Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Add Drama to Stamping with Colored Pencil Techniques

Have you ever colored your stamped images with colored pencil and been disappointed with the results?  

Well...that is all about to change!  Just keep reading....

I have recently been experimenting and perfecting THE COOLEST color pencil technique ever!

All my stamp images are from Impression Obsession and can be found here.

It all started as a simple serendipitous "surprise". I had stamped an image on a dark grey cardstock scrap. Yep, that was it.  I then had one of those "oh no, what do I do now" moments when I realized DUH,  how do I now add color?

Most typical coloring mediums used with paper crafts (like ink, marker and watercolor) are transparent. They don't work at all on dark surfaces.  And, while most opaque mediums like acrylic paint, pigment ink and pastel will show up on the dark cardstock, they also obliterate outline and detail lines on my stamped image.

So....I'm thinking what to do...what to do.....and then POW! Light bulb moment. How about colored pencils?! 

I quickly pulled out ALL my colored pencil tins and started experimenting with the different brands and types I had available. (Why I actually have so many different brands and types is a WHOLE other story in itself.)

 And, WOWZA!  This translucent medium really pulled it off.  Actually, more than just in an average kind of way. Truth is....they were AMAZING!

All my stamp images are from Impression Obsession and can be found here.

Colored pencils are the best of all worlds.  They work by adding translucent layer upon translucent layer until you get the color and intensity you want.  Each layer is affected by the layer beneath...and that includes the color of the substrate used beneath that very first layer. 

Then came the experimenting as I quickly discovered not all color pencils perform the same on all substrates.  Different brands AND types can work very differently.  Some are harder, some softer. Some pencils wind up with a waxy buildup (called "bloom").  The pencils in some brands and product lines seem to lay down more intense color while others need more layers to be built up for that intensity.

And then there is the variable of the actual colored cardstock.  Uncoated cardstock worked the best.  I found smooth cardstock has better results than textured cardstock simply because the stamped image is crisper plus the colored pencil often won't attach well to the indentations and grooves in the texture. Cardstock color and value (dark, mid-ground, light) will also affect the color pencil results. So, it is best to test your color palette on a small cardstock scrap before beginning an actual project.

Here comes the REALLY cool part:  You do NOT need to be an "artist" to try this technique.  And I mean you will SUCCEED when you try it!  All you need is to know basic color theory, ie, blue + yellow = green.  Primary colors are the basis for everything (red, yellow, blue)  secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors (orange, green and purple) and complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. That's it, kids. And, surprise....using a rubber stamp image even eliminates the need to be a skilled sketch artist.

All my stamp images are from Impression Obsession and can be found here.

However, I do understand that many people may still be a little intimidated by colored pencil. Since my experimenting I have developed steps to this technique that will give you confidence and insure your success. 

This first tutorial is only covers stamping and coloring on a very NEUTRAL cardstock...dark grey.  By using a dark grey "ground", we have already laid in some of the tonal shadows.  This is the perfect cardstock to choose when using images that are lighter in tonal value.

All my stamp images are from Impression Obsession and can be found here.

Here are a few tips:
1. Begin coloring using the LIGHTEST color....normally WHITE, followed by light grey, light tan, light yellow, blue, green, pink or whatever colors your piece will be.  Add your lightest and most striking highlights first.  Where desired, the highlights can cover up the stamped outline or detail.
2. Start laying in your DARKEST shadows next.  But...not everywhere.  Just where they will be the darkest.  You will add more shadow layers later.
3.  Start building layers of your mid-tone colors, adding color on top of color until you get the intensity and shade you want.  Add your lighter and deep colors again in some of the layers so they become embedded or sandwiched in between color layers.
4. End by adding a few more strokes of white highlights...and the darkest of dark shadows.
5. If you want to get "artsy" really quick, create your deep shadow tones by adding the complementary color instead of just adding black. Then add layers of the other two primary colors to blend So, basically, you add shadows using the colors MOST unlike the color of the item you are adding the shadow to.  if you add shadows to a green leaf (green is made of blue + yellow), you will also use a deep red layer to create a richer shadow. Blend with a little purple and add a little orange if desired.  Conversely, if you are adding shadows to a purple item, you should add yellow but also add the dark green and dark red to blend.  You will get the hang of it once you start experimenting.
6. Best tip is to do "practice pieces" on cardstock scraps.  I have found that the simple act of making something that "doesn't count" before doing  the final piece where there can be no mistakes, often frees up our ability to take risks and just "flow".

All my stamp images are from Impression Obsession and can be found here.

Next time on the blog, I will go into more detail covering colored pencil on amid-range colored cardstock.

All stamp images copyright by Gail Green LDL/Impression Obsession.  All content on this blog post and all posts on this blog copyright Gail Green.  Do NOT copy or use any of this content without written permission from the author and artist Gail Green.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Meet the Impression Obsession Artist Gail Green!

Meet the Impression Obsession Artist Gail Green!

Hi Everyone!

I'm Gail Green and you will find my art here.

If you love realistic, silhouette or sweet, whimsical animals, nature and holiday images, you will find an abundance of stamps that will appeal to your stamping style!

You may also recognize my name from my books and magazine articles or know my art brand "Sweet PETatoes" from products that include pet scrapbook kits, stationery, quilt fabrics and more.

But....my true heart has always been in the craft/hobby industry.  Rubber stamping, paper crafts and exploring inky and other coloring techniques are my PASSION!

While I do love my solitary creative explorations in my home studio, I especially love teaching, demoing and helping others gain confidence in their own creative abilities so they can take off and FLY into their own creative realms!

I'm an empty nester but am always entertained by antics of our Border Collie (Lacy Lulu) and craft-loving Eclectus parrot (Ollie the Monkeyman).  In fact, many of the stamps I draw or projects I create are done with Ollie sitting on my right shoulder, commenting as I stamp, color or hand draw at my studio desk or digitally complete stamp images at the computer!

You can also find me at  my blog. Beside creative projects, tutorials and links to creative stuff, I often include Ollie's adventures there.

Now, just for some fun (and probably a green light for teasing from friends and family), some random quirks and facts about me:

  • I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE contemporary country music.  Good thing Ollie loves it, too because that's what we listen to most days.
  • I was born loving ALL types of vegetables, except I'm allergic to onions don't deal well with cilantro or okra.  My favorite veggies include lettuce (ALL kinds), rhubarb, asparagus, Brussel  sprouts, artichokes...actually never mind.  I just love everything veggie and I'm getting really hungry now just writing this.  Kind of funny that I am a rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac...
  • According to family sources, I never crawled.  I was too busy stringing and unstringing large colored wood beads and investigating color patterning.  One day another child took one of my beads and ran off with it....and I got up and ran after her. My mother almost fell over from shock.  
  • I spoke in complete sentences before I was a year old. (My family would respond that I haven't stopped talking since...)
  • I got much of my creative design skills from my grandmother, who was a dressmaker's dressmaker....and off-the-chart creative!   I also have the weird ability to fit things perfectly and precisely into any space...something I got from my engineer dad.  My mom, however, gave me her language writing/editing genes--a skill that comes in VERY handy when writing instructions and book or article manuscripts!  
  • I fell in love with stamping many years ago at a trade show.  I was tired from walking, saw an empty chair, sat down and picked up a stamp.  That was the beginning of a crazy ride that has lasted decades.  I was immediately hooked and STILL love stamping!

Working with a rubber stamp manufacturer like Impression Obsession is a dream come true.  Their quality is unsurpassed and it is an honor to be included in their catalog with so many other incredible stamp artists!  Hope you all enjoy getting to know us!

Also visit Impression Obsession's blog to meet more of the artists!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Celebrate any special occasion with an Etched Wine Glass!

An etched wine glass makes a great gift for any occasion! 

It is SO easy to make.  All you need is a die cut of your choice and etchall Etching Creme!

You will need:
etchall Etching Creme
etchall Applicator Spatula
#656370 Vine Die cut (Sizzix) or other die cut of your choice
Big Shot (Sizzix) or die cut machine of your choice
Contact paper
Cellophane scrap or other nonstick backing sheet

Also have ready:
Bowl of clean water
Non-latex gloves
Paper towels or other clean towel

Here's how:

1. Clean your wine glass with dishwashing liquid; rinse and dry. If you want to be extra careful, also clean again with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol right before beginning the project.

2. Cut a 5 1/2" x 6" piece of contact paper and a cellophane scrap (or other backing sheet in the size to fit your die).  Place the cellophane (or other backing sheet) on the adhesive side of the contact paper scrap. Run this contact paper/backing sheet through the die cut machine. You will essentially be creating both a die cut shape AND a stencil shape.

3. Separate the die cut from the "stencil portion.
   NOTE: Set the stencil portion aside and save for another project that will appear on my blog in the near future. 

Remove the backing sheet from the die cut vine. If desired, put the gloves on to reduce transferring oil from your fingers onto the glass. Carefully place the vine die cut shape on the outside of the wine glass and wrap it around the glass.

Using the applicator spatula, burnish the vine so it is well stuck to the glass surface.

Using the applicator spatula, generously apply etchall Etching Creme over the ENTIRE surface of the glass, making sure to not get any creme on the stem or base.

Set a timer for 15 minutes.  When the time is up, gently scrape off the etchall Etching Creme from the tile and place it back into the bottle.  It is resuable!

Submerge the wine glass in the water to gently rinse any remaining etchall Etching Creme from the wine glass. 

Carefully remove the stencil (which you can use again for a second wine glass or additional project).

Note that the vine appears clear and the wine glass looks frosted from being etched!  How elegant is this?!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Stamped and Etched Slate Magnet with etchall Etching Creme!

Etching a slate tile can be as easy as stamping, heat embossing and applying etchall Etching Creme!

Create a beautiful grunge etched butterfly magnet using a 2" slate tile and this pretty butterfly rubber stamp!

You will need:
etchall Etching Creme
etchall Applicator Spatula
1 slate tile
C7782 Butterfly 3 (Impression Obsession)
Top Boss clear embossing ink (Clearsnap)
Clear Embossing powder
Heat tool

Also have ready:
Bowl of clean water
Non-latex gloves
Paper Towels or other clean towel

Here's how:

1. Clean your slate tile with dishwashing liquid; rinse and dry. 
2. Stamp your butterfly on the tile. Sprinkle clear embossing powder over the stamped image; tap off excess. 

3. Heat with a heat gun. 
    NOTE: Be patient.  It takes longer for the embossing powder to melt on this surface.

4. Using the applicator spatula, generously apply etchall Etching Creme over the top of the slate tile.

5. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When the time is up, gently scrape off the etchall Etching Creme from the tile and place it back into the bottle.  It is reusable!

6. Put the gloves on and submerge in the water to gently rinse any remaining etchall Etching Creme remaining on the tile. NOTE how the tile color is now grey instead of black!  That is because the etchall Etching Creme etched the slate!

7. Remove the gloves and gently scrape the embossed outline off the slate tile.  The butterfly image will remain because it was not etched!  How cool is this??!!

8. Attach a magnetic backing to your tile and use as a magnet!  OR...attach a jewelry finding to crate a pin....use as part of a mixed media project...or create several different tiles. Let your imagination fly!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Etching a Glass Pickle Jar with etchall Etching Creme!

Do you like to play it "safe" or do you like to step outside your comfort zone sometimes and try a craft you've never done before?  I'm kind of split on it because sometimes it is easier to just stay with what is familiar.  Not sure what drives me--or keeps me so engaged--but I've loved paper crafts for so long, I don't even remember a time when I didn't have inky fingers or a work table buried in scraps of paper and stamps.  I will try anything new that is any way related to ink, stamps, stencils, or can be done on or with paper.   I may not do all techniques all the time or use all the materials long term, but basically if it is something that allows me to use my existing skills, I'm always up for the challenge!

But...once in a while a creative opportunity comes along that has little or nothing to do with stamping, inky techniques or even paper.  Unless it involves materials I cannot use because I'm chemically sensitive--and, of course, sharing my environment with my parrot, Ollie-- it is hard to pass up the fun of learning new crafts and trying something I've never done before.

I was recently asked to join the etchall Ambassador team...and I jumped at the chance! I was a tiny bit hesitant at first, but I can now confidently say I have etched glass....and it was SUPER EASY to do!

The process is quick...and results are AMAZING!  The most important things to remember are (1) think though your project so you know what you want to accomplish, (2) prepare for each step by having all necessary materials gathered and ready, and (3) test the etching creme in an inconspicuous spot before beginning the project to make sure the glass is the kind that can be etched. It is literally THAT easy!

For my first project, I decided to repurpose a glass pickle jar so I can prep and serve my own pickled cucumbers, beans or other veggies.

Here's how:

1. Wash the jar thoroughly with dishwashing liquid, rinse and dry with a clean towel.  I was extra careful so I also cleaned the glass surface with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol right before I began the project.

2. Instead of using a cutting machine and adhesive sticker paper to create my own stencil design, I decided to use masking tape plus metallic border stickers I already had in my craft stash.


3. I wrapped the stickers and masking tape around the jar as shown. 

4. The jar circumference was larger than the length of the sticker so I cut another smaller piece and added it into the gap.

5. Once I burnished everything securely onto the glass, it was time to apply the etchall creme.

It is meant to be applied generously with a little spatula that comes with it.  

6. Once the creme was applied, I set my timer for 15 minutes.  I actually wound up with a phone call that extended my time to 22 minutes but that was no big deal.  The etchall creme won't etch too much if it sits a little longer.  It just needs a minimum of 15 minutes.

The cool thing was I could actually see the results of the etching process by the time the timer rang!

7. Next I removed the creme from the jar.  Yes!  No waste because the creme is RE-USABLE!  How cool is that?!  So I used my little handy dandy spatula, scooped off as much of the creme as possible and slid it off into the jar to use for another project in the near future.

8. After that, I rinsed remaining creme off the jar in a plastic bowl filled with clean water.  One thing to remember is the etching creme will etch anything glass (like fiberglass) and porcelain, but won't affect plastic.  So I had my rinse bowl already set up and ready to go.

9. Last step is to remove all the stickers and tape.  A little sticky residue remained but I cleaned that off with a little abrasive sponge afterward. 

SO EASY!  Go check out the etchall website for more information, videos, tutorials, projects...and all the cool etching products and possibilities!

Until next time....

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fun Color Pencil Technique for Christmas!

I am currently putting final touches on a book manuscript due at the publisher after the holidays. That means I will soon be taking off my writer's hat and replacing it with my designer/illustrator's cap. 

The next 4-6 weeks will include creating new art for my next rubber stamp release with Impression Obsession, along with creating oodles of cards and other stamped projects with stamps from my latest images.  Here's just a small peek at my new D7881Snowman !

So, beside deadlines--and pre-trade show season--we are also smack in the middle of the holiday season!  Whew!

Has the craziness of the holiday season gotten to you yet like is has to me? All I want to do right now is de-stress and disappear by doing a little creative play! (No calories or high risk behavior side effects other than inky fingers and a totally trashed studio...lol!)

The biggest question is always...where to begin!?  I'm still mourning for summertime (sniff) but not yet deep into hibernation winter mode.  We have no snow on the ground here in Chi-town, so my strongest Christmas inspiration this year will be from my new winter stamp images!

One of my very favorite things to do is to explore with color. And, since the students in my weekly drawing class are currently working in color pencil, I have color pencil on my mind.  From the results, I'd say my F7886 Holiday Goose agrees color pencils make a really good play choice!

It is really fun to do things out of the ordinary so I decided to begin by stamping on colored cardstock.  The great part about this technique is that the actual color of the cardstock becomes a tonal value influencer for the final piece.  What that means is the color of the cardstock will show through the color pencil layers and influence the overall color value of the piece. 

Here is how I started:

I stamped on grey cardstock using Wicked Black Colorbox Archival dye ink (Clearsnap). Once the stamped image dried, I added black pencil to the eyes and mouth.  I did that to prevent any white pencil strokes from obliterating those features since the pencil will tend to dim the ink beneath.  Once I laid down some basic color strokes, I returned with a second pencil layer and blended colors together using pressure and stroking in multiple directions to blend.  I kept going until the image was colored.  As you can see, I stroked pencil right over some of the outline but left the outline visible in other areas. Then I went back and darkened some of the black areas in the hat and added some lighter grey shading details on the snowmen and the snow beneath them.  I even added both white and light grey snow falling from the sky.

Then, I decided to try the same image on a lighter, smoother cardstock.  Same pencil approach, different result!  Pretty cool eh?!

I repeated the same experiment using my F7886 Holiday Goose stamp image.  First the dark grey cardstock...then on the lighter, smoother cardstock.
In both versions, you can see how the color of the cardstock becomes the tonal and color value influence in the final piece. 

I just LOVE how I achieved two totally different looks just by using different cardstock and colors! Both of these pieces will make beautiful cards and other projects!

While the results looks very skilled, the technique is actually very easy.  Of course, my stamp images give you the basic image without your needing the drawing skills. 

Sshhh...don't tell anyone! Just enjoy the praises you will get when you try this color pencil technique!

(Any questions? Please comment...)


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Got Clutter? Tips to Destash and Declutter!

There is an element in creativity that demands we let go and let ourselves run free.  In my world, that also means periodic chaotic mess in my work space because, well, that's just how crafting is done. When the creative frenzy ends, however, I simply clean up and put things back in their places until the next inspiration or deadline.

But it is different when I look around my home and see living spaces that need more than just a bit of tidying up.  In that context, the clutter is simply excess out of control. It is visual chaos, confusion and bad feng sui. It also makes me feel overwhelmed and out of control.

Let's face it.  We ALL have stuff we don't use, don't need or have simply outgrown. It is just part of being primal human gatherers.  And in a world bombarding us daily with retail temptations like Black Friday sales (basically year round) and coupons coming out of our ears, how can our homes remain pristine and clutter-free?

The answer is actually simple.  Routine "de-stashing".  Every time we bring something new into our living environment, we need to get rid of something that is already there.  If we never increase our belongings, we will never experience out-of-control clutter.

Sure, it's easy relatively easy to gather and give away the obvious--like the shoes that hurt to wear or the useless gadget that jams the drawer each time we open it--but what about all the items that fall into that 'grey' area?  You know the ones.  The jeans we LOVE but are still too snug to actually wear comfortably for the past 2 years (or more).  Or maybe that cool tortilla maker we used once when we had a free afternoon to actually cook from scratch.  Those are the difficult decisions to make because we have an emotional connection to those items. 

We need ninja decluttering strategy tips to deal with those areas of clutter:

1. Enlist a friend who is not emotionally connected to any of the items in question to help us make decisions or actually go through those "grey" piles and box them to give away or sell for us.

2. Identify items that we perceive as having special value and find new homes for that will appreciate them.  Knowing that the items will be "loved" makes it easier to give them away.

3. Take photos of items or groups of items that have emotional meaning before boxing them to give away. Taking the photo serves as a symbolic act of saying goodbye and can give a sense of closure. And a few photos take up waaaay less space!

4. If you are parting with a large collection of items that have significant emotional meaning or are items additional family members may also be connected with, place those photos into an album.  Knowing you have the memories safely stored will make the de-stashing easier.

5. Find a good cause that you believe in and donate items to be used for fund raising or to help people or animals in need.  Knowing that the items will be helping others gives the act of de-cluttering a sense of purpose.

6. Box those hard-to-part-with items and put those boxes away with a note to reopen them after one year.  If you find you have forgotten all about them after all that time, you will find it may be easier to sell or give them away.

7. Have a garage sale and celebrate your de-stashing by spending the money on experiences instead of on more "stuff". 

Next time, I will address the destash and declutter process that relates to so many creative thinkers.  Yep, fellow crafters, I feel your pain! This is the one area in which I totally struggle. How on earth do I declutter all that craft stash?!