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  • Coming Soon: October Drawing Challenge

    We're gearing up to celebrate a month-long drawing challenge for 31 days of October. Jake Parker started Inktober as a means to get people into the habit of drawing in ink to improve drawing skills and break that creative block so many of us have as we stare down at a blank sheet of paper. Koh-I-Noor USA is joining in the fun this month by offering our own prompt list, giveaways, and product highlights to help you on your drawing journey. We're featuring ten artists on our drawing team this year to help keep you motivated, inspired, and connected to a community of artists taking up the challenge right alongside you. What is the October Drawing Challenge and How to Do It The goal is to create one ink drawing a day for the 31 days of October. You can choose to work off a prompt list, create serial work, or come up with your own plan. Anyone can participate! Choose to do the full challenge of 31 drawings in 31 days, the half challenge of 1 drawing every other day for 31 days, or the part-time challenge of 1 drawing a week. Drawing ink is the media of choice for the month, but you can also add in markers, paint, mixed media, or whatever you choose. The point of the program is to challenge yourself to draw more this month; do whatever it takes to get you there! We're kicking off the month with a drawing prompt list to get your creative juices flowing. You may choose to use our list and these prompts in any order, or you may choose to do your own thing. We'll be inspiring you on your drawing journey with blog posts from our Koh-I-Noor October drawing team, and host giveaways during the month. Post your work on social media and use the hashtags #kohinoorInkChallenge and #kohinoorusa to share your work with us on Facebook (/KohINoorUSA), and Instagram (@kohinoorusa)! We look forward to seeing your work, hearing about your experience, and encourage you to draw every day in the month of October. Keep an eye out for our next post introducing our 2020 October Drawing Team! Lana Boyle Creative Director at Chartpak, parent company of Koh-I-Noor USA

  • Journals in January and Some of my Favorite Creatures From Creatuanary

    Hello, my name is Robert Bruner and I'm writing today to share how I use my Art Journal and to introduce you to my work for Creatuanary. This year, I’ve started keeping an art journal, in addition to a sketchbook. I view my art journal as a testing ground for my Creatuanary sketchbook. For those that don't know what Creatuanary is: Creatuanary is a challenge created by Dibujante Nocturno, Joshua Cairós and Rafael Terue. You draw a creature per day in January to start the year of as artistically as possible. To learn more about the challenge and see some amazing creatures, visit: My art journal has been invaluable for working through ideas and trying out different color schemes for my Creatuanary sketchbook. It’s helped alleviate some of the pressure of creating that “amazing work of art” to post on Instagram. Working out these ideas in the journal makes the "final work" in the sketchbook flow more smoothly. Some of My Favorite Creatures From Creatuanary: The Cthulhu from day from day 23. H.P. Lovecraft's most notable creation. Along with some Vikings sailing into glory! Fafnir from day 24. The vile dragon who was once a dwarf, but his greed and ill-nature slowly turned him into a dragon. Sigurd slayed this beast and was granted treasure along with great powers. Fafnir is the inspiration for J.R.R Tolkien's Smaug. Camahueto from day 17. It's a creature from Chilote mythology. Its horn is said to restore vitality in men. Silokoy from day 27. A Filipino creature that was a clear inspiration for Creature from the Black Lagoon film. Follow me over at Instagram! @near_zero #kohinoorusa #kohinoorusa Robert Bruner is a longtime fan of Koh-I-Noor's Rapidograph Pens, and freelance artist based in Northern California. As the Creatuanary challenge continues, Robert will update the comment section with more creatures. Check back to see the updates! Baba Yaga from day 29. A witch from Russian folklore Feliciano the Fawn Falls in Love from day 31. And that brings us to a close for the Creatuanary 2020 challenge!

  • Breaking out of a creative block!

    Hi, I’m Lex from @lexstudying on Instagram! Keeping an art journal is often really daunting. While it's a really fun way to express your creativity in whatever format, medium, or style you like, staring at a blank page and drawing that first stroke is pretty scary. Oftentimes I find myself at a loss for ideas and absolutely clueless about what I want to draw or make; even though I find myself really wanting to make something! It gets a little more stressful when you go on Instagram or Pinterest and see thousands of stunning art journal spreads and people who somehow are always able to keep those creative juices going, filling journal after journal with paintings, poetry, collages and more. I wish I was one of those people, but more often than not I find myself drawing a blank. Today I’m going to share with you my favourite method to get out of a creative rut! Whenever I get stuck on what to make, I make mini thumbnail sketches! These are basically very quick, simplified drawings that artists usually use when they’re testing out different colour palettes or compositions for a larger piece. You really only need two things: a drawing utensil and something to draw on. Of course, you still have one big problem -- you still don’t know what to draw! Here’s what I usually do -- as I’m scrolling through Instagram, I tend to save photos that I really like (usually sceneries, since I’m really partial to urban sketching) and keep them all for later. Then, when I’m looking for something to draw, I choose a few and make rough sketches of them just for practice! These take a few minutes each- don’t worry about making mistakes since they’re just rough drawings, like a warm-up. You can make as many sketches as you like, and usually once I’ve drawn a few from a reference photo, I start making up my own sceneries and drawing from imagination! Here’s an example of what those sketches could look like. I used these beautiful watercolour pencils from Koh-I-Noor and they’re really smooth to draw with! You can be as realistic or unrealistic as you want. You can draw the house across the street, or the shelves on your wall, but you can also draw your dream beach house in Hawaii or a little cottage on the shores of a misty lake- it’s a fun, low-pressure exercise to just get those gears turning and creative juices going! Lex runs the bullet journal/ study account @lexstudying on Instagram. She uses a bullet journal to stay organized while still being creative! She also loves to create and sells her own stickers on her Etsy store, Lexie’s Desk. Check her out on Instagram, Youtube and Etsy!

  • Art Journal Club For Everyone

    Hello, my name is Julie Saltzberg, and I am a middle school assistant teacher. I have been an avid art journaler for years, and when the opportunity to introduce my students to the world of art journaling arose at my school, needless to say -- I was ecstatic. I'm proud to say that I helped initiate the first-ever Art Journal Club at our school. My students meet weekly, and the club has even inspired my colleagues to get involved with art journaling too. My fellow colleagues art journaling during their lunch break. I'm here to share how my students and I use art journaling to connect with creativity. I hope that you feel encouraged to share your ideas too, and I'd love to see what you create. In our Art Journal Club, our students have access to: Weekly Prompts Art Journaling Club members have the option to follow a weekly prompt or work on their pages. Past prompts have included: Reindeer Hybrid, Anime, Superhero, Classroom Relocated, and Halloween Fashion. Stencils, Stamps, Collage Materials For students that are interested in cultivating an eye for design, our club allows for endless design arranging possibilities. Students have access to stencils, stamps, glue -- so that they can assemble forms to create personal and original work. A Way To Bring Their Stories To Life Above all, everyone in our Art Journal Club is encouraged to bring their stories to life. Friends come together in this club, and we have an open-door policy. We share ideas, our creations, and encourage one another. Our goal is to create with abandon. Thanks for stopping by! Julie Saltzberg Cultivating Creativity Check out this wonderful slide show that Julie made about her Art Journal Club: For more information about Julie's work as a teacher, artist, and her Art Journaling Club, visit: Instagram - @artpodny


    Hi, I'm Carol from @carolmidorii_letters! Having an art journal affords me the freedom to express my creativity, test out different techniques, and connect with my feelings. It's a playground for learning, where rules do not exist, and because of that freedom, I can live a more creative and meaningful life. I'm writing today to share some of the ways that I use my Art Journal, and I hope that you will be encouraged to create one for yourself! Here are a few examples of how I use my art journal to better connect with creativity: • Organization Adding a planner to your art journal is a great way to help you establish a rhythm for getting creative. For personal organization, I use a monthly planner. I like to include goals, birthdays, and it helps me prioritize relevant information. One tip that I've learned: You have to be honest about how much time you can commit to achieving your goals! It's essential to be realistic about the time that you have available, and a planner helps me see where my time is going. •Capturing Inspiration Whenever there's a flash of insight, use it! Working in my art journal inspires me to pay attention to my surroundings. Even observing the everyday interactions of my family can produce a lot of ideas for my art journal. •Discipline The only way to have freedom is to have time. Without discipline and organization, you will not have the time or freedom to do what you want. I use my art journal to create a habit of planning. Time is precious! •Share Start, get inspired, get organized, create! Curiosity piques your creativity, and your creativity can lead you to beautiful places. Creativity is something we all have, and I know you are capable of creating something amazing and unique! If I can give you advice, it would merely be, "Start!" A little every day, take a chance, have fun, and share your art, your process, and your passion with the world! With Love, Carol Carol Midori is an artist based in Japan. She specializes in illustration, design, and hand lettering. Carol is also host to @365happydaysoflettering A 365-day challenge where participants are invited to drop in and join the project at any time. To see Carol's completed calendar for 2020, check out the video that she made to showcase her work: Learn more about Carol Midorii and her work by visiting her website: and connect with Carol on Facebook and Instagram.

  • Cultivating Inspiration Through Art Journaling

    As an artist, I have made a lot of excuses for not having ideas or creating consistently. I spent years waiting for ideas to feel "right" before I start creating them and as a result, my work would come in waves. I would create ten new pieces in a few days and then nothing for months. This act of waiting for inspiration to strike had a negative impact on all areas of my life, not just my artwork. But one thing I have realized is that often, inspiration comes from the act of creating something, not the other way around. It’s in the act of doing where things begin to happen. Inspiration is not something that we are the mercy of, but instead something we must cultivate. When we combine intentional action with consistently showing up, that is when the magic begins to take form. It doesn’t always come in a single grand moment of inspiration, but sometimes it is a little whisper. It’s your job to give that whisper a safe place to manifest. Set up an intentional space that you can create in. Your workspace can be so important! Clear a space and add things that inspire you. For me, that includes lots of plants, dried flowers, candles, books and more! Sit down and write out the things that inspire you or feel peaceful. Make this space completely you, not what you think it should be based on what you’ve seen online. Remember that things don’t have to be perfect. Having an art journal is about letting creativity flow. It’s okay if you drop your paintbrush onto your page or things don’t turn out exactly how you intended. Remember, it is in the doing that things happen, not their “perfect” execution. So, pull out new supplies that you haven’t used or try your hand at something new. This is a safe space to create. Don’t judge a piece before you have finished. I can’t tell you how many times I have started something, hated it, and nearly threw it out. Then, I decided to finish it and it became one of my favorite pieces! Sometimes things can surprise us. And even if they don’t quite turn out the way you intended every piece is a learning opportunity. While I have journaled and painted separately for years, art journaling is still something I am relatively new to. It can be time-consuming, but it has been hugely transformative. It is sparking ideas, pushing me outside of my comfort zone, and challenging me to look at things in a new way! This year join me in choosing to show up for ourselves. To create even when we feel inspired to do so because sometimes the most amazing things come out of that! Erica Gilliam of The Sleepy Pine Studio finds inspiration for her artwork from nature, her travels, and her own spiritual journey. She regularly weaves elements of ancient mythology and fantasy literature intricately into her pieces. When she is not in her home studio surrounded by hundreds of indoor plants, you will find her in a coffee shop with a good book or spending time with her family playing video games, bingeing Netflix, or exploring a new area. Connect with her online on Instagram or Facebook.

  • An Intro to Art Journaling

    When someone says “journal,” the first thing that comes to mind is a diary that 9-year-old-me filled with my most embarrassing thoughts and feelings. I still cringe at that thought. But journaling, and art journaling to be more specific, can mean a whole lot more. An art journal can do the same thing as a diary in the fact you can record your thoughts and feelings, but the focus we want to talk about over the next few weeks is on your thoughts and feelings in regards to your art, your creative process, and your inspiration. Journaling can take on a very structured approach where you map out the month in advance, a project by project plan, or a very loose approach where you create a space to jot down your thoughts whenever inspiration strikes. Artists have been creating art journals for centuries as a guide for themselves and their apprentices. Today, they have become works of art in their own right. They help us understand the artist’s creative process, methodology, and tools. The example of one journal comes from the 18th century Tibetan Book of Proportions. The artist notes go into extreme detail not only about proportion, but the color of eyes, the direction of hair, and even the number of teeth depicted for the “ideal image” of the Buddha. You can see more pages from this art journal at The Public Domain Review. The most basic materials you need are something to write and draw with and a sketchbook. We make a great series of art books that have In-and-Out pages that work perfectly for the art journal concept. The books have a special wire binding and punched pages that allow you to take pages out and put them back in any order, any configuration you want. You can work on black drawing paper, take the sheet out, and add it to the journal that has heavy sketch paper. You can have multiple size papers in one journal. You can re-arrange your pages by concept, color scheme, date, etc. To help you create space for text, we also make a line template that pops in and out of these art pads as well. Interested in learning more about art journaling? See our past articles on, our artist community. Check out our blog and social media pages throughout January to see what other artists are doing with art journals, and to enter our giveaways for art journal supplies. As always, we look forward to your thoughts on the subject, share them with us! Artist credits: • Blog cover art created by Brett Kelley, photography by Josh Mitchell. • Tibetan Book of Proportion artwork sourced from The Getty, retrieved from The Public Domain Review. • Video artwork created by Sophie Theroux, videography by Terri Cappucci.

  • The Gifted Artist: DIY Art in a Bottle Kit

    When I was a kid, I was fascinated by secret messages, pen-pals, and treasure maps: mysteries carried on pieces of paper. This was waaaaay before home internet access, and AOL Instant Messenger was still light-years away. At school, we had this phone book sized directory of schools across the USA that were part of a nationwide pen-pal program. It sometimes still amazes me how far we've come in terms of communication and information access -- it's nearly instantaneous. The only way it can be made faster is if we developed some sort of app that enables telepathy. Art in a Bottle -- like a message in a bottle -- is another one of those nostalgic treasures of a bygone era. One bottle that was found in 2018 off the coast of Australia was over 130 years old! This DIY gift idea is so easy to customize for the artist-adventurer in your life, and it's a safe bet that no one else will get them the same thing. Suggested Supplies: A Glass Bottle A Natural Cork Paper Art Materials: Make them Plein Air friendly. Easily portable supplies may include a fine line pen, watercolor pencils, a compact watercolor pan set, squeeze brushes, or pencils. Lightfast pigmented supplies are more archival than dye-based. We suggest using materials that can be broken down in case your bottle doesn’t make it intact to its final destination. Glass breaks down to become sea glass, and paper disintegrates. Natural materials like wood and cork will break down over time, as well. Theme Ideas: • Location, Location, Location Send a note with instructions to sketch a scene at the spot where they cast off their bottle, or create something inspired by their locale. • Time Traveler Put together a kit with a time traveler theme and suggest they make something signature to their style, or even to create a self-portrait. Include some notepaper with the art paper for them to write down anything they think would be interesting for someone in the future to find. • Environmental Experiment Include ways to track their art once the bottle has been cast. If you know where they are traveling to, include a current chart, a mini GPS tracker, or instructions to use the interactive map here: This site was developed by the scientifically minded folks from Imperial College London, Utrecht University, and the Arc Center of Excellence for Climate System Science to track plastic ocean waste. Still, the same concept applies to your glass bottle since it uses a mathematical formula that uses data from currents and weather (Van Sebille, England, & Froyland, 2015). • Connections Encourage your gift recipient to take a photo of their art before casting it off and posting it on social media. Include contact info, hashtags, or other information on the reverse side of their art should someone find the bottle intact. Other identifying info, such as the coordinates where it was cast off, can help connect the art back to the sender. We'd love to see where your work ends up, too. If you've made one of these sets, or you were lucky enough to receive one, take a photo and post it to Instagram using #KINartinabottle More on this idea: Thanks goes out once again to Diana Waldon, who made the artwork and the video for this project example. If you'd like to read more on currents and what happens to things we throw into our oceans, the open environmental research letter for the website is referenced below. Van Sebille, E., England, M.H, Froyland, G. (2015). Origin, dynamics and evolution of ocean garbage patches from observed surface drifters. IOP Science: Environmental Research Letters, 7(4). Retrieved from

  • The Gifted Artist: DIY Paint by Numbers Kit

    I had the honor of meeting Dan Robbins, the creator of the Original Paint by Number Kits, back in 2006. Chartpak had acquired a brand called Craft House then, and this company had taken stewardship over the Original Paint by Numbers that Dan had developed back in 1951 under the Craft Master name. Dan spent several days here, and I learned how he came about creating this concept. Fun fact: it was Leonardo da Vinci who inspired Dan with his technique of teaching his apprentices how to paint by numbering his sketches. Fifty years after Dan came up with the idea to empower anyone to be an artist, his passion for democratizing art had never waned. Over the next few years, I had enjoyed being part of the development process that turns a painting into a Paint by Number. It looks like a pretty easy thing to do, but it took over 3 months to develop each paint by number piece from painting to outline, to choosing colors and assigning them numbers, and to paint it all back in again. Sadly, Dan passed away this year in April. He was 93 years old. A few months after Dan's passing, I discovered that my grandfather had done a few of Dan's Original Paint by Numbers in the 1950s; they still hang in his house today. This week’s DIY art kit idea has a lot of personal ties for me, and I’m excited to walk you through a simplified version of how you can make your own Paint by Number to give as a gift to someone special. Step by Step for DIY Paint by Number 1) Choose the right substrate for your work. For Aquarell Pencil Paint by Number (PBN), we suggest using a mixed media paper. It's texture is great for use with color pencils, and will accept small amounts of liquid without warping or degrading the paper. The Mondeluz pencils can either be used dry, or can be gone over with a wet brush to create a watercolor effect. 2) It's all about line work. Remember the coloring book craze? The first drawing step is to distill your subject to its basic outlined form. 3) Add in more line-work -- this time think about shadow and light. I chose a gemstone for our inspiration example. The facets carved into the stone create distinct areas of shadow and reflection. Areas that have more blended colors that create gradients are will take more time to conceptualize when sketching out areas for your artist to fill in. If you are working with a reference image and have Photoshop, you can cheat a bit if and posterize your image to get areas of solid color. This creates ugly edges and is really suggested as a guide, not a final PBN. 4) Choose your colors. You'll want to limit yourself to the number of pencils in this set, and it goes without saying, the number of colors you choose will dictate the numbers that you will write into your PBN sketch. If you are giving your gift to a beginner, using one solid color instead of layering will be easier for them to work with. Once you choose your colors, create a swatch guide to go with your PBN. 5) Write in your numbers. For areas too small to write in a number, fill in with the intended color. 6) Package it. Make this a one off paint by number, or create a booklet of easy to do works of art that take advantage of our In & Out page feature of our pads and hardcover books. Check out our Instagram post on packaging for more ideas. Suggested Supplies • Mondeluz Aquarell Pencil 24 Set • Koh-I-Noor Mephisto Mechanical Pencil, .5mm • Grumbacher Mixed Media Paper with In & Out Pages (Pad or Hardcover Book) • Straight Edge or Ruler • Grumbacher Goldenedge Round Brushes, sz #00, #4 Where to Buy Supplies to Make this Kit Amazon: Jerry's Art-a-Rama: Dick Blick: More on this idea: The inspiration for the subject matter for this kit was from a photo shoot I did for our Progresso Woodless Pencils. I needed to create a lifestyle shot of our graphite pencils at work and drew this diamond to go with the art materials. As I was drawing it out, it made me think of how easy it would be to make this a paint by number picture! I worked with my partner in crime and in-house artist Diana Waldon to turn this into a completed work of art for this project. She created the step by step video shown here, and collaborated on the finished artwork. Thank you Diana!

  • The Gifted Artist: Creating DIY Connect-the-Dots

    As the creative director at Chartpak, Koh-I-Noor's US parent company, I've worked on a lot of product development projects with my team. I’m here to share some of those ideas with others that love art and hope to inspire artists and makers to create their own art kits as gifts. These kits can be adjusted for media type and complexity, so you can make a truly original gift. One of the best aspects of making this kit yourself is that you can make the artwork collaborative. You’re not just giving a beautiful work of art, but giving an art experience! The first project in this series is a childhood favorite of mine: Connect-the-Dots. Essentially, you are creating line art that gets distilled to its most essential points, which become the dots for this project. Make the connections a complex nexus of lines and dots, or make it a minimalist piece depending on your skill level or development time frame. You can create a background or other images that aren’t part of the final connect-the-dots or keep it on a clean sheet of paper. You can make a booklet out of it with mini connect-the-dot projects or make a large stand-alone piece. We’ve created a zodiac inspiration piece that’s simple and easily customizable. Here’s the basic step-by-step: 1) Using the Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel, trace a circle that will be the area for your galaxy background. With a permanent fine line marker add the points of your constellations. You can create them as dots or as stars. You can also create dots for the name of the zodiac sign below. 2) Wet your paper with a mop brush and water inside the circle you just drew. This will be where your galaxy background will be made. 3) Mix colors of your watercolor paint in the paint palette wells, (these are in the lid of the watercolor wheel) and add them to your wet paper. The wet on wet technique will allow your colors to blend into one another, so make sure your colors are not complementary (aka opposites on the color wheel). For instance, if you mix purple and orange, your colors will be muted or brown. Greens and blues, yellows and greens, and magentas and blues or violets are all good combinations. 4) By letting your paint dry, and adding more layers of color, you'll get a more vibrant background. 5) There are two different ways to make the stars in your galaxy background. You can take a clean, wet brush and load it with white watercolor. Tap the brush against your finger or a hard surface in the air over the galaxy; this will create a spray of stars. You can also use an opaque acrylic paint marker to draw in the stars. 6) Add the dots or stars back into your galaxy. At this point, you can also add in numbers so that your recipient knows which order to connect the stars/dots, or you can provide an outline of what the constellation looks like. This can serve as a guide on how the stars are connected if you don’t want numbers to show up in your final piece. 7) Include a sheet of instructions and an ink marker to your kit. You can also include a frame and matte so that your gift recipient can display their gift when they’ve completed it. Watercolor Variation: Let your gift recipient work more with the supplies. After completing step 1, stop. In your gift set, include a watercolor wheel, a brush or two, and an ink marker with your dot work on clean paper. Provide them with the instructions from steps 2-6, adjusting the last step to instruct them to connect the dots at the end. Watercolor Supply List: • Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel (FA171506.BC) • Grumbacher Watercolor or Mixed Media In & Out Page Pad • Grumbacher Goldenedge or Academy Round Brush, size 4 • Molotow Signal White One4All Marker, 1mm (127.102) • Molotow Blackliner Pen, .2mm (703.203) Where to get supplies: Jerry's Art-a-Rama: Dick Blick: Amazon: If you’ve created your own connect-the-dot gift, show us by tagging us on Instagram #kohinoorusa, sharing work with us on Facebook at /kohinoorusa, or commenting on this blog post! Other variations on this project using Ink or Acrylic can be used with products from our sister brands, Higgins and Grumbacher. More on this idea: This project is a mutation of artwork I gave as Christmas gifts last year to my workmates here at Chartpak. Our brand manager, Jen, created a holiday kit with Koh-I-Noor and Molotow items using this concept. I've modified it to be something that can be made with a collaborative twist by artists at home. Artwork and video shown in this post were created by our talented in-house artist, Diana Waldon. Diana also taught a workshop at Art Start in New York using the items from the zodiac kit that Jen created. SPREAD THE ART!

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