Daily Art Challenge: July 30

Our challenge is to incorporate colors that speak to us emotionally.  Explore the feelings you get from different colors or the colors that express a certain feeling for you. Do the colors cause the feeling or do you have the feeling and think of that color?

Really take some time to think about this.  What colors do you most often use in your art?  What feeling are you trying to convey with them?  Is the use of purple dark and sinister or regal and elegant?  Is the use of red violent and angry or vibrant and joyful?  Explore color and the emotions you attach to them.  Then make an art piece based on the emotion you want to express, using the colors that do that.


Daily Art Challenge: July 28

Our daily challenge is to use gesso in our art work.

As I’ve mentioned, gesso is probably at the top of my list for essential supplies.  There are many uses for gesso in your art practice.  Here are a few of them:

  1. I prime my art journal pages and my painting canvases. This is essential if you’re going to be adding any wet media to your journal pages. It makes the paper stand up to whatever you throw at it and provides a good foundation for your work.
  2. You can use the thicker gesso through stencils to make a textured background on canvas, journal pages, tags, etc. Let dry and go over it with whatever colors you like.
  3. Use gesso to tone down or push back to much color in your work.
    Thin coats-whether straight from the bottle or watered down-are often translucent, so the color will show through from beneath but be more muted and soft.
  4. I use gesso over things that don’t actually go together like wood and fabric on a journal page. By covering them with gesso they become cohesive and look like they are all part of the same art piece.
  5. You can use gesso to cover things like texture paste and metal.
  6. Use gesso to cover slick surfaces like plastic or glossy items so other color will adhere to them.
  7. Mix with paint, pastels, watercolors, inks-whatever you want-to color white gesso.
  8. Gesso comes in clear, black and white, thin and thick. If you can only buy one type-get the thick, white stuff. You can thin it down with water to make it the liquid type, but still have the thick when you want that for going through stencils or smearing over your page with a palette knife.
  9. You can make your own gesso.  Here are the recipes I use for DIY gesso. Clear, black, and white.

Although gesso isn’t necessarily one of the most fun or exciting art supplies on the market, it is probably my most used in my art work.  I can’t image how I would create anything without it.  It’s the first on my list of essential supplies.



Daily Art Challenge: July 27

Our challenge for today is to create an art piece in the style of the Fauvism art movement.  Here are a few important things to know about Fauvism.

  1.  The Fauves (wild beasts) were a group of French painters.  Leaders of this movement were Henri Matisse and Andre Derain.  Their art focused on bold colors and “painterly” works rather than realistic or representational art.
  2. The Fauvism artwork is characterized by distinct brush strokes, vibrant colors and a simplified design.
  3. The Fauves greatly valued individual expression, revealing the artists emotional state.
  4. Fauvism is the first 20th century movement in modern art and was inspired by the works of VanGogh, Ce’zanne, and Seurat.  Many Fauvism leaders were students of Gustave Moreau.
  5. The painting Luxe, Calme et Volupté, by Henri Matisse is considered to be the starting point of the Fauvism movement.

You can make your art piece on canvas, paper, wood, any surface you choose.  Use bold colors and a simple image.  You can design your own or find a copy right free image that speaks to you.  The end result should be something that expresses feeling through both the color choices and the image itself.

Have fun with this challenge.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, my work seems to be a combination of many art movements and styles.  Fauvism is one of those.  The use of rich and vibrant colors, their combinations, how they are used to express the artists feelings-all these things are intricate parts of my own artistic expression.  If bold use of color isn’t something you often do in your art, give it a try.  Stepping out of our comfort zone helps us to grow as people and as artists.



Daily Art Challenge: July 24

Our challenge today is to create an art piece using charcoal.  Charcoal is a medium which comes in a couple forms.

First, you can use charcoal pencils.  These are compressed charcoal within a wood casing.  The advantages of charcoal pencils is the ease of use, ability to achieve precise details and there is limited mess.  Charcoal pencils come in dark, medium and light, which gives you a great range of tonal values.

Next you have compressed charcoal in stick form.  This type of charcoal does not come off on your hand while you’re using it.

Willow charcoal is the third choice.  It is not compressed and is the kind that lets off on your hands while using it.  Each of these types have their place in charcoal art.

You can use many different types of paper for charcoal work.  There is, of course, charcoal paper.  This paper is made specifically for use with charcoal and pastels.  The papers can have a tooth for the charcoal to hold onto or they can be smooth like velum.  Watercolor paper works too.

There are some commonly used items for charcoal work.  One of the essential tools is a kneaded eraser.  You use this for subtractive work.  By that I mean you remove areas to give your drawing highlights.  An artist bridge is also a handy tool to have.  Here is a post in which I explain how I made a DYI artist bridge and an artist mahl.  Another handy item is blending stumps and DIY tortillions.   You can also blend and smudge charcoal with cotton swabs, chamois cloth, sponges, etc.  Use caution when using your fingers as they could release oils onto your work.

The use of fixatives is something many artists do.  Again, for all my pastel and charcoal work I use the least expensive hairspray I can find-it has fewer additives-and give my finished piece a light mist once or twice.  If you mat your work and frame it, you’ll have it protected from accidental smudging or damage.  If you’re unable to do that, store in a glassine bag until you’re able to do so.

Charcoal is also something you can use with water.  By outlining an element on a page or canvas, you can dampen a paint brush and smear the charcoal.  This is a great way to add shadows or to pop an element from the page.  It’s common to use pastels with charcoal, as they are similar materials.  By adding the color of pastels to a charcoal drawing, you can create some really delightful art work.

Charcoal is great fun to play with and a truly versatile and inexpensive art material.


Smart Art Box, Update


Alright guys, here’s the thing, the Smart Art Box from July has been very negatively received.  The lack of product, the poor condition in which the products arrived to the customer, the toxicity and flammability of Gamsol which leaked in many of the boxes, the materials sent were not appropriate for the project included (Cubism which uses earth tones and very muted colors as a rule.  The markers were in primary colors which is not the correct color palette for the project), the 50 dollar price tag for art supplies that are probably only worth 20 to 25 bucks (without coupon or sales)-all add up to many unhappy customers.

I am in no way affiliated with any company or art supplier.  I purchase my stuff like everyone else, with coupons and sales being my usual method.  I have never received free supplies from any company and my reviews are based upon my experience with the products mentioned.  My goal is to get people arting. Creating-whether they have money to spend on name-brand supplies or not.  And because of this, I don’t want any of my treasured readers to run out and join something which does not seem to be a wise use of their hard-earned money.

Here’s my take on the Smart Art Box thing:  You can look up tutorials from past Smart Art Boxes and decide if you want to make any of those projects.  You can purchase your own supplies at places like Blick and Jerry’s  These two are my go-to’s for art supplies, Blick being my first choice because their shipping is crazy fast.  Both offer free shipping on purchases over a certain amount, have terrific sales, provide outstanding, high quality products and amazing customer service.  I’ve also purchased things from Amazon, which is another option.  Oriental Trading is also able to offer some very reasonably priced stuff, and I’ve used them several times for larger quantity purchases for the classes I teach.

If you prefer to purchase your supplies in a brick and mortar store there is Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Dollar Tree (around here, I have no idea what stores are available elsewhere)-all of which have a multitude of things appropriate for all sorts of projects.  Hobby Lobby and Michaels also offer daily coupons and sales, clearance items and you can often pick up some things very reasonably priced.  Second hand stores and garage sales, while hit or miss, also have lots of things you can use to make your artwork for a fraction of the retail price.

And, obviously, I use many recycled items and DIY art supplies.  There are countless tutorials and recipes on my site for those things.  Search for what you’re interested in purchasing.  I may have a review or a cheaper alternative.  If there are any supplies you would like me to review, please let me know and I’ll be happy to do that.

In conclusion, I want my readers to be able to create art without busting their budget.  It’s very important to me to give you my honest opinion on what’s out there, what is good quality, and what I consider a waste of money.  For those of us with seriously limited funds, it is important to get the truth about products before we lay out our hard earned cash.

Truth is what I promise to give you.

Original Post: 

Hi, guys.  I’ve been working in my workroom, purging and also organizing things.  I was working on gathering my teaching materials together for an upcoming class I’m teaching on bible art journaling and I had you tube going on the computer.  Lindsay the Frugal Crafter was demonstrating a Smart Art Box.

If you have no art materials at all and are interested in starting with some projects, a Smart Art Box may be a good idea for you.  The premise is you receive different art supplies in the mail each month.  The box includes a project using those supplies.  You can also look up past Smart Art Box tutorials, see what projects or supplies interest you and purchase them yourself-which is a less expensive option.

Because I have just about every art supply known to man, I have most of the stuff already.  I can grab my own supplies and follow along with these tutorials.  The projects are quite diverse, with lots of different techniques.  This is an easy way to use some of those supplies that are just sitting there doing nothing.  And the projects aren’t necessarily what I would think of first.  I really like that because it gets me outside my comfort zone.

Not all projects will appeal to everyone, but there is enough variety I’m sure something will strike your fancy.  The reason I’m posting this is because I have so many supplies-bought on sale or second hand of course-I’m sometimes at a loss as to what to make with them.  I made the project I bought them for originally, then they sort of sit there staring at me.  These tutorials are fun and (usually) quite simple to do.  You learn new techniques and use up what you have in your stash-how much better does it get?



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.

Weekly Techniques Challenge: Week 27

Each week we are focusing on an art technique.  For week 7 we had the challenge of making a value scale.  If you had already made one of those, the other option was to make an Edgar Degas inspired pastel art piece.  Our techniques challenge for this week is further exploring the versatile medium.

pastels from an earlier post-getting to know your supplies.

We’re going to begin with a simple image: a pear.  You can find an image of a pear at the site Paint My Photo.  This is where photographers upload their pictures and artists can use them copyright free.  This site is a valuable, and free, resource you should take advantage of.

Now that you have your image, begin by lightly sketching it in with your pastels.  (Use pastel paper or give a sheet of watercolor paper a thin coat or two of clear gesso.  This will provide the necessary tooth for pastel art.). Soft pastels will fill the tooth of your paper, so I would use those last for finishing your painting.  You can blend your colors by use of a blending stump, crumpled tissue or paper towel, your fingers, cotton swabs or sponge tools.

Another technique is called scrambling.  This is laying color over top of other colors.  For example, once you’ve blended your pear, you can add more color over top in layers.  Adding yellows over blues will give you a green look.  Add browns and yellows for a golden look to your pear.

Scrumbling can be done by using small circular motions, lightly adding your colors to your work.  Feathering is similar, only you use a hatching/cross hatching pattern rather than circular motions.  Either of these techniques will give your painting depth and interest.

Hard pastels are used first to prevent filling the tooth of the paper.  Once the tooth is full you can’t add more pastel, it won’t adhere.  This is why you wait until the last step in your painting to add the very soft pastels.  These are perfect for your highlights and shadows.  The beautiful creaminess of the soft pastels are delightful to work with.  Your finished painting will be detailed and rich, with several layers of color.

Once you’ve finished your painting, either store it in a glassine bag or mat the painting and put into a frame with glass.  You add the mat to create a space between the picture and the glass to prevent moisture or dust from reaching it.  If you choose to seal your painting, use the cheapest hairspray you can find.  This has no extra additives which can damage your art.  Also be aware, you will have color shift if you seal your pastel paintings.  No matter what type of sealer you use.

And, as always, hang art out of direct sunlight.  This goes for all art work.