Category Archives: Art Supplies

Magnetic Watercolor Box


I have been a watercolorist for 40+ years.

For many of those years, I used nothing but tube watercolors, painted only in my studio, and only on 300 lb Arches watercolor paper.

Seven years ago, I began painting in art journals and everything changed. Moleskine sketchbook pages were smaller – and did not handle moisture that well. Portability became a big thing  - whether I was painting in the garden or sitting on a knee wall on Canyon Road, or on a rock in some National Park.

So, I switched to half pans.

As is my wont and weakness, I collected and tested every pan watercolor known to woman, and began the quest for the perfect portable paintbox.

If you have followed this blog for a long time, you have been privy to some of that.

Like HERE:

and HERE:

Never satisfied!

So one day, while reading the Artist Journal Workshop blog (where I am a contributor), I came across a post about a wonderful little magnetic paintbox in a business card case, created by expeditionary artist, Maria Coryell-Martin . . .

magnetic palette

These are wonderful, they cost $28 and you can buy them from Maria here:

Maria Coryell-Martin

The bottom of the case is magnetic and the pans can be rtearranged. The inside of the cover serves as a palette of sorts, and you fill the pans yourself from tubes.

I bought two and I love them for carrying along some very esoteric colors that are not part of my everyday palette.

But they are tiny (business card size), and I also have many already filled half pans that are way too expensive to abandon. There just had to be a way to apply this idea to my bigger palette.

I bought a package of those business card size adhesive magnetic sheets at an office supply store, and I cut a piece to fit the bottom of all my half pans. You can see how that looks here . . .


Winsor & Newton and some other pre-filled half pans come with the color name printed on the sides or bottom of the pan. My favorite brand, Schmincke, does not, so I wrote the color on the outside of each pan with permanent marker. Of course, any pans you fill yourself will have to be labeled as well.

Empty half pans are sold at a reasonable price at Daniel Smith.

Half pans in a metal paintbox are usually held in place with metal tabs which are a pain, in my opinion. But that insert lifted right out of the Schmincke box I was using, so I just put the half pans, now magnetic, back in the plain metal bottom of the box.

And, I did a journal page about it . . .


I was able to add more pans than the box had been holding with its tabs, and this worked fine for awhile.

Two things were bothering me, however. The colors were so crowded in the box that I kept slopping some of one onto the next, and I could rearrange the colors, but it was hard to get hold of the edge of the pans – especially when the paint was wet.

Well, three things, actually. I also wanted more room because I wanted to add more colors! There it is again – that color oinky syndrome. We all gotta have a syndrome of some kind, right?

I wanted a metal box that was not aluminum (magnets won’t stick), AND that was very thin so it would slip in my journaling bag (show you later) with my journal and iPad.

Just thick enough for the height of the half pans, but no thicker.

Off to the art supply store I went to look at colored pencil sets that come in tins.

You can get them for about $6 and the 12 pencil set is just the right size.

However, I found that if the bottom of the box had any indents, which many of them do, you can’t move the pans around as easily, nor fit as many.

This Prismacolor box was perfect . . .


It was not inexpensive (about $25), but I used a coupon, and I will put the pencils in a pencil case and sell them in my gallery as a set. So, not as wasteful as it might at first seem. If you don’t have a store and don’t need the colored pencils, they would make a great gift for an artist friend in a decorated pencil cup!

This box is the perfect size and the bottom is absolutely flat.

Here are the same pans that were jammed into that Schmincke box . . .


I can slide them around and group them into any set I might be working with at the moment.

I can get hold of them easily to lift them and read the color if need be, and I can put space between them so I don’t slop one into the other.

AND there’s lots of room to add more colors – as long as I leave plenty of sliding room.

The cover also serves as an easily washable mixing palette.

And, an extra benefit – the palette can sit in its own cover, making a neat little unit. Those hinged covers flopping around drive me nuts. (It’s not a long drive.)

I have been using this for about two weeks now, and I can’t imagine a more perfect solution.

But, who knows. There could be something better to imagine out there some day.

For the moment – I am very happy.

Have a great Sunday.


Get an email announcement of each new post on this blog.


Art and Garden Ideas . . .



I have been gardening in this place for so long, it amazes me that I come up with ways to do things differently every year. It is NEVER the same-old, same-old.

I run five fountains which the birds and I all love, and three of them are terra cotta clay – consisting of a hollow base and bowl top.

They are HEAVY!

Birds are DIRTY!

I found myself having to empty and clean the fountain bowl every couple days and lifting that thing full of water is killer.

I was at my garden center and saw an assortment of plastic pot saucers and the largest were rather deep and LARGE. Light bulbs went off. But I hate plastic in my garden (and most other places too). Surely, even the most neutral, cream colored version would look hideous on that terra cotta base, right?

But my achin’ back said to try it, and I was surprised by the result. From across the courtyard where I sit on my swing, it looks like they match – and you can’t tell it’s plastic at all.


That is the original terra cotta bowl on the ground at the left.

There are now some white Cosmos planted at the front of that flower bed. When I did the art journal sketch above, there was just the flowering mound of Candytuft which is the green behind the Cosmos now flowerless.

Here’s another view of the birdbath fountain. . .


That bare earth in the back corner will be filled with Hummingbird mint as the Summer moves along.

In this birdbath, I have a Waterfall Rock. This is a resin rock sculpture which looks like a stack of slate and encloses a recirculating pump which I have found to be very reliable and resilient. We sell them at my gallery ($40), and of course, I use them at home. I run them in heated bird baths in the winter, and twice, the power went out in the middle of the night and froze the birdbath solid. As soon as things melted, this pump went right on running.


So, the long and short of it is that you can create a great birdbath for the price of a large plastic pot saucer ($15) and anything to set it on. A wrought iron plant stand would do fine. You can make your birdbath a fountain by adding some rocks and a small recirculating pump.

White Flowers on a Green Background . . .

One of the challenges of garden art journaling with watercolor is that most flowers are lighter than the green foliage around and behind them. Since watercolor is transparent, you can’t paint a light color over a dark.

So, masking fluid is the watercolorist’s best friend.

Let’s be honest . . . using masking fluid is usually a pain in the neck. It’s gooey and gummy and sticks in your brush if you don’t fill your brush with soap suds first. And once you have your brush filled with soap suds, it is not easy to mask small details.

I do know there are lots of alternatives – like white ink markers etc. but painting over those inks is not like painting on the paper.

So, masking fluid remains the best answer, and I have just recently found a brand that has become my favorite for many reasons, and of course, it comes from a watercolor company – Daniel Smith.


It comes in a squeeze bottle that has a fine tip. But it also comes with 5 extra fine tips which you stick on the bottle tip, and which result in you being able to “draw” very fine lines.

From a distance, a Candytuft blossom does not have much detail, so I didn’t want to mess with a soapy brush. I just wanted to scribble some little white flowers . . .


 The tiny squeeze tip worked great.

But, here’s the thing – you have to clean that tip. And the finest wire will not pass through. The manufacturer says to use up your first bottle of fluid, and then keep it for filling with water to clean the tips. You switch the tip from the active masking fluid bottle to the water bottle and squeeze a stream of water through the tip.

Cleaning MUST be done immediately after use.

You are never going to get that first bottle actually cleaned out, and you don’t want this gunk going down your sink (it’s latex rubber).

So, here’s my best advice:

Buy two bottles. Empty one right away into a small jar or something where you will be able to use it with a brush when masking larger areas. Make sure the jar seals tightly and use the smallest you can find so little air is in contact with the masking fluid.

Let the bottle you just emptied sit without its top on until the coating of fluid still inside hardens.

After that, you should be able to use it with water without any pieces of dried fluid clogging things up.

What would be easier?? Why the heck doesn’t Daniel Smith sell an empty bottle and extra tips for this product? I think I have to go ask them.

Monkey-Mind-fullness . . .

This, by the way is the opposite of mindfulness, and I am working on making the switch before I really do drive myself crazy.

Meanwhile, for as long as I have been blogging, I have been hindered by monkey-mind. I am interested in so many things and I keep thinking they should all be divided into different blogs, etc. – which only results in no blogging because I can’t decide where what and when.

So, starting with this post, my blog will be much more true to its name – Whatever.

Whatever my current dalliance, I am going to share it right here in this place.

Hopefully, that will result in more posting.

We shall see . . .

New Mailing List . . .

If you want to receive email notices of new posts, be sure to sign up on the new Mailing List here:

I am about to delete the old list.

You can always find this new sign-up link at the top of the sidebar.

Talented Students Meet Great Art Pencils . . .

Cherryl Moote Botanicals


Given that this Friday, March 15, is the start date for the second session of my Inktense, Soup to Nuts Workshop, I thought it would be good to show off some of what students in the current session are creating – because I am so pleased and amazed.

So this is sort of a “gallery” post. I wish I could show you all the art, but a sampling will have to do.

This gorgeous accordian book at the top of the post, by Cherryl Moote, pops off the page in more ways than one, because of the brilliance of Inktense color.

And this Snowman by Susan Jeffers has a whole lot of personality.

Susan Jeffers

This has nothing to do with snowmen or Inktense, but the carrot nose reminds me. You know how you learn something everyday? Well, yesterday, reading an article on heirloom seeds, I learned that carrots were originally purple! Just thought you might like to know.

Seeing a Winter scene, and maybe being sick of the season, one might turn to thoughts of running off to Florida beaches, or conjure up some Spring Tulips or Butterflies . . .

Daniela Mellon Sea Life

Underwater scene by Daniela Mellon.

Jan Ruhnow Tulips

Tulips by Jan Ruhnow

Tyanne Agle butterfly+small

Butterfly by Tyanne Agle

Here’s a very clever idea using dry Inktense techniques, by Christine Anderson – “Cliff Notes”

cliff notes Christine Anderson

Elaine Golt Gongora painted these really lovely ink bottles using Inktense wash techniques . . .

Elaine Golt Gongora Ink Bottles

And Jeanne Minnich used some of the same techniques on this boot . . .

Jeanne Minnich Child Boot

Jerrie Hall found it relaxing to create what we call Zen Flowers . . .

Jerrie Hall Flowers

Inktense can be used on dark papers if you know some tricks – as demonstrated by Jaffra Masad’s Heart . . .

Jaffra Masad Heart

And you saw some of Sandy Steen’s stuff last post, but I had to share these characters – done on gray paper with a hand carved stamp . . . Those hens are very cute! I wonder which one that rooster will date?

Sandy Hens

So, lots of creative fun is being had by all, and a brand new session starts tomorrow.

Join us if you can. No skill level is necessary and no inner critics are allowed.

Inktense – Soup to Nuts


Creativity Knocking – Volume One!

Well, October was not blogging month around here!


So much has happened since last we spoke, that it would take a whole lifetime just to list it, let alone talk about it.

You know how I don’t care for the reciting of TO-DO lists, especially the ones with capitol letters, so I won’t  be doing that here. I’ll be sharing some of the more interesting stuff as it becomes relevant, because I will be blogging a LOT more, but I won’t make you sit and listen today.

But one thing does stand out from this past month . . .

I figured out what I want to be when I grow up!

I want to be an artist.

Duh! You say.

But, truthfully, I don’t get to *BE* an artist that much. I am much too busy BEing a crazy person instead.

As you know, I have a gallery. Therefore, I have a destination for anything I create. Truth is that Mark and I will not do this again, so this is it, and I must take advantage of the opportunity and make art! If not now, then when?

So, everything I do must dovetail into that.

Lucky for us all, I love to keep an art journal, and so it makes sense that I journal the details of my ideas, endeavors, and adventures in my art making. Right?

And I have been doing that.

And I put the first completed journal into a PDF Workbook.

And I just published it – for your creating pleasure.

One of the things that went on during October is that I ran out of gas – me, not my car. Since our Borders is closed, I drove all the way to Albuquerque to go to Barnes and Noble, have some coffee and look for inspiring art books and magazines to buy.

If you would have told me 10 years ago, that almost all VARIETY would pretty much disappear from art books and magazines, I would never have believed you. I could see where that could happen in some fields of publishing, but surely not CREATIVE publishing!

I came home empty handed. But I have hopes for my own personal inspiration via blogs, Pinterest, etc.

For you – I can give you something exciting and inspiring in a workbook!

It’s really more of a “Playbook”, but that sounds like football. And it’s not about football.

It’s not a magazine. By their nature, they must move briefly through subject matter and be full of advertising.

It’s not a book because it’s not about a single subject.

So, I decided to call it a workbook’guidebook.

Creativity Knocking is just what it says. It’s a VARIETY of creative ideas, idea starters, and idea finishers. It should give you lots to think and do, and hopefully, start you down some paths that I haven’t even thought of yet.

I love it and I am not going to put a schedule on it so I can continue loving it. It is a part of the “art” I am making, and part of the “art” I have made. It is fun. It is inspiring.

And I hope you love it because I want to do many more volumes.

Without further ado, here it is . . .

Creativity Knocking, Volume One


Morning Coffee #28 – Art Blossoms . . .

I love drawing and painting flowers.

This photo was actually taken last fall when my love affair with Hibiscus was just beginning because I had bought some plants at Trader Joe’s! Sky dog had been painting earlier but she wore herself out and needed a nap.

Here is the blossom I was painting . . .

And here is the finished painting . . .

I painted it in one of my very favorite watercolor books – the American Journey Travel Journal. Page size is 12″ x 9″ and the surface is 140lb Hot Press. Finding hot press watercolor paper in a book is rare. These are not inexpensive, but they are on sale for $19.99 at the moment, and they are worth every penny.

American Journey Travel Journal

A really important part of being able to paint flowers is being able to draw flowers. If you have taken my Art of Photography Workshop, you know that I did not even allow you to take photos of flowers for your first challenge, maintaining that a monkey with a cell phone could take a great photo of a flower because they are so darn beautiful.

Not so with drawing flowers, though, because they are complicated. Lots of folks are afraid to try because they don’t know where to start, and monkeys are especially afraid. I’m not talking about doodling fantasy flowers here, which is easy. I’m talking about drawing flowers that are recognizable, even as a line drawing.

You know I like to make complicated things easier, so back around January, I started writing a book on the subject. I was also trying to see if I could create a whole workbook just on my iPad. I have worked on it now and then since, and yesterday, I finished it. Ta-Da!!

It’s a 60 page, instantly downloadable, PDF E-Workbook, and it teaches you how to look at a photograph (or a real life flower), and draw it. I have a formula and a plan to follow that makes it all very easy.

This is the first in a series of Draw Simple Books (I hope), and I did create it entirely on my iPad. It’s available now for $15 here:

Draw Simple Flowers

Suzanne McNeil Wannabe

Not really, but sorta.

I would be surprised if many of you did not recognize that name. Suzanne is an artist who started a company some years back called Design Originals. She publishes single subject art and craft books that are only about 35 pages long and sell for $12.99.

I remember thinking that was pretty pricey when I first encountered them, but then I bought a couple and realized how chock-full of information they were – no waste, no filler. I bought more and so did a lot of other people.

Design Originals grew into a very successful company.

Now – switch the subject to me.

I was publishing PDF ebooks 12 years ago – when everyone who did not have a computer art background was still saying “Huh?”

Well, now ebooks are “all the rage” as they say.

The best format for an illustrated book is still the PDF. Everybody can open, read, and print them, and all the pictures and type stay where they are supposed to. They are better than a real book in that you can zoom in for a closer look at details, and they are searchable.

You can also put them into iBooks on your iPad and read them, search them, zoom them, there.

I think some other tablets can also accept PDF files, but I don’t have any other tablets, so I don’t know which or what. I do not think Kindle can because their format was set up for text only books, and has a hard time with graphics still.

ANYWAY, one big thought blossom that did get put into the permanent To-Do vase was that I want to publish Art-E-Workbooks of all kinds, and that is the business I want to build along with my Sheer Heaven business. Hopefully, I’m off to a good start.

In fact, what do you think of that as a name for them – Art-E-Workbooks? Arty – get it?

The Banana Slicer

You really must visit this product on Amazon if you want a good laugh. Don’t bother with the product, but read the customer reviews. I don’t know where the Review Police were, but the reviews are hysterical. It’s sort of like a flash mob happening in the review section. People just picked up the humor and kept it going . . . hurry before the Review Police get wind of this . . .


Artist Showcase – Nagai Hideyuki

Honestly, I could not wrap my brain around this until I watched the little video provided, and then still . . . These are just two flat sketchbooks! And the artist is just 21!

3D Sketchbooks

It’s a Beautiful Day . . .

And I am going out to the garden to draw flowers. You can too. I know where there is a great how-to book! (grin)

Introducing Tech Tuesday . . .

Yes, actually, I do know it’s Thursday, but odd time-warp things are not unusual around here.

Why not call it Tech Thursday? Just doesn’t sound as good. So, the fact that our first Tech Tuesday is a Thursday will just go down as one of those interesting things.

I started Sunday Morning Coffee seven weeks ago, and it has been very well-loved. I thought an additional theme might be fun, and I know that these days *everyone* is connected in some way to technology. You can’t get away from it, and you shouldn’t try. The gifts abound – especially the gifts for artists and artisans.

So, every Tuesday, I will talk about things that connect our creative lives to technology. It may be something about the iPad or iPhone, or digital photography, or reading Kindle Books, or Photoshop/Elements things, or . . . well. you get the idea.

Don’t think you will be left out of these conversations because you are not tech-savvy, because the point of this is to help you increase your “savvy” and comfort level with all of this new magic.

Creating with Elements/Photoshop is now a WHENEVER Workshop.

When I created this workshop as the last scheduled workshop for 2011, I got lots of emails from folks who wanted to take it, but had scheduling problems. Those who did take it REALLY loved it, so I decided to move it to the WHENEVER line-up so you could take it when it does fit your schedule.

The photo above is a Cyanotype created by Photoshop/Elements techniques instead of the usual coated paper, sun, and water method of real life Cyanoptypes. There is a beauty and mystery to this look that turn any photo into an intriguing art image. This one is from a line of greeting cards I created with Cyanotypes, which I call Southwest Blue. They pretty much stop traffic in the gallery.

The workshop also teaches you how to make fake Polaroid Transfers which look just like the real ones, and “distressed” photos created with an additive rather than destructive approach.

The other three lessons teach you how to create projects – original art pieces that I make for my gallery. I don’t publish them outside the workshop, because I don’t want the world copying the ideas, but take my word for it, they are cool.

Here is the link to the Workshop Description page, or you can click Whenever Workshops in the sidebar.

Creating with Photoshop/Elements

Reading Kindle Books . . .

Do you need to own a Kindle? No.

I have an iPad, but all my ebooks are Kindle. That is because there is a Kindle App for the iPad. With it, you can Sample, Purchase, and Read any books from the Kindle Store.

But, you don’t need to own an iPad either.

You can download the Kindle Reading App for any of the devices shown above, and you effectively have a “Kindle” embedded in your device. Get your apps at this link . . .

Get Your Kindle APP

While iBooks does a better job with illustrated books, I prefer Kindle for the specials offered, the Samples sent instantly, and the prices – which are much better than iBook prices.

And don’t forget the great link I gave you last Sunday for keeping up with the Kindle specials.


How to Pull a Perfect Color Scheme from Photoshop or Elements . . .

Lots of times, it is not easy to come up with a color scheme for a project. Maybe we are challenged choosing colors that go together, or more often, we just run dry thinking of a new, fresh palette.

Here is a trick to solve that problem.

1. Open a photo in Photoshop or Elements

2.Crop a small area of pleasing color . . .

3. Choose Mosaic Tiles from the Filter Menu . . .

4. In the Filter Gallery that opens, choose Stained Glass and a cell size of 20 . . .

5. The result is a harmonious color scheme . . .

Any color here will harmonize with your photo, obviously, in case you wanted to add borders or layers of color behind it. And all these colors will work together in any art piece.

Print this out and find or mix matching paint colors or find similar colored pencil or pastel colors etc. You may have to enlarge before printing if you picked a very small area in step 2.

Or, to use the scheme in a digital artwork, Save As this file with a name (maybe like “Desert Rock” for this one), and have it open as an alternative Swatch collection while working on your piece. You need only click on a color to make it the foreground color and use it in your artwork window.

For even more fun, and a number of additional, harmonious color schemes, use the Hue Slider (Command or Control-U) to change things up a bit. All the colors will change and all will still harmonize with each other. (Not with your photo any longer, however!)

Big fun – and happy harmony!

Connecting the Dots . . .

There  have been many, many books written about creativity. Some recent ones advocate the throwing-things-at-paper-and-see-if-they-stick theory of awakening creative ideas, but most of the books I have read were written for the design industry, and took a more serious approach to the subject.

If you have never sat and torn your hair out for a logo idea at four in the morning, when you have the client presentation at nine, you have missed one of life’s more dubious pleasures. But suffice it to say, there are times when you have to understand where creative ideas come from, so you can force them to come.

OK, so you can’t force creative ideas to come, but you can set yourself up to invite them, ask them politely, and hope for the best.

The creative process is really about you making a previously unthought of connection between things that are not already connected in the way you just thought of.

Interpretation: One thing leads to another, and putting them together leads to new things.

This usually brings on a DUH! – V8 sort of head slap, and then the question: “WHY didn’t I think of this before? And why didn’t anybody else?” It is so obvious once you think of it.

So this is an example of that:

Thing One:

I just dredged the Sheer Heaven Travel Palette idea out of the archives and republished it.

Thing Two:

I have been painting flowers and trying to duplicate some colors in Nature. I often use Daniel Smith watercolors for this because they are earthy. They are so earthy in fact that the color charts on their site only vaguely resemble what is in their tubes.

So, awhile back, they came up with a very creative idea to sell sheets of paper containing little dots of their colors so people could test them.

Thing Three:

While buying tubes from their website, I saw that they had put the sheets on sale – drastically – and since I was disturbed that there was very little blue in the recent tubes of Blue Ochre and Sodalite I had purchased, I bought them. (Sorry – the sale ended as fast as it started.)

When they arrived, I have to say I was a bit disappointed that the dots were so small.

Thing Four:

Let’s see . . . Sheer Heaven Palette + I want bigger dots of Daniel Smith paint.

Right! Why not put dots of tube paint on a Sheer Heaven Palette instead of limiting that idea to watercolor crayons and pencils? You could carry more paint and more colors!

I tried it. I let the dots dry overnight, and it works just great . . .

You should let these dry before putting them away, but if that is not possible – cover them with another piece of Sheer Heaven – with the slick side down toward the paint. If any color sticks to the Sheer Heaven backside, it can be easily washed off with a damp paper towel.

Is this not luscious looking? It xplains why children eat paint and woman wear lipstick, doesn’t it?

New WHENEVER Workshop . . .

With the Holiday gift making season coming up, I have moved the Five Easy Pieces workshop to WHENEVER status. Turn your photos into gallery quality gifts with very little time and effort . . .

And I even reduced the tuition by 10%

Sheer Heaven Travel Palette

Back in the day – before Sheer Heaven became better known for making inkjet transfers than anything else – back in the Summer of 2004 in fact, I discovered that Sheer Heaven made a perfect watercolor palette for traveling.

I was not an art journaler yet. That would not come along until two years later. I was still in a state that many of you will be familiar with – collector of blank journals and frustrated to still be an artist journal wannabe.

I published an online magazine then and wrote an article about this amazing discovery.

Several folks have asked me recently to republish this information, so I dug up the photos and here we go . . .

Two things about Sheer Heaven make this idea work. Sheer Heaven is impervious to moisture, and it has a lot of tooth.

Therefore, you can pile up a deposit of watersoluble pigment on the good side of Sheer Heaven – using either watercolor pencils, or watercolor crayons, which deposit more pigment more quickly – and take your entire color collection with you inside your journal!

To use the palette, you just moisten the patch of color with your waterbrush to pick up the paint. Sheer Heaven will act just like a paint pan. It will not warp or tear with the moisture, will not soak up the color like paper would, and the Sheer Heaven tooth won’t allow the wet color to spread or run on the palette.

You can even put away your palette sheets wet. The back side of Sheer Heaven is absolutely smooth, so any wet color that offsets on the back of the sheet above will wipe right off with a damp paper towel.

You can create specific Palettes on separate sheets . . .

Maybe you have a certain set of colors you use for landscapes or people, or a coffee toned palette you use in coffee shops. Maybe you want to group all your reds, or blues, on one sheet. The beauty of this system is that you can use as many small sheets as you want, arrange colors however you want, and repeat colors on different sheets.

The palettes work perfectly for most color sketching you want to do.

You can refill the color spots . . .

When your color runs out, the tooth of the Sheer Heaven will still be there, so you just scribble on more color.

You can dilute and mix colors easily . . .

The smooth back side of each sheet is perfect for diluting or mixing your colors to your heart’s content. You could even carry an extra sheet (recycle a transfer leftover) just to use as a mixing palette.

Best of all, you can carry as many sheets as you want in a simple envelope in your journal – or they can be tucked in a pocket if your journal has one.

I made this envelope from Sheer Heaven (using an envelope template I found online) and painted the palette on front using the color from the sheets inside!

If you don’t have any Sheer Heaven, here is where you can find it:

NOTE: Transfer leftovers can be recycled into palettes, Just use the trimmings that still have the surface intact. Part of the Sheer Heaven tooth does transfer with an image. That is what holds the liquified image together during transfer, in fact. But, you can use the trimmings to make palettes, because the surface is still there.

NOTE to my Travel Journal students: Use a Blossom pocket to hold your palette.

Another Little Paintbox . . .

DH asked me the other day whether I liked making art or making art supply kits better. He has a point and I am not sure of the answer. There is something about “sets” of stuff that gets to me.

I got another Dick Blick catalog in the mail and they have a sale on a special paintbox from Schminke, my all time favorite watercolor brand. They are expensive. This was an 18 half pan set for less than the usual 12 half pan set. So I got all starry-eyed and started figuring out how I could afford it.

Thank heavens for that occasional voice of reason. It said “I think, if you go and find the scattered Schminke half pans you already own, you won’t need this new set.”

So I did, and I didn’t.

I already had 12 of the colors in that advertised set, and 14 more colors I had purchased individually.

Then the voice of reason, chuckling to itself with that told-you-so attitude, said that perhaps I should keep them together in one place. YIPPEE! A chance to make a new paint box!

This time I started with a box like this . . .

These are Opaque Watercolor Paints by Lukas. This same box is put out by Grumbacher as well, but they are more expensive and the cover is opaque. They are nice paints. Vivian Swift used the Grumbacher brand for all her small paintings in her book, When Wanders Cease to Roam, which I still think is one of the best art journals ever put together. And the price is down to a shocking $8 at Amazon (was $19.99)

Here is the best price I could find on the Lukas set at Amazon (actually shipped by Jerry’s Artorama):

Lukas Opaque Watercolors

So, I didn’t throw out these paints, of course. But they are double decker and I thought it would be better if I could see all 24 colors at once.

So, I put them in a colored pencil box I had emptied by putting the colored pencils in one of the Global Arts leather pencil cases.

You are starting to see why DH asked the question, right? But I know you fellow artists understand this kind of thing.

There. Now, I feel right about where the colored pencils are and where the opaque watercolors are, AND . . . I have an empty paintbox for my Schminke Half Pans (remember that was what started this all?)

I use that strong redline double stick tape to attach my Schminke half pans to the bottom of the box in two rows, and then add a third row of some pans I filled myself from some favorite Old Holland and Daniel Smith tube colors.

I made a color chart on 300lb watercolor paper cut to fit inside the box, and there is still room inside for three sizes of brushes and a plastic palette!

To pack it up, I put the palette over the paint (handy when the paint is wet) and the color chart on top of that. I even have room to put my waterbrush on top of that if I want (as you saw at the top of this post).

I just love this set because it is compact and comprised of just my favorite colors. And I now know where my Schminke watercolor pans are!


Your response to the Back to School Sale has been pretty amazing and that makes me happy. Many of you have asked for an extension, and because I have just managed to squeeze the Panpastel Workshop in under the wire (see the sidebar), I am extending the Sale through the Labor Day Weekend – through Monday, September 5.

To summarize for any newcomers, all my WHENEVER Workshops are 25% OFF through Monday. The discount will be taken in the Shopping Cart when you put Back to School in the Coupon Code box at checkout. If for any reason, that does not work, don’t worry, I will apply the discount before processing your charge.

Here is the Page of Whenever Workshops to choose from (or you can find them in the Sidebar of the blog).


Water Resistant?

We have had dry conditions for the whole Spring and Summer, but now the monsoon season has finally arrived.

Cloudy days are such a rare thing here that Dear Me! thought we should do a journal page about it, and you know she always gets her way . . .

But wait a minute . . . something is wrong. Dear Me has eyes that look a bit blurry – and her mascara never runs!

The lettering on the sign looks a little rough too. Like the black ink ran. But that cannot be. I used my Pitt Pen which has never run a bit in the 4-5 years I have been using the brand.

I also recall that the UniBall pens did not seem as smudge proof in this Super Deluxe Sketchbook as they did in the Moleskine.

Can it be that the permanence of permanent ink can vary according to the paper being used? That doesn’t make sense to me, but Dear Me! thinks we should check it out. She is NOT happy about this runny mascara thing.

So, we get out four permanent ink pens we have at hand (or at least “water-resistant” in the Uniball case) and test them in the Moleskine and Super Deluxe sketchbooks.

The results were surprising!

Each sample was drawn in the book and allowed to dry thoroughly. Then, I washed over them three times with a waterbrush with more scrubbing than I would ever apply in the course of things.

Here, I have tested the Pitt Fine Tip Pen, the UniBall Vision Elite, the Prismacolor Permanent Ink Marker, and the new Sharpie Pigment Marker which is supposed to be waterproof (or at least resistant).

The small amount of smearing is what got me excited about the UniBall for writing in my journal. The other three pens did fine and did not smear at all.

Then I tried the Super Deluxe sketchbook by Bee Paper Co.

I have to say I was shocked. All the pens ran – even the Pitt Pen which had never run before on any paper. And no wonder some people emailed me that their Uniball Vision Elite Pens ran!

I guess there is always something to learn. I thought a permanent pen was a permanent pen – period. And I still can’t really figure out what about a paper surface would affect the permanence.

But for now, the Super Deluxe sketchbook has a lot going for it as the perfect journal, but with two flaws – the spiral binding, which many folks like but I don’t like working on the left page because my knuckles hit the big spirals, and this permanent pen problem. I do a lot of pen drawing, overpainting with watercolor or watercolor pencils and this ink running situation won’t do.

So, for now, I am back to the Moleskine Sketchbook. It is not perfect, but it is the most perfect for what I do.

If you do like spiral bindings and you don’t overpaint your pen work, the Super Deluxe Sketchbook might be the perfect one for you.


All WHENEVER Workshops are still on sale (25% off) for the remainder of the month.

Link to the WHENEVER Workshop page: