Loving the tools

I am, for secret reasons, keeping an Observation Journal at the moment (if you’re into that sort of thing, people over on Patreon are getting to see a bit more of it, while I collate my thoughts).

It’s been unexpectedly helpful (and in some cases given rise to a terrifying creative velocity) in getting back into art after spending several weeks mostly horizontal.

One of the activities that developed sideways was a personality study of my favourite paints.

Here, to begin with, are some of the favourite paints:


That’s a sample card with dots of Daniel Smith watercolours (the David Taylor palette). The dot cards are so very useful for tiny pieces and fast work and, particularly, for travel. I often refresh them with more paint.

Looking for Observation And Reflection activities I could do, I realised I kept meaning to order tubes of all my favourite colours, and that this was an excellent chance to note which ones they were.

So I just made a list of all the colours from my most-used sample card (above), and then without thinking too much made very silly notes about my thoughts on them. Quinacridone Magenta, for example, “lipsyncs to Dolly Parton”, while Moonglow is “actual magic”.


It was soothing and fun, but also useful information. You can see there ways I use the colours, and how they make me feel, and what they could be. It made me fall a little more in love with them. I adore the tiny jewels on this page, and now when I pick up a colour out of the wildly expensive box of tubes I ordered (finally! this exercise definitely contributed to me getting my act together), I think, “Oh yes, I know you!”

I want to do it again with other tools of the trade. Personal, idiosyncratic opinions on nibs and inks, rulers and blades. It was a gentle and kind way to handle them all again, as well as creating a reference, and falling in love.

Anyway, I’ve been talking with a few friends who have stalled on projects or pursuits recently, and this is for them. Perhaps, with no project in mind, just get out, handle, order, comment on, your tools and materials. Make friends again.

16 thoughts on “Loving the tools

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