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Watercolor Flower Series #8: Vintage Flowers


More in the Watercolor Flowers Series?!? No way, right? YES way! This one is way out of my comfort zone, too!

Vintage Flowers

The Watercolored Anemones set from WPlus9 is a set created from a watercolor painting by Dawn (see it below the video), the owner of the company; she created it so we could all use our pigment inks and make watercolor-looking flowers with layering the stamps. But I wanted to see what would happen if they really had some watercoloring….so I tried it! Watch the video below, or check it out HERE on YouTube.

The brush I used is THIS one, and the paper is THIS one. Here’s Dawn’s painting:

And that Gold Crackle Texture Paste!? Be still my beating heart! I’m thinking Christmas cards…oh man. I may buy a couple jars of that stuff in case you guys buy it all, it is soooooo pretty and shiny! (PS the paste may be out shortly here…but you can try here too!)

Sandy Allnock Watercolor Flowers Series 8


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.

I think this card was well worth all the attempts to make it work….what do you think?

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Getting Started with Watercolor

Welcome to this long-awaited post all about watercolor! I started in with watercolors last fall, and have been trying to learn all I could from experimenting. Many of my readers have wanted me to make recommendations – and that’s so hard! There are many good brushes, papers, and paints, and much of the decision-making has more to do with YOU and what you plan to do with it.

A little about me if you’re new to my blog: I’m an artist by training, though hadn’t really delved into watercolor; my career as a graphic designer has been exchanged in the last few years for the world of papercrafting, which is also incorporating much of my fine art talent as well. This post is intended primarily for crafters – or new watercolorists who just want to try things out. 

This is a really really really long post. Please feel free to bookmark it or pin it and come back. But scroll to the bottom, I have a little giveaway! Before I get into the meat of things, let me tell you what’s going to be coming up: this post is in a few sections, so you can scroll to the area you’re interested in, or just make your way through from the top.

  • Brushes
  • Paints and papers
  • Technique basics

As I show different product images and comparisons:

  1. Below the photos, I’ll list a little information and links to purchase that item if you desire.
  2. At the END of each section, I’ll give you my overall purchase recommendations if you don’t want to wade through all the info above it. 

Links are primarily affiliate links in this post: that means that if you purchase an item using some of these links, I receive a very small commission. There’s no extra cost for you when this happens, but it really does help defray the cost of this blog. And uhm, the cost of all these papers and brushes. LOL. None of the products shown have been given to me. Yes, my wallet is glaring at me! 🙂

I only link you to items that I think are worth purchasing. Even so, there may be some items that you purchase and think, “She’s nuts, this is horrible.” Because we all have our own opinions, right? But I’ve been using these items and do like them – some more than others, as you’ll see in the notes below each one.

Are you ready? Buckle in, let’s go!


An artist’s brush is a VERY personal choice. I mean VERY. It’s challenging to find a brush that I think other painters would be happy with, since I only live in my own skin. But….I’ll share what I learned and hopefully you’ll learn from my experience! Watch the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube!

I decided to limit the test to round brushes only. That’s a brush shape that I think best suits papercrafters, though there are many other shapes that can work too. These are all #4 brushes:

7 brushes

The first three are student brushes, and we go up from there. Remember….this test did NOT include every brush out there. Do not be offended if your favorite is not listed here.

  1. Princeton Select – 2, 4, 6 (student grade)
  2. Robert Simmons Sapphire – 2, 4, 6 (student grade)
  3. Robert Simmons White Sable – 2, 4, 6 (student grade)
  4. Raphaël Kaërell Synthetic Sable  – 2, 4, 6
  5. Silver Brush – Black Velvet Line – 2, 4, 6 *my pick for crafters
  6. DaVinci Cosmotop – 2, 4, 6 *beveled handle
  7. Blick Master Synthetic – 2, 4, 6  *guaranteed for life, pretty sweet


Water brushes or Aqua brushes:

  1. Pentel – individually or a three pack.
  2. Faber Castell Water Brush
  3. Zig – detailer, medium, large, and broad
  4. Prima – set of two, the only one I know of that has long handles
  5. Tim Holtz/Ranger – detailer or broad
  6. Caran d’Ache Museum brush – I have this one in my cart!

Other things mentioned in the video:

  1. Nesting water cups
  2. Brush roll for short-handle brushes, or a long-handle version
  3. Make your own brush roll tutorial


Brand: Silver Brush’s Black Velvet line is the one I love. At least for now! All the ones listed above are great though, if you have one already or if your art store doesn’t carry these.

Sizes: My favorites are 2, 4, and 6 rounds. If you only have budget for one – go for a 4.

Water brush: I’ve had the best luck with the Pentels and Faber Castell not dripping out prematurely, but my Zig does well most of the time….I love that they have the tiny brush on the small one.



This test was a labor of love! I have bought so many papers that I think I’m stocked up for a good long while. And yet…I still can say I love all of these for different reasons. And I won’t stop buying. I am a total paper lover. Some definitions:

  • Cold press: a textured paper. It comes in fine grain or rough grain in many brands. If the grain is not mentioned, it’s most likely fine grain.
  • Hot press: smooth paper, great for stamping.
  • Weight: most watercolor papers come in 140lb or 90lb. For consistency purposes I’m using all 140lb for this test.
  • Pads, blocks, sheets: You can purchase many of these papers by the sheet; I’m using pads and blocks. Pads are attached on one side, blocks have adhesive around 3 or 4 sides – so they don’t need to be taped to a board to stay flat during painting.
  • Euro fold: a pad that folds on the short side.

NOTE: I chose to do the paint tests on the pad itself, rather than taping it to a board; that was not because I didn’t know to tape them down, but because I wanted to test and see if some papers had more ‘curl’ to them after being completely soaked with water and paint.

As for paints – I chose to only assess pan (cake) paints at this time. I’m trying to find apples-to-apples things to compare, and bringing tube paints and palettes into the mix can muddy the waters, so to speak. I kept the colors similar too, so there would be fewer factors to compare. And I did not include all the paints in the testing, I had to pick four to keep it easy to follow as I photographed everything.

At the end of this post I’ll give you my opinions on what you might like to try out! In the meantime watch the video below, or click HERE to watch on YouTube; you’ll see a few of these papers being painted (there are more here on this blog post than are in the video.) Watch below or click HERE to view it in HD on YouTube.

And now…let’s get to the paper pics! Click on the IMAGE to see it larger – I know sometimes squinting at the detail of paper texture is just too hard to see, so a click will blow them WAY up for you.

SandyAllnock 1CansonXL

Canson XL is a decent and inexpensive student-grade paper. It curls the most out of the 8 that were tested, but not much if it’s taped to a board to secure it. The paints moved pretty readily on this paper, and the Holbein paints moved out in ‘bloom’ shapes. Windsor-Newton paints held the most integrity in the paper texture. The Kuretake dried with a very even texture and coloration.SandyAllnock 2MoulinCPfine

I’m testing three Moulin du Roy papers by Canson, this one is the Cold Press, fine grain. I won’t repeat what was said above about the paints, as some paint behaviors are the same across all and only change with the texture of the paper they’re used on.

With a higher quality paper, the Kuretakes began to take on more painterly edges, which are nice. Note though with the Crayola paints – they seem to just smooth out whatever they’re used on, and colors do get muddy sometimes.

The “Enhanced Surface Cohesion” means the surface better tolerates multiple layers of paint without trashing the surface of the paper – so these Moulin du Roy papers take a lot more beating than other papers might. They’re also more erase-able than other papers. I’ll be putting that to the test over time.


SandyAllnock 3MoulinCPRough

Another Moulin paper from Canson – Cold Press, rough texture. It takes a little more professional control to manage on this kind of paper, and it can be a challenge to stamp on. However it affords great paint textures, and can be a lot of fun for creating traditional watercolor effects.

SandyAllnock 4CansonMontval

This Montval paper is one of the “blocks” I tested: these are paper pads with the edges sealed with an adhesive; a simple razor blade can detach the painted layer once finished, and there’s no need to adhere the paper to a board. You can see there is absolutely no curl with a paper like this.

SandyAllnock 5Arches

When getting into Arches paper (cold press rough), the quality (and price) begin to rise. The texture of this rough grain cold press moves any of the paints quickly – you can see that upon drying, this one became almost completely covered in paint as it moved out to the edges of the paper. The Holbein paints still hang onto some of the integrity of their painted texture, while most of the others seemed to quickly lose detail; though this was a fast swash of paint, and the response painting an image is obviously quite different than this. Stay tuned for me to do more technique tests this summer with these papers.

SandyAllnock 6MoulinHP

Back to another Moulin paper (satin grain hot press), with the Enhanced Surface Cohesion again. Hot Press papers are very smooth, which makes them great for stamping. This particular one gets slightly more expensive than the other Moulin du Roy papers.

SandyAllnock 7Fluid100
This Fluid 100 cold press block is now working us toward the higher end of the ones tested; the block adds to the expense. The way the color flows on this makes my little heart go pitter patter – and have you been noticing that the Holbeins have been maintaining their color a little better than the others? The Crayola are often brightest, but also are very hit-or-miss when they get mushy at times.

SandyAllnock 8artisticofabriano

The final paper pad is Artistico by Fabriano, another artist-grade paper, and just looking at the swatches of paint, it’s easy to see that the effects of the paint remain, aside from the Crayolas which only smooth out. (I think the paper quality made them wet their pants.) There are a number of other Fabriano papers I have in my collection – the company’s medium range papers – and they’re also great. But I ran out of steam and they didn’t make it for the test.

And now for paints!


  1. Crayola
  2. Sennelier
  3. Koi Sketchbox – DB 12 or 24; EH 12
  4. Kuretake Gansai Tambi – DB 12 or 18 or 24: EH 12, 24, or 36
  5. Windsor & Newton Field Box, 12 pans
  6. Holbein Palm Box, 12 pans

My recommendations

Papers for papercrafters: the Canson XL is definitely the best “buy” for the money, however its performance won’t take you from a so-so painting to something beyond. If you’re itching to see what the other papers are like, the Moulin du Roy pads are an excellent choice to try out something a little fancier, but not have to spend a ton; they are less money than you’d think. The enhanced surface cohesion could be a big help in creating interesting techniques.

Paints for papercrafters: In the video I showed more paints than what was in the 4some for the test; the two paint sets that I like a lot for crafting are the Kuretake Gansai Tambi paints (they come in 12 or 18 or 24 or 36) and the Koi Sketchbox (which comes in 12 or 24). Both are very affordable, and both will achieve what we need them to as crafters. I used the Koi for a lot of my painting while travelling in Europe, and the paints produced very well!

My personal favorites: The Holbein paints are on my love list. I didn’t expect that, but hoped for something good when I spent that much on them. (And now I need to buy more….aaaaah!) The Artistico paper is also a favorite, and will be a regular paper I use for my fine art work, and will likely be meandering about with all these papers for a while. I’ll be using the Canson XL in my classes that I teach, as it’s affordable – and in my Watercolor Flowers for Cardmakers class, students will get to try out a couple different papers.


Please understand that just buying good paper, the “right” brush, and quality paints — even these are not enough to transform you magically into an amazing painter. Good tools do go a long way, but you’ll still need to work at it and practice techniques. In this video, I’ll show you a few basics about the ways that *I* paint – you may or may not do things this way since there are many ways to skin a cat! But I hope this will help. Watch the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

Used in this video:

  1. Flower stamp from Bohemian Garden
  2. Acrylic block
  3. Canson XL Paper
  4. Black Velvet Brush Round 4
  5. Koi Sketchbox
  6. Some inks that are good to use with watercolors: Ranger Archival or Versafine


Just because I wanted to celebrate actually getting this far in my research, I purchased TWO extra Round 4 brushes – the Black Velvet ones! And I’ll give them away to two lucky commenters on this post. Come back in a week and find out if it was YOU who won!

Last week’s winners

On THIS post, I was giving away two Copic Multiliners – and the winners are (drumroll please!)….VikkiCH and poconopam! Email me your addresses and I’ll get your pens out to you.

And now….I rest. This has been a heroic post, and I congratulate you on getting to the end of it. And me as well. I’m pooped! Chat later, peeps!


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Watercolor Flowers #7: Lost and found technique

Hello friends – and welcome to number 7 in my watercolor series – as well as a really fun Watercolor Bloghop hosted by my friend Paulina over at Pretty Pink Posh!

Lost and Found Technique

Today’s card is an idea that evolved over a long period of time; I saw mention on some kids art blog post eons ago about using salt with watercolor. They didn’t show visuals, just mentioned it as something to try. And I saw it also on someone’s art journal technique list. Again, no visuals. The idea stuck in my craw, though, and I decided to play with it and see what happened. A full day of experimenting ended with this card well after dark…..and it was worth a full day to get here! Enjoy the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

How crazy is that whole salt idea!? Oh Lordy. I wonder how someone stumbled on the idea. An accident at a lunch counter maybe? In any case, I *adore* the technique. I’ve got more in store to use this for other projects, so stay tuned in coming weeks!

Sandy Allnock Lost and found watercolor technique


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.

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No Line Coloring: Copic and Watercolor

No line coloring has been a fluctuating trend over the last few years; I’ve tried it once or twice, and thought I’d give it a try again!

No Line Coloring: Copics and Watercolor

I decided to use the Cosmos RV EduDigi to create today’s cards, and started off just printing the images to color. (See this tutorial if you need to learn how to use digis.) But when I got to that step – whoa – the lines on the enlarged flowers became crazy thick! Big disappointment. So I got out my light box and did a pencil tracing instead, and suddenly realized I could do that with watercolor too! (If you don’t have a light box, try putting your papers against a window. During the daytime, of course!) Watch the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

With Multiliner pens I’d recommend choosing a stamp line that you use a lot, and figure out which pen is the right width to match them. Then you can always fix a little goober if you need to. And if you’d like to download a free cheat sheet so you can see what sizes best match up, I put together a quick pdf: Multiliner Widths ….make sure you print it at 100% so the line widths stay the same. (Read below for a pen giveaway!) (Ohmygosh is this a long post!)

I’m going to see if I can find any of these Chrysanthemums for my garden – they’re just so pretty! HERE is the photo I used for my color inspiration!

For my cards, I added them to simple black card bases, stamped a 2-part sentiment and tied on some ivory May Arts silk ribbon—it just adds an elegance to it, and also covers that white space in my design without detracting from the flowers.

Sandy Allnock - No Line Coloring with Copics

The watercolor version came out just lovely too!

Sandy Allnock - No Line Coloring with Watercolor

And OH my gosh. I finally finished THIS drawing – and it’s getting a gaJILLion likes over on their page. Cray!


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.

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Watercolor Flowers Series #5: Clearsnap Colorbox Bloom

Oh wow. Am I at the fifth in my watercolor flowers series already?!

Watercolor flowers series #5: Bloom!

I loved this Clearsnap stencil the second I saw it – I borrowed it from Jennifer and I think I snuck off with some mojo when I left the stencil behind with her! Well at least until I got to the card assembly. Watch the video to see how I solved the “unreadable” sentiment – that took me a bit to figure out! Check it out below or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

Once I had finished the flower, I came back home and made a card – but the design kicked my behind! I really really really struggled. The size of the flower was big yet detailed, and I was sad to cut off the purple petals, but I eventually found that the simplicity of the black frame really did set it off well. The contrast makes watercolor flowers look even brighter!

Sandy Allnock Watercolor Flowers 5b

I cut a strip of watercolor paper off the edge and painted it rainbow-style, and adhered it to the edge of the card. The diecut Lawn Fawn sentiment, diecut from two layers of watercolor paper, and adhered with this glue — it crosses the bright, busy floral and the plain black frame – to split the difference, I darkened the “h” and “e” so they’d show up on the flower.


I have a crazy wild watercolor flowers video to share next time I come back with one…just need to get ‘er edited – subscribe to be sure you don’t miss out! 🙂

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Watercolor Peekaboo Window Cards

There’s just something I love about the interactiveness of cards that open – and now I can make window cards thanks to Art Impressions!

Window cards

The stamp line, which I had seen for a long while, has images in squares. Which were nice, but I hadn’t jumped on them for some reason. As soon as I saw the dies? Oh yeah baby! Give me a couple window sashes to open, and I’m sold! Check out the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

I hope you didn’t mind me talking my head off while making window cards about something that’s been bugging me for the last week or so! Just make sure you do what I asked. Wanna keep you safe out there!

Sandy Allnock WIndow cards

Giveaway alert!

A lucky winner will be picked randomly from commenters on this post – Question: tell me what you see outside your window today!  I’m curious! And on Monday I’ll announce the winner of a packet of a new couple Art Impressions stamps – one will be a Windows to the World stamp!


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.

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Watercolor Flowers Series #4: Garden Bloom


Thanks to all of you for your patience in waiting for another in my Watercolor Flowers Series!  This one was filmed a while ago, but it’s been sitting in the queue waiting for its moment to shine!

Watercolor Flowers Series #4

This time we’re working on much looser watercolors – trying out some masking fluid, and just letting that paint flow where it wants to go! I shot this video a while ago, so I’ve had more experience with watercolor and papers since then. Enjoy the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

Wasn’t that fun? I do believe this is going to be a longer series than first imagined…I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would when I first started.

Sandy Allnock Watercolor Flowers 4a

Each time I practiced painting the same watercolor flowers, different things happened – so you can come out with all kinds of looks by just letting the water and paint mix in different ways!

Sandy Allnock Watercolor Flowers 4b

One thing I’ve learned recently is to purchase a full set of a coloring medium. I gave away my set of 24 Kuretake paints 2 weeks ago, and I’m awaiting the arrival of my new 36-color set!Sandy Allnock Watercolor Flowers 4b2

And FYI, I’m cooking up some new things for my blog in the near future…I’m making friends with Dick Blick, one of my favorite suppliers of art materials; they carry tons of artists tools and paints and papers, and since our crafty stores can’t justify carrying all that, I’ll be sharing some fun things I find in the art store. And coupons. LOL. You’re welcome!


I hope if you try this technique for watercolor flowers, you’ll drop me a link in the comments – I’d love to see your interpretation!

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A new day: Copic/Watercolor meet up!


I’ve shared a number of Copic watercolor techniques before…but not Copic PLUS watercolor! So why not?

Dear Copic/watercolor: meet and be friends!

I was at a craft retreat the weekend before last, and Dawn from WPlus9 was there and working on samples for her release today. When she wasn’t looking I snuck the “A New Day” set and stamped a few on some watercolor paper so I could play too! And I’ll be ordering this set this morning – it’s soooooo pretty!

Watch the video below to see how I created the cool Copic airbrush background (read THIS post if you want to know more about the system and what you need to get started) – I can’t believe how beautiful that texture came out! You can also click HERE to watch it in HD on YouTube.

So now you know I finally did it…Copic and watercolor on the same piece! 🙂 And without trying to make one medium look like the other! I’m definitely going to be exploiting the fact that my airbrush looks amazing on this fancy shmancy paper, too.

Sandy Allnock - A New Day Copic + Watercolor2

This is such a sweet little set, and will be perfect to make Copic/watercolor cards for some friends who’ve been going through rough times lately. It seems like these seasons come all at once – everyone’s got stuff, know what I mean? So the promise of a new day, a fresh tomorrow…that’s something that’ll work for everyone. Off to shop for this set as soon as they’re live! 🙂 OH and the new sprays from Wplus9 will just happen to hop into my cart too – wayyyyyyy too cool for school!


Not sure if I have other ways to make copic/watercolor on one card with both mediums, but you know I’ll be trying!

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Good Friday: Pietá in watercolor


I’d like to share something little more somber than my usual. Today is Good Friday…the day we commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. I have a few thoughts to share before the video.

Good Friday

According to the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 15, this is the account of the later portion of Good Friday afternoon:

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached,43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Tradition (and common sense) tell us that Mary was there for all of the horror. She was documented as being there when Jesus asked John to care for Mary as his own mother. She surely would not have left his side as He hung on the cross. And would have been there to help Joseph of Arimathea take the body down.

Artists have been moved to capture this moment, this “Pietá” – Mary holding the dead body of Christ at the foot of the cross – for centuries. As have I, today.

My watercolor is based on sketches I made in front of Michaelangelo’s Pietá in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I stood in front of this sculpture….and wept. I cannot begin to fathom what Mary went through. Seeing her son this way…

pieta by Michaelangelo

Watch the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

Painting details: Kuretake Watercolors on Canson, Montval 140lb using a #6 Black Velvet Silver Brush.

Sandy Allnock Good Friday Pieta2

I used to wonder why this is called “Good” Friday, when it went seemingly tragically wrong that one day. But without this day…there would be no Easter. That makes it Good in my book.