Sketchbook Sunday & Can I offer you some constructive criticism?

Hi friends! I’m so excited to share something I have been thinking about for a while. I often get asked by viewers if they can share their art with me and I love seeing it. I have noticed the amazing progress my students in my online classes make as they work through the lessons and get feedback on each one. They can improve the problem areas in a painting and keep the things that are working. I think being able to give that feedback honestly pushes their skills to new levels. I have wanted to offer that service to more people so that’s why I came up with Critique Club!

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You can post any painting or drawing that you are currently working on or have finished to get personalized feedback by me (and encouragement by others) and you can make corrections and post them if you like. Often a new set of eyes can pick out something “off” in a painting you might have missed or help you appreciate an overlooked good part in your paintings that you might have taken for granted. You can even learn by seeing other student’s art and their critique because we often find we share the same struggles.

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I wanted to make this group extra valuable so I decided to take two of my sketchbook Sunday projects each month and post them in real-time with narration so you can see how I work through the paintings, what is going on in my mind and how I overcome obstacles during the painting process. The poinsettia painting from this weeks Sketchbook Sunday is available in the group now and a new lesson will post in the group every 2 weeks. Even if you don’t have a chance (or you are a bit shy at first) to post a painting you can still enjoy the painting lessons. The cost of Critique Club is $5 a month and you can cancel anytime.

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Since it is Sketchbook Sunday I have a time-lapse painting of something I wanted to work on this week. I purchased this pretty little poinsettia two weeks ago for 88 cents at Mardens. I loved the unusual red and yellow pattern on the leaves and I though the yellow veining was especially striking. As always I am never quite sure how my Sketchbook Sunday paintings will go (that is part of the fun, challenging myself, experimenting and trying different techniques) and this was no different but I did learn a thing or two. I hope you do too and that it inspires you to work in your sketchbook today!

I highly suggest you try cropping a page either with tape or by drawing a box to work inside. Something as simple as that can give you a whole new perspective on your subject. Remember if you want a full real-time tutorial of this painting it is included with your Critique Club membership.

Supplies:

  • Watercolors (Renesans) Carmine, lemon yellow, sap green, indanthrone blue and phthalo turquoise.
  • Watercolor paper (Hahnemuhle)
  • Brushes: #2, #8 round
  • Other: masking tape, pencil, eraser, and assorted colored pencils.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Sketchbook Sunday project and if one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to grow your artistic abilities please consider joining Critique Club. You can learn more about it, watch the promo or sign up here. Happy crafting!

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Cute Upcycled Furniture Project! DIY Upholstery!

Hi friends! I’m back with a couple more gifts I made, or should I say refinished!

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These storage benches were rescued from the basement after one of my girls asked for a pretty gold bench with a white fur seat for her room. The request was mentioned a couple of days before Christmas and after my shopping was complete but then I remembered the old benches they used to have when they were little for holding dress-up play clothes. I decided I would refinish both of them, one for each of my girls for a last-minute gift. They loved them and I have a bit less clutter in my basement now! watch the video to see how to do it and how I made the custom cushioned seat. You could use that technique to turn any storage trunk or toy box you might have in your basement into a storage bench. Imagine the treasures you can make! Why buy new when you can renew?

Supply list: Keep in mind you probably have everything you need in your stash and substituting is totally fine. Everyone’s furniture will be unique and that is part of the fun! I have provided a supply list with links for your convenience and affiliate links may be used if available.

  • Old wooden bench, trunk, toy box or other furniture you want to refinish
  • Paint: I used chalk paint but you can use acrylic paint or leftover latex house paint (you can tint the house paint with acrylics if it is not the color you want.) My recommendation for this project is chalk paint because often old furniture can be a bit beat up and chalk paint hides the flaws and is quick to apply.
  • Plywood: If you are not upholstering directly to a seat you will need to cut a piece of plywood to match the size of the seat. Often if you buy the wood at a home improvement store they will cut it for you.
  • Foam cushion to match size of area to be upholstered
  • Heavy duty stapler: I have an Arrow Power Shot but this one made for furniture upholstery is half the price.
  • Fabric or a blanket cut 4″ larger on each side than your foam.
  • Stencil (the paris sign one)
  • Acrylic paint pens (I added doodle over the thick stencil lines on the gold bench with Jane Davenport paint over pens because I though the thick black lines looked dated)
  • Hot glue
  • Assorted paint brushes

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Directions:
1. Clean the furniture inside and out with a rag damp with warm soapy water and let dry. *Note: if you are using regular acrylic or glossy house paint I suggest you prime the furniture. No need to prime if using chalk paint.

2. Paint the furniture including the inside of the bench for a fresh and clean surface. You will probably want 2 coats.

3. Stencil over the dry paint if desired.

4. Make the cushion. Cut plywood and 2″ foam cushion the same size as the bench and then cut fabric 4″ larger on all sides. Center the foam and plywood over the fabric and wrap it around stapling the fabric to the back of the plywood.

5. Glue the seat to the bench with hot glue.

My husband and I have refinished many pieces of furniture in out home and so have the kids. I think getting in the habit of looking at something you have and thinking “How can I make this work better” is a wonderful skill. It makes your home personalized and keeps things out of the landfill and from cluttering your basement.  I love knowing that something is one of a kind and there is a special satisfaction in doing something yourself especially when you give new life to something at would otherwise go unused. I hope you are enjoying the last weekend of 2018 and til next time happy crafting!

Make Pretty Dimensional Elements with Scraps!

Hi friends! Today I have a quick tip for making page titles and embellishments using stuff you probably already have!

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This is the year title on the scrapbook calender I made my parents for Christmas. All you need is small scraps of craft foam (aka fun foam or foamies) something with texture like a rubber stamps and a heat source like a light bulb or heat tool. You can also use pigment ink like I did for a more dramatic effect. Watch the video to see how!

I hope you are enjoying the last few days of 2018 and til next time happy crafting!

Have you ever got sick of your hobby?

Hi friends! I apologise for not having a sketchbook Sunday for you today. We celebrate Christmas and we are hosting Christmas Eve this year and traveling on Christmas Day so we have a lot of prep to do today. In addition to store-bought gifts I have been working on secret handmade things as well so even though I am creating like crazy I can’t share the results yet;) This video was made in response too an epiphany while I was working on my yearly scrapbook calendar I make for my parents each year. I used to scrapbook all the time and I really enjoyed it. As I was fighting with my printer that decided to no longer accept heavyweight photo paper and searching the far corners of my computer and phone (my kids phones and facebook friends photos) for enough 2018 photos to fill the 12 page calendar scrapbook I longed for the day when we had one device that took pictures and then we picked up the stack of photos, such as they were, at the photo lab. There wasn’t the endless amount of options for taking photos, editing, enlarging, and printing. What we had was “good enough” and it was certainly a lot more efficient and fun!

As I was working on selecting, resizing and editing my photos I was listening to a “best products” of 2018 video and they were talking about a new tool that was just the same as another tool we all have and have been using for years but it had a different grip and color so it was so worth adding to out hoard and it hit me! This is what has been bugging me about cardmaking!

  • The same tools and products rebranded as “new”
  • Super specific “life changing” tools and supplies that do only 1 thing (non-versatile) that you need to store, find and remember what you bought it for. These items take up space and take longer to find and use than any time they are theoretically supposed to save.
  • Constant churn of supply releases. New stamps released every month only to be discontinued the next moth so people feel like you need to get it while you can. I reminds me of fast fashion. Rubber stamps are designed to pretty much last forever but many people (myself included) have stamps that have only been used once and some that have never met an ink pad!
  • Slightly different versions of the same thing such as nesting frame dies with stitching, double stitching, wavy stitching, (stitching holes) changes up year upon year so you never quite feel “on trend” and the collector aspect of the hobby makes you feel like you should add each new version to your stash. There is also “full set syndrome” where you feel the need to own every color in a product line or every peice of a collection.

The #1 thing that annoys me though is the planned obsolescence of items that can theoretically last forever. If I buy a stamp (I really like stamps!) and use it on a project to share with you and then you can’t find it because it has been discontinued you might get upset with me that you can’t find it so I feel bad using the older stuff but on the other hand I like the stuff I already have more than many of the new things and I also think you can substitute images and supplies for what you have and prefer, otherwise all our cards will look the same and what fun is that?  I will discuss that and more in today’s video.

What do you think? Have you been feeling the same thing? I have to admit I also felt a bit horrified that I could be contributing to this feeling in others by reviewing products and in my tutorials. If I have made you feel overwhelmed instead of inspired I apologise. Please know that the work you make is enough. You are enough. Sometimes I feel that companies market on the premise that you are missing out and who you are and what you have is not good enough but let me set the record straight. You are enough. No stamp, die or watercolor set will make you a better artist. It is within you and anyone who makes you doubt that is wrong. Hobbies are meant to enjoy, art is there to inspire and taking part in these activities should foster a sense of growth and challenge yourself to improve and gain mastery and satisfaction. Shopping and collecting can be fun, no doubt, and as makers we see the potential in everything. In an age where it is so easy to add to our stash we must be vigilant to make sure it does not subtract from out creativity. Did any of this make sense to you? Maybe I am the only one who has had these feelings lately and if so it’s probably good because I don’t want others to be overwhelmed but if you were feeling like this I hope it helped. Happy crafting!

Jiggly Piggly Happy New Year Card!

Hi Friends! This little piggy went to market, and this little piggy stayed home and this little piggy says happy new year!

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Watch the video to see how it’s made! It’s fun and you probably have many of the supplies you need already!

This tutorial is sponsored by Top Flight Stamps! SAVE 10% off your next order with coupon code: thefrugalcrafter10 *USA orders of $50+ ship free!

Supplies:

Here are some alternatives if you don’t have the supplies I used!

  • Instead of the patterned acetate use clear plastic packaging from christmas gifts. It will be perfect and if there is printing on it you don’t want then place your focal point there.
  • If you don’t have a wobble spring simple coil craft wire around a pencil a few times and make your own. Use hot glue to adhere it, I have a tutorial on this here. This won’t be as flat for mailing but the effect will be the same.
  • If you don’t like glitter you can use foil, if you don’t have sequins you can make confetti from paper-punched shapes.

The best thing about substituting supplies for what you already have is that your card will truly be one of a kind and you are using up the stuff that is already bought and paid for and I think that trying to use what we have is a good new years resolution! Happy crafting!

Snowy Winter Sunset – Paint With Me!

Hi friends! I invite you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and paint with me. You don’t need many supplies and you can paint this in under an hour!

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The colors you will need are:

  1. A cool red like Alizarin Crimson, Rose Madder or Permanent rose
  2. A warm Yellow such as Cadmium Yellow, Gamboge, Permanent Yellow, Hansa Yellow Deep or Indian Yellow.
  3. A warm blue like Ultramarine Blue or Cobalt blue.
  4. A cool soft blue like Cerulean (look past a pastel looking blue hopefully made with PB36) or sky blue. Avoid a cerulean that looks intense and vivid. Sometimes companies call Phthalo Blue (PB15) Cerulean but it is too intense for this. If you don’t have a good cerulean than you can leave it out

Keep in mind you only need one of each of the suggestions for a total of 4 colors in all. You will also need a 1″ flat brush, 9″x12″ watercolor paper, pencil, masking tape, a rag and 2 water buckets. Enjoy the video tutorial!

Supplies (affiliate links used)

I hope this was a nice break in your day and let me know how you got along if you painted this! I love bringing these free watercolor tutorials to you and if you find value I them please share them with a friend using one of the handy sharing buttons below. Sharing is caring and I do appreciate it! If you enjoyed this tutorial but feel like you need more beginner instructions please check out my online course Essential Tools for Watercolor Painting here and save 20% with coupon code TRYME. I makes a great last-minute holiday gift too! thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Metallic Watercolor Showdown! Comparing lots of brands!

Hi friends! After I posted a review of Paul Rubens metallic watercolor last week I got a lot of questions about how they compare to other brands I have used in the past. Rather than rely on my faulty memories or biases between brands I might have in my head I decided to swatch them all out and really see how they compare under the same conditions. The info is in this video

Since I felt the info in the video was a bit hard to digest I posted photos as well. Here are the sets in order of appearance with affiliate links used if I have them.

Paul Rubens Metallic set of 24 $50 These were my favorite for color selection, quality and packaging however they were one of the pricier brands and the small half pans can be hard to use a large brush with.

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Hobby Lobby / Prima $10-$24 per set of 12-24 colors. These paints combined quality and value. The large pans made it easy to work up a lot of paint and the colors with rich, creamy and opaque. Some of the colors looked similar on black but all-in-all a solid value!

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Twinkling H20s ($3-$4 each or $14-$30 a set of 6 depending on size of pot)  ***These prices vary widely as does availability of the product. You might need to scrounge around on etsy or ebay to find deals if it is something you are really interested in. I did not pay this much for the colors I have, I got them in sets on clearance years ago. They are a bit too rich for my blood now. These are best for white paper as they do contain vivid, bright transparent color but they have a harder time standing out on black. These are best when you want glitter and color on white paper.

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Ken Oliver liquid metallic inks in bottles $23 set of 6 or $4.50 each. These liquid metallic watercolors can be used fully concentrated and thinned down. since they are inky you can do some fun techniques that may be more difficult with a solid color, you can brayer to color on a paper and drag tools through it of press a stamp and twist to create cool shimmering patterns.

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Jack Richardson large pan watercolor $4 per pan These were OK, they are very similar to other colors in sets. This would be a good option if you only need one color for a large project so you don’t want to buy a set with colors you won’t use.

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Schminke Aqua Bronze: (these retail for around $20-$30 but amazon has them for $54 each! they are a bit hard to find unfortunately, I did find a great selection at Jackson Art in the UK for $9.23 each and they ship worldwide) I think this is an interesting product and probably the most reflective of all of the ones I reviewed today. I suspect this product is a lot cheaper in Europe where it is made. I like mixing this in wet washes in watercolor paintings when you want a strong shock of metallic color. This is best to mix up as needed and not dried in pans. It can look like gold leaf when applied in a smooth coat.

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Blick liquid watercolor $3.87 per color, 6 colors available Also available by Sargent Art on Amazon in a set. This is fun to mix with watercolor as paint or to make your own metallic shimmer sprays with.  A versatile product that is a good value!

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Komorebi (8 metallics in a set of 40 watercolors) $36 (was $24 but Amazon increased the price on this set) you can get just metallics in larger pans too. Consider the 40 color set with 8 metallics if you want a nice student quality paint with a nice variety of standard, neon and metallic shades. The regular colors are nice for the price and the metallics are great!

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***(best value) NIJI set of 16-21 colors $2.60- $3.90 a set. These offer a great variety and decent quality. They are very opaque on dark but they are not as reflective as the Paul Rubens set and you don’t get as much in a pan. Even though they are a bit chalky they still pack a punch and would be the perfect product for the occasional user.

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Prima Shimmering Lights $20. Personally I am disappointed in this set. I found the colors pretty chalky and they were ho-hum on black. The vintage palette may appeal to some users though and they would add a subtle shimmer when mixed with other paints.  I think there are many better options that are more versatile. Maybe they are right for you?

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Homemade metallics from LA color Eyeshadow (tutorial) These were fun and cheap to make and are pretty decent, plus if you have a dollar tree or family dollar around (or shimmer eyeshadow at home you don’t want) they are easy to obtain!

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Handmade watercolor from pigments from Xanadu Art Studio (tutorial). I think these were some of the most opaque and colorful metallic watercolors in the bunch (of course I might be biased since I made them LOL!) so if you are up for a project you might want to give it a try. They won’t be cheap to make tho as the pigments can be pricey!

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Turner tube metallic watercolors $6 for 15ml.  These were not my favorite but if you prefer a tube paint they might be right for you. They offer a subtle color and shine when added to watercolor paintings.

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Yarka full pan watercolors: $3.45 per pan. These paints are available in 6 shades of gold, silver and copper and are very opaque and glitzy on black. They will fit in a standard watercolor tin so you can mix them with the colors you have for more variety.

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Well, there you have it! There are other sets on the market and if you have one of them and are happy with it then use it. Otherwise I hope this comparison helps you find the paint that meets your needs for a price you are comfortable with. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

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