Category Archives: Techniques

Ramp it up…

I love the art of Lisa Kaus.  Her designs and color are bright, vivid, and simply delightful.  While shopping, I found a whimsical cross that was just perfect for that particular spot in my studio.  I purchased my treasure, brought it home, and hung it on the wall.  I enjoyed my new decor, but felt something was lacking.  I decided it needed a few special touches!

It is so important to know that store purchased items do not have to be accepted “as is”.  While I loved the art, I decided it needed a few of my magical touches.  The colors on the design are pure, saturated, and very compelling.  However, the bright, plain “believe” sign just seemed too stark.  IMG_1828.jpg

Usually, I would be concerned with the base of the piece before painting, but the touches I wanted to add were so minimal that I decided that I would not need a prep.  I matched DecoArt Americana Sea Glass acrylic paint to the background color.  With a 1/2″ angle, I floated a hint of color around the outer edge of the sign.  Because the surface was a rather slick finish, I let the float dry, then repeated the application to deepen the color.  It is ALWAYS better to apply two light coats of paint than one heavy coat.

After it dried, I did another evaluation.  The sign still looked a little disconnected.  I really liked the border around the outer edge of the cross.  I selected a .05 black Micron Pen to replicate the same design around the sign.  To finish, I spray sealed the piece with several light coats of DecoArt Americana Matte Spray Finisher.  IMG_1829.jpg

So, my advise it to not be afraid to enhance or “add to” a store bought piece of art.   A few simple touches can elevate and ramp it up.  I LOVED the results and am amazed at what a difference those little touches made!  Dare to be a little adventuresome and impress yourself!

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Eeeeeeek…….

Eeeeeeekkkk, I accidentally left my brushes soaking in my brush basin overnight.  I was really tired when I finished for the night, had a million more things to do, so I stuck my brushes in my basin………to clean after I did all that other stuff.

This afternoon when I went to my studio to paint, my poor pathetic brushes were looking up at me with soggy faces!  OMG, I couldn’t believe I left them in that condition.  Not only were they waterlogged, but the bristles had a nice, gentle curl on the tips (thanks to the bottom of the basin).  Not only was I aggravated that I had forgotten, but also that it would require considerable work to get them back into shape.

Never fear, I am not the only one that has faced this issue (thank goodness).  I have my backup team ready and waiting for such an emergency.  Enter in the qualified members of my Brush Crisis Team:

  • DS3-9-8ozDecoMagic_1024x1024.jpgFirst and foremost, DecoMagic  Brush and Stencil Cleaner.  This amazing product has many outstanding qualities.  It is gentle enough to use every day, but packs a big punch in removing paint (even dried paint) from brushes, hands, stencils, and fabrics. It leaves brushes soft and pliable!  BONUS:  I can also be used as an jewelry cleaner.  I often scrub up my rings while doing my brushes.  Nice to have sparkling clean brushes, but sparkling rings will catch everyone’s eye!
  • 29-60017-2__29288_1024x1024.jpgI love using my Brush Cleaning Tank.  It is large enough to hold an entire bottle of DecoMagic and has a dome wire brush cleaner positioned about an inch from the bottom.  The screen loosens paint while keeping bristles out of the bottom sediment.  I rarely clean my tank, simply refill with DecoMagic to keep the fluid above the screen.  Not only is it ecconomical, but the tank can be easily transported to any classroom.  I always come home from travel teaching with clean brushes!  One bottle of cleaner usually lasts about 6 months.
  • 29-01200.jpgThe Brush Scrubby Grooming Pad is priceless.  This little gem is probably the best bang for your buck in the entire industry.  Did I say buck?…its only 88¢ (SCORE)!  No matter how well brushes are cleaned, I am always astonished at how much paint comes out when using the scrubby.  After I clean my brushes in the tank, I pick up the scrubby and run my brushes across the pointed nibs.  This is a great way to get paint build up at the ferrule.  The heart shape is adorable, however, fits nicely in the palm of your hand.

05717-1002-1-2ww-m_1024x1024.jpgAnd lastly, if the tips have that stubborn curl, simply use Brush Shaper to restore the shape.  Basically this is a stiffener (sizing) that will return your brushes to their pristine shape.  Apply the shaper to the bristles, then form to desired shape.  They will dry rather stiff, but a quick swim in the brush basin will remove the sizing, resulting in nice chisel edges and pointed tips!  Keeps your brushes looking like new!

Now that I have restored my brushes, I have renewed my resolution to NEVER leave them in water again.  I have promised them that I will take better care of them in the future and reassured them that I will ALWAYS love them.

Finally…an AWESOME 1/8″ Angle!

I love to paint and am continually on the lookout for brushes that will make my painting life easier and my designs more professional.  Without great brushes, I know I will not have great results.   I don’t like fussy painting, but I like my designs to look like I spent many hours achieving perfect detail.  I use angles of all sizes not only to shade and float, but love the angled toes for sharp details and the width of the bristles to lay in basecoats.

My biggest complaint was finding an 1/8″ angle that would do the work I needed.  I searched high and low, checked out brand after brand, and tested one after another.  I was so frustrated with the shapes, the bristle quality, the performance; none of the brushes lived up to my expectations.

So, I decided to have a brush manufactured to my specifications.  The list was simple:

  1. The brush had to be long enough to allow me to load enough paint to float a significant distance before reloading.
  2. The angle needed to be at least 45 degree to allow easy application in small areas.
  3. The chisel edge needed to stay sharp and not spread out.
  4.  The bristles needed to be strong with good bounce and durability.

As a result, I am proud to announce Chris’s 1/8″ AWESOME Angle.  It checks off my list of wants and has exceeded my expectations.  I have been using the same brush (heavily) for over 6 months and it still looks and performs like new!  I am beyond thrilled as I no longer struggle to add tiny highlights or shading in small areas.  The brush makes the strokes easy to implement and the results are amazing!  This versatile brush not only works well with acrylics, but also is great with watercolors or oils!

Chris’s 1/8″ Awesome Angle is available exclusively at Cupboard Distributing; http://www.cdwood.com;  #03-935-1/8

 

Clear-ly Amazing…Modeling Paste

DMM30_ModelingPaste_Clear_4oz DecoArt has done it again…  They are always on the cutting edge of new product that is “clearly” amazing…and they now offer Modeling Paste that is CLEAR!!    I love the white and black Modeling Paste that they carry.  It is smooth, flexible, and paintable.  I can mix colors with the base, to create a tinted paste.  However, because the base is opaque, when mixing color, the hue and saturation are affected.  For example, if I add red to the white base, the results are a lovely pink.  If I want a true red, I need to paint after the medium dries.  I always wished there was a clear paste that would make creating much more versatile.

This Modeling Paste is smooth, flexible, and paintable.  Because has a transparent quality,  when adding Media Fluid Acrylics, it resonates as stunning as stained glass!  It can also be mixed with Americana Acrylics for a more translucent effect.  Use it as a stencil paste or create stamped impressions, textured surfaces and dimensional designs.  Imagine a sprinkling of clear textured snowflakes over a winter scene…gorgeous!

The medium is thick enough to spread, similar to whipped cream.  I used a palette knife to spread over the stencil, a credit card would work as well. IMG_7037

The medium is milky in appearance when wet, but dries clear.  Whatever is underneath will not be obstructed with the application of the medium,  I scraped a layer of medium over a stencil for a clear effect.  IMG_7025 - Copy

IMG_7030 - Copy I loved the way it looked, but wanted to add a tint to the medium.  I put a few drops of Primary Cyan and mixed.  IMG_7026 - CopyI realized it was too strong and the results would be very dark and heavy.  I lightened the mix for variety and experimentation.  The hue of the paint is not diminished with the clear medium.

IMG_7027I spread the lighter mix over the stencil and finished with the heavier color.  IMG_7028 - CopyThis clicked a few creative cells in my brain as I realized all the possibilities of adding various values of the same color.  IMG_7029 - Copy

I decided to add a layer of clear snowflakes on an old project for a little more whimsy.  IMG_7039IMG_7042I loved the subtle dimension and decided I should have sprinkled a little Crystal Glamour Dust over the snowflakes while they were still wet.  Wouldn’t that be beautiful?!

My mind is swimming with all the possibilities using the Clear Modeling Paste.  This would look awesome over snowdrifts to add shimmery dimension!

I am planning on using this amazing medium in many of my upcoming projects.  I can see it adding a wintry sparkle, Halloween enchantment, Valentine magic, Summer shimmers, or everyday charm! DecoArt Media Clear Modeling Paste is a winner!! IMG_7031 - Copy

Give it a rest…

I worked on a new design in January with great anticipation.  I wanted to create a rustic nativity scene on a weathered wood background.  I was pleased with the background and proceeded to work on the manger.  I kept the colors to a simple, earthy palette.  However, after I finished, it had much to be desired.  I set it aside to ponder on what to do.  I decided the small figures were lost with the busyness of the woodgrain.  At this point, re-painting the background wasn’t an option.

After a couple days, I added line work to make the figures more pronounced.  Outlining definitely helped, but the whole scene was very lacking.  I set it aside to mull over the next step.  I had two choices, either figure out how to salvage it or File 13!  At that time I was busy painting new designs for Vegas convention and a new book.  It was time to “give it a rest”.  My mind was filled with these new projects, however, the unfinished design was always lurking on my back burners.Penwork.jpg

After I returned from travel teaching and the Vegas convention, the huge task of getting my studio back in order loomed ahead.   I always need a few days after these long trips to rejuvenate and refresh.  Travel time is a great opportunity to plan new projects and gear up for the next round.  I pulled out the unfinished design and re-evaluated it.  It had good bones, but definitely lacked what I call that “POP” that takes it from ordinary to exciting.

Because I had nothing to loose, I opted to play with some stamping around the edges.  This was a huge improvement, but still needed more impact.  I used the white Uni-ball pen to enhance the stamping.  I was excited with the results…however…still needed more.  Sooooo…it was time again to “give it a rest”!Stamping.jpg

A couple weeks have passed and I focused my attentions again to finishing the piece. Today would be the day, either sink or swim!!  At this point, I knew that I needed to add a few more elements in the background and maybe some word art.  I had been jotting down different “sayings” and selected the one I wanted to use.  I added the background elements, painted the words, added a drop shadow and finished with some beautiful Glamour Dust.  I took a good look at the “finished” project and am quite pleased!Lettering.jpg

This whole process was unusual for me.  Normally, I “see” a design in my mind, sit down and paint it.  This one was quite obstinate!  However, we all need a challenge and I was determined to not give up.  Now that it is finished, I feel quite proud of myself for persevering, a little like Rocky!!

So, if you are painting a project and it just doesn’t seem to be cooperating, GIVE IT A REST!  Taking a break from a project doesn’t mean that you quit painting, it just means that you are switching gears.  While working on different designs, the brain can be analyzing and evaluating the problem child.  The satisfaction achieved is such a good feeling.  So remember, “giving it a rest”, isn’t giving up, it’s giving that creative energy time to figure it all out!

 

 

Christmas Rescue…

…or should I say DecoArt rescue….again…

Christmas is always a hustle, bustle time of year.  Christmas lists are can be a bit of a challenge as one tries really hard to find just the right gift for everyone.  It’s always a good feeling to think you have acquired the perfect gifts.

My brother in law has a pontoon boat and my husband found the perfect t-shirt for him on line.  Pontoon.jpg

However, when it arrived, the front side was just what we wanted, but the back of the shirt was this!Backside.jpg

Since he does not drink beer, and there was not enough time (you know how that last minute shopping goes!), I decided to try another approach.  I wondered about using the Photo Transfer Medium  (available at Cupboard Distributing) to cover up the beer mug.  Since I have never used this product on fabric, I called the DecoArt helpline (they have wonderful technical service for any of their products).  They suggested once the t-shirt had been washed to remove sizing, that I use So-Soft to cover the image as the mug might show through the transfer.  I had used a water soluble pencil to outline the area to be basecoated.  The dark edge around the basecoat is wet fabric to dissolve the markings.  IMG_2069.JPG

He is a big Coke drinker, so I decided to use a Coke can image to cover up the beer mug.  I printed the image in reverse on my laser printer.  Once the basecoat was applied, I followed directions on the bottle to transfer the image.  Probably the worst part was waiting the required time before removing the paper to see if would work.  I am not good at doing crafty things, so was really on pins and needles, plus I had no time for error!  IMG_2115.JPG

Guess what??  It looked wonderful!  I was so excited, it really looked like it was factory printed with the Coke can.  You know, there is nothing worse than giving a gift to someone that looks like a 5 year old created it!  A great big thank you to DecoArt for once again saving the day and making something look amazing!

So, the moral to this little story is to not give up.  DecoArt has such a broad spectrum of products that do a myriad of things, from crafts, to home decor, to decorative painting to wearables.  Just remember, when you are in a pickle, they might be able to save the day with flying colors!

So little time…so much to do…

In the last few weeks, I have literally traveled coast to coast.  I stuck my toes in the Pacific Ocean and just a couple weeks later I stuck those same toes in the Atlantic Ocean.  I have traveled by truck and trailer over 8000 miles, taught a 3 day seminar, set up and worked 2 conventions, taught 5 classes and special event all within about 3 weeks.  I can rightfully say that I am bone tired!

However, my schedule is packed so tight and I have so many deadlines that rest is not an option.  So, what is the solution?  I thought I would share my secret to organization and keeping productivity at a max.

The first thing I recommend is making a list.  The list needs to be quite thorough.  I list EVERYTHING that needs to be done from art projects to house cleaning tasks.  Once the list is complete, the next step is to prioritize.

This is my secret, the solution to solving my crazy schedule.  I recommend purchasing a large desktop calendar.  I use the one with each month on an entire page with plenty of room on each day for notes.  I also like the ones with room for notes across the bottom or side margins.Calendar

Now the fun begins!  With a pencil (in case you need to re-arrange), start putting the tasks onto the calendar.  My best advise is to NOT overload each day.  Be practical and give yourself time off.  It is not realistic to pack the days so full that there is no time to enjoy life!  I always keep at least two days open, just in case the grandkids come over or I get an offer to do something fun.  That’s the main reason that I use a pencil!  I can simply erase and re-schedule.  My calendar is ALWAYS visible so I can see it at a glance.

Once I have all my deadlines and tasks listed on my calendar, I no longer stress or worry about trying to get everything done.  It doesn’t mean I don’t have long days, but now I have the comfort of knowing that it is all under control.  I can focus on each project as it is scheduled which allows me to be much more creative.

I absolutely love what I do!  I feel that I have been blessed with a talent and the desire to share.  My head spins with new ideas and designs.  I have stacks and stacks of sketch books, note books and scraps of paper with ideas.  My biggest challenge is not coming up with new designs, it is trying to juggle working full time, being a designer, painter, wife, mom, grandma, and making it all work.

My calendar is my peace of mind.  I know how much I can pack into each day and keep my sanity.  Some days are still long, but when I look at my calendar, I can always see order, which keeps me calm.  Now my focus is on the important tasks at hand, whether designing, painting or (sigh) cleaning house!