February 27, 2017

New Art Material: Testing Out Montana Paint Pens

Recently I purchased some new art supplies to trial: Montana Paint Pens through Hobby Hoppers, which is an Etsy shop in Australia.

For years & years & years I've used the same supplies. A matte flow (as apposed to a structured) acrylic paint in a few select colours (just 4 different tubes can you believe!?) and a gloss medium. For years. Did I mention that already!? It's just that I feel a little sad that all that time I could have been hanging around with some exciting new studio buddies!

Testing out Montana Paint pens, paint pens review, Art pens, Art markers

Recently, (in the last couple of years) I started experimenting and branching out to try other colours, mediums, techniques and media, and I'm so glad I did. You never know when you're going to fall in love with a new colour or medium, and what effect it will have on your work. I have branched out to use turquoise colours, deep red (cool) hues (I only used to use warm reds), stencils, printing techniques... I have always tried lots of different crafts, but within painting I seemed to just stick to the same limited tool box. Too safe!

I was reading an art book recently where it talked about using paint pens. I was intrigued and just had to try. These opaque acrylic pens that go over just about any surface, including gloss paint/ medium! Which is super great because I love my gloss medium.

The Montana brand was one of the brands that was recommended in the book due to their lightfastness, their quick drying ability, and their ease of use. You can write over the top of your artwork or block in some colour. You could use them to draw a picture over the top and then paint it in. Polka dots, lines; the options are limitless. I bought three pens in the fine 2mm size.

Before I used the paint pens here, I started with my sketch book and started quickly filling in the page with colour and texture using a 7B pencil (I love those pencils, they are more like a soft black pencil than graphite) and acrylic paint. 

I used thin washes of acrylic paint & scungy thick brush strokes coupled with the pencil. You can see from my strokes this was quickly done. I also used a bit of matte medium to thin down some paint and do some quick washes.

I usually like to fill in all my background, whether I'm working in my sketch book or a wood panel or canvas. Even if none of the colour or marks will appear in the final, it always adds more interest and depth to the finished works in my opinion. It's like adding a bit of history.

I also love to use acrylics watered down instead of watercolours. Because I usually work in multiple layers, I would get annoyed with the underneath watercolour layer shifting underneath, hence the reason I use my acrylics.

paint pens, art supplies, painting techniques
Time to experiment with a paint pen. I bought a bright pink, a lime green, and white. Apparently the pens are refillable too, which is great to know.

I added some geometric shapes.

Then some cactus-y shapes

Here we go, the finished (for now anyway!) art journal entry. The green wasn't as opaque as the white and pink, you can see a few scribbles there, I think it still works well.

art, texture, textured painting, bright painting, modern
I've also started incorporating the paint pens into some of my other works as you can see in these snippets of artwork. (This is a section of a unicorn print in my shop.)

The white is quite opaque, which is fantastic. I love the white.

Testing the white out again on this small canvas. I think I went too far, and added too much. (Yes, that happens whilst creating artwork.)

The pink really stands out here in this section of a painting. It's quite opaque too.

So if you're wanting to try out the Montana paint pens I found a few colours available in Australia from Hobby Hoppers. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. Any techniques you'd like me to show you how to do on the blog? I'm all ears, just let me know in the comments.

Jules :)

February 21, 2017

My Art Studio Electronic Equipment & New Printer (Yay!!)

As well as all my art materials and supplies, like canvasses, panels, paints, brushes, pencils etc etc I have a number of electronic 'tools' in my art studio here.

Please note this article contains affiliate links, see the bottom of the post for an explanation.

So, my trusty electronic studio gadgets include:

-An Epson 3800 printer which I use to print out my giclee prints. It holds archival ink tanks and is reserved for printing art prints only.
(A giclee print (pronounced "ggee-clay"- say the 'g' as if you're French) is another term for a Fine Art digital print. All prints in my shop are printed right here in the studio using only archival, museum grade quality inks and papers for my prints.)

 -My trusty iMac desktop computer with a 27" screen which really is fantastic for doing artwork on. (I clutter up my virtual desktop just the same as I clutter up my physical desktop; I need space!)
- A Wacom tablet for drawing digitally. (Mine is a little on the old side but it's still doing the job nicely- I'm scared to look at how far this technology has come as I'm sure I'll want to upgrade if I do.)
Drawing Tablet, art studio tools and equipment
My Wacom Drawing Tablet

- An Epson V800 Scanner. I did a lot of research when it came to using scanners for artwork, which could be a whole other blog post. I ended up deciding on the V800. And for anyone that's researching it for scanning large artworks: yes! The lid comes right off! (I could not find that information anywhere- not even from Epson themselves!)
Epson V800 Scanner

-Small toaster oven for baking polymer clay items (as I'd rather not use my food oven).

-Other small items are a lightbox and a cheap hairdryer. Both entirely indispensable when it comes to creating art, in my humble opinion.
High tech stuff

-Then I have a normal everyday printer. I use my everyday printer for printing recipes, enlarging roughs, printing out invoices, the kids homework, and printing things like mailing labels and tags for my products. And... er... printing out numerous copies of Equestria Girl characters for my girls to copy from... *roll eyes here*.

Which is where my new purchase comes in. Way to go Epson for bringing out a cartridge-less printer!!
Epson EcoTank

I spent a small fortune last year on ink cartridges for my cheap everyday Epson printer, but unfortunately it has died and I need to replace it. I could've bought another cheap printer and kept throwing well earned money at new ink cartridges; but I decided to pay more upfront and have purchased a Epson Expression EcoTank Printer ET2500. The ink comes in bottles and you place the bottles directly into the printer. Apparently the bottles print around 4000 pages in black and white or 6500 pages in colour. I will rejoice in not having to replace those darn cartridges all the time! And they always seem to run out at the most inconvenient of times. And the bottles are cheap!  Around $15 AUD per colour (so that's cheaper is US dollars; my US friends) when you actually need to replace.

Perhaps Epson had to come out with something like this, though I'm not sure if other companies have similar versions, but due to so many people feeling dissatisfied and ripped off by ink cartridges I think it was high time something like this came out. I'm very excited to be done with those ink cartridges and I can finally print freely without feeling like I'm printing with the liquid from an expensive bottle of champagne.

I've also ordered 100% recycled copy paper, as I needed some more of that, too.

Just don't tell my two girls that we could potentially be printing out hundreds of copies of Equestria Girl characters. Ok?

Hurry up delivery man!

Check out the Epson Expression EcoTank Printer ET2500 on Amazon.

Jules :)

*Affiliate Information: Affliliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

February 14, 2017

Mosaicing With Kids: A How To with Tips & Safety

This post is all about making mosaics with kids, my 'how- to', tips & safety.
mosaicing with kids, kids craft, craft, tutorial, craft tutorial, DIY
I find mosaic a wonderful craft to do with kids as there's not a lot of skill needed to make a finished product that kids can be proud of, so once you have everything you need you can just jump in and get started. They're also using more specialised materials, things like tiles and grout, which adults use for proper adult jobs, so it can make them feel very clever indeed!
mosaic, art, garden art, art garden
For basic mosaic you don't need a lot of fancy equipment or supplies, and most can be found at the local hardware store. We buy a lot of our tiles online here in Australia from The Mosaic Store, but hardware stores sometimes have craft sections with tiles, then there's other craft stores, $2 shops, and actual tile shops that usually sell the lovely glass tesserae.
Craft supplies, mosaic supplies
Some beautiful millefiori stars from The Mosaic Store
glass pebbles from the garden section of our local hardware store

The tesserae is probably the easiest to start with as it's easy to cut with a pair of tile nippers; and smaller decorative tiles that don't need to be cut.

Supplies needed:

- Various tiles
- Terracotta plant base
- Outdoor PVA glue
- Outdoor tile adhesive
- Outdoor grout in your choice of colour

Tools & other items:

- Tile nippers
- Homemade plastic scrapers cut from empty containers
- Rags
- Soft scrubbing brush
- Latex gloves (grown up size and kid size)
- Eye protection (for when you're nipping tiles)
- Paintbrush for brushing on PVA
Mosaic Tools, mosaic tiles
Tile nippers, glass tesserae, other smaller mosaic tiles, plastic scrapers

Safety tip: Make sure kids are wearing shoes as little shards of tile can be sharp!

Starting out with something like a terracotta plant base is fantastic. The surface is flat so you won't have tiles trying to glue against gravity, and the edge provides a physical border to keep their tiles within a neat shape.

We coat our terracotta pieces first with outdoor PVA wood glue and leave to dry.

Then, we use an outdoor tile adhesive. The one I have is cement based. As long as you get an outdoor tile adhesive you should be fine. I like to mix this away from kids as I don't want them breathing in any cement dust. I just use an old plastic container and the wrong end of a flat paint brush to mix. Once the adhesive is mixed it's not an inhalation risk anymore. Spread a layer of adhesive down for them around 2-3mm thick (1/16").
colorful, colourful, craft, kids craft, kids creating, mosaic tiles, mosaic craft
We keep our tiles organised by colour

I nip tesserae into smaller pieces, and then they just use some of the smaller shaped tiles as they are. You nip by placing the nips at the edge of a tile while holding the tile with your other hand. Press down and it will break into two. Some tiles break nice and evenly, others may not. Practise with a few. Wear your eye protection and do this away from kids so that little bits of broken tile don't fly towards them.
They can then glue their tiles onto their terracotta base. I have found some kid sized latex gloves in our local supermarket which have been perfect for protecting little hands from the adhesive. Try and get them not to butt tiles hard against one another so remind them to leave a little gap. I always explain to kids that making mosaics is kind of like doing a puzzle; you just find where a piece seems to fit and place it in. Another thing is we don't stack tiles on top of each other. This may seem obvious but to a kids fresh mind, it's not! I love their boundless ideas. Try also to get them to not leave big open spaces. Again, I'm not too concerned, but for the longevity of the piece, it's best not to leave big gaps between tiles.

- leave a little gap
- don't butt tiles hard against one another,
- place tiles side by side, not on top of each other.
Kids also sometimes get the right and wrong side of the tesserae mixed up. The bumpy side is the wrong side, the smooth side is the right side. Have a chat to them first and explain and show them this. You may have to keep reminding them! Some will still keep mixing them up, but it doesn't matter too much.
Smooth side is the right side!
When they are happy with their arrangement it's time to leave it to dry for as long as the adhesive's instructions.

*Sometimes kids get a bit messy with the adhesive. It helps to go back when the adhesive is dry but not rock-hard and scrape a bit of the excess adhesive off the top of some tiles and between them if there's too much.
Scraping some excess adhesive away with a piece of tile (a nail could also work)

Then, we grout! Again, I mix it up to the consistency of thick cream away from kids so they don't breathe the dust. Then we use little homemade plastic scrapers (cut from plastic containers) to spread the grout on. This part is messy and therefore fun!

Plop it on and scrape it all around to make sure you fill all the gaps between the tiles. Wear gloves for this bit.

Once it's done and it looks like it's starting to dry off a bit you can take a soft scrubbing brush and start to scrape the excess grout off the front of the tiles. (We also have a stiff paintbrush here that did the job on a previous project too.)

Then use a dry cloth to polish. If there's any staining on the sides of the dish that you don't want, wipe that away with a wet cloth.
And then you're done! Let it dry before you put into the great outdoors.

It's so satisfying creating something that will last and pretties up the garden.
Proud creators
In situ :)

And once you've mastered the basic skills you could progress onto other items such as plant pots or picture frames.
Miss S with her mosaic plant pot

I hope you enjoyed the mosaic how-to & tips from me. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will get back to you, and be sure to let me know if you try mosaicing with kids!

Jules :)

February 10, 2017

A Local Art Gallery- The Station Gallery

We have a local arts gallery called The Station Gallery in Yarragon, which is not far from me here in West Gippsland (Victoria, Australia).

Yarragon is a pretty cute place to visit along the highway, with cafe's and gift shops. Well worth a visit.
Colourful mosaic ladies, sculptures
 "Jessica & Gina" by Jo Stewart

I haven't been into the gallery for a while (it's always the way isn't it, you don't visit what's in your own backyard!) but I popped in there recently to view the current mosaic exhibition they have running.
"Beachside" by Dot Thorne

I always find it's nice to get out and view work in the flesh rather than looking at it through a computer screen or on my phone. It always gives me a bigger dose of inspiration.
"The Wise One" by Alene Bonser
Left: "Patchwork" by Viv Hordern, Flowers by Colleen Bright
colorful,colourful, artwork, mosaic, art, paint palette, rainbow art
"Painter's Palette" by Elisabeth Smoorenburg
Mosaic, sculpture, art, art gallery
"Siam" by Colleen Bright
Top: "Whitsundays" by Janet Wyllie 
Bottom: "Small Fish" by Colleen Bright

I couldn't resist taking a shot of these soft- sculpture birds. As well as the current exhibition there's also pieces like these, as well as handmade jewellery on display.
Soft sculpture art birds
"Oracle Birds" by Judy Boaler

I've had a couple of pieces in the gallery in the past. I really must pull my finger out and get more involved with the local gallery!


The Station Gallery is located at the Yarragon Railway Station, Princes Highway, Yarragon Victoria. Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday 10.15am - 4pm.

Jules :)

February 06, 2017

New Modern Style Brooches/ Pins in The Shop


I have some new brooches/ pins that have just hit the (virtual) shelves!
clay jewelry, statement jewelry, brooch, handmade jewelry
They are handmade from polymer clay, hand- formed, hand painted, unique, arty, and bold.
bronze accent handmade brooch, hand painted jewellery, colorful & unique
modern jewellery, modern jewelry, polymer clay, handmade
Each brooch is rolled out from the clay, then I carve each one out in the flower shape that I am currently obsessed with. I am not sure when I will be done with this flower shape. It appears in lots of art & paintings that I do.
unique, handmade, hand painted jewelry, handmade brooch
I then add some texture and bake.
colorful unique style brooch with bronze accents
Each is hand painted just as I would a painting; individually and each has no plan when they are started. I just get a 'feel' for a certain colour and just start painting away, adding more colour and texture as I go. It's quite intuitive and I stop when I feel no more urge to add any more colour anywhere and when I feel it is finished.
colorful unique modern brooch, handmade, hand painted
I think they make quite a statement and would suit someone with a love of colour and creativity.
clay jewelry, modern, bright, colorful, brooches, collection, jewelry collection, handmade
You can find a range of these brooches in this modern flower range now in the shop.

Jules :)


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