A transparency overlay, depicting underwater plants, reminds us to look below the surface to enjoy even more of the ocean’s riches.

Make Your Own Travel Journal

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“Blue Vase” by Carrie Schmitt

The Key to Finding Your Individual Style by Carrie Schmitt

Finding your individual style as an artist isn’t difficult; in fact, it’s as easy as following your intuition. This guest post from artist Carrie Schmitt shows how easy it is to take a risk and discover what talents and passions lie within. Read on for Carrie’s terrific insight, and learn more about her fantastic videos, Abstract Flower Painting and Mixed Media Flower Paintings! ~ Jeannine

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” ~ Edgar Degas

Never let not knowing how to do something stop you from doing it.

Not knowing how to paint a certain way can be a shortcut to originality. You begin at a place that can take years for others to reach—the stage of innovation. Out of necessity, you create something entirely new and authentically you.

Let artist Carrie Schmitt inspire you to embrace new techniques and ideas. Photo by Zippy Lomax
Let artist Carrie Schmitt inspire you to embrace new techniques and ideas. Photo by Zippy Lomax

When you see something that you can’t do, reframe your internal dialogue from, “I can’t paint that” to “I can’t do it that way, but I can find my own way.” View this as an advantage. You are free from the temptation to create something in a way that already exists!

In my art workshops, I teach how to paint self-portraits. I tell my students, “The lesson I am giving you is to figure it out for yourself. Don’t let something as little as not knowing how stop you from doing what you want to do.”

“Blue Vase” by Carrie Schmitt
“Blue Vase” by Carrie Schmitt

What unfolds is the discovery of individual styles that surprise us all. After we admired one woman’s breathtaking portrait, she said, “I thought I had messed it up and I hated it. So I just started wiping paint away, and then I ended up loving the effect.”

She took a risk and ventured into the unknown. Her mistakes led to a breakthrough in her artistic style and an exhilarating moment of creative genius.

She could have followed my safe and tidy instructions from start to finish on how I paint faces. Instead, she experienced the ecstasy of the true creative process, which is quite different from the ability to copy well.

“Freedom Seeker” by Carrie Schmitt
“Freedom Seeker” by Carrie Schmitt

In my videos, I share how to find your own style in various ways. One of my favorites is to use a magazine cover for inspiration. Recently, I fell in love with a Vogue magazine cover featuring Elle Fanning in a stunning rose dress and crown.

I have never painted a figure before, but how could I let that stop me? I painted my own interpretation by viewing my own limitations as my artistic style, rather than as a hindrance.

For example, I don’t know how to paint hands. So the challenge was to come up with an interesting way to represent them, perhaps by fading them into the dress.

I relied on mistakes to add interest to the piece and played with paint—until it became my favorite painting I have ever made.

Your limitations can be an asset to your creativity.
Your limitations can be an asset to your creativity.

The opposite of creativity is passivity. Non-action, based on our fear that because we don’t know how to do something a certain way, we should therefore not do it at all.

Act on what you don’t know to discover your unique artistic expression the world is waiting for you to share.

CARRIE SCHMITT is an artist, author, and instructor who began painting as a therapeutic practice after being diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy to heat in 2009. A native of Cincinnati, she moved to Seattle, WA in 2010 for its cooler weather. Her art is sold in galleries and in private collections internationally and licensed for clothing, home décor, accessories, toys and stationery with several companies. Her book, Painted Blossoms: Creative Expressive Flowers with Mixed Media, (North Light Books, 2015) shares tips and techniques to create floral art. Carrie also teaches workshops and retreats throughout the country. Her art has been featured in several publications, including Professional Artist Magazine and Cloth Paper Scissors. For more on Carrie and her work, visit carrieschmittdesign.com.

Dive into Carrie’s videos and find your distinctive creative voice! Learn techniques for painting beautiful expressive flowers, and take your art practice to new heights. Purchase the videos as a download and start watching today!

Mixed Media Flower Paintings
In Mixed Media Flower Paintings, Carrie shows you how to create gorgeous blooms using inspirational images and layering techniques.
Learn how to paint floral compositions
Learn how to paint floral compositions and get lessons in color mixing with wet-into-wet-paint in Abstract Flower Painting with Carrie Schmitt.

Studio Saturdays: Paper Flowers with Mixed Media

Now that summer is here, flowers are everywhere—even in my studio. Not real ones, but the mixed-media variety, made with vintage papers, watercolor, spray inks, ink blocks, and wire. After seeing the work of the finalists of our mixed-media flower reader challenge in the May/June issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, I was inspired to create these easy paper flowers, and I’ll show you how I made them.

If you haven’t seen the reader challenge artwork, you must check it out. Artists created blossoms out of fabric, collage, yarn, applique, paint, pastel, watercolor, encaustic, and ink. Yep, pretty much all bases were covered, and the vibrant, dimensional pieces will take your breath away. You’ll be motivated to dive into your supplies and create some beautiful blooms, too.

We’re going to make two flowers: a rose and a poppy. To begin this project, I went into my stash of vintage books and took out several text pages—some in French, some in English, with various fonts. I keep a special stack of books made before about 1830 that have pages made out of cotton or linen rag, instead of wood pulp. When you find one of these books, you’ll notice that the paper feels different; it’s very malleable, almost like fabric. I like using these for sculptural or dimensional projects like paper flowers because the paper can take a lot of folding and wrinkling. Make sure the paper you use is strong enough to withstand painting and some handling. Brittle vintage pages won’t work for these paper flowers.

I colored the pages two ways; with spray inks and watercolor. You can also use acrylic paint, Gelatos, watercolor pencils, regular inks, and tea or coffee staining. Two shades of green ink were spritzed into a palette, sprayed with water to dilute them a bit, and then brushed on both sides of the paper. You can see how vibrant the color is, and a little goes a long way.

Dyeing paper with spray inks for paper flowers
Spray inks are perfect for adding vibrant color to paper flower petals and leaves.

If you have left over ink, grab some papers and use them to blot up the extra ink. I used watercolor paper scraps. These make great background papers.

Using extra spray ink for background papers
Use leftover spray ink to color paper scraps for later use.

Other pages were colored with watercolor, and came out more muted. Remember, the color will become paler when the paper is dry.

Watercolor used for coloring vintage book pages
I used watercolor from my palette to color book pages, but tube watercolors are also great for coloring paper.

The first of two paper flowers we’ll make is a bi-color rose. When the yellow sheets were dry I stenciled them with terra cotta stamping ink on both sides to add a little patterning.

Stenciling book pages for paper flower petals
Stenciling book pages adds extra depth to paper flower petals.

I created petal template and cut several of each petal size. I usually cut about 3-4 of the smallest (about 1 3/8″ x 1 3/8″), 4-5 of the medium (about  1 5/8″ x 1 5/8″) and 4-6 of the large (about 1 ¾” x 1 ¾”). Make sure you have enough paper in case you need to cut more petals.

Petal template for paper flowers
For the paper flowers, I used a template to cut the petals.

Stack the template on top of several pieces of paper and cut several at once. When you get to the top of the petal, wiggle the scissors a little as you cut to get an uneven edge. Nothing in nature is perfect!

Cutting a stack of book pages for paper flower petals
Cutting a stack of petals saves time.

I lightly drew around the edges of the petals with a red Derwent Inktense Block.

Coloring petal edges with Inktense Blocks
Inktense Blocks offer intense color; a little goes a long way.

Next, I brushed over the color with a damp paintbrush, which made the color come to life.

Inktense Blocks brushed with a damp paintbrush
The color comes alive when brushed with a damp paintbrush.

While the petals dried, I prepared the stem. Green cloth-covered wire floral stems are available, but I had some plain silver wire ones and used those. I wound floral tape around the top several times to make a little bud, then continued to wrap the stem with the floral tape. If you’ve never used floral tape, it’s fun stuff. Stretching it before wrapping it activates the stickiness, so it stays in place.

Wrapping wire floral stem with floral tape
Wrapping a floral wire with floral tape gives the paper flower petals a good foundation for gluing.

Take one of the small petals and brush on some white glue on the lower part of the petal. I like using Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue, and I used my fingers to spread it.

Gluing leaves for paper flowers
A little quick-dry tacky glue is all it takes to attach the petals to the stem.

Wrap the petal around the stem so the bottom part rests just under the bud. Try to wrap the petal as tightly as you can, and hold it for a few seconds until the glue sets.

Creating the paper flower center
For the flower center, wrap a small petal tightly around the stem.

Glue and wrap another small petal, but offset it slightly so it’s not in the same position as the first petal. Do the same with a third small petal, but this time wrap it a little more loosely.

Begin adding the medium petals the same way, making sure to offset them. Before gluing the petals, work them with your hands a bit to make them more pliable. Once the glue is dry, bend the top part of the petal back just a wee bit, about 1/8″.

Creating dimensional petals for paper flowers
To create dimension, bend the top of the petal back just a bit.

Continue to add 2-3 more medium petals. Look at the flower from all angles after adding a petal to see where the next petal should go.

Medium petals added to paper flower
After all the medium petals have been added, begin adding the large petals.

Add the large petals the same way, assessing their position, and again bending the top part of the petal back. Stop when the rose looks complete.

Rose paper flower blossom
Continue to add large petals until the rose looks complete.

To create the sepal, which are the tiny leaves found underneath the blossom, cut a small circle from the green paper (about 1″ diameter), and then cut a star shape, making sure not to cut all the way to the center. Cut or punch a small hole in the center. You can see that mine’s pretty wonky, and that’s okay. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

Sepal for paper flowers
For the sepal, cut a star shape from green paper.

Apply a little glue at the base of the flower, and slip the sepal onto the stem, pushing it so it’s nestled just underneath the blossom. Hold until the glue sets a bit.

Sepal attached underneath the blossom
The sepal sits just underneath the blossom.

To create leaves for paper flowers, cut generic leaf shapes from the green paper. I freehanded these, but you can make a template. Cut two pieces at once, wrong side to wrong side. Cut an 8″ piece of green floral paddle wire and straighten it out with your fingers. Apply a line of glue stick to the middle of the wrong side of one leaf, lay the wire on top in the center, and glue the wrong side of the other leaf shape. Place the glued leaf shape on top, making sure all the sides line up, and press the pieces together. The wire gives the leaf body and allows you to shape it.

Creating a leaf for paper flowers
Adding paddle wire between the leaf shapes allows you to bend the leaf.

When the glue is dry, cut a small jagged edge on the leaves with scissors, mimicking the look of rose leaves. Wind floral tape around the leaf wire, then wind the leaf stem around the flower stem. Create more leaves if desired, wind them around the flower stem, and secure everything with one more wrap of the floral tape.

Attaching leaves to paper flowers
To attach the leaves, simply wind the stems around the flower stem.

For the poppy, wrap a floral stem the same way you did for the rose, but this time add some purchased stamens to the top. These can be found online or in craft stores. Fold them in half and secure them to the top of the stem with floral tape.

Wrapping stamens to stem
Purchased stamens add a nice touch to paper flowers.

Cut a strip of black paper about 1″ high by 6″-8″ long. Fringe the paper, stopping about ¼” from the bottom. Put glue on the unfringed part and wrap the paper around the stamens so that the top of the paper matches the height of the stamens.

Gluing the fringe to the stamens
Glue and wrap the fringed paper around the stamens.

When the glue is dry, fan out the fringed paper.

Center for paper flowers
You can use this type of center for a variety of paper flowers.

Cut about 6 petals, using the template or freehanding the design. The petal is about 2″ wide by about 2″ high. Wrinkle them up a bit; poppy petals are not smooth.

Wrinkled petal for paper poppy
Make sure to wrinkle the poppy petals to give them a little texture.

Apply glue to the bottom of the petal, and wrap it around the base of the fringed paper. Apply the next petal directly opposite it, then two more on either side.

Gluing first petal of the poppy
Glue the poppy petal so it surrounds the flower center.

Continue to add petals until you’re happy with the way the flower looks.

The dimensional flower center adds so much to these poppy paper flowers.

For these leaves, I cut wide basic leaf shapes, glued the pieces to paddle wire, and, when dry, freehand cut the leaf shapes. Poppy leaves have a variety of shapes, so choose one you like. Remember, these don’t have to be perfect! Attach them to the floral stem the same way you did for the rose.

Aren’t these paper flower blossoms pretty? They make me happy every time I look at them. You can make a whole bouquet, varying the size of the flowers and the colors. Here’s a bonus idea: Create a dimensional flower on an art journal page using the same petals. Here, I glued individual petals to a page, going from largest to smallest, and creating a little center with yellow paper.

Paper flowers on a mixed-media art journal page
How will you use your paper flowers in your mixed-media artwork?

There are so many ways you can use these blooms. Fill a shadow box with rows of flowers. Include them in an assemblage or collage. Also, try using different types of paper, like monoprinted rice paper or map paper, and even fabric.

If flowers make you happy, dive into more projects and ideas with these great books, videos, and more from the North Light Shop!

May/June 2017 Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
Don’t miss the gallery of fantastic mixed-media flowers in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine!
Mixed Media Flower Paintings video with Carrie Schmitt
Learn how to paint unique flowers using inspiration images in the video Mixed Media Flower Paintings with Carrie Schmitt.
Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lessons Volume 5: Pastels with a Punch by Jenny Cochran Lee
In Art Lessons Volume 5: Pastels with a Punch, Jenny Cochran Lee demonstrates fun techniques for creating paper flowers with mixed media.
Painted Flowers by Carrie Schmitt
Carrie Schmitt brings you more great mixed-media flower painting techniques in her book Painted Blossoms.

Discover Playful Fabric Printing

Fabric printing using custom colors and patterns offers so many possibilities for mixed-media artists. But don’t be daunted by complicated instructions and copious supplies; in the book Playful Fabric Printing: The Complete Guide to Creating Beautiful & Vibrant Cloth Using Low-Tech Tools by Carol Soderlund and Melanie Testa you’ll discover easy ways to prepare and use dyes, plus great ideas for printing. In this guest blog, Melanie Testa shows how to create an overprinted pattern that has depth and interest. Be sure to check out this fantastic new book, and start making your own custom printed fabrics! ~Jeannine

Overprinting with Stencils by Melanie Testa

Printing dynamic and enticing fabrics is easier than ever, especially when you begin with techniques from Playful Fabric Printing! What’s great about using dyes is that they do not change the hand of the fabric, dyed fabrics are vibrant with a wide array of values, and they are colorfast. Hand dyeing takes some understanding and careful tending, but it’s far easier to use than you might imagine, and the results speak for themselves.

For this article, I will show you how to overprint using my Daisy stencil with StencilGirl Products. Each stencil in my line contains a 5 ¾” ” x 5 ¾” square repeat design, along with 2-3 single motifs that relate to the main repeat, plus a full alphabet. The book also includes information on how to cut your own stencils. I hope you will fall in love with printing and making tools as much as we have.

Hand printing fabric
Hand printing fabric is easier than you may think, and the results are fantastic.


  • Salty soda soaked cotton fabric (See page 45 for how to create a salty soda soak using soda ash powder, salt, and water.)
  • Two color gradations of thickened dye paste (In the book, we feature four gradations of color: Dark, Medium, Light, and Pale. See page 48 for a Value Recipe Chart, and page 49 for how to make dye paste. For this project, I used color #19, Dark gray, and color #5, Light green.)
  • Daisies stencil from StencilGirl Products
  • 6″ plastic squeegee
  • Padded work surface (I used towels; to set up your padded surface, see page 76, Making a Padded Printing Surface.)

Overprinting is great way to add visual intrigue to a print. To create an overprint, you print the same design twice, with the second layer slightly offset. This adds depth to the motif, making it look like there is a shadow behind it. I suggest printing the darker layer first, before printing the lighter layer.

Below, you can see that the fabric has been printed using the Dark print paste and the stencil. The stencil has been replaced on top, but slightly offset to the left of the first printing.

Offsetting the stencil before printing
Offsetting the stencil before printing allows you to create a shadow effect in the design.

Lay out a bead of the Light thickened dye paste that is just wider than the squeegee, and scoop a small amount of dye onto the squeegee. Too much dye on the squeegee will create an unmanageable blob, so scoop a modest amount of dye.

printing fabric preparation
Laying everything you need for printing ahead of time makes the printing process easy.

Working on a padded surface, gently scrape the dye over the stencil with the squeegee. There’s no need to bear down, just gently push the dye into the cut-out areas of the stencil.

press dye paste through the stencil onto the fabric with a squeegee
For fabric printing, simply press dye paste through the stencil onto the fabric with a squeegee.

Lift the stencil off the fabric. Reposition the stencil and continue to print all four
quadrants of the repeated design.

reposition the stencil
To print a larger section, reposition the stencil to create a repeat of the design.

While a white background makes a strong and bold statement, Playful Fabric Printing shows how to print colors separately and make this design into a multicolor print set.

Playful Fabric Printing
In Playful Fabric Printing, discover how to create multicolor prints.

Here is a grouping of prints washed and ready to cut and sew.

gorgeous hand-printed fabrics
These gorgeous hand-printed fabrics are ready for any type of project.

MELANIE TESTA learned to love fabric and sewing at a young age while sitting at her grandmother’s trusty Singer, and has been reimagining her everyday experiences through artful construction ever since. She is an accomplished textile and quilt artist who holds a degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and she exhibits her fiber art at various galleries and quilt shows around the country. She is the author of Dreaming From the Journal Page (from North Light Books) and Inspired to Quilt (from Interweave). See more about Melanie at melanietesta.com.

Get your copy of Playful Fabric Printing today, and start creating your own unique printed fabrics!

Technique Tuesdays: Izink Pigment Inks with Steven Bland

Have you seen the new Izink pigment inks by Aladine? They are acrylic-based pigment inks that can be used on almost any surface. And, in the Jumpstart feature for our March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, artist Steven Bland put ’em to the test! Check out Steven’s techniques below and get inspired to use Izinks to create something spectacular, and to road test more supplies in your studio.

Izink pigment inks by Aladine

Art Supply Experiments: Izink pigment inks by Steven Bland

Whenever I get a new product, I like to test it, using various techniques and substrates. I recently tried Izink by Aladine, an opaque, acrylic-based pigment ink that works on almost any surface, porous and non-porous. It can be used straight out of the bottle or mixed with water or alcohol, and it has a subtle shimmer when it dries that adds a bit of bling to any project.

Izink comes in a small bottle with a glass rod that allows you to drip color from the bottle onto your project. It is available in more than 25 colors that keep their brilliance when dry.

To see what Izink could do, I compared it to watercolor and acrylic paints on watercolor paper, white cardstock, glossy photo paper, and Yupo paper. Because Izink can be used with both water and alcohol, it is more versatile than watercolor or acrylic paint. Also, it dries with a subtle shimmer, which neither watercolor nor acrylic paints do. While it works well on the substrates noted above, Izink works best on cardstock and glossy photo paper, and it dries very quickly.

So what can be done with Izinks? Here is a short list of the many possibilities. I have tried these techniques with acrylics and watercolor, and I think Izinks offer superior results. Use these techniques as inspiration for your own product test runs.

Paint it on: Izink can be applied with a paintbrush, just like acrylic or watercolor paints, and brushes clean up well with just water. Here, I’ve used it to color in a stamped image, and you can see how strong the colors are.

Paint it on.

Create a color spray: Mix a few drops of Izink with water or alcohol in a small mister, and spray it on cardstock, watercolor paper, glossy photo paper, or Yupo paper to create backgrounds for cards or art journal layouts. You can do this with watercolor or acrylic paint, but I’ve found that Izink mixes more thoroughly with water or alcohol, and the colors stay brilliant.

Create a color spray.

Use it with stencils: Sponge or spray Izink through a stencil to create backgrounds or page embellishments with vibrant color and a touch of shimmer. Here, I used Izink as a spray, incorporating several colors.

TIP: I found that spraying the back of the stencil with repositionable spray keeps it flat and helps prevent the Izink from running under the stencil (some spray may still creep underneath). If you’re worried about any color bleeding under the stencil, use a sponge to apply acrylic paint, since it’s thicker than Izink.

Use it with stencils.

Stamp with it: Brush or sponge Izink directly onto a stamp. The final image will be impressionistic, and resemble watercolor.

NOTE: Because Izinks are very fluid, this technique will not work as effectively with detailed rubber stamps.

Stamp with it.

Mix with embossing paste: Mix a few drops of Izink into white embossing or texture paste and apply it to a project to add texture. Here, I applied it through a stencil, using a palette knife. The dried embossing paste has both color and shimmer, and I found that Izink mixes more easily with the paste than acrylic paint does.

Miix with embossing paint.

Enhance an embossed image: Use Izink to create a colorful background on white cardstock; I sprayed two analogous shades. Place the cardstock into an embossing folder and run it through an embossing or die-cutting machine. To make the embossed design really pop, lightly apply a layer of gesso over the raised surface with a brayer.

Enhance an embossed image.

Izink pigment inks can be used on all types of paper, but in my experiments I discovered that they also work equally well on metal, foil, Elizabeth Craft Designs Mylar® Shimmer Sheetz, acetate, and ceramic surfaces. The ink will not reactivate if a wet medium is applied over it, so it’s perfect for layering techniques. If you’re a card maker, paper artist, art journaler, or mixed-media artist, check out this product.

Steven Bland lives and creates in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. He started scrapbooking in 2002 and has since extended his interests to include many forms of paper crafting and art journaling. He is a retired secondary school English teacher who now teaches art journaling and scrapbooking classes, and he also volunteers as an educator at his local art gallery. Steven lives by the philosophy that there are never any mistakes in art making, only opportunities for embellishment.

Learn more about Steven at youtube.com/user/stevenbland.

Ready for more? Find this article on Izink pigment inks and more in the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Print and digital copies are available to purchase in our online shop.

March/April 2017

Studio Glimpse: Doreen Kassel

Today we get a look inside the studio of Doreen Kassel, author of the new book Lush Life Creative Coloring: Organic Worlds to Explore, Color and Embellish. Doreen’s book goes beyond most coloring books to include fantastic mixed-media techniques for enhancing the pages, such as using stencils, creating a wash, etching patterns, and more, along with 53 stunning black and white pages to color.

The varied career of this New York City-based artist includes designing and illustrating children’s books and puzzles for National Geographic, UNICEF and Scholastic; designing textiles; sculpting whimsical characters in polymer clay; and teaching workshops.

Read on to learn about her colorful and eclectic workspace, and to see beautiful pages from her new book! ~ Jeannine

Q. Can you briefly describe your studio—where it is, the size, and the overall look and feeling?

A. My studio is in my apartment, in Manhattan. It’s a small space, 8’7″ X 10’5″. It’s very typically a New York City room; it has just one window, and it looks onto a brick wall across the way. I painted the walls bright yellow and the floor white, and I have a colorful rag rug on the floor. Colored Christmas lights ring the window, so it’s cheerful. There’s also a red futon along one wall because the room doubles as a guest room when friends and family come over. I have lots of art and family pictures on the walls. My pièce de résistance is the giant paintbrush that I have propped up on the wall.

Q. What are the art materials you have in your studio, and how are they organized? Do you have a favorite storage piece, or one that you made yourself?

A. I have paints: acrylics and oils and gouache and watercolor. I have pads and loose papers and tracing paper, Premo! polymer clay (all in white), translucent polymer clay, armature wire, tape, foil, colored pencils and markers, cutting implements (lots of razors), tools, rulers, pressed cotton balls, canvas boards, glues, boxes, bubble wrap, tissue paper, cardboard, and canvas board. There is a big storage closet at the end of my studio. Every so often I organize it, but it gets back to being a jumble very quickly.

My favorite storage pieces include a small, multi-drawer chest that was my father’s, and it houses all kinds of pencils, razors, erasers, drafting tools, and pens. My other favorite storage items are stacked pieces of vintage luggage that I keep in the living room (again, accommodations for city living). They are pretty and very roomy for holding my finished pieces.

Q. Is keeping your studio organized essential? Or do you have a less structured approach to your supplies and artwork?

A. I have a less structured approach to studio organization. Basically, when I find I’ve worked myself into a minuscule spot on my table, I know it’s time for some clean up. Sometimes I spill out onto the dining room table, which is a wonderful, industrial wood table that is very forgiving. Every few months I try to reorganize. I would like to keep my studio more organized. I keep trying—every day is a new day!

Q. Do you display your own art, or art from other artists, in your studio? What are some of your favorite pieces?

A. I mostly display my own art, along with some of my children’s work. I’ve done a bunch of subway drawings since moving back to New York about three years ago. I’ll sit on the subway with pencils and pens and draw people, using anthropomorphism to add to the humor and absurdity of the subway experience. I have a bunch of those pictures up, and they’re my favorites. I also have some of the original inspiration pages from my coloring book on the walls; it’s lots of fun looking at those, too.

Q. Is having a dedicated space important for the work you do? If so, why?

A. It’s essential for me to have a dedicated workspace. There is a door, and the room is small, but it’s mine. I’ve spent my whole life as an artist, and I’ve always had a dedicated space, even if it’s been in the hallway or a corner, with no door.

Q. Do you listen to music or podcasts while working? If so, what are your favorites?

A. I always listen to music and podcasts. I’m not a big fan of silence, and after the initial quiet of thinking out a piece or a project, I like to use my hands to work and engage my head with music and stories. I love the music of my youth, and I love to sing. The Beatles, Motown, girl groups, singer-songwriters, Gilbert and Sullivan, some classical choral music, a bit of vocal jazz, and my son’s cello music are some of my regulars.

I also enjoy listening to podcasts on NPR and local public radio station WNYC: StoryCorp; 2 Dope Queens; Fresh Air with Terry Gross; Here’s the Thing; Death, Sex & Money; and more.

Q. Do you have any studio rituals, such as tidying up before leaving for the day, or putting out fresh flowers?

A. I don’t really have studio rituals. I do like to turn on my colorful Christmas lights; they cheer me up.

Q. If you could change one thing about your workspace, what would it be?

A. It would be bigger and have lots of light—windows and light, and a view! I know that’s more than one thing. I guess light, a pretty view, and then size—that’s the order of importance.


Enjoy these excerpts from Doreen’s new book, Lush Life Creative Coloring, and then check it out for yourself!

Lush Life Creative Coloring isn’t your average coloring book—this one is filled with coloring techniques as well as beautiful detailed illustrations.]
Learn how to use stencils with PanPastels to create unique colors and patterns on coloring pages.
Discover simple techniques like etching into crayon for exciting visual texture and depth.
Lush Life Creative Coloring is filled with beautifully detailed pages like this, just waiting for your creativity!

Studio Saturdays: Tin Foil Art

Who knew that your kitchen was a great source for art supplies? Contributors to Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, apparently, because they keep coming up with incredible artwork using materials from everyone’s favorite room in the house. This week’s Studio Saturday project is tin foil art inspired by Lisa Thorpe’s article in the May/June 2017 issue , “Kitchen Drawer Embellishments,” which uses heavy-duty aluminum foil to create the most beautiful dimensional adornments that are easy to make and can be used in so many different ways.

This is a great quick project, and one that can be made in stages, and in multiples—perfect for summer, when you may not want to spend long stretches in your studio or workspace. New color mediums take this technique to new levels, and the satisfaction factor is off the charts. So make sure you try this one, because you’re going to love it.

I started by gathering a bunch of relatively flat stuff with cool shapes. One thing that sets this technique apart is how it gets you to think mainly in terms of shapes as they relate to design. When I’m working on something mixed media I’m thinking about shape, but also color, texture, and pattern. This makes you focus on interesting and compelling shapes, featured alone or with other shapes. I found some dried eucalyptus leaves, some other dried round leaves, a crocheted piece, some punchinella, a few springs of tiny dried flowers, and some yarn. I also grabbed a stencil and used it to cut out an abstract flower shape in textured cardstock (I used a Crafter’s Workshop Stick Flowers stencil in 12″ x 12″.).

Items for tin foil art embossing
Items I chose for the tin foil art pieces included dried leaves and flowers, cut cardstock, and punchinella.

The shapes were glued to cut pieces of thin chipboard with glue stick (you can also use spray glue). I found it easier to apply glue to the chipboard and then arrange the items on top; the glue stick gives you a little bit of time before it sets, so you can move things around if you like to create eye-catching patterns. I did a little experimenting with this batch, so I layered one of the round leaves on top of the punchinella to see what tin foil art that would produce.

Tin foil art pieces glued to chipboard
The items were glued to pieces of thin chipboard; some were layered.

Easy so far, yes? Next, I cut pieces of heavy-duty tin foil to cover the chipboard, with about a ½” extra on all sides. More glue stick was applied to the dull side of the foil, and then the foil was smoothed over the chipboard. I just used my fingers, with one exception: I used an embossing stylus to see if I could define the stencil shape a bit more. It worked great, but you just need a light touch—the foil is very malleable. I love the way the texture from the cardstock is starting to show through.

Using a stylus to define cardstock for tin foil art
A stylus was used to get sharp edges on the cardstock shape.

Here are all the pieces with foil on them. My hunch about layering the leaf over the punchinella was a good one—I love the way this looks so far. I wasn’t sure about the yarn, and I was right about that too—it was too squishy. I should have used thick twine. I’ll try that next time.

Tin foil art pieces covered in foil
Pressing the tin foil art pieces with your fingers reveals all the texture and dimension.

Color was added next, and I experimented with this a bit too. Lisa recommends using spray paint, alcohol inks, or a permanent ink pad. It was raining the day I did this, so spray paint was no-go. I tried alcohol inks, an ink pad, and also Ranger Vintaj Patinas. The layered leaf piece gave me an opportunity to try two different colors of the patinas. I used a small paintbrush to apply the patinas and the alcohol inks, and just rubbed the pad on the foil. Because I was impatient, I used a heat tool to dry and set the color on all. The chipboard warped a tiny bit while it was being heated, but went back to being flat when cool.

Color added to tin foil art with inks and patinas.
Color was added to the tin foil art with inks and liquid patinas.

Clockwise, from top left in the photo above, here are the color mediums I used: alcohol ink, Vintaj Patina, ink pad, Vintaj Patina (two colors), and alcohol ink. The patinas offered the most opaque coverage, and the alcohol inks were incredibly vibrant and shiny. The ink pad offered a cool mottled look.

All it takes to give these tin foil art pieces a little bit of a distressed look that emphasizes the shapes and textures is some steel wool—I used 0000 super fine. I buffed it gently over all the surfaces, and here’s what I got. I fell in love with these pieces immediately. For some reason most of the ink came off of the piece I colored with an ink pad, so I went back over it with some alcohol ink in a different color, then buffed it again.

Buffed tin foil art pieces
After buffing, the foiled pieces took on even more texture and interest.

After you amass a nice stash of these, what will you make? I used one as a gift topper:

Tin foil art used as a gift topper
The crocheted piece looks great on top of a wrapped gift.

And used another for a focal image on a card:

Tin foil art used on a card
The leaf/punchinella tin foil art piece makes a great focal piece for a card.

You knew a book was going to work its way in here, didn’t you? Of course. Here’s a tiny 2 ½” x 3 ½” book. I covered a piece of chipboard with paper for the back cover, and used a piece of Rebekah Meier Designs for Therm O Web Mixed Media Art Tape for the spine, and I colored it with spray ink. This Art Tape is really fantastic—it’s flexible but sturdy, and you can color or stamp the surface in a million ways. I bound the book with a simple pamphlet stitch.

Tin foil art used as a book cover
One of tin foiled pieces became the cover of a tiny book.

Don’t miss Lisa’s article in the May/June issue of Cloth Paper Scissors—she’s got great information and tips, and you must see her tin foil art pieces incorporated into encaustic collage–you will not believe they were made with foil.

This is a perfect summer Saturday project, so head to the kitchen, grab some tin foil, and have a blast. I’m heading off to make another batch!

While your creative wheels are in full gear, get even more ideas for projects in the North Light Shop!

May/June 2017 Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
Find complete instructions for creating your own tin foil art in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
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