Thursday 8 August 2019

Making ATCs (Artist Trading Cards)



When I heard of ATCs I thought this was a papercraft that would suit me well, lots of paint/marker/collage on small cards. I liked the painterly quality of them and have watched different crafters make them. This is my first attempt...!



I chose a range of different paper to experiment on - Bristol Board 250gsm, Vellum, Indian paper, watercolour paper 152lbs, glossy photo paper 180gsm and heavy handmade paper. I cut them to ATC size, ..... and raided my crafty pantry for markers, paint, adhesives, foil, inks - anything I thought might made an interesting mixed media result.  


I'd been flicking through past work and liked this piece I'd done for my Februdoodle challenge in 2018 (links below) and decided it would be a good starting point for my ATCs. I liked the marker background.


Chose Winsor & Newton Pigment markers (phthalo blue light, phthalo teal light & phthalo blue deep) as their colours are strong and vibrant, covered photo paper & Bristol Board surfaces and blended. On top I printed stamps I'd carved from plastic erasers with Chafford alcohol markers (G61 & PB63). After the cards had dried I used a Kuretake 2 way glue to draw the same floral shape as the stamps, waited until it dried tacky, and adhered foil (blue oil-on-water effect and holographic dot pattern). To finish I merged 2 different fancy glues, Dovecraft 3d Pearl Effects (pastel green) & Stickles (star dust), added a few tinted word stickers from The Reset Girl and outlined them with Pilot Pintor extra fine in white. A final glaze of Judi Kins Diamond Glaze sealed the surface.


The Bristol Board, good for mixed media, fared better than the photo paper which curled and, even with the adhesive layers, stayed flimsy until I added the glaze. Glueing a second piece of card to the back might help. I'm now itching to try again using heavier card or some gesso and having more fun with the wide range of mixed media techniques out there. And swapping with other ATC makers too! (date and sign the reverse). Creating small trading cards that reflect your style of art and craft is one way of collecting examples of those techniques.




Februdoodle 2018 blogposts:


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Saturday 27 July 2019

Halloween in July.....



One way to design and create a stamp is to make it yourself. I make stamps by carving plastic erasers. The finished eraser prints with a handmade look and it's obvious these stamps haven't been machine cast or pressed. Those times when you're elbow-deep in card making or journaling and you need a specific design then eraser carving can be an answer. And while it takes a little patience it's also a lot of fun.

I was looking for a Halloween stamp, I have a few bought stamps already, but I wanted a specific image. I had a very large plastic eraser (Dunnes stationers) which was perfect for a more complicated image of witch, cat, bat and spider. The smaller the eraser the more fiddly it is to carve so the more suitable it is for a simple shape. 




First I sketched the image I had in mind. It's also possible to trace a photo as a starting point. 




Then pencil in the black areas (the areas that will be left after carving) and touch up by erasing any unwanted lines. I added and criss-crossed lines (like the hair) so that they had more of a chance of staying stable after cutting.




Transfer the drawing to the eraser using fineliner. At this stage there's still time to tweak the image before carving.




Using an exacto knife I began to cut away the parts that remain white. I should have taken a break because I was losing focus towards the end of carving and my hand slipped. The top of the bat was cleaved off. Found the tiny piece and glued it back. Wasn't sure if this would work but knew during inking I'd find out. The cat's eyes were too small to cut so I altered the shape of its head. And the witch's eyes were only going to work if I cut the entire eyeball out and added pupils with a fineliner after printing.




Using a brown ink stamp I inked the eraser stamp and tried a first print. What was obvious was that the bat was damaged beyond saving so I cut the bat out of the image. Other marks show up in the first inking indicating where I needed to trim the image. 




The final result is a stamp with a woodcut-ish style. I love the angular cuts and the texture given by the eraser surface both which greatly change the image from the original pencil sketch.


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Wednesday 10 July 2019

lettering with BITE


This week I've been attending an online Crafty Camp, a bit like US summer camps except this one is for adults! It's hosted by Dani Manning from PopFizzPaper - you can find her on YouTube and on Instagram and on Patreon - I'll add links at the bottom of the page.

A guest tutor called Brittany Luiz showed us how to do different types of blended lettering using watercolour markers. So as the crafty club I'm part of is celebrating Hallowe'en in July I thought of how to put my new skills into creating a scary image - lettering with BITE!


Between two parallel lines draw your chosen word - eek is a favourite of mine. Erase any unwanted lines. It also helps if you can use a soft eraser or putty eraser to take some of the graphite off the page. You're left with a faint pencil which can be fully erased after colouring.


The watercolour markers I had in my stash were Winsor & Newton in gamboge hue and cadmium red hue which suited this project. If you need help with how to write 'nice' lettering there are plenty of videos by Dani and Brittany that you can follow. I used Dani's style of faux lettering. Let the colour dry for a few minutes before erasing the faint pencil lines.


Here I applied what I learnt from Brittany's tutorial, tinting the top of the letters with red watercolour marker and blending that with the yellow. I found I needed to clean off my marker tip on a piece of spare paper.


Using an extra fine black Sharpie I added lines and dots of shading to the very top of each letter, added googly eyes along the body of the letters and monster teeth along the horizontal bars. And that's it - the letters could be fussy-cut out to add as a die cut onto a pocket letter or used as the inside of a Halloween card. 


I am still a student when it comes to lettering but I do like this type of shading - it feels very painterly which suits me as I'm a visual artist/crafter. Have a go...maybe try bluey-greens with mermaid accents or ice blues with snowflakes.

Dani Manning/PopFizzPaper:

Brittany Luiz:

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Sunday 10 February 2019

pages from sketchbook...

I've usually got a sketchbook on the go but sometimes there are gaps of weeks or months between drawing in it. Now and again watching a video of an artist or reading a blog will get me started and after watching Joy San's video 'Filling Up a Sketchbook Page | A Scene' I used her technique.


With a black fineliner I worked freehand - the face in the background on the left hand page above isn't to my liking but it is left alone, not erased. This is part of how I draw freehand, mistakes are tolerated. 



After the first three double pages I found myself being pulled into creating some sort of scene which tells a story and the haphazard grouping of images is lost. This is probably a natural process and I know, if I 'get stuck' working in my sketchbook, I can always revert to Joy's technique. 




None of the double page scenes are sketched first with pencil, they retain the freedom of freestyle. I have no idea what the final images will look like, it's all about letting the pen go for a walk and what emerges inspires how the images finish up.




After the last spread I again felt the need to fill the space with unrelated figures - my character Bloowabbit pops up in all the fill-the-space pages.



I liked how this figure sat on the blank pages so I left it as it was.

Drawing so much imaginary stuff got me thinking of the realistic animal eyes I'd drawn last year for a prompt challenge by Sea Lemon - sometimes I need to prove to myself I can do this - and I googled some photographs to draw from. Interesting faces. The important thing is to keep drawing whatever the style..


Time for a new sketchbook...



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Sunday 30 December 2018

end of year doodle...

After getting some drawing pens as a Christmas gift I really wanted to pick them up and draw something. When in doubt, doodle...


Faber-Castell PITT artist pens (Indian ink), Jansroad pigment liners, Paperchase rainbow gel pens and white Gelly Roll gel pen...and I finished with Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils.




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Monday 24 December 2018

12 days to Christmas - Christmas Eve

looking down to a snowy garden 2010

We have no snow yet and it's Christmas Eve. For some that's sad but for others it's a blessing. I like to look out onto it but wouldn't fancy having to travel in it. For nostalgic moments, a few photos from a few winters back...

 snow on my street 2010

 Here's a short video of a drone over snowy Belfast from Christmas 2017...

Belfast Snow Drone | Christmas Music - Bozo Media


Shadow in the snowy yard 2010

Dean Martin - Let it Snow!Kyle Wolfreys

Frank sinatra - Let it snowPaul Sarmasag

Let It Snow! Ella FitzgeraldNuova Canaria


Happy Christmas 
and may 2019 bring you
good fortune, good health
and your heart's desire xx

ice on the inside of my window 2010



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Sunday 23 December 2018

12 days to Christmas - dinner with pals

2011 doodle

Was invited round to a pal's house for dinner yesterday evening. It's lovely when someone cooks for you and I am always so appreciative when that happens to me. Shepherd's pie, wonderful comfort food, with the addition of mustard and smoked cheese to the mashed potato topping. Peas and carrots in the minced lamb pie and a side dish of cabbage. Simple enough fare but yet so good.


the snout of a happy whippet

And to follow some homemade sherry trifle with black cherries, lychees and pear. We even had a cheese platter all the way from Fivemiletown. This is life...good food, good company, good craic. And a short blog...





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All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.