Vintage Pumpkin Patch Card: Distress Ink + Watercolor

Vintage Pumpkin Patch Card: Distress Ink + Watercolor

I decided to try a Vintage Pumpkin Patch Card using distress ink + watercolor to achieve the look I wanted. It was my 4th try and I think it finally looked like what I was trying for! NOTE: There’s a stamp sale running at Ellen Hutson so yeah, that’s a thing:

And if you want to see a little of what my Watercolor Trees class had goin’ on all weekend, there’s pics in another post here….no video but the pics are fun!

Note: Supplies are linked in the supply list at the end of this post. Compensated affiliate links may be used  – that means if you make a purchase using my links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support of my work on this blog!  Read more.

Watch the video below or click HERE and watch on YouTube.

The Gathered Twigs distress ink was the perfect color for this – I had tried a couple other browns and this is the one that worked best.

Hope your fall is going well so far – I’m loving the changing of leaves where I live!

Watercolor Trees class at Daniel Smith: done!

Watercolor Trees class at Daniel Smith: done!

I am so excited about how my Watercolor Trees class at Daniel Smith went! I know lots of you think of me as a teacher, at whatever level you perceive – but there’s a big difference between teaching online and in person, especially in something like watercolor.

First, when teaching online I can keep filming over and over if needed to get it “right.” While I sometimes keep booboos in if they’re teachable things, but if there’s a way more efficient and clearer way to teach something, I’ll reshoot for the sake of being clear. When I take classes I really appreciate a teacher who’s tight on technique – able to explain it well and clearly, as much as possible, to make it an idea I can grasp and carry out in my own way!

For the demo last week (as well as class) I brought a ton of paintings that had trees in them. There were probably 50 people that attended! I was pretty shocked. A bunch from my sketch and plein air groups came, and my church, and students who’d signed up for class. It was wonderful to see so many wanting to learn! Daniel Smith has this cool mirror setup so people can watch — it means you watch with it flipped since it’s in a mirror but works pretty well.

To make it viewable for people way in the back, I worked on a half sheet – twice the size I usually work. EEEEP! But working big forced me to 1) use my biggest brushes, and 2) use big bold brush strokes. I was thrilled that the painting worked nicely – and it might give me courage to start trying to work a little larger once in a while. By the end of the demo I had a waiting list growing, and lots hoping that someone would bail on class!

One of the attendees, who happens to be in one of my urban sketcher group, posted her thoughts and photos HERE.

Two day workshop

We started class this weekend by mixing greens. I know lots of artists who struggle with greens, and they swatch them out til the cows come home – but you never really know what they can do until you see colors together. I had the students make a page of trees (any type or shape of tree) and play with dropping one color into another from whatever palette they had. Get to know your colors by playing this way; swatches don’t show you how a pigment acts in context, but you get painting practice AND color mixing studies in one fell swoop by doing this together.

I did have handouts for students, but really wanted them to be successful in ways I don’t always experience in real-life classes. Often they feel frustrating because it’s super hard to make a beautiful “frameable” piece in a classroom setting; I know that’s a hope I pin on classes that’s unreasonable, but I made an effort to get students to see what we were doing as *studies* not paintings. We broke a quarter sheet into thirds for one exercise, trying to get them to make their own step by step “handout” – first do one pass in each third, then the second pass in two of them, and a third pass in a third. That could be a great reference in knowing just how far to go in each pass.

I think it was a good idea, though I need to find better ways to explain our goal more clearly. I had a couple paintings of Puerto Rico that just needed a few touches, so was able to talk through what I was fixing and why.

I’m also a big fan of crediting my own mentors for all they’ve taught me. I was waxing on about Bjorn Bernstrom at one point, and at the end of day one we had a few minutes and I decided to show them a quick idea of what his technique is like – slathering on thick paint, then washing it off in particular ways and creating gorgeous bloomed skies. Don’t mind the mountain here; this was a 15 minute demo, so I can’t be held responsible for a big old lump. LOL. The sky was amazing enough that I think my students will fill Bjorn’s next class in our area!

Below was a demo that started on Day One – I ran out of time to get farther than this on it, but in the next pic below, I worked on it for a few minutes at lunch during Day Two and a few more at the very end as folks packed up. It’s a half-sheet painting, again huge by my normal standards, and I’m relatively satisfied with it!

On Day Two we worked on studies again, this time fall trees. Learning when it’s “enough” and when a little more detail is going to help is a big help, but I have yet to know the difference sometimes!

By the time we worked on painting from photos on day two, I was DELIGHTED that students actually were able to tell me their “plan” for what they’d include in their three or more passes. Several dove in and accomplished their plan and, frankly, that was HUGE for me as a teacher to see people grasp it so readily and execute on it!

My primary demo for Day Two is below. I was super happy with some things, not so much with others, but it was an excellent teaching opportunity on dealing with a number of factors.

As always, the afternoon of Day Two saw some tuckered students. Two days of absorbing concepts that are new to you can be draining, and some packed up early, but stayed for demos. I had earlier promised to try to squeeze in a winter demo if there was time – and they held me to it! I had all of a half an hour to git ‘er done – and actually did. It’s not a stellar piece but very teachable in what I was doing and why – including the fun of flicking watercolor grounds all over to make snow! This still needs one more flicking of snow now that it’s dry; when it lands on wet pigment it melts in a bit, but one more quick flicking and it’ll brighten up the snowy effect quite nicely. And, I have to say, it wasn’t bad at all for half an hour, eh?

Two of the biggest joys that went beyond the success of the class will stay with me a while.

One, I finally got to see a bunch of my paintings laid out together in one place. There’s something about seeing it dispassionately laid out on a table – and noticing commonalities in my style. Some of the students even pointed out what they saw stylistically, and that was helpful. I’ve wondered if I’d ever develop my own style as a painter, and it seems to be developing as I paint a lot!

And two, I actually had a messaging chat with one of my mentors! Typically when reaching out to them I get little quick replies, sometimes ones that feel like a pat on the head. I know they’re busy. My usual feedback is when they’re in town, plus their help in critiquing my work is all free – so I don’t expect much. But when I told this particular artist that I was teaching my first workshop, we had a nice little DM chat about it, and I felt so encouraged! It was intimidating in some ways to be standing under the mirror that all these men and women I admire have stood under – but after hearing kudos from one, I stood up a little straighter!

Another workshop has been scheduled in January, but I may ask for a date change so I can have a 2 day workshop. Students in this class agreed one day wasn’t really enough; they had so much to absorb, and hearing some of it again in a different way the second day really helped. So I’ll let you know when something gets scheduled and when it’ll be!

Which art medium is best for what?

Which art medium is best for what?

My post today over at Ellen Hutson is a rather epic one – it was created for people who don’t color at all, but have an inkling they might like to try – the supplies for each are different, and choosing which one and knowing what to get can be overwhelming!

I thought I would create a “partner” post for it here, for more advanced folks who may already have a few of those art supplies, and are wondering which kinds of projects are best suited for which medium.

This video is also the first of a series that I’m creating for a class coming up – some of the videos will be public ones on YouTube, others will be inside the class all about art supplies. I’ve always wanted one place to put alllll the info about my favorite supplies, maintenance and care of them, tricks to fix broken things, lots of tiny tips that get lost on a giant YouTube channel like mine. I get so many questions about which direction is best to store X brand of whatever, or what’s my favorite thing for X, and this class will be epic. And free.

Which art medium is best for what?

Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes you just feel like using a medium. But sometimes…it might help to think through what medium is best for a particular subject matter, or a certain kind of stamp. This video includes snippets of lots of videos that I thought showcase the best uses for the mediums, and sometimes point out the challenges!

Watch the video below or click HERE to view on YouTube.

Tutorials included in the above video, in order:

Note: Supplies are linked in the supply list at the end of this post. Compensated affiliate links may be used  – that means if you make a purchase using my links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support of my work on this blog!  Read more.

What are Copic markers best for?

While an artist can always use *whatever* medium when does it make the most sense to reach for Copics?

Smooth blending is the workspace of Copic markers (I’ve tried other brands and haven’t found others that compare favorably). Once techniques are mastered, it’s easy to create art with smooth transitions between colors that are different, depth created by blending a dark into a medium and a light.

Images with thicker outlines are easier for newer colorists to use with Copics, since the nib on a Copic isn’t pencil-thin; stamps with thin outlines can sometimes beckon the ink to bleed outside the line.

Color range is a boon for Copics, if you’re an artist with a wide collection – for someone like me who has them all, I know exactly what I can do with the colors I have. There are very subtle differences between some that are helpful in creating realism and minute color shifts.

Studio/craft room work is most typical for Copics; they can be packed up in cases/boxes/baskets for travel, but the size of the collection can cause problems for those wanting to haul supplies! I never use Copics when I go outdoors to sketch for this reason, though I may do a black and white sketch and come back to the studio to add color.

Foundations (color theory) and technique are taught in Copic Jumpstart – a class that has been loved by both crafters and artists of all levels of experience.

What is watercolor best for?

Choose the medium that suits your mood at the moment! Don’t think with your head. Close your eyes and picture yourself in your artistic happy place. What will make your heart happy at that moment?

When feeling loose and washy, get out the paints! I get in different moods, and that often points me to my watercolors. Paint outside the lines, let the color flow, and let yourself lose a little control. Start with some scraps, even just a corner of paper to play with, and get yourself inspired.

Playing with color is an area that watercolor excels. The mixing of color is limitless, literally – the amount of pigment vs water used affects the color mix produced. You can mix in a palette or on paper. Glaze one color over another. If you know none of your Copics will have the color you need – your watercolors can create it.

Stamps with heavier lines work a bit better for those who are worried about going outside the lines – brush control takes practice. Stamps with thinner lines can be used for loose techniques breaking out of lines.

Flat washes (large areas where color floods are needed) are easiest with watercolor, though the art of the flat wash does require practice. Use gravity to your benefit!

Water management is the hardest learning curve in watercolor, in my opinion – the Watercolor Jumpstart Class provides teaching on that topic and many others that’ll help you wrangle your paints!

What are colored pencils best for?

If your project – or your mood – requires control, colored pencil is by far the way to go.

Tiny detail requires tiny nibs/points on pencils, pens and brushes – and pencils can be sharpened to a very very fine point. That makes them perfect for very detailed work, or for adding that detail onto a piece created with a different medium. Yes, you can combine them!

Color stays put for the most part, with colored pencil; it’s a dry medium, and won’t bleed when it touches another color next to it. It will, however, smoodge if you lay your hand across it, so be aware of that and place a protective piece of paper below your hand to protect your work.

The best controlled color mixing happens with colored pencils; adding light layers of color one over another can create not only new colors, but depth and resonance of color not achievable by any other medium!

Creating textures are fabulous with pencil, given the number of techniques that exist for blending. See the Colored Pencil Jumpstart class to learn a number of them.

What are watercolor pencils best for?

Some mediums lend themselves to being a hybrid of control and loose application of color – and watercolor pencil is one that checks a lot of boxes.

Control with options – watercolor pencils are applied in the same controlled fashion as colored pencils, but with the opportunity to add some looseness as well when adding water.

Thin stamped lines lend themselves to coloring carefully up to the line with the pencil, then carefully using a brush and water to break up the pigment. But watercolor pencils can handle any stamp lines well.

Enhancing watercolor can be achieved with watercolor pencils, as well – if reaching a point in a painting that particular detail needs to be added with more control, reach for a watercolor pencil. Signs on a building, patterns on fabric on a figure—address the small details that are hard to achieve with a brush.

Sketching is great with watercolor pencils; create a sketched scene in watercolor pencil that is planned to be done in watercolor, and the outlines will melt away. If some lines need to remain, sketch those in a regular pencil so they don’t disappear.

Coming soon: a Watercolor Pencil Jumpstart class. Sign up for the newsletter (in the menu bar over at and you’ll be first to know!

  • Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencil Tin Set of 120, Faber-Castell —- Ellen Hutson —- Blick
  • Supracolor Aquarelle Pencils, Set of 120 —- Blick
  • Derwent Inktense Pencils – Blick
  • Brushes for crafting:
    Silver Black Velvet 8 Round – Ellen HutsonBlick
    Silver Black Velvet 12 Round – Ellen HutsonBlick
  • Brushes for fine art, larger works:
    Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Sable Round 14 – Blick
    Winsor Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 Round 10 brush – Blick
  • Arches Cold Press Paper pad – Ellen Hutson —- Blick

Also, the video for beginners: Go to Ellen’s blog post with LOTS of info HERE. Click HERE to see it on YouTube.

Rendr Sketchbook: Will it bleed through?

Rendr Sketchbook: Will it bleed through?

I came to this RENDR Sketchbook quite skeptical…will it bleed through? I haven’t found any decent no-bleed sketchbook papers! When I say I didn’t peek, I mean it – I waited til you saw it. I didn’t want seeing NO color or SOME color to influence how hard I was pushing the paper by putting a lot of color on. I was mighty happily surprised!

Note: Supplies are linked in the supply list at the end of this post. Compensated affiliate links may be used  – that means if you make a purchase using my links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support of my work on this blog!  Read more.

Watch the video below or click HERE to view it on YouTube.

Part of what made me skeptical is that it wasn’t pricey. I thought it couldn’t be very good because it wasn’t a terribly high cost.

Then when I got it, it felt….icky. Like the texture of copier paper, but a little thicker. It IS a little bit grey, but I can get over that if it works otherwise…

Once I got busy with the Copics I realized how nicely they were gliding across the surface. I got no weird effects in the sky, which was what caught me off guard. Filling in large areas is ALWAYS hard with Copics, you get extra pigment when you cross one line over with another, creating glazed areas you didn’t intend. But that sky just ignored when I did that. It was pretty cool!

The photo is from the PMP site – Autumn Scene on the Farm by Suzanne Johnson. PMP is Paint My Photo – a place where people can upload their photos for artists to use. It’s free, but I’ve set up a monthly donation since I draw and paint from photos there a lot!

Hope Hedgehog

Hope Hedgehog

My Uncle George is a diehard Steelers fan – and I am too. (It’s not just because of their Y17 color….I liked them long before I fell in love with yellow!) And Uncle George could use a pick-me-up…when I saw HoneyBee’s set with Hope the Hedgehog, I had to pick it up and make old Uncle George (aka Uncle GPS coz he has always been a walking talking directions-giver!) a card to cheer up his day!

Note: Supplies are linked in the supply list at the end of this post. Compensated affiliate links may be used  – that means if you make a purchase using my links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support of my work on this blog!  Read more.

Watch the video below or click HERE to see it in HD on YouTube.

I picked colors that work with my team’s uniforms – pick whatever will match your own school team or professional sports organization. (Or that of the recipient!) You did realize you don’t need to be a sports fan to make a card like this, right?

The background on this one is easier than you think – BLOBS! When things are distant and out of focus, just give them some general blobbies of color, and people will “see” them as a crowd at a football game anyway.

If adding confetti, know that you can cover up any coloring problems….which is a great reason to add confetti to any card!

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