Archive for the ‘Artist Tips’ Category

Artist Tip: Watercolor pencil drawing for a watercolor painting



If you want the lines of your under drawing to disappear when you make a watercolor painting, draw with a watercolor pencil in a lighter hue that will blend in with the final painting. These orchids were bright orange, yellow and red, so I used a yellow ochre pencil for the drawing. Watercolor purists never erase their graphite pencil lines and leave the drawing as a part of the final work, or they work totally with paints and brushes with no pencil drawing at all. This watercolor pencil drawing trick gives you a solution somewhere between the two traditional methods where the under drawing vanishes and you will not have to rub an eraser over your painting.



How to mount rice paper on a heavier paper

May 15, 2016 2 comments


This short five minute video shows you how to mount an ink brush painting on rice paper onto an artist trading card using an iron and light weight fusible web material from the fabric store.

How to Mail Trading Cards

March 27, 2016 3 comments

This post teaches how to mail and prevent damage for traded sports cards and stickers, artist trading cards and mail art. There are a few basic steps you can take to armor the content of your envelope from dents, tears and water damage. Sorting and cancellation machines, hand delivery and the weather are all factors when you send your trade out into the postal system.

I am using this pile of traded hockey sports stickers as an example. They weigh 1.8 ounces (52 grams) and are all the same size.



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Melted Rainbow

February 6, 2016 2 comments

melted Prang watercolors


My Prang glitter watercolors melted! I never get extreme heat in my apartment; I think this is the work of gravity. I had them stored with the box flipped in its side.

The colors are very transparent so I wonder if they contain glycerin or something else besides glitter, pigment and gum Arabic. Or maybe there is a dye-based colorant in the pans instead of solid pigments.

If you have a set of these paints, best to store them flat and facing up. Now I’m not sure what to do: use the colors, discard the box or frame it.

Categories: Artist Tips, Uncategorized

How to Use Landscape Composition Formulas

July 30, 2015 1 comment

The Artist’s Magazine January/February issue 2015 had an article on landscape composition, but it was these thumbnail sketches that illustrate the concepts which I found to be the most helpful. Reading through a lot of descriptive language is a lot slower for me to do than just seeing an illustration of the concepts. Landscape painting is not really my thing but I have attempted a few canvases. I learned from the article that landscapes can be composites made of elements pulled together rather than a recording of what one may see if they were standing at a particular place in person.

The 14th sketch is really just a viewfinder made of four strings attached to the opening of a mat. It is more of a composition tool than than a composition formula. Maybe there was an editorial push by the magazine for the author of the article to come up with an even number of formulas.

Landscape comps 01

Landscape comps 02

Categories: Artist Tips, Painting

Colored pencils with baby oil, a new example

March 17, 2015 2 comments
ATC Letter Carrier by Shellie Lewis

ATC Letter Carrier by Shellie Lewis

Today, I went to the Art Institute museum and did some caffeinated café sketching. (MMM hazelnut coffee. I rarely drink coffee and it seems really strong!) I decided the revisit the baby oil blending technique for colored pencils with a less cartoony piece of art. The blending works really nice with skin tones. I learned if only a spare amount of baby oil (mineral oil) is used, added colored pencil layers or lines laid over the blended layer do not blur or bleed. I used the same cold press type 130# heavy weight paper and this is an artist trading card size artwork (2.5 x 3.5 inches) the same as the prior blog post with the Manga girl cartoons.

Overall, I am still tremendously enjoying the new technique. I have had little to no problem with the baby oil bleeding through the paper since I used a heavy paper and a very tiny amount of the baby oil. Using cotton swabs and a small, round paintbrush to blend the colors is continuing to work well. I added a new step for control and blot the cotton swab on a paper towel to lower the amount of baby oil on the tip if I feel it may be too wet. Now I’m wondering what other art mediums there are where baby oil works as a solvent…

How to blend colored pencils with baby oil

February 10, 2015 Leave a comment

I have heard about blending colored pencils with baby oil and was skeptical to try it. I have used my share of colorless blending pencils and blending markers in the past. The markers cost a lot and get stained pretty quickly. You always have to wipe the nib on scrap paper to remove colors to go on to blend different areas of color and this burns through your marker quickly. The fabulous surprise was how much better baby oil performs for blending! It is dirt cheap and smells pleasant. I tested the process of many brands of pencils below.

I made sure to buy baby oil that was 100% mineral oil. I got a brand that had the perfume scent since the drug store near me did not have any unscented kinds for sale. Avoid other additives like aloe vera; it is the mineral oil melting the wax content in the colored pencils that makes the process work. Mineral oil is a petrochemical, so I am thinking an organic component like aloe vera would lend itself to mold or decay.


Manga drawing 2 not blended


I did some Manga style cartoon portrait drawings with colored pencils. I will crop these drawings to artist trading card size later. The one above used waterproof inks for the outline: Sakura Pigma Micron pens and a Pentel Manga brush pen. This artwork has Berol Prismacolor, Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Magic, Koh-I-Noor Dry Marker Flourescent, and Rose Art Metallic brands of colored pencils. The Rose Art Metallic set is very bright; the silver looks very good. The paper I used was pretty rough, 130# Nature Sketch; it has a definite tooth similar to a cold pressed variety of watercolor paper or maybe a pastel paper.

Manga 2 blended

BOOM! Here is the blended version. I think it “pops”, the colors look bolder and the art has a nice painterly effect. I used a fine synthetic paint brush and Q-tips dipped in tiny amounts of baby oil. The Q-tip cotton swabs were very nice to rub on the paper and smoothed the color out well. Interestingly, the baby oil makes the color melt down into the paper nicely. All of the blending I had done with the dry pencils was prone to stay in place. The baby oil process felt similar to using very thinned oil paints but not wildly wet like fluid inks or watercolor. The smallest amount of baby oil melts and blends the colored pencil on contact. The control was very nice. I also used a white Sakura Gellyroll pen for the reflections in the eyes, which is a nice trick.

Manga drawing 1


This was my first try with the baby oil process. Most of the above art was Crayola colored pencils, a little Berol Prismacolor was used on the skin tones and the ink was Pentel Manga brush pen. I wish I had learned about this process before now; it was an interesting way to compensate for the white showing through on a toothy paper. Definitely try it out, blending colored pencils with baby oil was fun and really easy.


Manga 3 blended

Adding another drawing 2/13/2015!