they’d be really useful in terms of the colour ‘loading’ techniques that the brush pen set allows.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: At the time of writing this review, I don’t know if the colours in this set will be available individually once you run out. If I find out, I’ll ammend this review to include that information.


Life, Unplugged.

So, my complete withdrawal from Twitter didn’t quite go as planned. To be honest, for all it’s annoyances it’s still has its moments of usefulness and sheer loveliness. The same as offline life really.

So I decided not to dump it completely but to change the way I use it. The most effective yet simple way to do this is to delete the app.

Logging into the website every time I get the urge to use it is quite frankly a pain in the ass. And that’s the point – I ask myself WHY I’m going on there and if I really need to. Nine times out of ten, I don’t.

This leads me to the second technique: Link Twitter up to your other apps like Instagram and WordPress so that whatever you post automatically goes to Twitter, thus avoiding the need to log in, run the risk of getting distracted and falling down the pointless rabbit hole that is other people’s drama.

And finally, use the ‘pin tweet’ function to tell followers and friends where they can find you, be it another platform you prefer to use, or a blog. In reality ‘Likes’ and follower numbers mean precisely jack shit and only about 1% of the people who follow you actually care what you have to say, so sort the wheat from the chaff by making them seek you out.

Try the above for a month and let me know how this works for you.

My desire to simplify and quieten down my life has been further encouraged by a brilliant book I’ve just finished called ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet‘ by Matt Haig. It’s basically a guide to not being driven bonkers by modern life (and of it does drive you bonkers, how to find your way back to peace and equilibrium).

The simple act of making the effort to devote my undevided attention to this book had the effect of shifting a creative block I’ve had since graduating from University in 2010. Long story short, I left feeling like I wasn’t a ‘proper’ artist and lost the joy of creating.

Fast forward 8 years and I finally realised that the low grade funk I’ve had hanging over me was down to the fact I wasn’t being creative, so I decided to give myself permisson not only to play around with whatever I find interesting, but also not to give a flying fuck about weather anyone else likes what comes out of my Right Brain.

My only rule is to do what gives me those fizzy butterflies and makes me grin unconsciously like a Cheshire Cat.

This new found freedom started with a circle on a page of A5 sketch paper. I decided to make my first piece collaborative – partly because I’m rusty, apprehensive and needed the support and partly because I thought it would be fun to include others in the process. And fun it was (and still is – you can see the work in progress on my Instagram account).


I’ve had a story percolating in my brain for the best part of 5 years, and the fact that I haven’t forgotten a single detail of that initial idea, despite having never written it down, is telling me that this story wants to be written. Remember those butterflies I referred to earlier? Well, I wrote the first two chapters this afternoon and by the time I decided I was done for the day, I was fizzing with a joy I haven’t felt for a very long time. I’ve never thought of myself as a potential writer but this is really, really fun!


Like writing, this was something I’d never envisaged myself doing before. I made an applique cushion cover when I was about 10 but I can’t say I really appreciated what I’d made as I was really just following a teacher’s instructions without fully understanding the process.

Fast forward to last year and I spotted an assortment of ‘Make Your Own’ kits in The Works and knew I had to have them, much to my own surprise and my Mother’s! So, right now I have a Flamingo, a Unicorn, an Owl and a Bear. There’s also a rabbit that currently evades me, so if you spot it, do let me know.

Next up, Mod podge. I’ve known about this stuff for years and never got round to buying any.

Then, on Wednesday my Muse tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that I still have some cute wooden boxes left over from my Graduation Show piece that would be perfect for the Mod Podge treatment, so off I toddled to my local garden center and bought a bottle. Like the sewing kit, this sudden urge came out of the blue so I figure it came for a reason. Obviously, I’ll keep you up to date on any developments.

Green fingers.

My mother bought me a lovely Kalanchoe (aka Flaming Katy) for Easter 2 years ago. Now, most people in the UK throw them out after they’re done flowering, which I always think is a real shame, so I got myself on Google and learned how to make them flower again. I’ve had at least one lovely show of flowers per year since 2016 but now, although still in rude health it’s getting a bit leggy so I investigated how to take cuttings. To my delight, this cool little plant can be propagated in several ways, all of them really simple so I figured ‘hey, why not try them all?’.

Stay tuned for that little experiment.

And last but not least, Aquascaping. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen the evolution of my Fluval Roma 125 from installation in January up to now.

I’m largely quite pleased with how the plants are growing but I’m still getting a bit of algae and having ruled out other possible causes I’m left with one conclusion; I need more plants. So, I’ve made my list of suitable species and I plan to re-design it in January (I’m an awful ‘tinkerer’ when it comes to Aquascaping, usually to my regret so I’ve forced myself to wait a whole year before I change anything! LOL).

Phew! After writing all that, I’m ready for a lie down!

Do you have any plans afoot? Drop a comment and me know!