Old Stone Doorway

Isn’t this a sweet front path and door? It makes me want to head inside or wander around the garden. This digital stamp is another design by my daughter which is available in her etsy store, Echidna Studios. I printed it on Arches cold press watercolour paper. You know I generally use Fabriano hot press watercolour paper but I am trying to ‘use what I have’ so I pulled out the Arches for a change. I like how the texture of the paper adds texture to the front of the house.

Using my Sennelier watercolour paints I painted a wash of brown over the brickwork, blue over the door and grey for the stonework. I also mixed a bluey green for the hedges. Next I switched to watercolour pencils and added shading to the bricks and stones, coloured the leaves and painted from the tip of my pencils to make the window and door frames grey and the reflections light blue. The sentiment is from Simply Graphic and is stamped in prize ribbon sketch archival ink

I almost stopped a couple of times as I wasn’t happy with the colours I had chosen and the lack of detail in the washes. I did keep going though and it pulled together. One thing that helps is that I didn’t use too many colours and I like the way the watercolour fades away at the edges. There are little white patches where I didn’t touch up the painting and I think they work too in adding a highlight here and there. I have printed another one out because a red brick house might also be fun to do.

The designer of this stamp is coming over for dinner tonight so I will ask where this door is in real life…

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Mini Tree

Another festive (digital) beauty from my daughter’s etsy store, Echidna Studios. Do you recognise the inspiration for this little tree? You probably see them in the grocery store; it’s a little pot of rosemary, shaped like a tree. The design is available already decorated or in a set with separate tree and decorations. It is only a few days before Christmas so of course I am featuring the already decorated one!

I printed the tree on hot pressed watercolour paper and painted the paper wrapping and tree with Sennelier watercolour paints. Several people asked me about printing on watercolour paper. Up until recently I had no success; I would manually feed it into the printer but the ink would smudge off. A friend told me about the preferences settings when clicking to print and now I choose ‘manual feed’ and ‘heavyweight paper’ and no more smudging!

I switched to Finetec pearlescent paints and a gold gel pen to do the decorations so they have a little shimmer and shine to them. I reached into my little box of pre-stamped, pre-cut sentiments and pulled out one to suit the colours and the recipient. It’s a tall skinny tree (a bit like our family) so the card isn’t my usual size. It’s a 6ΒΌ” x 4″ olive green card base.

My life size tree is also decorated in red and gold this year. I always pick a slightly different colour scheme so this year all the red baubles came out, the tartan ribbon and the individual decorations in red, gold or wood. Do you change your colours from year to year?

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Stockings from Narnia

This set is simply called Christmas Stockings, but I definitely think you might see one of these hanging over Mr Tumnus’ fire place or maybe in the Beaver’s lodge. I have watercoloured two of the stockings from the set of three digital stamp my daughter designed and uploaded to her etsy store, Echidna Studios.

I printed the image on watercolour paper then used Sennelier watercolours paints and a gold gel pen to fill in the design. I took a little more time on the stocking above painting all the curly fronds whereas for the one below I blended a blue and a green paint to fill the patterned stocking.

I attached both stockings to embossing folders, one with pine needles, the other bricks. I am very taken with embossing folders at present both for creating backgrounds and for making my own gel printing texture plates.

The handy dandy sentiments are from Taylored Expressions. At the beginning of my Christmas card making season I stamped the one stamp of 18 sentiments in a range of colours, cut them with the matching die and kept them in a little box which I have been able to reach into over and over. These two are among my last few Christmas cards but there will be more winter themed cards and Christmas thank you cards to come. My contents of my craft room are still spread around the house but I am making progress putting it back together!

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Bulb Basket

This sweet basket of Christmas balls not only makes a pretty card, it’s inspiration for a decorative arrangement in a few months time. The stamp is ‘bulb basket’ from Penny Black. I stamped it on hot pressed watercolour paper first in soft stone papertrey ink and then section by section with distress inks.

It is not clear in the photos but I used pearlescent paints to colour the balls so each one has a shimmer to it. The rest of the design is painted with a mix of distress inks and Sennelier watercolour paints. Once the painting was dry I added metallic tops to the Christmas balls with a gold gel pen. If you have this stamp or are planning to get it you might notice that there is a ribbon on the basket handle but no bow. The stamp features a bow but for the size of card I decided it was better to leave the bow loops unstamped.

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Blue Florals

I spent a little while painting florals the other day. My watercolour paints were on my table so I painted two precut card panels with a few blues. I started the flowers on both cards by putting five little dabs of paint in a circle then blending them out with a wet paint brush. After blending I added dots to the centres with black and yellow markers.

Both the bold and the soft florals looked ok but the leaves I’d added didn’t work. I set the panels aside, happy that I had practised but not planning to use either pieces. When I came back to them a day or so later I did some extreme cropping which took out the leaves I didn’t like and left me with some nice blends and a configuration which had some balance.

Even if I had not cropped them and put them on cards the exercise was worthwhile. Even after years of making, practising and learning I still have the niggling feeling that everything I work on should ‘work out’! I know it is unrealistic and I am getting better at spending time practising and playing just to grow and enjoy.

The pale blue ‘washy-er’ panel is my favourite but I love the colours in both. After cropping them I added them to an embossed panel (SU scripty) and popped up some Taylored Expressions sentiments over the top.

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Carmine – No Line Watercolour Video

I hope you enjoy today’s no-line watercolour video. When I first saw this stamp I knew it would be perfect for the technique. There are a few little petals but most of the image is made up of open leaves and petals which are easy to see while painting. I used soft stone ink for the initial image on cold press watercolour paper and Sennelier watercolour paints for all the painting.

If you don’t always have a plan for the background you will see how I added one after all the painting was done. Take a look at the video below to see my process.

This is such a pretty stamp and might get inked up again soon to keep my stock of Christmas cards growing. I think it would look good embossed in white on a coloured background. Stay tuned!

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Puppy’s Quilt

I created this sweet dog card for a friend to give her grand-daughter. You know it is unusual to see animals on my cards but this stamp had the perfect mix of watercolourable-quilt and not-too-difficult-to-paint dog. The colour scheme is all my own choice, no surprises there, but some of the technique was provided by the talented and prolific Sandy Allnock. When she created with this stamp she used the opportunity to teach how to paint a bold shadow. I decided not to add a bold shadow but just watching her paint the image was helpful. It made me realise there was absolutely no need to add more than one colour to each quilt square even though the fabric included patterns.

I stamped the image on hot pressed watercolour paper in versafine clair morning mist, a pigment ink which would not move when I added water and watercolour paint over the top. I used Sennelier watercolours for all the painting and to create a custom watercolour mat to frame the image also. I watched Sandy’s video more than once to help me paint the dog taking care to leave some areas bright white while the sections closer to the quilt were shadowy and grey.

The sentiment is from the Taylored Expressions ‘simple strips’ set stamped in versafine deep lagoon and cut with the co-ordinating simple strips die. If you haven’t seen the simple strips series from TE they are very clever; you get one large stamp with 18 different sentiments and one die that cuts them all into banner style strips. Very handy to have a bunch of strips on hand to add to cards. It isn’t noticeable in the photos but the blue watercoloured mat has some texture as I embossed it with the weathered embossing folder, also from Taylored Expressions.

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Birdhouse Blessings

This delightful scene is called ‘birdhouse blessings’ and it makes me want to have birdhouses and bird feeders scattered across my backyard. A few days ago my husband and I were doing what may well be our final outdoor workout of the year and watched chickadees and a cardinal flit back and forth from tree to hedge.

I worked on a hot pressed watercolour panel which I’d splattered with masking fluid (as per usual). I only just got my hands on some speckled egg distress ink and stain so that’s what I used for the background colour. It is a lovely colour and I’m very happy with the inky background. I smooshed ink on my glass mat, diluted it then swiped the panel through it to pick up colour.

I stamped the large stamp in antique linen then did some no-line watercolour with Sennelier watercolour paints. While painting those little leaves and berries I did wonder if I should have chosen watercolour markers instead of paint brush and paints but I was already committed, so me and my very small paint brush kept on painting. When I finished painting all the elements I used speckled egg distress stain to darken the edges of the panel and frame the little scene. When I removed the masking fluid there were pretty little snowflakes over the whole panel.

I painted the little star in gold and debated whether I would add a gold frame as well. Decided in the end I liked it just the way it was. (psst a little bird wants to tell you ‘Winter Wonder’ is coming!)

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Books & Tea

Ever since I created a ‘what should I read next?‘ art journal page I’ve been wanting to do a similar design on a card featuring the Darkroom Door ‘mini book’ and ‘book spines’ stamps. This time a teacup joined the party.

What is more delightful than a cup of tea and a good book? Maybe a cup of tea with another book lover?

I stamped the book spines stamp three times in hickory smoke archival ink on a piece of hot pressed watercolour paper (which had been splattered with masking fluid). I set out both my Sennelier watercolour paint palette and a Finetec pearlescent set to paint the books. I mainly used the Sennelier paints but added drops and swipes of pearlescent paints here and there for interest.

Once the paints dried I used a handful of gel pens to add decoration to the book spines. I decided not to add titles (there is other pressing work to be done after all) just patterns. I removed the masking fluid, blended tea dye and vintage photo ink around the edges then splattered some vintage photo ink over the panel.

The mini book is stamped in versafine vintage sepia and then stamped with a script stamp from the DD ‘correspondence’ set and a sentiment stamp from DD ‘classic motorcycles’. The teacup from DD ‘cup of tea’ set is embossed in gold powder then painted a pale rose. I fussy cut both the book and the cup (I know – I’m surprised too). The book panel is matted in cream then attached to a grey luxe card base. I attached the mini book and teacup to hang over the edges of the panel ever so slightly.

Right now I would love to curl up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea but I am editing my next online class! I am very excited to get it finished for you as it has a seasonal theme which might interest you right about now.

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Masked Snowscape

I teamed up with Grafix to create some videos this year. My first project was very definitely a summer scene, but this one, as you can see is not! We have had a few snowfalls already but currently are enjoying a reprieve and a few really nice mild days. Grafix makes a wide range of art plastics and films; I used their extra tack frisket film to mask the snowbanks and moon on this card and splattered Grafix liquid frisket to create the falling snow.

I worked on hot pressed watercolour paper and painted the sky and shadows with Sennelier watercolours. The trees and deer are stamped with the ever useful versafine clair nocturne ink. The video below shows my whole process.

If you are keen to create cards featuring the beauty of a northern winter I am working very hard on a new project that might interest you. Can’t wait to share more soon.

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