Category Archives: Creating

Fast Tips for Crisp Stencil Edges

I just got a great question via email and having sent the answer off, thought you might like to hear it too.
 
The question was about how to get crisp edges when using stencils and did I have any tips?
 
My Answer:
I’ll make an assumption that you’re having a problem with the edges when you use paint with a stencil – that’s the most common medium that causes problems. My experience has been there are two things that may be at fault: the application tool being too wet and the stencil moving around.
 
First, the application tool. Paint is inherently wet and stenciling is an inherently dry art form – thus the smudgy edges. I’ve found that using a sponge applicator (either a cosmetic wedge or special purpose sponge brush) is a better way to apply paint. Brushes are difficult to get dry enough and often “push” the paint under the stencil edges.
The trick with using a sponge is to dip it into the paint and then dab most of it right back off until the sponge is barely damp with paint. Then gently tap it onto the area straight up and down. Of course, it may take more than one coat to get the color build-up you want, but the edges will be crisp and, personally, I like the look of the differences in coverage – it gives the work a more lively quality.
 
Second, the stencil itself. If the stencil moves while you’re painting, the edges will smear. If you’re working on a project that allows, go ahead and tape the edges of the stencil down with low-tack blue tape. That will keep everything in place for the duration of the project.
But, if you’re like me and move that stencil around to get different angles, that won’t work. In that case, I hold the working area down firmly with one hand (up close to where I’m working) and apply paint with the other. One other tip with this is to gently twist your wrist as you lift the sponge so it doesn’t pull the stencil up with it. It takes a few times of practicing but it really does keep that stencil down so the edges stay secure. Finally, be sure to wait long enough before picking the stencil back up – it shouldn’t be long at all if the application was dry enough.
Now, this is just my experience and your results may vary – do you have something that’s worked for you?
Try out your stencil technique with this Paper Lantern Stencil in the shop!

What’s New: My Big Kid Doodle Book – A Doodle Coloring Book – Coming Soon

Colored_0002

Isn’t this a something? It’s a colored doodle!

It’s a sample from one of the book projects that’s been on my worktable lately. One of the things I do for folks is work with authors as a sort of muse/editor/wrangler to help them get their books written and published.

This particular book is a coloring book for grownups so there wasn’t so much writing and editing as wrangling, but it’s the same creative process: idea, refine and organize, create and write, edit, refine some more, set it free in the world. That’s simplified but it’s the gist of it.

Sample Doodle_0001Small
This coloring book features the artwork of the lovely and talented Carolyn Medlin Hawkins who has been drawing these doodles for years – only in black and white; she never colors them in. Now that grownups have gotten wise to the happiness that coloring can bring, it was time for her work to have a larger audience. So, she bravely stepped forward to publish her first coloring book.

Colored_0004
I’m admittedly biased (I love all my authors and think they’re brilliant) but her designs are wonderfully organic. What I like most about her book is that each one is hand-drawn art and shows the mark of a human hand. Having colored a few myself (I did the coloring for the samples here and in the book),  they’re much more interesting and enjoyable; it’s really a way of knowing the artist a little better.

SmallDoodle Front
The book, it’s called My Big Kid Doodle Book, should be making its debut on Amazon this month – look for an update and other news on that very soon!

What’s New: Art Inspired by a Vintage Seed Catalog

 

Vintage Seed Catalog Tag Sheet EMU2

I have a definite soft spot for historic works and have spent a fair amount of time rummaging through the digital attic for books and images from the time spanning roughly the 1840’s to the early 1900’s. So many of these books have wonderful artwork and information from a different time and lifestyle that I find fascinating as well as inspiring.  I really love incorporating that look and feel into some of my current work – like this a colorful digital collection inspired by an 1899 seed catalog.

About the Collection

I ran across this Plant Seed Company Seed Catalog from 1899 and loved the colors in the cover (you can have it as ready to frame art from the print shop) as well as the detailed drawings of vegetables and flowers.

Sample2

 

With no photographs, the drawings had to sell the seeds! One thing that struck me about the vegetables was how many different kinds were on offer; so many things we don’t see in supermarkets now – like Salsify, Dandelion (as a vegetable not a flower) and Martynia (which is also known as “devil’s claw.”)

 

Sample

 

The flower section was similar to current catalogs: the newest and most tantalizing cultivars up front with the old favorites like sunflowers and pansies filling out the rest.

 

It was telling how much more important food crops were at the time because the catalog was mostly devoted to food and animal feed crops with the flower seeds having much less space.

I love seeing these vintage publications and how everyday life was both different and yet similar. Next, I’m thinking about a millinery book from the early 1900’s to bring back to life as a newly published complete book. There are also books in development/editing from two other authors in very different genres – look for updates on those soon!

Thanks so much for your encouragement and support. As always, I’d love to hear from you so drop me line with your thoughts and comments.

Cheers!
Monette

Tutorial: Mixed Media Collage Using Digital Printable Tags, Specialty Paint Technique and Embellishments

1Front Cover

I’ve been working with paint and paper and other stuff all together (the fancy term for that is “Mixed Media”) to make a Collage Journal Cover and wanted to share what I came up with. You can download the 7-page PDF tutorial for full instructions with pictures on my other site, DigitalPapercrafts.com.

A Project to Get Moving

I’ve been unwell lately and making things always seems to help. A kind friend gave me this little roughly 5 x 7 notebook from the dollar store. It was just the nudge to get me started!

While you’ll find more information in the tutorial, the gist of it is that I removed the covers from the notebook and painted them (both sides) with a metallic bronze acrylic craft paint. Then using the Steampunk Time Passing set of four tags, I glued two on each cover.

Steampunk Time Tags EMU1

Fun With Paint

The next step was the fun part: crackle painting! Instead of commercial crackle medium, I used plain white glue as the medium and then over-coated that with cream acrylic paint.

Finishing Up and Moving On

Next came embellishments and final touches. Last, I sealed the whole thing with spray sealer and put it back together. It was a fun project – not too involved but very satisfying. The perfect thing to get moving again!

Feel free to share this tutorial with anyone you think will like it, but please don’t use it commercially or claim ownership of it. If you liked this and found it helpful, I’d love to hear from you and learn about your project.

Artistic Style – Do I Have One and What is It?

Style 1 Loose, delicate, light, and mostly empty

 

Recently, someone asked me a question about artistic style: do I have a style, how to develop it and what do I call my style? Perhaps you’d like to listen in on the answer.

 Do I Have an Artistic Style?

Style 2 Complex, colorful, filled, and textured

All artists have a distinct style. The analogy often used is it’s like handwriting for art. And, much

like handwriting, it takes some time after learning the basics for your style to emerge. During the time you’re learning the crafts of drawing and

painting and understanding how to handle the materials and mediums, it may seem like you have no style at all or you jump around from one thing to another.

 How do I Develop my Art Style?

The only way to develop your individual style is by making your art – repeatedly. Your individual style will start to develop as you gain confidence and experience with each part of the process of making art. It’ll start to show in how you make your marks on the paper in preliminary drawings, the paper you choose to work on, the medium you prefer and how you apply it to the surface and every other element of the finished art. It’s the sum of all these individual choices that add up to an artist’s style.

What do I Call my Style?

I think a large part of the problem for artists trying to define their style comes from trying to pin it down with a label.  The more common descriptions, like cubism, expressionism, pop art or surrealism, are broad terms and a type of art shorthand for classifying works. While they’re helpful for broadly classifying a work and make a point of common departure to talk about a work, I think they can be restrictive and intimidating as well as corralling work into premade boxes. I like to think of artistic style in more descriptive terms * then categorize it if necessary.

 What’s Your Style?

Individual artistic style marks a work as belonging to a particular artist and is more of a way of working and handling the materials than a label. Do you have a style? How would you describe it without using a standard classification?

 

*Descriptive Terms

Like loose vs. tight, realistic vs. unrealistic, colorful vs. monochrome, soft vs. hard, rounded vs. angular, and so on. Here are some pairs to get you started:

Filled / Empty

Simple / Complex

Beauty / Ugly

Whole / Broken

Stability / Movement

Organized / Chaotic

Mechanical / Hand-Drawn

Large / Small

Grayscale / Color

Light / Dark

Fine / Coarse

Smooth / Rough

Sharp / Dull

Light / Heavy

Stable / Unstable