SAA Lay Flat Pads 2015
There I was bumbling along doing my own arty things when the SAA called and asked if I would like to try out one of their new products. Well, do me a favour! What a question to ask, really. The chance to play with someone else’s toys? Yes please!
The new Lay Flat Sketch Pad arrived on the doorstep and I opened it eagerly (with a little help from the cat). The smaller version is perfect for a travelling art box and I decided to test it to destruction, and I am really happy to say that I failed…..
I was unconvinced that the central crease wouldn’t be an issue, but in all of my experiments, there was only one occasion when I was aware of it. (More later.) I was very happily surprised to find that he paper was a complete revelation. I don’t normally touch a smooth hot press paper and I was very very wary! I find it to be unforgiving and fussy about the techniques that you can apply. In the past I have cajoled, bullied and fussed over this type of surface and I have never won!
So, with a tentative brush and fear in my heart I set to…..Now, knock me down with an easel, but I had a Eureka moment, no mistake! The paint did a glide and a pirouette and slid across the paper in sublime motion. No skipping, no sinking into the paper with the speed of a fleeing bluebottle, it just FLOWED. In disbelief, I came back over it with the sable for a second pass thinking, “I’ll get you, I know now you will leave brush marks.” And it didn’t!
The contestants on “Strictly” with their glide and dip in the American Smooth, had nothing on me with this seamless wash. Is it all down to the sizing on the paper? Something to look into later perhaps……
Needing a cuppa to gather my thoughts, I discovered at this point that these pads can record the finest detail. My little cat had been out in the garden paddling in the grass, had come in and decided to explore the Lay Flat phenomenon for himself. So I have a lovely page of delicate paddy paw prints with the hairy toe details that would make a Hobbit proud! See, even the cats can do abstract in this house…..
Now, I can report that the paper is good enough to take multiple washes with no degradation at all. I painted one of my “cheesy” moons with masking fluid and there was no tearing or fluffing of the paper at all. Salt was amazing! So adding effective texture to a painting was easy peasy. Lifting colour out was a simple task too, wet or dry there was only a little staining from the mulish colours.
When I used pens to embellish, there was no bleeding or shattering into the paper at all. Spirit based pens didn’t bleed through to the other side either. The surface was tough enough to use fibre tip pens and it didn’t bruise.
I had a play with the Graphik Pens and of all the papers I have used so far, it was the best yet for them. It took a little longer to dry and as a consequence, it meant that I had longer to manipulate them before they became permanent.
By now, a dogged determination to “beat the book” had crept in…..Those who know me will be aware that I really like to lay colour down. This was it, I went in with Indigo and Paynes Gray and painted a night sky. My paint was emulsion thick and my dear little Pad didn’t even twitch its cover! Using a hairdryer had a tendency to curl the pages, but I just kept my fingers on the corners whilst I blasted away and the trauma wasn’t too bad. Once I had finished sucking my burnt fingers, I found that it all lay flat again anyway if I put a weight on it overnight, so hey ho!
My Magic Watercolour Sponge Eraser was the one item to keep my eye on. I could use it once (see the comet over Orkney) and I think reasonably that would have to be it. There was no doubt that it lifted the pile on the paper, but used with confidence that shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t want to overpaint that area.
As I played, I found I wasn’t really aware of the fact that I was working on TWO pages with a fold. I was happy with the way it lay out flat, no dipping on one side. I could only find one problem, with it in all honesty. If I had the fold lying vertically, when I was using a wet technique, the paint did tend to run down the fold. So a two toned sky could potentially have the darker colour running down into the light. It just meant that I had to use the paint a little dryer in the middle of the book. Of course, when the fold was horizontal, the issue didn’t arise at all.
From my point of view this is a great product. It is a good friend to have by your side when you are out and about, I think I will get great use out of it. On consideration, I think I will keep the smaller one in the car glove box because it will always be handy even when my art box has been left at home. I am also interested in journaling, so to make notes and draw and paint for record keeping, it will be a lovely little tool.
And did I mention that it has a wipe clean cover too???????