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Watercolor an Arbor – Art Impressions


Art Impressions has had a beautiful set of watercolor stamps for a long, long time – some of you have known and loved them, others have been watching me share them on Instagram or teaching them in classes. And others of you – well, you are dying to get started. And I have a plan to hopefully help you get started without getting sidetracked!

Sidetracked? What does that mean? Well after all the AI watercolor classes I’ve taught, I’ve heard a lot of people say they bought a lot of the stamps, but just don’t use them. What?? Stamps not getting love?? That’s so sad! And what I’ve discovered from interviewing students is that they either:

  1. bought stamps that challenged their level of skill, and then they got intimidated, OR
  2. bought too many stamps and couldn’t figure out where to start, OR
  3. bought not enough stamps that don’t make a complete card.

My suggestion: watch my video below, first! And if you’re new to these stamps, I’d suggest starting with one of the small sets AI launched this year. Students in my classes are feeling very successful with them – because the number of stamps is limited (so you’re not overwhelmed) but are cute enough they make really great cards! Some of my favorites – Spring BasketFlowering Mailbox, and Open Window. If you want to add some options for flowers and grasses try the Flower Set or the Foliage Set, but you can do a great job with just the stamp sets alone.

Watercolor an arbor

Today’s project is an intermediate level painting – a watercolored arbor….it’s a beautiful stamp and  lends itself to lots of layouts and using all kinds of flowers and scenery around it! Watch the video below, or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube:

These are some of the large paintings (about 11 inches wide) created at demos….these make lovely gifts, so if you get into creating these watercolors, you can check off your Christmas list! (I did make the mistake of not making them a nice 8×10 size, so you might take ‘standard sizes’ into account to make framing inexpensive!)

Sandy Allnock - Watercolor scene

Sandy Allnock - Watercolor scene2

I haven’t linked to every one of the flowers and containers – though many are in the supply list below in this post.

A word about the watercolor paper used here – it’s Fluid 100, which is really nice paper, but it’s what’s called an “Easy Block.” That means it’s a block – it has adhesive to hold it flat on the pad so you don’t have to tape it down to anything to keep it from curling – but an Easy Block is only adhered on 2 sides. Lots easier to remove from the block than a pad that’s attached on 4 sides!


Below are links to the supplies I’ve used for today’s project; click on the wording to go directly to the item. Affiliate links are used, which means if you make a purchase I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I truly appreciate your support toward the costs of running this blog! Read more.   

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Gumball Shaker Card + 7 tips for Clean Color Pens

I’m back with another card from the new Lawn Fawn release! This one shows off the Zig Clean Color Pens as well – with some tips for those who have been struggling with these new markers.

Gumball Shaker Card

When I saw this stamp set, it just screamed out to be a shaker – with all those happy little smiley gumballs bouncing around in the shaker! For today’s watercolor paper, I used Montval, and painted with THIS brush. Watch the video below or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube.

Tips for Clean Color Pen coloring

I’ve been hearing lots of folks having a rough time with these pens once they arrived in the mail. (That’s why I recommended really just picking up a few first!) Here are a couple tips – more to come as I learn more, too.

  1. After shooting this video and working with the pens more afterward, I thought of a great analogy: Clean Color Pens are to watercolor markers what Inktense Pencils are to watercolor pencils. Lots of intense color that usually moves quickly; a few colors in the Zig line, just like Inktense, “move” better/faster than others. Think of them that way and it might get easier.
  2. When adding water, be careful when coloring areas next to other wet areas. Most of these markers like to run! Anytime you add water, start with less than you think you need. You can always add more later.
  3. To lighten color, re-wet as needed and dab off with a rag or paper towel.
  4. When choosing colors to purchase, I would choose darker shades rather than lighter – you can always lighten by adding more water, but the pale colors will stay pale.
  5. Sometimes it’s tough to soften the line that certain colors create when you color on the paper. I’d mark those colors with some washi tape so you know which ones to save for techniques where you WANT that effect, or ones to try again another day with different paper. (More coming soon on a system I’ll be using to mark my pens. I’m going to use it a while before sharing it to be sure it works the way I want it to.)
  6. It IS possible to blend very different colors – but you may end up with baby poo where they meet. And if those colors really run, you can get poo across the entire image! Try picking analagous colors, those seem to blend the most easily. See the color chart at the right – Analagous colors are adjacent to each other on the color wheel.
  7. The paper you use may have a LOT to do with blending/not blending. Try others – the cheap stuff, the medium or expensive stuff. Try the same color combos and compare them–that’s the only way to figure this out. This is what happens when a new medium comes on the market, we need to test.  See THIS post for more info on watercolor papers.

If you have questions about specific colors in the Clean Color Pen line, leave them in comments. I’m finding I have trouble with different colors than some friends of mine, and I’m curious to know if there are some that are problems overall, and if some might just be my pens. Research! Agh! :0)colors used

The colors used in this video are 025 Pink; 081 Light Violet; 024 Wine Red; 050 Yellow; 031 Cobalt Blue; 041 Light Green; 084 Deep Violet033 Persian Green; 027, Dark Pink.


Sandy Allnock - Gumball Shaker Card


Below are links to the supplies I’ve used for today’s project; click on the picture or wording to go directly to the item. Affiliate links may used, which means if you make a purchase I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I truly appreciate your support toward the costs of running this blog! Read more.

Hope you liked my lil sweet candy gumball shaker card!

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How to mix skintones with Zig Clean Color pens


Have you fallen prey to the Zig craze? These Zig Clean Color pens are unique – and I hope today’s project will help you see that you can do some amazing coloring with just a few colors!

Mixing skintones with Zig Clean Color pens

One of the troubles with all the other water-based markers, IMHO, has been that I haven’t found many do skintone colors particularly well. (Same for watercolors, without mixing your own.) And since I do love to color people, that’s a struggle!

So while playing with the 12 Zig Clean Color pens (I specifically used the set of 12 for this one, just so you know you don’t need the big sets even if you want them), I decided to play around with ethnic skintones, without using Zig’s flesh colors (the 12 set doesn’t come with any). You can use this technique to mix skintones out of your other water-based pens too. And just so you know, sets JUST arrived at Ellen Hutson, so you can either get a 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, or buy them one at a time – or a combo – it’s all up to you.

Check out the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube…and then come back and read more below.

While this video was made using the Zig pens, and the colors are much brighter – other watercolor pens on the market can do some similar color mixing, too; you’ll just need to do some experimenting to get the right mixes and right amounts of water. Note that this card is painted on Canson XL watercolor paper (fyi, extremely cost-effective), it’s not as white as the Ranger’s and that could make a difference color-wise, so adjust as needed.

And the masking fluid I used is THIS one with this applicator nib – but you can also use a version that comes in a bottle too.

Sandy Allnock Zig clean color pens

Upcoming note about these pens

I’m working on a hex chart for these, so hang tight if you’re trying to pick between colors and don’t know which reds, which yellows, etc. I know it’s a challenge to figure out which the heck colors you want. Hoping to get that posted in the next couple weeks!

I’m also going to be doing more videos with these over time – I know others are sharing things they are finding out about them too, but I’m looking at them from my crazy-artist perspective, so you’ll get a little different info from the likes of me. So far they aren’t replacing my love of pan watercolors, if you’re wondering. I’m really curious how long they’ll last, since they aren’t refillable…I’m going to sacrifice a pen soon and find out how many strokes it takes to get to the center of the lollypop – I’ll let you know when I know!


Below are links to the supplies I’ve used for today’s project; compensated affiliate links may used, which means if you make a purchase I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I truly appreciate your support toward the costs of running this blog! Read more.

I hope you’ll try this kind of color mixing with your Zig clean color pens or other watercolor markers – whatever brand you own!

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Watercolor Hibiscus – Zig Clean Color Pens


Is it summer yet!?!? Oh my. I’m ready now that I got to create a watercolor hibiscus card! Many thanks to ZIG for sharing a few of these dynamo pens with me. It’s an expensive gift, since now #ineedtobuyallthecolors!!

Watercolor Hibiscus Card

Zig sent me a few of their Clean Color pens, and I started out testing them on some different papers. I discovered the pens definitely like watercolor paper most….I guess I would too if I were a pen like these! The colors are SO vibrant…and they say “Real Brush” on the sides of the pens, and they really mean it. These aren’t your average foam-type nib, they’re actual bristles! You can use them with or without water – just look at how beautifully they turn into watercolor by watching the video below on coloring the watercolor hibiscus stamp by Technique Tuesday – or check it out HERE on YouTube in HD.

I loved seeing that the pens can be purchased individually – buying a set can be a little pricey (even the set of 12 here or here is a mini investment), so we can collect them one-by-one like we do our Copics, yay! (I might need a hex chart for these…lol) Be prepared to be gentle with water around these markers…the instant they get wet they’re ready to play! But it does dab off pretty easily on the paper used on my card.  It was definitely great to see that the ink I stamped with didn’t bleed at all, too.

Sandy Allnock - Watercolor Hibiscus2

Some of you probably want to know what my black watercolor brush is – I’m leeeeeaning heavily on the Silver Brush brand right now; it’s a blend of natural squirrel hair and black synthetic filament – I find I get good control, the shape springs back after each stroke, and the tip is precise. I have some more brushes I’m testing (omg you should have seen my purchase the other day…one or two of each brand! cha-ching!), but if you’re chomping at the bit – there’s a set of three HERE (a 1, 8, and 3/4 wash) – or you can also buy any of the line individually HERE. I’m partial to a 2, 4, and 6 myself, with an oval wash – 2 and 4 are used on this card.

Sandy Allnock - Watercolor Hibiscus3


Affiliate links used throughout this post, at no cost to you. Read more.

One other thing I hadn’t yet mentioned – if you like painting a watercolor hibiscus, you might also like the rest of the Technique Tuesday florals – check them out HERE. I didn’t even know they had a monthly stamp!

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Ellen Hutson Bloghop: How to stamp on vellum – with dies!


Welcome to the Spring 2015 Essentials by Ellen Release BlogHop! I’m so happy to be a part of it….I’m so proud of my friends Julie Ebersole and Ellen Hutson for taking the leap into producing more awesome products to help our wallets stay lean! Today for my hop cards, I want to show you how to stamp on vellum – with dies!


How to stamp on vellum with dies

When I received the new release stamps and dies from Ellen Hutson, my mind went right away to big bold floral cards. And oddly – to pink and purple!? (Who has taken over this body?) And also to the vellum that Ellen makes, too – it’s nice and thick, makes inks look even softer from the back, and since in my card shared in their newsletter didn’t have a video companion, I wanted you to see the vellum in motion. Thus, stamping with dies was born for my cards! Watch the video below, or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube!

These cards were helped along by the Craft Assistant and Magnetic Material of course…I’ve shown the use of them with airbrushing, but they made all the difference in holding the paper steady so I didn’t get fingerprints or grease on the paper. It really is amazing what you can do with these products when it comes to learning how to stamp on vellum!


The bloghop fun begins in the CLASSroom and there is also a Grand Giveaway! To enter, be sure to leave a comment there, and at every stop along the hop by May 5th!  Winners will be announced May 8th.

I am the lucky one to give away the Amazing Women stamp set! WOOHOO! Since my cards are intended for amazing women in your life, write a comment in the form of a quick note “to” an amazing woman in your life, then go email or text her that comment. (Why not, right? We really do need to encourage each other more!)


Keep hopping!

Next stop on this amazing bloghop full of inspiration: Joni Nina Andaya! (And if you don’t already subscribe to her and stalk her Instagram, I’d highly recommend it!)

PS: Last week’s winner: Linda S! You’ll be hearing by email about your prize. Yay for you!


Listed below are all of the items I used in these cards…as well as links to all the items in the new release. Affiliate links are used in this post, click here for more information.


Wasn’t that fun? Once  you learn how to stamp on vellum with dies, you can make a whole sheet to get a bunch of cards out of it! I love when multi-use takes the cost out of our craft supplies.

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Bird Crazy Stamps – Crafty Friends


If you’re a fan of Tim Holtz’s bird crazy stamps, you’re not alone! Whenever I need a little smile, I just stamp one and color it – just for fun! And I’m pretty excited to have gotten a little shoutout this past weekend from Tim himself! 🙂

Bird Crazy Stamps!

I just love these birds! There’s something so expressive about them – what fun! I decided I wanted to do something using all six, but they don’t exactly fit on an A2 card, so this piece will go on the wall in my craft room. It has some adaptations to the stamps to make them extra-cute! Check out the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube!

I made a card with the same technique and one of the bird crazy stamps – the whole card base is watercolor cardstock, so it’s one layer. I added some Glossy Accents to the glasses, too! This card will go with my gift in a crafty gift exchange…I think it’s perfect for that! The card base for this one is the Canson.

Sandy Allnock - Crazy Crafty Birds2

PS You might also be interested in this card made with the Crazy Birds!


Below are links to the supplies I’ve used for today’s project; compensated affiliate links may used, which means if you make a purchase I receive a small commission (not at Purple Onion)at no extra cost to you. I truly appreciate your support toward the costs of running this blog! Read more.

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Easter card: Stained Glass Butterflies

For today’s Easter card, I thought I’d do something inspired by what I hope to see a lot of: stained glass! I hope I’m seeing lots of old churches in Europe…and perhaps painting a few windows by old glass masters!

Stained Glass Easter card

The elegant butterflies from Clearly Besotted were perfect for this technique, with a variety of butterfly sizes. There are lots of flowers that would work with this idea too –  anything with small, medium, and large images that can be made into a pattern like this. I’ve used markers to color this, but you can use almost any medium – just make sure you stamp in an ink friendly to your medium of choice. Enjoy the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube!

Here’s a close-up of all those fun butterflies on my Easter card…the sentiment is from the new Avery Elle Easter Blessings set – the one that was shown on OWHtv recently, with a version of this very same technique! (You can watch that video HERE.)

Sandy Allnock - Stained glass butterflies2

This angle shows you that frosted, cloudy-glass look from all that embossing powder. And see those little Glossy Accents dotting around the edge? Sweet!

Sandy Allnock - Stained glass butterflies3

If you’re an OWHer, remember that every Easter card is due in by Feb 28th – not much time left, so hurry and get those bunnies hoppin! I need to pack boxes like mad when I get back, and fill em with bunnies. 🙂


Question of the day…what’s your favorite image for an Easter card?

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Impressions of High Tea: Watercolor pencils


I’m in London! Oh my! Somebody pinch me, okay?

Watercolor pencils and a cuppa tea

Today’s card is of course inspired by the London leg of my current European adventure. The adorable tea set is from Janes Doodles, and I created this fun, artsy, impressionistic background to go with it.Perhaps while on this trip I may get some “real” impressions of high tea -planning to hit Harrods— instead of my artsy impressionism! Enjoy the video below colored with watercolor pencils, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube!

I loved how adding that one popped frame using these stitched rectangle dies added so much to the card…dimension with minimal interruption to that fun colored background!

Sandy Allnock -- Impressions of High Tea


Surprise bonus: this stamp set is on sale right now!

Which brand of watercolor pencils do you use? 

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Watercolor Graduation Card – Spec-tacular!


Watercolor graduation card

Congratulations to my “baby” sister! She is walking across the stage at the graduation ceremony in London today, so I’m sharing the watercolor graduation card I made for her…I’m “refreshing” the Stamp Sketching idea from about a month ago, and playing with my Kuretake watercolors too. Enjoy the video below or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube!

For the card assembly, I angled the panel with the image on it – I needed room for my sentiment idea. I had a couple of these folder tabs sitting in a drawer forever – so wanted to fit them on the watercolor graduation card. I used the “Bravo” from the Spectacular set, the “Proud” from Lil Hoot, and Congrats was in an old dollar-stamp-set.

Sandy Allnock - Watercolor Graduation Card 2

I’m posting photos from my trip on Instagram, so be sure to check in over there periodically to see how my trip is going! 🙂

PS! I’m finally convinced that I need one of THESE… Video to come after I get home and get mine:)


Hoping this is cute enough that my sister isn’t sad she gets a watercolor graduation card rather than a Copic one!

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Stencil-in-Stencil Techniques


I’m going to start out this blog post with an apology…I’m writing this with a cat across my hands and laptop. Punch is being such a pain – and his paw keeps accidentally (ha!) tapping the space bar or a key. So if there’s anything weird in here, or if I give up early – well, I’m blaming it on Punch! 🙂

Stencil in stencil techniques

The stencil techniques for today had been originally part of the 24 Tags series – it was much plainer as a tag, but I do like it much more with the watercolor and stencilled background!  If you can’t see the video below, click HERE to watch it in HD on YouTube.

I think stencil techniques will be something I revisit, I have some cool stencils that’ll be fun!

Things of note

  • Just saw Mockingjay and LOTR yesterday – both awesome! Recommend against 3D though, not a fan.
  • Want a little Copic coloring challenge? Check out the Copic blog for a digi with a 12 part tut. I played along – I’ll post mine on Instagram later today.
  • I would LOVE to have THESE guys over my house.
  • Yesterday I posted my 24 winners! There’s a bonus giveaway, be sure to check out another opportunity for a freebie!
  • Excited about WOTE’s movie coming today!


Below are links to the supplies I’ve used for today’s project; compensated affiliate links may used, which means if you make a purchase I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I truly appreciate your support toward the costs of running this blog! Read more.

Just gotta love new stencil techniques, eh?