Thursday, April 30, 2009

Salted Backgrounds: A New Angle

We've had lots of fun with watercoloring this month on Gingersnaps and while I still had the paint brushes and supplies out on my craft table, I decided to play with one final technique. I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with the salted watercolor background:

Paint a very wet watercolor wash onto watercolor paper, using paints, reinkers, watercolor crayons or whatever medium you prefer. Sprinkle with salt, allow to dry and shake off the salt crystals. The salt absorbs the paint or ink and leaves behind a neat mottled pattern.

I decided to add a twist and sprinkle my washes with other granulated substances that absorb liquid to see what sort of effect they created. It was a lot of fun!

Look at the aged look that instant coffee gives - this piece is waiting on my desk for the perfect project. [note: ground coffee doesn't work].

Cool Aid made a funky background:

Iced tea powder also looked pretty cool.

My favorite of all was using grains of rice - with so many shapes and sizes of rice on the market, this technique has great possibilities.

Here are a few cards that I made with these backgrounds. The first uses the Cool Aid background and I stamped directly onto one of the rice backgrounds on the second card.

If you give this technique a try, leave us a comment with a link to your work. Or we'd love to hear your suggestions for other absorbent materials that could be used with this technique.

Happy stamping!

All images are by Artistic Outpost.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wrap Up for GC04 - White with a Splash

Here are some of the great cards produced for the White with a Splash Challenge!




For all those who missed out on participating in this challenge, stay tuned tomorrow for the April Color Challenge!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ali's Angle: Clean & Simple

Splitcoaststampers have started a new challenge on Mondays called - Clean & Simple Cards. Their definition of clean and simple (CAS) is:

"A clean and simple card has limited layers and sometimes just a card base. It leaves a lot of "open space". It uses little or no embellishments. Any techniques should be the old standard everyday kind like sponging, distressing and piercing. Limit the number of tools you use. Any colored images should be small and quick. Don't go overboard on tons of punches and embossing. CAS cards should be easy and quick."

I'm really addicted to this challenge and find that a clean, uncluttered card is a great way to clear my mind at the beginning of the week. Here are a few of the cards I've made for the challenge so far:

The 3 trees card above was made for the challenge to include a button on your CAS card. The challenge that inspired the Zinnia card below was to use a punch on your project.

Finally, a CAS color challenge inspired this butterfly card.

Why not clear your mind this week by making a clean and simple card!

Stamp credits:
Card 1: Trendy Trees (Stampin' Up!)
Card 2: Open Zinnia (A Muse)
Card 3: Silhouette Branch (Memory Box), Essence of Love (Stampin' Up!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Redhead Review: Watercolor Wonder Crayons

In keeping with this month's focus on watercoloring, I'm going to take a look at Watercolor Wonder Crayons by Stampin' Up! for the Redhead Review.

The sets of 12 crayons are packaged in a protective tin and are available in Stampin' Up!'s four color families - Bold Brights, Earth Elements, Rich Regals and Soft Subtles. There is also a smaller set of 6 neutrals.

These highly-pigmented, water soluble crayons can be used for many watercolor techniques. As with most watercoloring methods, you'll get the best results with watercolor paper and I'd recommend a 140lb smooth cold-pressed variety that is available at most craft stores and art supply stores.

Here are a few of the different ways that they can be used in your work. If you are watercoloring a very open image, such as this bird, then you can apply the crayon directly onto the paper and blend with a waterbrush.

You can add multiple colors or shades to the image, just ensure that each layer dries before you apply the next.

If your image is smaller and more detailed, I'd recommend picking up the color directly from the crayons.

If you have a large, detailed image to color I usually scribble the crayon onto the lid and use this as my palette rather than overwork the end of the crayon.

Great color washes can be achieved too by coloring directly on your paper and blending.

And finally, my favorite way to use these crayons is coloring directly onto a solid stamp, misting it with water and stamping. This gives an impressionistic feel to your image.
I give these crayons a definite thumbs up. The features I like are:
  • Their creamy consistency and the fact that they blend really well together.
  • They are a clean and portable way to watercolor.
  • You can exercise a little more control over them than ink or watercolor paints (may be that's the control freak in me coming out!)
  • The range of colors that are available is great.
  • And they last forever. I've had my set for 3 years and haven't even thought of replacing them.
On the other hand, it's worth keeping the following in mind:
  • They are expensive at $19.95 a set.
  • You need to ensure that you clean your brushes well after use because they sometimes leave a residue behind.
  • If handled a lot the crayons can snap, which makes it harder to color with them.
Why not give them a try applying all the watercoloring principals that Sharon showed us last week. Check out those posts here, here and here.

Happy watercoloring!

All supplies are from Stampin' Up! Stamp sets used are A Little Birdie Told Me, Friends 24/7 and Rustic Rooster.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Watercolor Washes: The Final Versions

Yesterday, I did a few watercolor wash backgrounds. To see the tutorial, check out Inspiration in Ink: Watercolor Washes. I used just 4 colors to create some wonderful backgrounds. All these backgrounds came together quickly and easily.

Here is what I made with my stack of watercolor washes!

The straight consistent color washes

I added a little copic coloring to this sweet bib but the background color was soft and sweet with the wash!

Baby Congratulations
Stamps: B
aby Bib & Congratulations (Rubbernecker Stamp Company)
Paper: pink dots (Provocraft stack from long ago); celery argyle and pomegranite pattern (Stampin' Up)
Cardstock: Rose Red & Pixie Pink (Stampin Up); watercolor paper
Ink: Rich Cocoa (Memento); Pale Plum - reinker (Stampin Up)
Copics: RV11 - Pink, RV17 - Deep Magenta, YG03 - Yellow Green
Tools: heart punch (Creative Memories); mini heart punch (unknown); paint brush, pallette

For these lovely birds, I did a basic light blue wash and then went over the birds with a wet brush and dabbed the areas with a paper towel to pick up the color just from the bluebird pair to highlight them slightly.

Bluebird Hello
Stamps: bluebird collage from Bluebird plate and hello from Serenity plate (Artistic Outpost)Paper: blue vines from Pocket Full of Posies Matstack (DCWV)
Cardstock: Bashful Blue (Stampin Up); generic black; watercolor paper
Ink: Tuxedo Black (Memento); Bashful Blue reinker (Stampin Up)
Tools: Round Tab Punch (Stampin Up); paint brush; palette

The fading color wash

For this card, I used a Perfect Plum wash which was faded toward the center. I cut the sentiment from one of the scraps from my variegated backgrounds.

My Knight in Purple
Stamps: my knight and knight collage from My Knight plate (Artistic Outpost)
Paper: Autumn Leaf Texture - Eggplant (Daisy D's)
Cardstock: Perfect Plum (Stampin Up); generic black; watercolor
Ink: Tuxedo Black (Memento); Perfect Plum, Pale Plum, Bashful Blue and Certainly Celery reinkers (Stampin Up)
Tools: paint brush and palette

The two-tone fading color washes

These washes are so pretty that for both two-tone backgrounds I chose silhouette images.

Simple Rose
Look of Love (Penny Black)
Paper: Hey You from the Times Nouveau Collection (Graphic 45)
Cardstock: Certainly Celery & Chocolate Chip (Stampin Up); watercolor
Ink: Rich Cocoa (Memento); Bashful Blue and Certainly Celery reinkers (Stampin Up)
Tools: paint brush and palette

This is my favorite of the day! The wonderful image was a Random Act of Kindness from stamper extraordinaire, Debby! Thanks again, Debby!

Childhood Delight
children silhouette (unknown - RAK gift - pretty isn't it?)
Paper: Chocolate Torte (Cloud 9 Design)
Cardstock: Whisper White (Stampin Up); generic black; watercolor
Ink: Tuxedo Black (Memento); Pale Plum and Bashful Blue reinkers (Stampin Up)
Tools: paint brush and palette

You will notice that for most of these cards, I let the image and the background take center stage! All these cards went together in about 10 minutes each not including making the backgrounds! Fun, fun!

Stay tuned for what I made with the two variegated backgrounds!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Inspiration in Ink: Watercolor Washes

Saturdays I try and get caught up on my reading! I try to find inspiration, new ideas and new projects from many different sources. Today, I picked up the Spring 2009 edition of Take Ten. Imagine my delight when I found an entire article devoted to watercolor backgrounds. "A Wash of Watercolor", on pages 72 & 73, is a delightful glimpse at what is possible with watercolor backgrounds. It features the beautiful creations of the talented Dianne Mahoney.

As I have been on a watercolor kick, I decided to switch my focus from the foreground to the background and do some simple watercolor washes.

Making a watercolor wash is quick and simple! All you need is some watercolor paint or reinkers, watercolor paper, a good brush with a flat edge, a palette, a cup of water and some ever-useful paper towel.

To start off, I add a couple of drops of reinker to my palette. I then add a few drops of water. I use a small plastic bottle so that I can control the amount of water. Mix the ink and water a bit with your brush before picking up any color.

Next, I place my watercolor paper down on a work surface. You may wish to adhere it to your work surface with some masking tape as the paper tends to buckle with the addition of the paint and water. I was feeling a little reckless today so I did not. Adhering the paper down does help control where your water wanders, but I like happy accidents too!

I load my brush with some of the mixture and draw it across the paper. If I want a consistent color for the whole piece, as in this example, I would reload my brush for each stroke. The trick here is to let your brush stroke overlap the previous one slightly. This allows the brush to pick up the last line of water and will keep the color smooth and consistent. Keep reloading the brush and moving across the paper in even strokes until you have completed your background.

For a fading background, simply don't reload your brush from the point that you want the color to begin to fade. It's that easy! Keep dragging the brush across the paper, once again overlapping the previous stroke just a little to continue to bring the color down. You may run out of moisture before your piece is finished. To keep going when this happens, you can dip your brush in clean water and bring down a little bit more color by running a few strokes over where you have already painted.

For a "fade to the middle" look, use the same technique, but turn your background 180 degrees when you run out of color and begin with a fresh wash from the other end. When complete, dip your brush in plain water and go over the middle strokes to blend the color. In the example below, I faded two different colors to the middle for a different effect.

For a mottled and multicolor wash, you can add colors to a simple wash as in the example below. I washed a background with blue and then added green and plum in randomly. It is important to work quickly so that your initial wash does not dry before you are finished.

When I add the color on top, I generally use a Z-shaped stroke to keep the shapes more organic. For this piece, I went over the entire piece with a clean wet brush to meld the colors together. As I like subtle color, I then placed paper towel over the wet piece to pick up the excess moisture. This technique also softens the color.

You can also build your background using small strokes of color, cleaning your brush (I do this by dipping it in clean water and running the brush over a paper towel), and adding new colors in. Be careful to slightly overlap your colors so that they will blend.

Well, that gives you several different looks to work with and create some great pieces with the wonderful look of a watercolor wash!

Have a fun day and check back later to see what I did with all those backgrounds!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wrap up for GC03 - Rose Purse

In March, Ali found this great image to inspire us!
Here's what the players did with it!



Thanks to all who played! Look for the next inspiration challenge on April 20th!

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