I’m back with another day of Watercolor Intermediate techniques for card makers class offered by Online Card Classes. The pre-class assignments are all geared to get to know your watercolor mediums. I’ve decided to focus on tube paints, just because it makes me feel more like an artist ;). But this could work for markers, watercolor pencils, ink pads and other water soluble mediums.
Last time I showed you color swatches. This time I am using just the primary colors (all I own of a “pro” quality paint) to create color wheels and what is called a glazing chart (a new concept for me!). I’ve used Winsor & Newton Professional line of paints. I have a set of “cheap” paints but bought primaries of these professional paints just to see what the difference is. All the samples in this post are used just with these paints.
Sorry about photo quality but I’ve decided that documenting the process is more important than perfection of presentation! And now you can see what I’ve managed to do with them.
Here is my color wheel using Strathmore paper (left) and Arches (right). I like how the paint floats on the Strathmore but once it dries, I’m not happy with the blotchy results. The Arches just sucks up water so I feel the need to use less pigment in order to save money. But perhaps creating art is not about saving money. Hmm.
Well, the next couple of pictures shows the difference between my pigment use. Both are on Arches paper. I’ve decided to save the Strathmore for simple projects only. The first is the heavy pigment, which felt “right” when I was mixing but in the end came out way darker than what I really wanted. The second photo used a more dilute solution. Honestly it seemed so watery when I was mixing it. But when it dried, the results were soft and lovely. I guess less really is more.
So if you are experimenting with watercolors, really do try different papers and different concentrations of color to see what is good for you.
I will be starting the Intermediate Watercolor class for card makers over at Online Card Classes here in a few days. As part of that class I have purchased some new papers, a few new paints and have been experimenting. So far the type of paper has made a huge impact on my results. I have a 12 tube set of “cheap” watercolors and 3 primary colors in a professional grade watercolor. I did some color swatching and the paper seemed to matter more than the paint at this point.
Here I have 3 papers. The bottom being Arches hot press, which I haven’t played with yet. The middle is Strathmore 300 series cold press (a student grade paper) and the topmost is Arches cold press 140lb. The color of the papers are different as you can see. But what you can’t see is that the textures are quite different as well. The Arches has a finer tooth, with almost a sandpapery feel. I honestly don’t like the way it feels. But as you can see from the color swatches in the next photo, the paper behaves how you would expect a watercolor paper to behave. The Strathmore paper ended up very blotchy for nearly all of my color swatches. I just showed a few of the worst samples below.
In each of the samples the Strathmore is on the right and the Arches on the left. Notice how solid and smooth the color is on the Arches and how blotchy it is on the Strathmore. I’ve heard the term granulating in the watercolor world recently and I thought this splotchiness was what they meant. Now I know it is the paper that is doing that and not the paint! (All of these colors are from my cheap set of paints.)
I think why this is happening is that the Strathmore is a less absorbent paper. The water would float on top of the paper and swirl around as I was using it. The Arches just sucks water and color into the paper. It was a little disconcerting since I was used the the Strathmore and the very fluidness that I’ve come to associate with watercoloring. The Arches, I had to mix up large pools of color and keep reloading my brush to get good coverage. I feel like I’m using way more paint on the Arches, which means more money. But for prettier results, I guess that is the price you pay!
I’ll be back tomorrow with some more progress on my watercolor explorations, so stay tuned.
Also known as using leftover paint.
I add color mediums to waterproof surfaces often to allow me to pick up the color easily with paintbrushes. There is always color leftover when I’m done using it. So I spray extra water over the color and basically mop it up with a scrap of watercolor paper. I learned this a while ago from someone. And I’m glad I did. The results are always different and unique. I save these pieces to create other items out of, like punched or die-cut shapes. Often my scraps are small. But this time I found a couple of pieces large enough to be card front layers for some birthday party invitations I made. They gave a perfect dreamy background to go with the floating balloon card.
Make sure you use every last bit of color
Watercolor, watercolor, watercolor. I think I am obsessed.
My husband likes lighthouses, so instead of buying him a Christmas gift, I made one instead. I wanted to play with a freehand drawing, which quite honestly scares me. I don’t consider myself a “fine” artist, meaning I can’t do representational drawing very well. I’ve done a little practicing here and there with different things but I still have a long way to go. And you know what. That is okay. Everyone starts somewhere. Here I am at 41 starting something new. You can too!
I used a pencil to sketch out the drawing first. Erasers are your friend, let me tell you. I used markers to go over the pencil once I was happy with the composition. Double ended markers made this job easier. I used the broad tip for larger areas like the rocks, and the fine tip for details like the roof tiles, railing and grass. The fine tip left enough detail to give the hint of structure without leaving harsh lines. Once the color is in place, use a wet brush to pull and move the color. Don’t work two different colors near each other while they are still wet as this will cause colors to bleed into each other. Luckily, this simple marker technique drys fairly quickly and you can just move around the piece working here and there.
I wasn’t sure how to achieve a nighttime sky for the lighthouse so I skipped it and went with daytime. That presented another challenge. Blue for the ocean and blue for the sky. I just played with the markers I had and made a decision. I was happy with the cool blue ocean water (I did touch in a hint of violet also for some depth on the crests of the waves). The warmer more vibrant blue of the sky I think is too much of a mismatch in tone. But it is what it is and I learned plenty.
If you want to learn more about watercoloring (aimed at card makers) I highly recommend the Online Card Classes website. They have 2 self-paced workshops (for card makers and exploring mediums) on their site as well as an upcoming intermediate watercoloring class beginning at the end of January. I’ve taken the first two and will be in class for the third. Maybe I will see you there.
Remember when I posted my teacher thanks cards? As a reminder here is what I did.
This card was a challenge entry but it was also intended for my middle kid to give to her teacher. Only problem? She wanted 5 exactly like them to give to all her teachers. I didn’t have 5 more apple wood pieces or more leaves or more…
What to do? Adapt the idea to something duplicatable (and this original card gets saved for another time). Here is how we made cards in bulk.
We kept the circle atop a green vertical strip. But we scaled our card to fit a single circle with the die cut leaves (Tim Holtz tattered leaves) and apple stamp (older Stampi’ Up image). Ink was added to the cork leaves to add some color and dimension. Simple adaptations to satisfy a little perfectionist tendency!
Go thank the teachers in your life!
Last year I started sending in card donations to the Caring Hearts Card Drive. This event is put on in part by Jennifer McGuire. She and some other lovely ladies collect holiday cards and organize their distribution to nursing homes in the U.S., Canada and Australia. These cards are used to bring cheer to the elderly in nursing homes who don’t have any family to visit for the holidays. I can’t imagine being so lonely and my heart aches. I’m glad that I can do just a little bit of something for someone else. I know when my kids are grown I will spend more time volunteering in person, but for now this is what I (and the kids!) can do.
My students from the card making class I teach helped out with this project too. Together we made 22 cards to send in. Take a look at the lovelies that I just put in the box.
I used the wonderful Lawn Fawn Winter Fox stamp set. This is one of their small format (read affordable!) stamp sets and it is so friggin’ cute. I went with a watercolor technique for this. I inked up the stamp using markers of various colors and with a water brush I started softening the outline and pulling the color into the image. I scribbled a bit of extra ink onto a plastic sheet and picked up that extra color with my brush when needed. I used that extra color to add dimension to her nose, inside her left ear and under her chin. I also added more color to the rim of the coffee mug to make it pop a bit more. I got it a little too wet and my brown coffee color bled a little. But oh well. That is life with watercoloring. Notice the white around her mouth and each eye, next to her scarf and in between her legs? That white space actually adds dimension and makes the image less flat looking. When going with watercolor, less can sometimes be more. And just to show you what I mean, here is the original cutie.
See how one dimensional it is by itself. But adding water color is like magic! Plus adding some sparkle. That is like magic too. Did you notice in the last photo there is just a hint of sparkle in the steam? I used a Wink of Stella clear glitter brush pen to add that little touch. It is hard to photograph but in person is is just a little detail that adds so much fun.
And now for a serious message…
I encourage you to make some crafty goodness to brighten someone else’s day. You don’t have to donate here, but some ideas include: your local nursing homes, Meals on Wheels program, senior center, homeless programs, Ronald McDonald House (they provide cards to families while children are in the hospital), Boys and Girls club and many more. Take a look around and see where some happy mail can make a little difference in someone’s life. Cards are certainly great, but go one step further. Cards don’t fund these programs to provide all the help these folks need. When you drop off some craftiness also consider making a cash donation. Even just $5. These programs can’t do all they do without good old fashioned money.
I hope you all are surrounded by love and family, warmth and safety as the holidays approach!
Perhaps you have heard of Jennifer McGuire. She is a crafter who is very active on YouTube and on her blog. She is a very sweet and generous crafter. In order to encourage us to use our own crafty generosity, she is hosting a project called Share Handmade Kindness. Each week of November Jennifer will provide a challenge to share something homemade/handmade with people in our lives. And of course she is offering prizes! I would play along even if there were no prizes because I love to craft, I love to share and I love to send a little joy off the others. Perfect.
For this first week she challenged us toShare Handmade Kindness with “friends and family.” Easy, easy. I’ve got birthday cards that needed mailed out, so those are off on their way now. I also sent the flower/hello card that I made last week off to a friend who I haven’t been seeing very much anymore.
Here is a photo of the three items I sent in the mail today.
I’ve been very into watercoloring. (Who hasn’t?) My favorite way to use watercolors is with a wet on wet technique. See those HB letters on the birthday card? First I used clean clear water to draw the letters on watercolor paper. Then using a brush dipped in liquid ink I touch my brush to the bottom of each of the letter and let the color flow naturally onto the wetted paper. With a different color on top, the water naturally allows the colors to blend in the middle. You never know what you are going to get exactly but it is fun. And the tension of the water molecules holds everything into the shape you originally drew, in this case the letters HB so the colors don’t just bleed all over your project. So lovely.
I hope you can give this watercolor technique a try and also send some handmade kindness. If I win any of the prizes I will be sharing them with a card making class I teach at my kids’ school. Just more ways to share!