Alcohol Ink First Try- This Stuff Is Messy!

I really love Scrawlrbox but I don’t have a subscription myself. I know that the boxes are well worth the money however a lot of the products they include would go to waste if I were to subscribe, markers for example I just wouldn’t use often enough. However I really enjoy watching artists unboxing videos on Youtube and then if my interest if piqued I have the option to purchase a box from their range of previous boxes which works out much more affordable for me despite the extra couple of pounds you pay for knowing what is in the box.

When I watched numerous content creators open the July box I was absolutely mesmerised by the contents. Alcohol inks and a yupo pad. I had never seen these items used in this way and I knew within a few mins that I had to give this medium a go. I purchased the box as soon as it was available in the online shop (around mid to late August). As always it arrived quickly and was really well packaged, just enough to protect the contents without going overboard and wasting loads.

Contents of Julys Scrawlrbox.

The box included two coloured inks, one blender ink and a magical shimmer ink, a yupo pad, paintbrush, pipette, paper straw, scrawlrzine, sticker and art work by amazing artist Jess Kirkman. There was also a chewy bar but Mr Webb had eaten that before I could take the photograph! He says it was delicious.

The Yupo pad is tree-free synthetic paper and feels plastic but is 100% recyclable and it is essential for working with alcohol inks. The inks had to be pierced at the top and as expected I made a mess within seconds of sitting down to give this medium a try. You should probably wear gloves but at this point most people are used to me being covered in some art material or another and a blue and pink hand is nothing unusual. It took a day or two to come off but I could of used nail polish remover if I had needed to.

Nothing new here!

I have never used anything similar to these alcohol inks, they act in a way that is so unpredictable and it is hard to have any control over it. That made it incredibly fun! I found the whole process mesmerising because every drop changed the entire piece. They included really good colours because they blend really beautifully into purple hues without muddying. The shimmer is a nice touch that is incredibly hard to photograph. The smell was really strong but since Lilly Webbling is constantly practicing her nail art I think I have developed a slight immunity to the fumes. Once they are dry they don’t really smell but I wouldn’t recommend sniffing it, make sure you have a ventilated room when you are pouring them.

Pink and blue make lovely purples.

The blender is colour free and it pushes the other colours as far as they can go which adds a lot more pattern and depth. I was having a great time simply just watching them combine and move. They felt like they had a mind of their own. I tried the pipette and the straw but honestly wasn’t finding that I had any more control than just pouring straight from the bottle really.

What can you see?

The freedom of just letting the inks do their own thing was really fun, I could not control them. They were good at not leaving the edge of the paper unless I blew too hard with the straw or tipped the paper. The inks do pool at the edges so I tried not to put too much ink close to the edges.

Photographs do not do the shimmer justice.

I wanted to try a picture that had no white and to add more shimmer, the image above is what I ended up with. The shimmer is beautiful but the photographs do not do it justice at all. The more ink you add the more you get the thick lines that you can see on the image. They take a long time to dry and can be sticky. I have found that the images I have left on top of one another (after 24 hours drying time) are sticking to each other a little. The thinner ink dries really quickly though and dry ink can be reactivated with blender or fresh inks so you can work on it over more than one day.

Sea Scape.

I decided to try a sea scape with mainly blue and just a tiny bit of pink to add the darker blue hues. I then used the paintbrush dipped into the tiniest bit of blender to add some little bubbles to the image. I think I should have been braver and added more but I was happy with the effect. It is great that you can use the blender to take away some of the ink although you would need a lot to get the paper whiter. I think that the blender will run out a long time before the colours. However, these inks are only small and I thought that I would probably get through the bottles in one session but I have done quite a few pieces and barely used a quarter of each bottle, it goes a long way.

Final pieces using the items from Scrawlrbox.

Being an illustrator I couldn’t help to try and create illustrations from the inks. It wasn’t fully successful but hopefully you can recognise a seahorse amongst them. It was recommended in the Scrawlrzine to add permanent marker once the image is dry. I tried it on a few and really liked the outcome. It is almost like trying to spot shapes in clouds. I think that with practice you could possibly create abstract patterns with the finished designs in mind. I used sharpie and silver Pitt pen to create interest to the images below.

I really love to mix mediums and thought that the texture and depth in the illustrations would make fantastic backgrounds. I really love how they came out. I used the seascape to create the two illustrations below.

I really love these colours but wanted to try more. Since it was late there was nowhere open to go any buy more. It occurred to me that since I have hoarded alcohol markers over the years (see, hoarded but not really used!) that I might be able to use them to create some interesting images using the blender and the shimmer.

Promarkers and blender.

I tried Promarkers and honestly it just made a mess, it was awful. The ink was sticky and only spread a tiny bit after staining the paper. It actually looks better in the photo than it does in real life. It was muddy and sticky and just not fun at all. But it wasn’t a complete waste because I managed to use the ruined art piece in some little collage, cut paper art.

Rainbow fairycat.
Pumpkin picking tortoise.

Honestly they are my favourite images that I managed to create with the alcohol ink, it combines the fun of the magical alcohol ink textures with my love of collage and cut paper pictures. I really love how they add extra interest to the illustration. I just added some simple watercolours and coloured pencils.

I would recommend anyone who doesn’t mind getting a bit messy to give these a go. The Scrawlrbox is a bargain while it is available because they include everything to get started. it is magical and mesmerising just to watch even if you don’t like the final image you will enjoy the process which is really just as important if not more so when you are creating art.

I will definitely be using more of this technique in my art, it is too much fun not to, so please do follow my social medias if you would like to see more.

Thank you for reading.

Samantha Webb.

First Song is now available

First Song is the story of a little girl who has her life turned upside down by a her new baby brother who just will not stop crying. Mum, Pops, Nana and Grandpops all try hard to soothe the baby but are unsuccessful, can his big sister find the way to help him sleep?

Dedicated to my own daughter who has always been the best big sister anyone could wish for even if she does argue like crazy with her little brother, no one else is allowed to treat him badly, she is his protector. My Webblings are my inspiration and that has never been more obvious than in this new book.

My beautiful Webblings.

I have written the story and illustrated it digitally, I have been growing and improving, trying to get as much texture and life into digital art as I do with watercolours. It is a process that I have really enjoyed and I hope that it shows with First Song. I know that I still have a lot to learn about story writing and illustration but I am really proud to share this story with the world.

First Song has arrived.

First Song was released yesterday and has had a great reception so far, I can’t thank my family and friends enough for the encouragement and support that they have given me throughout the whole process.

Published by Moby and Puddle Books.

Available from Amazon and Folksy now.

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Samantha Webb.

One of my favourite background details in First Song.

Caran D’Ache Gouache Studio First Look

All sparkly and new!

I had a little birthday money (Thanks Grampy you are the best!) and a huge addiction to paint pallets! When I saw this giant pallet in a shop I was very intrigued, I have around 20 sets of watercolour pans but I have never seen gouache paints in pans before. My gouache sets are all liquid and although they do firm up and can be activated with water they are not as firm as actual watercolours so I had to try these paints!

Colour chart on underside of the wrapper.

The tin is also my first ever red tin and I love it. It is just over three times the size of my twelve half pan watercolour tins.


There are 14 coloured pans and a tube of white. I am not sure why the white is a tube as opposed to a pan but I am assuming that it keeps its vibrancy more to use as highlights. It comes with a brush too which is always a bonus. The pans are just slightly bigger than a full watercolour pan. The perfectionist in me was annoyed with that little smudge of blue on the lid but luckily it is water activated so it came straight off (phew!).

Feeling Blue?

I sprayed the paints with water in the same way that I do with watercolour pans before I start painting with them to activate them and wow that blue sprayed a lot! It activates really easily so be careful if like me, you like to mist your paints before use.

Swatch catalogue.

I appreciate when a pallet comes with a swatch card but it is always worth swatching on the paper you use most often. I also swatch into my swatch catalogue so that I have all my swatches together, this makes it a lot easier to choose the right colours my paintings.

The paints are beautifully vibrant. They activated with the water very very easily, they didn’t break apart and were a dream to swatch with. Swatching is one of my absolute favourite parts of getting a new set and this one did not disappoint. They are very rich in colour and they seem opaque too. Perhaps not quite as opaque as the Himi gouache jelly paints but these are a lot more convenient to use than the jelly gouache set up.

Side of Pans.

Frustratingly the swatch card that came with the paints and had the names of the paints on did not have the colours in the same order as the paints were placed in the pallet. However the pans are printed on the side with the number of each colour and the pigment used which helped me find out which colour was which. It will also helps if I want to order just one pan to replace it.

Ponyo with a doughnut.

The colour selection in the pallet is pretty basic and has everything you need. I had a bit of a play mixing colours like the skin tone above and they mix really well. I used them very much like watercolour and they were really bright with the smallest amount of water. They are very smooth to paint with and not chalky at all. They dried completely matte and were easy to pencil over. My initial sketch was in red pencil and the colours concealed it brilliantly which is great if you like to do your outlines last, if you prefer to do your outlines first then you will want a more transparent paint. If you like to do a lifeless finish then I think these would work really well too but perhaps use less water than I have.

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed using these paints, I think I will reach for them often, especially when working on my children books because they are so easy to get a really bright finish. I didn’t end up using the white in the end but I am sure I will too and if it dries on the pallet I can just activate it with water again.

These paints are perfect if you like the vibrancy of gouache but the convenience of watercolour, they are a bit too big to stick in my handbag when I go out though, so if they ever do a pocket version I would definitely be getting that one for on the go too.

Thank you for reading my ramblings, I hope they have been helpful!

Samantha x

FIRST SONG Cover Reveal

First Song is a brand new book which I have spent months writing and illustrating, I am so happy to finally reveal the cover ahead of the launch on September 13th! And here it is …

First Song Written and illustrated by Samantha Webb.

First Song is the story of a very fed up big sister who is having to learn that life with a new family member isn’t all fun and games. All baby wants to do is cry and the adults just can’t seem to soothe him no matter what they try.

This story is dedicated whole heartedly to the very best big sister that I have ever known, Lilly Summer Webb. Who even now at age 13 when she should be all surly and moody, will drop everything to be there for her brother if he is hurting. Both of my Webblings inspire me constantly but the bond they share is something that is so beautiful to watch from the outside. Don’t be fooled, they fight all the time but she has his back when he needs it too.

The story is written in rhyme and is fully illustrated in a new style that I have really been enjoying and hope that you will too! None of the characters are named because I hope you have siblings that will relate to them, maybe you could name them for me?

I am a bit mad on ‘art of …’ books because I love to see the concept art behind my favourite stories. Here is a little look at some of the behind the scenes sketches from First Song, very rough ideas. The finished book is digital but all of my initial ideas are done with paper and pencil.

Big sister concept sketches.

I had quite a clear idea of how I wanted the sister to look, sort of a wild version of Lilly I suppose. I did try lots of other ideas but I kept coming back to this one.

Choosing colours.

I wanted to have a deep earthy feel to First Song but trying to decide on a colour palette without it all blending together was difficult. My initial (Top Left) idea was what I had pictured before I started creating my character but I felt like she looked a little cold and needed warming up. I decided on the bottom right as the final design.

Cornlings are planned right from the start!

It was important to know exactly where my characters would be telling their story, this is a close family living in a very cosy and warm home. Of course every story needs a Cornling too although he was moved in the final edit to somewhere else so you will have to spot him in the finished book.

A very rough sketch of the family home.

This very early family live in a cave but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be full of home comforts. My ideas are scrawled all around the sketch. This view of the home is never shown in the final story but it helped me to have a good idea of where everyone belonged.

Baby Brother.

The first coloured image of Baby Brother, he is of course crying, poor little guy. Can you guess what will soothe him? feeding? changing? maybe. Drawing a baby was a challenge but it was a fun one and I just love drawing tiny baby feet which you will see in the book.

First Song will be available on Folksy and Amazon from September 13th and I really hope that you love it but if you can’t wait until then you can buy my previous titles from my Folksy shop and have them signed!

I am excited to see it in print so I best go and sort all of the finishing touches now! Look out for a preorder soon.

Thanks for reading,

Samantha Webbb.

Derwent Graphitint Paint Palette – First Try and Review

I received this paint palette inside of a Scrawlrbox, a monthly art subscription box that has a surprise selection of art supplies delivered to your door. I absolutely love watercolours but have never tried watercolours quite like this before.

Created by UK based art supplies brand Derwent, Graphitint can be purchased in pencil form or in the palette that I received. It is described as a ‘Unique blend of water-soluble graphite with a hint of colour for dramatic tonal work.’ which means that it is actually not watercolour. However being a watercolour artist I have used it in the same manner as my other paints. I wet them all and swatched them.

The paint palette comes with twelve colours, they all look very similar before they are swatched. The plastic box houses them very securely and the lid doubles as a mixing tray. It does include a water brush and a sponge, I am not a huge fan of water brushes unless I am taking a very limited supply of products to paint on location so I cannot say how this one works but I have had Derwent water brushes before and they work like all the other brands. The sponge I am sad to say will go to waste because, and I should be embarrassed to admit this, I have a very bad habit of wiping my brushes on my clothes, after years of painting I just don’t think I will be able to break that habit in favour of a little sponge BUT it is a great addition if you aren’t a complete fool like I am!

It does include a colour chart which if I am honest is pretty close, closer than most, to the actual colour of the paints but I always swatch on the paper I will be most likely to use. This little card can then stay in the palette for future reference. If I use a considerably different paper I will reswatch before painting, this is fine with me because swatching is one of my absolute favourite things to do, (it is a great cure for art block too!). I also swatched them into my swatch catalogue which has swatches of all of my paints in, this helps me pick a palette quicker before I begin a job (I hoard paint palettes!).

Swatches on watercolour paper.

My first impressions from swatching them were not great, they are thicker than standard watercolours and you could see bigger than usual bits of pigment being picked up by the paint brush. I wasn’t sure I would have a use for them. The colours are very dark, muted and earthy which is a bit of a change to my usual preference. I got out my sketchbook to doodle with them, no planning at all just straight into exploring these paints.

Doodles with paints.

These paints did not mix well with each other, they became muddy and messy really quickly. You can see from the balloons that the colours do not merge very well on paper. With the teddy bear I decided to try layering, I am a bit impatient with painting so layering can sometimes be my downfall, I don’t wait long enough for each layer to dry. It may have been the rare bit of British heat that we have been experiencing but these paints seemed to dry pretty quickly. I layered the teddy and was quite impressed, you can see where the pigments of graphite lay on the paper and it is really hard not to overwork them and keep moving them around but being able to layer the paints meant that in some places where I had removed too much of the grainy texture, I could add more on. I think it would be next to impossible to get a flat wash with these colours, that is not their intended purpose and you may just drive yourself crazy trying to get it all smooth.

On to some practice illustrations, I did feel limited by the colours I must admit, they seemed dark and dull, I was missing a really good green too. However, working within the limitations I did manage to come up with a few ideas.

The colours which didn’t blend very nicely on paper were not too bad when mixed on the mixing tray before hand, I even managed to mix a green I was happy with. I did enjoy using the limited colours and I think that it helped me to create very coherent illustrations. The little Loch Nessie is my favourite though.

After a few days I decided that I wanted to try and create something lighter with the paints and to see how they went with my other watercolours. The answer was, brilliantly. I think they really added depth and dimension to the illustrations that had just a hit of brighter colours. They work great on top of the lighter colours too, adding effects with the graphite particles that I could not achieve with most watercolours.

A Rainbow Pugicorn.

As requested by Harrison, I painted the rainbow Pugicorn with rainbow poop. Perhaps not the most inventive idea but it made my nine year old giggle and I think it really shows off how the graphite inside the paint gives more dimension, it is especially great when painting fur which is never a flat colour anyway.

Princess Tortoise.

Finally, inspired by Lilly who really wants a tortoise (But I am afraid it will end up like this!), Princess Tortoise is slowly on her way to a party. Again, this image shows the contrast between regular watercolours and the Graphitint but I think they work really well together and showed me that they can be used in images that aren’t dark too.

After this exploration I think that the Graphitint paints are brilliant as an extra addition to your watercolours but I wouldn’t expect them to be the only set of watercolours you will want in your collection. They are a lot of fun and it is mesmerising to watch the graphite particles in the water moving around before they settle into place. If this was your first experience with watercolour though I think it would really put you off. They really are a separate medium altogether, one that I will use with my watercolours quite a lot I think.

If you have tried them let me know what you thought or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Samantha x

My First Zine!

Zines are like miniature magazines and can be on any topic that you want. They were originally developed as an alternative to main stream media and they have been in and out of popularity ever since. There are even zine events around the world. Zines are a way for anyone to share their story or their voice with other people. They can be made of anything and be of any quality, that freedom really appeals to the creative in me.

I have seen zines at various art fairs but I have never really looked at them properly. I honestly had no idea what they were until I watched a Youtube video by Holly Exley that really encouraged me to look more into it and to focus more on my artwork than on social media which is taking up more and more of my time.

After watching the video I ordered some zines from Folksy and Etsy from UK based artists. I also received my first zine from an art subscription box, Scrawlrbox.

Scawlrbox Zine comes with the subscription box.

I have had a great time receiving real post with the most amazing zines in, from creators and artists across the UK and I feel like this is something that I will continue to buy from now on. These are the ones that I have received so far.

I absolutely love them. They are all so different in size, in topic and in how the artists voice comes across loud and clear. They are all formatted differently from informational zines to stories and zines with no text at all. The freedom of zines is what has really struck me as special. It is amazing to receive such beautiful post, you can really feel how much care and attention has gone into each one. I would personally recommend every one of the five pictured zines, I was not disappointed by any of them. I am hoping that the artists will continue to create more zines in the future.

I discovered zines in my attempt to get off of social media more and really discover more about the artist that I follow online. I am happy to say that I have spent more time sat looking at all of these illustrations than I ever would of whilst scrolling through my phone and I will look at them over and over again. It has really helped me to feel more connected to the artists work that I have purchased from. It is also super exciting when they come with extras like stickers and badges which I was not expecting.

Feeling incredibly inspired and hoping to spread my own art work a little further than the social media algorithms will allow, I have worked on my first ever zine, Once Upon A Time. It is like a glimpse into my brain when I am trying to create, it is full of colour and makes next to no sense. I have collected watercolours, digital, pop-ups, sketches and photographs together to create what I hope is an explosion of excitement. My zine is now available for sale in my Folksy shop.

I also decided to add a little dino washi tape into every single zine by hand so you won’t know which dinosaur you are going to get.

I have printed a limited run of 50 and I will not be printing more of this zine but I really do want to make another one, so I am hoping that you will enjoy the artwork that I have compiled into Once Upon A time.

If you have a zine yourself or a recommendation for a zine you have enjoyed, please do let me know, I am on the search for more to increase my collection.

Thanks for reading,

Samantha x

Part Time Artist, Full Time Mum, All The Time Tea Drinker!

During term time I work full time hours illustrating and creating but during the school holidays my Webblings, Lilly and Harrison, come first. They are at an age where in all honesty they would be happy to stay in front of the screen for the whole entire holiday and not get bored but since we can finally go out, I didn’t want them to spend all week ruining their eyesight. I also struggle with sensory overload and two many screens on at once drives me slightly batty (and no they won’t be happy to watch the same thing, it is not worth the fight!)

Webb Family.

However all of that is easier said than done, I still have work to do and cannot afford to take every school holiday off of work and if I go more than a day without drawing I get almost as cranky as if I try to go a day without tea. So there has to be some balance.

Last week was half term and we are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the beautiful Devon and Cornwall coast and countryside. Now that we are allowed out we wanted to make the most of it and to hopefully create some memories for our Webblings. This blog post is a bit like a diary of what we got up to and how I managed to sprinkle a little creativity into it too.

Lilly is a figure skater and despite the worldwide issues that have meant our local rink is still closed, Lilly has continued to train and improve and is very eager to get back onto the ice as soon as possible. While she trains with her amazing coach, Debbie Marsh, the rest of us wonder around the woods and have a play on the skate park (Minus the skates or skateboard). Harry always takes some form of screen in case we need to stay in the car rather than get soggy in the rain but we do try to get out and walk around if it isn’t too muddy! Jamie was very confident getting to the top of the skate ramp but then not is much when it came to getting down. Luckily we managed to have no accidents on this journey.

I didn’t do any work on this day but days like this in the fresh air, watching my family have fun are days that make me feel more inspired. Walking around the woods is one of the main inspirations for my book Sass Feels Lonely. I think that the fresh air blows off the cobwebs and you start to generate new ideas. I always have my phone on me (a blessing and a curse) and I have filled my notes app with so many ideas or fragments of ideas whilst we have been on trips like this where it is too wet to sit and draw or paint.

On bank holiday Monday we were amazed to get an actual sunny bank holiday and we didn’t waste it. We got in the car (we have a red and white mini called Sally!) and headed to World Of Country Life in Exmouth. It was really amazing. We got to see a lot of the animals up close and they looked really well cared for, they had a lot of wide open spaces and the staff seemed to genuinely care for them. Harry has discovered one of my old point and shoot cameras and he spent a lot of the day snapping away at everything from vintage cars to baby goats. He even managed to get a few pictures of me too! We had a brilliant day and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.

As you can imagine it was a full on day and there was time for a game of ping pong with the husband but sadly no art. However on the way back we decided it would be rude to go all that way and not have chips on the beach so that is exactly what we did, followed by ice cream of course. Exmouth beach is very sandy and with the sun shining you could easily believe you were somewhere more tropical. I sat on the beach watching the Webblings play, Harry burying himself and Lilly making a TikTok and I managed to do a few doodles in my scrappy little sketchbook that I take everywhere. These are life drawings and gesture practice not intended as final images but the process of creating them has improved my art and I urge everyone artist or not to take a sketchbook with them and doodle every chance you get!

We also managed to visit family over the holiday and as I am from a big family we managed to have some very fun water fights and barbecues during the days. Lilly and Harrison managed to spend a lot of time in Nanny’s garden with their cousins, they painted rocks and canvases, drew on the path with chalk and bounced a lot on the trampoline. The nice weather was a real bonus. My five year old nephew Toby dared me to paint Nanny’s house and of course being his crazy aunty (he has plenty of sensible ones don’t worry) I got out my paints and a watercolour book that I carry with me and painted a stylised version of my mums house. Toby declared that I am “like an artist” which was one of the best compliments that I have ever had!

We spent the evenings watching Taskmaster mostly which the Webblings find hilarious. Some of the challenges are completely absurd and I love to hear what the Webblings would do to complete them if they were on the show. If you haven’t seen it then it isn for young children because some of the language isn’t great but for slightly bigger kids and adults it is great fun. During these TV sessions I managed to squeeze in a few hours of commission work, mostly for the amazing Nurture Programme and I am very lucky that they are incredibly patient working parents themselves who understand that things take a little longer during school holidays.

Sample of Connie for The Nurture Programme.

We were invited to meet up with one of my very best friends and her beautiful son to journey over the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall and visit Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary and although it is a very small park it is very special because all of the animals have been rescued from the pet trade or other zoos. They have no breeding programme and are a real sanctuary for the animals in their care. It rained but we didn’t let that stop us. Harry was armed with his camera once more and we managed to see some adorable meerkats and amazing racoon dogs. It was a great morning out. We obviously needed hot chocolate to warm us up on the way home though!

To end the holiday it wouldn’t be a Webb holiday if we didn’t get up to the moors so on Sunday evening we took a spontaneous trip to Burrator Reservoir on Dartmoor, my favourite place in the world! The sun was shining and there were a lot of people around but we managed to find some secluded spots for a nice cup of tea and the perfect end to a wonderful week. It is Tuesday now and I am still exhausted. I am not a fan of the 6am alarm at all but I am glad that we made time to make memories with our Webblings before they are too old to want to do day trips with us. I will catch up with work I didn’t manage to complete this week but I won’t ever have the chance to catch up with the Webblings at this stage ever again. It is really important to me that they know that even though I work, and I am so blessed because I absolutely love my job, I will always down the paintbrushes for just a chance to spend time with them!

I did manage to get my Kuretaki paints out on Sunday night and do a little paint doodle to end my week, inspired by the fairies and elves that we were pretending lived among the bluebells as bluebell farmers playing in the blossom.

Little Pixies playing in blossom by Samantha Webb.

Thank you so much for reading about my week and about how I fit in my career around parenting or rather how I don’t really do much work when my children are not at school. I am still trying to find the balance and I will keep trying. If you have any suggestions for how to better manage my time or for days out that you think we will enjoy then please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Samantha x

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolours, First Look, Review

I am a full time illustrator and I love to experiment with different mediums, you will find all sorts from digital to needle felted illustrations in my books but if I had to choose one art supply for the rest of my life (please don’t ever make me do that!) then it would be watercolours and Mr Webb definitely is not as impressed as I am with my ever increasing collection of palettes.

However I have never used Japanese brand watercolours so when I was commissioned to work with The Nurture Programme on a big project I decided to treat myself to some new paints (even though the commission is actually digital, any excuse for new paints!)

I have been looking at these paints for a long time and when they arrived I was so excited to use them. They come in a very beautiful green package that makes them feel very fancy a like a real treat. All of my other paints are in metal tins.

Beautiful green box.

This comes in a few different sizes but I chose the 48 colour set because I knew that if I got a smaller set and liked them then I would want the bigger set. This is why I waited until I had a reason to celebrate, it was a big treat. But opening the box felt like Christmas! It is so beautiful inside, I was a little intimidated to even swatch them.

Swatch card in the lid.

The pans are slightly larger than full watercolour pans and there is a swatch sheet inside the lid. All of the colours look stunning straight away! I really liked that each pan is marked on the bottom with the name and number. The bottom of the box has each colour and information on too, just incase you mix them up which I really appreciate because it means that you can take out a few colours to use on your desk at a time because this beast really does take up a lot of space.

I don’t know if it is just a me thing or if it is an artist thing but there is nothing that makes me quite as happy as swatching new paints, it is like new PJs or fresh crisp bedding. One of the most amazing pleasures in this world. I always swatch on the card that comes in the box as well as on a sheet of cold press watercolour which is what I paint on most often. These paints were incredibly satisfying to paint with. They do not need a lot of water for the colour payout, they activate very easily, even the metallic which fall short in some sets.

Swatch on the paper you are likely to use.

The colours are so vibrant and so clean that the swatch card is just so beautiful to look at. I absolutely love the selection of colours. My favourites are the Rose Madder and the Imperial Violet but the whole selection is just very pleasing to look at. I did try it out though too, firstly I had a good play to see how the colours lay down and how they layer because I know that I use layers a lot in my watercolours.


My experiments were fun and unplanned but was good to see how the colours blend into one another. The colours are a lot less translucent than the watercolours that I am used to. You can layer them if you use the top layer slightly thicker and more of an ink consistency but I found that if you use a lot of water then it was reactivating the colour below even once it was fully dry. This will be an interesting effect to play with in the future that is definitely different to my other paints. I also found that they don’t bleed into one another excessively and I had to use a considerable amount of water to get them to bleed into each other which is something to consider if you use a lot of wet on wet techniques in your painting.

I wanted to try them with an actual illustration since that is what I will be using the paints for, mainly for children’s picture books but also possibly for some products in the future too.

On A Tiny Journey by Samantha Webb

I did not get on well with this illustration. I had a lot of trouble because I am not use to using such vibrant colours without having to layer and layer them. I was also very spoilt for choice with the colours, this is my biggest set of colours and I just kept selecting colours that did not go together and so the finished illustration is not what I imagined to begin with. Faced with such an amazing array of colours my mind totally forgot all that I have been learning about colour theory! Some days just go like that, they can’t all be perfect and I think I definitely learnt from the experience, I need to remember to select my colours wisely before I start painting.

I also did something very random, I totally forgot about mixing my colours. I am not sure if it is because I am so used to having a mixing palette built in that I use all of the time (the box is made of card and does not have mixing wells) or if it is because the pans were so big that it didn’t seem necessary but because of this I was using the paints from pan straight to paper which is again not something that I usually do. Hopefully with these things in mind my future endeavours with these paints will be more successful than these two little bugs in an umbrella boat. I did really enjoy using the paints though, I was able to add layers even though they were more opaque than I would of liked.

If you like really thick and creamy, opaque paints that have a flat finish then I think you would really like these too. I will need to practice more to get the most out of them but I do feel like they will be very versatile and will allow me to make some more vivid illustrations. I have since read that you can also use them on black paper too so I will have to try that out.

I am very happy to have them amongst my paint collection, I have yet to find somewhere to store this massive box though so maybe having it on my desk will make me use it more.

Thank you so much for reading my rambling. If you would like to see some more of my collection of paints just let me know, I could talk about watercolours for days!

Samantha x

On A Tiny Journey by Samantha Webb

What Mermay Has Taught Me

Mermay is an instagram challenge for artists, the idea is to draw, paint or create a mermaid for each day in May. There are prompt lists to join if you would like to but you don’t have to. It isn’t a strict challenge, it is supposed to be fun and to stretch your creativity. Mermay was created in 2016 by Disney artist Tom Bancroft and it continues to get bigger and bigger each year.

I first joined the challenge in 2018 and actually managed to complete the whole 31 days of mermaids and I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t drawing continuously at this point and I just had a lot of fun with it. I like to think I have grown as an artist but I still love some of the images that I created that first year.

Samantha Webb 2018

Having completed the challenge in 2018 I decided that 2019 was the year to make it more personal and as my heart really is set on creating children’s books it really did only make sense to try and create a mermaid book. One big challenge that I thought I would be able to accomplish.

Samantha Webb Mermay 2019

Well, I tried, I really did but for me 31 days is definitely not enough time to create a whole story, fully illustrate it and edit it too. I managed to do a lot of the illustrations and had my story to a point where I was really happy with it but time was just not on my side and I didn’t manage to complete it. I had come too far with it to leave my story sat in my sketchbook now. Despite some setbacks personally, Livvy and Pipps was published independently under Moby and Puddle Books and I couldn’t be more proud of my mermaid story even if it did take a lot longer than 31 days. You can purchase it right now!

Livvy and Pipps published January 2020

In 2020 I made my New Years resolution to not join in any art challenges and to spend more time on my artwork rather than trying to do lots in a short amount of time, quality over quantity. I didn’t do a single image for Mermay but I did enjoy seeing all of the amazing mermaids drawn by other talented artists on Instagram. Having the pressure off especially in the chaos that was 2020 (I hope I never have to homeschool ever again) was the best decision for my mental health and I am glad that I made that decision.

This year I have decided that I will join in with Mermay again because I love the community feel of it but I won’t be doing the whole month, I can’t even contemplate trying to fit in a new painting everyday. I am so happy that I am now very busy with my illustration career, something that seemed like a dream back in 2018 when I first attempted Mermay. (Let’s face it, It still feels like a dream now!) So instead I have decided that this year I will experiment, inspired by the amazing artist Cindy Lane and we went to the sea and got some sea water to paint with.

Plymouth Seawater!

We had a great day by the sea and then I had fun experimenting with the salty water and my watercolours. The textures and the natural gradients that the salt water achieve are stunning. It is hard to control where the pigments lay and I think it will take some practice to get it right but it is amazing. I have lived by the sea for most of my life and it is not until I saw Cindy Lane’s post that I even thought about trying seawater in my paintings. I love to experiment and it is great to find a way to experiment that doesn’t actually cost me a load of money this time!

It has been nice to join in with Mermay but with the pressure off. I think that my art has improved because I am not putting a strain on myself to create something new every day but I am not stopping myself from joining in when inspiration strikes. Hopefully I have found a good balance for me. I admire the artists that can create a new mermaid image every day but I have learnt that for me, art challenges lead to burn out and a decline in the quality of my illustrations. So I hope that you enjoy the mermaid illustrations that I do manage to post because I am really enjoying creating them.

Samantha Webb 2021
Samantha Webb 2021
Samantha Webb 2021

Thank you so much for reading my post. I think I have babbled on long enough but I really do love Mermay and think that if you can join in without giving yourself burn out, without stressing out and whilst keeping it fun then go for it, you will have a whale of a time! (sorry :P)

Samantha Webb