Video: 10×10 Acrylic Mixed Media Canvas Series – #1

Acrylic Number Canvas Painting

Hello friends!  I return from art and blog hibernation (i.e. spending all of my time on spring gardening, costuming, and painting fails!) with the start of a new acrylic & mixed media canvas series.  This is directly inspired by Donna Downey’s 10 10×10 Canvases in 10 Days online workshop.  If I had to pick an artist whose talent, technique and style I most want to strive towards, I think Donna would be it (though Tamara from willowingarts is right up there!)  Such beautiful use of color and combination of abstract and representational subjects in her work, and THE TEXTURE!  Oh my, I love it.  Donna has a fun, energetic and informative teaching style, making her workshops a joy.  I watched the 10×10 workshop through twice now, and likely will again to really let all of the nuances sink in.

This first canvas in my own series is, well, not actually the first one. The actual first one was painted, gessoed over, painted again, and… well, it’s still not posted here, so guess how that one is going 😉  This is technically the second, and while I still struggle with all of my art, it did come through easier.

Acrylic Number Canvas Painting

The theme for this series is numbers, and a limited palette throughout the series.  Donna opted for Payne’s Grey, Teal, and Yellow Ochre for her workshop.  I swapped the ochre out with Green Gold, and find that going from a warm to a cooler color does change the feeling quite a bit, and this is leaning more towards an analogous color scheme.  Raw Umber is also used for some grunge glazing techniques.  White, black or gray may also be used.

Watch the process video below:

Acrylic Number Canvas Painting

Donna’s obsession with numbers ignited the same in me, and I found myself scouring stores.  New obsessions are hard on an impulse buyer! 😀

If you are looking for number components, here are some ideas:

  • Home improvement stores:  Check the mailbox aisle.  Lots of cheap number stickers here, and bigger/heavier numbers as well if you are looking for some focal points.  I also found some stencils in many sizes in this section.
  • Dollar store:  I found sheets of vinyl numbers (and letters) with some “garage sale” signs.  Three sheets for a buck, black numbers about 2 inches (example: the “3” on this canvas).  I bought them out!  They also sometimes have alphabet stickers in the stationary aisle.  Other ideas include flash cards, playing cards, sudoku and other puzzle books, and the teaching/kids section had some “number puzzles” – foam sheets with letter and number pop-outs.  They are awful colors, but I figured they can be adhered to a canvas and painted for a super dimensional look.
  • Craft stores/Amazon:  The sticker aisle will have oodles of letter and number stickers, though check the two above first.  Chipboard characters.  Stencils.  Also check stamp sets with numbers.  The “002” tag on this canvas was created with stamps from a Michaels “Recollections” set.  I have a few number sets, and grabbed some blank tags from Staples and Amazon (Amazon being cheaper, of course) and stamped a bunch up at once.  If you have a die cutting machine such as a Cuttlebug or Sizzix, consider getting some alphanumeric die sets.  The punched out numbers can be adhered with matte medium and left as-is or painted over, which would give you a cool number background texture.
  • Target:  Try the $1-3 section.  I found some large alphanumeric cutouts here.
  • Silhouette Cameo Owners:  Cut your own number stencils in various sizes!  I use clear plastic projector transparencies to cut my own stencils.  While not super durable (they can tear if handled wrong) they are easy to cut and cheap.  Stencils are great for either paint or modeling paste.
  • More Amazon:  If the above isn’t enough, check out coat check tags and bingo sheets!

Acrylic Number Canvas Painting

As you can see from the process video, I started out arranging a few number components on the blank white background, and the acrylic paint came after, adding several layers and glazes.  Golden Fluid acrylic paint was the main supply, though I threw in some Dye-Na-Flow ink sprays, gesso, and a little bit of charcoal pencil at the end.

Stay tuned for more from this series! 🙂  Thanks all!

Supplies Used:

DISCLAIMER: Affiliate links are used where possible. Thank you for your support!


When You Are Struggling With Art

Hi friends!  I wanted to post a couple of comments I have shared with the Life Book group when folks have felt down about their art – either unhappy with the results, or just feeling intimidated when seeing other artists whose work they admire.  It is important to remember that everyone goes through moments of being unimpressed with what we create.  Please remember that the main thing that is done by the artists we love is they KEEP PUSHING FORWARD.  They didn’t allow themselves to be defeated or discouraged when what they see on their page doesn’t match what is in their head.  Don’t give up.  Every time we create, we learn, and we move closer to where we want to be.

Posted to Life Book Facebook Group January 15, 2016:

Art Comparison

Hi all – I’ve been seeing some frustration from folks that are unhappy with how their art journey is going, and I wanted to share this. Bear in mind I am still a newbie myself, so I may not be qualified to give the best art advice, but I was JUST on that side of frustration and I feel like I’m pushing through to the light on the other side and I wanted to maybe help pull others through too!

I started watching Tam’s videos a couple months ago. I was never interested in drawing people, but Tam is very inspiring! After watching a bunch of youtube vids, I drew the one on the right and started painting it. I started off pleased I could draw a face at all, but overall I was very unhappy and frustrated that I couldn’t do it well. I had no concept or idea, I just started painting, and I didn’t do it while following Tam’s steps in real time.

On the left is my Happy Traveler from last week- this is only my 4th or 5th face and only about 2 months after I started, and while it’s still no masterpiece, what a difference from the first!

So my message here is: please, don’t give up. Don’t think that you’re “never going to be able to do it.” Don’t think you’re not good enough. And definitely DON’T BE AFRAID TO START AT ALL! <3 As has been said before – you wouldn’t expect to pick up a guitar and start playing well, or start on a new language and be fluent immediately! 🙂 Practice. If you are having trouble and are new to art, supplement Life Book with other learning: Read art books (the library has lots!) and soak in youtube videos about painting, drawing, color theory, and how to use your materials.

And something I learned: Pay attention to the lesson’s steps, do it along with the lesson in real time (pause when needed)- and pay attention to the details, and take it slow! In the beginning, I watched some vids, then sat down like “Ok I got this” and just started flailing around the pencil and paints and expected to recreate the teacher’s work. That didn’t work. smile emoticon In the beginning, do it step by step with the instructor. Pay attention to the shapes and proportions, and don’t skimp on those lovely little details that can make all the difference (highlights, doodles, etc) Don’t give up on those “middle stages” – these things can look unpretty before the details come in!

But, if you are trying and its just NOT working out on a piece, know that its OKAY if you just need to start on a fresh piece of paper, too! Treasure all of your art making – even the frustrating ones, because they can be the best lessons. You now know you enjoy doing x but noy y, or that one material doesn’t play well with that one. You didn’t know that before..but now you do! How cool is that?

While working on a piece, do what you can, and keep it fun – don’t stress out if it’s not exactly how you imagined. You know the great thing? There is always a “next time,” so don’t be afraid! The world won’t end if that one piece isn’t perfect! Every single “next time” you will go in better “armed”, with more knowledge about drawing, composition, painting, how your materials work, and you will INEVITABLY improve! If you keep at it, its impossible to NOT improve. The length of this journey can vary by person, but we are ALL moving forward. The only thing you need to do is show up and start.

Enjoy the feeling of learning, let that wash over you, revel in how you are spending time on something that you love, that you are learning a new skill that will bring you joy, and know that every brush and pencil stroke brings you one step further along on your journey. Remember: RELAX! (my word of 2016!) It’s okay to be where you are. Be proud of where you are! Art is a fascinating thing… You just created something out of nothing… That is AMAZING regardless of where we are on our path. Smile at that! Just keep playing, keep creating, and that flow will take you forward.


Posted to Life Book Facebook Group – Comment To Another Artist – April 18, 2016

As Roxanne says above, challenge is a good thing, and it is okay if you don’t feel you’ve shined in your first attempt at a challenge. That happens to everyone! It is important to push past what we are comfortable with. It is the only way we can grow in anything we set out to do.

That being said, I also think it is OKAY if you don’t find yourself enjoying every single type of art or process! Trying something new and discovering that it may not be for us also carries us further on our path towards where we actually want to be. Give new things a full chance and a try and push, several times to completion, and if you still feel like it is just not for you – move on to another form of creation that makes you happy. You can always revisit the style and technique at a later time if you desire.  🙂 Remember that you CAN do it! It may take some practice to get where you want to be, but we all CAN do it. If you don’t “prefer” to do it, though, that is okay too! 🙂

I want to say that I really like where the page is going. It has a dark and moody feel at the moment (which may actually reflect what you’ve been feeling, and it is cool that you are able to capture your mood!) I think it has great potential…and even if you are not thrilled, if you’d like you can continue to work on it from that perspective. I didn’t watch the full lesson yet, but im guessing a darker tone doesn’t quite fit the theme of the lesson, but I’ve found that most Life Book lessons just ignite a spark and then I let them take me wherever they need to take me, not worrying about sticking to the lesson strictly. And exploring the darker side of our emotions can produce some powerful art. So don’t give up – and don’t worry about “wasting paper” or materials – they are there to be used, they want to be used, and they will always make more. Every time you use them, you learn, so keep going!


I am in the middle of some art pieces which I am not thrilled with myself (hence this “inspirational” post instead of an artwork posting!) but I will forge on ahead!   And probably sign up for a few more classes.  Donna Downey has been having some workshop specials, you know…

Video: Acrylic Mixed Media Portrait – Chrysalis

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

Good day wonderful people! 🙂  I had a bit of a break due to the studio organization and a family visit, but I am back today with a new mixed media art process video.  A new girl has joined my portfolio! Her name is Chrysalis (thanks to a random dictionary page that showed up in the collage) and she was created mostly with watercolor Spectrum Aquablend pencils and acrylics – both Golden fluid and basic Americana craft paints.

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

You can watch the time lapse creation video below:

I wanted to try my hand at several painterly layers, and I had the idea of piling layers and designs into a girl’s hair flowing upward, and so she was born.  I try to pay attention to color theory when selecting my palette, and this time I went with a primary triad of turquoise, magenta and yellow.  These colors can make some beautiful mixes, as you can see in the spots of greens and purples on the painting, but for the most part I tried to keep the colors shining on their own.

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

I learned a few things during this process and other lessons were reinforced:
  • There is always an ugly stage (or five) where you will want to give up or you will wonder “Oh no, what did I do?!” but you need to trust the process and keep moving forward.  It won’t start to come together until you add more layers and details!
  • It is okay to dive in with the paintbrush even if you don’t know where you are going with it.  If you take too much time to plan it out, you may never go anywhere and you may be disappointed when the paper does not match the image in your head.  Have fun with your mark making and later you can bring it all together.
  • You have to be willing to give up previous layers to get to a better place.   There are going to be moments when you are afraid of “messing up” or losing a layer/design that you particularly like.  If you are still in an early stage of the painting, you may need to let it go so the whole piece can grow and deepen.  Remember, it is just paint, and you can bring something back later if you want!
  • Fine tip applicators take practice 😀
  • Golden fluids take a long time to dry when applied thickly or sprayed with water, so keep a few other in-progress pieces handy to work on in the meantime.

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

Supplies used:

Mixed Media Acrylic Portrait Painting - Chrysalis

Thanks for stopping by today!  Please consider subscribing here and at my YouTube channel, and join me on Facebook so you can see new works in progress.  Have a great day!

DISCLAIMER: Affiliate links used when able. Thank you for your support!

Art & Craft Studio Tour

Art & Craft Studio Tour

I always enjoy seeing other artists’ work spaces.  They are full of inspiration – what materials they use and how they organize their supplies.  I also find less-than-perfect spaces to be motivating, because it gives me hope for my own studio located in our completely unfinished basement.   I hope you feel the same, because I spent the last couple of weeks going through my stash and reorganizing all the goodies, and I wanted to give you a little tour!

First, I just wanted to share the top lesson that I learned:

Organization is key, but so is having everything VISIBLE and WITHIN EASY REACH.

This means that having all of your paints organized is wonderful, for example, but does nothing for you if they are in a closed shoebox off on a shelf in the corner. The opposite is true:  You can have a big ol’ box of dozens of paints right on your table, but if you have to waste time sifting through the box looking for what you need, it will ruin your flow or you may just stop using that material altogether in favor of the one that is right at hand.  So take your materials out of their packages as soon as you purchase them, and arrange them where you will see them and where it takes minimal effort to retrieve (and put away!)

A quick disclaimer before the tour:  you should know that I am an art supply junkie.  I love art and craft supplies, and can be a wee bit impulsive when discovering new materials that I don’t have yet.  I get excited being surrounded by all of these choices, however it can overwhelm others, and by no means do you need to have a lot of supplies to create magnificent work.  As you can see around this site, I am still a beginner – it’s all about practice, not your materials!  You can do amazing things with just graphite and paper, for example.  Use what you have! 🙂

And finally – dollar stores and Goodwill are awesome for sourcing organization and storage solutions.

Art & Craft Studio Tour

Let’s start with the first thing you’ll see when you walk downstairs.  🙂  I set up several workstations – to the right is my sewing and quilting table, and in the center is a polymer clay table, but it can be used for jewelry making or whatever other miscellaneous craft I want to do at the time.  On the far left you can see some of my molds and stickers for the glittery resin charms I do on occasion.  I covered the dirty cinder block walls with fabric from Jo-Ann.

Extra Notes:

  • The tables are 6 ft and 4 ft folding tables from Menards.
  • Shop lights are from Lowes and are the plug-in kind, so no hardwiring required.
  • The chair and the rectangular lamp are old furniture I repurposed from storage.
  • All black shelves you will see in the space are from Menards or Lowes, but that little white shelf on the bottom left is a Goodwill find for a couple bucks.
  • Some thread racks were also Goodwill finds, as were the big fruits hanging up on the wall and the little two drawer storage on the sewing table.  I spend most money on supplies, not organization!

Art & Craft Studio Tour

Art & Craft Studio Tour

This is the opposite side of the space and my main work area.  More glitter and resin making supplies to the left, with the rest of the area devoted to painting and mixed media art supplies. In this photo you can see my Liquitex heavy body acrylics, Neocolor II crayons (stored flat on a Dollar Tree aluminum baking sheet for easy visibility), alcohol inks, and some embossing/stamping supplies.

I have a Macbook with a damaged screen, so it has become a permanent fixture in the space with an external monitor ($10 at Goodwill!)

Let’s take a closer peek…

Art & Craft Studio Tour

Here is my main painting table. Lots of brushes, mediums, markers, pens and pencils are within easy reach. I created my own “divided” water bucket with a 3-for-$1 set of buckets from Dollar Tree housed inside a disposable food storage container I had sitting around (probably also from Dollar Tree). Above this folding table sits a separate glass top that I purchased from Menards.  I stuck some scrapbooking papers under it to look pretty. 🙂

To the right side you see a glimpse of something I created that really excited me: a DIY display for all of my papercrafting supplies.  This is easy to make!  Get some binder clips, cable ties, and some sturdy thick yarn that has some lattice to it.  Stick a cable tie through one loop of the binder clip, through the lattice of the yarn, and close it up.   Repeat every few inches.  Hang it from anything – I have mine hanging off a pole near the ceiling.  Clip packages to it (or make your own “packages” with zip lock bags) and you have a great way to keep your supplies in view!

This is where I do my filming, too – you can see setup in the photo below (top left.)  I screwed a piece of scrap wood to the ceiling joist, and then added a couple screws near the bottom of the wood (jutting out).  I use a rubber band around these screws and my Sony Handycam, pointing down to the work surface.

Art & Craft Studio Tour

Extra notes:

  • See that pink 3-drawer bin behind the chair?  $2.99 at Goodwill!  The black drawer bin next to it was probably about $5.  The chair itself was also a Goodwill find.  And the desk lamp. Do you see a trend here? 🙂
  • Both shelves on the table against the wall were purchased at Menards.


Here is the other side of my “main painting table.”  You will find artist, student, and craft paints here (all are useful!) and various other pigments and tools.  I used wire as a DIY towel holder.   I believe I purchased the left rack new, but yes, the other cart was a cheap Goodwill find!

Behind is a large cutting table from Jo-Ann, and deep in the dark recesses of the rest of the basement you can get a glimpse of my fabric shelves and my jewelry supply shelf… no tour of those, though, they are still a mess!

And yes, I yarn-bombed our support poles. 😀  (no knitting required – just wrap!)

Finally, let me take you towards the back corner of the studio, where lesser-used supplies are kept.

Art & Craft Studio Tour

Art & Craft Studio Tour

Art & Craft Studio Tour

What you will find in this section:

  • Yarn (not only was the rack found at Goodwill, but so was most of the yarn!)
  • Artist papers, pads, canvas
  • Stencils in portfolios
  • Various paper craft products – cards, punches and embossing folders, stamps
  • Spools of ribbon (strung up with yarn)
  • Cross stitch materials
  • 3D embellishments
  • Old books for collage (though keeping with the “have materials close at hand” rule, I ripped out several pages from all books and have them in a drawer for easy pulling)
  • Dolls, boxes, statues, and all kinds of similar things found at Goodwill that make cool bases for altered art
  • Tools
  • Duplicates and excess storage

Whew!  That concludes the tour!  I hope there are some ideas here you can utilize for your own space – perhaps a new way you can arrange your paints and inks, or motivation to check out your local thrift shops and dollar stores.  Be creative with storage ideas.  Something as simple as a zip tie made a perfect brayer holster, and was just one of 3 simple components needed in my packaging display. Do you have some sturdy small cardboard boxes?  Stack them into cubicle shelves!   Learn how you like to make art, and take a moment to improve your space to make your art time that much more productive and fun for you! 🙂

Thank you all, I will see you soon!

Cheat At Hand Brush Lettering – Simple Embossed Watercolor Card

Watercolor Embossed Lettering Card

Happy happy Friday, lovely people!  Are you ready for weekend fun?  It’s the time of year where art and gardening are going to be playing tug-of-war with my time… but nature also provides wonderful inspiration, ideas, and reference for beautiful artwork.  If you need a creative boost, spend some time at your local park, botanical garden, or your own backyard and see what happens!

Today I am sharing an easy watercolor greeting card that resembles a hand/brush lettering technique, but actually requires no lettering skill at all!  Woohoo!   Do you need watercolor skill, though?  Nope!  Yippee!

Materials List:
Step 1:  Print out your word in a font you like

Watercolor Embossed Lettering Card

Select a font and size it for your piece.  You can print this on plain printer paper – the paper itself will not be used on the card.

Step 2: Trace and fill in the word on your watercolor card with embossing pen

Watercolor Embossed Lettering Card

Lay the printout and your watercolor paper on top of your light pad or bright screen.  Use a clear embossing pen to trace and fill in the letters.  I worked on embossing a few letters at a time, since my word was fairly large and I didn’t want the embossing ink to dry out before I could adhere the powder.

This would also work well with masking fluid or a masking pen instead of embossing.  This embossed technique will create a raised surface, while masking fluid will reveal the bare watercolor paper at the end.

Remember that the printout can just be a guideline – you can deviate from it and make it your own!  Change the letter shapes, add swooshes, play with it!

Step 3: Cover in embossing powder and set with a craft heat tool

Watercolor Embossed Lettering Card

Watercolor Embossed Lettering Card

Cover your word with the powder.  Just like glitter, you can dump the excess powder onto a sheet of paper and fold it to pour back in the jar.  Use a crafting heat tool to melt the powder.  Repeat steps 2-3 if you are doing your word in sections.

Step 4:  Time to watercolor!

Watercolor Embossed Lettering Card

Wet the paper around the word, and dab in some color.  The paint will spread throughout the wet sections of paper.  The design of the background and the color palette are up to you.  Go with whatever makes you smile!

Step 5: Add additional details (optional!)

Watercolor Embossed Lettering Card

If you’d like, you can add some watercolor splashes by tapping a loaded paintbrush over the card.  Here I also added some shading with colored pencil and graphite, and some white dots with a Posca paint pen.  This is also the step when you would remove your masking fluid if you opted for that over the embossing.

Design or write the interior card however you like, and you are done!

Watercolor Embossed Lettering Card

Have a joyous weekend everyone!  🙂