Monthly Archives: August 2011

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:

Back to School . . . Special

No matter how long ago you stopped going to school, there is still something about this time of year that makes you want to go learn something!

Thoughts of fresh pencil cases and binders, and the smell of a new box of crayons never quite vacate our fond memory banks, no matter how old we get.

The cooling temperatures and oncoming season of change make us feel like “getting back at it” – even if we haven’t managed to “get away from it” during the Summer.

This 2011 back-to-school season is a rough one because I don’t remember a time when more people were worried about their financial health. Times are tough, but money worries should NOT be allowed to stand in the way of the very thing that would heal them.

Learning anything new creates fresh brain connectors, and carries us off into alpha states of blissful concentration – from which the worrisome world is excluded. Creative learning has that and all kinds of additional health benefits – like joy, for example.

I have never done anything like this before, but if ever there was a time for it, it is now.


I am hereby putting ALL my WHENEVER Workshops on Sale for the second half of August.

Any WHENEVER Workshop purchased between today and September 1, 2011 will be discounted by 25% when you enter this Coupon Code when checking out of the Shopping Cart:

Back to School

There is no limit to how many WHENEVER Workshops you can buy with the Coupon Code.

Remember, these are downloadable and self-paced, so you can buy them on sale now, and actually work through them anytime that is convenient. (Downloads are active for 30 Days so you would have to Download them within that time period. After that, they are on your computer to be used WHENEVER).

If you have already purchased a WHENEVER Workshop after August 15, 2011, you will receive a refund to your credit card for the 25%. You don’t have to do anything to get the refund.

So, I hope this is cheerful news for you, and that you are able to fill your heads and hearts with creative stimulation instead of worry.

Here is the Link to the Whenever Workshop Page:

Remember the Coupon Code: Back to School

NOTE: This Special is for Whenever Workshops ONLY.

Watercolor Wonderful . . .

Just as I was getting ready to test watercolor on the Super Deluxe Sketchbook, something happened which gave me the perfect subject . .

I was very sad about the bird, but very happy with the way the page handled the illustration. It was painted quite wet with pan watercolors and there was very little buckling even on the edge of the page. No more than you would expect with most watercolor notebooks.

Of all the art mediums, watercolor is the one that scares people the most. Other paints pretty much stay where you put them, but watercolor has a mind of its own. It co-paints with you, sometimes going with your plan and sometimes not.

Frustration comes (and I know that many of you have experienced watercolor frustration), when you are constantly surprised by what the paint chooses to do, because about half of what it does on its own looks pretty bad.

The key is to learn about the medium and its quirks, and then you have at least an idea what might happen – and how to avoid the undesirable possibilities.

You will never totally control watercolor, but you can at least lead the dance.

I have scheduled another session of my watercolor workshop, Drowning Your Inner Critic in Watercolor, for a start date of September 16.

This is a workshop in which feedback is given by me. Not mean stuff – just the reasons why this or that probably happened. We also learn some things about perspective and creating the illusion of a third dimension on two dimensional paper.

I was so pleased by the work done by students in the last session that I want to share a few samples. Feel free to praise them in Comments if you are so moved. All four of these folks said they really had no comfort with watercolor when they signed up for this workshop!

Here’s a surrealistic landscape by Jerrie Hall . . . brilliant in many ways

And here is a different style entirely – a floral painting by Tyanne Angle . . . which shows off the delicate transparency of watercolor.

E J (Winna) Mordasky is a wonderful artist anyway, but she wasn’t comfortable with watercolor – which all changed for her during the workshop . . .

And Linda Saltmarshe created one of the most inviting garden paths I have ever seen . . .

These are just a few of the wonderful pieces that were produced by the 24 students in the last session. And everyone enjoyed the sharing and support of other class members.

I don’t think I have ever met an artist or aspiring artist working in any media, who does not own a box of watercolors (at least one)! Nobody can resist those jewel-like little pans of color.

But, very few of these same folks ever use their box of watercolors because they tried a time or two and couldn’t figure out what to do with the mess they made. Most decided watercolor did not like them or something.

If you want to know what to do with your little box of watercolors, join us in September!

Signing Bonus . . .

Two of the first 12 students to sign up for this workshop session will win one of these workshop-appropriate prizes by random drawing:

Made by Hand Book, this, linen cover, hard-bound, beautiful watercolor journal has pages that lie flat and have the same texture on both sides (a rare thing in watercolor sketchbooks). Size is 10.5″ by 8.25″. Retail value os $30 (30 sheets/60 pages)


My favorite Robert Simmons Sapphire synthetic sable paint Brushes – both a #4 and  #6 (retail $22)

Hurry and sign-up and one of these two prizes can be yours!

In Search of Glory . . . and the Perfect Journal

Morning Glory Sunshine © 2005, jessica wesolek, santa fe, nm

The Glory is the Morning Glory, and we’ll get to that story in a minute.

The perfect journal is much harder to find. In fact, I haven’t found it yet.

But, I sometimes come close and I am very happy with my most recent discovery. My current Moleskine has been devoted to the most recent road trip, and so I decided to try a sketchbook found at the local art supply. It bills itself as “the only sketchbook you’ll ever need”. Pretty big talk so I had to try it.

Found the size I wanted (6″x9″) at Dick Blick here:

Bee Paper Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook

The book is spiral bound, has 60 sheets of 93lb paper with a nice tooth, and a nice natural white color. (The color of my Moleskine Sketchbook drives me crazy.)

As soon as it arrived, I took it for a full test drive.

I love to tell stories in my art journals, and this is the story of my struggle to get Morning Glories in my garden this year.

The Uniball pens worked beautifully, and a tiny vignette using a waterbrush and the tips of watercolor pencils as a palette did not warp the paper at all. Nor did anything bleed through. The photo was printed on my Magic Matte 36lb and attached with double-stick tape. So far, so good.

More Uniball pens to write in different colors, and illustration done with watercolor pencils applied dry and blended with a waterbrush. Background wash applied with pan watercolors and waterbrush. Very little warping even with broader wet area.

Illustrations of the Solo cup is done with watercolor pencils applied dry and blended with a waterbrush. Photograph at the bottom is a Sheer Heaven transfer. I trimmed around the rock shapes on the Sheer Heaven before transferring.

This is just Uniball pen and another photo, but you can see the intense Solo cup painting through the paper – just barely.

Illustrations done with watercolor pencil. Even blending right to the page edge on the pepper shaker, did not warp the page. The bunnies were traced with Pitt Pens onto Sheer Heaven and transferred to this page. Notice how they are the mirror image of their previous appearance?

Everything I have tried so far in this sketchbook has been pleasing. It is fulfilling many of my requirements for the “perfect” journal, but I am not done yet – I have to try a larger, wetter,watercolor illustration and a large transfer, so stay tuned. The cost of the 6″ by 9″ Sketchbook at Dick Blick is around $10, and there are larger and smaller sizes available.

Just so you won’t be in suspense, the Morning Glories are still unmolested. This system really works!

All Things Change . . .

I love Trader Joe’s for many things. I have loved every food item I have ever bought there. I love that your heaped up shopping cart always comes to a shockingly low total at the register. I love the friendly staff who keep smiling even when almost taking a header over some loose kid in the crowded aisles. I love their frozen food shopping bags with zippers (since I live 20 minutes from my nearest TJ’s.

But, I have never paid much attention to the flower department – even though it is right inside the entry. I am not much on cut flowers – I like mine more lively – so I guess I just rush through there.

And I never realized they have fabulous living plants too. A few weeks ago, I got a beautiful blue Hydrangea for $6.99 that would cost $30 at the nursery. And last week, they had Hibiscus for the same price – so I got four! They are in pretty pots all around my swing and I am just knocked out by the blossoms.

They are so glorious, but their glory lasts only about 24 hours.

All things change, and the rate of change makes your hair blow back. If we don’t embrace it and be “in” it, we will just plain miss the boat.

So, I am changing lots of things.

I already changed this Blog, and I have now changed the Cre8it website itself. Hopefully, it is more accessible. Neither the blog nor the website are done changing.

In fact, I have invoked a feature of this blog format which will show a SlideShow of recent posts on the home page. If you came here through my email link, you already saw it. If you came in through a different pathway, you can see it by clicking the Home link in the menu.

I like this idea because people might miss posts or want to revisit them, and this is a great reminder. If it drives you crazy, please let me know – I have it switching slides pretty slowly so it won’t get anyone twitchy.

There are things missing from the Cre8it site at this moment, because I am waiting for tech support to help with a software problem.

But I am excited to report two important changes

The PhotoShop Elements Kindergarten Workshop is now a WHENEVER workshop. You can purchase it anytime and work through it at your own pace. Find the link in the Sidebar under Newest WHENEVER Workshops.

And a really big change is that Love This Journal is now a series of WHENEVER workshops. I have cut them and their tuition into halves so more folks can afford to get going with this art journaling thing. Each 10 Lesson Course costs $35 and comes with a Workshop Guide that includes a Gallery of Sample pages from three of my favorite graduates: Jerrie Hall, John Payne, and Sandy Steen Barhtolomew.

Gallery Pages look like this . . .

Remember how much fun this was, former students?

I am so grateful to Jerrie, John, and Sandy for letting me use their wonderful artwork to help turn others on to the joy of art journaling which remains a joy in their lives.

Speaking of which, I have some new pages to share with you next time, and I have also found a new blank journal that seems to have almost everything. Don;t worry – it’s not expensive!