Watercolour ATCs – a struggle

I had an idea for making a set of ATCs using my watercolours. I enjoyed the swatching process a week or so back and thought it might provide a nice base for some cards

Keeping the lines straight was the first challenge! Once I had the whole sheet full of blobs of colour I used an ATC sized window to audition areas. The swatches were all a bit random so just cutting them to size as a grid was not really going to work. And at least one card ended up being seriously wonky to the point of being unusable as a base. Once I cut the cards, I doodled a bit with some white gel pen, ome black Micron pen and some gold ink and a dip pen.

But then I really struggled with the toppers. Would it be just text? and image? would it be stamped over? I did photo two of the most promising options:

I liked the birds as they were watercoloured as well, but in the end the quirky people spoke to me louder LOL!

It isn’t obvious, but the words were available as…well, WORDS, but I preferred them as LETTERS so, yeah, I cut them all apart, inked all four edges of each letter block then stuck them back together as words. Cause that’s how I roll…. LOL!

Now what next? I don’t know but I have some ideas….

Some of my traded ATCs have begun to land in the USA – I have yet to receive any back yet. I hope I do soon. I am anxious to see that international mailings are problem free….

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Another great use for that coated paper – watercolouring images

I often complain about inkjet printer ink and how it reacts with water. As I was considering an ATC series that I had in my head, I decided to test a theory. The coated papers I mentioned for printing digital collage images worked perfectly for this set:

The images are ones from past instances where people wore masks – pandemics, flu outbreaks, etc. I wanted to watercolour them but wasn’t sure about the inkjet ink running or smearing. It does not, at all, on this paper!

I am thinking now that I should try out alcohol markers on this, but even if they don’t work, knowing that watercolours DO, I am tempted to try printing digital stamps and colouring them that way. One issue is that if you lay down colour, you cannot blend it away like you would on watercolour paper. Looking at this image, you can see that sort of purple-y blotch in the upper left?

I wanted to blend a little purple into the blue sky but once it hit the paper, man it STUCK. No matter it works OK, but it certainly is something to keep in mind.

The state of my desk at the moment is pretty terrible. I really have to tidy up a bit and then I’d like to feature some of the ATC cards and coins I’ve received as swaps. I am tempted, too, to add a page with all the leftovers from series I made then traded. I have one or two from many of them and nearly all from a few more. If anyone fancies a trade, do get in touch!I really am enjoying a nearly daily delivery of the happiest mail ever.


What colour is YOUR rainbow? LB 25

I am determined to get better at watercolours. I still struggle but at least the struggle feels like it is helping me get someplace. I decided to tackle one of the LB classes called What colour is your rainbow? and it is really all about playing with colours. One of the first things the teacher shows is a swatch thing she did with her watercolours. I had a goo but crikey – with 42 colours (leaving off the metallics) that would be over 800 combinations. I did make a start, with just one line along the left edge and every colour not from that line in the grid. It is no way all the combos, and I focused on the combos I thought would be worth doing – so four shades of yellow is a lot to swatch if two are very similar and the other two are at least close IYKWIM. And I didn’t bother with white or the colour + the colour. Duh.

I did not have a compass to draw he rainbows so I had to wing it, after the first couple of arcs.

I have tried so many pencils, drawing as light a line as I can, but I still have no luck rubbing out the lines with any of the erasers, even ones suggested, or recommended by watercolour artists. I just must have too heavy a hand. While I liked the final rainbow

those pencil lines bugged me. I had recently gotten some manuscript ink (gold) so I added fine lined of that over the pencil marks. Liked it a lot!

Slightly shaky but organic, so OK by me. I never aim for precise cause I could not achieve it. All it needed was the perfect quote:

and the shot to show the glistening gold:

I have done four classes now, and while most of them have been a bit of a challenge, I guess I am learning. So that has to be a good thing, right? My only complaint is that I am not focusing on the art than comes entirely from me. My idea. My execution. Because I own the classes I don’t HAVE to race thru them. I can take my time and dip in when I need inspiration. That sounds like a plan….

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Watercolour texture challenge – such fun!

I have been doing the Mixed Media Emporium challenges from a Facebook group and it’s been interesting. I had rather let my watercolours sit ignored and it was fun to drag them out again. The Watercolour Texture challenge really got me playing and I thought I would share my samples. The one I liked perhaps best of all was a disc of heavy watercolour paper that I sponged with a bit of iridescent medium using a sea sponge. It gave a really cool texture and a bit of a glimmer, and once I sprinkled on a few grains of brown and black Brushos (each made up of a multitude of individual grains of many colours) and a drop or two of alcohol, it was quite magical – not sure the photos really do this justice,

I tried angling it in the sunlight but still not as amazing as it is IRL.

More Brushos, with some larger alcohol drops to disperse the wet watercolours and some more colour

So then I had to drag out some old supplies, like those damn Silkies and spatter a bit of those over the Brusho sprinkles, wet and then dried:

And then another favourite – I tried the technique of sprinkling water on the paper, then adding embossing powder (which clings to the water and if you are fast, and have pre-heated your heat tool, you can emboss it before the water dries and the powder blows away) first Distress Embossing powder:

Then some very old gold UTEE – which gave very distinct dots, as it is so chunky.

The green one also has an interesting addition – I mixed a tiny bit of yellow Brushos with a few drops of alcohol and dotted that over the green (I misted it with water so the wet paint could react with the alcohol+Brushos) and I love how that turned out.

Don’t mix up too much and work quickly before the alcohol evaporates. I kinda feel like these could be nice ATC (Artists Trading COINS rather than CARDS) but not sure how to finish them off – too much would hide the yummy texture and leaving them plain isn’t really appealing for a trade. Maybe I will see about making some sort of sample book, as someone suggested, so I can keep them.



Watercolour play

I am so keen to get better at using watercolours so I am following the lead of a few of my WOYWW mates and having a go at some of the tutorials on CreationsCeeCee but the problem is there is so much good stuff there I have no idea what to try first!

I had a go at making some squovals (square circles) in a limited range of colours. I am using decent watercolours, crappy brushes from Lidl, and the wrong kind of paper (this is the cartridge paper pad I mentioned a fair few posts ago) so had pretty low expectations. It actually turned out a little better than I thought it would!

The tutorial uses rectangles but I like circles so the squovals are a compromise LOL!

I like the variation of colour within the colour, from adding more paint again over a dried layer. I should have left well enough alone and watched the videos again, but not, impatient as always, I jumped in to doodling and it all went horribly wrong. The pens I have are not super fine, and I fear some of them are not as waterproof as they should be. There are a couple of blocks I really like, at least one I abandoned when it went so wrong there was no recovering, and a few that are OK, but Meh. Probably best it’s a bit blurry. Doh!

Not giving up, just recognizing there is a long way to go before I get anything like proficient, let alone good at it. But it IS fine, and that is kinda the point too. My next step is to identify the right pen to be using and practice the lines a bit. Mostly identify the ones that are NOT waterfast – look at those smears…

Day 39 – although it is thicker, I am trying to use up some efemera.

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Interesting art journal technique – mask stamping

Once again, I’ll begin with the page and then tell you how I got there:

I’ll show it bigger at the end. I was looking at the page from yesterday and it was kinda a hot mess. No, that isn’t really right. I find that sometimes a large, close up photo of a page has a different impact than a more distance shot, with a little bit of breathing room around it. In any case, all the dark made me want to do a light and airy page. I decided to give myself a bit more space too – the problem with the junk journal is the pages are half-A4 size. Not huge. That’s fine for experiments, and two side by side pages equal A4, but I have maybe 10 pages (single sides) in my old paper bag journal and I was keen to finish it up. So I slapped on a bit of gesso at night so when I got to my desk in the AM it was dry and ready to go.

I began with some watercolours. Not my thing. My sister will remember gifting me a set of watercolours, goodness, 30+ years ago and me telling her Thanks, but no thanks. Shockingly ungrateful, I know. Anyway, I have gained a little more of an appreciation for them. I’m not GOOD at using them (YET) but playing with them is fun. The flowy, watery colour is different than even heavily watered down acrylic paint is.

Hard to tell, maybe, but this page is on the back of a page where I stuck a gel print that was on firmer cardstock. Can you see the defined edges of it? I grabbed another one of the circular masks, from the same set as yesterday and masked off with gesso. It was pretty insipid. You can kinda see it in the upper right corner below.

I also used my ink minis to stamp a bit of text and bits of the butterfly – a very old stamp but still a good ‘un. Then I had an idea. I liked the cascading foliage effect so I thought I could ink the back of the mask and use it as a stamp. I inked it with Versafine cause it was a juicy pad and stayed damp long enough for me to clean up the frame edges and still be able to stamp

Not rocket science, but when I tried it, the effect was…different that I expected. It had an almost ghost-print effect, not solid at all. And I had brayered over the mask to try to get the best contact I could.

The strange sketchy-ness of it was interesting. The brayer makes the mask skip about a little, so you get a slightly off double print. I really want to play with it more – I suspect it might give a different effect if I used the OTHER side of the mask – knowing stencils have distinct side, one being more smooth, I suspect this was the more rough side. I picked the side that matched the masking I had already done, which would have been, by default, the less flat side, if you follow my logic! Anyway, I inked and stamped (brayered) the mask on the page.

I like it!

Not perfect so far as placement, but no matter. I stamped the butterfly and coloured it with some purchased-but-never-used Lidl art supplies, watercolour pencils and markers, and aged it slightly with Old Paper distress ink.

Then back to my little text stickers to compose some words of wisdom to myself. 2021 is the year I push negativity to the side – it’s a battle, one I do NOT always win, but after a good 60 years of viewing the world as glass-half-empty, I hope I can be forgiven for taking a bit of time to accomplish that.

Perhaps a little cheerleader-y, maybe too much so? Or is it just my negativity, bleeding thru?

{sigh} It’s a challenge.


Using watercolours on a Gelli Plate!

This is something I have been thinking about for a while.  I did try it once before, with mixed watercolours, but it didn’t work well.

The reason, I think, is that the super-wet watercolours, either mixed from one of the hard watercolour blocks, or the tube watercolours mixed with too much water sort of bead up on the Gelli plate.

I did it differently.  I squeezed a blob of concentrated watercolour onto a slick report cover then spritzed on a tiny bit of water to get it to a creamy, more like acrylic paint, consistency.


That I was able to brayer onto the plate with no problem.



It may LOOK like the colour is patchy, but check out the prints!

I think the watercolour paint holds really well UNDER the stencil, so the prints first thru it, then after removing the stencil, both look crisp. You can see it works well on Deli paper too.

One of the things I really like is that if the paint dries on the report cover, if you aren’t keen on making 10 prints all in one colour (cause really a little bit goes a LONG way) all you need to do is spritz the barest hint of water on it to re-activate the paint.  I imagine you could store the painty sheets to pull out and reactivate later if you have the space for that.

I even did a clean-up print with acrylic paint OVER the “dirty” watercolour plate, which gave a fairly misty print.


And on this print I clearly laid the same stencil down in almost exactly the same place, unthinkingly, and got the almost shaded print you see. I love that one.




OK, so a couple of points.  What is the difference with watercolours?  Well, with the acrylic paint you get a toothy print – it has texture.  The watercolour prints are as smooth as a baby’s bottom, as smooth as the paper they are printed on.  Prints of something with a pattern or something like book pages, and the effect is sheer, more like acrylic paint with a glaze medium mixed in. And it stays wet longer.  On the down side, my belief is that it is likely to be more expensive.  Acrylic paint is CHEAP.  My watercolour set was cheap too, but lots of the tubes are a bit dried out, some of them are a little gummy and need to be “creamed” like butter and sugar to get them to the right consistency.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but one interesting thing is that after you do the watercolour pull you can let it dry then mist it so the paint runs a bit, for a very drippy looking print with the stencil areas still visible. Also note that as you are working on a separate sheet to apply the paint, rather than applying it directly to the plate, multi-colour prints take planning.  And you need space for multiple sheets.  I suspect it would be possible to add the paint directly onto the plate with better, or at least FRESH, rather than 3 years old, tubes!

And the plate cleans up perfectly with water.

Def. something to play with a bit more, I think.  I certainly like some of the pulls for ATC backs or maybe card backgrounds.  They will go in my stash to be pulled out and incorporated into other projects as they fit.