Watercolour on Gelli Plate

Posted on February 8, 2017 and tagged Tutorials, Sketchbook, Painting

Lately, I haven't had the time to use my acrylic paints much. It used to be my favourite medium to work with but now that I have a 6 month old baby the prepartion and clean-up has just been too much. My husband bought me a beautiful set of watercolour paints for Christmas and those have been getting some heavy use lately. I love that the only prep I need to do is get a clean dish of water and some paper towels. The clean-up is practically non-existent. Just let the paint dry in the pallette for next time and dump the dirty paint water...or not!

So the other day when I was rummaging through my art supplies and found my Gelli Plate, I knew I had to give it a try with watercolour instead of my usual acrylic. At first I tried picking up some paint from the palette and painting it onto the plate. In retrospect, it probably still would have produced a nice effect, but it looked like it wasn't working.

Then I decided to squeeze out a bit of paint straight from the tube. This might sound like a waste of paint, but I'm telling you it was the teeny tiniest amount. Just a thin little smear. I swished that around with some water, pressed the plate to my paper and was very surprised at the results. It looked great! I was skeptical because it didn't look like the paint was spreading very well but once the plate was pressed to the page it spread across the paper.

Next I added some more paint to create a little depth and more texture. Then once it was all dry I drew some easy circle designs using Sharpie paint pens.

In total, it probably took me about 20 minutes to create this little page. It was a fun and easy exercise and I'll definitely be experimenting with watercolour and Gelli Plates again.

How to Draw a Floral Wreath

Posted on May 26, 2016 and tagged Tutorials, Sketchbook

A cute, hand-drawn floral wreath has so many uses! A frame for calligraphy or a quote, a starting point for a beautiful card or invitation, or just some fun drawing practice in your sketchbook. Drawing these little wreaths are a lot of fun and easier than you might think. And it can easily be changed up for a different look every time.

  • Start by very lightly drawing a circle on the page with your pencil. If you're not great at drawing a circle, you can trace something round. But it really doesn't need to be perfect!

  • Once you have your circle drawn, use it as a basis for drawing a swirl. Make the swirl a bit darker so you can distinguish it from the original circle. I went around the circle 3 times here. You just drew a vine!

  • Now add some simple shapes your vine. I did some basic leaves, a little flower and a berry. Choose as many shapes as you want or keep it really simple. Here's the important part: Make sure all your flowers and leaves are going in the same direction. Mine all go in a clockwise direction here. Rotating the paper as you draw will help.

  • Continue by filling in the vine with more flowers and leaves. I like to place mine randomly as I go instead of working in a circle. Also, make sure your flowers and leaves overlap the vine in some places.

  • Take a fine-tipped pen (I used a Micron) and trace over only the leaves and flowers. Leave the vine for now.

  • Once all the flowers and leaves have been inked, move on to the vine. The reason we left this until the end is because some of your shapes will overlap the vine. I find it easier to draw the vine after the shapes have been inked so I don't draw over a flower by accident.

  • Take your favourite markers, coloured pencils, or paints and colour in your beautiful vine! Remember you can switch up the leaves and flowers to make it different every time. Try a holiday themed wreath or keep it really simple and stick with one shape (like the leafy wreath below).

My Abstract Painting Process

Posted on April 11, 2016 and tagged Painting, Tutorials

I've been wanting to make a video like this for a while now, but always got hung up on the talking part! The last 2 videos I made ended up having music in the background because I just felt weird about speaking into a microphone. But I really want to get better at this, so I just had to dive in!

This video shows my abstract painting process from start to finish for two small paintings. I talk a bit about my line of thought while I'm painting, the supplies I used and show you exactly how each layer comes together. It's a little long, but I really hope you like it and will enjoy seeing how I work.

Did you like the paintings I made? Sign up for my newsletter and I'll send you both as digital files you can use for device wallpaper. They should fit almost any size phone or tablet.

How to Draw Cheater Calligraphy

Posted on March 29, 2016 and tagged Sketchbook, Tutorials

Who has the time and patience to learn real calligraphy? I'm just kidding! I really admire people who can do beautiful hand lettering. Even more impressive are those who can use a real calligraphy pen. Those pens are legit hard to master! While I can't stress the importance of practice enough, what about those times when you just want to draw some pretty letters? This is where cheater calligraphy comes in. It's the beauty of calligraphy without the special tools and years of practice. Sure, it doesn't look exactly the same, but it's fun to do!

  • Start by very lightly pencilling in your quote. I had previously made this painted frame in a sketchbook page and it seemed like a great place for some lettering! I literally just scribbled some paint in a circle, so it's really easy to do. Tip: For a more playful look, vary the positioning of the letters in each word. Instead of writing in a straight line, make some letters higher or lower than the others.

  • Once you're happy with the look and positioning, trace over the quote using a black pen. Or any colour really. Feel free to erase and redraw as many times as you need. That's why we did this in pencil! Tip: For a fancier look, use a very fine tipped pen.

  • Now we want to fatten up all of the 'downstrokes' by drawing on either side of them. A downstroke is just where your pen wrote in a downward motion. If you're not sure which part of the letter is a downstroke, just trace over them in the air paying attention to when your pen moves down the page. Next, just fill in the downstrokes with your pen.
  • If you're happy with the contrast between the fat and thin lines, start to fill in the rest of the letters on the page.

I really love this technique for getting the look of calligraphy quickly and easily. Real calligraphy is something that I would love to learn some day - I even have the pen, nibs and ink! But for now I think I'll stick with this. It's fun for just playing around in my sketchbook and it also lets me practice my cursive writing in preparation for the real thing.

Last week I showed you a couple ways to get past that first scary page in your sketchbook. This week I wanted to talk a bit about why I keep a sketchbook. The first sketchbook I ever had was from high school art class. We had weekly sketchbook prompts and were also encouraged to just play around. I filled that book to the brim with all sorts of things from a little comic about a fly to random colourful doodles.

After I left high school, I didn't buy another sketchbook for about 8 years. I still loved making art. I designed all the stationery for my own wedding, created things for many friends and eventually started my own stationery business. I had a notebook where I would rough out ideas but I only ever used it if I was working on a specific job. I completely stopped creating art for myself. And I think as a result of that, I got burnt out with stationery. It seemed like everything had already been done and I couldn't come up with anything fresh.

After shutting down my business, I started doodling fairly regularly in a cheap mixed media sketchbook. It was all over the place. Everything from ink drawings of things in my apartment, to watercolour flowers, to cartoon animals. Eventually, I started gravitating towards pattern and abstract shapes.

My next sketchbook was a really beautiful Moleskine with thick, off-white pages. I dove head first into patterns and filled many pages with random motifs and meditative patterns. There are also some really personal pages in there too, like when I drew all the flowers I received when my dad died. It's still one of my favourite books and I feel like I really started to find my style in those pages.

Today I have about 3 sketchbooks of different sizes going at once. Keeping a regular sketchbook practice has been so important in finding my style, strengthening my creative muscles and experimenting with art. Looking back at each book, I can see how much I've grown. Sometimes it's even embarassing! Here are a few reasons keeping a sketchbook can help you with your creativity too:

Keeping Your Work Hidden

Since I blog and post regularly on Instagram it might seem like I'm sharing everything I make. But the truth is, for every one piece I photograph and share there are probably five that I keep to myself. While I do believe that sharing your work is a really important part of the creative process, you shouldn't share everything. It's so freeing to have a place where you can make art just for you and experiment without worrying about someone else's opinion. Your sketchbook can be a private place where you experiment without fear.

Art Breeds More Art

When I got burnt out with my stationery business it was because the only time I sat down with a pencil was to sketch out something a client wanted. I never played around with my own ideas and drew just for fun. The only way to work through those creative blocks is get something down on paper. Once you have something there, you can look at it and see what's working, what isn't and try again. It's great practice to rework the same idea several times.

Create Your Own Inspiration

It's very easy these days to get caught up "inspiration hunting" on the internet. You could get lost forever scrolling through Pinterest looking for something to kick start an idea. Most of the time you'll leave feeling bad after comparing yourself to other artists. Once you have a sketchbook or two under your belt, you can start looking at your own work for inspiration. Now when I'm stuck on something, the best place for me to get ideas is in an old sketchbook of mine.

I've put together a simple little exercise in colour and pattern to help you fill some pages in your own sketchbook. It can be done with basically any art supplies too, so just use what you have on hand. But if you're interested, I'll talk about what supplies I used. I've also included a little pattern "cheat sheet" which will come in handy in a lot of projects. If you'd like to get this exercise and pattern sheet, fill in your email address below and I'll send it to you right away!

It's hard to pass up a sale at the art supply store right? So when I saw a large mixed media sketchbook on sale at my local store for about $8 I obviously had to buy it... even though I have 2 other sketchbooks on the go right now! But I love the size of this one and the fact that the pages can really take a beating. It's a Canson 9x12" Mixed Media sketchbook, if you're interested. The paper on the Strathmore Mixed Media sketchbook is another one I really love.

But that got me thinking about the dreaded first page. Why is it so hard to fill that first perfectly white page in a new sketchbook? You want to start the book out right with a fun first page! A good start like that always motivates me to keep going. So here are some easy ideas to help you fill that first page with something you'll love.

A Simple Pattern

It's no secret that I love a good pattern. There's something so meditative about taking a motif and slowly filling the page. It's also a really simple way to ease into a sketchbook page when you're not feeling the most creative. A "tossed" pattern is my favourite to play around with since it takes absolutely no planning. Think of it like you're taking some shapes and just tossing them on the page. So start with one scattered motif and build from there, taking it one step at a time without thinking too much about what to draw next.

The Date

This is another one of my favourite ways to start a sketchbook. It's also useful for when you want to look back at old sketchbooks. If you put the date you started and finished the book in the front, you'll be able to see a progression in your work and that's really fun. I usually start by just laying down some colour for a simple background. Then, since I'm terrible at hand lettering I'll Google a hand lettered alphabet and try my best to copy the letters. You can leave it as is or fill in the background with some doodles and mark-making. Make sure you leave room for the end date!

A Quote to Motivate

If you can't think of anything to draw, why not just write out a favourite quote! Whenever you open your sketchbook you'll get a little boost reading those words. I like to start with a really simple background of one or two colours and then pencil my quote in over that. Once you have the layout right, use some markers, pens or paint to add your quote. I like to add a few simple doodles around the edge at the end.

I hope those tips will help you break in a new sketchbook. Once the first page is filled in, it really gets a lot easier from there.

Would like a little more creative inspiration? I've made these 2 device wallpapers for you to download for free! They should fit almost any phone or tablet! Subscribe below and I'll email them to you right away.