Happy Valentines Day

I considered a lot of different ideas for Valentines.  I was going to make some stock for my store – but I never got around to that.  I was going to do some Valentines themed crafts, but although I collected the ideas I didn’t do any of them.

Instead, I settled on another line art swap with Nina.  We’ll probably be doing lots of them this year, because they’re so much fun.  Look forward to a St Patricks swap, an Easter swap, a Summer swap, a Tuesday swap.  Any excuse 😀

For Valentines we discussed quite a few ideas.  Design a card?  Use a specific palette?  A prompt list?  Our characters on dates?  Eventually, to make things as super complicated for ourselves as possible, we settled on three different criteria.

1) We would each draw one of the other person’s characters, in a Valentines themed cosplay.  For example, as Cupid, or Aphrodite. With a little bit of a scene/background than we’ve done in the past, since I’m trying to improve in that area.

2) We would include at least five of the prompts found on this list, which was found amongst the millions on Pinterest.

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3) When we swap, we’ll have to use the following colour palette – also found amongst the gazillions on Pinterest.  Character’s hair/skin/eye etc are exceptions.

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So, what did I draw for Nina?

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This is her character Addie, dressed as Cupid.  Looking pretty fierce.  The prompts included are: heart, shadow, front door, handwriting and strings. It was sketched traditionally, then scanned in and inked digitally.

She drew me an absolutely awesome picture of my fairy character Effy.

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I decided to colour it digitally, because I’m trying to do more of that.  Picking the colours for things was a little frustrating.  More than once I regretted suggesting a palette to stick to.  But I managed in the end – mostly by using different opacities of colours to get different shades.  And I’m really happy with what I ended up with.

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Happy Valentines everyone.  Or Happy Singles Awareness Day.  Or Happy Day Before Cheap Chocolate.  Whichever 🙂

Bonus Halloween Resin

Cast your mind way back to October of 2019.  To my 13 Days of Halloween blog series.  To this blog specifically, where I made these semi-awesome resin pieces.

During the session/s that I made these pieces, I also made some other Halloween things which I just didn’t get a chance to blog about.  So here’s a bonus blog!

In the resin kit I bought myself last year there were a bunch of these Halloween themed bezels.  I filled them with UV resin, and shiny shiny glittery pieces (which I’m not very good at photographing).

I also filled a couple of teeny tiny potion bottles with layers of resin and glitter – and I managed to get most of it actually in the bottle too.

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This photo is evidence that I missed when I first started.  It is also very typical of the type of mess I make whenever I work with resin.  Or do any crafting really.

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I cured all the pieces with a lamp for a while, then placed them on the windowsill under a translucent tupperware box.  They fully cure that way – even if it does take a lot longer.  The tupperware is mostly for protecting the pieces from dust and cat hair.

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I flipped the pendants and gave them an hour or two in the sun for the other side to fully cure.  The witch hat also had a little dip for some reason, that I topped up with resin and re-cured.  They all came out pretty well 🙂

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More New Paints

As well as the shiny paints I was playing with the other day, I also got given some tube watercolours for Christmas.

I’ve been more than happy with my Sakura Koi watercolours that I’ve been using for about a year, but my friend and inspiration SamBeAwesome is always raving about the joys of paint in tubes.  So I added an Arteza set to my Amazon wishlist to get around to buying at some point.

And then Christmas came and my lovely generous friends spoilt me rotten as usual.  One of them bought me, among other things, that set of Arteza watercolours.  He also bought me a new three pack of the Arteza watercolour sketchbooks that I love.  A perfectly timed gift because I only had a few pages left of the three pack I already had.

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So what makes tube paints so special?  They are very rich, and creamy, and you do get a very strong vibrant colour from them.

I squeezed out a tiny bit of a rainbow of colours into a palette – I would get to the rest of the 24 pack later – and did a bit of swatching.

The rainbow didn’t really have a strong red, so I did select another one from the pack and added that.

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When I had my rainbow, I played about for a bit.  Creating a nice rainbow blend which I lettered my name on with a fineliner, and then lots of domes to turn into monsters.

And then I did some painting.

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Lots of painting.

I really enjoy painting.  I don’t do it every day, but I do it about once or twice a fortnight, and when I do do it, I do a lot of it.  THis is why I like the Arteza three pack of sketchbooks so much.  I can do a bit on one piece, set that aside to dry and move on to the next piece, and so on.  No horrible impatient waiting.

So when I do painting sessions I generally come away with quite a few pieces.  I also don’t really do very complicated pieces.  A lot of the time I use the paint as a colouring medium for things that I have sketched in pencil and then inked in fineliners.

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Sometimes I try things that I can only really do with watercolour. (These were inspired by a Makoccino video on YouTube.)

I am trying to do more pieces organically, with no full sketch down first.  Or just a light outline at most.

And I love to mimic pretty things that I see on Pinterest.

Or follow tutorials from the myriad of talented artists out there.  Like these planets and crystals from tutorials by Witty Gritty Studio on YouTube.

I do love the tube paints.  They are a lot brighter than my pan paints.  But I get a little bit frustrated by the inconvenience of them.  The paint that I squeezed out is still using up that palette.  There’s a lot of unscrewing and screwing of tubes.  There’s a lot of squeezing of paint from tiny tubes, which can get very messy.  Especially if you’re a messy crafter anyway, like me.  There’s reading the tube labels, and the using up of palette space, and lots of other issues.

So I may have bought myself an empty palette to make my own custom one with both my Sakura Koi and my lovely new Arteza tube paints.  But that’s a whole other blog post.

What Exactly Is Zentangle?

I’ve done a few posts featuring some Zentangle art now, including the haunted house piece that I did for Halloween

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…and when I demonstrated my change of logo back in April last year.

There are a lot more mentions of Zentangle on my old blog, like this one I shared on here a year ago. I did regular updates with all the pieces I’d been doing.  And that’s because, at the time, zentangle inspired art was all that I did.

I’ve been doing a wee bit more of it recently.  I did some pieces with the bits from the December Scrawlr box…

…and I’ve done some more pieces with the patterns used in the Halloween piece.

But the question remains: what exactly is Zentangle?

Technically, “Zentangle” is a copyrighted brand name.  Essentially it’s doodling.

Way back in December 2013, my good friend Katherine (of the awesome Lightwood Games – they make brilliant puzzle games, go check them out) –  posted an awesome picture on her Facebook page.

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It reminded me an awful lot of the sort of random doodling I used to do on school books, and on scrap pieces of paper whilst on the phone.  (This picture is from 2013, don’t judge the photo quality).

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Obviously though, it’s a little different.  Kat had gotten a book for her birthday about Zentangle, and so I ended up on Zentangle.com where Rick and Maria had boiled doodling down to it’s zen essence and created a method.

Here’s my explanation from my “what is zentangle” blog post on my old blog back in early 2014.

To do a “proper” Zentangle, it needs to be done in black and white, on a 3.5″ square tile, in tangles (patterns) that have no more than 1 or 2 strokes, and that don’t represent anything. You begin with four dots just inside the corners of your tile, you connect them to create a border, then you fill that border with your string. Your string is a faint pencil outline that you’ll fill in with different tangles. A true Zentangle doesn’t represent anything, or appear to be anything. It’s supposed to be ritualistic, and repetitive, and soothing. And it can be. But you don’t necessarily have to do a “proper” Zentangle.

There are “official” tangles, and hundreds and hundreds of unofficial ones.  If you search Pinterest or Google Images or Instagram for “zentangle” you’ll get zillions of hits.  Technically a lot of those pieces are ZIA – zentangle inspired art.  But I think most artists just use the term Zentangle.

I got addicted.  Surprise, surprise.  At the time I didn’t have a million craft hobbies, and pretty much all I did was knit, crochet, cross stitch and doodle.  For a long time nearly every single post on my blog was about Zentangle.

As I learned to draw though, I began to doodle less and less.  But I do miss it, and I am currently endeavouring to do more of it.  Mind you, I plan on doing a lot more of a lot of things, and I wouldn’t have enough time to do it all even if I lived to 3000.

I probably explained it very badly, and I know I didn’t explain the details of it at all really.  But there are countless sources for more information.  First and foremost I highly recommend the Zentangle.com website.  It’s very pretty and clear, and full of everything you need to know.

The next best resource you should know is Laura Harms, The Diva.  She posts inspiration and challenges and all sorts, and runs a really friendly group on Facebook.  There used to be a website too, but I don’t know if it still exists or not.

There are, of course, a lot of YouTube videos about it too.  Some, like the one Jazza did recently, are a little dismissive of the Zentangle method as a brand.  I can kind of see his point.  But he took it a wee bit too seriously I think.

Zentangle, whether you do it the “proper” way or not, is about relaxing and zoning out and focusing on repeated patterns.  So put on some music or some Netflix, and doodle away.

Do you do Zentangle?  Or zentangle inspired art?  I’d love to see some of your work 🙂

Shiny Paint

For Christmas I got quite a few new paints to play with.  Including these absolutely beautiful iridescent ones.

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When you initially swatch them the shimmer is visible, but not really photographable.

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Until you tilt the page a little.  Look at that shine!

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I did a few experiments:

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Including mixing them with normal paints to see how that worked.

I had a failed attempt at doing some Aurora Borealis inspired art.

And, after watching Nina do some absolutely beautiful things with metallic paints on her Twitch stream, I tested them on black.  They didn’t work out too well.

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Finally I did some actual art.  Starting with this shiny shiny mermaid.

And then I couldn’t have a rainbow of shiny paint in front of me without doing a unicorn, could I?

Iridescent watercolours are awesome, and I’m looking forward to doing more with them.  But this brand at least are quite opaque, so I’m not sure how much they’re actually watercolour.  Still, shiny and pretty.

Plus, they make the paint water very awesome.  Sparkly swirly hypnoticness.

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Sticker Mosaics

One of the things I got for Christmas was a sticker mosaic book.

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There are a couple of different themed ones you can get I think, but naturally I ended up with the one with a unicorn on the front.

It’s not just unicorns though – it has 15 mythical creatures inside, in pictures with full colour backgrounds.

At the back of the book are several pages of coded stickers.

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It’s a really simple premise.  The images are split into lots of little sections with a letter and a number on.

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And the stickers are shaped to fit in these spaces, labelled so that you know what goes where.

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I managed the first piece okay.

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It was a little awkward, flipping from the page with the image back to the sticker page over and over again.  The picture pages are perforated – presumably so you can stick them up on the wall or something once completed – but the sticker pages are not.

Eventually I just tore the sticker page out, which made it a whole lot easier.  I also cut the large page into smaller sections, making them easier to handle.

That didn’t solve my complete inability to place stickers within the right lines though.  As a kid, I could never get the collectible stickers in the sticker book within the square properly.  Even now I tend to ask someone to place stickers on Lego pieces for me.

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But I perservered, because it was kinda fun.  I flickered between filling in the unicorn in sections while hunting for the right sticker, and working methodically through the sticker sheet while hunting for the right space.

I gradually got a little better at placing the pieces.  It helps that the stickers aren’t too sticky, and the paper is a little shiny.  So you can peel a misplaced sticker off and re-place it once or twice.

Finally I finished my unicorn.

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And then immediately started the phoenix, because it’s kind of an addictive hobby.

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Changing Skirts

Last year I was inspired by this image I found on Pinterest.

I wanted to do my own version, in a drawing.  I did the skirt in pastels, but ultimately wasn’t very happy with it.

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I didn’t have a great selection of pastel markers at the time, and it wasn’t exectuted very well.  I decided that instead of redoing the entire piece, I’d just make a new skirt and stick it over the top.

Unfortunately I had made this difficult on myself by having her tiny hands overlapping the skirt.  So I (very poorly) cut them out to slip a new skirt underneath.

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But then I couldn’t decide whether to redo the rainbow skirt, or to do a galaxy one.  So I did both!

“Why not both?” is an awesome way to approach indecision.  And now she has three outfits instead of one 🙂