Friday, December 27, 2013

Presents! And Free Digistamps!

Hope everyone had a super holiday time and is still having one! I'm off til next week and plan on getting caught up on art projects. Most of my free time lately has been spent making Christmas presents. And it's finally over!

At left is a Firefly clock (which I really wanted to keep and hang in my game room!), a Calavera girl box for treasures and a pencil holder box made of grumpy cats. So much fun making these presents which all went to family members. I made many more things but they'll take over my blog for the next couple of weeks if I show them all.

Some art friends of mine run a blog called Wonderstrange which features tons of super cool tutorials and hundreds of free digistamps. Every year, they compile a list of 100 Things to Draw When You're Bored and through the year, they draw the suggestions as line art and offer them as free digistamps on the blog. The themes are always a little odd but tons of fun. For 2013, they were running out of time and asked for some help so I made a few free digistamps for them. I created Zombie Head Games, You're not leaving the house like that, Runaway bride, Gladiator mascara, Drag inspired Disney princesses and Awkward Proposal.

If you want to download them, please visit the Wonderstrange blog. If you want to see all of the free digitstamps, here are the 2012 and 2013 lists with links. Tons of great digistamps there! And they're free! Be sure to check out the blog too. They just ran a super fun 12 days of Christmas Ornaments with some fantastic projects.

For 2014, I plan on taking part in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge. Sounds like fun and a great way to get moving for the new year.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lots of Decos!

I've received quite a few decos over the past few weeks and made a few more. These are some of the ones I've been working in - some are my books and some belong to other people. It's a big mix of themes and mediums. There is a fantastic post over at Go Make Something that gives a great run down on the basics, read here: Decos 101. If you're interested in sending your own little books out into the art ether, it's a great place to start. We'll be doing a feature on Decos soon in ArtTrader Magazine.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Crazy Christmas Aunts Piled with Presents

Every year I like to sketch a crazy aunt who might drop by on Christmas day with her arms full of presents. This year, it's my imaginary Aunt Helga with her striped leggings, multi-ringed fingers and bold opinions on online shopping and stuffing recipes. I wish I had lots of crazy aunts but I don't. Sadly, I only have one real one and don't get to see her often enough. So here is to crazy aunts everywhere. Long may they lighten the holidays and entertain us.

Below are a couple of drawings from today's life drawing session. I really like the full body pose but I don't think I captured enough of our model's likeness in the portrait. Some days you're a life drawing winner and some days you're not. I think this was half a 'not' day. I'll take it. Coloured pencil on kraft paper, as usual. Maybe next time I'll try some pastels and live dangerously for a change.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Illustration Friday: Pattern

A set of pretty birch trees make a nice and colorful pattern. These are watercolor and ink ATCs and fit the Illustration Friday theme quite nicely.

I'm still working away on holiday gifts and various other projects for my stores. Hopefully have some new art to share later this week.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Zombie Wrapping Paper!

I spent most of my spare time this week making art and unfortunately, I can't share any of it yet. It's all for Secret Santa presents on and also for family presents. I seriously doubt any of them venture anywhere near my blog but you never know when a niece or a daughter might be poking around.

At left are a set of drawings from yesterday's life drawing session. They're all in the 10-25 minute range and colored pencil on kraft paper. I loved the model we had yesterday. He was superb. Great models make all the difference!

On the POD front, I quickly made up a Christmas image based on an illustration I had done earlier this year as Zazzle put out wrapping paper and I wanted to make some before the Christmas rush. I added Santa hats to my Party of Naughty Evil and stuck them on gift wrap and what do you know? It sells! My best selling item. Zombie wrapping paper, go figure.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

ArtTrader Magazine will be back!

A happy announcement -- after a much needed break, we're bringing back ArtTrader Magazine! The new issue will be available on the ArtTrader website on January 1, 2014. We'll be back to quarterly issues again next year.  If you're new to ArtTrader Mag, it's an online magazine in PDF format that focuses on the mail art world with tutorials, galleries and how to guides on all sorts of art techniques and objects.

Issues are free for downloading and reading. Issues 1 through to 20 are all available here: Happy reading and arting!

We won't be hosting online workshops again but many of the people involved in writing for ArtTrader Mag will be creating their own workshops and we'll let you know all about them in the zine.

Expect the ArtTrader website to be updated over the next week with news about the upcoming issues. I'll be back writing as will Sarah Trumpp and Ann Pierson D'Angelo of Wonderstrange. And Andrea Melione (aka EraserQueen Studios) will be back too!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A response to the snow

I normally love the snow and winter but today, it just seemed cold with a biting wind. After life drawing, I came home and painted a nice summer field of flowers to make up for the icy wind. And if I weren't so afraid of bees and insects (and nature), I would love to stand in the field like this girl and wave my arms around too. Ok, maybe not.

I have done lots of art for presents this week and I can't show any of it on my blog til the holiday season is over. I have no idea if anyone in my family reads my blog (hi Mom!) or not but best not spoil any surprises.

On the TV addiction front, I managed to blaze through 8 seasons of Supernatural while working these past couple of weeks. I draw or design on the computer and watch out of the corner of my eye on the iPad. It's quite the day job. I think I'll draw the many confused faces of Castiel next week. He makes me laugh.

Happy holiday weekend and PPF :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mixed Media Ladies & Crazy Hats

I love mixed media art and don't always get a chance to dabble and make something fun. Last night I made a Calavera Girl with crazy flower hat in my favorite color combination - blues with oranges and red. The face is actually colored pencil on Stonehenge paper. I think I'll stick her in my Etsy shop. She's fairly small at 5 x 7.

As mentioned in my last post, I've reorganized one of the online workshops I presented for ArtTrader Magazine a couple of years ago - Mixed Media Goth Girls. I've taken out some content and added in some new art and the new workshop will be available to start on January 6th, 2014. Registration is now open! The pretty pink lady on the top left is part of the workshop and a full listing of program content is available on the workshops page.  There are 5 videos and a 30+ page workbook so lots of fun content!

Yesterday I finally managed to scan two paintings that have been sitting around for ages! They're pretty big and I couldn't get them scanned properly, even in pieces. I had tried numerous times. But I persevered and finally managed to piece them together in Photoshop... it took a long time. It's my mixed media Voodoo King and Queen from a couple of years ago. I thought I might do an online series of big hats, not necessarily voodoo hats, just big mixed media hats. I think that would be a fun workshop. Either that or Calavera girls - perhaps both! One of those themes (or both) are coming in the new year.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Goth Girls Mixed Media Art Workshop: Coming soon!

I used to present online workshops for ArtTrader Magazine a couple of years ago. One of the programs that I presented was Mixed Media Goth Girls. It featured a 30 page workbook and about 7 streaming videos running the gamut from drawing simple to more complex goth girls, to hair and clothing through to creating mixed media and collaged canvases. I'm going to rework the content a little bit and add in a few things and then make it available on my blog here for a small fee.

The workshop will be available in a couple of weeks. Just an advance post!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Values, Color & Life Drawings

This week's exercise for the Daily Drawing Group over at was values so I took some time tonight to do a painting based on a vintage photo. I didn't take it to a nice complete finish because I want to go finish watching Supernatural (recent convert!), but I did take some time to give the vintage lady a big blast of color.... and an awesome pink hat. This is what I love about painting digitally. I can take my painting, create a new layer, and then paint over top of it and make a brand new image. Below are pics of my WIPs. I often get questions and comments about digital painting so this will show you some of the process. It's pretty much exactly the same way I paint traditionally. Messy blobs of values that eventually firm up into known shapes.

In today's life drawing session, I concentrated on portraits for the longer poses. I had a decent drawing day so they turned out ok. I was happy. It's a good day when you come home with a couple of decent drawings!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Art Deco Set

I was searching through my computer last night, looking for some old images and came across this set of cards (ATCs) that I made about 6 years ago for a swap on the now defunct ATcards. They're digital though I did print a copy for trading.They were so much fun to make and to come up with little stories for each character. I want to do another swap with the same theme. I can't remember exactly what the theme title was though I believe it was something like "My Weird Family." I went with an art deco theme for mine, graphic design like.

I have a weird family. Not quite like the cards but some of them are certainly out there in odd ways! They could probably say the same about me *cough*.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ATCs & Decos

I spent the weekend catching up on some art I owe for trades along with making some new decos and ATCs  (above) to send out into the art ether.  And much of yesterday was spent putting my art on phone cases and t-shirts at various sites. The joys of earning a living through art. Ahem. I truly wish that the making part was the full time job and the administration, promotion, mailings, etc. was the part time job. But it doesn't work that way. I think I probably spend about 50% of my work time on the less fun tasks. Ouch. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Art Journal Pages

I haven't kept an art journal for a while now. In fact, the last time I worked on this particular journal was in 2010. I bought an amazing Vincent Rossini book with super thick handmade paper and I love the thing. It's a great journal and well made. After purchasing, I promptly filled in 5 or so pages and then shoved it on the art bookshelf for the next 3 years while I concentrated on work and other art projects. I pulled it out the other day since I've been visiting many blogs with a lot of journal art and they've inspired me to finish up this one. It's a mixed media art journal and I thought I'd share the pages online too. I don't really use text on my pages since I'm not a writer (clearly) and I don't need to express myself with words or share my feelings. That's not for me. But I sure do like to make pretty pictures and most often I sell them, trade them or make them for work and barely have any left for myself. A journal keeps them all in one spot and is something I can actually keep. Yay! Here are some pages, from 2010 and from this weekend too.

Warning, there is some nudity and occasional naughty words.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

WIPs, Life & Little Bits

Unfortunately, I'm having one of those weeks where the things I draw REALLY aren't matching the visions in my head. I know I'll get these "imagined" paintings right at some point, but it won't be this week!

In the meantime, I fiddled about with a group of girls chatting away at a club (that you can't see yet!). Maybe I'll come back and finish it. For now (and maybe forever), it's a WIP.

I like the color scheme though. I spent some time looking at the gorgeous palettes over at and spied this one that reminded me of candy floss. I added in some browns for a bit more variation. If I don't finish this painting, then I might take those same colors for another painting.

I made some decent drawings at the life drawing session today. This is one of them though I really have to remember to take my photos during the day, not at night when I want to post... even with the ugly yellow flash color distorting the image. Ah well. She still looks the same I figure.

While playing Call of Cthulhu tonight, I managed to ink up an old man and then added some color with markers and a dash of acrylic paint. I'll probably stick him in someone's Deco or maybe in one of my own. Maybe splash some found poetry or a quote over top of him.

All of the images are clickable. I stuck up small versions here to squish it all into one post. Happy PPF. :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Retro Dancer & Whimsical Cityscapes

Here's a pretty retro dancer with pink flowers in her hair. I used one of the faces I painted in the 29 Faces challenge--might as well put them to good use, right? Still took a whole though I'm not sure what took longer - painting her face or the rose!

I did something way out of my norm this weekend. I made mixed media cityscapes! Normally, I love creating mixed media art but I don't usually create cutesy whimsical things. This weekend I did! I run the Daily Drawing Group (in the Art Discussions forum if you're a member) over on and I have to come up with challenges each week so thought a whimsical landscape challenge would be interesting. Only I ended up making whimsical cities for some reason. But there are hills, and trees! And clouds. That counts I think. The pieces are both 5" x 7". Tons of fun to make.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

PPF: A Halloween Scene

Another awesomely fun Halloween has come and gone. Unfortunately, it was super rainy and windy here tonight so we had hardly any trick or treaters come to the door. I felt bad for the kids who stayed home! My daughter came home soaked but she sure had fun. In between opening the door, I managed to paint up a Halloween witch sitting on her pumpkin. Ok, I know she's not very scary, even with the BOO, but she's cute. That counts.

I managed a few decent drawings at the life drawing session today. This one is pencil on kraft paper, my usual.

I added a tutorial section to my blog this week. I wrote many articles for ArtTrader Mag over the years and thought I'd share them here occasionally, maybe update a few. I'll be writing up some new ones too as time permits.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tutorial: Day of the Dead Art Dolls

Since it's that time of year, I thought I'd pull out a tutorial I wrote for ArtTrader Mag a couple of years ago on Art Dolls for Day of the Dead.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday that focuses on remembering family and friends who have died. Altars are set up in remembrance and people gather at the graves of family members with gifts of their loved ones’ favorite foods and drinks. Sugar skulls and skeletons are popular symbols of the holiday and are usually depicted as colorful and smiling.

Before we get started, there’s one thing to know about Polymer Clay—it can feel slightly hard and tough when it comes out of the package. But don’t worry. It just takes a few minutes of warm kneading in your hands and it will start to feel like putty or Playdoh. 

Materials & Tools List
  • Polymer clay, white and other colors
  • Small pliers
  • Eye pins
  • Jump rings
  • Charms
  • Dried flower(s)
  • Inking pens
  • Gel pens
  • Oven for cooking the clay (a kitchen oven is fine)

Step 1: The first thing you need to do is to gather your materials together and make sure you have the right size eye pins. I have a few different sizes in the picture above but I used the 1” silver versions for this project. If you only have larger eye pins, don’t worry about it, simply make a bit larger art doll or cut off some of the eye pin with wire cutters. There is no size requirement on these art dolls. See photo above.

Step 2: Knead your Polymer Clay to make it soft and flexible. This takes a couple of minutes usually. Using your hands, make your clay into a flat skull shape like the one pictured above. Mine is about 1/2” thick. Once you have a shape you’re happy with, you will need to insert an eye pin into each end of the skull, one in the top and one in the bottom. Make sure your pin stays within the clay. Don’t let it poke through. You will need to insert your eye pin slowly and carefully so you don’t distort the shape of your (still very bendable) molded clay.

Step 3: For making the bones, I simply rolled small, even pieces of clay and left a larger bit at either end to form the bone ends. I made my leg bones slightly larger than my arm bones. Please note that it’s not necessary to make perfect bones. Mine have fingernail scratches and are slightly different from each other. As long as they sort of look like bones, it’s all good.

Step 4a: The Body Flower Version 1 For the body of my Day of the Dead (DOTD) art doll, I made a big flower since flowers appear often in DOTD art. I used pink clay and rolled out one long snake and then cut it into fairly even 1 1/2” pieces to be used as the flower petals. For the next step, simply pinch each end of the mini snake together to form a petal shape.  You only need 5 petals by the way--one for the head and one for each of the limbs. Place the petals into a flower shape.  Create 5 new petal shapes in another color. I made mine in orange. Use another color clay to add a centerpiece on your flower. You can squish a circle and make it flat or wind some clay to give it a little texture. You might want to do the same on the other side of the flower. It’s not necessary but it looks neater.  Carefully insert your eye pins into the top center of each petal and push them in towards the center. Each petal will be attached to a limb or the head. Be careful not to allow the end of the pin to poke through the sides. It must go direct through to the flower center so it’s strong and sturdy to hold the limbs.

Step 4b: The Body Flower Version 2 If you find making petals too tedious, you could try a small cookie cutter for making your body flowers.  These can be decorated nicely with gel pens and paint so the plain, single color look is fine for now. My flowers are approximately 1/4” to 1/2” thick. My cookie cutter had 6 petals so I left one petal without an eye ring.

Step 5: Baking! Once you have all of your polymer clay parts made and the eye pins inserted, bake the doll in the oven on a baking sheet at 275 degrees for about 15 or 20 minutes. You will need to let them cool for a couple of hours or overnight before attaching them together.

Step 6: Lay out your skeleton and decide which charms you want to use for the hands and feet. In my photo above, I have some polymer clay feet I made as well as some shoe charms and other bits. I didn’t have two hand charms to use so I just used one hand and some playing cards for the second hand. The little black item in the top left of the photo is a plastic hat (from doll supplies) that I’ll be using to glue onto his head after decorating him. Using pliers to open the jump rings, attach limbs together through the eye pins. I use two pliers to open and close the jumper rings. You might have your own specialized tools for jumper rings, but I find the pliers work just as well.

Step 7: Decorate! Using your inking pen (I used Microns), draw on the eye and  nose areas along with the teeth. Give your skeleton a nice big smile. Decorate your flower with your gel pens and let dry.  Lots of flowers, swirls and dots can really dress him up quickly.  Have a look online for images of sugar skulls and Dia de los Muertos type art to give you decorating ideas and inspiration.  I used some embroidery yarn to create a hanger so my DOTD art doll could hang from a rear view mirror or on my wall.

Here are a batch of Day of the Dead art dolls I've made using the above technique!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Decos in the Art Ether

I made a bunch of decos this weekend and am sending them out into the art ether today. Maybe I'll see some of them again (I hope) and maybe others will find new homes. Who knows.

I'm fairly new to the world of decos since any art trades I make are usually ATCs but it sounded like fun so I'm giving it a whirl. Decos are little homemade art books that you send out to art friends around the world. Each person paints or decorates a single page in your book and then sends it on to someone else. Eventually, the book is filled with glorious art and returned home to you. These are a few of the themed decos I made: In the Style of Basquiat, In the Coffee Shop and Portraits & Quotes. If you want me to work in your artistic deco, send me a note! I much prefer hand drawn and painted decos since I'm not exactly skilled at collage.

Friday, October 25, 2013

PPF & Illustration Friday: Creature!

Sadly, I didn't really have much to share this week for PPF, til now. I am working on a lot of new projects but none for show yet. I did have a half done deco cover, lol. Then I saw the Illustration Friday topic and decided to paint up a quickie while I had my morning coffee. The topic is creature so I went with this easy little fellow. He's based on a painting I did ages ago on alien plants--he lived in the plants. Painted in Photoshop. And below are a couple of life drawings from yesterday's session. Both pencil on kraft paper.

Happy PPF! :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween ATCs + Gothic Beehive

Here's a few more of the ATCs made this weekend for the IllustratedATCs Halloween Art-A-Thon. I traded A LOT of cards over the past few days and have some beauties to add to my collection from my wonderful art friends. You can see some of the amazing cards people made on the front page of IllustratedATCs.

I also finished up a design for Mister Dress-up T-Shirts and hopefully, it will be available in their store soon. I'll post if/when I get details. This is a gothic beehive. I love gothic style and I adore ridiculous beehive hairdos so the two make a great combination (in my mind!). 

I used one of the faces I did for the 29 Faces challenge and reworked it a little. Saved me a bit of time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Paint Party Friday: Halloween version!

Woohoo! It's my favourite time of the year - Halloween! I love everything about it; the costumes, pumpkin carving, scary monsters, ridiculous amounts of delicious candy and chocolate and the annual Halloween Art-A-Thon at IllustratedATCs. This weekend, it's time to trade lots of Halloween ATCs with my fellow artists. Above are a few from last year's art-a-thon, all in acrylic. This year (below), I started off in markers and ink but I'm switching over to acrylic for today. No work at all today, I'm just painting pumpkins and witches.

Here's one of the sketches from my life drawing session yesterday. It's not too bad. I think this was a 15 minute pose. I didn't have the best figure drawings yesterday. Sometimes you hit a few winners and sometimes you suck. I did draw a REALLY bad set of feet with extreme foreshortening. It was tough and they still looked ridiculous. Feet are on the practice list.