Joy In Imperfection

Handmade book @ by Soma Acharya


Hi Everyone!  During the last few days,  I took some photos and happened to come across a few paintings that are far from perfect.  They are, however, perfect examples of how letting go of perfection often provides a playground for learning and honing skills without pressure.  I would love to share a few of these with you today, along with my approach.



Please click on the image thumbnails to see the photos –




I always keep a stack of small pieces of inexpensive watercolor paper on my desk.   I paint simple things on them whenever I need to warm up before working on something larger.  I also use them to try out new art supplies.  There is never any pressure with these practice pieces.   These were just floating about, so one day I decided to put them all in a book.




Scrap drawings @ by Soma Acharya




I keep cuttings from drawings that have not worked out.  I pulled a tiny piece of pen drawing from that stack.




Handmade book @ by Soma Acharya



For the cover, I used washi tape and boards that were leftover from books that I had previously bound.   I inset the little pen sketch in the middle and finished the book by making a grey frame from another piece of scrap paper.   Improvising while creating this book let me hone some of my skills further.  I need a place where I can play, and this book is the perfect playground.

I continued in the spirit of the experimental paintings that were already part of this book and painted these two next.



Cottage watercolor painting @ by Soma Acharya



I love the idea of a cottage overgrown with shrubbery set by the edge of the woods.  The green paint I was using for the forest dried much darker than I had anticipated.  I put it aside and went to bed.  I sometimes have trouble falling asleep, and that night happened to be one of those nights.  Finally, I gave up on sleep, and started fiddling with it at 3:00AM.

I put a coat of titanium white on the area to cover up the dark green mess.  As I  started to paint the green back again, the white kept on diluting the green.  So I changed my approach and daubed on the green in places instead of painting with brush strokes.  It worked.  I like the mix of light and dark in the green now.



Tree on a misty rainy day watercolor painting @ by Soma Acharya



I wanted to learn a little more about this particular green paint that I mostly use for shadows. So I set out to paint a tree on a misty, rainy day.

The green paint is in every part of this painting.  I added yellow and red to the green to create the other colors.  This particular green paint is very textured and opaque.  If I used even a smidge extra, the area looked very dirty and mucky.

I wet the paper first.   As I added paint, I let the water on the paper pull or push the pigment around.  That avoided the dirty look and kept the edges soft for a misty day look.



North Bay Area California Sky photography @ by Soma Acharya



Last Saturday it was raining off and on.  I love to be outside on days like this.  While My husband and I were driving to Japantown in San Francisco,  I took this photo from the car.   Not a clean photo, but few raindrops on the windshield only added to the drama.



Japantown @ by Soma Acharya



After browsing, getting a few books from my favorite book shop, and having dinner at the most wonderful udon noodle restaurant, we went to a Japanese convenience store to pick up our favourite snacks and drinks.  I always find something there for my journals and this time I got this A5 size case.  A wonderful fit for my sketchbooks, plus a couple of pencils and erasers for traveling.  Sometimes things just work out!



Bowers Museum Photography exhibit, Ted Crone Taxi New York @ by Soma Acharya



Back at Bowers Museum, I was completely smitten by Ted Croner’s Taxi, New York at night photo.  If you are interested, you can read more about him on  this Howard Greenberg Gallery page.



The Golden Gate Bridge in the rain inspired by Ted Crone Taxi New York photography @ by Soma Acharya

Inspired by Ted Croner’s Taxi, New York at night photo


On the way back, as we were driving on the Golden Gate Bridge, rain started to fall.  I asked my husband if he could hold off running the wipers, and quickly snapped this photo of the bridge through a rain-spattered windshield.  Not quite as brilliant as Ted Croner’s photo, but it will do for now.



The Girl and Her Cat drawing @ by Soma Acharya

Work in progress teaser:  The girl is watering while her little cat patiently…


I have been doing a lot of book binding lately, experimenting with new techniques and materials.  I had just started sketching a cover for an experimental book when I noticed two tiny 1.5”/2.0” scraps on the desk.



Little purple wildflowers drawing @ by Soma Acharya



I couldn’t resist painting these little flowers on them.  I painted them completely outside the lines quite intentionally.  Hubby already claimed one of them, so we will each have one for our journals.


I really hope this gives you some ideas and encourages you to play and make.  There is sweetness and joy in imperfection.

Until next time,


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Tombow Markers – Review For Watercolour

Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



Last month, quite unexpectedly, Mother Nature treated me to a weekend of rain. The sound of rain is like the calls of the mythological Sirens for me. Re-purposing John Muir’s quote – “The rain is calling and I must go”, and go I did. I put on my raincoat and my waterproof pants and went for a 4+ mile run, all the while feeling the rain on my face. I was so happy and full of energy after coming back, I painted this little scene.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



Early this year in January, I got some art supplies for my birthday from my husband.  These markers were a part of it.

This review is specially for my Paint Party Friday peeps and anyone who loves watercolour or wanting to plunge into that crazy world.


Tombow markers are available loose, but they also offer a few sets.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



The landscape set included 9 colours and a blender. 

They are water-based markers, so very easy to blend with a wet brush. I found the included blender to be useless.  It actually scuffed my paper when I used it directly on paper.

The markers only have numbers on them.  I found a chart on Tombow’s website which translates the numbers to standard colour names.  It’s a circular chart not ordered by number, so it was a bit tedious to find the names.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



I applied the markers directly on paper, then used a wet brush to create the swatches.

There is no yellow in the set, that would have been useful.

A lighter blue would have been nice too.  The included blues diluted make very nice light blues. However, directly used on the paper, the initial strokes are too dark.

The colours change hue as they dilute.  So swatching them was very useful.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



The markers are full of pigment.  A gentle dab on the porcelain palette deposited a lot of paint, which I was able to dilute into a much lighter shade.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



I created a small sheet noting their behaviour.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



1st row –

    • The markers blend very easily to create new colours.   Colours blended on the palette are less vibrant than the colours mixed directly on paper.

2nd row –

    • For wet on wet, I used a wet brush on paper and then added colour from the palette. The pigments move very freely.
    • To see if I can achieve a lighter shade directly on the paper, I drew 4 lines, and used a wet brush. While most of the paint diluted well, there was  still a faint hint of the lines on the paper.

3rd row –

    • When I needed to paint vibrant dark areas, it worked really well to use the markers on the paper directly, and then use water to move the pigments around.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



1st row –

    • Here I applied paint from palette to dry paper, resulting in a softer application.
    • The markers themselves don’t work well on wet surfaces. They start fading very quickly.

2nd row –

    • I used brush-tips to write with two colours.  Blending them directly on paper with a wet brush created a beautiful effect.


The markers did stain my fingers.  The colours came off after a few washes.  If you are going to make food after painting with these markers, I suggest being a bit more careful when using them.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



I first painted the scene on a Stillman & Birn paper. I couldn’t quite get it to work the way I wanted, specially with the tree.  The colours didn’t move very well.  They either got soaked in or lifted off.



Landscape Painting Tombow Marker Review | Whims And Fancies



I painted it again on a Strathmore 400 series watercolour paper. I really liked the way the markers behaved on that paper, it was a more fluid application.

Which one do you like better?


Overall I really liked them. They are full of pigment so a little goes a long way. Even on rough watercolour paper, a gentle application was all that was needed. Gentle touch also protects the marker-tips.

If you are thinking about learning watercolour, I think the Tombow markers would be great for that. You can start by drawing with the markers and then add water to blend / dilute the colours. For a softer shade, drop some paint on the palette, then use that with a wet brush.


Endless fun possibilities!!


Happy Painting!




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