Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid and Watercolor

Hand lettering is more popular than ever, and lettering enthusiasts are always looking for ways to add to their repertoire. In the July Lettering Lesson, Alexandra Snowdon uses masking fluid to create crisp white letters within watercolor shapes. I loved the look, and decided to give it a try.

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

I chose two simple shapes for my lettering project: a sun and a star. After drawing the shapes, I added the lettering in a chunky font as Alexandra suggested. This gave me room within the letters, making erasing easier and also offering space for embellishing if I chose to do so. I also added some decorations within the shape.

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

After shaking the masking fluid, I poured a small amount onto a plate and, using a silicone brush, I painted inside the letters with masking fluid, working right up to the pencil lines. Once the letters were done, I added a ¼” line of masking fluid around the outside of the shapes. This would help contain the watercolor in the next step. The masking fluid had to dry before I could continue, so I set them aside for about an hour.

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

I applied a wash of water to the star first and then painted it with a slightly dilute yellow watercolor. Working wet-on-wet helped guarantee a nice even coverage. I did the same for the sun. I let them dry for a few minutes, and decide they needed a little something more. I added a little orange here and there on the sun, dabbing the paint with a paper towel, and did the same to the star, adding some blue. I think that was a nice addition.

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

After allowing the paint to dry for a while, I rubbed the masking fluid with my finger, peeling up an edge, and removed it from the outlines and the lettering. It peeled off easily and the letters and other drawn elements really stood out.

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

Time for some more color! I chose to outline the small stars on the large star shape, and colored in the tiny dots with a dark blue colored pencil. I also traced over the lines within the letters. On the sun shape, I colored in one heart with red colored pencil, and traced the other heart and decorations with the same pencil.

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

Hand Lettering with Masking Fluid

I really like the look I was able to achieve with the masking fluid. I did have a little trouble erasing some of the lines because I went over them with paint, but next time I’ll be more careful. I look forward to doing more lettering with this technique.

Creative Vintage Photos: A Fun Image Transfer Tutorial

vintage photos cassia cogger

I love vintage photos and the questions they spark. Who are these people, and what are these things in the picture? Where was the photo taken? What was happening in the minutes leading up to or following the shutter click? I also love painting imaginary landscapes that border on abstraction, and I recently began to wonder how I might marry the two. The immediate answer was collage, yet cutting and pasting didn’t excite me. I wanted a flat plane, like a piece of paper, in which the photo and the painting existed together, with no seams or glue. It made me wonder: What would happen if I scanned a photo and then laser printed it onto watercolor paper? Would it work from a technical standpoint, and if so, could I paint new backgrounds to change the narrative of the photos? Those questions led me to these techniques, which I’m happy to share with you.

Note: I have been experimenting with Adobe Photoshop® quite a bit, and wanted to use this exercise as an opportunity to merge both digital and traditional techniques. However, you can also explore these techniques by copying a photo and cutting and pasting it onto a sheet of paper.

vintage photos cassia cogger


  • Images scanned into a computer
  • Photo-editing software that allows you to separate the images from their backgrounds (I used Adobe Photoshop®.)
  • Epson watercolor paper, 8 ½” x 11″
  • Laser printer
  • Assorted watercolor and gouache paints (I used Turner Acryl Gouache.)
  • Round paintbrushes, various sizes
  • Optional: Eraser

vintage photos cassia cogger

Prepare the Images

Using the Quick Selection tool in Photoshop, I extracted the images from the original vintage photos. I then created a new file for each image and sized the images to fit the finished paintings (one painting is 5 ½” x 8 ½”, and the other is 8 ½” x 11”). I placed the images on the digital page in an interesting composition. Unless your composition is symmetrical, I find it’s best to place an image off center to create a more engaging composition. I wanted to experiment with both gouache and watercolor, so I shrunk two of the images to allow for plenty of white space around them. I sized another image to fit the sheet so I could tint the image with watercolor. I saved the images as 300dpi jpgs and printed them onto Epson watercolor paper, using my office laser printer.

Note: The first print had excess toner on it, but I was able to remove most of it with an eraser.

vintage photos cassia cogger

Create New Backgrounds

The more artwork I create, the more I delight in the juxtaposition of contrasting elements. In the two smaller paintings I explored using abstract shapes and symbols in combination with the photographic images to tell a story.

The photo of my late grandmother is the perfect image of her. I wanted to paint a big heart behind her that expressed my love—she was always a lovely lady and happy to serve. I also miss her very much, and often feel a bit of sadness, so I painted a cloud with rows of dots symbolizing rain.

vintage photos cassia cogger

After painting the first two shapes with gouache, I brightened the work up by painting a yellow circle fragment representing sunshine. I always work from large to small, finishing the bigger shapes first, then adding smaller patterns.

vintage photos cassia cogger

The second image of my grandparents outside a house (I think it’s in Bisbee, Arizona) was created in a similar manner. I wanted to maintain the narrative of them standing outside of a structure in a warm climate, so I painted shapes with gouache that were evocative of a house and foliage, and added a sun.

Note: Using gouache on both of these pieces allowed me to achieve a flat field with a matte finish.

vintage photos cassia cogger

Tint Images with Gouache

As I worked on these pieces I became curious about adding water to the gouache to tint some flowers on my grandmother’s dress. I could have used watercolor to achieve the transparency I wanted, but watering down the gouache worked well.

Looking at the photo above, I was reminded that at one time my grandmother had the entire upstairs of her home wallpapered and decided she didn’t care for the color of one of the blooms in the pattern, so she repainted all of them!

After painting the backgrounds on the first two pieces I wanted to see how watercolor would work for tinting an image. I discovered that the paint worked well. The toner-based images are waterproof, allowing me to create wet washes over the desert painting without affecting the crispness of the printed images.

vintage photos cassia cogger

I allowed each colored wash to dry completely before working in the area next to it.

vintage photos cassia cogger

Note: Although the laser-printed images are waterproof, the toner can rub off if you use too many brushstrokes or brush too vigorously.

Creating New Narratives

I find myself incredibly excited by this process, and believe you will be too. The technique allows you to engage with vintage photos on a different level than just a viewer. You can explore symbolism and your relationship with the people in the pictures, as I did with the painting of my grandmother as a Red Cross volunteer. You can tell more vivid and colorful versions of existing stories, as with the painting of my grandparents standing outside a house, or you can simply juice up photos you love by tinting them with transparent watercolor. Regardless of the approach, playing with vintage photos this way allows artists to create new, exciting narratives.

vintage photos cassia cogger

Cassia Cogger is an artist, teacher, and author who is inspired to create artworks, creative courses, and experiences that allow individuals to enter into greater relationships with their surroundings, becoming present to that which is essential. As much as she is excited by color, shape, pattern, and beauty, she is more excited by what the creative process reveals. Her work has been featured at the National Academy Museum in New York City, she has appeared in Watercolor Artist magazine as a rising star, and has had her work featured in a host of galleries and private collections. Check out her new book from North Light Books, Creating Personal Mandalas: Story Circle Techniques in Watercolor and Mixed Media, and discover more about Cassia at cassiacogger.com.

Start with a simple circle to find incredible techniques for visual storytelling in Creating Personal Mandalas by Cassia Cogger. Twenty step-by-step exercises help you explore personal exploration and self-expression with watercolor and mixed media.

Gelli Plate Printing with Joan Bess

If you haven’t discovered the unbridled joy of monoprinting with a gel plate, you have not lived, my friends. That’s why I’m so happy to bring you this fantastic guest blog from Joan Bess, the author of Gelli Plate Printing: Mixed-Media Monoprinting Without a Press, and the inventor of the Gelli Arts® Gel Printing Plate. Monoprinting with the Gelli plate is nothing short of revolutionary, and Joan’s book is packed with incredible techniques and tips for creating amazing artwork. Even if you’ve done some monoprinting, these methods will take your creativity to new levels. Here’s Joan with a fun tutorial that you’ve got to try! ~ Jeannine

While exploring printmaking techniques, it’s amazing how simply using a new or different material or tool can lead to exciting creative results.

I’m currently obsessed with the masking fluid technique featured in my book Gelli Plate Printing on pages 94-95. Lately I’ve discovered the advantages of using a Fineline Masking Fluid Pen, and I’ll show you my new discoveries in this tutorial.

Applying masking fluid with the needle-tip applicator gives you more control, making it a great tool for drawing, doodling, and writing words on your paper before you print. To create a monoprint using masking fluid, follow these easy steps:


  • 8”x10” Gelli Arts® Gel Printing Plate
  • Fineline® Masking Fluid Pen
  • Golden Artist Colors® Open Slow-Drying Acrylic Paints
  • Speedball® 4” Soft Rubber Brayer with Pop-In Roller
  • Strathmore® Bristol Smooth Surface 9″ x 12″ paper, 100-lb.
  • Optional: Rubber cement pick-up eraser

1. Draw a design on the paper with the masking fluid, using the needle-tip applicator to draw a design. Allow the masking fluid to dry completely.

gelli plate printing joan bess

2. Brayer a layer of acrylic paint onto the Gelli plate, then press the masked paper onto the plate. Rub to transfer the paint, and pull your print.

gelli plate printing joan bess

3. When the print is fully dry, gently rub the mask off the paper with a clean finger or the rubber cement pick-up eraser, revealing the masked design.

gelli plate printing joan bess

4. Here is the final print; you can print multiple layers on paper with dry masking fluid on it. The dried fluid is easy to remove, even with layers of paint on it. In the finished artwork below, I created a layered effect by placing cut paper circles on top of the inked Gelli plate.

gelli plate printing joan bess

5. This detail of the finished artwork shows how you can get a dramatic mix of patterns and colors using the masking fluid.

gelli plate printing joan bess

Here are a few more tips and ideas:

•  Thin areas of masking fluid dry quickly, but thick areas or blobs take more time to dry. I like to prepare several masked papers and let them dry overnight.

•  Dry masking fluid is dimensional, which can cause a halo effect around the masked areas in the print. To avoid that, apply extra pressure when printing. Brayering the back of the paper before pulling the print helps push the paper into the gel plate and transfer the paint. Experiment with the amount of paint on the plate.

•  It’s best to peel off the masking fluid soon after a print is completely dry.

•  Masking fluid applied to black paper reveals rich black lines when the mask is removed. Printing with metallic, interference, and iridescent acrylic paints on masked black paper creates dramatic images.

•  You can further embellish masked areas on prints with various pens, pencils, watercolors, and more.

•  This masking fluid technique broadens your image-making possibilities, just as each technique in the book provides inspiration for explorations in monoprinting.

Joan Bess is Co-Founder of Gelli Arts® and originator of the gel printing plate concept. Since 2010, she has been developing numerous and varied techniques for monoprinting on the Gelli plate. Joan is the author of the North Light Book Gelli Plate Printing, which features many of those techniques. See more of Joan’s work and get more techniques for the Gelli plate at gelliarts.com.

Studio Saturday: Travel Art Inspiration

Traveling may be one of the most fun ways to get creatively inspired. But you don’t have to go far to find travel art inspiration—I went to my local art museum and saw an Henri Matisse exhibit that filled my head with tons of ideas. A few days later I created a collage, and I can’t wait to show you how I made it, and what inspired me.

I love traveling and visiting different cities and countries, but it’s not always feasible to drop everything and go. When I get the itch for some cultural inspiration, I usually head for a museum. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where I saw “Matisse in the Studio,” an exhibit that included some of the artist’s favorite objects that he often featured in his work, along with those works. Seeing the objects and the artwork was a revelation in so many ways, but I particularly fell in love with the artist’s intricate North African textiles designed with cutouts and appliques. I also developed a deeper appreciation for Matisse’s use of color and pattern, and how he fearlessly combined bright hues and wild designs to create coherent, beautiful masterpieces.

Here is one of the screens on display; I can’t even imagine the time it would take to sew this piece by hand:

Matisse textile used as travel art inspiration, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
This North African textile was among Henri Matisse’s collection of cherished objects. (Photo taken at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

And here is a detail of another textile:

Matisse textile detail, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
I used the petal shapes from this textile as travel art inspiration for my paper panel. (Photo taken at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

The idea of creating a paper panel with cutouts started to gel in my mind; I started with a rough sketch to work out the main design, knowing it would likely change at some point.

Travel art inspiration sketch
From the original inspiration I derived a sketch to use as a rough guide.

I found some poster board that already had a polka dot design on it, and decided to use that as a substrate. I cut an 11″ x 14″ domed panel shape and stenciled a Moroccan design in areas with turquoise acrylic paint.

Stenciling a design onto poster board
A Moroccan-inspired pattern was stenciled onto poster board.

Following the sketch I created my own stencil, a six-petal flower that I sized to fit twice on the panel. The flowers were transferred on the back so they’d be easier to see.

Transferring a design to the back of the poster board panel
After creating a stencil, I transferred the design to the back of the poster board.

The petals were cut out with a craft knife, and I also cut out two rows of small circles on the side borders of the panel. By the way, you’ll find great paper cutting tips and techniques in the Paperology column by Samantha Quinn in the July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors—I found them really helpful when cutting out the shapes. For example, as soon as your blade starts to drag, change it. Using fresh blades makes the job so much easier.

To emphasize the flower design, mimic the applique technique on the textile, and reference Matisse’s cut paper collages, I ringed the petals, the flowers, and the circles with more cutouts. I used a vibrant palette that reminded me of Matisse’s work, painting book pages with watered-down acrylic paint. I traced the petal shapes, then cut them using a craft knife and scissors. The book page cutouts were adhered with glue stick. I wasn’t going for perfection with the paper cutting; Matisse’s paper cuts are anything but exact, and I love the irregular, uneven look.

Composing a cutout collage with travel art inspiration
The cutouts were ringed with more paper, cut from painted book pages.

The petal shapes were used to further decorate the panel, and I machine stitched around them and the large circles with straight and zig-zag stitches to add texture, and as a nod to the stitching on the original panels.

Stitching detail added to Matisse-inspired collage
Machine stitching added some nice detail to the piece.

As I worked on this piece I thought about a chapter in Nathalie Kalbach’s new book, Artful Adventures in Mixed Media, titled Visiting Art Museums and Galleries for Inspiration. Nathalie has fantastic tips for using artwork as inspiration, such as seeking a connection between you and the artwork, and actively observing the art in different ways. This passage really hit home with me: “Being inspired and influenced by the artwork of others is not the same as copying what you see. It’s about understanding why an artist’s work has been deemed worthy of space in a museum, figuring out what you find compelling, and then implementing those things in your own style, in your own work.”

What great advice for interpreting travel art inspiration, even in your own backyard! In addition to Nathalie’s book, check out the July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, which is filled with terrific tips and techniques for sketching people at cafés, creating a pop-up studio, and creating mixed-media travel journals.

The most important thing I learned from this museum trip is to keep an open mind, because you never know what form travel art inspiration will take. Happy adventuring!

July/August 2017 Cloth Paper Scissors: The Travel and Adventure issue
Looking for great tips and techniques for travel art inspiration? The July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors is packed with ideas for your summer adventures!
Artful Adventures in Mixed Media by Nathalie Kalbach
Artful Adventures in Mixed Media by Nathalie Kalbach has everything you need to channel inspiration into beautiful artwork.
Storytelling Art Studio by Cathy Nichols
Every artist has a story; learn how to tell yours with techniques in Storytelling Art Studio by Cathy Nichols.
Incite 4: Relax, Restore, Renew
Incite 4: Relax, Restore, Renew features the work of more than 100 mixed-media artists from around the world.

Leoma Lovegrove’s Traveling Art Studio

We’ve been talking a lot lately about artful adventures and creating art-on-the-go. In fact, it’s the theme of our July/August issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, on newsstands now. But what if you want to take the idea of art-on-the-go a step further. Say, with a traveling art studio? Artist Leoma Lovegrove did just that. Leoma’s main art studio is located on Matlacha Island in Florida, but she also has a fantastic mobile studio that she uses to stay inspired and create her vivid, colorful paintings on the road.

Take a tour of Leoma’s traveling art studio in this article from our Studios Summer 2014 issue:

Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens is a whimsical reflection of Leoma herself. It serves as her international headquarters, artist studio, and island gift shop. Photos by Kirsten Troyer

Composition, Commitment, & Color by Leoma Lovegrove


I began my painting career in my early twenties, and I’m still creating 48 years later. This much I know for certain: I need to paint, much in the same way birds need air space to fly.

My mother was a prolific artist. She painted, wrote poetry, played four musical instruments, studied pottery, and designed clothing. I grew up in a very creative environment and began to experiment with my own creativity at a very early age.

When I was in grade school, my art teacher recognized my aptitude for art. He invited me to spend time after class and experiment on my own. The next day, I was called into the principal’s office. My teacher was upset because I had used his entire supply of clay and filled the classroom with quite an assortment of my own creations. I just couldn’t help myself.

This mermaid painting is featured on products at Bealls Department Stores in Florida.

To this day, I am constantly creating something new using anything and everything within reach. People who know me joke that if you stand still for too long near me, you will become my next canvas. Creating gives me daily satisfaction. There is nothing more exciting than the opportunity to make a living by doing something each day that I am passionate about.

My main focus is on acrylic paintings that are both impressionistic and expressionistic. A lover of nature and wildlife, I live in an island paradise in Florida, and many of my paintings depict my natural surroundings. In particular, I enjoy painting the things that represent Florida itself, such as fish, birds, and outdoor landscapes.

I also paint patriotic pieces, such as American flags, September 11th memoranda, and pro-American scenes. Much of my inspiration comes from the experiences my parents had during WWII and from the profound impact September 11th had both on the nation and on me personally.

I enjoy taking simple materials and creating pieces that inspire others. I start with an idea, and then I commit to it while also being open to where the process itself will take me. It’s all about composition, commitment, and color. Just as with life, there is a beginning goal in mind and a certain amount of planning takes place, but what happens outside of the plan is often where the magic is. The same is true with my art.

My main studio is located on Matlacha Island in Florida, and my beautiful surroundings allow me to find inspiration daily. However, I also have a mobile studio that allows me to carry that inspiration with me when I am on the road.

Who wouldn’t want to peek inside? Leoma is always excited to talk with curious guests who pass by her mobile studio.
Every nook in Leoma’s studio is bursting with fun, functionality, and creative inspiration.
When Leoma isn’t traveling, her mobile studio can be found parked outside Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens on Matlacha Island.

My mobile studio is a 14-foot vintage camper from the 1960s. My husband and I originally bought it so that we could travel with our parrot, Solomon. Over the years, however, I found myself spending more and more time using it as an art retreat so that I could keep creating while I was on vacation. Eventually, it became a fullfledged traveling studio.

In my mobile studio, I like to surround myself with things that inspire me, such as photos, letters, inspirational quotes, and—of course—good music. I have filled the walls with both completed and in-progress artwork, and wearable art hangs in the closet.

Leoma uses the refrigerator in her mobile studio to hold her paint and paintbrushes.
This studio may be small, but it is bursting with the vibrant palettes Leoma uses in her artwork.
Anyone following Leoma’s mobile art studio in traffic can enjoy a special window treatment devoted to her favorite rock band, The Beatles.
It isn’t unusual for Leoma to stop traffic with her colorful appearance.

My mobile studio packs a lot into a small space. The refrigerator stores paint and paintbrushes, the sink holds additional supplies, and the counters house vintage toys, fun souvenirs, and memorabilia. Palettes can be found all around the studio, along with canvases at various stages of “Leomitization.”

My mobile studio allows me to take my art to exhibits, shows, and personal encounters with art lovers. It also makes it possible for me to paint along the way and to participate in “Painting Out Loud” performances across the country. I love to travel, so my mobile studio could pop up anywhere. And if you see it around, chances are good that I’m painting somewhere nearby.

Careful where you step! There may just be a masterpiece drying at your feet.
On the road, Leoma is inspired to create daily in this intimate space.
Leoma’s gallery is located just past the “fishingest bridge in the world” on Matlacha Island. The bridge and surrounding area serve as great inspiration for her work.

I partnered with Bealls Department Stores to launch an exclusive collection of resort wear, home goods, and other products. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time on the road meeting Bealls staff and customers.

From vintage toys to colorful clothing, there is always something in the mobile studio to make people smile.
Leoma’s mobile art studio features her “Good Day Sunshine” collection, created exclusively for Bealls Department Stores.

I love sharing my art in intimate settings as well as with large crowds, and having a mobile studio allows me to do both. As you can imagine, the colorful trailer can attract quite a crowd! Sometimes it even stops traffic—literally. People come up out of curiosity and stay for the fun.

Learn more about Leoma on her website: leomalovegrove.com

Find more traveling art studio inspiration in our Studios Summer 2014 issue!

Technique Tuesdays: Oil and Cold Wax Painting with Annie O’Brien Gonzales

If you’ve been following our magazine this year, you’ve likely seen the inspiring new Expressive Painting column from mixed-media artist and professional painter Annie O’Brien Gonzales. So far this year, she’s shared innovative ideas for creating expressive photo-inspired collages, acrylic paintings, and more. In this tutorial from our May/June 2017 issue, Annie walks you step-by-step through creating an oil and cold wax painting. Follow Annie’s instructions below to try out this technique!

Artwork by Annie O’Brien Gonzales

Oil and Cold Wax Painting by Annie O’Brien Gonzales

If you have never tried oil painting or have felt unsuccessful with previous attempts, I suggest you give cold wax painting a try. Cold wax is comprised of beeswax, resin, and solvent and, unlike encaustic, it requires no special setup. For cold wax painting, cold wax is mixed with oil paint at room temperature. In addition, cold wax and oil paint remain workable for quite some time and can be layered with other media. Working with the wax mixture is a unique tactile experience unlike any other.


  • Paper palette or parchment paper
  • Tablespoon
  • Cold wax medium (I use Gamblin or Dorland’s.)
  • Oil paint, professional grade (I used Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors in Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Transparent Orange, Cadmium Red Deep, Quinacridone Magenta, and Titanium White.)
  • Palettte knife
  • Brayer, key card, or bowl scraper
  • Painting surface, rigid (I used an 11″ x 14″ Ampersand™ Gessobord™.)
    • TIP: Because the wax mixture can crack if applied to a flexible surface, such as canvas, always work on a rigid surface.
  • Stencils and stamps, a variety
  • Texture items: fabric, thin collage papers, plastic fruit bags, etc. (I also used Mexican papel picado flags and tissue paper cutouts.)
  • Mark-making/scraping tools: Catalyst™ tools, old paintbrushes, chopsticks, etc.
  • Powdered pigments (I used Jacquard. Pearl Ex in Aztec Gold, Sunset Gold, and Flamingo Pink.)
  • Soft cloth
  • Optional:
    • Disposable gloves
    • Oil pastels (I used Sennelier brand.)
    • Gamsol™ odorless solvent

1. Tape a paper palette to your work surface, and scoop a couple of tablespoons of cold wax onto the palette.

2. Beginning with a dark color, squeeze a small amount of oil paint onto the palette. I used Alizarin Crimson. Add an equal amount of cold wax to the paint, and mix them together with the palette knife. The mixture will look and feel like frosting. Mixtures with greater ratios of cold wax to paint will create more texture and translucency.

NOTE: Experiment with colors and transparencies, varying the ratio of wax to paint.

3. Using a brayer, bowl scraper, or key card, spread the paint/cold wax mixture thinly onto the panel. (FIGURE 1)


4. Continue to mix different colors of paint with wax, and, using a brayer, add the mixtures to the panel in thin layers. (FIGURE 2) Work directly over damp paint, or allow the layers to dry a bit before adding another. Experiment. Drying time varies, depending on the climate you’re working in. I added analogous colors.

TIP: Alternate layers of transparent color with opaque mixtures. Scratching into the layers will yield color surprises.

NOTE: Adding Titanium White to any oil color will make it more opaque.


5. Add texture and pattern, using stencils and stamps. (FIGURE 3)


6. Add more texture between the layers as desired with a variety of materials, such as fabric, plastic fruit bags, etc. Lay the items on the surface, and use a brayer to impress the items into the wax, or apply a thin paint/wax mixture over them. I used some commercial stencils, a piece of a placemat, and plastic netting. (FIGURE 4)


7. Add marks with sticks, pencils, and more to create even more texture. (FIGURE 5)

TIP: Once several layers have been added, experiment with scraping through the paint or even dripping odorless solvent and removing some paint to reveal underlying colors.


8. Sprinkle some powdered pigments onto several areas of the painting. Spread the powder around for a pop of shine. I used gold and pink. (FIGURE 6) A little goes a long way, so start with a small amount.


9. Add a thin layer of clear wax over the powdered pigments to help them adhere to the painting and add translucency.

10. Add some thin papers. (FIGURE 7) Anything goes, and anything can be covered with more paint/wax mixture.


11. Keep layering elements: thin oil/wax mixtures, transparent and opaque paint colors, collage, powdered pigments, and mark making, until you have 10–12 layers, or more.

TIP: Use oil pastels for additional mark making.

12. Allow the piece to dry for several days, and then buff it with a soft cloth. There is no need to add varnish; the wax acts as a sealant.

Annie O’Brien Gonzales is a professional painter, teacher, and author from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work is represented by galleries across the U.S., appears in juried exhibitions, and is collected internationally. She is the author of Bold Expressive Painting: Painting Techniques For Still Lifes, Florals, and Landscapes from North Light Books, and has three videos on expressive painting. Her next book on expressive painting for beginners is due out in Fall 2017 from North Light Books.

Visit Annie’s website at annieobriengonzales.com

Ready for more? Find this article and much more in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Print and digital copies are available.

May/June ’17

Be sure to also check out Annie’s fantastic book, Bold Expressive Painting: Painting Techniques For Still Lifes, Florals, and Landscapes.

Bold Expressive Painting

Easy Color Techniques with Dina Wakley

I’m thrilled to introduce our guest blogger, the incomparable Dina Wakley! Dina shares a terrific tutorial for making artful tags using supplies included in the Courageous Art Journaling kit: stamps, a stencil, paint, brushes, and more. The kit also features four of Dina’s videos featuring amazing color techniques, plus ideas for mark making, patterning and layering, and using stencils and masks. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Dina teach, and she’s a fantastic and inspiring instructor, making it easy for you to follow along and achieve great results. Enjoy, and have fun creating! ~ Jeannine

The Courageous Art Journaling kit has everything you need to try Dina Wakley’s techniques for art journals, tags, cards, and more.

One of my favorite methods to get colors to pop is to use complementary colors. Complementary colors are opposite on the color wheel. If you mix complementary colors in the same wet layer, they may turn muddy and icky. I avoid this by layering my complementary colors. Here’s a fun, easy tag using my favorite color techniques. The colors I’m using—Magenta and Lime—are opposite on the color wheel, so by using both colors in my project, I get maximum pop and impact.


  • Several manila tags (or one manila tag and a sheet of cardstock)
  • Ranger Archival Ink Pad in Jet Black
  • Ranger Dina Wakley Media Heavy Body Acrylic Paint in Lime, Magenta, and Turquoise
  • Ranger Dina Wakley Media stencil: Affirmations
  • Ranger Dina Wakley Media Stamps: Scribbly Birds
  • Ranger Dina Wakley Media Brushes
  • Ranger Dina Wakley Media Fine Tip Applicator (to use on the Magenta paint)
  • Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool and Foam
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic stamping block
  • Adhesive

1. With a wet paintbrush, paint a small amount of Lime paint on a manila tag.

2. Using the Mini Ink Blending Tool and Turquoise paint, add stenciling to the tag with the Affirmations stencil. I used parts of the stencil words.

3. Add water to some Turquoise paint, load a paintbrush with the paint, and splatter it over the tag. Let dry.

4. Stamp several birds from the Scribbly Birds set onto the extra tags or cardstock with the Jet Blank ink. Stamp one of the sentiments as well.

5. Add water to some Magenta paint and color the birds with a loose, watercolor style. I left some white space in the birds.

6. Mix a bit of Turquoise and Magenta paint to create a lavender color. Add some of this color to the birds. Then, splatter them with the watered-down Turquoise paint.

7. Fussy-cut the birds and the sentiment and layer them on your tag as desired. I separated one sentiment into two parts. Edge the sentiments and the tag with Jet Black Ink.

8. Place the Fine Tip Applicator on the Magenta paint tube and add small dots and designs to the background.

Isn’t this tag fantastic? You’ll discover additional color techniques and other ideas for art journaling, tags, cards, and collage in Dina’s Courageous Art Journaling kit to use in your art journal pages, cards, tags, collage, and more. With the supplies included in the kit, you’ll be able to start creating right away. Don’t miss this incredible collection that’s sure to inspire you.

Dina Wakley is a mixed-media artist and teacher who loves everything about art: creating it, thinking about it, looking at it, and teaching it. She teaches both in-person and online workshops. Dina believes in writing yourself down, expressing yourself, and making your mark on the world. She is a Ranger signature designer, the author of Art Journal Freedom and Art Journal Courage from North Light Books, and the host of several videos with ArtistsNetworkTV. Discover more about Dina at dinawakley.com.

Studio Saturday: Mail Art Like You’ve Never Seen

Before you embark on your summer travel plans, I have one request: Don’t send commercial postcards. I have a much better idea—send mail art on a postcard. This type of mail art doesn’t require a lot of time, the techniques are crazy fun, and the results are awesome.

It’s called etegami, and Diana Trout explains it well in her article “Mixed-Media Etegami” in the July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors: “Literally translated as ‘picture letters,’ etegami are cardstock-weight rice paper cards painted with Japanese-style watercolor. Words are always added to etegami, and you can’t call it etegami until you mail it.”

This may be the best part: The focal image is usually something from nature and seasonal, and Diana says etegami is supposed to look clumsily executed, with the black outlines meant to be shaky. You had me at ‘clumsily.’ No pencil sketch, no practicing—this is meant to be of the moment, which gives this style of mail art its charm.

Let’s start with the paper. Diana recommends using etegami paper, which comes in five degrees of blurs, or absorbency—five is the highest. I found some at JetPens.com, and tried blurs of three and four. I also tried 300-lb. cold press watercolor paper, which can be substituted.

Below, top to bottom, are the results using three and four-blur paper, and watercolor paper, all with watercolor paint. On the watercolor sheet, the circle on the left was done with paint on dry paper; on the right, I wet the paper first with water, then added paint.

Etegami paper tests
Etegami paper and watercolor paper have different levels of absorbency; choose the one you like best to work with.

I liked the look of the number three blur, and went with that and watercolor paper for my mail art. I decided to paint my favorite seasonal fruits, cherries and peaches. I first created circles of paint on the etegami paper with a very wet bamboo brush and watercolor. I love how it wicked into the paper—so beautiful. While the paint was wet I added drops of other color: for the cherries, a little yellow and purple.

Creating circles of color for etegami mail art
This version of mail art begins with simple circles of color.

For the peaches on watercolor paper, I added spots of pink and yellow.

Etegami on watercolor paper
The peaches began as circles of orange, pink, and yellow watercolor.

I then painted in details, also using watercolor and the bamboo brush. I added stems and leaves to the cherries:

Adding depth to etegami images for mail art
Adding details to the cherries gives them depth and interest.

And the same to the peaches. What got me really excited about making etegami was using new materials in addition to new techniques. I’ve never used a bamboo brush, etegami paper, or sumi ink. So while I didn’t sketch in my design beforehand, I did try out the supplies before I started on a postcard. That goes a long way in helping you be successful, and Diana has some great tips for this in her article.

Adding details to mail art on watercolor paper
Details were added to the peaches as well, making them look more realistic.

I liked the look of the paintings so far, and I was a little reluctant to use the sumi ink. That hesitation completely disappeared once I tried it. Adding the sumi ink details completely changed everything—in a good way. Not only did the ink add depth, but it made the images stand out in such an amazing way. I also added some watercolor in complementary colors to help the fruit pop. I can’t wait to try these techniques for more mail art, and in my art journal. Here are the cherries with sumi ink:

Adding sumi ink to etegami
The addition of sumi ink completely changes the look of the images–for the better!

And the peaches:

Adding sumi ink to mail art images on watercolor paper
The sumi ink makes the images really pop.

Diana’s take on traditional etegami includes mixed media, of course, and she takes it to another level by adding ephemera like postage stamps, ephemera, and washi tape. She also adds a chop stamp.  I didn’t have one, and decided to carve my own version. The simple leaf design took me all of 10 minutes, and it adds such a nice touch. Here is the finished cherries postcard:

Adding mixed media to mail art postcards
Adding ephemera and a stamp to these mail art postcards makes them truly mixed media.

And here are the peaches. Hand-written words are also an integral part of etegami; they can be done with a brush, or a brush pen (I used a Faber-Castell PITT artist pen with a brush tip.)

Adding details and ephemera to etegami
More paint was added to this mail art postcard; sumi ink is permanent when dry.

I can’t call this etegami until I pop it in the mail, so I’m off to do that. I hope the person who receives this bit of mail art loves it as much as I loved making it. I encourage you to give this a try—etegami is perfect for taking on the road, or anywhere. I’m taking my supplies with me the next time I sketch outdoors, and I can’t wait to be inspired by what I see.

Get the July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors and give this mail art technique a try! Find even more ideas in these great books, videos, and downloads from Cloth Paper Scissors and North Light Books.

July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors
Get the full instructions for making etegami in the July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.
No Excuses Watercolor by Gina Rossi Armfield
Let Gina Rossi Armfield show you how to get incredible results with watercolor in your art journal pages and more in her book No Excuses Watercolor.
Natural Compositions video with Staci Swider
Learn how to paint plants and flowers as they appear in nature with the video Natural Compositions with Staci Swider.
Art Lessons Volume 6: Outside In by Jenny Cochran Lee
In Art Lessons Volume 6: Outside In, Jenny Cochran Lee shows you how to use nature as inspiration for vibrant mixed-media art.

Announcing the Cloth Paper Scissors Make it Shine reader challenge finalists

Artwork by Margaret Baker

We are pleased to announce the finalists for our Make it Shine reader challenge.

Thank you to all who participated in the challenge, and congratulations to the finalists:

  1. Lisa Hoel • Eagle, ID
  2. Susan Auburn • Richmond, VA
  3. Elizabeth Mayberry • Middletown, CT
  4. Margaret Baker • Hillsboro, WV
  5. Keddy Ann Outlaw • Houston, TX

Finalists, please send your artwork to our NEW address by July 28, 2017.

F+W Media, Inc.
ATT: Make it Shine
2 Mill and Main Place
Maynard, MA 01754

Please remember to include your S & H fee with your art.

Thank you very much.

art lesson 2016

Let Art Lessons Make You a Better Artist

Imagine mixed-media project tutorials from top artists that feature page after page of large, clear photos, great instructions, lots of extra inspiration, and a companion video. Guess what—they exist! Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lessons are a monthly digital download that let you do a deep dive into a fantastic project while learning tons of techniques; there’s practically a photo for each step. I have the perfect way for you to get acquainted with these tutorials: our 2016 Collector’s Edition.

The theme of the 2016 Art Lessons is The Extra Touch, and all 12 are included: Learn printing, papermaking, and collage with Lynn Krawczyk; explore Rae Missingman’s world of vibrant colors and mark making though art journaling, canvas, and fabric projects; discover Roxanne Evans Stout’s nature-inspired paint, stitch, and collage techniques; and follow along as Darlene Olivia McElroy cooks up artistic alchemy with unique materials.

All 12 Art Lessons
All 12 Art Lessons are included in the 2016 Collector’s Edition of The Extra Touch series.

The techniques in these lessons are geared to all levels, and each is designed to help you forge new creative paths, taking your artwork to new heights. Start with Volume 1 or skip around; there’s no right or wrong way to approach them. I started with Rae’s Journals With Texture project (Volume 4). You know I love me some book art, and this project, which adds texture to a small journal cover with modeling paste and fibers, called my name.


I started with a photo for my cover; you can also scan a favorite art journal page, print it on cardstock, and use that as a cover. I printed my photo onto canvas paper, and along the way I had a happy accident. My printer started to run out of ink, giving the image a distinct purple tone, instead of black and white. I decided to go with it.


Using an offset palette knife, I mixed some light molding paste (I used Golden Artist Colors) with a few drops of acrylic ink to tint it (I used Liquitex).


The paste was spread through a stencil directly onto the canvas, again using a palette knife.


Here’s the result; you can see how much the color and the texture add to the cover photo. The green dots were made with modeling paste mixed with green ink and spread through a piece of punchinella (also known as sequin waste).


Using another stencil and yellow heavy-body acrylic paint I created some abstract circles, pouncing the paint through the stencil with a cosmetic wedge.


When that dried I mixed a little of the paint with the molding paste, then applied it with a palette knife through the same stencil. Layering the designs gives the piece even more interest.


After that I pretty much went to town with paint pens, acrylic paint, and gesso, creating marks, doodles, and drawings. The image was trimmed to the edge, and the corners rounded. In Rae’s Art Lesson you’ll see why her style of creating abstract florals, designs, and marks is so popular. Her artwork jumps off the page.


Light molding paste is softer and more flexible than regular molding paste, but it can still be sanded. Rae recommends doing this step when the paste dries to make the cover smoother and prevent the peaks from chipping off with handling. It’s these types of tips that add to the value of the Art Lessons; artists love sharing information and discoveries, which go a long way in helping you be successful. The sanding took just a few seconds but made a huge difference. I wiped off the paste dust with a soft cloth.


This next step was so incredibly fun. To add even more texture to the cover, Rae adds stitched circles of wool roving fibers. The technique is super easy: Pull a small bunch of fibers (try a mix of solids and blended colors), shape them into a circle, and machine stitch them onto your cover. You can do this with free-motion stitching, but my machine doesn’t do so well with that. So, I turned the cover as I sewed, occasionally lifting the presser foot (with the needle in the down position) to make a tight turn. The look is meant to be fun and wonky, so don’t go anywhere near perfection with this. Enjoy the process.


These fiber circles may be my new favorite thing. Can’t wait to make another book incorporating them.


Since the canvas cover is flexible, I gave it some heft it by adhering it with a glue stick to a piece of cardstock slightly larger than the cover. For a closure, I sandwiched pieces of ribbon between the cover and the cardstock on the front and the back. I let the piece dry under a heavy weight so it wouldn’t buckle. Check out the Art Lesson for Rae’s technique for making another type of closure—it is not to be missed.

While that piece dried, I cut the paper for the inside pages. Taking inspiration from Rae again, I used a variety of found papers for the pages, cutting them to different sizes: book text, maps, decorative papers, blueprints, and vintage ledger paper. If you’re using this as a journal, you can gesso over the printed papers, giving yourself a nice surface to work on.

When the covers were dry I machine stitched around the edges, then cut the cardstock flush with the canvas and rounded the corners again. The pages were bound with a 5-hole pamphlet stitch, but in the lesson Rae shows you how to attach the pages to the cover with your sewing machine. Here’s a view of the inside pages:


I can’t stop looking at this little journal—the textures draw me in every time. I never would have combined these techniques for a handmade book, and that’s why these Art Lessons are so indispensable. You’ll go back to them again and again for inspiration, and you’ll think of new ways to try these ideas with other projects.

If you’re looking for innovative, doable, mixed-media techniques, it’s time to get Art Lessons. This 2016 Collector’s Edition is exactly what you need to wake up your art practice and bring your skills to the next level—and you’ll have so much fun doing it!