Vintage art supplies from Mom

Vintage art supplies from Mom

At the risk of sending people running for the hills by talking about Mom again…I’m talking about Mom again. 🙂 I mean, how many people can say they celebrated their 60th birthday with their mama after not having done so in over 45 years!? (Not because we didn’t want to, but spring has never been a time we’ve gathered. It’s always Thanksviging to Christmas.)

First, in non-vintage, Mom had sent my birthday package weeks ago. She’s on top of it! I set it on the counter, and when packing for the emergency trip, I entirely spaced it, even though I had some consciousness that my birthday was going to fall in the middle of the trip. On the day, I had dinner with my sisters at a nice Italian restaurant, then we traipsed to the hospital for cake with Mom; though we couldn’t figure out if candles would be okay since Mom had an oxygen tank and we weren’t sure if we’d blow anything up! So we pretended.

Mom did tell me what was IN the package she had sent, and how she’d looked for a  yellow one, even orange, but the best she could do was maroon. And, well, that will show less dirt so I’m great with it! I might add my yellow flower pin to it.

But the best part of my 60th? That was looking over at Mom, in her hospital bed with a huge grin on her face, singing to me. She was hurting, she had tubes all over the place, uncomfortably in a hospital bed – but celebrating with me for the first time since I was a kid. That’ll stay with me for all the rest of my birthdays.


Tutorial: Vintage art supplies from Mom (and cards from YOU!)

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Pencil Sharpening

While this video was about sharpening pastel pencils, the same applies to colored pencils. There are lots of ways to sharpen, lots of ways to break the pencil pigment, and it’s all a matter of the time and effort you want to put into it.

I have a variety of sharpeners, and this isn’t even all – but here’s how I use most of my sharpeners:

General’s All-Art Sharpener – I picked it up recently, and it works pretty great aside from pencils with thick barrels.

Quietsharp Pencil Sharpener– Electric, so it’s good for a quick sharpening.

Afmat Long Point Pencil Sharpener  – a good long point is my preference since it lasts longer – not possible for pastels, they’re too soft.

Dahle Sharpener  – Standard 2-hole options (longer and shorter points). Blades on any brands of these will wear out so get new ones often.

Dahle Chubby Pencil Sharpener  – Anything called chubby so boldly gets my vote. Only one sized hole though.

Xacto Sur Grip Utility Knife  – for old-school sharpening! Get a new blade, you won’t regret the sharpness.

Pastel vs Colored pencils

Soft pastel moves more easily than colored pencil – so be prepared for that. Not great for cards (though a shaker card with no shaker bits can really protect the pastel) and if using in a sketchbook I lightly tack a sheet of glassine on top to keep pastel from moving around. Framed pastel pieces should have the mat lifted above the surface of the paper using shims – that way if any pigment lets go and drops, it falls behind the mat and won’t dirty it.

Colored pencils are harder, and will stay in place better, though can also move. Thus why I love using it in powdered form where it behaves more like pastel. Lighter pressure keeps the pigment floating on the top of the paper, so it can move, but harder pressure or wet blending techniques make the pigment stick to the paper and not move around.

Both can be “fixed” (sprayed) but few fixes that I like are immovable. Those kind can change the color of your art, they might yellow, or become weirdly shiny. I use Delacroix Fixatif by Sennelier.

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Mom’s advice

When talking with Mom for the last two weeks, I asked her so many questions! Knowing this would likely be the last time I could sit and just talk with her, I soaked up all I could from her. A recent newsletter contained a number of my learnings, and hopefully in coming months I’ll share more of her ideas as I create art using them. 

The biggest takeaway that has me stumped is what she thought I do best: I wanted to know if it was watercolor, marker, pencil, etc. But what she wanted to know I would pursue: portraits. And secondly animals. “Not so much landscapes. You do people so well.” Now frankly, she doesn’t see all of what I do; she no longer watches YT or visits my blog. She only sees when I post art on my personal Facebook page, and since I don’t go post things there very often, it’s most of the time when I do a portrait of someone who died! What I plan to do more of is to post more of my regular art on my personal page, not just the biz page……so that my friends and family see more of the breadth of my work. Plus….I’ll try more portraits, because Mom said, and I listen to Mom. But she also said animals, and I’m hanging onto that tidbit. (And will continue my randomness too!)

BTW this little tangerine was begun before I left for the trip is still not finished, but hopefully will be soon. 

Thank you all

I am deeply grateful for all the lovely comments and emails during this last couple weeks! So many of you have told me your own stories of loss of parents, some who were present for it, others who regretted not being able to be. It means so much to hear from you and know I’m not alone; it’s simply my turn.

Mom is still in hospice as I’m typing this, and we don’t know if it’ll be days or weeks. She still wants to get herself down to bingo, and to art group, and join her bff for scrabble or the whole gang for bridge. I worry over so much activity that could include falls – and yet I celebrate her passion to keep up with the things she loves! I can only hope to be as energetic as she’s been in her elder years.

Bite-sized art instruction: tiny tutorials

Bite-sized art instruction: tiny tutorials

I’m so tired of being sick! The image below is pretty much what I look like right now (except she looks so cute still while sick!)…..I can’t stop my nose from running!


It’s not Covid and that’s the one thing I’m thankful for, but man. It’s brutal! I get tired SO easily….I got up feeling better on Sunday and got dressed for church, but had to leave early or I knew I wouldn’t last long enough to pick up meds at the store on the way home. Yeesh! 

I did lay on the sofa for most of the week though, the dogs were very sweet and comforting. In between naps I used some of the time to work on something I’d wanted to get to for ages: replicating the Tiny Tutorials class at!

Tutorial: Bite-sized art instruction: tiny tutorials

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Tiny Tutorials class

This course was originally just on Artventure – as a way to fundraise for the platform. If you purchased it that way you’re welcome to continue! But Artventure is not as yet paying its way, so just in case we can’t keep it going, the Tiny Tutorials class is now on as well. Which makes it accessible for all those who want this kind of teaching but don’t want to have to join another platform to get it!

In both locations I’ll keep uploading new TTs as I come up with them! Content will continue to grow.

The differences between the two locations:

  1. On the app: a $3.99 annual subscription, a bit less video but all the tiny tutorials. Titles of each tutorial are listed but not the visuals. When new TTs are uploaded you get a notification in the app. 
  2. On the website: a one-time purchase (it’s on sale right now) with lifetime access. Scroll through the pages and you’ll see the cover image for each, which is easier to know which ones you’ve seen before. When new TTs are uploaded you won’t get any notification, so you’ll need to remember to pop in once in a while.


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Got questions?

If you’ve had one of those questions that just sounds like it’s too dumb to raise, IT IS NOT. Some of the tiny tutorials that have been the MOST POPULAR have been explaining a ‘”d’oh” idea! Just last week I posted about the “belt” around a pencil extender and a ton of people said they had no idea it was even there.

LMK if you have ideas for those very basic things – or bigger things. I might do a full YT video, it might even lead to a class – but might be perfect for another tiny tutorial too!


Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

  1. Main product
  2. Medium
  3. Paper
  4. Other
  5. Brushes


Going from messy & scribbly — to beautiful art

Going from messy & scribbly — to beautiful art

Today’s art is inspired by the coming Valentine’s Day holiday – but also by things I hear from my students and readers!

I often see comments bemoaning a person’s own art. “I wish I could blend.” “My coloring stinks!” “My art looks so bad compared to ___!”

And though I say it often, I don’t think I can ever emphasize it enough: get your nose off your paper! When you are staring at your paper from 6 inches away, of course you’ll see any faults. But you know what? No one else looks at your work that way. And if they do, they don’t have a vision in their heads like you do – they just see a beautiful piece of art, and that’s it.

So today I’ll show you some of my art close up so you can see how messy it appears at a few inches away, but how lovely when at a distance. Maybe that’ll convince you to give yourself grace!

Tutorial: Title


Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Alcohol Markers (transparent color)

With strong, transparent color, it’s quite easy to color these chocolates with ease – go outside the lines to your heart’s content around the chocolates! Keep layering the colors til they look as dark as you want. Make the plastic liner of the box black (grey 7 or 8) or go over that with a brown to create a REALLY dark brown. White gel pen highlights top  off the “high points” and uppper left corner to create a shiny look.

Colored pencil (semi-opaque)

Since colored pencil can cover black lines below it, the medium can look a bit messier than alcohol marker. Gamsol, a blending solution, can be applied and color smooshed around to blend color and press it down into the texture of the paper.

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Gouache (opaque)

Gouache is an opaque watercolor – if you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a little like acrylic with different properties. (You could try this same thing with acrylics). Make the plastic tray black, add highlights in a very dark grey, then painted blobs for the chocolates. This was definitely the most fun to add the drizzled chocolate to! Gradually lightening the color until it’s white creates the look of softly molded chocolates.

So how about you?

What’s your internal language like about your art? Do you look at your blending and wish you could create art like so-and-so? It’s quite possible their art doesn’t look perfectly smooth…..sometimes it does but it’s certainly possible to make art that looks realistic without being “perfect”!

Intricate Sketches you can color

There’s a set of 5 (five for the price of four!) or you can purchase any of them, including the chocolate box, singly. Visit the printables page for more info!


Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

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A small diversion: Valentines critters

A small diversion: Valentines critters

I’ve got a super quick post with a heads-up presale today! No major new tutorial video but there’s a short that might be of help:

CCC release: Anita Jeram’s latest

Amy and Adrienne sent me some of the new release to color up; there are more stamps in the release, I just didn’t have time! Later in this post are the stamp pics if you want to see what the sentiments are in the sets. And, of course, to see what it started out as before I did my implied-line coloring! Plus a bit about supplies—and a giveaway from them – and me!

Preorder sale, 4 days only

Colorado Craft Company is hosting a PREorder of the new Valentines right now. Here’s the deal:
Pre-sale for 4 days only. Shop from the release for those 4 days only until the stamps and dies are fully stocked in two-ish weeks. At the end of the four days the items will be removed from the website until they are in stock.
Pre-orders get free shipping (or international shipping of $12) — all 4 days. You’ll receive your order in 1-2 weeks.
If you wait until everything’s in stock in 2 weeks, you cover your own shipping. 

While you’re visiting my blog…

If you’re new to my blog – WELCOME! And if you’ve been away a while, GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN!

I have two quick things I want to invite you to do:

1. Join Artventure and check out the “Let’s draw together” initiative! Whether you like to draw, hate to draw, or just fear it — I hope to make it a way to join the community as we learn together.

2. Add yourself to the newsletter list below – I send out a Saturday newsletter with all the info about tutorials from the week, some flashbacks, sale info, BTS peeks and more.

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Tap on any image to go straight to their shop!

The supplies

A couple common questions I get when posting colored pencil work:

Favorite paper for pencil coloring? Stonehenge.

How do you get those long points? With an Afmat Long Point Pencil Sharpener. 

Preferred colored pencils? My go to of late are Prismacolor pencils.

What’s in the gamsol jar? Gamsol. tongue-out  Gamsol is a blending solution and I put it in a small jar with a lid, soaking a cotton ball, so it won’t spill. Because I am a klutz.

Why don’t the black stamp lines show in your art? I like to do “implied line” (sometimes called no-line in crafting) artwork. I stamp the images with a light ink, then color right up to that edge so the lines disappear. I have plenty of freedom to change things up – like with the trees in the short video, they can be any shape since the pencil covers the lines.


A drawing with several blending techniques 

The pencil sharpener

Tomorrow – my palette and yours!

My video coming out tomorrow is about curating your own watercolor palette. I’ll show you what’s in mine, with all it’s scary changes for 2024, and maybe convince you that YOU also need to curate your own! Bookmark the blog or wait for the newsletter in the morning. OR if you’re an IG addict, go to my page and join my free “Create every day” broadcast channel – basically a giant DM where I can drop links to my tutorials etc!

The giveaway!

As always CCC is giving away some goodies:

CCC will give away one free clear stamp set to one of my commenters!
If you use any of my affiliate links on this post to make a purchase, you will be entered to win the entire release!
Comment up until Midnight (ET) Jan 22nd.
CCC will announce the winners Jan 24th on their blog.

I am ALSO giving away the sheet of colored stamped images!! You can cut them up and make cards, stick it in a reference book, whatever you like. I’ll announce my winner in my post on Tuesday the 25th.

To qualify to win

Leave a comment and tell me who YOUR valentine is. (And it’s totally ok if it’s your grandchild or pet!!)


The bloghop:

Sandy Allnock <—that’s me, last but never least!
How to sketch latte foam art (3 mediums)

How to sketch latte foam art (3 mediums)

For my celebration of Cuddle Up Day, let’s sketch latte foam art! And yes I know I don’t drink coffee. But swirling some beautiful art in a cup of something warm seemed too perfect not to do….art in a coffee mug! And in three different mediums, so there’s something here for everyone to try out.

Tutorial: How to sketch latte foam art

Make a cup of your fave warm beverage before  you tap play!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Alcohol marker

I used Copics here…. layering colors from the light peach and yellow underneath the coffee browns. The shadow cast on the top of the foam is on the side where the light hits.

Colors: E01 YR23 E35 E33 E29 0

Fresh Brew Class

This brand new class is available (and on sale!) – it’s a level 3 intermediate course, and will show you how to make three awesome cups of coffee using photo references. We’ll talk value, shape, layering, color – and at the end you’ll get lots of coffee cup photos to keep practicing on! SIGN UP FOR CLASS

Colored pencil

Once again layer layer layer! Start light and you can keep adding deeper color til you’re happy.

Colors: 1034 Goldenrod 945 Sienna Brown

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A little less complicated design here since watercolor can be challenging to get all those soft blends; after getting it mostly where you want it, paint over it with a middle tone to push some of the foam under the coffee’s surface.

Colors: Yellow Ochre, Transparent Red Oxide

Zoom call coming up!

Over on Artventure I’ll be hosting a zoom call with some bonus info for those in class (anyone can come, but the zoom will answer some questions left on the cutting room floor.) See the Events tab at Artventure.


Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art


  1. Copic Markers 
  2. Colors: E01 YR23 E35 E33 E29 0
  3. Copic Hex Chart 
  4. Copic sketchbook 
  5. Fresh Brew Class


  1. Prismacolor pencils 
  2. Colors: 1034 Goldenrod 945 Sienna Brown
  3. Prismacolor Hex Chart
  4. Electric Eraser, Mont Marte


  1. Lake Michigan Book Press Sketchaday is custom made with Arches:
    1. Arches Cold Press Pad
    2. Arches Cold Press sheets
  2. Daniel Smith Watercolors: Yellow Ochre. Transparent Red Oxide
  3. Winsor Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 Round #8
  4. Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Sable Round 4 
  5. Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Brush – Inlaid Liner (Needle), Size 10 

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Favorite things for finishing a card image (and new classes!)

Favorite things for finishing a card image (and new classes!)

Have you begun your holiday cardmaking yet? I have a small handful done but I feel so far behind! Today I’ll give ou a couple tips that’ll take a simply-colored image and spice it up – and one tip will even make your coloring faster.

PLUS I’ve just released four brand new Level 2 classes—coloring images that’ll be unique ones for your holiday cards. Let’s get going!

Tutorial: Favorite things for finishing a card image (and new classes!)

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Four Tips, especially for new colorists

  1. Got some messy blending? Cover it up by adding a pattern on top! Either white snowflakes or polka dots, or even dark stripes or dots on an outfit would do the same. And if it’s a background, just add falling snow! No one will see the messy color beneath.
  2. EASY blending: Color an image with one flat alcohol marker color, then do colored pencil blending on top. It’s the best of both worlds: simple flat alcohol marker with no blending needed, then the pencil won’t be fighting white gaps caused by the paper texture. Win win!
  3. Add shading to white pen texture! Go over the shaded areas with the alcohol marker base tone of the object being shaded. That’ll dull down the pattern in shadow areas, making it look more supple like real fabric. Scribble the pen on scrap paper 
  4. Make the tiniest highlights on eyes by drawing the dot with a pen, then “shave” it down to a good size with a pencil!

New Classes & more

Click on the image below to get to the course you’re interested in – you can see all the images that’ll be in the lessons once you’re there! OR you can go to the brand spanking new HOLIDAY page, where these are all at the top, and all the other holiday/winter classes are all on one page! Tap on the image below:

Alcohol Marker

Colored Pencil



A timely older tutorial…for winter

White pens are the bane of the existence of many…this might help!


Those who’ve followed along on Patreon and Artventure know this was a heroic effort to get all this together; and I’m excited that I also have next week’s videos scheduled. So after I take a couple days to just SLEEP, I’ll be spending time working on sample pieces and figuring out prices for the upcoming commission fiesta. Hooray!

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