Weekly Techniques Challenge

Today we are focusing on another technique for the week.  We’re going to do stamping using an unconventional item.

This could be using a textured toy dipped in paint.  A piece of lace dipped in ink and rolled with a brayer.  The bottom of a bottle or jar dipped in a gelato puddle and pressed onto a journal page.  The bottom of a shoe or sandal, smeared into craft paint and pressed onto a fabric scrap.  The options are really quite diverse when it comes to using unconventional items for stamping an image or background.

Use whatever you have to complete the challenge.  Be as creative as you want to be.  Just enjoy the process.

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Daily Challenge: Day 21

Today’s daily art challenge prompt is Circles.  Use this versatile shape in your daily art practice in any way you choose.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1.  Fill in a background with circles.  Doodles, stamps, painted, sketched…
  2. If an art piece or art journal page feels unfinished, add circles over top.  I use toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, tops to medicine bottles, bottoms of aluminum soda cans, all different sizes of circles.
    1. Then I dip the circular item into paint.  I press onto the journal page, making rough, raggedy circles rather than pristine, perfect ones.
    2. This works well with dark colors you want to stand out from a lighter page, light colors that blend in as a muted background layer, as sparkle (use metallic paints or glitter glue) on a dull page.
  3. Dip your finger into ink, paint, gelatos or pastels and rub a circle onto the page through a stencil or free handed.
  4. Cut circles from magazine pages to use as a focal point.
  5. Cut circles from card stock to make a journaling spot, a photo mat, a pocket.
  6. Punch circles and fold in half.  Add to journal page edge as a tab.  Or to top of a strip of paper as a bookmark.
  7. Cut or punch several circles of the same size.  Attach together with a brad, grommet, or ribbon and slip into a journal as an extra book.
  8. Use punches on card stock and add to a journal page as a border.  It looks nice with a coordinating color beneath the circle border.
  9. Punch or cut the circles from the actual journal page as an interesting border.
  10. Punch circles from an art journal page, either along the edge of the page, or all over it.  Have interesting images, letters or words in those spots on the page beneath.  Now you’ve highlighted the images or words.  This looks really cool with a title or quote.
  11. Make a shaker card using punched circle confetti.
  12. Doodle circles then fill them in with other shapes, squiggles, lines, and patterns.  Makes a great background or cut out the finished circles and use as embellishments.
  13. Paper Flowers.
  14. Shabby Chic Loop Flowers.  Cut or punch a circle, around 2″ in diameter.  Rip or cut strips of scrap fabric, about a 1/2″ wide.  Fold the strip in half lengthwise, right side out.  Either run the strip through your sewing machine to attach the two edges together or glue them.  Once you have a tube, cut the non-glued or sewn edge with a sharp scissors to make thin loops.  Don’t cut through the sewn or glued edge.  When you have your tubes cut, start in the center of you circle and attach the loopy tube in a spiral until you fill the entire circle.  Fluff up the circles.  (I like to use fraying fabrics for this and I comb the loops after they are stuck to the circle.  Increases the fraying and I love the shabby chic look.)  Add a vintage piece of jewelry, button, flat backed gems or pearls to the center of your fluffy fabric circle.
    1. I use these as ornaments for a vintage tree, as a broach or as embellishments in my art journals or on the covers.
    2. I like to use ivory, white, or tan fabrics as this makes a lovely old, vintage feeling flower/embellishment.
    3. You could do the same thing (with out stitching or gluing the edges together) with ribbons and lace.
    4. I cut a piece of burlap wide enough to go around an empty plastic mayonnaise jar.  I added three of these little loopy fabric circle flowers to the center (to cover where the burlap came together), added ribbon and lace to further embellish the jar.  (I use the jar to hold the plastic store bags which I recycle for use in my wastebaskets, to make beads from, to use as paint texture tools, to weave into purses or to sew onto journal pages.)
    5. I’ve added the shabby chic flowers to boxes which hold supplies, to art journal covers, I made a long row of them to use as garland on the Christmas tree.  Once I started making these adorable little things, it became sort of an addiction.  There are many uses for them.

There are many, many ways to use circles in your art practice.  These were only a couple ideas, I’m sure you’ll come up with several more.  Have fun with the challenge and share your creations.  We’d love to see what your doing!

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Get To Know Your Supplies: Colored Pencils, Part 4

Value is the element of art that describes the amount of lightness or darkness in a hue. In a black and white photo, white is the lightest value, and black is the darkest value. There are shades of gray in between that range from white to black.  Artists use a value scale to determine the value of the color (hue) they are using.  The value of colors in a composition is actually of more importance than the colors themselves. 

It is often difficult to determine the value of colors in a picture.  The colors can become a distraction and the mind isn’t seeing what it really needs to see.  It is far easier to determine value in a picture which is black, white and shades of gray.  So why am I bringing this up in a colored pencil post?  Because it would be a great idea to make a value scale of your colored pencils.  After a bit of searching I found a great blog explaining how to make a value scale with colored pencils.  She is using blank, white business cards as her base and then putting them into a business card carry case.

I admit, I didn’t think of the business cards and holder as an option until I saw her post.  I’m planning to make a flip through book held together with a metal ring, in the same way I’ve made my techniques tags.  Either of these ideas will work very well.

My plan is to make a 5 level value scale for each of my colored pencils using white Neenah cardstock purchased from Walmart.  Divide the 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet into thirds, length wise.  Now make 5 equally sized squares from top to bottom of the paper.  I will be using the back side for the name and number of the color and brand of the pencil.

Begin with your darkest value at the top of the strip, with the lightest value at the bottom.  You could also divide each of the five squares in half to make a 10 shade value scale.  For my purposes, a 5 level scale is enough.

Once you have your paper cut and the squares drawn on the strips of paper, you can begin coloring them in.  This will take a long time, I’m not going to lie to you.  But if you pop in some music, take your time and have fun with this project, I don’t think you’ll ever be sorry you did it.

You will develop blending skills, coloring skills, and you will be training your mind to see values and not just color.  And seeing values is an important artist skill.  Some would even say it’s the most important artist skill.

Once you’ve made your value book, you will use it over and over again.  Honestly, you won’t know how you did without them.  Value scales can take your art to another level.

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Get To Know Your Supplies: Colored Pencils, Part 3

I have covered some common colored pencil things in Colored Pencils, Part 1, and Colored Pencils, Part 2.

Please check out both of these posts for common questions and techniques.  In this post I’m going to cover some more specific ideas, techniques and tips.  I have spent the last two weeks or so doodling some really interesting things and filling them in with my inexpensive colored pencil set by Raffine.  I have used them extensively over the past two weeks and here are a couple observations:

  1.  There are a lot of colors in this set.  Unfortunately, many of them are very close in color to each other.  And while I have been able to blend the pencil colors, I prefer the results I get from Prismacolor Pencils.
  2. If you give your images an underpainting or base color first, then build the layers of color over top you’ll have a much more professional looking finished project.  I use underpainting in my acrylic work all the time, and the process is the same.  Add a color as the base, then go over the top with another color (or several colors) to give you some depth and interest.  When I’m using a Cadmium Red Medium for example, I might use a Cad Red Dark or an Alizarin Crimson as my underpainting.  This will make the Cad Red Medium pop right off the page.  I use an underpainting for my yellows, as they are translucent.
  3. You can achieve a great deal of success with less expensive pencils.  In fact, if your new to adult coloring I recommend you begin with an inexpensive set to see if you like the art form.  If you find you really enjoy it, you can decide to purchase the more expensive pencils then.
  4. Using inexpensive materials when you’re beginning will also give you an opportunity to perfect some techinques.  Once you can achieve good results with the cheap supplies you will be blown away by the results you’ll get with the better quality ones.

Here are some important things you need to know about adult coloring and getting the results you want in your art.

  1.  Posture is never more important than when you’re making an art piece that takes awhile.  Adult coloring pages can take several hours to complete.  It’s so important to use good posture, hold your pencils comfortably, get up and walk around at least every hour for a few minutes.  Stretch and give your back, neck and arm a rest periodically.
    1. Use good lighting so you don’t have eye strain.
    2. Relax your pencil grip to prevent fatigue and more serious repetitive injuries.
  2. Which brings me to Pressure.  Pressure is the amount of force you’re applying to your page with your pencil.  Lighter pressure is usually better for several reasons.
    1. If you find you have a tendency to use heavy pressure when coloring, hold the pencil further away from the tip.  By holding the pencil in the middle of the shaft, you are unable to apply heavy pressure.
    2. Heavy pressure can damage the tooth of the paper, fatigue your hand, wrist and arm, prevents you being able to do several techniques and uses up a lot of product.  That’s not a big deal if the pencils are inexpensive and easy to replace.  I have some very expensive sets and I’d like them to last as long as possible.
    3. By coloring your images heavily, you are usually filling the tooth of the paper.  This makes blending very challenging because you can no longer add color to the tooth.  Lighter pressure gives you all sorts of opportunity to add other colors, shading and highlights to your images.
    4. One way to help with the to heavy laying on of color is to give your images an underpainting prior to adding your colored pencil.  I have recently read that using cheap highlighter to the image prior to adding the colored pencil will cover the white spots of paper that often show in colored pencil art, and will give you the look of several layers of color when you’ve only added one.  Another option would be to use the inexpensive colored pencils as the base colors and the more expensive ones above, so you don’t use so much of the expensive pencils.  You can also use a watercolor wash to add lots of color quickly, then color over top when dry. Any of these options will help prevent the heavy pressure problem.  Once you are in the habit of applying heavy pressure when coloring it is a difficult one to break.
  3. Strokes are the way you color in your image.  I covered that in an earlier post, but wanted to mention it again.  The straight stroke will often be seen in the finished piece if you don’t blend it out.  Circular strokes are great for getting into tight spaces and you don’t notice the lines from coloring in the image.  Hatching and cross hatching are also ways to hide the look of the coloring lines.
  4. Layers.  This is when you use layers of color to add depth to your image.  I usually start out with the lightest color and add darker as I go.  I find it’s challenging to lighten a to-dark color, but easy to darken something that is to light.
  5. Blending is another important skill.   I covered this in part one.
  6. Highlighting and Shadows. Both of these will give your finished piece a professional look.
    1. First, decide where your light source is coming from.  Be consistent throughout the entire picture.
    2. Use darker shading for the areas that are in shadow, use a light shade of the color (or white if you prefer) to add highlights.  I like to use the color in a lighter shade rather than to use white.  I find white can give the color a milky appearance.  Try both and see which you prefer.
    3. Blend your colors as you go so there are no harsh edges.
    4. You can add other colors to an image to increase both the highlights and the shadows.  If you have a blue sea, for example, you can add dark greens and purples for shadows and depth.  Add yellows, pinks, lavendars, peaches and teals to add highlights, depending upon the color blue of your sea.
    5. Experiment with lots of colors and develop a set of go-to’s you can pull out quickly and that always work for you.  I would recommend playing around with your pencils when you get them, make your color charts, and really get to know what the set you have will do.  Color combinations you love can become your staples.  Make charts of these preferences so you can refer to them often.
    6. You don’t need the largest set of colored pencils, but it is a good idea to purchase the largest you can afford.  The reason is the set of 12 pencils you purchase will be included in the next size up set of 24 pencils.  The set of 24 pencils will be included in the set of 36.  And so on and so on.  Each set takes the one below it and adds onto it.  I purchased the set of 72 pencils in the DerWent Inktense set.  Here is an excellent price for Prismacolor Pencils.  I would purchase the blending pencils too.  The blending pencils can be used with any brand colored pencils you purchase.

Here are some common mistakes beginners make when they first start out on the coloring journey.

  1.  If you are coloring your own hand drawn images use good paper.  A common mistake many beginners make is to use printer paper for their art.  Yes, it’s possible to make gorgeous stuff on printer paper.  But it is certainly a challenge.  You need paper that has a “tooth”, which means it’s slightly rough so the color gets into the paper.  You don’t want paper that is to rough either, as that causes other issues.  The best thing you can do is to get some paper and practice with it.  Often paper made for use in multi-media work or watercolor paper will be rough for colored pencil work.  I’ve heard Fabriano Accedemia paper, which comes in both a sketch book or paper pad, is a nice one for colored pencil images.
  2. If you are sketching your image, rather than using a coloring book or printed images, get the image the way you want it before you start coloring it.  If the image is wrong, coloring won’t correct it.  I used to tell my set builder, Cal, exactly that when he built our theatre sets.  My painting can’t correct the mistakes in his construction.  The same is true with coloring.  If the image is off when you begin, it will be off when the pictures completed.  Get it right before you spend hours coloring it.
  3. I really cannot over-emphasize how heavy-handed coloring is a problem.  It’s very difficult to add colors to a heavy layer, it’s filling up the tooth with color so your paper won’t take any more, it’s hard to blend the colors when the paper is so heavily saturated, and you won’t get the results you want by loading on color so thickly.  Really, you won’t.  If you are having a problem with the white of the paper showing through after you’ve colored and blended, try an underpainting (either inexpensive highlighters or a marker as your base-neither will fill the tooth of your paper so you can add layers of colored pencil over top) before you begin coloring.  It will help tremendously and save you time and aggravation along the way.
  4. One thing I have problems with, no matter what project I’m working on, is going to fast.  I am always so anxious to finish a project, to see what I have imagined in my mind as a completed piece, that I sometimes rush the process.  This is counter-productive.  I want the best possible finished art piece I can make. By going so quickly I can miss small details I would have liked to change, or colors I would have added, or details that would have made the piece better…Slow down, step away and take a breath.  Look at the piece later with fresh eyes.  You’ll be able to pick out those things which can transform an art piece from good to exceptional.

I hope this has given you more information about a common supply most of us have in our work spaces.  Try out different techniques.  Make charts of your favorite color combinations.  Have fun with your colored pencils.

One thing that’s important to remember is the supplies and materials we have are there for our use.  Hoarding them won’t make you happy.  Use and enjoy your stuff.  That’s what it’s there for, after all.

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How Are You Doing With the Challenges?

We’re 20 days into the New Year, and I was wondering how you’re doing with the challenges we have going for 2018.  In case you’re new to the site, we have a challenge every year.  We never really stop the challenges as the year ends, we just add a new one to the mix.  So far our challenges have been:

1.  Use Up Your Stuff Challenge.  We were striving to go through our stash of stuff and use as much of it as possible.  This is an ongoing challenge for me and one I am pleased to say has really been working out.

2.  Our next challenge was The Secret.  I have the book and there was a movie on Netflix explaining it all very well.  Part of the challenge was making a vision board, a wishing tree and affirmation tiles.

3.  This year’s challenge is actually three:  Monthly, Weekly and Daily challenges.  The monthly challenge is to incorporate a word in your art at some point during the month.  The weekly challenges are techniques.  The Daily challenges are prompts.  Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

  1.  Daily Challenge Prompts
    1. Leaves
    2. flowers
    3. happy little trees
    4. grasses
    5. rock
    6. water
    7. butterflies
    8. bugs
    9. soil/earth/dirt
    10. warm weather
    11. cold weather
    12. snow
    13. pink and orange color combination
    14. a favorite book
    15. a favorite television show
    16. Winter sport
    17. painted papers
    18. the arts and crafts movement
    19. Distracted doodling
    20. your favorite time period
  2. The Weekly Challenges have been:
    1. Blending Colored Pencils
    2. Using metal brads or grommets
    3. using gelatos with a stencil
  3. The Monthly challenge is the word NEW.

If you would like to join us in a challenge for 2018, or either of the other challenges from 2017 or 2016, please do so.  I am encouraging you to pick only one challenge, although I am doing all of them.

I have also shared my New Year’s Resolution, which isn’t a resolution to give up something but to learn something new each year.  I thought I would take on hand lettering as my study of choice for 2018, but I think I’m going to change it to studying the vast beauty and unique areas of the United States.  I will still be working on the hand lettering. It was after returning from our trip to the Southwestern part of our country that caused me to reconsider my study choice.  No matter what I study, I’ll be sharing the progress with you all.

 

 

 

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Daily Art Challenge: Day 20

Today’s daily art challenge prompt is:  your favorite time period. This could 1920’s clothes, 1950’s drive in’s, 1960’s music, the Victorian era houses, ancient Rome, or the migration West by the pioneers.   Pick something from a specific time period and include it in your daily art.

Have fun!

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Daily Art Challenge: Day 19

Since I have at least half a sketch book filled with Distracted Doodles, I thought our daily art challenge prompt should be Doodling.  I am enjoying the process and have become a doodling devotee.  Here are a few things I’ve discovered on my doodling adventures:

  1.  I began with simple sketched pictures, like large flowers and wonky houses.  If you don’t feel comfortable drawing them, search for copyright free images of what you want and print them.
  2. The cool part about doodling is all the great patterns and designs you see incorporated into the image.  I felt that was where my doodling ability fell apart.  So on scrap paper I made shapes.  Squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, teardrops, diamonds, etc.  Then I practiced doodling those shapes.  I tried to use them in different ways for greater options.  Then I added to them.
  3. Let’s use lines as an example.  Lines might be used in an oval, like a decorated Easter egg…Or wiggly lines, curved lines, peaks and valleys lines, lines with scallops, lines that look like ropes, lines that are wide, thin, then wide again, dashes, etc.  Every one of those can be used with in a shape, between shapes, around shapes, etc.
  4. Once you have a good amount of simple patterns you can make add them to your sketch book (or make a key on a separate sheet of paper) for reference.  This will help you remember all the doodle options you thought up and can make.
  5. I draw all my pictures with pencil first, then when I’m satisfied with the page of doodles, I go over the lines with my pen.  Once the ink is dry I erase the pencil lines.
  6. I have only used colored pencils for filling in my doodles so far.  You can use markers, paint pens, watercolors, acrylic paints, or leave them in black and white.  For wet media I would begin with watercolor paper as your doodle substrate.  Adding color is entirely up to you.
  7. After I have colored my images, I often go back over the lines with a thicker black Sharpie marker.  I like to widen some lines, and leave some thin.  I also keep a Dollar Tree flexible plastic cutting mat between the page I’m working on and the rest of the book because Sharpie bleeds through my sketchbook pages.

While I’m not as detailed as many adult coloring books,  I am really astounded by the way mine are turning out.  I’ve made street scenes with wonky houses, rolling hills with a barn or house, I sketched a vintage pick up truck.  There are so many fun things you can doodle!  I’ve doodled within letters for use as titles.  I doodled a knit sweater with each cable being a different pattern.  I can see my journaling projects will be enhanced by this newly acquired skill.  Once you have the hang of this doodling thing, the sky’s the limit.

Again, I am not sure what the difference between doodling and Zentangling is, but it doesn’t matter to me either.  This is just a fun and relaxing way to recover from one kick-my-butt-wicked-bad flu.

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