‘Tis the Season . . .(To Create!)

“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning… Every day I find something creative to do with my life.”

Miles Davis

It has been a wonderfully creative week for me. I must say – even though I love what I do and the people that I make things for, I am having an absolute ball doing what I like and exploring all the wonderful different types of supplies that I have accumulated. I could get used to this lifestyle. (If only I didn’t have to eat! πŸ˜‰ )

Not only have I taken time to do some artistic things, but I also have taken the time to work on some things here in the house and just – well – relax. I did a little cooking and some extra deep cleaning and spent some additional time with my sweetie. After all – that is what ‘vacations’ are all about. I haven’t looked much at the clock or worried about schedules, either. It has been a fun and relaxing time for me. The best part about it is that I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever. I have worked hard these past 11 months and I think I earned this time. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant or entitled. But I work pretty much every single day in one way or another for my business.

Without being able to take a breath and step away for a little bit, I am afraid that even though I love my job, I would burn out. I have seen it happen to many others around me and I don’t want to follow suit. Just taking a day or two on the weekend doesn’t really cut it, as I still answer lots of emails and spend most of the time catching up on the housework and cooking. By the time I am finished getting everything back in order, it is usually sometime Sunday night and I have to think about the week ahead. Many times I am too tired to start something and then I get very little accomplished in the way of my own artwork. So this time away is not only precious to me but necessary.

With that said, I will get on with things and show you the fun range of things that I worked on this past week. It felt so good to dust off so many of those beautiful supplies! Some have barely been touched. Not only did I use a variety of them, but I learned a great deal as well. While most of these projects were lessons from online classes and teachers, I feel that we need to walk before we can run.

For myself, it is easier to cut my teeth on a project that is laid out before me, even if I deviate from the instructions, rather than head blindly into something without being at least basically familiar with the materials that I am using. Every one of them has different traits and characteristics and behaves differently from the other. While some of these differences are slight, others are more profound and to me, it is like learning a different language. Knowing the abilities as well as the limitation of each type of art supply really makes a difference between being successful or not with what you create. I don’t want to have to think about what to create as well as how to use them right at the beginning. Creating my own designs will come next – after I am more familiar with each of them. That is what keeps things fun and relaxing for me. It makes each project fun and exciting. It is fun to fantasize how I would use these materials on my own designs as I am learning with them. It really gets me thinking and I can’t wait to try. I think it is part of the learning process.

So over the past week, here is what I accomplished:

I used watercolors, watercolor pencils, ink pencils, India Ink, and Water Soluble Graphite for these fun projects. You can see they follow an array of styles and techniques. they were all fun though and as I said – I learned something from each one.

I’ll begin with the Stained-Glass Holly cards that I made from Lindsay Weirich’s Hand-Painted Holiday Class. (You can find all Lindsay’s classes on her Teachable Site here: https://lindsayweirich.teachable.com/

I had shown the card in front last week, as I did it in traditional watercolors on watercolor paper. I loved this design and took my time manipulating the watercolor around to look more like stained glass. I then decided to make a second card, but this time using my Derwent Inktense pencils.

I have a beautiful set of all 72 Inktense pencils, as well as the set of 72 blocks which come in the same colors, and are pure sticks of color. For this project, I decided to use the pencils.

The Inktense Pencils are water-soluble pencils. You draw with them and then use clear water to ‘activate’ the colors. This really gives you a lot of control over where you want the color to be laid down and how much. You can layer colors and blend them for endless shading and color possibilities, too. They are very strongly pigmented and I find that many of the projects that I have seen made using them tend to come out a bit dark. This may be because unlike regular watercolor pencils, the Inktense pencils turn to permanent ink, meaning once you activate it on your paper, it is permanent. It will not lift or move like watercolor pencils will.

There are plusses and minuses about these, I feel. I think it depends on what you are working on and your process. I think on the ‘plus’ side, they are great for laying down a base and painting over it. Because of their permanence, you can apply the base, let it dry, and know that you can put additional layers over them without fear of things turning to mud. However, I feel that it is best to start off light and build your darker layers on top, as the colors are a bit more opaque than watercolors – probably due to their high pigment load. Once you get dark, it is difficult, if not impossible to lighten it up. You can, however, use something like opaque gouache over the base for a lighter effect. This could really look awesome.

In any case, they are a fun medium and my goal was to achieve softer colors with them. I think they did pretty well, as I was sure to have a very light hand. (I am a ‘light’ painter, anyway.) I also glazed over the individual panes of glass with a transparent, metallic watercolor paint. That really made it look like glass. The caning in between the panes was done using my Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink, as I used for the previous card. It came out nice, I thought.

Lindsay has so many wonderful classes and techniques on her site. I can’t wait to do more.

My next set of projects was a set of fun little mice (and a kitty) postcards that I painted using my Stampendous Rubber stamps as a pattern.

I had purchased the cute stamps from Deb Antonick a few months ago and have been wanting to do something fun with them. Deb is a distributor of Stampendous Stamps and has a huge variety on her website (https://paintingwithdeb.ca/ ) as well as her own original painting patterns and some lovely supplies.

I had this set of nice little postcards from Paul Rubens that I thought would work well with this project:

While Paul Rubens is not the most expensive brand, I do find most of their paint and papers to be a really good grade of materials at reasonable prices. The paper is smooth and I am assuming about 90lb hot pressed.

I stamped the designs and then enlarged them a bit to fill the cards a little better. For these, I decided to use my Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils.

These are probably the best watercolor pencils on the market in my opinion. They reconstitute instantly and have a high pigment load for absolutely beautiful, intense colors that can easily be softened and blended with water. They are lightfast, too, which means the lovely colors won’t fade over time. Because they are pencils, they are also very ‘controllable’ and easy to apply.

I have the full set and I absolutely love them. While coloring the little stamps was a little fussy, I had a nice Netflix series on in the background and just colored away. The cards really came out adorable!

Talk about an easy, no-stress project!

I think just about anyone can do cute little paintings like this so easily! I used my Faber Castell Pitt markers that have shellac in them so they are completely waterproof for the linework. I think I may add a wash of iridescent ink on the snow banks or spatter some on for some sparkly snow. That would make them really shine!

For the next two projects, I really had to feel brave.

About two years ago, (YES! TWO YEARS!) I got a lovely pad of Arches watercolor paper:

Many believe that Arches makes one of the best papers on the market. They have been making paper for a couple hundred years. (Since 1492!)

To say it is a lovely paper is an understatement to be sure.

I really have only started playing with watercolors for a couple of years. In the beginning, I went to the dollar store and got some paper to ‘practice’ on. What a disaster that turned out to be! I painted what would have been a decent raven, but as I tried to layer and blend it, the paper began to disintegrate and pill. I can’t tell you all how discouraged I was!

I began collecting both “good” and “excellent” paper, and for the most part, the watercolor pictures you have seen me create have been on the “good” stuff, like Bee brand and Paul Rubens, and even Canson. I felt that until I got a bit better, I didn’t want to ‘waste’ my excellent paper. I have since collected many blocks of paper which were mostly good and a couple excellent ones. (I also have a lovely Fabriano pad of paper.)

This week, Maria Raczynska, whom I follow on Patreon, had a beautiful lesson for us to try. You have seen me paint Maria’s designs before, and I love her teaching and style. (Her Patreon is here: https://www.patreon.com/mariamorjane/overview She also has lots of free lessons on her YouTube channel.

One thing about her style is that she often paints ‘wet on wet’ meaning you have to really wet down the paper in order to move the paint properly. This is where having a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ paper really makes a huge difference. The painting was so lovely that I decided to break out my Arches paper and try it on that. I would need an excellent paper if I had any chance of being successful with the project.

I cut one of the large pieces in half to make about an 8″ x 10″ painting and I painted along with her class using Water Soluble Graphite to create this fun Flamingo.

Maria had used liquid charcoal to create hers, but I figured that since I had the cake of graphite, I would use that instead, as it was just as it said – water activated and had the ability to be layered just like watercolor and the liquid charcoal. Here is the brand I used:

As you can see, I barely used any, as the photo was taken AFTER I painted the picture. I was worried that I wouldn’t get dark enough shading with it, but I had some Faber-Castell water-soluble graphite pencils that were quite black if I needed to punch things up. But I didn’t use them, as I was able to layer this quite nicely and the values are quite what I wanted.

The paper made a HUGE difference. My only problem with it is now that I have tried “the Best”, I won’t want to go back to anything lesser quality. (sigh!) It made things so much easier and more fun to work with.

I may try this painting again, only using a very pale wash of Bombay India Ink underneath the graphite to give just a blush of color. I think that may work well and it will be fun to experiment to see how it would come out.

Later in the week, I saw yet another online class pop up on my YouTube feed that I knew I wanted to try.

This was a class by a painter named Karen Rice, whom I never followed before. I used the other half of my Arches paper and took the day to paint. It was a style I am not used to doing and I had no clue as to what the outcome would be, but I was pretty happy with it:

This was from a reference photo on Pixabay. You can see the 20-minute class here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbFRlZMvxb4&t=1s

It was really fun to try something new and again – I think the paper made a lovely difference. I have several photos from Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash that I would like to try and paint something on my own. After following along with Karen, I found it was quite easy to use artistic license to make a painting from a photograph. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It is something worth exploring.

And finally (PHEW!) I spent a day catching up on my Advent Calendar that I showed you all last week. I was several days behind and spent a day catching up to where I should be.

This series is by de Winton Paper Company and can be found on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLc91tlwoZD6i_4RXKtCH0Q

Unlike the Snowy Christmas painting above, this is far more exacting and delicate. I used my tiny Silver Ultra Mini brushes to paint all the little details using my Steve Mitchell M. Graham watercolor set. I have been using that set a lot and mixing the 10 colors to make just about any color under the sun. I know lots of my acrylic painting friends don’t enjoy mixing colors, but I just love it, as it is far easier than pulling tube after tube of paint. I realize that acrylics are a different animal completely, but the convenience of mixing our own shades and colors really makes me wonder why I hadn’t done so all these years.

Well – that is about it for this week. I have a lot of other projects in my sites that I want to play around with this week, in between my final preparations for Christmas.

I made a promise to myself that I would forge through that cabinet of beautiful supplies and I have, indeed, been doing just that. I feel as if I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface yet, and as I learn more about each medium, I also am thinking of ways to use them both alone and in tandem with others to make some fun and unique paintings.

Thanks for reading if you are still with me. I hope you enjoy seeing all I have been up to. I want to wish you all a very happy holiday and a Merry Christmas to those who celebrate. I hope to write again next week after the holiday.

Until then, take care and have fun!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Vera says:

    Wowsers! You have been busy having fun! I just love all the projects!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It is too fun. I need to start playing the lottery. LOL! πŸ˜€


  2. Robin says:

    I love hearing about your supplies and how you use them. It has been a long time since I played with different mediums.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love my beautiful supplies. I like sharing the differences about them because so many may think a ‘pencil is a pencil’ etc. and it is fun to know what each particular type does. This has been such a fun time! I have more planned, too. πŸ˜‰ Stay tuned . . .


  3. Sheila, you have done some awesome creations! My favourite is the winter scene with the little ones in red capes. Beautiful! It’s been on my mind to paint my Christmas cards for next year and you have inspired me to get going on that right after Christmas of this year. Enjoy your creating time just for yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! I would LOVE to see them and see what you make. Lindsay has so many more that I want to paint. But they will get done – maybe for next year. The little mice are darling and I am not sure what I will be doing with them. But they are fun and that is what counts – right??

      I have been trying to remember to be on Instagram more often. I always see your beautiful pictures when I go there and think I need to check it more often. I don’t have a cell phone, so I just check from my desktop

      I hope you and Jim have a wonderful, Merry Christmas. Thank you so much for your friendship and for your support here. I so appreciate it (((HUGS)))


  4. Great stuff! you’ve been very creative.


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