5 Ways To Beat “I Don’t Know What To Draw” Syndrome

1. Use your own photography as reference imagery.

What Is It? Most of us keep dozens—if not hundreds—of pictures stored away in our smart phones without ever doing much more with them besides flashing a few to a family member on holidays. Using your own photos for references are an amazing way to preserve your art as your own, and being able to continually enjoy the moments that may or may not end up stuffed away in a scrapbook. The greatest thing about this is that you can pull out the image anytime to start and stop drawing as you please. Plus: no copyright infringement!

How Will It Inspire Me? You usually only preserve images of the things that you love or find aesthetically pleasing, so picking even just one of your own pictures to draw should be especially easy. It’s also a great way to work on bettering your drawing of faces and the human form, as many of us photograph our loved ones on a regular basis.

What’s Next? 1) Choose another photo and draw some more! 2) Start taking more pictures with the intention of drawing the imagery. Who knows, you might even realize a love for photography!

Hint: Use the settings in your phone to disable automatic shut off so that you don’t have to keep taping the screen while you draw from your reference photo. Just make sure to re-enable it when you’re finished.

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2. Participate in #DrawThisInYourStyle.

What Is It? Draw this in your style is a trending online movement where artists post their own original content and characters, in hopes that other artists will love it so much that they too will want to recreate the content or character with their own twist. Currently, there are 200,000+ results on Instagram for #DrawThisInYourStyle, so there is plenty of content (and characters) to pick from! These artists are lending their creativity to you, so you’re free to do with it as you please

How Will It Inspire Me? This challenge lets you create without having to make hard decisions. Of course, the real fun is not in copying, but altering, which means that you can change poses or facial expressions, for example, without needing to have “big” ideas. Plus, it lets you connect with new artists, which is a pretty awesome bonus!

What’s Next? Why, create your own something for #DrawThisInYourStyle, of course!

3. Compose Your Own Still Life

What Is It? Still life consists of drawing or painting inanimate objects, most commonly associated with fruit or flowers. But it does not have to be fruit or flowers, of course, which means it could be literally anything laying around your house! Your favorite mug next to a knickknack next to a rock from your yard: draw it! A pillow under a novel under an ink pen: draw it! Still life drawings are more challenging than drawing your own photographed images because your perspective can change, the lighting can change, and you’ll never be able to assemble the objects in the exact same way, so choose this option carefully.

How Will It Inspire Me? Being able to choose the objects that you will find the easiest (or hardest) to draw means that you can make the experience as enjoyable as you please in a way that best fits you.

What’s Next? Change your perspective! Stand over the still life subject, go to the other side of it, or even just rearrange the objects. Fully understanding perspective is one of the hardest things about drawing, and you’re seriously improving your ability by drawing something from multiple angles.

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4. Re-Draw Your Own Art

What Is It? This idea is very similar to #DrawThisInYourStyle, but gives you a lot more control over the art that you’re creating. Because you are redrawing your own art, you may feel more comfortable with altering more of the content, as it is your original creation, after all. Not only that, but redrawing your own art makes the content more marketable, if you are in fact creating in order sell.

How Will It Inspire Me? Redrawing your own art tends to make an artist realize how much they’ve actually improved their artistic skills. You’ll not only be creating something, but also proving to yourself the time you’ve invested in your artistic ability hasn’t be for naught. You might also discover a new-found love for the original piece.

What’s Next? Once you’ve realized that your abilities have improved in some areas, you may find that some areas could still use a little work. Try focusing on these less improved areas, whether it be shading, individual facial features, or understanding of perspective. Dont be afraid to redraw something that you’ve already redrawn before!

5. Self Portrait

What Is It? A drawing of yourself! You are the perfect subject because you’ve been looking at the subject your entire life. You also have complete ability of posing your model and know just where to find them when the drawing mood strikes! Several artists are well known for self portraits, and all you require is a drawing utensil and a mirror.

How Will It Inspire Me? Although not every artist wants to draw people, understanding human anatomy and facial structure will lend itself to understanding anatomy of animals as well. That being said, a lot of artists lean toward human beings as their main subject matter, and knowing the simplest form of your face will be useful when drawing any face in general. Not only that, but hey look: you’re a model now!

What’s Next? Your face can make some really great (and bizarre) expressions, so why not try out a few? You don’t have to draw the whole face to draw stretched lips around a smile or scrunched up nose. Focus on doing a few different expressions and you’ll soon have an entire page for future references.

Self Portrait as a Painter

Self Portrait of a Painter, oil on canvas, 65.1 cm x 50 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

ArtSnacks: November 2018

Unboxing and Speed Paint

What is (and is in) an ArtSnacks box?

ArtSnacks is a monthly subscription box, which I have been receiving for just over two and a half years. The subscription costs $240 annually or $24 monthly. The box contains four or five art supplies, plus a few other goodies, and is delivered once per month. These supplies usually include a drawing utensil and one or more ways to add color. Besides a pencil or fineliner, ArtSnacks boxes usually include markers or colored pencils, and less frequently, watercolor, acrylic paints, and bottled ink. Sometimes ArtSnacks supplies will be branded with the ArtSnacks logo and teal color; branded items have included pencils, a bag, small sketchbooks, and a pencil sharpener. Along with art supplies, subscribers also always receive a piece of candy, a sticker that portrays the company’s logo, and a “menu,” describing the contents.

Swatching the November 2018 ArtSnacks supplies. Copyright EmK Wright

Why Subscribe?

As someone who owns too many art supplies, I continue to purchase ArtSnacks for a few reasons. The ArtSnacks box continues to surprise me with supplies that I have never seen or used before. The box may also include exclusive items, which has included sets of pencils and pens curated for ArtSnacks. The subscription box is also usually a higher value than the amount paid per month, when referencing the retail value of items included within the box. This value does not include the candy and sticker, or “bonus” items which can be included in the box, such as paper samples. Unless ArtSnacks begins to send too many repeat supplies (this has happened only a couple times) or my studio space becomes limited, I’ll happily continue my subscription! There have only been a few boxes that have included supplies I found myself dissatisfied with, and usually they are coupled with other supplies that keep me excited.

ArtSnacks November 2018 "menu" and orange plaid sticker. Copyright EmK Wright

ArtSnacks Box of November 2018

This month, the ArtSnacks subscription box included four art supplies, the candy and sticker, and no extra “bonus items.” The four art supplies were:

1) Liquitex Professional brand acrylic gouache, quoted by ArtSnacks to be a $10.99 retail value. The price of Liquitex’s acylic gouache is one that is reliant on the pigments used in each color of this paint. Buyers can can also find themselves paying $14.99 per 59 mL (2 fl oz) bottle, especially if you’re like me and have your eyes on the fluorescent set of six. Unfortunately, my favorite color made by the brand, Naples Yellow, is not available in this line of gouache, so I have hopes that the color selection will be expanded by Liquitex.

Close up of Liquitex Professional Acrylic Gouache in color Primary Red. Copyright EmK Wright

2) A Galeria series paint brush by Winsor & Newton, with a retail value of $8.49. This brush is a round size of 3. It is made for acrylic paint, short handled, and has synthetic bristles. ArtSnacks claims that it is “developed to provide…shape retention,” a necessity when working with heavier supplies like acrylic paint.

Close up of the bristles on the Winsor and Newton Galeria paintbrush in a round 3. Copyright EmK Wright

3) Sakura brand fineliner style pen, quoted by ArtSnacks to be a $2.79 retail value. This pen is from the Microperm line, and multiple different tip sizes were sent out among ArtSnacks subscribers. I received the small 01 size, which measures out to be a .25 mm. The Microperm has a waterproof ink and is advertised to be usable on non-porous surfaces, including metal, glass, and even diamonds. I loved the size of this pen nib as well as the rich black color of the ink. However, I did find the ink cartridge inside of the pen body to be loose enough to hear and feel when moving the pen from side-to-side.

Close up of Sakura brand Microperm pen in size 01. Can be used on glass and metal. Copyright EmK Wright

4) Cretacolor brand MegaGraphite pencil [no official purchasing site], quoted by ArtSnacks to be a $2.30 retail value. It is true to it’s name at a whopping 10 mm diameter…and only fits in my universal XL pencil sharpener by force. The pencil that I received had a graphite grade of 6B, but other ArtSnacks subscribers received a variety of graphite grades. For me, this pencil is competing with the Faber-Castell Jumbo 9000 series pencils, and held up pretty well. However, I prefer graphite with less sheen, such as the General’s brand Kimberly 9XXB pencil, which is a matte graphite and came in an earlier ArtSnacks box.

Close up of Cretacolor brand MegaGraphite pencil in grade 6B. Copyright EmK Wright

Each “menu” in an ArtSnacks box has a call to action, which is called the ArtSnacks Challenge. It asks subscribers to create a piece of art with the supplies that are included in the box. For this month, I created a drawing of a pomegranate. I sketched with the MegaGraphite pencil, painted with the acrylic gouache—using my Galeria paintbrush, of course—and used the Microperm pen to add texture and shading to the art. I also used an eraser and blending stump to create this artwork, two items that were not included in the November ArtSnacks box.

Pomegranate painting created with the November 2018 ArtSnacks box. #ArtSnacksChallenge Copyright EmK Wright

This month, the box was a value of just 57 cents over the $24 price point, but I have seen it much higher. If I were to purchase these items individually, I would probably forgo the pencil and pen, simply because of how many other pencils and black fineliners that I currently own. However, I would recommend the pen to someone looking for a waterproof fineliner. As for the more expensive items, I love the acrylic gauche and plan to purchase more bottles in the future! The paintbrush is a little expensive at almost $9, but if it survives what is sure to be constant use, then I will find it to be worth every penny!

Pomegranate "Idea, Sketch, and Realization" painting created with the November 2018 ArtSnacks box. #ArtSnacksChallenge Copyright EmK Wright

If you’re interested in purchasing ArtSnacks for yourself or a loved one, I recommend it for sure! As an artist with too many art supplies, I still think it’s a great monthly treat. You can click HERE to visit the ArtSnacks website for more information. Please note that I am in no way sponsored by ArtSnacks or the brands found in ArtSnacks boxes.

Vlog: New Moleskine & Kuretake Brush Pens and Markers!

Have you ever discovered a new clothing store, walked in, and said, “Now this is my style?” Everything in the place just screams your name, and you’d turn the store into your closet if you just had the cash to buy it all out? Well, that’s how I feel about art supply stores. I don’t really care to shop for clothes, but paintbrushes, acrylics, pencils—now that’s my style! And that’s exactly what happened when I’ve discovered Jet Pens. I finally put in an order and received a bit of a haul!

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EmK’s Jet Pens Art Supply Haul

The main reason that I purchased these supplies is because I was able to try some Kuretake brand pens and markers via my Art Snacks subscription, and was extremely pleased with those supplies—especially the Kuretake No. 7 Brush Pen that came in my June 2016 Art Snacks box. This haul included 16 Kuretake Zig brand brush pens/markers. I chose to pick up a small set of the Clean Color FB markers, a supply that contains water soluble ink, which makes for a lovely addition to my mixed media art journal pages. The other main part of my haul was a group of  Kuretake black brush pens, which is a curated selection by the Jet Pens website as a “sampler,” i.e. different styles of pens made by the  Kuretake company. They have a few of these “samplers” on the site, but the Kuretake Brush Pen Sampler was the one the that caught my eye. And finally, I also picked up a pen case…because it was green and adorable and I’m just a wee bit ridiculous.

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Jet Pens Kuretake Black Brush Pen Sampler

In the video found in this post (or HERE on YouTube), I swatch out all of the pens and markers, share the secret of what makes my new pens case so awesome, and tell you the difference between each of the black brush pens found in this small collection. I also share with you my preferred technique for using the Clean Color FB markers, and proudly show off a pretty terrible portrait that I attempted to create in my new sketchbook. This video should be especially helpful for those of your curious about Kuretake brand supplies!

Jet Pens doesn’t sell exactly everything I’d like to keep in my closet (or rather, studio), but I’m a sucker for most of the things on the site. The pens, markers, pencils, sketchbooks, ink, and, well, you get the idea! I’ve been frequenting it for about two months, building up a “wishlist,” one of my favorite things about the site. But I also really appreciate that the website has a blog in which the posters create guides, how-to articles, and compare and contrast multiple tools available on the site; I’m all about research, and the Jet Pens blog makes it easy. I had read some of the blog posts before ever looking at the available supplies, and think it’s a pretty great resource for the curious artist. No, I’m not being paid to say this, I’m just strangely passionate about the statistics and facts concerning art supplies.

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Are you a Kuretake or Jet Pens fan? If so, leave me a comment and let me know what pens, markers, or other tools that you love! I’m always trying to find the next great supply!

Vlog: Where Have I Been & Surprise Art Mail

I’ve never done a vlog before. (It’s a little weird talking to a camera as if it’s a crowd of people.) Something’s, however, are very difficult to explain in text, especially when those things are of a more serious nature. I don’t like making my friends uncomfortable, and even if we’re not technically that close, I’d still prefer to not run you off…especially after being gone for so long!

The following video consists of two parts. Part one is only about two minutes, in which I explain where I’ve been rather than chatting you up about art on here in the web-o-sphere. The second half, which is far longer, is all about the oh my gosh that’s so cool mail that I received this past week. Trust me when I say: you do not want to miss out on how awesomesauce this thing is! Just click the video below to play it or click HERE to see it on YouTube.

If you made it through my vlog, yay! And thank you! If not, that’s okay too, because I’m going to tell you all about my surprise art mail, including images below!

So here it is: I was zined! “Zined?” you ask, “What is a Zined?” Being Zined is a magical thing that happens to you, courtesy of the Zine Squad, and you never even know it’s coming. The Zine Squad consists of three talented artists, who make collaborative art books, mailing it to one another until the pages are filled; they call these art books “zines.” The three awesome Zine Squad ladies are: Vanessa (Website, Instagram), Julia (Website, Instagram), and Katie (Website, Instagram).  From my understanding, the Zine Squad customarily also asks a fourth person to be involved with the making of a zine, and recruited Holly (Instagram) for the creation of my zine—which is accordingly titled “A Lovely Layered Zine.”  The following photos are all of this gorgeous work of art, which so pleasantly appeared in the mailbox of yours truly! I’m honored!

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A Lovely Layers Zine, Cover

The cover reads, “A Lovely Layers Zine.”

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A Lovely Layers Zine, Pages 3 and 4

Page three reads, “‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.’ Henry David Thoreau.” Page four reads, “Little rituals are the secret to stability.”

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A Lovely Layers Zine, Pages 5 and 6

Page six reads, “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t you, so that you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

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a Lovely Layers Zine, Pages 7 and 8

Page seven reads, “If you went back and changed every mistake you’d ever made—you’d erase yourself.”

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A Lovely Layers Zine, Pages 9 and 10

Page nine reads, “Unconditional support and friendship have come to you.” (Note: Thank you ladies! I need this!)

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A Lovely Layers Zine, Pages 11 and 12

Page twelve reads, “I walk in Frida’s garden.”

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A Lovely Layers Zine, Pages 13 and 14

Page thirteen reads, “Gaze into the layers of the universe.” Page fourteen reads, “A zine made by: Katie, Jules (xo), Vanessa, Holly.”

My zine also came with a note, which reads “Hey Emily! Guess What? You’ve been zined. We hope you love this Layer’s/Frida Zine. XO -Zine Squad” So: Dear Zine Squad, Thank you for this wonderful gift! I do love it!! This zine is amazing, you’re amazing, and the timing was perfect! I love you all a million times over!!

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A Lovely Layers Zine, Open, Viewed From Top

So blog readers/vlog watchers, are you intrigued, amazed, and in love as much as I am with this Lovely Layers Zine and the Zine Squad? Feel free to visit each of their sites, and go give the Zine Squad’s Instagram a look-see and a follow by clicking here: @zinesquad. Leave a comment below if you’d like to know anymore about my Lovely Layer Zine, or the group that brought the Zine Squad together: Get Messy!


Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership. You support this blog and my ability to continue making awesome content through the use of these links and it doesn’t cost you an extra penny to use these links! All other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience. (Because you’re the best and I love you.)

Art From May ’17 Vacation

finally got around to photographing all of the art that I created during the wonderful vacation that I took in  May! This first image is of many different spreads that were (mostly) created while en route during my trip. For occupying myself during the car ride, I took my Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers (click HERE for my review), some black pens, and a small set Copic markers to pair with a Moleskine sketchbook. The four spreads below are the result of sitting in a passenger seat for about 24 (nonconsecutive) hours with those limited supplies. All four of these spreads are in my 5″ x 8¼” Moleskine journal.

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Art Journal Spreads in Travel Moleskine

Besides the small bag of art supplies and Moleskine journal, I also took a larger bag with many more mediums and journals. Among these other supplies were: watercolor paper and a small watercolor journal, my altered book journal, acrylic paints, Jane Davenport’s watercolor palettes, multiple waterbrushes, several Pitt pens, a white gel pen, a bag of collage material, gel medium, black & white gessos, and matte varnish. It sounds like a lot, but I knew that a week up in the mountains with no internet, tv, or cell service would be difficult for me when night fell—there are only so many books this night own can read! (I read three, by the way, or about 3000 pages of a comic series.) The first night in our rental property, a yurt, I played with Jane Davenport’s watercolor palettes, the Bright Palette and the Neutral Palette. The watercolor of a Buddha statuette is what came about that night, inspired by the motif of the yurt.

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Small Watercolor Buddha

I was also  inspired by the feminine faces that Jane Davenport in known for, which cover the majority of the packaging found on her supplies. Being an artist who very rarely does any kind of portrait work, I decided to attempt to use Jane’s watercolors to paint a face of my own. The image below was my attempt. Though the portrait is slightly overworked, I absolutely love the effect that I created in the pupils. This was done by dropping in some white (“Unicorn”) paint while the black (“Raven”) watercolor was still puddled up and wet. I definitely don’t hate this little half portrait for it being my first attempt at using Jane’s Neutral Palette!

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Small Watercolor Half Portrait

After getting my paints wet, I decided later that week to work with them in an experimental fashion inside of my favorite art journal: my altered book. Knowing that this spread would be created mostly with watercolors, I covered the majority of my spread with white gesso. Being a lover of found ephemera, I also adhered some tissue paper that was wrapped around a blouse, which I had purchased earlier that day. Journal pages that include something tangible from my life—like the tissue paper—are always very special to me. The image below displays the journal spread in progress and remnants of the tissue paper.

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Work in Progress of “Spread These Wings”

As you can see, I had a large wooden table in the yurt to work on, and I spread out on it for 5 wonderful days! I wouldn’t say that I accomplished an incredible amount in that time, but for my first vacation as a working artist, I’m quite pleased with the quantity and quality of my finished pieces!

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“Spread These Wings” Art Journal Spread

Have you ever taken your art journal on a trip? What supplies did you miss? (I so very much missed my collection of fluid acrylic paints.) What supplies were you thankful to have taken? (Those Mermaid Markers were pretty great for me!) Let me know in the comments below!

Season of Color!! (Blog Hop)

Oh where, oh where has EmK gone? Mostly vet offices, unfortunately. Two sick little boys have been keeping me busy these past couple of weeks, and I’ve become a full-time pancreas for one of my furbabies. Unfortunately, blogging had to take the back seat for a while as I got into the groove of learning how to watch insulin levels and convincing fuzzies that not-so-tasty medications are worth the far tastier treats and cuddles. (The only sugar level that I was ever used to watching was the decent of Ben & Jerry’s as it slowly disappeared from the pint.) But I’m happy to say that all surgeries are scheduled, I’ve become a master medication granter, and I am so ready to get back into the studio and share my love of all things creative! Starting next week, I’ll be back on the following schedule!

I’m beyond thrilled to share with you that this post is more than just a recap on where I’ve been—it’s also part of something MUCH BIGGER! This is stop number three of nine on a rainbow road, aka The Blog Hop of Color! The Creative Team for the art journalling community Get Messy is connecting today to celebrate Season 15: Color! We are sharing spreads today from our personal art journals…featuring specific colors of the rainbow! I am sharing a yellow page with you today, the happy color of life, warmth, and enlightenment. I think we all could use a little more yellow in our lives, so this spread was just the kind of art that I was needing to make!

Yellow Art Journal Spread

If you just ran through the old “ROY G BIV,” you may have realized that there are seven colors of the rainbow, not nine.  But what about the combination of all to create white and black?! Every color combined in the visible spectrum creates white, and every color of pigment combined creates black. Two very talented Creative Team members have been granted these colors to portray in their art journals, and I’ll be the first to admit they have fabulously succeeded!! Want to know how? Stay on the train and get off at the next stop to follow the links!

Yellow Instax Instant Camera

As you can see in the picture above, my yellow spread features a photo in a golden hue and a yellow instant film camera. That’s because I took the photo with that camera using a golden filter, and then adhered the picture to my spread with a liberal amount of matte medium. I specifically purchased this camera for instant photos that could be used in my art journals. So far, it has been a perfect fit! The photos are small enough to fit on any page without giving my spreads a scrapbook look. I even found a set of physical filters for the camera, which clip to the lens and change the  hue of my photos, guaranteeing any photo that I take to match my style of limited color schemes!

Do you have any new supplies that you’re in love with?! I’m always on the lookout for fun and unexpected supplies like this camera! Thanks for visiting me, and don’t forget to follow the rainbow by hopping along for the Get Messy Celebration of Season 15: Color!

NEXT on The Blog Hop of Color:
The beyond talented Vanessa aka Dans Mon Crane!

 

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Vacation in the Mountians

I promise: I’ve not been ignoring you, I’ve been without cellphone service and internet since Monday, due to vacationing. I knew my rental was without service and internet, however I woul never have suspected that all surrounding towns would be void of cell phone towers and free wifi. Actually, there’s plenty of free internet—before noon. We’re visiting an area off-season, so all of the restaurants are closed after lunch. Unfortunately, it’s upon rare occasion that I can muster the discipline to vacate my bed before 11 am, and the label of vacation makes that mustering feel far less necessary. Thankfully, the husband and I discovered a cafe with free internet last night, a whole 15 mintues before it closed at 4:30 pm (what even is that?!), and he was kind enough to bring me back so that I could share a few pictures with you! The following images are of art and art journal pages that are in process, created this week as we drove state-to-state and during our stay in the mountians! 

Road Journaling, Purple Eyes, Work in Progress 1

Road Journaling, Bohemia, Work in Progress 1

 

While on the road, I brought a regular Art Plus moleskine, some Copic markers, four different black technical pens, a drafting pencil, a white gel pen, and my Mermaid Markers. I sketched some of the things we saw on our trip that first day, but ultimately disliked all of my sketches, and decided to cover them with marker ink. While sitting in a passenger seat for several hours, my art muscle started to twitch, and I began doodling on these same pages with my technical pens. Once we got to a hotel, I threw some acrylic paint on these pages, with the goal of doodling even in these newly created spaces. In the photos below, you can see the evolution of the above moleskine pages!

Road Journaling, Purple Eyes, Work in Progress 2

Road Journaling, Bohemia, Work in Progress 2


By Monday, I was ready to make some real art, and decided to use my Jane Davenport watercolor palettes, chosen for their travel ability and color choice. Unfortunately, I only have one photo with me of one of three watercolor painings that I started, but some art is better than no art, right?!

Watercolor Half Portrait, Work in Progress

 

I’ll try to keep you updated, and will be returning to my usual schedule next week. Until we speak again: happy arting!

Freebies & Review: Mermaid Markers

In yesterday’s post, I very quickly discussed my use of Jane Davenport’s Mermaid Markers, an art supply that debuted with her 2016 collection. This collection is exclusive to the craft store Micheal’s and Jane Davenport’s website. It features arts and crafts supplies, such as watercolors, paint pens, colored pencils, and acrylic paints, as well as an array of sketchbooks and books with elastic bands that hold inserts, “Butterfly Books”, which are fairly similar to the Midori traveler’s notebooks. The supplies that I was most interested to get my hands on were the Mermaid Markers, which are waterbrushes filled with water-soluble dye based ink. (I also own the empty waterbrushes included in the collection, and the watercolor palettes; both of those supplies are ah-may-zing.)

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Used Mermaid Markers in the Manufacture’s Packaging

When you first get these markers, you will notice a lime green ring around the base of the lid. You must unscrew and take apart each Mermaid Marker to remove this ring. Once that ring is removed, you then screw the markers back together. After you do this, the seals have been broken, and the inks will be able to flow into the brush tips. I have done this with other supplies, so I didn’t immediately read the loose leaf instructions included in the box. However, I’m glad that I gave them a second look, because these instructions also give some facts about the markers. This paper states that the ink in Mermaid Markers is not lightfast (will fade if exposed to sunlight) and the markers must be stored upright to avoid leaking. Mermaid Markers come in a plastic box that can be closed, making it a fine place for future storage—as long as you don’t just toss the box into a drawer. These supplies are too expensive to lose even a little bit of ink due to negligence!

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Mermaid Markers with Insert Visible from Back of Packaging

My first impression upon opening and using these Mermaid Markers went like this:
These colors are phenomenal!
Forty dollars is a lot of money, but I’m definitely going to use these up, so it’ll be worth it!
What is this piece of paper folded up in the box?
Oh, these are not lightfast. Well that stinks.
And I have to store them upright? Goodbye more desk space.
Okay lets use them…
WHOA! THESE COLORS ARE PHENOMENAL!

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Mermaid Marker Swatches on 67 lb Bristol Paper, Unaltered Colors from Scan

The body of each Mermaid Marker is made of clear soft plastic, with the word “PUSH” on the barrels. Because the liquid must move from barrel to tip with some resistance (or else it would just all pour out), the user must squeeze the body of the marker to make the ink flow; there is really no way to know exactly how hard to squeeze when your bristles start to dry out, so this will be a learning experience. Some Mermaid Markers require more or less pressure to saturate the tip. When working with the Mermaid Markers, you may want a piece of scrap paper to wipe excess ink onto; I did feel like this was wasteful but necessary.

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Closeup of Mermaid Marker Barrels, “PUSH” Seen

As you can see, I found a few pros and cons with these markers, and the majority of the pros are 1) the colors are gorgeous, and 2) I like the novelty of them. Having to store the markers outside of my pen/marker cubby is a con to me, as I already hoard far too much on my desk (and I’m clumsy); it’s not a huge problem, but I sincerely recommend that you store the Mermaid Markers in their original packaging, because they will leak if stored horizontally. However, the versatility of these markers and their ability to travel easily is what makes them worthwhile for me.

MERMAID MARKER REVIEW EMK WRIGHT WWWDOTMADEBYEMKDOTCOM NO AFFILIATION WITH JANE DAVENPORT OR MERMAID MARKER RELATED PRODUCTS (1)

Rough Sketches Colored with Mermaid Markers

Below is a concise list of what I feel are the great and not-so-great things about the Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers.

Great: The colors are vibrant, the ink is reactive to water, there are a wide range of colors, the inks are blend-able, the markers are good for travel, and the pens are refillable when empty. Not-so-great: The pens must be stored upright, the ink is NOT lightfast (i.e. not professional quality), they do not layer because they reactivate each other, you cannot refill them with the original ink as it is not available, and it is difficult to control how much ink flows out when squeezing the barrel. I suppose my biggest complaint is that I can’t be rough with these markers, like thoughtlessly tossing them into my bag, but this may be a nonissue for most.

MERMAID MARKER REVIEW EMK WRIGHT WWWDOTMADEBYEMKDOTCOM NO AFFILIATION WITH JANE DAVENPORT OR MERMAID MARKER RELATED PRODUCTS (3)

Closeup of Brush Tips Found on Mermaid Markers 

I’ve seen other artists use empty waterbrushes as travel friendly brush markers, which have been filled with said artist’s favorite ink. Though I have personally never done this, I do have some experience with similar supplies. Years ago, I was gifted a set of Bienfang brand watercolor brushes—which are almost identical to the Mermaid Markers in build and ability—but have not thoughtfully used them. I have found other reviews online (like this one) which claim that Bienfang’s watercolor brushes are lightfast…or at least close to it. If this is true, I may prefer the Bienfang markers for their professional quality. My Bienfang watercolor brushes are still in working condition, and while I found the colors to be far less vibrant than the Mermaid Markers’ colors, I was not displeased by their ability when comparing the two. Unlike the Mermaid Markers, the Bienfang watercolor brushes are not clear, so one can never be certain when the ink has run out—but a quick shake told me that my Bienfang markers still had some ink in them. Compared to the $39.99 price tag of the Mermaid Markers, I was able to find the Bienfang’s watercolor brushes for about $25 on Amazon, containing just one less color than the Jane Davenport’s version. However, the Bienfang 12 Set includes an empty waterbrush. During my play with the Mermaid Markers, I continuously grabbed for a waterbrush to use with them, so the empty waterbrush is a welcome inclusion!

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Mermaid Markers and Bienfanger Markers on 140 lb Watercolor Paper, Swatched Side-By-Side

If you are unable to get to a Micheal’s craft store (or, more likely, don’t want to shell out the cash for Mermaid Markers), I found it surprisingly easy to find similar items online. Amazon provided me with a few different products, including watercolor brushes by companies that I have never heard of. That being said, Jane Davenport’s Mermaid Markers are a product of American Crafts, which is an art supply company that I have never before purchased from, and—so far—I cannot complain about their quality.

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Mermaid Marker “Siren” Color as Seen Used on “Our Wilderness” Art Journal Spread

I recommend these Mermaid Markers for their intended buyers: crafters, art journalers, and watercolor fanatics. However, if you are a professional artist who sells originals, then you may want to stay away due to the ink not being lightfast. If you couldn’t tell, I’m a bit sad that these markers are not professional quality, as I like to imagine my work surviving me. I’m very conscious of the supplies that I use when creating for-sale pieces, so I would know not to grab these markers for a commissioned piece. However, you could still (and should!) use the Mermaid Markers for pieces that will be scanned and sold as prints. Please note that the Jane Davenport watercolor palettes, “Petite Palettes,” are made with pigments, lightfast, and professional quality. Petite Palettes seen below.

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EmK’s Collection of Jane Davenport Art Supplies

Now, beyond the review, let me please tell you that I adore Jane Davenport! She is bubbly, and thoughtful, empowering, and an absolute art journaling goddess! Jane has a YouTube channel full of Vlogs, art making, and info about her online classes. She also blogs on her website, which is also you can find art tips, her courses, and art supplies for purchase. She’s an expert at drawing beautiful female faces, and even has a how-to book called (imagine this) Beautiful Faces.

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Sketch on 140 lb Watercolor Paper, Colored with Mermaid Markers and Waterbrush

Because it is Freebie Wednesday (Thursday, actually), I am happily sharing something that was inspired by the gorgeous bright and tropical colors of the Mermaid Markers. Today’s printable freebie is something that I created, printed, used, and immediately hung up on refrigerator. (I can actually hear you saying, “What is it, already?!” from the confines of my studio.) It is an all-in-one blank Tropical To-Do list that incorporates a grocery list, a place to write phone messages, a place to plan, and a splash of color! The colors of the Mermaid Markers immediately had me thinking tropical, so the theme of this week’s printable freebie is tropical fruit! You may have noticed some fruit in the little sketches that I colored in with the Mermaid Markers, seen in the 5th photo of this post. This edge-to-edge image is also available in a less saturated, ink-friendly version.

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Tropical To-Do Freebies Promo

The Tropical To-Do JPGs are HD and available as full page images. Just click the links below to print and/or download the JPGs! The only thing that I ask is that you not redistribute these freebies or claim an unaltered version as your own. You do not need to credit me if you use these freebies, but I definitely wouldn’t turn down a shout out!

Click links to print or save…
Tropical To-Do (Ink Friendly Version): JPG HERE!
Tropical To-Do (Regular Version): JPG HERE

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Tropical To-Do (Regular Version) In Use

NOTE: I don’t know how long the sale will last, but at the time of this post, the entire 2016 Jane Davenport Collection was on sale on the Micheal’s website. Mermaid Markers were on sale for $27.99—about $4 more than what they would be with Micheal’s 40% Off coupon, one of which is found every week on their website. This means that you can get Mermaid Markers for less than $40 online today, or for cheaper later if you have the 40% Off coupon handy.

 


Disclaimer: I have recently become an Amazon and Get Messy affiliate. Amazon links and Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to purchase  the art supplies or subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership, without any extra cost to you. You support this blog and my ability to continue making awesome content through the use of these links! (And also gain my unending gratitude!!!) The Jane Davenport website, Michael’s website, and other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience.

Live Recap: Our Wilderness

After an accidental two week long hiatus from this blog, I’m returning to you with a bombardment of posts! Hurrah for filling up you email/blog feed with artsy goodness. (But my apologies for taking so long to get back to you.) Since I’ve been gone, I’ve been obsessively playing with my new Daniel Smith watercolors—a medium that just doesn’t fit among the pages of my art journals. With the holiday last Sunday, I also didn’t engage in a live stream, causing my only scheduled journaling time to be neglected. It’s rather difficult to post about art journaling when one is not art journaling. However, I did host a live stream this past Sunday, and the following photo is of the page that I began during that stream!

Our Wilderness Art Journal Spread copyright emk wright 2017 wwwdotmadebyemkdotcom (4)

“Our Wilderness” Work In Progress Art Journal Spread

Usually, my spread’s meanings are influenced by the imagery that I use and the color schemes that come about organically. However, this page was directly inspired by a single piece of collage imagery—a picture of two silhouettes at the edge of a canyon, looking out into the long stretch of stone. You see, the husband and I are going on vacation soon, and I have reserved us a stay in an isolated yurt among the mountains of a faraway state; it’s no wonder an image of a couple in the wilderness would speak to me on the cusp of our private adventure! The natural colors of the landscape determined my color choices as well, a collection of browns and greens. It’s a combination that I may not have otherwise used. The following photo is of this spread, after about two days of work, as I struggled to get myself away from watercolors and into an art journaling head-space.

Our Wilderness Art Journal Spread copyright emk wright 2017 wwwdotmadebyemkdotcom (5)

“Our Wilderness” Completed Art Journal Spread

I was able to test out a few new supplies in this spread, including the Mermaid Markers from the new Jane Davenport series. The colors used in this spread include “Seaweed,” “Siren,” and “Reef,” which are two green colors and a brown. The set of Mermaid Markers includes a piece of paper that discuss the contents of the brush markers, stating that the ink is a dye base (rather than pigment) and are not lightfast. While I have no issue using products that are not lightfast within the confines of my journal pages, it was a little disheartening to see that the markers—which cost over $3 a piece at $40 for 12—cannot be used in any for-sale artwork due to not being lightfast. Please note that this is not something stated on the exterior of the packaging, and—at the time of this post being published—not disclosed on the two exclusive websites that sell the product. The “Siren” color can be seen in the photo below, used to outline the silhouettes in the collage imagery.

“Our Wilderness” Closeup of Left Bottom

Like some of my other liquid ink markers, the colorants in the Mermaid Markers bled up through the acrylic paints applied over top of the marks even though the marks were dry. In this case, the acrylic paint that I used was the Liquitex Professional white gesso, so I feel very confident in saying that only a very thick coat of paint would be able to hide the marks made by these markers. Although I wouldn’t call this a “con,” as it could be used very effectively as a base layer beneath gesso and paint, it’s definitely not a “pro” when it happens unexpectedly. I will, however, be playing with the Mermaid Markers quite a bit, especially during my vacation, as they are wonderfully portable colorants and complement my current infatuation with watercolor. You can see the bleed-though of the “Siren” color in the white icicle shapes in bottom right corner of the image below.

Our Wilderness Art Journal Spread copyright emk wright 2017 wwwdotmadebyemkdotcom (2)

Our Wilderness” Closeup of  Right Bottom

I didn’t mean to neglect my blog duties, and even though this post is coming out Wednesday evening instead of Monday day, I want you to know that Wednesday’s usual Freebie post will still be coming out this week, just a day late! I sincerely thank you for sticking around while I found my footing earlier this month, and want to remind you: I will be streaming every Sunday at 8 pm EST on my Instagram, working in my art journal for all to see! I hope that you can join me sometime, and I especially hope that you’ll be making art with me, chatting about how awesome art journaling is, and letting me know if you have any questions about the many art supplies that I seem to be hoarding. Also, feel free to drop me a line by commenting here on the blog with any questions—or just to say hi!

 


Disclaimer: I have recently become an Amazon and Get Messy affiliate. Amazon links and Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to purchase  the art supplies or subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership, without any extra cost to you. You support this blog and my ability to continue making awesome content through the use of these links! (And also gain my unending gratitude!!!) The Jane Davenport website and all other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience.

Watercolors: Using Tubes & Picking Paper

A while ago, I wrote a post on the entire collection of Prima brand Watercolor Confections, which is an awesome set of inexpensive pan watercolors. But while those cute little sets may be convenient and economical, sometimes you just want to play with the nice stuff—specifically, tube watercolors. My very first set of tube watercolors were the Winsor and Newton professional series, a small collection that I have been adding to and replacing for years. Before using professional watercolors, I had always preferred water soluble supplies, such as Neo Color 2 pastels and watercolor pencils. These types of supplies guaranteed a vibrancy that I did not trust from the less expensive pan watercolor sets. However, using tube watercolors is an entirely different experience!

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Watercolor Swatches on Bristol Paper with Mixing Palette

While a set of 12 Prima brand half-pans of watercolor can cost somewhere around $18, a single tube of Winsor & Newton professional watercolor is usually about $12. However: 1) a tube equals out to about 2 and a 1/3 half pans, 2) has a much smoother consistency, and 3) is much easier to use in order to mix your own colors. I also trust Winsor & Newton professional colors to be truly lightfast and hold their color for much longer than inexpensive pan colors. If you wanted to mix your own colors and fill up 12 half pans, you’d probably spend about $60, but the beauty of tube watercolors is that you don’t have to fill those pans with only 12 colors; mixing from tubes means consistent colors with no limitation of how many colors you can create! Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend buying more than $35 worth of tube watercolors for your first haul, anyway! Three brushes and three tubes of paint in the primary colors will easily get you started! Just remember to use watercolor brushes for watercolors only!

Tubed Watercolors Copyright EmK Wright 2017 www.madebyemk (1)

Winsor & Newton Cotman Paintbrushes

I  believe the number one reason why people are afraid of using watercolors is because of the appearance of watercolor paper. When I was younger, I used to hate watercolors simply because every piece of watercolor paper that I owned was so heavily textured. Textured watercolor paper, i.e. cold press paper, is often the only paper presented to us when we are first introduced to watercolor. If someone had told me that other options existed, I would’ve picked up watercoloring far more quickly! If you’re like how I was, please try hot press watercolor paper; hot press paper is smooth, untextured paper made specifically to hold wet mediums without warping! The image below shows cold press paper (top) next to hot press paper (bottom), and the lack of texture is obvious!

Tubed Watercolors Copyright EmK Wright 2017 www.madebyemk (5)

Legion Brand Stonehenge Cold and Hot Press Watercolor Papers

Because I am so keen on art journaling, I find using bound watercolor sketchbooks for my watercoloring to be more enticing. It is difficult to find bound watercolor sketchbooks with anything but cold pressed paper, but I’ve gotten used to the texture after years of play. My watercolor sketchbook of choice is the “large” Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. Of course, you can’t confine everything to 5″ by 8″, so I do keep hot press paper around for larger projects. I’ve recently been using a heavy 140 lbs paper by Fabriano, which is a hot press paper and keeps my paints looking vibrant. (Yes, hot press paper causes your paint to dry more vibrantly!) The third paper that I will use with watercoloring is a very inexpensive Bristol paper. This Bristol paper is thin, but is great for rough drafts. This Bristol paper is made to be printed on, making it great for uses like the swatching grid in the first image of this post.

Tubed Watercolors Copyright EmK Wright 2017 www.madebyemk (6)

Watercolor Moleskine Sketchbook, Fabriano Hot Press Paper Pad, Loose Bristol Paper

Because you can squeeze tube watercolors into pans, they can be just as portable as pre-panned sets! The only difference between tube watercolors and pre-panned watercolors is more ingredients (usually glycerin or Arabic gum) added to keep tube colors moist. And it’s not usually enough to notice. After panning many paints, I’ve noticed some staying wetter for longer, but it’s nothing that unnerves me. (I’ve found empty half pans to be inexpensive online, but I recommend checking your local store first, as it’s an item that has a strangely varied price.) As long as we’re talking portability, lets hit upon waterbrushes quickly! I own watercolor brushes, including those made by Ranger, Kuretake, and the new Jane Davenport set. Don’t let anyone fool you—they’re all pretty much the same! I’ve never had an issue with leaking, and keep water in all of my brushes almost constantly. If you’d like to get one, try for a medium round tip waterbrush before investing in other shapes and sizes.

Tubed Watercolors Copyright EmK Wright 2017 www.madebyemk (2)

Waterbrushes, L to R: J. Davenport 2 set, Ranger Medium Flat, Kuretake Small & Medium Round

Now, it IS Freebie Wednesday, so I do have some goodies for you! For today’s post about watercolors, I’m providing you with two different printables! The first item is your own swatching page, exactly like the one pictured in the first photo in this post. If you want to print this out and use it as is, it’s best to be printed onto thicker paper, like cardstock or watercolor paper. The next freebie for this week is a page of watercolor abstracts. These abstracts were originally painted with Winsor & Newton tube watercolors onto hot press paper; their saturation has been barely altered digitally, so you can see how gorgeous these colors are. They have been rearranged into rows for easy use in mixed media and collage! They are HD images available as full page PDFs. Just click the links below to print and/or download the PDFs! The only thing that I ask is that you not redistribute these freebies or claim an unaltered version as your own. You do not need to credit me if you use these freebies in your art, but I definitely wouldn’t turn down a shout out!

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Click links to download…
Watercolor Swatch Grid: PDF Here
Watercolor Abstracts: PDF Here

Below, you’ll find some more images of watercolor painting in which I’ve used tube watercolors. These images all portray a mix of multiple colors that have also been layered in order to produce a variety of hues! All three of these paintings were produced in my watercolor Moleskine sketchbook.

Tubed Watercolors Copyright EmK Wright 2017 www.madebyemk (3)

Tubed Watercolors Copyright EmK Wright 2017 www.madebyemk (4)

Tubed Watercolors Copyright EmK Wright 2017 www.madebyemk

Feel free to leave me any questions about this post in the comments below! Happy painting!

Disclaimer: I have recently become an Amazon and Get Messy affiliate. Amazon links and Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to purchase  the art supplies or subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership, without any extra cost to you. You support this blog and my ability to continue making awesome content through the use of these links! (And also gain my unending gratitude!!!) All other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience