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Daniel Smith Watercolors

Giveaway to the first customers making purchases – see the end of this post if you’re in a hurry for some quick recommendations!

I’m excited to share my new friends with you. They’re all dressed up as tubes of paint, but they’re COLOR. Just lovely, delicious watercolor inside! There’s an epic amount of info in this post, since I wanted to introduce three easy (read: less expensive!) ways to get to know these watercolors. I’m just getting started – so please be patient as I am learning too! There are lots of links to resources too – so feel free to pin this or bookmark it to come back to later.

Notice in the photo above that some of the tubes are wee little – 5ml, a little over a pan’s worth of color by my estimation (ie a pretty decent amount!!) – and some are big – 15ml, nearly 4 pans of color – so be sure to choose wisely if you start any shopping. Prices on paints vary widely because of the availability and processing of the minerals/pigments they’re made from as well as tube size, so be aware of what you’re purchasing.

Important disclosure: I began purchasing my Daniel Smith watercolors a while back; once I met the good folks there, they chose to provide me with many more colors so I can have them for testing and teaching you here on my blog and YT. Daniel Smith has no editorial control over anything I say about their paints, but I am able to reach out to them with product questions, so if things come up – I can get answers from people who know. (They have chemists! Holy cow. I wanna have lunch with chemists sometime. Wouldn’t that be fascinating?)

Also – affiliate links are used in this post; read more here.

Without further ado, let’s get going – there are three sections, each with a video. Settle in with a nice cup of something tasty, and let’s get to know some paints together!

Daniel Smith Sample Dot Charts

While the downloadable color chart is helpful and has great info on it, these dot charts are a pretty genius idea. No idea if they’re the only company who makes them, but they’re a great way to know what colors you’re ordering! The little dots are paint – so you touch your wet brush to them to pick up color. In the video I show you my crazy way of making a swatch chart, then a MUCH easier way. Go ahead, laugh at/with me, I went the hard route! I thought a hex chart was in the offing but these charts are arranged in a chroma order anyway; specialty groups of colors like iridescents are kept together because of their properties, so when you swatch it out, you’ll see what I mean. (Measurements for the strips seen in the video: 1/2″ x 7″.)

NOTE: I believe that purchases of the dot chart don’t qualify for the freebie – but if you’re getting the chart of 238, you’ll be seeing the same colors that are in the freebie anyway, so no loss there. Details on the giveaway are toward the end of this post.

See the video below or watch it HERE on YouTube.

Daniel Smith Essentials set (6)

The set of 6 colors in the Essentials packs a lot of bang for the buck. There are 3 warm RYBs and 3 cool RYBs in it; click HERE to download a PDF with information about each color (information I compiled from their website). You can mix a nearly infinite variety of colors using just these 6, and in the video I show you how I made two charts. (Download both the color wheel and box chart instructions HERE.)

And I need to let you know I made a little booboo in this video. It only impacts the color wheel – the cool and warm blues are swapped by accident. However the good news in that? It still WORKED. No need to be 100% certain to keep track of cools and warms, they’ll just give you different effects! And if you don’t know if a color is cool or warm – just play with it and the colors you have! Watch the video below or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube.



Daniel Smith Primateks

Next up are the Primatek paints. I wanted to give these their own special look because while at CHA, I showed you all the booth – and the glittery paints! And it’s important to know that these are not all glittery – but some of them are and oh, how special! Colors with glitter content: Red Fuchsite, Bronzite (glitteriest!), Burnt Bronzite, Amethyst, Fuchsite, Kyanite (great for twinkly skies), Sugilite, and I hope I didn’t miss any!) See them twinkle in the video. Others are just very natural colors, and many are granulated – meaning they have varying degrees of texture – as these come from natural minerals – if you’re the type who likes colors like these, well you’re about to get really happy! Watch the video below, or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube.

This set of grapes was painted using the set of 6 primatek paints:primatekcard

Giveaway and quick recommendations

If you saw the vlog today (HERE), you’ll know there is a freebie for the first 300 customers purchasing Daniel Smith paint (tubes not charts). If you want quick recommendations so you can try to get that freebie……

  • The 6 Essentials set is fabulous – especially if you don’t have watercolors yet. Perfect place to start, and you can create many colors from just those 6.
  • Primatek set – for those who want to try out the natural colors and the Amethyst that sparkles.
  • Below are some colors I find very interesting – and a few I picked out knowing you guys like bright colors! If you wanted to try just one, see if something here fits into a gap your current paints are missing. Descriptions are below.

Sandy Allnock color suggestions

  1. New Gamboge (15ml, 5ml). Closest to my Copic Y17, so you know it had to be on the list! Transparent.
  2. Manganese Blue Hue (15ml, 5ml). A cheerful sky blue – transparent pigment, granulating.
  3. Cobalt Teal Blue (15ml, 5ml). Another for blue skies, semi-transparent, ideal for glazing methods.
  4. Kyanite Genuine (PrimaTek)(15ml only). Rich blue-gray with impressive granulation and dazzling, glittery sparkle.
  5. Quinacridone Gold(15ml, 5ml). Replaces Raw Sienna but considerably more transparent for glazing and mixing.
  6. Carbazole Violet(15ml, 5ml). Granular blue-violet is an intense, vibrant color, high-staining.
  7. Sap Green(15ml, 5ml). Versatile green, mixes well with most pigments to create natural foliage.
  8. Payne’s Gray(15ml, 5ml). Semi-transparent blue gray. Waters, clouds, rocks and more.
  9. Quinacridone Coral(15ml, 5ml). Clear red tinged with pink and orange. Vivid clarity and intensity!
  10. Quinacridone Violet(15ml, 5ml).  Disperses evenly with slight granulation and moves from deep darks to clear, glowing washes.
  11. Green Apatite Genuine (PrimaTek)(15ml, 5ml). Sedimentary color in which browns settle out of a vivid natural green. YUM.
  12. Burnt Umber(15ml, 5ml). Rich dark brown earth pigment; semi-transparent.
  13. Quinacridone Rose(15ml, 5ml). Versatile, plays well with lots of other colors to make stunning sunsets and flowers.
  14. Opera Pink(15ml, 5ml).  The most vivid of all pinks, a hint of fluorescent pink granulation. Just wow.
  15. Hooker’s Green(15ml, 5ml). Warm, natural green…an Irish green.
  16. Bronzite Genuine (PrimaTek)(15ml, 5ml). Warm honey-bronze color with lustrous sparkle!!!

Other supplies used:

MORE coming up!

During the week of February 15-19, I’ll be hosting a paint-along! Stay tuned for more details soon…but make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!

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Rainy Days Get Well Cards


Happy birthday to Pretty Pink Posh! From January 14-16 the celebration goes on…and I’m blessed to be part of day one. Thank you Paulina for sharing these fun goodies with me to use!

Rainy Days Get Well Cards

I thought the cute little clouds would be perfect for coloring rain…the weather has been inspiring for this kind of thing lately, don’t you think? Right now I’m in San Francisco at the Periscope Summit (follow along HERE) and it’s a rainy dreary forecast for the whole time we’re here! Clean Color pens are a great medium to use for things that are all wishywashy like clouds and rain, too – so be sure to get yours out and color along. Watch the video below or watch HERE in HD on YouTube.

The angry little cloud face is perfect for a rainy cloud – we usually put smiley faces on everything but I kinda like his sad face in this case!SandyAllnock PPP1

The little shaker card, made with the Fuse to seal in those tiny stars, is a shiny little card – and the frame dies? Oh boy. Just think of all the tiny images in your stamp collection that can be peeking through! The whole set of dies gets smaller and smaller, so tiny photo frames are gonna be so much fun! SandyAllnock PPP2

And lastly, an odd-sized card to use up some odd-sized envelopes in my stash. I used the same rain technique on this one, but upside down!SandyAllnock PPP3Be sure to check out the whole bloghop – there are coupon codes and bonus goodies when you purchase from the Pretty Pink Posh site, and prizes and giveaways on their blog too – yay! It’s a party!!


Bloghop list:


Below are links to the supplies I’ve used for today’s project; click on the listed items to go directly to it. 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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Watercolor Techniques for Art Journalling

This is a repeat post from this morning with a correct video – tech issues, my apologies!

NOTE: Read to the end of the post for some quick info regarding these techniques with a new product that just came out at CHA.

Watercolor techniques for art journalling

I’ve been wanting to work on a few art journal pages with all the goodies from Prima that I keep buying -and storing. LOL. Anyone else relate? Well after playing with the Oil Pastels during tag week, I knew I was going to get them out to play again! I matched them up with the Prima pencils – which I now have all of, since I suffer from #fullsetsyndrome (can I get an amen there?). Add in some other goodies – and well, here you go…..Watch the video below or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube!

I think the Glossy Accents additions are one of my favorite things about the page….

Sandy Allnock Watercolor techniques 1

The sentiment is from the bird stamp set- I stamped it onto plain old typing paper, tore the edges, rolled up one side, then sprayed it with the Prima gold spray (there are a couple gold colors HERE). Shiny and yummy! Sandy Allnock Watercolor techniques 2

The stitching was done by hand with plain old needle and thread. Be glad I don’t sew my clothes, ha! I did just random stitching; I glued the panel down really well with 1.5″ Be Creative tape, but I decided a few stitches to tack down everything well wouldn’t hurt.Sandy Allnock Watercolor techniques 3

And last but not least, the promised set swatches. I’d advise picking colors that go well with whatever you would color most, and go with those. If you buy all 5 sets, you’ll have 18 duplicates. (I think. I counted it all out a few weeks back, and I can’t find my note I wrote back then! Lots are the black 120 or the white 01.)


Visit the Prima Booth on Periscope with me HERE!

Comparison to Distress Crayons?

I know the question is hanging in the air since Tim revealed  the new Distress Crayons at CHA. I had the opportunity to discuss this project with him, and I wanted to add this note to this blog post: while not addressed in the video, of course, this project could not have been done in this way with the distress crayons. They cannot be used to stamp an image like this. These Prima Oil Pastels are a completely different product with completely different properties, and I’ll be sharing an upcoming project with the Crayons and discussing more of their properties at that time.

Giveaway and other notes


As I was purchasing pencils – I made an oopsie and purchased an extra set of the “Earthtones” – so I’d like it to go to a good home! Please comment on this post and tell me: have you tried the Prima pencils? Which set is your favorite?

I’m travelling to San Francisco today to go to the Periscope Summit which begins Thursday evening. So don’t expect that your phone will stop ringing quite yet! I know it’s been a terribly busy week on Periscope, and I hope the Summit will be fun for you to join in virtually too. I hope to bring an artist’s perspective to what goes on there – and I can’t wait to see what we can all learn!

I am planning to provide a CHA wrap up blog post Friday – depends on internet service and time available, please subscribe to stay tuned!


Below are links to the supplies I’ve used for today’s project; click on the listed items to go directly to it. 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.

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Black Capped Chickadee watercolor

Sandy Allnock Black Capped Chickadees

Today – by popular demand – my black-capped chickadee watercolor painting is 1) on YouTube, and 2) on Society6 – which means it’s available for prints and more! Read on below for details.

Black-Capped Chickadee watercolor

Some of you were able to catch the live Periscope broadcast last week….for those who didn’t make it – you get to see the speed version today! I’m no longer going to leave the Thursday “Open Studios” on replay; the idea is to show people what it really takes to create a work of art, and the ability to speed it up and scrub through on YouTube and now on Periscope – that pretty well defeats the purpose! So if you’re around on Thursdays, feel free to pop in from time to time throughout the day (starting 8am Pacific time) and check in on progress. This time I filmed, but will not be filming them all for reposting on YouTube. (And this one was filmed on my “big” camera, this is not the low-end footage that is saved by Periscope.) Watch the video below, or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube!

The painting was created on Arches hot press watercolor paper, using PhMartin Hydrus watercolors, and Silver brushes.


Are you ready for idea #2 for holiday gift-giving? Give the gift of art! I’ve purchased items from several artists at S6 – so bop around on the site and find something that’s perfect for the person on your list!

After buying a few items from Society6, I decided to give it a go myself. (I have ordered some of my own pieces, and am awaiting their arrival; if you’d like to wait so I can tell you what the quality is like on *my* art, I’ll give you an update when that happens.) I’ve posted a number of my pieces on my Society6 page; some are available as prints only, others lend themselves to iphone cases, pillows, or mugs. Note that they put some on duvet covers and shower curtains which is….well, weird! I didn’t seem to have a choice, once I picked the items I did want, they just added the others.

I receive a few dollars per item purchased at Society6, so it’s one way you can support the work I do! And I thank you for it! Here’s a little sampling of the kinds of things you can find there….click HERE to visit the store!

Sandy Allnock Society 6 launch

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Mixing Watercolor Types

I’m so excited to be a guest artist over on the Newton’s Nook blog! If you’re just popping in today and we haven’t yet met – nice to see you! I live in Washington State where I live with my own kitties – Punch and Tsuki. (I know lots of you Newton’s Nook fans love cats like me!) I’m a bit of a coloring nerd…any medium, any time is my jam, and of course the sweet stamps at Newton’s Nook Designs are perfect for that!


I received two sets to play with and today I’m sharing some watercolor tricks with you using Christmas Cuddles! Later this week I’ll be sharing a Copic marker video here on my blog, too, along with my hex chart! Be sure to subscribe so you get the notification…plus you’ll get my freebies when you do!)

I’ve seen folks stress out about what to do if they don’t have a color they want in a particular brand of watercolor. And ya know what? It’s totally and completely ok to mix brands! (GASP!) I also have lots of folks asking how make a nice smooth background in a sky….so I’m showing you a paper towel technique on rough watercolor paper, and it worked pretty darned well! Check it out in the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

I love using Arches Rough Watercolor Paper when I watercolor; there’s just something about the way paints move on this extra-textured paper that’s unique! If you’ve ever struggled with getting watercolor to flow the way mine did, try the paper and see if that helps.

Sandy Allnock Mixing Watercolor Types2

I mixed Weathered Wood Distress Ink (stamped as well as painted) with Hydrus Watercolors for this card. The #6 Black Velvet Brush I used on this card is one of my absolute favorites from the Silver Brush company – they get such a nice fine point on them, and that’s important for me in getting my brush into the nooks and crannies. Their 1″ flat brush works well for backgrounds too.

Sandy Allnock Mixing Watercolor Types3

Thanks so much for joining me for this little kitty fun….have a meowy Christmas, everyone!


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 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.



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Christmas Countdown Calendar + Crafty Sales!


Are your kids excited about Christmas coming up? Make a fun countdown calendar to help them know how many more “sleeps” to wait! (Did anyone else count in sleeps like I did?)

Christmas Countdown Calendar

Sometimes I feel like I make projects that are no-brainers. This is one that I had wanted to make last year and just hadn’t gotten around to it! But the 12 Days stamp set along with Mini Window dies were perfect for a countdown calendar….add this year’s Advent set to it and it’s a ready made calendar treat! Whether you use the 12 Days set inside, or put messages or some other kind of image in  it, this is a happy little project to make. As a matter of fact, if you keep the insides non-Christmassy, this could help count down til ANY anticipated day. Like a child’s birthday! Watch the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube!

A few weeks ago when I worked on this, I did a live Periscope broadcast….I painted a page-full of packages, 12 stacked up on top of each other. After going to all that trouble, I suddenly realized I couldn’t run that paper through my die cut machine! haha! So….I re-engineered things and came up with a long strip – this can be hung down low where a small child can reach.

Sandy Allnock - 12 day Christmas Countdown Calendar

The template

Download the Calendar Template – there are instructions on page 1 that reiterate a few of the steps shown in the video.


Anywhere you go there are sales on right now – I’m just giving you the deets on what little I have from emails I’ve seen. You know the drill, shop early for best selection! Remember when you put an item in your cart and it says it is “in stock,” that item is not yours until you check out and pay for your order. That applies to almost every online store, so get to that “complete order” button pretty quickly! 

  1. Ellen Hutson – below are your coupon codes…click HERE to go shop! Don’t miss the special Bargain Bonanza section, too! Affiliate links.
    • EARLY BIRD SAVINGS From 12:00am Friday, November 27th Pacific Time (3:00am Eastern), through 9:00am PT, save 20% on every item currently in stock. At checkout use one time use coupon code early2015   
    • ANNIVERSARY SAVINGS If you are a bird who slept in, you can enjoy savings of 15% on all in stock items any time over the weekend  through Monday December 1st at midnight PSTAt checkout use coupon code anniv2015  
    • CYBER MONDAY SAVINGS  Savings of 20% on any remaining in stock items on Monday, November 30th beginning at 12:00am through 9:00am PSTAt checkout use one time use coupon code cyber2015 
  2. Dick Blick 20% off purchase of $50 or more using coupon code 16916 until 11/29/15. Click HERE to shop!  And go get your in-store coupons HERE!
  3. Simon Says 15% off everything. Use coupon code BLACKFRIDAYSALE. Click HERE to shop.

The rest of these are not affiliate links – just wanted to share what I’ve seen coming through my email!

  1. Purple Onion Designs –  sale until 12/6: all stamps 25% off.  More specials for Black Friday/Cyber Monday coming. Click HERE to shop.
  2. Lawn Fawn – Free shipping, plus a free stamp set on orders over $35 (matching die over $50). Click HERE for details.
  3. Paper Smooches –  15% off your order using coupon code BFSALE15. Click HERE to shop.
  4. Altenew – 20% off a different item each day. Click HERE to find out the day’s deal.
  5. Neat and Tangled – 25% off all orders on Friday using code SOTHANKFUL. Click HERE to shop.
  6. MFT – 30% off everything using code THANKS now through Monday. Click HERE to shop.
  7. Avery Elle – Through Monday, free shipping on US orders and $4 off international shipping. Free stamp included on orders over $40. Click HERE to shop.
  8. Impress: 40% off one item of your choice Friday or Saturday with coupon code blackfriday2015. Click HERE to shop.


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 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.

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24 Tags of Christmas 2015: Watercolor Snow


Welcome to the 24 tags of Christmas series for 2015! I love putting this together each year. Well two years in a row at least! If you’d like to see last year’s day one tag, click HERE. Let’s go!

Watercolor Snow

I spent time searching the couch cushions to find some time to try out the Prima Water Soluble Oil Pastels – and I think they’ll be fun! In today’s tag video I’ll show you how I made the multicolored watercolor snowy background…it’s so easy, your kids can help you with it! Check out the video below, or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube!

I love that these Oil Pastels can vary the look based on how much water is added – AND that the color doesn’t re-activate once dry! Perfect to use for kiddos with sticky fingers opening tags this holiday season, am I right? And oh – Postcards or envelope stamping? Yes please. No worrying about the USPS smoodging a stamp!

Sandy Allnock 24 Tags Watercolor Snow


handmadegiveawayHandmade is the best kind of giveaway! Each year I give away all of the tags made in the series – so there will be 24 winners! To sweeten the pot, I am giving a financial donation to 24 charities in the name of each of the winners – so they’re going to get to pick which charity they love most.  To qualify to win, leave a comment on this post with YOUR favorite charity, and a comment on the YT video each day all week. I’ll pick 12 from blog comments and 12 from YouTube comments, and announce them all on Sunday the 15th!


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 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.

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Artist and Adult Coloring Books


Coloring books have been all the rage lately – everyone’s talking about them! Check out the articles in Huffington Post and Parade, just for a few. It’s as though the rest of the world is finding out what we as artists and crafters have always known – coloring is relaxing!

Artist and Adult Coloring Books: the straight skinny!

What is the straight skinny? From Urban Dictionary: the bare, whole, and honest truth about a situation.

As I’ve shared some of the pages colored in my books, I’ve received lots of the same questions – and this post is an attempt to answer them. Please watch the video and then read info below in this ginormous post. (Did I say ginormous? I think it needs to be in all caps like GINORMOUS!)

I’ll be adding to this post if I get more info or buy more books (please, someone save me from shopping for more books!), and each coloring book is listed below with my notes about it. Enjoy the video below or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube! (Warning: it’s a LONG video! My patrons promised me you wouldn’t mind!)

My friend Kathy (crazy amazing colorist) over at The Daily Marker has shared her books as well – see her video HERE for what she’s found. She also gives good advice about just coloring and relaxing. No stress!

The Questions

  1. Which books are good for which medium? Every book is on different paper. Some are thinner or thicker, some are printed on one side or two. I’ve listed each book below and some SUGGESTIONS for mediums. It’s not an exhaustive list, but you need to test for yourself. See the video for info on how I test.
  2. Which ones bleed through the back of the paper? Pretty much all of them, just some minimal exceptions. I always put a piece of cardstock behind whatever I am coloring or painting in the book. However – consider there are a LOT of pages in each book, and think about how fast you color. How many months worth of coloring joy do you have with just coloring one side? Question answered. 🙂
  3. Can I treat the paper with anything to keep it from warping? Some folks use different art mediums to coat pages first. I find that’s overkill for the way I work; if I want art to be fancier than I can get in a coloring book, I just begin to create a work of art instead and save my mediums for those pieces.
  4. What do you do with your pages when you’re finished? I leave them in the book. Just like I did when I was a kid! To me these are not finished works of art.
  5. If I frame it, will it fade in the light? If you use artist quality mediums, you might be okay; I’m not certain if really awful paper and really lovely paints cancel each other out. If you use regular craft markers, it’ll likely fade – so just change the picture out periodically, that’s all.
  6. Will coloring in these help me become a better artist? Yes and no. No because you’ll likely never be coloring on these papers in your regular art or craft projects. Techniques need to be altered, sometimes drastically, to work in these books. But YES because any time spent with a pen or brush in your hand is a good thing, right? I try out color combos in my coloring books – that’s a great way to learn how colors look together.
  7. Can I flatten a page that got crinkly with water? Try ironing it carefully between sheets of copy paper. However if you use anything thick, or paints with mica, those may iron off on the copy paper.

The Mediums: Test yours!

We as artists and crafters have a variety of mediums at our disposal. These books, though, were made for a general audience – people who pick up pencils or crayons at the drug store. Keep that in mind as you try things out! Dedicate your least-favorite page in a book to testing and try out all the mediums, keeping good notes on what it was and how you applied it. I’ve listed below a bunch of ideas – but please, try out what you have! Don’t make it hard on yourself, unless Santa needs to tuck an item into your stocking, of course, just put it on your Christmas list! Affiliate links are used throughout this post. Read more.

  • Crayons: Why not! Just get a good sharpener.
  • Pencils: I like Prismacolor pencils, but with coloring books – use whatever kind you like. Cheap ones from the drug store are usually just fine. With most coloring books, you’ll use up a lot of the medium, and lots of folks don’t want to use up expensive brand pencils. For a sharpener, I love this one.
  • Pens: Before getting to markers, let’s talk pens. Some of the books, as you’ll see below, have either areas you can zentangle (doodle) in – or they have SUCH tiny sections to color that you really do need a tiny nib! I have two pens I use in those cases – Fineliner Triplus
  • Watercolor Pencils: With these, color on the paper, then move the color around with a damp brush. (My favorite brush is this one but try out what you already own.) I have two types, but try out whatever you have:
    • Prima watercolor pencils: these seem to break down nicely with water on most of the papers -just use a very small amount to keep paper wrinkling to a minimum. They come in sets of 12, so pick a set with colors you like.
    • Inktense Pencils: the color is applied the same way, but after the first layer dries, you can put another color on top without moving around the dried color.
  • Water-based Markers: There are lots of options here! Try coloring both on the paper, and test coloring on an acrylic block or a piece of plastic and picking up color with a brush. And you can try out lots of other brands that aren’t listed here too, but these are my favorites:
    • Tombow: they seem to work most consistently and break down into watercolor best across different books; the brush nibs seem to push the color around best on many of the books I tried out.
    • Marvy Le Plume: I love the teeeeny tiny writing nib end! They also have a brush nib – they sometimes pill a little when applied direct-to-paper. But they watercolor pretty nicely.
    • Distress Markers: I only found that picking up color from a block worked; these pill up on most papers if you color directly with the brush nib.
    • Zig Clean Color Real Brush Markers: These have an actual brush for a nib. On some papers colors blend without water, but not on all. The brush nib can be too wide for tiny detailed areas.
  • Watercolors: These can be as inexpensive as dollar store paints or as high end as you want to go! My favorite two types for coloring books, and again using very little water: Kuretake Gansai Tambi and Koi Sketchbox.
  • Alcohol-based Markers: I wouldn’t recommend these in general for blending most coloring books. The color blends within the fibers of the paper, and there’s not really fiber for the color to get into. But – that said, if you want to do as I did on a few of these and use flat color – go for it! I get Copics HERE.

The Books (Links at the end of this post)

I’m sharing below the books I have purchased; please don’t ask me about others, because I don’t have plans to buy more. I have years of coloring in just these books, ha! However, if I get new ones, I’ll add them to this post. In the descriptions below the sample images, I’ve listed some info about the book or the line of books. LINKS to each book are at the end of this post.

Adult Coloring Books Creative Haven

Creative Haven: Least expensive of the ones I tried.  I only have two but I assume they’re all on the same paper. Images are very detailed, lots of cute ones, but blending colors in these is more than a little challenging.

  1. Specs: 64 pages – 8¼” × 11″ (21 cm × 28 cm)
  2. Printing and paper: 31 designs in each book, printed on one side only; pages are perforated. Thin paper.
  3. Authors and designers — there’s a wide collection from a variety of people: African Designs, Art Nouveau Animals, Art Nouveau Designs, Creative Cats, Entangled, Flower Fashion Fantasies, In Bloom,  Japanese Prints, Lotus Designs, Modern Tattoo, Nature, Mandalas, NatureScapes, Steampunk, and Whimsical Gardens
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, crayon, and any watercolor medium with very light use of water.

Adult Coloring Books Calm Meditation

Calm and Meditation –  On extremely thin paper, but the lines? Nice heavy lines. I’m going to try some crayon with these since my crayons can probably handle it…stay tuned for the photo above to change out when I get time to do that!

  1. Specs: 128 pages. 8¾” × 11″.
  2. Printing and paper: 61 designs in the book, printed on one side. Extremely thin paper.
  3. Authors and designers —Patience Coster.
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, crayon. Water is really challenging.
Adult Coloring Books Zolocolor
Zolocolor: Designs in this book are widely varied – some loose and scribbly, some geometric, but all very graphical. You can do fun zentangling amid all the shapes, both organic and rigid ones. Some have a lot of black ink, some less. Mediums above: Top/back doodled piece is done with Staedtler Triplus Fineliner, the other two use a mix of Tombow and Marvy LePlume pens, no water.
  1. Specs: 96 pages. 8½” × 11″ (22 cm × 28 cm).
  2. Printing and paper: 46 designs in the book, printed on one side only. Thin paper.
  3. Authors and designers —Byron Glaser and Sandra Higashi.
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, crayon, any waterbased pens – the spaces are small so pilling shouldn’t be a bad issue. For Zentangling, the Staedtler or Copic Multiliners are fab.

Adult Coloring Books Charley Harper

Charley Harper Coloring Books: Renown illustrator Charley Harper has a unique style that lends well to coloring books – they’re one of the most fun image styles I came across. You can see more of his work HERE….expect a CASE of his style sometime, I think that’d be fun! The paper in this book is thin but has less of a coating than in other books, so I think it’ll have some interesting technique effects – but still limit the amount of water. I want to give this one a go with regular old crayons!
  1. Specs: 64 pages. 9″ × 12″ (23 cm × 31 cm)
  2. Printing and paper: 32 designs in each of the two books, printed on one side only. Thin paper.
  3. Authors and designers —Charley Harper
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, Inktense pencil with light water, crayon, any watercolor medium with very light use of water.

Adult Coloring Books Color MeColor Me – There are a few books in this series (Stress Free, Calm, and Happy…pick what YOU need most!), and they’re created by an art therapist as well as an artist – so maybe these have magical powers?! The papers have colored printing on the edges and back sides of most of them. Water or Copic pulls that color through to the front while you’re coloring but seems to dry back fine.

  1. Specs: 208 pages. 8½” × 9½” (22 cm × 24 cm).
  2. Printing and paper: 32 designs in the book, printed on 2 sides with color. Thin paper, slightly slick.
  3. Authors and designers —Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter.
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, crayon, most watercolor mediums with very light use of water, test which one works best for you.

Adult Coloring Books Just Add Color

Just Add Color – Very interesting designs in these books! Lots of unique modern lines. I picked up the Animals but who knows, I may need more. (Botanicals, Carnival, Circus, Day of the Dead, Folk Art, Geometric Patterns, Mid-Century Modern Animals, and Modern Patterns). The art above was colored in Inktense pencils, using just a little water.
  1. Specs: 64 pages. 8½” × 10″ (22 cm × 25 cm).
  2. Printing and paper: 30 designs in the book, printed on 1 side. A little heavier paper than most.
  3. Authors and designers —Jenn Ski (for this book pictured) and various (other books).
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, crayon, most watercolor mediums with very light use of water, test which one works best for you.
Adult Coloring Books Color Me Costco
Color Me Your Way – I found these quite a while ago at Costco – and I’ve found other unique ones at zoos and wildlife centers. So keep your eyes open!
  1. Specs: 28 pages. 11″ x 16″ (huge!)
  2. Printing and paper: 26 designs in the book, printed on 1 side. About medium thickness, slick.
  3. Authors and designers —Pamela Smart
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, crayon, most watercolor mediums with very light use of water. The Zig Clean Color work very very well on these.
Adult Coloring Books Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom – A wide variety of image styles. The paper is a nice bright white, so you can get intense colors. Mediums above: Prismacolor pencil moth, mandala in Clean Color pen (limited blending), Prismacolor fox, Copic butterfly floral – flat, no blending on this paper.
  1. Specs: 96 pages. 9¾” × 9¾” (25 cm × 25 cm).
  2. Printing and paper: 90 designs in the book, printed on 2 sides. Thin paper but bright white.
  3. Authors and designers —Millie Marotta.
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, some watercolor mediums with very light use of water.

Adult Coloring Books Secret Garden

Secret Garden – one of the most popular books! Detailed illustrations with hidden images, suggestions for drawing images to complete the picture. Above the fish are done in Copic – very light touch to try to get limited blending. Tree is done with Marvy LePlume pens. I have heard there’s a version of this book with heavier paper, but I did not have that one to test.
  1. Specs: 96 pages. 10″ x 9.9″
  2. Printing and paper: 90 designs in the book, printed on 2 sides. Thin paper, an off-white.
  3. Authors and designers —Johanna Basford
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, crayon, most watercolor mediums with very light use of water, test which one works best for you. Copic does very limited blending.

Adult Coloring Books Art Therapy

Art Therapy – The only books with hard covers. Imagery in the one I have varies widely, taken from stained glass art. Some drawn well, others not so much.

  1. Specs: 128 pages. 8¼” × 11¾” (21 cm × 30 cm).
  2. Printing and paper: 124 designs in the book, printed on 2 sides. Slightly heavier than some papers.
  3. Authors and designers —unknown
  4. Mediums I prefer: Colored Pencil, crayon, most watercolor mediums with very light use of water, test which one works best for you.

Pepin Artist Coloring Books

These are an exception to the rest of the books; I’ve shared about these books before, and I have more information and samples for you now. (See that earlier post HERE – video included).

What makes them different: The paper. It’s lightweight drawing paper. That means it’ll accept mediums in a very different way than the other books listed so far. The illustrations are made with very thin lines and they’re halftone – meaning they’re lighter than black. So your finished piece can look like a no-line painting!

Note that they also have fewer pages, and are the most expensive of the ones included in this review – though spending less than $20 for this much fun is really a deal anyway. (Think about it – if you bought a pad of drawing paper – add on beautiful illustrations – and the cost doesn’t seem nearly so bad, right?)

Specs for all these books below:

  1. Specs: 16 pages. 10″ x 13.5″. (25 x 34.5 cm)
  2. Printing and paper: 16 designs in the book, printed on 1 side. Off white lightweight drawing paper
  3. Authors and designers —Pepin van Roojen
  4. Mediums I prefer: Light watercolor using some kind of water-based markers is my favorite for these books.  They’re large format which makes pencil take a long time, but it’s also gorgeous. Copic doesn’t blend at all, really. But take the bullet/writing nib of a water-based marker, draw along the thin lines of the drawing, then take a just-damp brush and color inside the shape. The color should move with most water-based pens.

Artist Coloring Books Still Life Bouquets

Artist Coloring Books 1960s

Artist Coloring Books Turkish

Artist Coloring Books Arabian

Artist Coloring Books Japanese

Artist Coloring Books Art Nouveau


I don’t give out goodies very often – but….when I was sent my samples for this book I created a sample for….they sent two of each, pic is below! I’ll pick two winners – one from IG and one from here on the blog – and announce them next Friday. How to enter? Two ways:

  1. Go post a coloring page of your own on Instagram and tag me in it! Tell me in the caption what medium you use, I’d love to compile ideas for other things to try. Kids can enter too!
  2. Leave a relevant comment on this blog post!

Zenspirations Giveaway


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 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.


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Interactive Card: Dr. Ph. Martin’s Rainbow Ride!


I hope you guys are ready to take a little ride on an interactive card today! There’s LOTS more info in the post than there is in the video, since I made it quite a while ago – so be sure to read through!

Interactive Card: Dr Ph Martin’s Rainbow Ride

The little seated characters in the Tandem Ride set (there’s THIS one with a bike as well as the one I used HERE) inspired today’s card…I love foxes and ended up only getting the “additions” set with no bike – so I made a ride for my fox! I knew I had a rainbow die in my stash, and just needed to rig up the interactive part.  Watch the video below or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube!

Alternate rainbow dies

There are several companies with rainbow dies – in a comparison of them, note that the MFT dies are truly “round” like the Paper Smooches, but the Lawn Fawn have a little more of an oval shape, if that makes sense? So you might need to work out a different way to adapt the interactive mechanism. If you need to, hide the ends behind more clouds if the “ride” stops short. 🙂


 A little more on the Dr Ph Martins paints

  • I filmed this video when I only had set 3. I loved the intensity of colors so much that I had to get the other two sets as well…I think I’ve developed a bad case of Full Set Syndrome, a term coined by Lydia!
  • If you want to try just one set, I think set 1 has the most “standard” variety, and set 3 has the pretty jewel tones….it’s so hard to pick that I decided I needed all three.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE! If you compare prices you may think you’ve found a steal on some sites, but be aware that there are both 1 oz and .5 oz bottles. Just saying. Be careful with anything you buy and watch stuff like that, stretch your crafty dollars! :0

Sandy Allnock - Interactive card - Dr Ph Martins Rainbow Ride

My Ph Martins Storage

I haven’t found a container that’s suitable for my 1oz bottles, but I did figure out a cool way to store them. I picked up a strip of crown moulding at my local Lowes – I screwed it into the studs along the wall above my desk, and voilá, a shelf! The moulding is 1-1/4 and the bottles are 1-5/8, so they hang over just slightly – enough to grab and go easily.



On Periscope the other day, I attempted a painting of Nemo (below) with the Ph Martins on Yupo paper – and what fun! It’s not easy on Yupo, I’ll warn you – but you can see the beginning of this painting HERE until this weekend.

Sandy Allnock Nemo on Yupo


If you’re available, I hope you’ll come join me for Open Studio on Periscope! I’ll be watercoloring  all day, and I’ll have the camera on the whole time, technology-willing. Rather than watching a many-hour replay, you might like to stop in and visit a few times during the day and say hello. Tomorrow on the blog, I’ll have a list of supplies I’m planning to use, and a link to get to the broadcast, etc. Just wanted you to mark your calendars so you remember to pop in. See you then!


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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Watercoloring on Black + New MISTI


Two treats are in store for you today….first, I’ll be watercoloring on black cardstock with beautiful shiny paints. Secondly – you get a peek at the newly renovated MISTI stamping tool! (If you want to see more ideas for the MISTI stamping tool, be sure to check out my MISTI playlist!)

Watercolor on Black Paper

I received some darling stamps from my friend Stephanie at Clearly Besotted Stamps – and the sets (Stitched Mittens and Laugh out Loud) have lots of small images. That made them PERFECT for trying out watercoloring on black cardstock with Finetec paints! I’ve showed you the set of 6 golds and pearls before, but there’s a sweet set of 12 that’s got some interesting colors in it that you might find tantalizing. Watch the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube!

Wasn’t that fun? Remember to be careful about how much water you use on the black cardstock; the Bazzill worked, but with some warping. It wasn’t really bad, and flattened out easily by pressing it in a book overnight. But run some tests on your paper to see just how much water you can get away with first.

Sandy Allnock Watercolor on Black - mittens

There’s a set of 6 gold paints (with larger pans than the set of 12) that would also work well – and those paints even come in single pans, too, so you could try out just one or two if you wanted.Sandy Allnock Watercolor on Black - ornaments2 The Laugh out Loud stamp set has some pretty funny sentiments in it….LOL!


Heads up!

I’ve been invited to contribute to a new card class coming up – Tried and True…all about card designs that work! There’s a fun bunch of ladies participating – and it’ll run through the month of November. Check it out here!


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.