Today’s “Talk Nerdy to Me” guest author writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series for TOR Books and, as Susannah Sandlin, writes the Penton Legacy paranormal romance and The Collectors romantic suspense series for Montlake Romance. She also harbors a number of nerdy notions…
The Mad Scientist’s Laboratory
By Suzanne Johnson
Ah, so many nerdy habits, so little time, Alex! For now, I’ll bypass my odd musical obsessions and glass collecting and talk about art. Okay, maybe not art so much as my work as the mad scientist of color.
When you get right down to it, what does one need to dabble in art, really? Some paper or canvas. Some type of paint or marker or pencil. A brush, maybe. A bowl of clean water maybe. That’s about it.
Unless one wants to get all nerdy about it. Welcome to my lair, little ones. Step deep into the dark recesses of my laboratory and explore only a few of the colorful items contained therein.
In case you missed it in chemistry class, mediums are the basis of all life forms. Gesso reigns supreme (in white, black, or clear), plus matte mediums in varying weights, glazing medium, modeling pastes, spackle, glass bead gel, heavy matte gel, and…more. So much more. As you might see from the red X, mehearties, some of these items are quite toxic. It explains so much.
Paper! One can work in stitched commercial journals, in loose sheets, in spiral-bound journals, in handmade journals made by others, or in a journal one makes onself using waxed thread an awl and a bookbinders needle—which, of course, requires paper in heavy 22×30-inch sheets. Of course a true mad scientist has a bit of everything on hand just in case.
Watercolor Markers. Sometimes, one likes to use a marker and add water to it so that it runs and does lovely, strange things. It’s always helpful to try different brands, of course, so if you dig in the triplet Raskog carts, you might find a handful of Aquamarkers and Distress markers before falling into the deep vats of Tombow dual-brush markers, wallowing in 96 juicy colors.
A true scientist must explore all avenues, so if you’re brave enough, adventurous enough, your scientific mind keen enough, wander through the full line of Peerless watercolors and their odd little sheets of dry paper from which you can make your own custom palettes. Or try some gouache if you’re willing to face the goddess of rich pigment. Or Japanese cake gouache whose names never appear in English.
While one is dabbling in Asian concoctions, perhaps you could add a dash of washi paper tape to your creation. There is much from which to choose.
Ah, but you are beginning to feel like a child again as you play, so try the crayons. That box contains not a Macbook Pro, as it claims, but more than 300 colors of water-soluble Neocolor II wax pastels. They might look like innocent crayons but they are powerful.
You’re looking pale, my dear visitor, so perhaps you should skip pass the oil sticks and the paint pens, which have fumes that could alter your brain chemistry. Instead, have a seat on the floor next to the large black case and ease open the zipper to unleash more than 300 Copic Sketch alcohol markers with lovely brush tips.
Once the soothing, smooth calmness of Copics washes over you, and you feel you might need fresh air to fully recover, remember you cannot escape without passing
the Emporium of Ink, where one can find dropper bottles, daubers, waterbrushes and spray bottles filled with acrylic, india and dye-based ink that will soak into your skin so deeply that you will be permanently transformed without a bleach bath.
If you escape past the stashes of stencils and collections of collage ephemera, you still must pass through the Alcove of Acrylic Alchemy, where tubes and bottles of heavy-body, fluid, and high-flow acrylics with names like Quinacridone Magenta, Alazarin Crimson, and Nickel Azo Gold will lure you with their charms.
Wait—you’ve reached the door, but there’s an entire other aisle filled with daubers and adhesives and special decorative papers….oh well, perhaps next time.
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series from TOR Books. Book four, PIRATE’S ALLEY, was released in April 2015; book five, BELLE CHASSE, will be released in 2016. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, as well as The Collectors romantic suspense series, both for Montlake Romance, as well as several standalones. She’ll start a new romantic suspense series for Montlake in 2016, beginning with WILD MAN’S BLUFF. She’s been a finalist for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Awards in both 2014 and 2015. A displaced New Orleanian, Suzanne currently lives in Auburn, Alabama.