Friday, March 20, 2009

Hi! It's today!

It's the first day of spring! It's beyond beautiful here in Northern Cali-FOR-n-i-A! I don't mean to boast: it just is! Sure, we might be facing the most severe drought in years and a host of gigantic global problems, but while the weather is pristine, I'm celebrating: spring is in my step(s)!

In honor of the new spring blossoms just beginning to lift their weary heads from the soft brown soil.... Meet bunny! Peeking out of a little spring basket! He's not necessarily the "Easter Bunny"... He's a spring bunny, not bearing marsh mellow peeps or chocolate eggs (there's plenty of time for that!) he's just here to say "hi!"

"Bunny" was a hostess set from the last S/U!'s catalog that expired in January. The set is called "Serene Spring" and it was very cute with nice sentiments. This is an extremely detailed stamp and worthy of quality time to give it some beautiful color. For this task I decided to let my impressive tray of "Watercolor Wonder Crayons" do their magic. In case you're not familiar with this product, I will distinguish "Wonder Crayons" from watercolor pencils. They are a solid chunk of pigment. Soft, but not as soft as a pastel crayon. They can be thinned and worked with water, they dry quickly but can create some beautiful water color effect with a tad more spontaneity than water color pencils, but much of the control. They can do a lot of work with little effort or can be used to really paint slow and controlled to create a very special piece.

I've had a lot of customers purchase these simply because they are exciting to look at! And that they are.. But they can be intimidating! They don't stay very sharp and they break easily... So here are some thoughts and tips to get you excited about using yours or getting some if you don't have them yet! I will work on some "getting acquainted" tips for card making, but I promise to do a little "fine art" exercise in the near future! Stay tuned for that.

Stampin' Up! calls watercolor pens "Aqua Painters." There's a cell that holds water and it keeps the brush moist or wet, if you apply pressure. Keep a paper towel handy to blot excess water and brush out color for transition to another color. They can be washed under running water to get them squeaky clean! I've shared mine with my little one and it still paints clean!

Rather than worry about putting these beauties in a pencil sharpener and risk waisting all that color, I love this trick: rub a square of the color(s) of your choice on a piece of scratch paper. Apply several coats to get good coverage, rather than pressing hard, which could break the crayon.. Then you can paint directly from your custom made palette! This way you can get the finest bit of color on the end of your brush! (A reminder to maintain the tip your "Aqua Painter" or any brush, is to rotate the brush in your fingers, as you work or add color, thus keeping the bristles pointy for detail.. ) Pressure of the brush will give you more coverage, or a bolder line, but watch out for extra water: this can be desirable for large areas, but don't be shy with your paper towel for blotting. Practice makes perfect here! As a rule, I stamp the image to be watercolored with black or brown "Staz-on." That way there is no danger of ink smear...

I like to work background color in first, very lightly: you can always add color, but taking it away is much harder if not impossible. To get to small spots when you are adding color directly from the crayon, go slow and always seek the edge of your tip.

After you've gone over the background with water, there may be some discoloration: allow to dry and the color should fix itself. You can always add more color to intensify the effect.

On such a beautiful, realistic image, it's good to pick a "light source" and then add "shadow" or color a little more boldly where natural shadows would fall. For this image, I imagined the light source from straight above (12pm!) Adding crayons direct to the image when the paper is still damp with create rich color.

Once completed, this image was mounted on "Always Apricot" cardstock and then sewn around the edge. A scalloped edge border was punched out of "Barely Banana" C/S with S/U!'s scallop border punch, and then adhered on the left side. "Hi" was stamped (from the "Say it with Scallops" stamp set) in "Cameo Coral" on "Very Vanilla" C/S and then punched using S/U's square scallop punch. "Canvas" background stamp was stamped on "Certainly Celery" C/S! (the base of the card) with "Certainly Celery" ink.

Whew! That was a long story for the first day of spring! But if reading it gives you drive to play with your W/W crayons that you've been meaning to use... it was worth it!

Thanks for reading!


Tracey said...

Hi Elise,

I just love the way you show step by step instructions.

Karen said...

Oh so cute! Love that image and really loved your breakdown on using WWCs! I use mine from time to time, but often forget to bring them out. And you're right...I do love to simply ooo and ahhh at pretty!! :> I never think to make a palette on paper with them first, so thank you for the tip! :>

Jenny said...

Um, Ca-YOOOOOT. Awesome tutorial, E-ster.

Kate Riley said...

You're a modern day Beatrix Potter.... beautiful.