Back behind the torch plus colouring

The new year bought a few new things with it for me, one being a change in daily schedules which gave me more time to get back behind my beloved midrange plus and melt some glass.

First though, there were some changes that needed to be made to the studio, there was an awful lot of soft glass hanging around and mostly getting in the way and my shelves were a bit awkward for the longer borosilicate rods. I had also collected a few things in the studio that were a bit surplus to requirement so it was time to have a tidy up and a reorganise. A lucky find on eBay also got me a new ventilation hood and fan to make some improvements in that department too.

But back to the flame. One of the things I have really been enjoying is making jellyfish. I quite like playing with these to test out different colours as I can see them solid for the cap of the jellyfish and stretched in the tentacles. I also started playing about with smaller ornamental pieces for the fun of it and to practice my use of punty rods, (a rod of glass attached to the piece you are working on in order to hold it) as I did have some difficulties with them being too stuck, extra work to get them off, or not stuck enough, usually resulting in a broken piece or something burning…

One other thing I have had the chance to work more on with the glass is silver fuming, it’s still an area I am working on improving as I try to get the ideal flame chemistry, plus position in the flame as well as the time needed to get the amount of fume I require. This shot was taken from the flame and I was really pleased with the results of this one. I’ve also tried  a fully silver fumed jellyfish which was interesting, but it’s very difficult to take a photograph of.

Away from the glass I have also been working on some images from colouring page artists.

Firstly there is this piece from The Hedgepig Workshop. The artist Vicki was looking for someone to have a go t colouring one of her images as she was fairly new to producing downloadable pages for colourists.  I had a lot of fun with this one and got to try out a bit of mixed media too. The second image I coloured was for Helen the Doodler, It was lovely to be able to colour some images that the artists could use on their listings and in their books. I’ve also got a couple of other colouring projects ongoing of course.

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Handmade Lampwork glass Jellyfish pendants and miniature freestanding Ducks
Handmade silver fumed lampwork glass pendant
coloured scarecrow page

In other news, I’ve been little red riding hood in panto, been doing work on the journal for Glass Beadmakers UK and learning to live life without most of my white goods, (but that’s another story.)

Promarkers: Colour Blends – Red

There are many combinations for reds, as one of the primary colours it means there are plenty of options in the pallet. I developed this blend for poppies as they feature quite heavily in many adult colouring pictures.

A three colour red blend for letraset promarkersWorks well with both light to dark and dark to light colouring methods.

The blend in use;

poppies coloured with the blend

Converting a Tysslinge Frame

The Tysslinge frame from ikea is a lovely tiny frame which is great as it is but it can also be easily converted into a box frame at a low cost with no real specialist skills or materials needed. I use them for both front floating miniature papercuts and for putting pieces of glass work in or even for putting glass work and papercut together.

You will need

Note

You will need to have whatever is going in the frame ready as this method does seal the frame up. I prefer to cut the foam board as it is needed rather than have pieces floating around but if pre-cutting would suit you better then just get the measurements and start cutting

The Method

The process is quite simple, to begin with, using your craft knife cut 4 pieces of foam board the first at 7.7cmx2.5cm two pieces at 8.2cmx2.5cm and the final piece at 6.7cmx2.5cm . I have found the easiest way to cut the foam board is to use a craft knife with a 11acm blade as it is fairly sturdy, two cuts along each line, one to score into the foam board and one to complete the cut. Use a self healing mat rather than glass as the foamboard can slip easily on glass.

Assemble the frame. (glass left out in this for ease of photography) After placing in the glass and anything else you need at the front of the frame. (mount, acetate, etc.) Starting with the 7.7cm length piece of foam board add it to one of the sides of the frame, don’t just push it down the side as this will jam the pin into the foam board which we don’t want.

Next add the two 8.2cm pieces to both the top and the bottom of the frame.

Finally add the smallest piece of foam board to the other side, again taking care not to jam it on the pin.

Assemble the back of your frame by putting on any backing paper, mounts etc then lay the card frame backing to the frame. Use framers tape to stick down the backing and secure your frame.

I put the tape on like this then use a craft knife to trim the excess from the front side after placing each strip of tape.

Once all 4 sides have been sealed your frame is finished. (not pictured as this frame didn’t include anything.)
Finish off the back of the frame with things like your logo or a designers credit sticker if you are using it for papercuts from purchased templates.

This method can be used with any sized frame that has a deep back, though on larger frames framers tape may not be enough to hold the back of the frame in place. Using push points allows for a more secure backing.

Now you know how to convert the frame have fun deciding what you are going to put in them. There really isn’t a limit to what you can do, they make excellent small memory boxes for little gifts. These frames do sell out fast though, so be aware there may not be many in stock.

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.

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Choosing the right media for your colouring books

One question you see a lot and it takes many forms. Can I use markers in this book? I’m looking at these pens, do they bleed?

Firstly let me clarify there’s bleed and then there’s just show through, bleed is when the colour pigment spreads from where you place it. So if you ask does it bleed the answer might be no but it can still show through.

Alcohol Based Markers

These can bleed on a lot of papers though for most it’s not a problem as it is minimal but they will most certainly show through. The alcohol in the ink soaks into and saturates the paper which causes the colour to show up on the other side, though this is also the benefit of alcohol markers because the wetter the ink the better they blend.

Water Based Pens

These don’t stay as wet so don’t really bleed, but dependent on the paper can still show through. Different tips can make a difference here though, a brush tip doesn’t require as much pressure as a bullet/fibre tip or fine liner so tends to fair better on thinner papers.

Gel Pens

Now these are a law onto themselves, they sit on top of the paper, they don’t soak in at all but the ink is heavy so can show through on lighter weight papers. The ink will stay wet for a while and because it is on top of the paper they smudge easily, be careful to let them dry before working over them or closing a book.

Pencils

If you are thinking, I’ll just use pencils you might have to think twice as poor quality paper can mean even pencil will show through. In the case of water colour pencils it is better to consider them more like water based pens rather than pencils as adding the water will change how the paper reacts.

As a general guide single sided print is good for most media but if you use alcohol markers and it bleeds badly your pens will dry up quickly. (the paper is too absorbent though paper like this is few and far between in my experience of various books.) If you are colouring in a single sided book though always place a plain sheet of card under the page in case any colour comes through.

If the book is double sided print, never use alcohol based markers, unless you really don’t care for the image on the reverse.

There are ways of roughly gauging which pens will be all right for double sided books. If you open the book and hold up one page and don’t see the print coming through you should be fairly safe with any water based pen, gel pens or pencils.
If the print is visible like this then water based brush tips and pencils are reasonably safe, maybe light applications of gel pen.

However if you see the print on the other side with the page flat in the book it’s pencils only (or return it because it’s pretty low quality paper if you can see the print like this.)

Finally if the paper has a heavy texture (a lot of tooth) it’s designed more for pencils, smoother paper will take pens better.

Creative Colour

A colouring magazine from puzzler.com. I didn’t get this one when it first came out but I did snap it up before the release of issue 2 at the end of May. Now we are at the end of June and issue 3 is in the shops.

I left this one untouched for quite a while but one evening as the boys were watching the Avengers I sat myself in the corner under the floor lamp and decided it was time to make a start.

This is another single side print magazine with 24 images to colour and staple bound. Paper quality seems good and the artwork is a mix of single images, full page patterns and contained images, ranging from fine detail to larger areas making it good for any level of colourist. The cover price is 2.99 and is published monthly.

Onto Colouring

I’m back with my Stabilo pen 68’s and the paper is all right, the colour goes on reasonably smoothly although it does show through on the other side it is single sided so that isn’t a problem.

The first one I completed was the bird, it was my favourite image in the whole magazine. I used a combination of flat colour and a bit of shading. As well as the pen 68’s I also used some of my point 88’s to work on the more detailed areas. It was a really enjoyable image to colour though.

I also had a go on the inside cover with the stabilo pens, the little flower was a great, quick to colour piece. After colouring that though which is a smoother card rather than the paper I was wishing the whole book was printed on that.

I also had a go at a page with my inktense pencils, I did this one using a blender pencil to smooth the colour rather than using water. This came out beautifully I certainly got better coverage with the pencils than the pens.

With Promarkers the coverage can be slightly patchy as the ink dries quickly on the paper, though as I got more used to how the ink was behaving on the paper reducing the size of the circles I coloured in allowed me to get a more even colour.

In Conclusion

A reasonable magazine, the range contained in it does make it suitable for anyone though I haven’t bought issue 2 or the recently released issue 3. With such a large selection of magazines available now and considering my collection already I did find a lot of the images to be rather similar and I personally preferred the selection in the later issues of relax with art.

If you are a new colourist though take a look at this magazine along side the others because you might find the artwork more to your tastes and without having earlier magazines there won’t be similarities like I experienced. You can also use any media to colour but make sure you add a sheet of card under the page you are colouring if you intend to use pens and keep your strokes shorter than normal to reduce patchy coverage.

 

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A Chat with Sarah Bigwood

If you were ever struggling to get motivated then this lady is the one that will show you what can happen.

Sarah’s Book Animaux à colorier was released at the beginning of June through the publisher Editions First. But what if I told you that this time last year Sarah wouldn’t draw, she didn’t think she could.

I got hold of Sarah and had a bit of a chat with her, (read as bombarded her with questions) I already knew bits of the story as we are both paper cutters and enjoy adult colouring so we frequent the same groups. But I was really interested in hearing more, Sarah began drawing in around the same time as I started playing with drawing too. Her journey sparked in much the same way and taking such an inspirational direction, let me tell you her story.

A paper cutter since February 2014, leaving 10 years in retail management after being diagnosed with severe depression. Sarah decided to open her own business doing paper cuts and templates under the name Pixie Rah Designs in July 2014. (She also does dog walking and daycare)

I have the most understanding husband who has really supported me through everything that’s happened.

But in December 2014 Sarah began drawing, she wanted to move away from digitally created paper cut templates and be able to hand draw all her designs. As someone with no prior experience she bought a book on zentangle and started to have a go.

There was no right or wrong and that I could make interesting art that seemed to come naturally to me.

Mr Rhino was her first creation, originally intended as a paper cut template when Sarah showed the design to a group of peers within a facebook paper cutting group it came about that he would make a fantastic colouring page. 9 drawings later she had her “African Animals” set which she uploaded to her etsy store to sell as downloadable colouring pages.

Just 4 days after these listings went live Sarah was contacted by a French publishing company who wanted to turn her animals into a colouring book. They wanted 80 animals within 3 weeks!!!

Sarah's Desk, getting drawings ready for the next colouring book

Sarah’s Top Tips

Just by drawing once a day I can see how much I have improved in 6 months.

  • Draw once a day
  • Practice is important
  • There is no right or wrong
  • Surround yourself with supportive people
  • Join groups, ask for constructive feedback
  • Above all. Give things a go!

But she did it, the book was released 4th June 2015 and she was asked to do another book.

Right now Sarah is working on the next book, due for release in October and is currently working on 80 Christmas and winter drawings to submit to the publisher, so far she has 61 done with a week to go on her deadline.

This one I have found harder than the Animals as its quite hard to think of different things to draw!

When drawing Sarah uses Uni Pin pens, 0.8mm for outlines and 0.3mm for the internal details, but she still loves colouring too, her facebook group Adult Colouring has in excess of 2,500 members now all there to enjoy the same things and share their love for colouring. As a member myself I know how supportive the group is as a place for anyone that enjoys grown up colouring and art therapy.

Sarah also has ideas for the future, keep an eye on her because she really is a hit.

 

Relaxing Patterns and Mandala Designs

relaxing patterns and mandala designs by lilt kidsI was sent this book from Lilt Kids to review. All I had seen was the cover and I eagerly awaited the delivery coming over from America.

Lilt kids are an independent publisher, something that I thought was good to see, no major cooperation. All their colouring books are quite cheap (£2 to £4)

Here’s a quote from their website

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY..

and supporting a small, independent business like Lilt Kids Coloring Books. All our coloring books are made right here in the USA by talented artists and printed on the highest quality paper with beautiful, bright covers. Should you ever have any kind of problem with an order or just a question for us, we have great customer service: just email

Sounds very exciting doesn’t it…

the internal cover of relaxing patterns and mandala designsThen the book arrived

Truthfully I was disappointed. Firstly The cover of this book appealed to me the most out of the small selection I was shown to choose from, after looking at their site with the book in my hand I see three other books at least with the same cover, just different titles. The one thing I had to go on to choose a book and it wasn’t unique, nor was it anywhere in the book. The Amazon page also said that there were 40 pages in the book, there were only 22 design pages, 24 if you count the small images in the title page and the back page. Yes it’s over 40 pages if you count the blank back side of every design but I think that’s stretching things a little.

showing the quality of the line work within the bookThe Artwork

Something else that didn’t meet my expectation. It is just my opinion but I don’t expect thick lines in an adult colouring book, the thinnest lines are at least 1mm thick. Now this could be seen as a benefit for those using art therapy who have motor function problems so I’m not going to rule things out just because the line thickness isn’t to my liking.

Looking at the images again on most of them the lines aren’t smooth, and there are areas, on the mandalas especially, where you can tell images have been joined together to create the design.

So, I’m disappointed again.

The Paper

It’s about 100gsm and very lightly textured. Nothing like any of the other colouring books I own . It’s somewhere in between the paper from Zen Colouring and Relax with Art so maybe it wouldn’t be that bad to colour on.

The book is printed single sided though so at least any media goes.

stabilo colour testOnto Colouring

I tried three different media in this book. Firstly Stabilo Pen 68, my all rounder pens because there aren’t many books out there there these can’t be used in. I chose to do the first page and went with a pallet of yellows, oranges and reds. They worked rather well.

The first image took me less than an hour to colour. I didn’t really get the satisfaction from the colouring that I would on pages I spend hours or even days on, but it was nice to do something a bit quicker.

promarkers colour testOnto the second and I went with my promarkers and a purple/blue combination, while it was possible to colour with them on the paper (sheet of card under the page required) it did seem to really suck the ink in. This is where I was perhaps thankful the lines in the artwork were quite thick as the colour really did spread (even with the thick lines though the first bit of colour I added did go over.) The other thing I noticed was that the colours became rather muted, the usual vibrancy of the colours was dulled and that was a little disheartening as the final image didn’t end up as I had planned it.

example of using inktense in the bookI spent about an hour and a half on that one.

Finally I got my inktense pencils out and went with reds and greens as you can see I didn’t finish this one, the coloured pencil didn’t really go well on the page and while the water wash looked good to begin with, once it dried though it looked awful and I had a rather wrinkly page.

I didn’t want to finish it, and this is the only time I have ever left an image unfinished.

A Second Opinion

I decided to get a second opinion on the book, I showed it to my 8 year old son. He did think it looked “pretty cool.” So now the book is his, though he hasn’t actually done any colouring yet.

In Conclusion

Pretty disappointing if you are a more advanced colourist, though I will give credit that these might be a good, inexpensive, introduction to colouring for anyone that wants to embark on art therapy but is either daunted by the detail of some books or needs the thicker lines to compensate for motor function problems. They are probably better for children wanting different types of designs.

A children’s book billed for adults.

If the book does interest you though I would say you would be better off using water based pens over any other media as they do give the best colour results.

Did I just get very unlucky with my choice of book, has anyone else tried books from this publisher?

Zen Colouring – Advanced Art Therapy

zen colouring publication coverI frequent a few colouring groups on facebook and this new magazine came up. A bi-monthly publication from the GMC Group (A company that produces many well known titles.) entitled Zen Colouring Advanced Art Therapy the first issue is Flowers and has a cover price of £5.99.

The publication has 48 pages and they are all gorgeous floral pictures to colour. The paper is a decent quality and all the pages are single sided so there’s no worry if you like markers of them bleeding through onto the other side and ruining a picture. About half of the pages do have a small corner detail on the reverse but they are no loss if you use markers and if you use pencils they are a great place to practice how you want to colour the main detail of the page.

zen colouring art therapy book, inside coverOpening it up and on the inside cover there are some lovely detail images showing possible ways you could colour, then all the way through to the back it’s all colouring for you. No part coloured pages (becoming a pet hate with a few colourists after getting books to find some colours printed in.) The inside of the back cover has a few more detail examples and all the publication details as well as information on the next release date.

Onto the Colouring

It’s no secret now that promarkers are my weapon of choice when it comes to colouring.  As I am pretty sure they will bleed through and I don’t want to cut the images out I will use a sheet inserted under the page I am colouring to absorb any colour and protect the page below.

I will be starting with the first page as it is very pretty. I like the style, how it doesn’t take up the whole page, it has a lovely quote and a mixture of different things to colour all in one image.

Putting the first bits of colour down and I am very impressed with the paper, a lot of the time, when using promarkers, when the paper absorbs the ink it spreads, not just the bleed through to the back but also on the top. There is virtually no spread of the colour. This does mean that the ink is drying pretty fast on contact with the paper which would be slightly problematic for blending purposes but as most parts are small details that can easily be broken down into various sections it shouldn’t become too much of an issue to blend colours.

colouring a page in the zen colouring, colouring bookChecking the extra sheet I slotted in to “catch” any colour that wanted to go onto my next page and there is some ink on it but not huge amounts. Even the reverse side of the paper looks pretty neat because of the lack of spread.

After getting over the need to check everything was all right and I was sure that with that sheet of card under the page I really set to with the colouring. Four hours later I was informed it was 11pm! I guess I really did zen out, I was only just half way through the picture.

finished first page from zen colouring art threapy magazineI wasn’t calling it a night there though. I was enjoying this, a lot. Two hours later, I was nearly finished. One little voice was saying; “Come on, so close, just that little bit left.” However there was a much louder voice now saying; “It’s 1am! If you carry on you will make a mistake, go to bed woman.”

So I did and I laid in bed thinking about what blends I would use to finish it off…

In the morning armed with a few ideas I did some tests on a separate sheet and an hour or so later the page was finished. I was really happy with the final result as I don’t usually colour in books because of paper quality issues it was fantastic to see what a difference it makes keeping a sheet in the book. It felt like my colouring was in print!

Overall

Yes, the publishers have done their homework. They have produced a lovely magazine/book that is suitable for colouring in most mediums thanks to a good choice of paper. So far all they could do to make it perfect for some, is to make the pages perforated so they could easily be removed from the binding for easier colouring as when you get further through the book it can become difficult to keep the page you are working on flat. But I will find a way because I love how it looks in the book.

It’s not a picture every day for the whole two months but they are going to take longer than a day to complete. This will easily last you until the next edition and you will have things still left to colour in this once issue two is in your hands.

If you were on the fence about this one I urge you to go out and get it, unless of course flowers aren’t your thing which is perhaps another good point to this magazine, if you don’t like the subject there is always the next one.

The next issue is due out on 2nd June and is themed around animals.

Final Note

That little flower on the back of the page? I took the coloured pencils to that. While I couldn’t cover any of the colour that had come through from the markers there wasn’t a whole lot of colour in that area but it was a great just to play with the pencils as they aren’t something I use very often. I might have to test fine liners on the paper for bleed because if they don’t bleed through they might be a great way to cover the bleed and have a lovely little flower coloured in.

Colouring My Line Art

wpid-wp-1427665808066.jpegThis line art was my project the other day. A lovely floral ACEO.

The next step was to colour it with my promarkers, now I do occasionally get asked what I colour with and how I colour as I add shading.

So this prompted a video, I set up the camera to record the whole colouring of the ACEO.

I had planned and prepared all the colours in advance as I wanted to just colour and not spend time thinking about what colours I needed next. wpid-wp-1427819032919.jpegI chose a dark mossy green blend for the vines, a couple of green leaf blends, a blend of browns for the tree branch, yellows and oranges for the flower centres and purples and pinks for the flowers.

In total I had 17 colours, the entire colouring took around 50 minutes (the video has been sped up) I haven’t provided a colour list but keep an eye on the library as I upload some of my blend combinations there.

Watch the video below, or pop on over to my YouTube channel.

A Bit of Doodling

Since the beginning of March I have been doing a lot of doodling, mostly Zentangle art but more recently because of the influence of grown up colouring I have started doing some small drawings to colour with my promarkers and cut out as ACEO’s (Art Card Editions and Originals)

wpid-wp-1427665909994.jpegFirstly I did a small one, this was because I had been asked about my drawing and so I quickly doodled a little potted flower and coloured it to show them. It was after that I thought it was just the right size for an ACEO.

This one only took a few minutes to draw and a couple more to lay in the colour.

Next I thought it would be interesting to try something a little more detailed. Of course detail takes a little longer. I really do enjoy floral themes as there is a whole variety of shapes and they offer a lot of scope for colour.

wpid-wp-1427665808066.jpegOver the course of a couple of evenings I drew this piece, again at ACEO scale (2 1/2” x 3 1/2“) It was a delight to draw and I am really pleased with the result. (If you have been keeping up it was only a few months ago that I felt I couldn’t draw at all for anyone other than my own personal scribbles of designs.)

Using some of the methods I have picked up through Zentangle it has become a lot easier to construct a drawing.

Tomorrow I will be starting to colour, after it has been scanned because I don’t want to loose the line art all together but I also want to work on the original for the card.

To answer the question of why work on such a small scale, simply because I enjoy it more. I find drawing and colouring at a smaller scale more challenging but also easier to work to the space so I see a piece emerge sooner.

Have a creative day and I will see you soon with the final coloured piece.