Journal52 Prompt Week 15: Cards #Journal52 #ArtJournal #StillmanAndBirn

I decided to try an experiment this week, and while I don’t love the way it turned out, it’s okay, and has given me some ideas for other projects.

I had a page with splashes of paint from another project, so I used a Montana Marker with Shock Dark Blue paint to cover it up.  Then I used Derwent Metallic Water-soluble colored pencils to draw my cards.


Colored pencil can be a good choice to color on a dark background.  Not all of them are equal in this respect.  Some brands are better than others, and some colors are better.  Lighter colors such as white, yellow, pink, light blue, etc. are the best choice.  I knew from experience that these metallic pencils did a decent job if I didn’t use water on them.

Metallic colors tend to appear differently according to the light, and I found that overall, the drawing was too dark.  I wasn’t quite happy with this, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

Water-soluble means that pigment–in this case the color left on the page from the pencil lead–will soften and spread, usually changing color somewhat and reflecting the light differently.  I knew that the colors would become too dark for the background if I used water, but ‘water-soluble’ pigments will change with almost any liquid, not just water.

I wondered what would happen if I used white acrylic paint to blend the colors.  I knew that it would lighten the colors, and I suspected it would create some texture, because the color wouldn’t blend as smoothly with the more tacky acrylic paint.

In the interests of scientific and artistic experimentation, I decided to try it.  I chose Zinc White rather than Titanium White, because Zinc is more transparent and I felt it would tint rather than just cover over the colors.  I used Golden’s Fluid acrylic because it’s easier to control how thick the application is, and I wanted it to be very thin.


As I suspected, rather than getting a layer of white, I got layers of lighter tints–pink, light teal, etc.  Because the paint was applied so thinly, it dried almost immediately.  I could have laid down a smoother layer, but deliberately brushed the paint while it was tacky.  This added to the texture, leaving streaks so that I got sort of a painted wood effect.

I used my J. Herbin brush tip Creapen to add the linework patterns in the background.


Uniformity Too #StillmanAndBirn #Sakura #Zentangle

On Monday, I posted one of my drawings and how I used the idea of a uniform to determine what elements I would add, and the patterns I would use.

Today’s drawing is done using the same method for choosing patterns and deciding what I would include in my drawing.  Yet the two drawings couldn’t be more different.

I started with a base of Shock Dark Blue acrylic paint, which wasn’t as good of a choice as my Shock Orange from the other painting (applied with Montana Acrylic Paint markers).  Black ink does show up, but grays out and become indistinct.  To make up for this, I decided to use two colors of Sakura’s Moonlight Gelly Roll pens–Fluorescent Yellow and Fluorescent Vermilion.  My white Gelly Roll pen was out of ink (oh no!), so I used Zinc White acrylic paint applied with a 1/4 inch flat brush.

There is a black splotch on this.  I don’t know what that is. It’s a mysterious thing that appeared in the night and won’t go away.

As with my orange uniform–I’m not drawing a uniform.  But I’m using the elements of a uniform, buttons, pockets, ribbons, fabric weave, and seams to give me aid in deciding what to put into my non-objective/abstract drawing.  Because I’m not drawing a uniform, I put these elements where-ever I want, heedless, of where they’d actually be on the real item.

I started with the neckcloth and collar, less fancy and brocaded this time.

I decided to put buttons in two places this time, but I did use a similar pattern.

My pocket actually turned to look more like a window, but that’s okay.

My ribbon ended up more like a kerchief, but that’s fitting because this is a very informal kind of uniform…

…with zigzag seams…

… and a blend of plaid, checks and piping for fabric.

All very uniform.


Wednesday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways is published 

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Cloth, Paper, Scissors Giveaway-enter to win free art supplies

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Signed copy of “Creative Scarves” and $100 gift card for Dharma Trading


Uniformity #StillmanAndBirn #Sakura #Zentangle

Aha! I bet I fooled you.

Did you think this post would be about ways to draw something so you’d get uniform results?  Or did you know me well enough to know that is so…not…me.

In fact, I thought this drawing would be a good one to show you exactly the opposite. Well, obliquely the opposite.  This post isn’t about the techniques I used to draw of color, but the method I used to make decisions about what to draw.

Sometimes, it’s hard to get going, or decide what to put down next.  I did this one day when I was a bit flustered over remodeling problems, and just sort of blank-minded.  I’ve often mentioned that I usually start drawing and then decide what I’m going to do.  That happened here, and for once, in a way that I can easily share.  If you’re interested, read on below.

This drawing was done in a Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook.  I started with a base of Shock Orange Montana marker acrylic paint, drew the line work with a J. Herbin brush pen, and add the highlights with a Sakura Moonlight yellow gellyroll pen.  The orange was a good choice, because it is light enough that linework shows up easily, but dark enough that highlights really stand out.

So starting with the orange paint already dry, I added some lines at the top, which made me think of fabric, and since I was at the top I thought of hanging fabric, like curtains, and I started lacy type patterns.

But I didn’t really want to do curtains.  For some reason, on that day, curtains just seemed like too much effort.  they wouldn’t have been, but that doesn’t matter.  Sometimes, your mood dictates things a certain way, and you have to go with it.

So I looked again and thought the fabric-y lines seemed more like a neckcloth, and those were epaulets at the side.  You know, like part of a uniform that Napoleon might have worn (he would have never worn a uniform like this–but just go with it, lol).  I didn’t want to draw a uniform.  But where curtains are more simple in design, uniforms gave me lots to work with.

Understand–I did NOT want to draw a uniform, I wanted the elements of a uniform to give structure to what I was drawing. And here’s how that works.

Uniforms often have vests or stiff collar points  or chokers..  Never mind that I already had a neck cloth.  I added another neck thingee of some kind with lots of embellishment.  I chose patterns that made me think of lace and stiff brocade.

And uniforms have buttons.  I chose a pattern that made me think of the debossed metallic patterns on buttons.

And seams.  The pattern is self-explanatory, though I could have gone with a zig-zag or chain or lots of other type stitching.

And, of course, I couldn’t forget pockets. Pockets with embellishments…

I realized I was being too literal, placing all these things where they might actually be on a uniform.  I did NOT want to draw a uniform.  So I placed my ribbons down below the pockets.  I decided not to use a pattern for these (even though I hadn’t added the ‘wool’ effect yet).

I had enough things that could be found ON a uniform, so now I decided to focus on WHAT a uniform might be made from–wool and some kind of weave.  Oh, this would be FINE uniform. Just smashing!


My page was pretty much done.  And you know what?  It looked way too much like a uniform, lol.  I decided to add some depth, so I darkened a few areas and shaded it to look like a pathway.

But, if you didn’t see a uniform in the finished drawing, you probably do now, no matter what.

I’m going to do another drawing using the same steps, but I’m going to free myself when it comes to placement of the elements.  Hopefully, I’ll have it to share on Thursday.  I want to show you how you could use this method to help you make decisions and come up with a different drawing every time.



Monday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

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Journal52 2015 Week 14: Sweet Treats #Journal52 #ArtJournal #Zentangle

Ah! A journal prompt that struck a chord!  Week 14’s Journal52 prompt was Sweet Treats, and I immediately had an idea for the way I wanted to go with it.

Rather than focusing on the sweet things themselves, I wanted to explore the patterns, Zentangle®-style, that you might find in Sweet Treats.

I’ve written up a bit about my process and why I chose the mediums I did.  The mediums in question are a J. Herbin brush pen, and Derwent Metallic Water-soluble colored pencils in a Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook.

To start with, I called up photos of ‘Sweets’ on the internet, and looked for the some patterns.  I decided to base my format on a box of chocolates, but I took some of my patterns from cookies and pies.  I didn’t use Zentangle patterns, per se, but most of the patterns I came up with can be found as Zentangle patterns.

For my line work, I use a J. Herbin Brush pen.  My reasons for that choice:

1) Waterproof black ink

2) The variety of line I can get with a brush tip pen

3) The feel of using a brush tip pen

4) The ink in these pens will go over colored pencil

5) I wanted to remind everyone that I’m giving away 4 of these pens this week.  Giveaway ends this Sunday, 4/12 at 11:59 PDT. There is also a full review of the pen.

I thought about leaving the page black & white, but decided I wanted color.  But I wanted soft color, that wouldn’t compete with the linework.  I decided to go with Derwent Metallic Water-soluble colored pencils.

You can see just by looking at the lead in these pencils that the color tones are muted.  As with any metallic colors, you may run into difficulties with value.  In other words, because of the way they reflect light, they will all seem to have the same degree of brightness, giving little sense of contrast even between a dark blue and a light yellow.

When you add water to what you’ve drawn, the colors deepen, darken and blend.  There still isn’t much contrast between the colors themselves, but there is contrast between the dry colored pencil, and the color that has water added.  You can see the difference in the photo below.  The wet areas are darker, have more even coverage, and reflect the light differently.  I only used one color, but got a sense of contrast.

Even the wet colors are still soft and muted though, making the line work the main focus.

One other thing to keep in mind when using ANY colored pencil over pen or paint is that they are waxy and will leave a ‘haze’ over what you are coloring. You see the difference in the photo below?  Some of the black lines seem lighter than others.  All the lines are from the same pen.  But some were colored over and some were not.

You have some options for dealing with this haze.

1) Avoid the lines while coloring with the pencils.  But this can result in unwanted white spots, where you try to avoid touching the lines.

2) Re-ink over the colored pencil to darken the lines.  But this can be a waste of expensive ink.

3) Color with the pencils first, then add the inked in lines.  This is easy enough for area of large fill, but you don’t always know where color will go until you have the lines.

4) Draw the lines lightly with one of the colored pencils, color everything and then ink.  However, not all pens will draw over colored pencil, and wax build up can even ruin your pen.

5) Just leave the haze and don’t worry about it.

Have I frightened you, lol?  It sounds more complicated than it is, but you should take some care when combining pen and colored pencil, so that you don’t ruin your pens.

Because of possible wax build-up, I seldom use method 4.  I often use a combination of the other methods.  There is an advantage to having the haze in some areas.  The lines look lighter, which provides some contrast and makes objects seem more distant, thus increasing a sense of depth.

Usually, with colored pencils, I draw my outlines but wait to fill in the larger areas.

I add the colored pencil avoiding some lines, but covering others where I might want a sense of depth.  I add water if I’m going to do so, and let everything dry.  If my lines are really fine, I just color over them because it’s too complicated to try and avoid them.  Life is compromise, after all!

Depending on the pen I’m using I may darken some areas that were colored over.  I try to keep this to a minimum, even with my J. Herbin pen, in order to keep the wax from building up and clogging the tip.