Here Studio Saturdays Mixed Media Planner

We’re waist-deep in January, so what better time to get organized and start a new planner? I was so taken by the planner featured in the article “Creative Days Ahead” by Dawn DeVries Sokol in the January/February issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine that I had to make one for myself. It seemed like the perfect project for Studio Saturdays.

If you haven’t caught planner fever, this project will convince you to get on board. Keeping a planner like this isn’t just about writing your to-do list; it’s about making something unique, using your favorite supplies and techniques, and documenting your creative life.

This Create Along series is in three parts: In Part One we’ll create the cover, in Part Two we’ll bind the planner, and in Part Three we’ll decorate the pages, using fantastic collage, painting, and layering techniques. If you’ve never made a book before, you’ve come to the right place. This project uses a repurposed book and a very easy binding stitch, so there’s nothing difficult or intimidating. If you’re a veteran bookbinder or book artist, you’ve also come

Here Problem Solving with Oil Painter Joshua LaRock

Master drawing: Learn to put aside assumed ideas of what you are looking at, and educate your eyes enough to see what is actually in front of you. The maxim is “Draw what you know rather than what you think you see.”

Laura in Black (oil on linen, 20×16) by Joshua LaRock

To begin the drawing, think in two dimensions: Flatten the portrait as if looking at it through a window (the picture plane) and tracing on the surface of the glass.

1. Point relationships: Analyze where one landmark is relative to many others—the tear duct to the edge of the nostril, for instance. You may use two established points to locate a third in what is often known as “triangulation.”

2. Tilts: Think carefully about the angles of relationships. Are the eyes perfectly horizontal or tilted slightly one way? The nose and mouth should also be at the same tilt as the eyes.

3. Shapes: Attempt to see the shapes that make up the features,

Use Water Brush Lettering Learn 3 Techniques Using Markers

Lettering with a brush is very forgiving. I’m currently editing a book by Jen Wagner titled Happy Hand Lettering (due out this summer). I love her use of watercolor for lettering and I felt inspired to give it a try—albeit with a twist—using a water brush. Water-based markers such as Tombow dual tip brush pens are a perfect and playful companion to water brushes.

Technique 1: Loopy Lettering

This first technique simply requires writing in cursive with large loops to make widening lines easier. Going back over the marker with a small amount of water from a water brush gives the lettering a lovely painterly look.

Using the fine-tip end of a Tombow dual tip pen (or a similar water-based pen), letter a word, keeping things “loopy” when you can.

A water brush with a fine point is best for adding a small amount of water to the marker lines. You just want to activate the color, not have it bleed too far out.

This is cool. See where the upstroke of my Ls

Art or Vandalism

It’s almost a cliché to say that art should make us think, but if we stop to consider graffiti as an art form, there’s plenty to think about. Maybe there’s a required shift in our thinking in order to call graffiti art? This street art, made by artists who may not be known to us, is often in fact well known in the artist’s inner circles on the streets. Can we say that we don’t see it as art when it’s on a train or the side of a building, but if that same design is put on canvas it then becomes art? Can we say the murals adorning city walls across the city are art because they were commissioned or sponsored, critiqued and vetted by a committee, but the designs that have been thrown up on a wall at night are not?

Scouting Art

Recently I headed out with my camera along a nearby trail, the Valley View, and I passed a handful of runners, some kids and people out walking their dogs. I continued on, heading to a spot known as a teenagers’ hangout and a popular destination for photographers looking for that model-on-the-railroad-tracks

This Calculating Your Color Options

Think of all the paint mistakes we have made over the years. Remember all the mud you made as you attempted to mix up the perfect shade of purple or orange? What if someone told you that you could buy only eight colors of paint that would magically transform themselves into more than 150 colors? Well, you can do just that. Making a few wise pigment choices can lead to an expansive collection in no time at all. Let me tell you how.

The key is to choose pigments that play well together and are clean mixers. For this we’ll use “modern” pigments, the pigments that come from chemistry labs. These pigments are known for their ability to allow light to pass through them, almost like colored glass.

Fluid acrylics (I use Golden Artist Colors®)
• Quinacridone red
• Anthraquinone blue
• Hansa yellow (medium)
• Interference violet
• Iridescent gold (deep)
• Micaceous iron oxide
• Titanium white
• Bone or carbon black
Paintbrush, synthetic

1. Start with a primary red, blue, and yellow triad: quinacridone red (a cool red); anthraquinone blue, and hansa yellow medium. All three are deeply saturated and intense

Stamp Carving Art

If you’ve never carved stamps before, rest assured you don’t need any special skills—you don’t even have to know how to draw. The carving part takes a little practice, but a few helpful tips will shortcut your path to success.

The tools and supplies needed are minimal and fairly inexpensive: a carving block (I like the Speedball Speedy-Carve blocks), a linoleum cutter handle with a chuck, a set of linoleum cutter blades, a craft knife, cutting mat, scrap paper, ink pads or water-based markers, and some baby wipes. Having two cutter handles allows you to switch between different blades quickly, instead of having to switch out blades in one handle. Cutter handles with a simple chuck system are easy to use–simply insert a blade and tighten it down.

It doesn’t take much to get started with stamp carving; the basics include cutters, a stamp block, and ink pads or markers.

Any type of design will work for stamp carving, but if you’re just beginning, I recommend starting with a simple shape, like a solid heart, leaf, or flower. The three-layer technique I’ll show you isn’t difficult, but practice first with some basic

Here Recycled Art

An artist’s imagination spins into high gear when working with recycled and repurposed items. In the hands of a mixed-media artist, rusty gears, an old book, or plastic mesh have the potential to become much more than what they were intended for. The exciting ideas below for creating recycled art can be easily incorporated in your next work of art. Don’t miss the great extra resources at the end for even more creative inspiration.

1. Mandy Russell discovered a great way to repurpose plastic switch plates–she turned them into felted book covers. In the Winter 2015 issue of Pages magazine, she explains that the plates’ firmness makes them perfect for wet felting, and the openings can become little windows. To wet felt a plate, Mandy begins by wrapping 3′ lengths of wool top fibers both horizontally and vertically around the plate, until the entire plate is covered. The wet felting process involves adding dish soap and hot water to the wool and gently rubbing it, rinsing it with hot water, and repeating those steps 5-8 times until the wool is well felted and tight around the plate. See the rest of the article to see how the covers and pages

Tips The Importance of a Good Photo Reference and What to Avoid

1. Small image

Often, the photos people send are candid shots, taken just for fun. While these photos have a lot of sentimental value, rarely are they large enough to do a quality rendition, particularly if you’re painting a person’s or pet’s portrait. (I often say, “I’m an artist, not a magician!”) You simply cannot draw what you cannot see. Being able to see all of the small details is what makes you able to accurately obtain a great likeness. If you cannot see the small things that make up the individual, you then have to fake it. This makes it “close” to the person, but that is not good enough. A good portrait must be spot on!

2. Blurry image

Even though someone may give you a photo reference that’s large enough, sometimes the photo is a bit blurred or out of focus. Again, you can’t see the details well enough to capture the likeness, and you cannot draw what you cannot see.

Free Download! How to Draw a Picture from a Photo: A Free Portrait Tutorial

3. Poor lighting

Having a large, clear photo is not all that matters. I’ve received reference photos

Wow Sparkling Light on Water An Oil Painting

This misty and moody early morning scene of a drift boat and fly fisherman is the type of subject that really gets me excited. My reference for this painting was just a poor-quality cell phone photo my wife took of me, my dad and my brother in my drift boat on the Bitterroot River in western Montana, my home river. I liked the overall composition but wanted to change the color and lighting to make it more dramatic. I also changed the pose of the figure out front and gave the impression of a line of trees in the background that the light was shining through.

Reference photo for Brent’s oil painting

The simplicity of the boat and water without much in the way of background or detail inspired me.

Step 1

1. Start the Drawing and Mid-Values. With a no. 14 filbert bristle brush, begin scumbling in a background color with opaque oil paint (Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light and a little Viridian) thinned a bit with alkyd medium. Apply it thinly over all the linen, aiming for a middle value that will work well

Adjusting Shadow Values Tools for Graphite

1. When you want a sharp graphite point, consider going mechanical.

Among the strengths of mechanical pencils are their fine points, which in many cases are so thin that they do not need to be sharpened, unlike traditional pencils. No standard pencil, no matter how well sharpened, can compete with the point of 0.2mm lead. [–Sherry Camhy, “Material World: The Nuts and Bolts of Mechanical Pencils”]

2. Don’t think. Just look.

Stop thinking and look at your subject. Many times I’d have students who could very easily draw something, for instance a skull—they were comfortable with that. Then I’d bring out an actual skull and make them look at it. There’s that back-and-forth between what you think you see and what you actually see. [–Fred Dalkey, “Meditations in Conté”]

3. Shadow values: always lighter than halftones.

A common rule of thumb is that even the lightest value in a shadow (the reflected-light shadow) should be darker than even the darkest value in the light (the halftone). That is to say, all lights should be lighter than all shadows. Accordingly artists often compress the value range in the lights, to keep light values and

What You Missed When You Blinked in Abstract Art

“What You Missed When You Blinked is my take on how short life is and how to fill those moments with art,” Jason says. “I strive to create a mood with my work and capture a moment in time that reflects that mood. I am fascinated with decay and deterioration, and I try to convey that process in my work. As a collage artist, I use a variety of vintage paper from many sources and try to give new life to this medium that is slowly becoming obsolete in this digital world we live in.”

[Read: From Chaos, An Abstract Art Painting Evolves]

You’ll see that our takes are very different, and after learning Jason’s interpretation, I feel like I might have another poem waiting to be written. My initial reaction connected me to my sense of parenthood, which is symbolically opposite of decay and deterioration, although maybe it’s not quite so different. One of my favorite quotes is that “change is the only constant in life” (Greek philosopher Heraclitus), and what is decay, but change? I’m not getting younger by the day but, like all of us who create, be it abstract art, poetry, or

Here Art Metal Embossing

Let’s start with the metal itself. I used a sheet of medium-weight copper metal from Amaco ArtEmboss, which has a thickness of 5 mil, about 10 times thicker than the tin foil you have in your kitchen. It’s sturdy stuff, but also nicely malleable. You can cut it with scissors, but I wouldn’t use good fabric scissors (the ones your mom always yelled at you for using); any decent pair of scissors will work. You’ll need a paper stump and a couple of styluses, with tips in different sizes. I used a set meant for shaping paper, but there are also specific metal embossing tools available. You should also have two surfaces to work on, one hard and one soft; I used a glass cutting mat, and also a piece of thin craft foam. And you’ll need a plastic stencil, (preferably one that’s not too detailed), and some low-tack tape (I used washi tape). Optional and not pictured here are modeling paste and a palette knife.

The tools for metal embossing include metal, styluses, and some craft foam.

Decide what size piece you want to make, and cut the metal about 1″ larger in

Technique Tuesdays Nature at Mixed Media Art

Artists find inspiration in a variety of things: music, food, memories, and in their surroundings. But nature is unquestionably one of the more popular sources of inspiration for many artists. Whether it’s using found bits in artwork, being inspired by what is seen in nature, or using natural elements to create media to make art, artists continue to show us how nature fits into their art-making processes. See how some of our contributors incorporate nature in mixed-media art, and share some expert ideas, tips, and suggestions.

1. For artist, author, and instructor Nick Neddo, nature is more than a source of inspiration. Neddo looks to nature for art tools and media as well, making everything from paintbrushes and pens, to inks, crayons, and more. In his article “Charcoal Drawing Sticks” May/June 2016 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, he shares how to make your own charcoal sticks, using a backyard fire, an old tin, and narrow sticks from your surroundings. After scraping the bark from the sticks (he includes tips for the best types of wood to use), they are packed tightly in the tin, and the tin is set in a hot fire for at least an hour.

Wow Painting the Alps and the Himalayas en Plein Air

Imagine finding yourself painting en plein air in a landscape that is completely remote from the hustle of any city. It’s quiet, except for the wind, perhaps. Your only company is that of yaks or if you choose to acknowledge it as such, that of the snow-covered mountain peaks that break into the sky. Devdatta Padekar is one such artist, and today he shares his story with us.

I came to know of Devdatta’s work in The Artist’s Magazine’s Annual Art Competition several years ago and, fortunately for us, he has kept in touch. It’s an honor for me to bring you his work and his exciting experiences of traveling throughout a region that called to him, as it does to so many. Enjoy. ~Cherie

Devdatta Padekar working on color studies at Gurudongmar Lake, North Sikkim, India, Summer 2016

Symphony of Seasons by Devdatta Padekar (

My current series of paintings, Symphony of Seasons, is about the Alps and the Himalayas. I have been traveling and painting in various regions around these mountain ranges during different seasons for almost three years. The series is about the ever-changing atmosphere and magnificent environment of

How Safe Are Oil Paints?

Q. I’ve heard people say that painting with traditional and water-soluble oils poses health hazards for the painter. Some say even people with whom the painter comes in close contact, such as family members, are at risk. Just how safe or unsafe are oil paints?

A. Traditional oil paints are basically a drying oil and pigment. Manufactures also add stabilizers because modern paints need to be stored for a considerable length of time before use. Stabilizers keep the oil from separating from the pigment. Let’s consider the safety of each of these components:

1. Drying Oils

Drying oils used in artists’ paints are mainly linseed, safflower, poppy or walnut. We know that linseed oil is safe to work with because we can buy specially processed food-grade quality linseed oils in health food stores as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. The health food industry uses the term flaxseed oil in reference to the plant from which we derive linseed. We use both safflower oil and walnut oil in cooking. Poppy oil doesn’t appear to be popular in the health food realm, and references point only to its use in paints; however, manufacturers do use

Tips Manipulate Your Reference Photo for a Better Painting

Over the past decade, computer technology has allowed artists to use software to produce painterly quality digital manipulations of any given reference photo. Although I admit some advances have been made, I still feel that they fall short of human-quality artwork. I believe the soul of the artist cannot be overridden by computers. I have seen some pretty good digital paintings with digital brushes but those are artworks done from scratch stroke by stroke, not computer versions. Expensive programs such as Corel Paint use an auto-paint feature to attempt to convert a photo into a simulated painting, but I’m not impressed. I have yet to see a photo-to-computer-to-painting portrait that’s acceptable.

That said, another option is to use technology as a tool to visualize a painting by simplifying all the nitty gritty details. I found a neat (and free) program called Fotosketcher, which converts digital images into a simulated painting that’s quite impressive. (The software developer has a “Buy me a coffee” donation request on his website; note that it isn’t obligatory to download the program.) In some cases, you can just copy the converted image almost at face value when rendering a painting. For example, this

Check The Painting Watercolor by Artist Gina Lee Kim

Bright. Happy. Colorful. These words all describe the artwork created by Gina Lee Kim, but as I discovered during a recent video shoot, they also describe her. Here are some observations from my time behind the scenes with Gina Lee Kim.

Gina came to the Artist’s Network video studio in Cincinnati last July to film four instructional videos related to mixed-media watercolor painting. I was thrilled when she agreed to come because the brilliant, vibrant colors of her paintings are addictive, and I had to know how she achieves this look with watercolor.

Watercolor art by Gina Lee Kim

Her secret is multi-faceted, and because of her willingness to share her tips in these videos, it’s not so secret anymore. She uses high-quality artist’s watercolor paint, and she applies many layers of the paint. She also knows when to supplement her watercolors with gouache and dye-based water media products. While she understands that the bold, dye-based colors won’t last as long as true watercolor pigment, there are times when she’s okay with taking a high-quality photo of the art that will last even as the original work fades. Here’s a snapshot of

New Year Resolution For Artist

This is a time when we all declare to make some changes with New Year’s Resolutions. The turning of the calendar page to whole new year signifies a beginning and a clean slate to play with. An artist, however, may have a different looking list of resolutions than the average individual. Usually, it contains goals for creating more art!

I’m a firm believer of resolutions and goals. There’s something very creative about them, with thepossibility of recreating yourself in the process. We all are works in progress after all, and life is about change. Even as artists, we grow and change, and our artwork reflects our journeys.
If you’re a creative individual, here are some artistic New Year’s resolutions that you can use to become a better artist. Even after a 40-year career, I still strive to be better! An artist never quits learning or growing as long as we are alive.

New Year’s Resolutions for Artists

1. Commit to learning a new medium. There are endless drawing and painting techniques and always new products to play with. Is there something you think is interesting, but have never tried? Now is the time. Dive in! I’m

Urban Sketching For Winter Survival

Sunbathing, camping, picnicking, urban sketching…wait a minute. Aren’t these out of the question for several more months for most of us? Sadly, yes–but urban sketching is the exception! Marc Taro Holmes is here to tell us there are abundant opportunities to stay warm and cozy inside and still draw your favorite outdoor scenes.

Marc is one of our instructors at ArtistsNetworkTV (watch his and 600 more art workshops for free January 16-23!), and today he shares his favorite indoor/outdoor urban sketching areas around Montreal, Canada.Share yours with us at, and you could have a chance to win a copy of Marc’s The Urban Sketcher and some sweet drawing supplies. Happy sketching! ~Cherie

Urban sketching examples by artist and author Marc Taro Holmes

Urban Sketching Winter Survival: Share your Favorite “Inside-Looking-Out” Sketching Spots! by Marc Taro Holmes

We’re in the deep freeze here in Montreal. This time of year I end up scouring the city for the best views from the inside, looking out. I just need a warm place with a great view. Somewhere to hang out for half an hour or so with my sketchbook. Preferably somewhere I don’t

This The Personal Letters of Vincent van Gogh

I have in my hands a book that’s heavy with history and insights, and while it’s my job to tell you about it, I feel small in comparison to the subject of the book. He’s more than a person. He’s an icon. So I bring you today’s blog post with a humble bow to Vincent van Gogh, in honor of Ever Yours: The Essential Letters. It’s a collection of his correspondence that gives all of us a better understanding of his life, his challenges, his journey and his destiny.

Perhaps for the first time, I see van Gogh as a living, breathing person, instead of a historical figure. For in the pages of Ever Yours are pictures of some of his actual letters. His handwriting and spontaneous sketches breathe with life.

He writes to his brother:

My dear Theo,
Herewith a scratch of the selling of soup that I did in the public soup kitchen. It takes place in a large hall where the light enters from above through a door on the right.
I re-created this scene in the studio. I put a white screen in the background and on it I drew the hatch