SketchBox of Goodies

Having sampled one art material subscription box, I decided I liked the experience and wanted to try another. I settled on SketchBox, which had a far more reasonable postage charge. The first box I received was the April one, which arrived mid-April. The extra time it took to get to Australia meant the reveal happened long before I received it, but that’s fine. I’m in it to try some art materials I might not usually pick up, especially those not available in this country, and have fun.

They’d given some pretty strong hints on the website what the contents would be, so it wasn’t a surprise when I opened it to find… Pantone markers. And an extra colour as an ink for refilling markers or working with directly. Plus a marker pad, pencil and brush.

The boxes come with an art sample and a prompt, the latter being “blossom”. I made a sample chart then dutifully photographed some dahlias in the garden and painted… drew… them. The markers were, well, not that great to do this sort of art with. The markers are water-based and it’s supposed to be possible to blend them with water straight after application, but I found they dried fast and wouldn’t reactivate. Painting some water on first helped a bit. The inks don’t all match the lids, and some dried lighter again. They have a chisel tip on one end and a brush tip on the other. at the small scale of the marker pad the thinnest lines I could get were quite thick. I wound up using the brush with the ink to outline everything so it wasn’t so chunky. Too late in the process I realised I could dab the brush on the pen tips and paint with that.

On the up side, the range of colours created when mixing the colours was surprisingly broad, and the saturation of the green was great. The lid of one of the pens had popped off during transport but the pen wasn’t at all dried out. They didn’t bleed through the paper unless applied in several layers and never marked the next sheet.

I found a pile of videos of other artists reviewing them and found most had the same core group of issues, and came up with interesting solutions. Some ‘drew’ into palettes to make puddles of ink they could apply with a paint brush. One had much better results blending and reactivating on watercolour paper.

The pens felt like ones that, (mumble) years ago when I did my tertiary art/design course, were in the kit we were required to buy. They were used in architectural and fashion drawing, applied like fancy highlighters. The look was very 80s. It feels like these would suit that application very well.

Would I buy more? Probably not. But they were completely new to me and I had fun trying them out, which is the whole point of getting these boxes.