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 Art-Classes.com) 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.

Galactic Watercolor Powder Tutorial (and a bloghop!)

Galactic Watercolor Powder Tutorial (and a bloghop!)

Another huge release from Ellen Hutson is out today – and I’m along for the bloghop ride to share some fun cards I made using the new stamps and dies! Last month all my cards were colored with Copics – this time it’s all watercolor. In the video I’ll show you how I made the cool galaxy background – controlling the powders enough to make them do what I want!

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.

Wasn’t that fun to see that galaxy develop, and the fire behind the rocketship made me SO happy!

The constellation background is a lot of fun – I added a gold dot for each star at every “elbow” in the constellations.

Tonic Nuvo Shimmer Powders: Storm Cloud Catherine Wheel Golden Sparkler and Atlantis Burst

Sugar is a theme lately, eh? This time I decided to focus on the “old fashioned” and not make the candy all colorful – so maybe it wont’ make me hungry! lol!

DinoMITE! This will be a fun little set to play with – I added the wagon from the Bear that was released last month because this lil dino had a lot of stuff to haul!

One of just a few halloween cards — I don’t send many so I don’t make many but they’re fun. Here I did backlighting on the dino so he glows in the moonlight!

If you’ve got a couple of Leading Ladies, now they can all go to a halloween party decked out in costumes!

One more card – with the mondo leaf! I’ve posted an IGTV video with this pretty leaf card…you don’t need an Instagram account to watch: CLICK HERE.

Bloghop!

PRIZES: We’ve got super fun prizes!!! One random & lucky commenter will win $25 to the EH shop and one will win the whole September Essentials by Ellen release!!! To enter for a chance to win, make sure to leave comments at each stop along the hop! Comment before Sunday, September 15th at 11:59pm PST. Winners will be notified by email.

  1. Ardyth
  2. Emily
  3. Kelly 
  4. Carly
  5. Erica
  6. Michele
  7. Adelina
  8. Laurel
  9. Carissa
  10. Carolyn
  11. Lisa
  12. Mindy
  13. Julie
  14. Sandy – that’s me!
  15. Therese
  16. Brandi

My Plein Air setup

My Plein Air setup

I’ve been asked often about my plein air setup … (What’s plein air? Painting outside, from real life!) and it’s about time I tackled the topic!

Part of the delay has been getting to know what works for me. I’m part of a few groups of artists who go out regularly to paint or sketch, and I see what others do and have been learning from them. Sometimes learning what NOT to do! There are a few folks who carry so much with them that they end up rattling and creaking down a path dragging a wagonload of supplies with them; for oil painters that’s often necessary because there’s just so much stuff. But for watercolorists – if you need more than a backpack, I feel like you’re overdoing it!

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 carry three things: Loctote backpack, my easel bag, and something to carry my paper in. Scroll down for my lists of what’s in them all!

Backpack

Unless you’re doing a major trip, overnighting, etc, keep it as simple as you can. If you come home regularly and find something wasn’t used, take it off your list for future trips.

  • Loctote bag – I bought it for security as I travel to cities, and this thing is a tank! It’s heavier than I sometimes wish, but I keep so little in it, that it’s not really a problem. It can’t be cut through, pickpocketed, etc, and if I want I can put a padlock on the drawstring. It’s serious!
  • Watercolors. I use my normal palette with my Daniel Smith paints in it, usually, though I have some specialty palettes for specific things – color sets for beaches, Puerto Rico, etc. Take a smallish palette, don’t take a giant 9 x 12 tray.
  • Brushes. I take only 2-3! And no travel brushes for plein air (though sometimes I’ll take one for urban sketching where it’s even more important to take less!) I take my Maestro 14 round and my Winsor Newton 10 round. For certain subjects the third will be a tiny brush for details but normally just these two brushes.
  • Water bottle and water container – I bring my nesting brush washer.
  • Pencil – I bring my Tutto3 so I have a variety of line weights and intensity for sketching.
  • Kneaded EraserPrismacolor makes the best one. Nice and soft without being gooey.
  • Spray bottle – I like a small one.
  • A snack or lunch if you’ll be out through a meal. I often do a big breakfast and then only need a power bar and water.
  • Leave at the car: bug spray and sunscreen, just apply before heading out!

Easel bag

  • I use a Blick brand easel – mine came with the little bag I showed in the video, though it’s not pictured on their website. I’m still on the lookout for a new easel, smaller maybe – but that’s only for the eventuality that I may do a backpacking trip sometime. Which is highly unlikely, but if I found a great easel I may have to test it out. LOL.
  • If I pack the bag really well I can fit my Guerilla Painter Umbrella inside with its connector bits. It has silver on the top to reflect light, black underneath to keep color from doing weird things to color – and a little gap to supposedly keep light winds at bay. It clamps onto any part of whatever contraption you use. It takes some getting used to in figuring out how to get it at the right height and angle for you.
  • If you don’t have an easel bag no worries. Lots of easels will strap onto a backpack easily.

Paper bag

  • I use the case from a flat LED studio light I once purchased, it’s just the right size; but you can make one easily from a couple pieces of cardboard taped together. Fashion a paper handle.
  • Watercolor paper. I use the good stuff; I used to try to use up the ick because I was guaranteed fails anyway outside – but found that I wasn’t learning anything by using the ick! So I use sheets of Arches or Saunders Waterford, torn into quarter sheets. (Fold repeatedly along the edge you want to tear, then tear it. Leaves a nice deckled edge.)
  • To mount paper, I use a Grafix Incredible Board – cut to just larger than my 1/4 sheets. Mount paper with 1″ white artists tape at home and you don’t have to carry tape. I take 2 prepped boards for day trips.
  • Sketchbook – like a Stillman & Birn or whatever you like for quick studies. Mixed media work great.

The scene I was painting from….

Art Impressions Watercolor: Summer Edition

Art Impressions Watercolor: Summer Edition

A few months ago I had promised to use these beach sets when summer arrived – and GAH it’s half over! Sorry ’bout that. But better midsummer than late summer, right? The #worldwatercolormonth prompt reminded me to make this one; it’s “beach fun” today, and this is about as beachy fun as you can get!

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 recommend making a practice sheet for yourself – try them out with different colors, even different brands, and write down what you used so you can replicate it. (Or avoid it as the case may be!

I have a gajillion blocks – – all the standard rectangles, but also one of the Catherine Pooler rounds that has the soft edges to it, Lawn Fawn ones with the scalloped sides that are easy to grip – and the AI ones with the little tiny blocks for all the little tiny flowers and leaves that you need to make scenes with. The die below comes in a set – the script as well as the outline Big Scripty Hello.

If you missed the video where I showed the two sets of Tombow markers (labeled with AI’s brand) – that’s HERE.

A window in Sunnyville (plus another guest video!)

A window in Sunnyville (plus another guest video!)

I had another stamp set that inspired me to watercolor a card for today’s World Watercolor Month painting – Splashes of Color! The simplicity of the images, the sunny concept, the nice bold lines….I knew this would be just perfect!

See the rest of my info about this month on the page HERE)

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 put Glossy Accents onto the images before painting the background, which made it really easy too paint around them:

The finished card has a piece of wood-painted scrap of watercolor trimmed to be the windowsill and window frame; I also painted a strip for the curtain (you can also just use patterned paper too!)

I hope you’re joining in on the World Watercolor Month fun! My video over at Ellen Hutson’s blog also shows off some fun watercolor….Paris in the rain!

Negative Painting – Flowers and Butterflies

Negative Painting – Flowers and Butterflies

I’ve covered negative painting/coloring a bunch of times – it’s a technique where you color things AROUND the subject, darkening them layer by layer to push items in the background further back and leaving the foreground lighter. It’s complex, and challenging to get white things to be white; in the painting I also do some positive painting on the flower petals.

I’m calling this also “relaxing” – the prompt for World Watercolor Month today! See more of my daily little speedpaintings HERE, and all of my WWCM info HERE.

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.

The butterfly is likely smaller than he should be…I wanted to use the flowers from one of my pics from Puerto Rico, and add a butterfly – and probably didn’t think it through all that well, but it’s still pretty!

And for those who will inevitably ask, I did add it to Society6 for ya! (This link is to the framed photos page, just scroll down to find options for unframed, bags, pillows, et al). Lest you worry that I’m hawking products….I get excited if my Society6 payment is over $6 in any given month, so I offer these more as a service to those wanting a piece of my art rather than to make much moolah at all. LOL!

Copic Negative Coloring

Did you know you can do negative coloring with Copics too? On Social Media later today I have a speed video of how I did this card with a butterfly background stamp. Super easy – scribble light colors over all of it, and do the negative coloring in between with darker greens and bluegreens!

I popped one hand-cut butterfly, added Glossy Accents to it, and also popped a circle-punch with the sentiment – and a little bit of glossy dots around it!

Watercolor Supplies:

Card Supplies:

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