Pen + Paint October 21 2017, 0 Comments

It has been many months since I have written here to you. All those words about the long story of the gansey project kept coming, more than enough of them, and then they stopped, and with them my writing voice, perhaps to rest, or until I felt ready to write again.  

Nathan wore his gansey almost every day from that day he received it in the post office. I was able to make the journey with him from Homer aboard the upgraded Orion and it was good to see him wearing his gansey and putting it to good use after all those months of knitting.

In the meantime, Net Loft life has kept me more than busy. The shop has many demands, and many of them less than creative, even for a craft shop. I can find it is easy to lose myself, and often caught in a wrestling match between my sensible leadership position demanding of me what needs to be done, and the more prevalent right side of my brain which could easily take over, given enough rope.

My solution for satisfying these creative cravings has been to incorporate small doses of creativity into my business life, and most easily with the simple ingredients of pen and paint.  It may be to paint a sign for the shop or possibly an illustration in my journal. Journaling relieves the pressure within that struggles in the midst of the regiment of what I would call "responsible behavior", which always seems to be in direct conflict with my "forget the priorities - let's make something" urges.

I find a sense of relief from the conflict through quick pen and paint sketches interlaced with writing, and, in doing so, I find I am able to process my thoughts as I create an ongoing and lifelong record revealing vignettes of ordinary daily life, while allowing my mind to unfold and be receptive to new ideas and brainstorms.

 I think the journals with drawings first began with a college native plants course. We had a large black hard bound book, and we would go out in the field and walk in the meadows, and then come back to the classroom and draw. It was a natural science class, and the lessons on the plants were learned from drawing them. I still remember those flowers, everyone of them, and the intricacies I noticed as I spent hours meticulously drawing. I already loved wildflowers, but this was a whole new level of loving them.

I learned  then that when I take time to draw something, it gives me a greater sense of appreciation for that thing.

I went to Alaska for the first time not long after that class and my introduction to the big black hardbound sketchbook, maybe a couple of years. It seemed natural to take a journal and write and draw about these new experiences. A friend had given me a handmade book she had made and it seemed like the right thing to bring along. I am thankful for these first hand impressions of my experiences, including working in a cannery and my first season working on a fishing boat in Prince William Sound.   Of course it seemed important to write at that time, but even more treasured, forty years later.   The well used potholder in the background was handsewn during my time on the boat and glad to have the photo of me stitching along with the writing that describes those early adventures.

The process is not that difficult, and I believe that if one has the basic simple ingredients close at hand, it is easier to incorporate the practice into daily life. If one has to track everything down to get started, it likely will get put off. A lot of people out there already do this, but there are some that are afraid.  They don't like their handwriting, or they don't feel artistic, and so this is a message for those people who might be afraid to try.

Regardless of how you feel, just begin.

I assure you, it will be worth it, especially if you just keep doing it.


People who haven't done much journaling have asked me what I do and what are my favorite ingredients, so that is what I am going to share. I love to knit and stitch and so many other things, but there is something quick and complete and interactive about pen and paintbrush that is satisfying, and quite elemental, especially when it comes to keeping a journal. Drawing and writing lets me think and most importantly. helps me appreciate. I will talk more on that another time, but for now, just start, and you will see.

We are putting some items on the website to help you get started. These are my favorites, and the ingredients I like close at hand.

I have three kits that we have put together for special savings, but items may be purchased separately if desired.

There will be a link at the end of this post that will take you to our ART & JOURNALING Collection, but for now this is a description of some of my personal favorites that will help you along the journaling path if this is something new to you. 



 I love the quality and thickness of the paper in these linen covered journals.

They come in a variety of sizes, but my favorite is the 8x 8 one . I have used the others as well, but this one is just right for me and my needs. I like the band because my journal acts as a flower press of sorts and the band also keep everything nicely intact, especially when traveling. It has just the right number of pages for a 2 -3 week trip, or for a month of daily life.



I have a Winsor and Newton one that I purchased over 40 years ago, and I am still using it. We have listed several options for traveling painting sets. I personally also have the Van Gogh as well as the Koi sets and use them all depending on where I am. I have them stashed in several places since I live such a gypsy lifestyle.

If you get the Winsor and Newton set, we recommend uhu sticky to adhere and make your paints stay in the box. We will add those soon to the online shop.



PERMANENT WHITE GOUACHE in tube or squirted into corner of paint box for travel, along with any other colors that you love and want to make sure are close by.  I also like DANIEL SMITH GREEN GOLD as it has a nice radiant quality and squirt a bit of it in the corner of my paintbox to have close at hand while traveling without having to carry on the added bulk of a full tube. We also have the option in our complete sets to receive DANIEL SMITH SAP GREEN.  




Most of the sets include a small travel brush, but lately I bring along with me my new favorites. The Princeton Mini Detailer Series are my latest favorite, especially because they work equally well with gouache as well as watercolor.

They fell really nice in your hand, they are small enough to tuck into your travel bag (hold on to the clear plastic tubes to keep the bristles preserved while transporting), and I love the way they handle paint. These are my favorite three sizes for journaling. I have grown fond of the filbert #2 and its rounded tip and flattened form for most everything these days that doesn't require a fine tip.

For an extra nice travel brush, we are now selling the DaVinci travel brushes which are a fine sable perfect for watercolor. We will be getting those online soon.



I am lately liking the Staetler pens in very fine point, but we have them available in a few different sizes.


I also like the Uniball Writing pen. It reminds me of the fountain pen I used to use in high school, but not quite so messy.  I still savor old letters from a friend who used to write poetry laced with drips from one of those old pens. Perhaps the color and the consistency of these pens bring back those fond memories, but I do enjoy writing with it and the smooth flow of the ink, rather than a ball point pen.




Mechanical pencils work fine, but I love my number 2 Gansey pencil. I favor the Staedler eraser which has a pen eraser on one end, and this little wooden pencil sharpener is nice as it has a nice blade without taking up a lot of space.



I love using washi tape to stick things into my journal. I also have a small roll of regular tape as some things need a little more adhesion. I love the old fashioned clear cello tape. A glue stick is also a nice addition and I especially like this embellishment glue stick for the extra strength adhesion.



Work well for feathers, leaves to protect flattened treasures. Let leaves dry first before putting in the bags.  We have included them in the COMPLETE kit, and will have them available listed separately soon.



A set of rounded children's scissors are safe to bring on the plane for domestic travel, although they may be confiscated on an International Flight, depending on the agent. If they are confiscated it is always something easy to pick up wherever you are.  I find them very hand for travel journaling when I have something in a bigger handout that I want to cut down to fit into my journal.



We have some great clear vinyl zip bags and when you purchase a set of the basics, we include with your order. These are made custom for us in the USA and I love them.


extras which can be fun to have along...

WINK OF STELLA BRUSH PEN adds a touch of sparkle to your painting as needed. 

HOLE PUNCH  sometimes I punch a hole in my journal and add samples of yarn and fiber, as in my Mushroom Dye Journal.


My suggestion is, 


Tell about your day, share your heart.

Draw what is right under your nose.

Draw swift with the black permanent pen and then a quick dose of watercolor paint. Let dry and close the book and do it again tomorrow.


It is not for show.

It is for you. 

No one else has to see.

It is as much for the process as it is for the product.

It enhances life.


Begin to add your touches to your world close at hand…lists, envelopes, notes to family, knitting projects, and more.

Add leaves, feathers, candy wrappers  of your favorite chocolate.

yarn labels, ticket stubs from waiting in line at your favorite bakery, drawings and paintings of your favorite pastries, your tea and knitting and the daily things in life you realize you are thankful for. 

And somehow in the midst of it, we realize

it can lighten our load.


A little pen

A little paint.


There you go…


let us know how you make out if you decide to try.


 For complete selection of Net Loft Art & Journaling supplies:  



The three kits are the best savings as we offer a discount on the enclosed good, plus give you a Net Loft vinyl storage zip bag with each of the three kits offered.




If you would like to create your own kit, spend $75 or more on paints and supplies from the Art & Journal Collection (not including the kits which are already discounted) and receive 10% off and a complimentary zip bag when you use the code ART10 at checkout.