Half Yearly Recap

We are done with half of 2021. Here is a recap of all the posts on the blog from January 2021 to June 2021 just in case you missed out reading any of them. I will be back in July with more posts on arts and crafts.

  • ‘Embossing’ Using The ‘Gilding Method’
    There are different ways to add the sparkle to your artwork. One of them is ‘Gilding’. It creates a nice embossed sparkling effect. It could be a simple outline or dots or stats or more in that shiny effect. Embossing with the gilding method is best suited for greeting cards as well as art and craft projects in school. In this post, I am going to share some tips to get this process right!
  • Impasto – Painting with a knife
    Yes! That is the term used for a painting technique – ‘IMPASTO.’ Impasto technique in simple words is painting with a knife. A painting knife is different from a regular knife. The blades come in different shapes and sizes to create different textures. You could relate better if I named a famous artwork created with this technique – ‘Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh.
  • Henna Art or Mehendi
    There is a good chance that you might have noticed a very striking similarity between my artwork with henna designs. It is also a possibility that I do more Ink Artwork, Doodle Art, Mandala Art and Zentangle Art because of my fluency in Henna Art. I learnt this art from my mom. Sharing ‘My Henna Story – Henna Art or Mehendi’
  • Happy Holidays
    Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
  • Happy Diwali
    Happy Diwali!!
  • Solving the Easel Puzzle
    Easels are a one-time investment and costly. Every artist uses whatever he or she is comfortable with. Not all artists draw, sketch or paint on an inclined surface. Different painting styles can mean using or not using the Easel. A short simple post answering questions about selecting an Easel or a Drawing Board. People usually have two opposing thoughts on this topic. Some feel “what is there to select? Every artist or painter needs an Easel” while others feel “it is the last thing to invest in”. There are a lot of myths about an Easel. No doubt it makes an excellent gift to give an artist, but do you know which one to select?
  • Tools and Techniques To Make Professional Greeting Cards
    Making a greeting card all by yourself may seem difficult for some. No one wants to be judged or mocked for their artistic skills. Besides not everyone can be a master at it. I understand. But what if I were to tell you that even with minimal artistic skills and creativity one can make beautiful professional looking greeting cards. Yes! In this post, we will be discussing a few tools and techniques for making professional looking greeting cards with ease.
  • Fifty it is!!!
    We have achieved a milestone! 50 posts! Yaaay!! Please do share your thoughts and feedback. Would love to hear from you!
  • ‘Still Life Painting’ – by Guest Blogger Dr Shaazia Hawai
    Our guest blogger Dr Shaazia Hawai is a dentist, who spills her love for colours onto the canvas. Join us as she shares more about her Impressionist Style Still Life Painting using acrylic paints. She also conducts live painting sessions on Instagram.
  • It’s Beautiful! Stained Glass Paintings
    The painting process is very simple. Two steps 1) Create the Outline and 2) Fill the colours. The skilled part is in doing it. And like they say, you have to do it to know it. The texture that you see is the original texture of the glass. We select the glass based on the type we want. The material except the glass isn’t very expensive. The colours in a set are enough to make two or three glass panels. So if you want to re-use or recycle a piece of glass from the renovation, consider ‘Stained Glass Panting’. It will give a fresh and majestic look to your decor.
  • Cute Little Clay Creations – by Guest Blogger Ms. Radha Srikanth
    Taking imagination and fantasy from the world of magic and transforming it into something beautiful in this world; is what I do every day. Does that sound interesting? Hello everyone, I am Radha, a clay artist. Doing something creative by shaping earth with your hands can be an incredibly humble, joyful and healing experience.
  • The Clay Effect – Air Dry vs. Bake
    For arts and crafts at home, we use Clay that is available at art and craft stores. Basically for hobby crafts and crafts at home there are two types of clay : one is the air drying and the other one that needs to be baked. We can use them to make many artistic objects from the comforts of our home. I have made wall murals, decorated wooden and glass panels, mirrors, jewellery and toy models with both types of clay. Yes! I know friends who have made saleable products from these. They are now successful small businesses.
  • Three creative ideas with Coffee – Art Craft
    Hmm.. the aroma of a freshly brewed coffee can be so refreshing, isn’t it? Sniffing coffee beans can almost reset your sense of smell. When we sample different perfumes and a particular strong smell gets to our head, it lingers. How to clear it? Take a few coffee beans in a cup and smell them. After sometime smell another perfume. We can creatively use coffee for many things other than just sipping a nice cup of coffee. You may have come across or tried these. In this post I am sharing three artistic creative ideas of arts and crafts with coffee. I have tried my hand at all the three and they can be wonderful creative outlets for anyone, especially coffee lovers. It is the skill and material that make this art unique.
  • Scan, Copy, Download, Print – How to get good prints for your Projects
    Did a hand drawn artwork and now want to make copies OR drew it digitally and now want to print it? Photographs, Graphics, Vector Art, Backgrounds, Designs, Drawings and Paintings – All of us might have tried to print these at some point of time or another. It could be for a School Project, a University Submission or a Personal Art Craft Project or for Commercial use. I see many people struggle to get good prints of their work. What went wrong? They don’t know. I often get to hear “I gave the print command and the printing device printed it.” “I took it to a professional printer and he said the art work is not done correctly. The printing service owner said the device (printer) has done it correctly.” It’s our loss as the money is wasted and we are not happy with the output. Today’s post is about ‘Getting a good print out’. I am going try and translate the language of a printer. In other words explain it in simple terms that everyone can understand.
  • Painting a Silhouette
    ‘Silhouette’ Try saying it as ‘Silu -et’. That’s right! I am not talking about a soft fabric but a technique of painting. Silhouette is also a popular method in photography. It is an object or profile in dark black against a very bright source of light, usually the Sun.
  • The Perfect Blend – Exams & Coffee
    What is Coffee got to do with Art? 😀 My young followers have exams coming up at schools, colleges and universities. Coffee will be their best friend keeping them up studying late nights. Just like a good coffee is all about the blend. Art is also all about blending and having the right combinations. All set? Prepared?
  • Getting to know ‘The Washi Tape’
    The title says it all ; this is a all you want to know kind of post and it is all about ‘The Washi Tape’. Ok! What is so special about it? Fine! It is just another tape, so use it as one. True! I think it is a door to creativity. Especially for storytellers who cannot draw well but have so much to say and share.

Oops! I made a mistake .. Eraser Stories

‘Life is the Art of Drawing without an Eraser’ I am sure you have heard this one before. But the truth is most of us cannot draw that well. We all make mistakes at some point in time. Nobody is born knowing it all. What we do after that .. how we correct it .. what we learn from it .. is important. Think! What is it that we could do differently so that the mistake is not repeated? We learn by asking questions and making mistakes. We grow as we learn. It is a part of the process.

People can be a bit too hard on themselves. They discard things with the slightest flaw or even a single mistake. In Art, we can either incorporate the mistake into the design or erase it. Then it is about how big or small the mistake is. My Art teacher always said, “It is ok to make a mistake. What you should also know is how to correct it. You cannot keep throwing away everything or stop painting altogether because of them.”

Reflecting, I realised I had made mistakes on my art journey as well. Sharing them with you could help you avoid them, rectify them or at least feel that you are not the only one. Here’s a list of the ones I could recollect.

  1. If one uses a very sharp pencil or a hard graphite pencil on paper, it creates a dent. The pencil graphite can be erased but the dent or mark will stay.
  2. Excessive erasing can peel off the paper. Hence it is important to select a good eraser as per our use.
  3. Erasing when the paper is slightly wet will erode the paper. Literally!! There will be a hole. This happens if we use pencils along with watercolours. It is best not to draw with a pencil before using watercolours. If at all we do use them, make sure it is very light and will get covered in paint. We won’t have a problem if we use gouache colours because they are thick and opaque.
  4. Drawing with a pencil on a canvas and erasing it is a big no-no. The graphite will mix with the paint and the colour will change to dull and dark. It is a good idea to draw with a paintbrush on a canvas. We can use a very light shade (almost white but visible to the naked eye) for drawing or making the markings. This will get covered up when we paint on it thereafter.
  5. We do get ink erasers. Pencil erasers can be used for colour pencils too. I tried erasing a little pencil mark when the paper was almost dry but not completely dry and the paper peeled. This was because of the moisture in the marker. The idea is that once we paint or colour on the paper, the pencil mark goes under it. Hence it cannot be erased even after drying. Whether we use pencils, markers or paints it is best to erase all the extra markings before painting. We can always keep the outlines that will get covered with thicker outlines or enhanced after painting.
  6. This is one of my favourites – Give a light wash in the background and then detail and then more detail. Same way in pencil shading. Do the light tone, then darker and then darker as and where necessary. Work on the whole piece simultaneously, so that the colours of the artwork mix and match well. Also, there is a complete flow in the picture. By any chance, if we make any mistake or want to make changes after doing the other portion we will be able to correct it. Once the dark or final touch is done, it becomes a lot more difficult to correct it. That is why it is always better to work in layers.
  7. Spilled a colour and ruined the spot? Lighten the colour by removing the pigment by lightly dabbing on that portion. Let it dry completely and then paint over it. That is what I meant by it can be easily corrected in the beginning. That is why nobody paints one part of the art to the finish while the other part doesn’t even have a base wash. That’s 99% a digital edit.
  8. Want to remove dried paint? Acetone works well to remove Acrylic paint on surfaces like glass or plastic. I have used it on canvas too. The cotton in the canvas will have to be treated with gesso once again before painting.
  9. The paint water glass tipped and dripped water onto the paper. This happens a lot when we work in small spaces or a hurry. Especially during art exams. For many of us, it can even be a horrifying experience. Don’t worry this can also be corrected. Take a dry cloth and lightly dab on the paper to soak up the excess water. Some paint will come onto this cloth. It will be back to the light wash stage. Let it dry and repaint only that portion.
  10. Last and very important – In the process of correcting the mistake, don’t try too hard. Sometimes people focus so much on the mistake that it ends up becoming the highlight instead of blending or fading away in the picture.

One thing I clearly understood is most of the times we are the only ones to know what the mistake is and where. The onlooker doesn’t know it unless we specifically point it out or highlight it or in any way make it very obvious. If we manage to blend it and make it flow along with the rest of the painting it can add to the beauty. Yes! Some mistakes can be beautiful. A little here or there adds to the beauty of handmade. It makes it different and unique. It makes it special.

What if none of these methods works and we have to do a re-do? Then think of what Thomas Edison said ‘I haven’t failed, I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ We are all human. To err is human. I like to wear my bruises as my badges of honour. So if at all we make a mistake, there is nothing to worry about. It is ok to make mistakes.

Fortunately, we have erasers for art. And there are different types of erasers too. Hehe.. Yes! There are different types of erasers. And no please don’t call it rubber. It is called an eraser. We all have this one vinyl eraser or a regular soft eraser (with a brush to clean the dust) for regular use. This can be used for Art as well. A pencil eraser for erasing precise lines (this is an eraser pencil, see the picture) and a kneaded eraser (magic eraser as I call it) that absorbs graphite and charcoal is something every artist should include in their toolbox.

Erasers
Different types of erasers that I use for my Art Projects

Having a good eraser and more so the right ones can be very helpful in drawing and painting. I don’t use erasers that are hard on the surface such as the sand eraser and the pink eraser. An eraser mounted on the pencil is a big no for me. It is not for drawing or sketching. One can use it for regular writing work. We also get changeable erasers and electric erasers in the market. These erasers are more pricey and better suited for specialists or professionals.

Do you also have eraser stories? Feel free to share them. We could all learn from them. Have an Arty Weekend!

Selecting Art Materials : Canvas and Paper, Paintbrushes

Most of the people I know buy brushes that are labelled as watercolour brushes and art paper that is mentioned as suitable for watercolour at the store and they are sorted. “Look! the company says I can use them for watercolour painting, so I bought them.”

They bought it either because someone told them, they saw someone using it or the brand company had written so on the product. Very few people bother to find out the product details and know if it is the right product for their use. Many a times we don’t want to stock different materials for different Art and so we use the same brush or paper for all. The selecting pattern is same for them and so I grouped canvas and paper with paintbrushes.

For beginners it really won’t matter; however artists and professionals will be equally choosy or selective about these materials. It makes a difference in their work and once we are used to a particular one, we only use that. Most artists start off with the trial and error method and once they like a particular brand or product, they stick to it.

Different kinds of brushes, what they are called and their suggested uses are printed on packs. As always a lot of information is available on the Internet. So I will not get into repeating that printed knowledge.

We have discussed ‘Selecting Art Materials’ in our previous posts. On the same lines I will share about selecting paintbrushes, art paper and canvas in this post. I do not endorse any brand and this is not an advertising or promoting post. I share about my understanding of these materials so that it helps others make an informed purchase decision.

Canvas
Selecting a Canvas

Canvas

Any surface we paint on is called the canvas. So if we are painting on fabric or wood or paper, all of them are actually our canvas. However when we go to an Art store and ask for a Canvas we usually get this fabric like drape wrapped on a board called BOARD Canvas, a stretched drape pinned to a wooden panel frame called STRETCHED Canvas and a ROLLED Canvas which is a roll of the drape. All three have the same material, only the mounting is different. Once the painting is complete we have to get it framed before hanging the painting on the wall.

The board canvas is a hard and flat painting surface, the stretched canvas is mounted on a frame and has a slightly bouncy feel while the roll canvas more floppy like a loose fabric. A stretched canvas can be directly hanged on the wall using the existing wooden frame. Hence it is also called wall mounting canvas. A canvas sheet that is cut from the roll will have to be stretched or mounted before painting.

Canvas was traditionally used more for oil painting. Earlier when I learnt mural painting we would have to apply oil and colour to prime the canvas. Now a days canvases are already coated and primed. Cotton is the main fibre of a canvas. Did you know? We also get paper sheets made from cotton linen pulp which are used as canvas for oil painting and acrylic painting. They are like a sheet cut from roll canvas: have the same texture and feel but are relatively sturdy and stiff like paper.

All of them will be acid free and primed and have some treatment or coating for protection against pests. It really won’t matter which one you buy, almost similar. Only the tension of your canvas will differ. That would be the basis of your selection. If you are using them for acrylic painting a canvas primed with gesso works well. You can use others too. If you are into oil painting you may be more selective while choosing the canvas.

Not all art supply stores stock all sizes of canvas. It is a good idea to buy the quantity together if your project uses multiple canvases. In case the size you need is not market ready, you can buy the roll canvas and get it custom made or mounted to your required size. Canvas is also used for Art prints. Digital prints of artwork is quite common. Flex banners are also a type of canvas.

Paper
Selecting Art Paper

Art Paper

We get sheets of art paper in bundles as well as bound in books. Books have perforated sheets which can be pulled out. Smaller sizes such as A4 and A5 sketchbooks are very popular and will be easily available everywhere. Art Paper is used for all mediums including pen drawing, pencil shading, acrylic painting, pastels painting, charcoal sketches, watercolour painting and oil painting.

In the info section they print the size in inches and cm. They print the thickness in ‘GSM’ or lbs. GSM stands for grams per square metre that is the weight of the paper or pulp for every square meter. It is how the thickness is measured. How does that make a difference? The thickness of the paper is an important attribute because for watercolour painting we need thicker sheets like 250-300GSM that will absorb water but will not tear while for ink art we can work with 120-180GSM.

Next we look for textured or plain. The grains on the surface. Depends on the artwork one is working on, whether they want a textured feel (a rough surface) or a plain background. For pastels and charcoals a little grain or texture is required. It helps hold the powder while for ink and watercolour art a smooth or plain surface can be selected. This gives a plain edge or a straight neat line finish while painting.

Artists usually use ‘acid free’ meaning paper that has been neutralised. In simple words if the paper is acid free it will not turn yellow with pitting and can be preserved longer. Paper made from cotton will have more absorbency for water based painting. It can be 100% cotton or mixed with other natural fibres like cellulose. I select the ones with 20-30% cotton for my artworks.

Paintbrush
Selecting Paint Brushes

Paintbrushes

Selecting paintbrushes is very simple. Each of them are built as such for a purpose or for a particular style of painting. It may sound weird but some artists manage to get fine lines with a thick brush of size 8 and a thick like with a brush of size 4. With years of practice we don’t change brushes for each size. So buying them in odd numbers like 0,2,6,8,10 is enough. For finer lines and intricate work I use finer brushes of size 0, double zero 00 and triple zero 000. These are smaller or finer than zero size brushes.

For painting on a canvas on the easel we require long handle brushes. Regular size handles are good when we are working on paper. Further we would need a mix of round and flat brushes in our art tool box. Flat brushes are used to paint backgrounds, round brushes for fills and riggers for fine lines. Filbert brushes are useful for one stroke painting or creating visible strokes and design. I even use the back of the brush handles as round stumps for dot painting.

Brushes can be made from natural animal hair or synthetic fibres. Use brushes with soft thin bristles when you want the colour to be applied evenly. It gives a smooth neat finish. Thick bristles cause an uneven finish with lumps of colour which can be left as it is or smoothened by using a roll over it. Bristles of brushes made from natural hair expand when soaked. They are best suited for oil painting. For painting using acrylic and watercolour paints we can use brushes made with natural or synthetic bristles. Watercolour and Acrylic, both being water based paints we can use a common set of brushes. No need to keep another set.

One special kind of brush is the water tank brush. This brush has a plastic body with a water tank attached to it and bristles of the brush are synthetic fibres. When we press the tank, the water drips to the brush tip and soaks the bristles. It works very well for quick sketches and on the go painting using watercolour cakes.

Paint Brushes
Just bought new Paint Brushes

I was surfing the Internet the other day when I came across a video titled ‘How it’s made – Paint Brushes?’ ‘How it’s made’ is a very popular show and I like watching it. They show how various products of our daily items are made. Helps us understand about the products, their usability and the thought process of the maker in creating it.

I understood which problem faced by artists are they trying to solve by offering a particular type of brush or why it is made the way it is. Every product is manufactured keeping in mind a certain use. Similarly they also have videos on ‘How it’s made’ for canvas, paper and many more products. If possible do take out some time and see them.

Painting
Selecting Art Materials

Links to posts related to this topic are listed below. Click on the title to open the post in a new tab. Have an Arty Weekend!

The Black and White of Pen and Ink Drawings – Ink Art

Clear lines, strokes and dots of Black Ink that make beautiful works of Art – Ink Work or Pen and Ink Drawings have been my forte. Original hand drawn Ink Art and Illustrations as well as Art Prints of my Pen and Ink Drawings are available at my Shops. I like to draw and paint Birds and Flowers the most. Sometimes I use Ink Pens along with Watercolour and Gouache colours for my Artworks. In this post I am going to share all about my favourite medium – Ink. Because it is Black Ink on White Paper usually, the Art works are also called Black and White Illustrations.

Link to the post on Doodle Art, Zentangle Art and Mandala Art

We have explored Zentangle Art, Doodle Art and Mandala Art in my previous posts. These Arts are mostly done in Ink. I have also shared about selecting Pens and Markers for your Art in another post. It is the main material for Ink Art. Ink and Paper are the only two materials required for Ink Art. For some techniques we may draw the initial sketch in pencil. Please refer to these posts for detailed information on these topics. It would be additional helpful information on Pen and Ink Drawings.

Link to the post on Selecting Pens and Markers for your Art

This time let’s take it a level higher. Explaining in simple words we can say – creating Drawings, Illustrations and Sketches using Ink Pens and/or Ink with bamboo sticks or brushes is called Pen and Ink Drawings. Very good quality Ink Pens with a variety of nibs are easily available. We don’t have to use brushes or Inks from bottles anymore. This has led to a lot of people taking up many of these Art styles.

Tattoo Designs, Ink Illustrations, Stippling Art, Mandala Art, Doodle Art and Zentangle Art are all very popular on Social Media. We have many artists sharing these works made with Ink. Botanical Illustrations in Ink are loved by many.

Click here to view my virtual Art Gallery and see more of my Artworks. You may also visit my shops (links on the homepage) to buy my Art. My works of Art would make suitable Wall Art for contemporary spaces both Residential and Commercial.

Artist Pens have Inks that are fade-proof, water-proof and permanent and are available in all major colours. ‘Archival Inks’ as they are referred to are also fade-proof, water-proof and permanent Inks.

Earlier Ink artworks would be made using brushes or bamboo sticks dipped in Inks, just like Calligraphy. If it interests you, do read my earlier post on the Art of Calligraphy. Painting with those would have surely been more difficult. Pens that are available now make it much much easier to draw and paint. These Pens have become so much a part of our Artworks that we use them even for something like just giving an outline or darkening a pattern.

Link to the post on Calligraphy

These Pens are available in a set as well as loose Pens. The ink, nibs and grip of Pens of all brands have a minor difference. I have used pens by almost all the major brands and have liked all of them. I use Micron Pens (Archival Inks) most often. I also use Pitt Artist Pens by Faber Castell for brush nibs and accented tips.

My other favourites would include Uni Pens and Winsor Newton Markers for a more Watercolour like finish. These are more like Artist choice Pens. It would be absolutely ok for students to do the same kind of Artwork with the other Pens or Markers that they regularly use. No problem at all. Permanent Ink is also available in bottles. We can still use the traditional method of writing or painting using Ink from bottles with brushes or bamboo sticks.

The Paper you select must be thick to absorb the Ink. Handmade Paper gives the authentic olden days look. If the Paper is thin the Ink bleeds or may move on the back side of the Paper too! The Pens should move smoothly and give a good finish to your bold and confident strokes.

Work in progress of an Ink Art
A closer look at the making of one of my Ink Illustrations

Black and White does not mean just a dark black tone. It is important to shade and show dark light areas even in Ink drawings. For this we can use any one of the following techniques or we can create one of our own. The shading adds depth and makes it look 3D and more realistic. Sometimes people use a black colour pencil and shade the colour, it is an easier way out though. Like me you can also do a combination of two or more of these Ink Art techniques if you want. Here are some of the techniques :-

Ink Art Techniques
Ink Art Techniques

I am completely in awe of the Japanese Art of Ink Wash Painting. Also known as ‘Sumi-e’ Painting. It is typically monochrome, meaning it uses shades of black on handmade white paper. I was told that the Ink and brush and/or bamboo sticks used for this Painting are same as those that were used for the Art of Calligraphy in China in earlier days. ‘Ink Wash Painting’ as they called it is said to have began during the Tang Dynasty in China.

It was introduced to Japan by the Zen Buddhist Monks. Sumi-e Artists paint Nature, People and Places. Their brushes are special and different from regular brushes and it is all about these clear black strokes. I have been wanting to learn this Art since a long time. Let’s hope I get a chance soon, may be sometime in the future!

If you have any questions on how to use this medium, feel free to ask them in the comments below. Have an Arty Week!

Why is Acrylic Paint the most preferred medium to paint?

If there was something like a ‘People’s Choice Award’ or an Award for the ‘Most Popular Paint’, I am sure it would go to Acrylic Paints. While the others are more natural dyes and colours, Acrylic Paint is synthetic and man made. It is easily available at stores selling Art Supplies as well as all Paint and Stationery Shops.

Acrylic  Painting  Poppy  Flowers
Poppy Flowers – An Acrylic Painting that I have done

Acrylic Paints vs. Oil Paints

Oil Paints take 7-10 days to dry completely. It is this quality of oil paint that helps in mixing colours and blending them. Any artist who has worked with oil paints will agree, it is this property that really helps in making those realistic paintings.

Oil paints have one major drawback ; by any chance if any little traces of water get trapped between the colours because of humidity then the painting develops moss. Refurbishing, Repairing or Repainting- nothing works.

Oil Painting  on Canvas
Indian Mural Style Oil Painting. The ornaments are modelled from clay

When beginning a new oil painting, the canvas needs to be seasoned (sizing) to absorb oil. The more oil it absorbs the better finish. Whereas for Acrylic Paints we only need to use ‘Gesso’ to prime the base. Gesso is like a paint which when applied to any kind of surface prepares it for the paint to be applied. Last but not the least having a glass frame and making the frame airtight ensures that the Oil Painting stays well for longer. Acrylic does not have any such requirement.

Brushes and Palettes can be cleaned with water. If we get some paint on our hands or any surface while painting, it can be easily cleaned with water or removed with acetone. It usually petals off like a plastic coating. We all know that is not the case with oil paints. We need to keep a separate set of brushes for Oil Painting which cannot be used for anything else. On the other hand it is possible to have a common set of brushes for Watercolour and Acrylic Painting since both are water based paints.

Acrylic Paints vs. Watercolour Paints

It is possible to achieve a Watercolour like finish using Acrylic paints. We can mix the colour with different mediums such as Gel, Gloss, Matt, Pearl and so on to get different effects. We can create textures and even achieve the level transparency we want in the colours of the painting with Acrylic Paints.

This image is created from stock photos for explanation

Watercolour is basically for Painting on paper. Even after a painted layer dries, water can be used to mix or blend both colours. Water can be applied on the paper and then colour drops can be added, giving this grains effect. This painting method is suitable to Watercolours. So most artists specialising in Watercolour Painting will not want to use Acrylic Paints. Watercolours are also easy to work with, portable and can be carried along. The cake form is very compact and portable. Mixing of colours to get your shade is easily workable.

I use a mix of Watercolour and Acrylic Paints for my paintings listed on the shop for sale. You may visit my Etsy Shop or Social Media pages to see those.

Here are some of the reasons I think this Acrylic Paint is preferred equally for both Arts and Crafts :-

1) It has a unique property. It is soluble in water and hence diluted with water to paint. However once the paint dries the polymers bond to give a water-resistant painted surface.

2) Acrylic Paints can be used to paint on multiple surfaces including Canvas, Paper, Wood, Glass, Walls, Ceramic and Fabric. I have personally tried them on all of these. We need to seal the completed work with varnish and we are good to go.

Recycled Pen Stand Acrylic
Recycled this old plastic container by repainting with Acrylic Paints

3) We can select the consistency of the paint. The Acrylic Paints that are available in Tubes have a slightly thicker consistency as compared to those available in bottles. The ones in the bottles are liquid like pouring consistency. Both are Acrylic Paints and can be used together on all the projects. The pouring consistency colours work well for projects like Dot Painting and Fluid Art.

Recycled Roll up Brush  case
Roll up brush case I made from my old jeans. Dot painting with Acrylic Paints

4) These paints are available in smaller tubes of size 9ml to larger tubes with 40ml to 120ml. Also available in bottles and larger cans. We even get Acrylic Sprays. Art and Craft Schools and Studios can stock large containers while people who do one off projects can buy the smaller ones. Further if we run out on a particular shade, we can buy just that single shade too!

Photos of my Acrylic paints
I use Artist quality Acrylic Paints by the brand ‘Camel’ or ‘Camlin’ because of its easy availability and reasonable pricing locally.

5) Water Resistant surface makes it easy to combine it with other art materials such as permanent markers or watercolours. Acrylic colours can be used on watercolour painted surface but not the other way around because for watercolours to work, the paper needs to absorb the water. Acrylic paints make the paper impermeable. Acrylic paints can be used alongside or as highlight on watercolour painted surfaces.

6) Acrylic Paints are preferred for creating textures. An artist can achieve the effect he wants with the colours – solid thick, translucent or transparent finish, all by mixing different quantities of mediums and/or water. It is like painting in layers. The bottom layer dries completely and then we paint the next layer. We can even paint a white on a black without the previous layer smudging at all.

Knife painting on canvas
A closer look and method for Knife Painting with Acrylic Paints

The fast drying property and thick paint consistency make it suitable for Impasto or Knife Painting. By using these methods of painting artists can create a good variety of textures. We can use ‘retarders’ to slow the drying process and increase the working time for blending.

7) Almost anything can be painted with Acrylic Paints. These paints can be used for Painting on pots, Painting Clay, Canvas Painting, Painting on Paper, Painting on T-Shirts and Tote Bags, Pebble Art, Wall Murals, Painting on Glass and Mirrors, Painting on Tiles, Mixed Media and a lot more variety of Art and Craft Projects.

Mixed Media on Canvas
Mixed Media Acrylic Painting. Flowers are modelled from clay

8) These colours remain unaffected by humidity or extreme cold or heat conditions.

9) Framing is optional. Hence we have wall mounting canvases. To clean it simply take a dry brush and lightly dust of the dirt that may have settled on it and it will be clean.

Wall mounted  Impasto Painting
Wall Mounted Canvas – Knife Painting using Acrylic Paints

10) Variety of Colours and Shades. Mixing colours might not be a good idea because it dries very fast. So buy them in the colours or shades needed. There will usually be a whole shelf dedicated to it. Any colour that we need can be bought anytime. We get neon shades and glow in the dark paints too!

The only drawback with Acrylic paint is that the colours will dry out if the water from the colour evaporates or if the bottle is left idle, so cap them well. Remove the colours in disposable containers in the required quantities instead of painting directly from bottles and leaving large containers without the lid for long hours of painting.

Acrylics are easy to work with. Rectifying a mistake is also easier when using Acrylics, so it works well for beginners as well as professionals. I really don’t know what more can they offer to make these paints better. Definitely worth buying a box and trying out some Art projects. I have shared some of the recent Projects that I have worked on using Acrylic Paints. All these are still with me and not for Sale. The paintings for sale on the shops are different. These are all from my personal collection.

Have an Arty Week!

Year in a Review

In the Holiday mood, I am also going to take a break next week. Most people have already signed off till New Years. As a shop owners, we are busy making products, posting on social media, settling accounts, packing, shipping and making new and the cycle continues year round. That makes us use our phones for long hours at work. A little digital detox to spend time with yourself, family and nature can rejuvenate us.

My Desk
My Desk! It’s Christmas 🎄

And we can come back in the New Year refreshed and charged up for another year ahead. Many people also use this time to upgrade their skills, read up on books they always wanted to. I started my Blog this year in September 2020. I have 17 Posts by now. The response to the Blog has been overwhelming. It’s been a good journey with your love, support and encouragement.

So I thought I would do this year in a review post. Helps me connect with the new followers too! Here is a list of the posts I have done on Arts and Crafts so far. You may click on the title to go to the post. All these are listed on my Blog page – ‘The Art Life’

So just in case you missed out on reading any of them, you still can. Please note the Blog page shows only the last 10posts and so to see the previous ones you may use the links above or scroll to previous posts.

If you like reading my posts and wish to continue our association, you may click follow or subscribe to the Blog. This will make the posts come to your Email Inbox and you may read them at your convenience.


Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

December Calendar with a Christmas Wreath that I created Digitally

This is an Instant Digital Download (JPEG) File that can be purchased at my Etsy Shop NMARTWORKS Picture Format opens with any Photo Editing Software. Once you pay, you can instantly download and use.

Selecting Pens and Markers for your Art

Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle all the way! Yay! Christmas is coming! And with Christmas comes creativity. I see such amazing Art and Craft ideas on social media. There is so much one can make and do. It is also the time for Gifts. What is the best gift for an Artist? Yes! Art Material. I did a post on Pencils and Pastels earlier. Based on that many friends asked me to do one on Pens and Markers.

We usually refer to Pens and Markers by the name of the brand. That makes it difficult to do a post without mentioning any of the names. In every country there is a particular brand that is popular and widely used by all Artists from that Country. Ink Artists, Illustrators, Manga Artists, Architects, Interior Designers, Fashion Designers, Calligraphers, Students, Crafters and maybe more – All of them use Pens and Markers for their rendering.

If you have read my previous post you would know that this is an all you want to know information post and not a product review or an endorsement post. I was thinking about how to do this post without sounding repetitive? So I thought it would be best to do this in a Q&A format. I have tried my best to answer all the questions that I think can pop up while buying Pens and Markers. In case you have more questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments.

Pens and Markers
The different nibs of Pens and Markers

These are some of my Pens and Markers I arranged to click a picture.

1. Are Pens and Markers different? Hmm, well actually not. They are called Pens or Felt Pens or Sketch Pens or Markers – different names in different countries. They are all Pens available in colours, black, white, glitter and neon shades. The terms are used interchangeably. Like I said we usually call them by the brand name and not as Pens or Markers.

2. Do we get Artist Quality and Student Quality? Technically Yes! But they aren’t really labelled as such. Pens positioned as Artist Pens are Artist quality while the regular ones are Student quality. The pigment, colour and finish for an Artist Pen is better. We also get Industrial Grade Markers. This determines the price points.

3. What mediums are used? We get Oil Based, Water Based, Alcohol Based Pens and Markers. There are Gel Pens, Permanent Ink Pens, Waterproof Ink Pens, Washable Ink and Water Soluble Ink Pens and Markers. The Ink Technology and Ink is different in all of these. That is why two Pens of different brands – both with Waterproof Inks will give different results.

4. Individual or Set? If you are trying a new brand for the first time, it is best to buy different pens individually and try them out. They have testers kept with papers to try them at all stores. I even try the fresh pack Pen before buying to check the nib and ink. The manufacturing dates, import dates and other details are not clearly visible on single pieces. This makes it better to buy them in a set. The drawback is we are not allowed to open a set and try it out. It makes complete sense to buy individual pens to try and once you short list and select which brand you want, it is better to buy them in a set.

5. Which brands are good? I have tried Pens by almost all the well known brands. All of them are good. Brand Loyalty is very strong for Pens and Markers. I have understood that each Pen has Ink that works very well for a purpose. Depending on your use and Artwork you would have to select Pens that suit you by the Trial and Error method. The Art store usually stocks more of the popular ones and of course you know why. Further your location will play a big factor in your selection. Not all brands are available in all countries. Sometimes the Pens that are being imported regularly go out of stock or are priced too high.

6. What do they mean by the numbers on the Pens? The numbers indicate the nib size: for example 01 means a nib for drawing a 1mm thick line while 03 means a nib with 3mm thick line. We also get accented nibs, brush nibs, round nibs and felt nibs. As mentioned above the construction material of the nib and the ink is different in all pens. Further some brands use the numbers for colour coding. We also get dual tip Markers – meaning two different usable nibs on both sides top and bottom.

All in all, it is best to try different Pens on the Paper, carry your own page if you like where you have tried various Pens and buy the ones you think will work best for your work. I have already explained where and how to use each of the mediums in the previous post. Like, if you want the colours to blend: use the watercolour ones while if you don’t want the ink running, best to use the permanent waterproof ink Pens. Even in a simple brush nib Pen we get a lot of variety.

Scribbles Art
My scribbles trying out Pens in rough

The sponge of a brush tip Pen is different by all brands. I usually select a Pen with a medium hardness brush nib. I would like it to turn with pressure but not fray resulting the sponge in tatters. Constantly applying too much pressure on the Pens with very hard nibs can result in sore hands. That is what I meant when I said select Pens that one feels is most comfortable using.

Another important thing to see and note is how the Ink spreads on different papers. Do we get a smooth finish line or a dented one? Does the Ink bleed and spread or create blots and spots? When we apply two strokes next to each other – does the Ink mix or create patches? Does the Ink dry fast when applied or takes hours to dry? Artists would note all this. It makes a difference to their Artwork.

These are all small points but important to check before buying. Many times Art stores mix old and new pens when stocked in the individual Pens section. These pens are expensive and nobody wants to waste money buying a damaged nib or dried up ink Pen or Marker. It takes me at least 15-20mins selecting my Pens even when I know the brands. Last but not the least I compare prices and check for discounts if I buy more pieces. I run out of pens in about three to six months depending on how many Artworks I made. The Inks dry up after about three to five years, if kept lying around.

That lists about all the points I can think of that will help you make an informed purchase decision for the Pens and Markers. Ah! That’s too much. Give me one name and one set – if that is your buying style, I suggest pick any standard well known brand with other Stationery or Art Supplies and buy a set of their Markers. You can’t go wrong. It’s the same for students. However if Art and Craft is your passion, hobby or profession – the choice is yours! Have an Arty Weekend!

Special Tip: Always check the Cap is tightly closed before you put away your Pens and Markers after Use.

Pencil Mania – Part 2; Charcoals, Pastels and Woodless Pencils

A friend jokingly said “That is why I shop online, the Art Store displays are too tempting to resist.” I smiled and replied “Then do you end up buying all the recommended best sellers” Both of us burst out laughing. At the end of this friendly discussion we agreed that knowing your Art Material can definitely help save up some money.

In my previous post, I shared about Graphite and Coloured Pencils. Do refer to that to associate a connection with this post. In this post I will share about Charcoal Pencils, Pastel Pencils and Woodless Pencils. Woodless Pencils are Graphite Pencils without a casing. They are covered in a coat of lacquer. They are helpful in shading large areas. It is a helpful tool that you would want to add to your Art Kit, once you are confident in Pencil Shading. Similar to them are ‘Sticks’.

‘Sticks’ are like a thick block of pigment. They just have a sheet of paper wrapped around it or sometimes none. When we say ‘Pastels’ we normally refer to the stick form. If you want it in the pencil form, you need to ask for ‘Pastel Pencils’. Similar to Coloured Pencils even Pastels are pigment combined using a binder such as; wax, oil, gum, clay or water soluble.

Pastels are of two types 1) Hard Pastels 2) Soft Pastels.

Pastels

A special tip here – if you ask for crayons, you will get Wax based Pastels. Oil Pastels are also referred to as Hard Pastels in some countries. Many people call Oil Pastels as Crayons which may cause undue confusion. Pastels made using Clay as a binder are commonly called ‘Chalk’. Pastels made using Gum as a binder are referred to as Soft Pastels. Water Soluble Crayons are similar to Watercolour Pencils but are used mostly by children. Pastels are also available in the form of compressed powder palettes called Pan Pastels.

Both Charcoals and Pastels are available as Pencils, Sticks and in Powder form. Charcoals and Pastels are preferred by many Artists for sketching Portraits and Landscapes. The investment is relatively less than what an artist would have to make for doing other kinds of Paintings.

Charcoal is a form of graphite or carbon. In simple words it is ‘Soot’ or a burnt material. The lead tip of a Charcoal Pencil is made up of compressed Charcoal Powder. Charcoals made without using any binders are best preferred. This means it is a nice dark lovely black pigment. Charcoal Pencils are available as Soft-Medium-Hard. Each of these leads will create a different texture when rubbed against the paper. The smoothness of the paper also affects this texture. Just like Graphite Pencils even Charcoal Pencils will have grades like 2B-4B-6B ; higher the number, darker the pencil.

We get combo packs consisting of 2-3 different Graphite Pencils, 2-3 different Charcoal Pencils, a Sharpener, 2-3 different size Stumps, 1-2 Charcoal Sticks and a Kneaded Eraser. ‘Stumps’ are tightly wound paper sticks used as a blending tool. If you are a beginner and don’t know much about the material, you may want to go for a combo pack like this. It is enough to begin learning Charcoal Painting.

Charcoal Painting

Charcoal is mostly black as associated with coal. Can we say Charcoals are black, while Pastels are colour? No, because we get coloured Charcoal Powder as well. Just as explained in the previous post both these are available in two variants 1) Artist Quality 2) Student Quality

I thought I would first share what is available in the market and explain a few jargons and then share about selecting from these. Making a choice should now be easy!

‘Pastels Painting’ mostly refers to Soft Pastels. One box of as many shades as you like from a good brand is enough. Yes! Like Crayons, Oil Pastels and Coloured Pencils ‘more the colours, more the fun’. Hard Pastels don’t need blending while you can use your fingers to blend Soft Pastels. You can use Charcoal Pencils or Pastel Pencils for finer details because the sticks are too thick to draw a fine line. Pastel Pencils are Soft Pastels in Pencil form.

Charcoal Pencil, Sticks or Powder entirely depends on the Artist whichever form of Charcoal they are comfortable using. Some Artists avoid powders while some use only powders. For a beginner a ready small pack with three black pencils, one white pencil, sharpener and eraser is good to go. Sometimes I use black and brown Pastels instead of Charcoal Sticks. Yes! We can mix the two in the same Artwork. They work well.

If it’s only Charcoals you wish to work with, your selection will be something like this:

Charcoal Pencils, Powder, Sticks, Sumps and Kneaded Eraser

1) Three Charcoal Pencils – 2B, 4B, 6B in Black

2) A White Charcoal Pencil

3) 2-3 Stumps (a ready pack of standard sizes) or you may use cotton buds or your own fingers to blend if you are comfortable. Any brand will do.

4) A Kneaded Eraser – I call it a magic eraser. It is specially for this purpose. It is often included in combo packs or can buy it individually.

5) Charcoal Sticks – This is usually a ready pack of only sticks.

6) Sharpener for your Pencils

7) Charcoal Powder – You would need stumps to apply this. Colours like blacks and browns are most commonly used. Other colours are available but it’s up to you.

If you already have Graphite Pencils it would be better to buy only the smallest combo pack of charcoal pencils and try it out first. Even if you make the other purchases later it will be less costlier than a otherwise all included big combo. So now you know all about your Pencils. Looking forward to doing some Art next. Have an Arty Weekend!

Pencil Mania – Part 1 ; Selecting the right pencils for your Art

Ever gone to an Art store and wondered ‘To buy or not to buy’ that is the question! And if you go with your kids, they will want to buy everything they can see on that shelf. Hehe..it happens with all of us. However it is not practical to stock so much. Also, it may end up being a waste of money or material. We all want to buy tons of Art Supplies especially when the display is so attractive. So then how to keep both your art appetite and your pocket happy at the same time? Knowing your Art Materials might help make an informed decision and select a product suitable for you.

This time I’m doing an article on the different Pencils you can use for your Art. I will cover all the type of Pencils available in the market and their use. I do not endorse any brand and hence will not mention any names, just how to make your selection based on your understanding of the product. This is not a product review but a know your Art Materials post. Based on my experience of using these, I will share a few special tips too!

Graphite Pencils: Graphite or Lead encased in a cover of plastic, paper or wood. The lead is used for drawing or writing. We all know that right! These are available in different grades depending on the hardness or softness of the lead. Here in India, we use an HB pencil most often for writing. The Pencils I use for drawing and shading or sketching are 2B, 4B and 6B. ‘B’ stands for blackness while ‘H’ stands for hardness. The pencil grades meter will show this. Higher the number, darker the pencil finish, softer the lead better for shading and smudging. You could go for the ready set or buy only selected ones as per your requirement. I prefer buying single pieces because I don’t use the other grades, so for me it is a waste to buy the entire set. Further if I use up a lead faster than the other, I keep more of those. I buy more of 2B pencils and maybe just one 6B pencil. You could do the math and in all probability it will even turn out more economical also. Just these three pencils is enough at the beginners level and even on a professional level. Once you take up pencil shading commercially or professionally you may want to invest in a complete set of any good brand suitable to your use.

Coloured Pencils: Coloured Pencils are made of a Pigment (colour) and a binding agent that binds this coloured powder. There are three types of coloured pencils based on the material they are made up of – wax based, oil-based and water-soluble. A pencil that has vibrant colour, a soft but strong lead that presses the colour well on to the paper but does not break easily while making bold strokes is considered as good quality coloured pencil. These are generally bought in a set. More the number of shades, more fun for an artist to colour the picture. 24 or 48 colours is considered a large variety but you even get up to 150 shades in a box for professionals. It is a one time investment because one box can last you for years unless you misplace a few shades. Rarely can one run out of a shade because they used it all up.

Waxed based coloured pencils have a soft lead and are slightly difficult to blend as compared to the others. I prefer oil-based coloured pencils – the lead is soft but sturdy, remains sharp, doesn’t dry out fast, pigments are nice, layering and blending can be done easily. Actually even for crayons I prefer Oil Pastels. So actually it is like the same family and works well if you use different mediums in the same Artwork. Wax based coloured pencils are less expensive than the others.

Water Soluble or Watercolour Pencils or Aquarelle Pencils : As the name suggests are water based. They can be used dry or wet. The dry version gives a lighter colour but once you use water over it, it gives an almost watercolour like finish. Once you paint something, you use a plain water brush over it and blend the strokes. Washable with water or removable, you can use these to shade or highlight in your watercolour paintings. We even get water soluble ink pens or watercolour brush pens. This combination works for those who do watercolour paintings.

We cannot use a water based colour on an oil based colour or a wax based colour. However we can use a wax based or oil based colour on a water based colour. Many people use wax based and oil based interchangeably. An important point to note here is that all three types are not manufactured by all brands. This is their point of differentiation. It means a difference in price, quality and finish. Reading up a little about the brand and which type of pencils they offer will surely help in making your selection.

Further like all Art materials even Coloured Pencils are available in two categories :-

1) Artist Quality 2) Student Quality

Most brands offer both. An Artist Quality will have better colour quality meaning more pigment less binder and will be more expensive than the student quality. So check the label and buy as per your usage. I generally prefer buying Artist Quality even if it lesser number of shades. For a school going child you may want to buy Student quality just in case the child misplaces or breaks them. The price difference can be substantial at times.

Many people feel coloured pencils are for children. That isn’t true. Adult Colouring is trending. It is a stress buster and many Adults are taking to colouring these days. Adult colouring means the colouring pages will have pictures with details or smaller colouring blocks as compared to colouring books for children which have pictures with a larger colouring blocks. There are ample colouring pages and books available in the market. Sometimes they are free. It is a good way to pass time while travelling too!

I will share about other Art Pencils – Charcoal, Pastels, Woodless Pencils in my next post. Have an Arty Weekend!