We don't just sit around answering the phone or writing newsletters or wandering around the warehouse picking orders, you know. Oh no. Sometimes we spread the Tiverton Gazette over the meeting room table, dish out some Derwent and get arty (well - some of us did; the rest just made a mess).
It was Derwent's Inktense Blocks that inspired the burst of creativity. They're sticks of watercolour ink that are incredibly versatile and - as we found out - lots of fun! We needed a bit of training first, though, so we had a look at Derwent's very informative video: How to use Derwent Inktense Blocks.
Thus prepared, we rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in. The first thing we realised was that Inktense Blocks are Messy (with a capital M). But they have to be; after all, what self-respecting artist ever stayed clean? Did Monet possess a pristine smock? Did Picasso have perfectly clean fingernails? I think not.
The blocks can be used dry, like a thick pencil, but we concentrated on exploring their watercolour abilities. The Grate 'n' Shake is a 'grate' piece of equipment which looks a bit like a very small cheese grater. We used it to shave off bits of Inktense, then added a little water, swished it around and hey presto - ink. Then we poured the mix into a Spritzer spray bottle and used it to apply delicate colour effects, using Louise and Martin's templates to add interest. Well, that was the general idea anyway. The first attempts were, shall we say... wet. Yes, we overdid it a bit on the water front (hence Becky's green fingers (and we're not talking gardening here), Mark's bloodbath red effect and Beth's attempt to match her hands to her hair. It was unanimously agreed - after staring somewhat disappointedly at the soggy creations in front of us - that 'less is best' when mixing and 'distance is king' when spraying. And thicker is better when you're talking stencils and paper!
But we all have to start somewhere, and once we'd got the hang of proper grating, mixing and spraying, people's talent really began to shine through. Sort of. The spraying styles varied from the Hairspray Technique (using one's hand to shield part of the picture while spraying) to the I Don't Care Spray Technique (using somebody else's hand as a shield). And while there were a few casualties (the computer mouse is now covered in red speckles and one of Herbie's paws is blue), things were going so well we decided to have a competition to see who could create the best design.
At the end of an hour, the competition entries were in, and the tense nail-biting began. Simon (the boss) had sensibly stayed away from the shenanigans in the meeting room, so as he had no idea whose creation was whose, he was prevailed upon to make a blind 'Great British Bake Off' type decision. He pondered long and hard, assessing the effort, talent and skill of his staff. Finding no evidence whatsoever in any of them, he announced Mark as the winner, for no apparent reason other than that the reindeer looked like a reindeer, and it had a red nose. In his tearful acceptance speech over lunchtime pizza, Mark thanked his mother for having him, and his primary school teacher for encouraging his finger-painting.
We highly recommend Inktense Blocks. They're equally useful wet or dry; they're blendable, mixable and layerable (is that a word?); and there are so many colours to choose from. And above all they're fun to use!
3 October 2016