A Botanical for Beginners!

Howdy friends! Today I have an easy step-by-step botanical tutorial for beginners!


Grab your supplies, watch the video and follow along!

Supplies available at sponsor Jerry’s Artarama!  Use coupon code: frugal20FS49 for 20% off $49 + Free Shipping (Excludes: Sale, Super Sale, Egift Cards, Buy It Try It’s and Vendor restricted items. Look for the green coupon eligible icon on the product listing.

Don’t be intimidated in painting botanical subjects. If you are new pick a subject you are interested in. If you can work from a live plant of fruit in real life it is the most enriching experience. Take your time, get lost in the subject and enjoy the beauty of nature. If you want more help on your watercolor journey including step by step technique instructions check out my Essential Tools for Watercolor Painting course. It is my most popular class. I have helped thousands of students achieve their artistic goals in my online classes and I’d love to help you too! Happy crafting!



Frugal Foiling with Mod Podge!

Hi friends! I heard about a new product called a “foil transfer gel” and I was interested in trying it…until I saw the price AND it turned out that you needed a laminator to make it work so I decided before forking over $9 for a tiny jar of that I’d see if I could use what I have to make it work! Watch this short video to learn how!

Supplies (affiliate links might be used)

There are two different ways to foil with mod-podge.
The first way is to paint or stencil a design on your surface and place the foil in the wet glue and let dry completely before removing the sheet.

The other way is to paint or stencil the design and let the mod podge dry completely and then run it through a laminator with the foil sheet on it in a folded piece of baking parchment. This give you a more solid foil design.

If you have any glues or gels that tend to be a bit tacky when dry they will work too. Have fun with this frugal idea! If you don’t have a laminator try an iron on the high/dry setting. For small areas you can use an embossing heat tool. Use what you have and make it work. Your creativity and wallet will thank you! Happy crafting!

Sketchbook Sunday! Oil Pastel Avocado Anyone?

Hi friends! Since launching my Soft Pastel for Beginners course last week (FYI it’s 50% off for the month of February with coupon code COLOR) I have been asked a lot about oil pastels. I did not include oil pastels in that course as their properties are different but I did have fun playing with them this week in my sketchbook! The first brand I used (as shown in today’s video) was Royal & Langnickle. They seemed a bit weak and very crumbly but still got the job done with a bit of help from some oil paint.


Then I decided to see what else I had and I found a set of Pentel. They were much more pigmented and creamy, cost less than the Royal & Langnickle and are widely available. I sketched the egg on avocado toast picture with the Pentel, no oil paint needed. I don’t have a lot of brands of oil pastels, mostly they come in kits with other things so I don’t have a comprehensive overview of all the brands. I have been thinking about trying the Sennelier brand but I really need to prove to myself that they are something I will really use as I can have the tendency to fall in love with a product and they have to try all the brands and lose interest. Please say I am not alone in that…


In today’s sketchbook Sunday video I am working in my old faithful Fabriano Venice book. I like working on toned paper so I used some gouache to make a background. enjoy!

Supplies (Affiliate links used)

This was a lot of fun but I enjoyed painting the avocado toast more because the Pentel pastels were creamier, they reminded me of using Cray-Pas as a kid in school. I loved it when the teacher let us use those in class! Sometime you need to go back to feeling like a kid again when you create!

If you are interested in learning about soft pastels (the chalky ones) please check out my new Soft Pastel for Beginners Class, I have a 50% off launch month special running through the end of February, simply click on the discount link in the blog post or use coupon code COLOR if the discount doesn’t appear. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

So Many Flamingos! Mirror Stamping & Bleeding Tissue Paper Backgrounds!

Hi friends! Back in December when I did my year-end craft room declutter I came across 4 flamingo stamp sets I have purchased over the past year and a half that I had not used! I bought them and couldn’t wait to use them so why do they sit uninked in their packaging?


I also found a pack of bleeding tissue paper that I had-to-have last year and only used once so that had to get used, as well as washi tape because honestly I went a bit off the rails with washi tape over the past few years but it all “sparks joy” so I better use it! I’ll also show you how to mirror a stamp like I did with the flamingo below!


I decided it was time to use it or lose it and so I decided to make big fun tropical colorful batch of cards! Watch the video to see how!

Don’t feel shame if you have supplies you bought and have not used, just use them! Supplies are made to be used. I’ll be honest, it is easier to collect supplies than to use them but the joy you get from creating will far outlive the high you might get from finding and buying them. I can’t wait to use these stamps again!

Supplies(Affiliate links used if available)

Some of the products are from Simon Says Stamp, they have a great selection but rarely ever have a sale BUT they are having their 17th anniversary sale and offering 17% off sitewide with coupon code SANV783 through 2/17/19. They also ship worldwide!


I hope this inspires you to ink up an unloved stamp and have fun!


It always makes me feel good to play with my supplies! Happy crafting!

Using a Quill Brush (Beginner Watercolor Practice Flower and Leaf Tutorial)

Hi friends! Today we are going to look at the Quill brush. It has a round ferrule and longer hair than a typical round and instead of the normal metal ferrule it is one made of plastic and wire.


This brush holds a vast amount of water and paint making it wonderful for expressive brushstrokes and loose flowers. You can learn how to use it in today’s video and if you don’t have a quill brush simply follow along with a pointy, soft round brush.

*Want to learn more loose watercolor floral techniques? Check out my Watercolor Flower Workshop.

What to look for (affiliate links used)

  • Look for a brush with black bristles with the words “synthetic squirrel”
    The ferrule (the part that holds the hair to the handle) will be a clear plastic tube attached with wire.
  • I have the Princeton #4 (#16 round equivalent) Neptune Quill $15 on Amazon, cheapest I’ve seen it!
  • And a 20-year-old Winsor & Newton size 0 (#8-#10 round equivalent) *Not synthetic but I still use it because I’ve had it for decades-I won’t throw away a brush and add to the landfill to be a “perfect vegan”
  • Another recommended synthetic quill is the Raphael Soft Aqua.
  • For my card I used Aquabee 6″x9″ 100% cotton watercolor paper folded in half.

Have fun practicing with your Quill brush if you have one and if not a soft round brush will suffice. You want to get to the point where you can paint graceful leaves with your eyes closed. Train the muscle memory and you will enjoy painting all the more! Happy crafting!

Arteza Metallic Gouache and 60 Color Set Review

Hi friends! Recently the company who makes my current favorite gouache came out with a 12 color metallic gouache set and a new 60 color assortment that contains the 24 color I use on the regular, the 12 metallics and others!


Arteza gouache is an affordable student grade gouache available is sets of 12, 24 and 60. FYI Affiliate links are used in this review. These can be purchased on Amazon or directly from the Arteza Website. *use coupon code FRUGAL10 to get 10% off your order on the Arteza website only.
Video Review


  • Price
  • Pigment information and lightfast ratings on each color.
  • Smooth opaque colors
  • Saturated colors mix cleanly
  • Color selection is nice
  • No issues with cracking or adhesion
  • Workes well as a layer in mixed media
  • Perfect velvet matte finish


  • No open stock colors

Here are the photos of the swatches I promised:


Let’s looks at the 12 set of metallic colors. Amazon $23.99 or Arteza website $25.98 These colors are very opaque with a subtle pearl sheen. The color does not change when tipped towards or away from the light as metallic watercolors do so you can be sure your artwork will look the same no mater what angle it is viewed from or if it is behind glass. These colors are also true on light or dark paper so no surprises. They are great for rescuing a failed watercolor too! The downside is you don’t get the flashy shimmer like you do with metallic watercolors like the Paul Rubens metallic watercolors I compared in the video.

Bottom line: I have been using the original 24 set for a year and love it, it’s is very slow wearing so it really goes a long way. I hope they eventually come out with open stock colors so I can purchase larger tubes of the ones I run out of but since they give 2 whites in the sets it should keep me a while and I can always but that color from another brand and it will work fine. You can search arteza gouache on my YouTube channel and see these paints in action if you like. I can’t recommend them highly enough for the price and quality. I hope you found it helpful and til next time happy crafting!

Sketchbook Sunday & the messiest art product ever!

Hi friends! Before I get into this weeks Sketchbook Sunday Time-lapse I want to inform you of a glitch that is affecting some students on the Teachable platform where I host my online classes. If you are having trouble accessing a class you bought recently please email me at artstudiosofbangor@yahoo.com so I can fix it. The problem is not widespread but I wanted to make sure you were aware if you had trouble accessing a class you recently purchased. I am here to help:)

OK, now on to today’s mess… er, I mean project!


I think keeping a curious mind is important to everyone especially artists, and trying something new and novel is a good way to do that. When I saw a pot of charcoal powder at the art store I was intrigued and decided to buy some to try… and now, here is the rest of the story…


The real-time version of this tutorial is now up in Critique Club. Critique club is a group in my school were members can post up to two paintings a month they are working on and get an in-depth, personalized critique from me as well as encouraging feedback from other members. If that sounds like something that would be useful to you then you can learn more here. It costs $5 a month and you also get two real-time demos from my sketchbook Sunday series per month so you can watch over my shoulder as I work through the challenges I personally go through in my Sketchbook Sunday growth work.  I think it can be really helpful to see others confront challenges and plow through them and see what works and what doesn’t. I think it gives people courage to try and not worry about perfection, just growing skills and getting better than you were yesterday.

Art takes time and practice to get where you want to be and if you are lucky you will look for new challenges as you reach previous ones. Embrace the failures and the successes! You either succeed or you learn and that sounds like a win-win to me! Happy crafting!


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