More bookmarks

New bookmarks

New bookmarks

Now that the holiday commissions are finished, I decided to add a few new things to my etsy shop. I sold a bunch of bookmarks as Christmas gifts and needed to replace them. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought it would be nice to make a few romantic ones as well as to replace the linocut sets.

Next, I’m back to the Jasper streetscape from a month ago.


Goldilocks’ dragon revisited

Multicolored dragon print

Multicolored dragon print

I studied the failed dragon prints for a few days and decided to see if I could watercolor the light print into acceptability. I went for a modified red background to help him stand out more and colored his scales with a yellow ocher. I am pleased enough with the red pattern behind him that I may use a variation of it in future prints.  I had to overlay the ocher several times to get the depth I wanted, but I think it looks much better now.  He still seemed too washed out so I added my mossy green to his flanks and upper forelegs and his face.  I used a little bit of ink to sharpen around his eyes.  Evaluating him now, I am much happier than I was when I pulled him.

Dragon bookmark set

Dragon bookmark set

Ultimately, I didn’t think I could salvage these darker prints for sale as they were.  One had the red background added to see if that would provide enough help and the other was left all black.  Still not what I wanted.  It had occurred to me that if I cut them up as bookmarks, I could sell them all together as a funky set.  I ended up rather liking the way this idea turned out.  Fortunately, the dimensions of the original linocut made the sizing easy

What do you think of my choices?  Do you like the watercolored print  as it now stands?  I know it’s vastly improved, but is it enough?  And what do you think of the bookmark set idea?  They need to be laminated because I don’t think the printing ink would stand up to use.  I haven’t laminated anything up in quite a while so maybe it’s time to take a bunch of them in.

I have started prep for the next work.  I stretched a piece of watercolor paper yesterday and am going to throw watercolor washes on it today since it has fully dried. Tomorrow I would like to do an abstract architectural in ink over the washes.  And if it doesn’t work out – more bookmarks.

Wedding bookmarks II

It was a lovely day here today. The temperatures got up close to 70 and I went out briefly to do some yard work in the flower beds that I probably should have done last fall. I pruned the shrubs and pulled some of the old flower stalks so it looks a little bit neater now. I will go back later in the week to continue cleaning out the old vegetation in preparation for the spring renewal. I have picked a few daffodils already. They are as aromatic and colorful as ever but the stems seem quite short this year.

More wedding bookmarksWhen I came back in I went down to the studio and tried a few more bookmarks.  I was fairly happy with these four that I based on Cindy’s suggestions from the last post.  I think I like the mailbox the best of these.   I may try a few more this week but I will probably hunt up another architectural to start or maybe another animal.  As before, I am open to suggestions.

Wedding bookmarks

The last few days I have been spending a little bit of time on some new bookmarks. My son and his fiance have asked me to make up some bookmarks to put on the reception tables and I have been wracking my brain to think of some themes besides the obvious.

Bookmarks for the wedding

Since it will be an outdoor wedding here at our home, I have tried to incorporate some nature themes.  They are both serious runners so I found a clip art that I modified a little since I don’t do figures often.  I had a few colored blanks left from before so I used them first.  Then I cut up some watercolor paper up into bookmark size to play with.  There are about half a dozen white blanks left so I have plenty left to experiment with.  I’d like to have at least a dozen for them to choose from.  I will probably scan the selected ones in and then print them up on card stock and use a 3 mil lamination for sturdiness.

Suggestions anyone?

More Experimentation in the Studio

I had decided to spend the week working on trying something new, so I continued using up the cutoff pieces from my last several drawings. The advantage was that the pieces would be small – a plus for me in trying out different things. It is so easy for me to get intimidated by having a large piece of board and not having any idea what to do with it. Once I have figured out what drawing I want to work on, I usually have no trouble starting the line out, but give me a blank sheet with no agenda  and I feel like the author with writer’s block.

Red flowers again

I let the red flowers painting sit a few days so I could get a fresh look at it.  I thought I might be able to control myself and not ink over parts I wanted to have more delineation, but, sorry, to say, I could not do it.  As I looked at it and added a little color here and there, I still wasn’t happy with it.   I broke out the pen and started adding a little ink.  I did end up liking it better then, but it seemed too sharply contrasted.  I went back in with the watercolors and added more of the ocher yellow to the petals and took out most of the white in the background.  I like it better now and think it might actually reproduce nicely for bookmarks.

Then I decided to move the palette off of red and into mauve.  I am slowly creeping up on the blues that I have so much difficulty with so this is the compromise. 

Mauve flower abstract

I softly drew out two flowers and began to lay in some color, lightly at first and then deeper and deeper.  When I had the flowers about half way where I wanted them, I started with background.  I know this may be reverse of how most watercolorists work, but I hadn’t decided if I wanted another flower at the top.  I actually had more space up there than the finished painting shows that I ended up not using.  I put in some background colors and then moved back to the flowers.  Slowly, I made it all darker and darker.  I am happy to say I was able to control myself not to add in the ink.

I am relatively pleased with the way they turned out, but I am more pleased that I let myself experiment for a change.  It is irrationally hard for me to do that.  I have a few more pieces of board left and I think I will spend this week doing the same thing.  As I said, I am creeping up on blue and maybe the last one can have a blue base.

Midnight musings 2

Once again I was awake when I was supposed to be sleeping – and once again I was thinking of the gift tags. Plus, this week I didn’t get past the pencil drawing of the newest entryway  for many reasons, not the least of which was an all day road trip Tuesday to Ohio with John. What time I did have, I spent exploring the possibilities of making digital prints of some of my original aceos/gift tags. I chose these mostly because all of the little gift tags already had the ribbon hole punched and I didn’t want to have to work around that. I also selected a few un-inked watercolor blanks.  I really liked the unusual color patterns they had and didn’t think inking would improve them so I put them in as is.  In any case, I scanned a bunch in using my printer scanner and then was actually able to find where they were sent onto my computer. No mean feat for me as this was the first time I had tried to scan with the new printer.

Digital tags

Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with the print out from my computer. The colors weren’t even close to true when compared with the original. This left the box stores as the only option. I actually thought that this might be the case anyway, given the cost of home printer inks. So I decided to try one box store for a color print out with nine and the other store with a print out of 16. Both actually worked out well and were rather evenly priced so it’s a tossup.  I’ll probably go with the closest store in the future.  I spent the rest of the week cutting out each tag from its sheet from a total of 18 sheets.  Rather mindless work but necessary.  Then I had to punch the hole and insert the ribbon.  I opted to also put a hole reinforcer on this set just to see if I felt it was necessary since I was using 120 lb cardstock.  I may not in the future but I haven’t decided yet.  They actually look pretty nice.  The colors turned out quite vividly and I am pleased with the combinations. 

 So what was I thinking about in my midnight musings?  Probably the hardest decision of all.  Pricing.  I am thinking of selling them as a set of nine, just to make it easy on myself.  I have given myself a day or two to think about it.

Happy Father’s Day to all.

Southern Grand Entry II

Aack. I almost didn’t get to post today. Monday evening as I was browsing the net I got a computer virus. Fortunately, I wasn’t connected to any of my own sites and the other computer was off, so the damage was limited to mine. The Geek Squad was able to turn around the fix in one day and I just got it back. Hooray (except for the cost). Anyway, I’m back on line and able to get at the files that I need to.

Souther Grand Entry II

I have been working on Southern Entry II for the last week. I really enjoyed drawing the last one and looked through all of my reference photos and came up with this. It too is grand, but in a different way. Instead of all of the glass around the entryway, it has major stonework around massive double doors.  To get an idea of just how big they are,  look at the placement of the door knobs.  Yes, they really are that low.  I’ll bet that those doors are easily 8 foot tall.  I liked the grand staircase and the fact that the entry was softened by the large plantings behind the fences.  This one also makes me wish that I could see what was behind those doors.  I have obviously finished the preliminary inking and am moving on with the color.  If all goes well, I will be able to finish it by the next post.  It is a bit larger than the last one and is taking a little more time.  I have to stand up at the table to work on the top portion which is not the easiest since the drafting table is a little slanted.  Not quite tall enough, I guess.  But I love my table.  It has served me well for almost 25 years now.

I have listed a few more aceo/gift tags and bookmarks in my etsy store so take a look if you have the time.  I have had a great deal of fun doing them.  They are quite freeing after the detail of the pen and inks.

Waiting on the ACEO sleeves to come in

Not much done on the ol’ studio the last few days. We went to see Justin get an MBA honor and win a 25 km trail race last weekend, which is why this post is late. Just when we get to see him run for the first time in a while, the weather at 6:30 am is back down in the twenties. Still, a good time was had by all. He lent me some  running clothes so I had on running tights, jeans, four tops and my coat, hat, and gloves and managed to stay warm.

I went ahead and ordered the ACEO sleeves, so they should be coming any day now. When they get here I can make the determination of how to use them. I may go to the local craft store and get a fancy scrapbooking hole punch and some nice ribbon. I am thinking of marketing them in groups of one or three, just like the book marks, as frameable keepsakes. We’ll see. I’ve asked friends and family but there doesn’t seem to any consensus so I may just have to try them both ways and see what happens. I am rather anxious for the sleeves to arrive, so that I can move to the next phase.

An antique sewing machine

I have started lining out my next drawing.  I decided to work on an interesting entryway of a house.  It has good lines, unique sidelight windows and pretty landscaping.  I was in the mood for something a little different from what I have done recently on the architectural front.  It is almost drawn out and I may start inking the landscaping today.

Because I’m behind in the studio, here are a few watercolors which I painted a while ago and quite liked.

A white gable end and green shutters

Onto the gift tag project – the circular file revisited – or not

Since I’ve finished the latest stone barn picture, I decided to try out the gift tags project. I thought that it would make a nice accompaniment to the bookmarks – just not laminated. I decided to try to run the watercolor base on a whole sheet of paper instead of each individual piece and then cut it up and decorate it. Easy, right? Guess again.

Wavy paper mess

I have this nice little watercolor paper stretcher thingy and tried to use it. It holds a sheet of watercolor paper about 14″x21″ and I thought that if I ran some mixed color washes over it, it would make some interesting backgrounds for sketches on the tags after I cut it up.  I followed the directions for stretching the paper and locking it into the frame, but I must not have soaked it thoroughly enough. When I tried the washes, major buckles occured.  The colors ran in not so interesting fashion and I spent my time trying to “artistically” mop up the pools of color.  Not good.  I had to stop and let it dry, hoping that it would at least flatten out again and maybe parts would be salvagable.  the good news is that it did dry flat enough to use.  I am going  to try to cut up the paper into useable pieces.  I am afraid if I rewet it and add more paint, the colors will run into a more muddy mess.  I hope that at least a number of pieces will be usable when I cut it up – otherwise most of it will end up in the circular file.  I will have to be better at stretching the next piece today. 

I am encouraged enough after the bookmark experience to try again.  I think most of the difficulty arises from my inexperience with the heavy watercolor paper.  I need to keep experimenting with it and maybe use a lighter weight.  I just have a large stock on hand of the heavy.  I’ll post a picture of the barn next time.  Next on the list of to-dos is to put it up on etsy.

Studio update – a new piece of furniture

I’ve been so busy lately since I got over my illness. I made a lot of the bookmarks and have gotten everything laminated at the big box store. If things go well, I will consider purchasing my own office size laminator. I can’t justify it yet, but I would like to have more control over the process and lamination thickness and not depend on what I can buy and the skill of the laminating clerk. If somethings gets ruined, I want to be able to blame myself.

The new studio table

 And here is the new table.  I had been using our old kitchen table with a leaf insert that my parents bought at an auction and refinished for me 30 years ago.  It was relegated to storage for a number of years and then used as my studio table in the new house. It has served quite well for the last couple of years while I was getting up to speed in my first dedicated studio space.  Unfortunately when the kids used it in the stained glass project and I started making the bookmarks, its flaws became more obvious.  When I was just sitting at it, putting projects or mail together or painting small watercolors on my plexiglass sheet, its center bow didn’t really matter.  However, when the kids were cutting and snapping the glass pieces or I was trying to use the mat cutter for the bookmarks, it challenging at best.  I had only a specific place on the end where the cutter could lay flat for me and the kids had a lot of trouble snapping the larger glass pieces apart against an edge without them shattering.

Fortunately, we live in the vicinity of a large state university and you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that they get rid of.  The university operates a surplus store that sells outdated computers, older but serviceable chairs and tables, and office furniture.  I take a peek in there once in a while and in fact that is where I was able to buy my map size flat files at a great price which I snapped up without hesitation.  (They were a little dinged up, but at 10% of new ones, I wasn’t about to complain.)  My sister had just gotten a great work table there so I decided to stop by and see what was left.  There were, in fact, two tables to choose from and this is the one that I got for only $50.00.  It has a metal frame and laminated top, but is the whole surface is flat and I can work anywhere on it that I want.  It has a drawer on the other side and measures 30″ x 60″ – big enough for just about any project I might have.  I got it home, washed it off with a bucket of lysol, and it looked even better.  I hate to think what I washed off but it is about as clean as I can make it now.  If the scratches bother me after a few weeks , I’ll get some metal paint for it.  Right now it is great to have a really flat surface to work on.  I’ve broken down the old table and will keep it for a while to see if the kids or nieces may want to use it for a work table  in the future.  It’s always good to have an old table around.

Watercolor bookmarks

Here’s my latest etsy bookmark listing.  I’ve started work on a new stone barn and hope to have it finished this week.  It’s a little different in that it is of a whole barn and not just a smaller view.

Previous Older Entries