Daily Art Challenge: July 18

Our challenge today is to practice with our paint brushes.

By this, I mean see how many different things you can do with only one brush.  Paint an entire picture using one brush.  Grab a piece of watercolor paper and see how many different sized lines you can make. Can you make fine details or wide washes?  Make squiggles and dots, curlyques and swirls. Get to know your brush intimately, it should become a natural extension on your hand.  Become comfortable with your tools.


Daily Art Challenge: July 17

Having spent the last several days purging, dumping and donating-I thought a challenge using found objects was in order.

These could be things you’ve found in a drawer in the kitchen, something you found in your kids toy box, a bottle cap you found while on a walk…

Since the massive purge of our stuff began, I’ve found things I could swear I’ve never seen before.  Boxes filled with fabric I’ve never laid eyes on, books and games, tools, you name it and I’ve found it.  Much of it could be used in art projects.

Use whatever you have available and be fearless in creating your art.


Daily Art Challenge: July 16

Our challenge today is to use a black background for our art project.  This can be black paper, black gesso, black paint.

The use of a dark background can give you an entirely new perspective on your project.  Often we use the same light or white paper or canvas for each project, forgetting the possibilities of other, more dramatic options.

The use of pastels on a black background can have truly spectacular results.  A painting of a treasured landscape becomes entirely different when seen in the shadowy twilight of an evening sky.  A portrait stands out proudly from a dusky backdrop.

Use chromatic blacks when possible over straight black from a tube.  The richness of these blacks will bring a liveliness to your work which is lacking from straight blacks.  (My not so humble opinion is true black deadens a painting and makes the other colors flat, which is why I mix my own.)  Here are a few simple recipes for chromatic blacks for you to try-one part to one part of each:

  1. Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.
  2. Phthylo blue and raw umber
  3. Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine blue
  4. Dioxazine purple and Phthylo Green
  5. Dioxazine purple and sap green

Obviously there are many different options for color mixing.  These are just a couple very simple recipes anyone can mix.

Many artists take great pride in their color mixing abilities and guard their color recipe books like they’re the Crown Jewels.  I have several books of my own recipes, and when I have no inspiration for creating anything, I’ll mix colors for my books.  It’s a very relaxing thing for me to do and I have discovered some truly delightful hues along the way.

Give a “black” background a try and see how you like it.

Daily Art Challenge: July 15

The challenge for today is to use vintage lettering in your art work.  This can be copyright free images from the internet or letters you make yourself.

I’m currently reading a biography of a person from the 1400’s.  In this book are several examples of ornate lettering from historic documents.  Due to the time period of the persons life, many of the documents are from church records and royal decrees.  I am fascinated by the elaborate way in which these documents were written.  Since only the very wealthy and highly educated of the time could read and write, other than those within the clergy, few would have been able to read them.

The tools used to create these breathtaking works were miserable at best.  Pens were made of cane, reed, bird quill or metal.  To make a quill with cane or reed, first they removed the center of the cane-the pith-then carved the tip to a point or an angle.  Lastly, a small slit was cut in the tip.  The hollow made where the pith was removed held the ink, which flowed through the slit to the tip.  Feather quills were made in the same way and were usually more flexible and lighter than a reed or cane quill.  While the metal pens were durable, the others could be quickly sharpened or adjusted by cutting with a pen knife to suit that writers preference.

The pen knife had many uses for the scribe.  Not only could it sharpen the quill, but it was also used to scrape off their mistakes.  It was the ancient scribes eraser.

The parchment used was made from the skin of animals, usually cows, sheep or goats.  The methods used to make the parchment weren’t consistent and also cost a lot of money.  There were times a scribe would be writing on their parchment and come upon areas of hair.  The use of pumice stone helped smooth the uneven parchment with limited success.  The most costly parchment was usually reserved for monks who were transcribing the Bible.  Legal and historic documents were put on lesser quality parchment.

Because there were no reliable light sources, other than daylight hours, the scribes worked as long as they could see to do so.  Candles provided little light to help the scribes produce the intricate letters and decorative elements you see in these fascinating works.

And even though there are errors in some of these parchments, the efforts made by these dedicated scribes should be greatly admired.  Their working conditions were miserable-imagine working hunched over for hours at a time in blistering heat or frigid temperatures, year round, with poor tools and lousy light.  The monotony of transcribing must have taken a toll on these unsung artists as well.

So take a bit of time to admire the beautiful lettering and the dedication of the scribe.  Truly one of the hardest working and least appreciated  group of artists ever.

Daily Art Challenge: July 14

Our challenge for today is to use our finished adult coloring pages.  If you enjoy coloring but don’t know what to do with your finished pages, here are a few ideas:

  1.  I’ve mentioned several times I use my pages in my art journals.  I cut out individual images to use as a focal point on a page.
  2. I collage my colored pages to chipboard or card stock and cut out images for embellishments.
  3. I collage them onto deli paper, cut into strips and use as washi tape.  I add double sided tape to the backside before attaching to a project.
  4. Once you’ve collaged the page onto card stock or chipboard, you can use a paper punch or your scissors and cut into larger circles.  Glaze with diamond glaze, triple thick gloss glaze, glossy accents, or any other hard drying varnish.  Then poke a hole in the top part of the circle to make really unique holiday ornaments.
  5. Cut into small teardrop, diamond or round shapes.  Add your favorite varnish-I like the triple thick stuff from Hobby Lobby.  Poke small hole at top and now you have earrings or pendants.  Make the shapes small squares and you have charms.
  6. Use child friendly images, and using the same collage to card stock technique, combine and hang from a plastic coat hanger above a crib for a quick and easy mobile.

Obviously there are many ways you can use finished coloring pages in your art.  Use your imagination and have fun!

Daily Art Challenge: July 13

Our challenge for today is to make a multi- colored color wash on our paper or canvas.  Here’s how:

  1.  Gesso your paper or canvas.  Let dry completely.
  2. Dilute 1 part paint with 2 parts water.  Mix well.  This is your base coat over your gessoed surface.
  3. Appy loosely wth a rag or sponge in a cross-hatching pattern.  Rinse rag or sponge very well, squeezing out excess water.
  4. Choose your second color.  Dilute with water and white paint if the color is stronger than your base coat.  Again apply in a loose cross-hatch pattern.  Rinse sponge or rag very well, squeezing out excess water.
  5. Add additional layers of the second color, using horizontal and vertical swipes with the sponge.
  6. Now add more of both diluted colors, randomly as wipes across the page, or just pounce the sponge randomly over the paper.
  7. Dilute a very pale color, say cream or lilac- that coordinates with your two background colors-  with three parts water to 1 part paint.  This will be very runny and watery.  It’s just a thin glaze over top of the two before.  You don’t want to obscure the two previous layers.
  8. Use a dry wide, flat brush to apply matte medium over the top of your painted background.  This will seal the surface and enhance the depth and uniqueness of your painted background.

Paint techniques are some of the easiest there are.  You really cannot mess them up.  It may take a little practice to get the right mixture of both colors, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time.  You can do this technique in any colors you wish, but the lighter ones maybe easier for a beginner.

This same technique can be used to make a plaid background.  Use one or two colors horizontally, leaving some space between lines of color.  Now go over those vertically.  You’ll have a plaid look with the areas the two lines meet being darker or a combined color of the two you used.  I’ve used this several times to make “wallpaper” on a set piece.

Daily Art Challenge: July 12

Our challenge for today is to organize one area of or work space.  This could be your paints, your paper, your adhesives.  Pick one spot and pull it together.