Let's Talk about Copics: Is abundance killing your art?

 
 It's not how many Copic Markers you own, it's understanding how to best use your collection! Why abundance stunts growth. | VanillaArts.com
 

We are extremely fortunate

It’s rare in human history for people to have enough free time to practice hobbies. It’s also unusual for so many people to have the financial means to invest in good quality art products for those hobbies.

Heck, it’s only in the modern era that good quality art products even exist.

So yes, you were born at the right time and under a lucky star.

But is this abundance a good thing?

Now I’m not suggesting that we go back to the days of painting with mud paste on cave walls. But let me explain a bit of what I’m seeing recently…

I’ve got students who own more good quality art supplies than I do.

And they don’t know how to use most of it.

 It's not how many Copic Markers you own, it's understanding how to best use your collection! Why abundance stunts growth. | VanillaArts.com

Before you jump to the conclusion that I’m jealous or that I’m some sort of art dictator, banish that thought entirely! I love the fact that artist grade products are easy to acquire and I’m thrilled that good information is  readily available on the internet, in shops, and in classes.

Viva la freedom!

But here’s the thing- a lot of people are emotionally invested in owning ALL the best items.

It’s the owning that rocks their socks, not the using.

They’re obsessed about a medium just long enough to collect all the materials and then something fresh starts trending and they’re off to collect everything that’s new in that aisle of the craft store.

People have thousands of dollars of art and craft supplies and yet most aren’t producing anything of worth.

Owning all the Copic markers will not make you a great Copic artist

Owning all the colored pencils in the world doesn’t tell you what to do with them.

Collecting every color ever made doesn’t improve the look of your projects.

Abundance hampers growth.

Yep. I’m serious. I think owing all the Copics or all the Prismacolors stunts your ability to learn and to improve your artistry.

For a long time, I had 24 Prismacolor pencils

Yep. I went through art school with just two dozen pencil colors.

Now granted, I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to use my pencils because they kinda frown on using colored pencils in an Oil Portraiture class.

But looking back, I only had a few tubes of watercolors and fewer tubes of gouache. Same with oils and acrylics. And sure, part of the reason was that art school is darned expensive but I wasn’t the only student working with a very limited palette.

 It's not how many Copic Markers you own, it's understanding how to best use your collection! Why abundance stunts growth. | VanillaArts.com

Necessity is the mother of artistry?

That’s not too far off. 

When you work with a limited number of colors, you get to know the product really, really, REALLY well. You learn how to manipulate and manage your colors to get the values and saturations that are needed. 

To go all zen master on you, you become one with the medium.

That doesn’t happen when you own 358 colors.

If you had 358 kids, you’d barely know their names much less how they behave under normal and abnormal conditions.

You also don’t get to know your products when you spend only two weeks using them before you bounce off to the next crafty medium.

And I’ll also extend this thought to cover to those of you buying multiple brands of colored pencils or every kind of marker ever made. You can’t learn a product’s ins and outs if you’re also using four other products at the same time.

Owning everything gets you nothing

A lot of people are using some amazing products on a regular basis and not learning anything in the process.

Remember when I said that art school required very few colors? I wasn’t kidding. One class used only four colors- Titanium White, Ivory Black, Cadmium Red, and Yellow Ochre- and we were painting human figures with realism! I learned a ton of things in that class and 22 years later, I still use that information every day.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, there are a lot of people wasting money buying more supplies than they need.

And there are a bunch of people having pity parties because they don’t own enough supplies to “make anything good.”

The swan image shown here used 12 markers. Four of those markers were used on the background, they’re not on the swan.

So that’s 8 markers for a swan and I could have easily dropped another three without you noticing. 

And those eight markers are the same markers I’ve used on tons of previous images. They’re not swan colors, they’re colors I use on many other things.

 It's not how many Copic Markers you own, it's understanding how to best use your collection! Why abundance stunts growth. | VanillaArts.com

You do not need a lot of supplies to color well

What you need is a good understanding of the supplies you own.

There are giant holes in my Copic collection because I haven’t purchased the colors which I know I’ll never use.

And while I own the entire line of several brands of colored pencil, the vast majority of those pencils sit untouched because I rarely have a need for some colors.

And that’s not unusual for artists. Yes, you’ll meet some color hoarders who own absolutely everything but most artists use the same colors over and over in everything they do. In fact, the majority of us are a little OCD about using just our favorite red and no other red will do. So you could buy out Dick Blick for us and we wouldn’t appreciate it much.

I want you to take a good look at your color collection

This isn't for inventory purposes. I don’t want you to count your colors like Scrooge McDuck.

Instead, I want you to take a good hard look at what you own and ask yourself “do I really understand how to use all this?”

Rather than running out to buy more green pencils because you want to color botanicals and you don’t yet own the magic combination…

Maybe consider the fact that it’s not the supplies you’re missing, it’s the product knowledge.

There’s a big difference between owning everything and understanding everything you own.

Which category are you in?

Print
 

Allow me to vent...

Not a real blog post today...

Just a wee bit o' complaining.

Because I can do that, right? Isn't that what blogs are for?

A student emailed me over the weekend with some fantastic news

The kind of news that should have me dancing in the streets.

Instead, I wanted to find the nearest brick wall and bang my head against it.

Repeatedly.

My beloved colored Copic Multiliners have been undiscontinued

Yep. They discontinued these pens last year (2016) and I went into mourning because I use them, like every single freekin' day.

My student got an early copy of the 2017 catalog and they're back.

I checked the Imagination International website and they're back there too.

I've been busy, so maybe I missed the newsletter announcement, or maybe it's an announcement timed for CHA (the large Craft Hobby Assoc) show this month.

Anyway, the point is that I should be ridiculously happy and yet...

Why do I feel like grabbing a pitchfork?

Well, here's what happens when someone who uses a product daily gets word that said product has been discontinued:

3 Red replacement cartridges = $10 or so

2 Orange replacement cartridges = $6 or thereabouts

2 Yellow replacement cartridges = $6 about

2 Green replacement cartridges = $6

3 Turquoise replacement cartridges = $10

3 Sky Blue replacement cartridges = $10

2 Cobalt replacement cartridges = $6

3 Purple replacement cartridges = $10

2 Pink replacement cartridges = $6

1 Wind replacement cartridge = $3

5 Sepia replacement cartridges = $15

5 Gray replacement cartridges = $15

But that's not all. Because I teach classes with these things, so I had to scramble for a replacement product that my home-store could carry. So days of research and this:

1 set of Stabillo = $15

1 set of Staedtler = $20

1 set of Le Pen = $18

1 set of Zig Mellennium = $17

So this little adventure in undiscontinuedland cost me about $173

And that's why I'm grumpy.

 

 

10 (MORE!) Gifts: Great Gifts for Mixed Media Lovers (presents they'll actually use!)

 
10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- presents they'll actually use! | VanillaArts.com
 

shopping for the perfect gift for a mixed media lover is confusing

Especially if you're not artsy-craftsy yourself.

From a distance, "mixed media" basically means buying a ton of paint looking stuff and letting it drip and run everywhere.

Relax. Sometimes all you need is a little advice from an artist.

Mixed media is the fancy-pants trendy name. Back when I was in art school, we called it "using what you have on hand to get the job done". Whatever you want to call it, I noticed a few years ago that this art form holds a special appeal to crafters and they have a ton of supplies available to use... but very few people know how to effectively use the products they've purchased.

I teach a class showing crafters what their supplies are made of and how they work. So take a deep breath... even your mixed media lover feels lost about supplies sometimes.

I've seen a lot of products come and go and I won't hesitate to tell you when something isn't worth buying.

here are 10 (well loved, not useless) gift ideas for your mixed media lover:

(Warning: the following article contains Amazon Affiliate where applicable. Links to other stores or websites are not part of any affiliate program)

And hey, don't miss my other great gift suggestion lists here... Copic, colored pencil, and mixed media.

#1 - Inktense Blocks

I recommended Derwent's Inktense Pencils in my list of gift ideas for watercolor lovers here.

Inktense Blocks are the rebels of the Inktense family.

Because they're naked.

Yep, once you strip away the wooden body of a colored pencil, you're left with nothing but blessed and glorious color. Inktense Blocks are still the same great dry-ink composition and when activated with water, they still make intense and permanent color.

Without the wood getting in the way, you're free to apply this color any way you want and that's great for mixed media lovers.

They can cover large areas by using the side of the stick instead of the end. Dab a wet paintbrush on them and pick up the color to paint with them as if they're watercolor (you can even break off small squares and keep them in 1/2 pan watercolor palettes). My favorite method is to use a craft knife to scrape off powdery flecks of Inktense right onto my journal page; spritz with water for instant starbursts.

#2 - Illustration Board

Mixed media lovers will work on all kinds of surfaces and they're always game for trying something new.

But how about giving them something old?

Illustration board has been around for forever. It's long been a favorite of commercial artists and technical illustrators (like me) but I can't think of anything better as a base for gesso, mediums, and the other goopy stuff that mixed media artists throw at their paper.

Illustration Board is just that, a thick paper board with a hot press surface. Because it's so darned thick, it can withstand a lot of abuse from wet media and it won't buckle or wilt.

Canson has a new line of different style boards in block (pad) format. I'm loving the ease of using small pages of illustration board rather than cutting down pages from gigantic sheets.

#3 - Balzer Bits

Most paper crafters know of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer from her PBS television show Scrapbook Soup (now Make it Artsy) but mixed media lovers are fans of Julie for her amazing mixed media journals.

I've long had a weakness for The Crafter's Workshop stencils. Their bold texture and pattern stencils are very hard for me to resist.

So combine Julie with TCW? Oh, oh. I'm in trouble!

Balzer Bits are my favorite things in the stencil world! Ever wonder what happens to the shape that they remove from the acetate to make a stencil?

All that lovely goodness is now captured by Julie as a masking element.

So with stencils, you fill in the shape. With a Balzer Bit, you fill in the area around the shape. Genius and so much more useful to me!!!

The link here is for the daisy shape that I love playing with but there are lots and lots and lots and lots of other Bits in the collection. Your mixed media person will cheer when they open a small collection of assorted Balzer Bits.

#4 - General's Sketch & Wash in a Slimline Case

I'm about to let you in on a secret. My secret weapon, actually.

General's Sketch & Wash is how I add depth and dimension to a lot of my journal images. I use the soft gray of this water-soluble charcoal pencil  to add shadows to lettering or objects, then I melt and soften it with water.

I also use them in life drawing classes, drawing figures with them in class, then softening and adding artistic touches later.

They're useful pencils but they're not expensive enough to be a whole present on their own, so I'd suggest tucking them into the same case I keep mine in. ArtBin Slim Line cases come in lots of colors so you can organize your supplies a bit. They're transparent and shallow which means you never have to dig through a pile of boxes, opening them all to find what you want.

#5 - Dr. Ph. Martin's Iridescent Calligraphy Colors

Mixed media types have a thing for ink, and if that ink is labeled for use by a rare sort of artist? WHOA! That only adds to it's street cred.

We love using unusual supplies against manufacturer's suggestion.

Dr. Ph Martin's Iridescent Color is a pigment ink that was formulated for calligraphers. The metal colors are to die for.

My favorites are the copper and nickel versions but you can be boring and go with gold. They're liquid metal and truly delicious.

#6- Sakura Solid Paint Markers

I've had a few folks ask me how I get thick crayon lines on the edges of my projects. Do I own a giant crayon?

Nope. It's a Sakura Solid Paint Marker.

Actually, it is now. Those distinctive marks used to come from a giant crayon that my husband had in his tool chest, something to mark on metal before welding.

But that ran out and so I had to go out and buy the artist version.

A solid paint marker leaves a crayon looking line-- broken, jagged, and organic looking. But 30 seconds after it goes down, it cures to an indelible mark that can be colored over or left in all it's glory.

Personally, I only use the white and black versions but they come in a dozen other colors including florescent.

I'd advise buying them for your mixed media lover because once they read this article, they're going to steal the sheet metal marker from YOUR tool kit.

#7- Golden HIgh Flow Acrylics

I use Golden High Flow Acrylic Paints in all of my mixed media projects.

Seriously. I'm hard pressed to name one that doesn't use it somewhere. Either in the background, as random texture, or as the star of the show.

They can be used straight from the bottle or diluted slightly with water as a faux-watercolor. Spritz them with rubbing alcohol for amazing effects. 

My most used colors: Quinacridone Nickle Azo Gold, Cobalt Teal, Turquoise, Quinacridone Red, Buff Titanium, and Dioxazine Purple.

The small bottles in a kit are a great introduction to the product. Once your special person has become addicted, they can buy it in the large bottles a la carte.

10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- Art Graf is the perfect stocking stuffer, an unusual and squishy pencil clay. | VanillaArts.com

#8 - Art Graf

Okay, this one wins the weird award. It's pure novelty.

And that's why it's the perfect stocking stuffer. Your mixed media lover will smile as they try to imagine how to use it.

Imagine Play-Doh you can draw with.

Art Graf Watersoluable Graphite Clay is a squishy clay putty that can be molded and kneaded into any shape. Then you draw or color as desired.

We've had great fun with it in figure drawing class but I can totally see how a mixed media fan would fall in love with Art Graf. It's too much of an oddball not to be well loved.

As a matter of fact, I'd recommend stuffing this in the stocking of ANY kind of artist. This stuff rocks!

#9 - Drawing & Painting Beautiful Faces

I teach observational drawing classes, so I'm not usually a proponent of formulaic drawing methods. Teaching someone to "draw a line here, then a line there, then do this, then that" usually starts out great but ends in heartache when the student finds that everything they produce looks the same.

But even me, set in the old ways as much as I am, even I can see the merits of teaching faces via formula.

Faces are intimidating, even to professional artists. No one wants to draw freaky looking portraits of their best friends.

So I'll lighten up enough to recommend Jane Davenport's Drawing & Painting Beautiful Faces. She shows readers exactly how she structures the features and then provide projects where the faces can be used. As a starter book, encouraging readers to draw and experiment, it's full of excellent information. I also love her advice to carry on and push through the ugly phases; "trust the mess" is pretty darned good drawing mantra.

10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- Posca Paint Markers, they'll love owning an entire set.  | VanillaArts.com

#10 - Posca Paint Markers

There are a few materials everyone in mixed media owns.

Posca Paint Markers are one of them. Pretty much all of us have the white and the black one.

But few people have all 15 colors!

And if they do, they don't have all 15 in all the other sizes.

Posca Paint Markers come in Bold, Medium, Fine, and Extra Fine points.

While I'm a fan of the extra fine points, I would be touched to receive a full set of any other diameter. They're that good.

#11 - Digital Stamps... by me!

Okay, I know I was supposed to stop at 10 Gifts.

... but you read this far, so I might as well throw in a plug for my own products.

I teach expressive art journal techniques to students who want to move from simple coloring to art experimentation. We play with paint, stamps, stencils, and also DIGITAL STAMP IMAGES.

All of my digis are drawn with wide open spaces, perfect for students wishing to add their own personality to the image. I draw the guidelines and let the user's talent shine.

Shown at right is "Bluebird". The top is acrylic, watercolor, and ink on Aquabord. The bottom is Copic and colored pencil. The image is versatile because I draw images simply, with no texture marks or squiggles to get in the way of your art.

PURCHASE DIGITAL STAMPS FROM VANILLA ARTS COMPANY HERE

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the colored pencil lover in your life.

Be sure to check out my other helpful gift suggestion lists for Copic, colored pencil, watercolor, and mixed media fans.

 

Questions? Suggestions? I'd love feedback in the comment section!

Happy Shopping!

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Ten Gifts: Great Gifts for Mixed Media Lovers (presents they'll actually use!)

 
10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- presents they'll actually use! | VanillaArts.com
 

shopping for the perfect gift for a mixed media lover is confusing

Especially if you're not artsy-craftsy yourself.

Because as far as you know, "mixed media" basically means throwing lots of stuff onto oversized paper and writing on top of it.

Relax. Sometimes all you need is a little advice from an artist.

Mixed media is the fancy-pants trendy name. Back when I was in art school, we called it "using what you have on hand to get the job done". Whatever you want to call it, I noticed a few years ago that this art form holds a special appeal to crafters and they have a ton of supplies available to use... but very few people know how to effectively use the products they've purchased.

I teach a class showing crafters what their supplies are made of and how they work. So take a deep breath... even your mixed media lover feels lost about supplies sometimes.

I've seen a lot of products come and go and I won't hesitate to tell you when something isn't worth buying.

here are 10 (well loved, not useless) gift ideas for your mixed media lover:

(Warning: the following article contains Amazon Affiliate where applicable. Links to other stores or websites are not part of any affiliate program)

And hey, don't miss my other great gift suggestion lists here... Copic, colored pencil, and mixed media.

red ribbon left.jpg

#1 - Nicholson's Peerless Watercolors

Peerless Watercolors are an old product dating back to the days before color photography. Photographers who wanted color in their photography had to add it after the film was processed, using Peerless color to spot color their photographs, adding color to hair & faces or scenery.

Those days are long gone but the formulas remain the same. Watercolorists and mixed media artists love Peerless colors because they're handy to use and they're fun because they're so strange.

The swatches you see in the photo above is transparent watercolor that has been embedded in little cards. The colors are bold and vibrant. All you have to do is rub a damp paintbrush over the swatch to pick up lots of color. I wouldn't paint a whole picture using peerless but when I need to add little touches of color, I immediately grab my Peerless kit.

Peerless colors are grouped into several sets and are sold directly from the Peerless Color lab. The "Bonus Pack- Small" makes a great starter set, especially when combined with a few nice watercolor brushes.

#2 - Absorbant or Watercolor Ground

Your mixed media lover is very familiar with gesso, it's a white base coat that he/she uses to prepare their paper, canvas, or other surface for painting.

Gesso is popular, but I've found that very few mixed media know about Absorbent Ground. A tub of "ground" makes a great gift as you will be introducing them to something truly magical!

Gesso seals the surface of the canvas, wood or panel before painting. It's essentially primer for artists. A seal coat is great if you're using an acrylic paint, but if you want to use watercolor or watercolor pencil, gessoing is the worst thing you can do. Any paint that has a lot of water in it's base (like watercolor) will roll right off of gesso. It won't stick because it can't.

Absorbent ground is the opposite of gesso. It prepares the surface for watercolor! I love this stuff with a fiery passion. I've used it to paint on wood, on melamine, I even use it to turn cheap journal paper into watercolor paper.

Warning: this stuff is addictive. Your special someone may start looking around for more stuff to paint... duck when they look at you with that "I wonder..." look.

10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- Tim Holtz Mini Stencil collections. Easy to use, easy to store. | VanillaArts.com

#3 - Tim Holtz Stencil collections

Okay, your special person likely owns a few of these stencils already. But I'm going to suggest them anyway. Here's why:

Stencils are a basic ingredient in most mixed media projects. The problem is that your person likely collects them from tons of different brands and stencils are hard enough to store safely without worrying about all the different sizes from 12" x 12" all the way down to 2" x 2".

A few years ago, I gave up. I started buying a Tim Holtz mini stencils as replacements for each of my favorite awkwardly sized stencils. The Tim Holtz stencils are all a consistent size with a handy punch hole at the top. I pop them each onto one binder ring and hang that on a hook in my studio. Sooooooo much simpler than digging through a drawer or file cabinet to find the one I want.

Your mixed media person likley won't give up all their odd sized stencils (we do grow oddly attached to them) but they will appreciate being able to sub out some of their worn or worst to store stencils with a similar stencil. Because I use stencils for texture rather than pattern, this streamlining process greatly increased my efficiency with no emotional loss.

I purchased most of my mini stencils as singles but a short while back they started packaging them in groups of three. And now the threes are in groups of three. Perfect!

#4 - ARtBin Quick View Boxes

The worst thing about mixed media is that you tend to collect a lot of stuff.

Stuff is the technical term for "small little things that come in sets of 200 in a crummy blister pack."

Blister packs look great on the store shelf but then you get home and find that you now have to store it all somewhere... somewhere.... but where? If you shove it all in drawers, eventually you're going to loose track of what you own and what you don't own.

Which is why the average mixed media artist owns 14 white paint markers. Because they can't remember where they stored the first 13 pens.

ArtBin makes a lot of convenient storage solutions. And because ArtBin boxes are designed for heavy and possibly sharp or clunky supplies, ArtBins really do last longer than other plastic bins and tubs. The Quick View boxes are my favorite, they stack nicely, they're translucent so you can see into the box, and they're shallow so you never have stuff hiding out underneath layers of other stuff.

Get your special person a few ArtBin Quick View Boxes. Because they've got stuff.

#5 - FW Inks

Acrylic inks are the love-child of airbrush paints and calligraphy inks.

They're intense color in a super smooth consistency; they often dry with a pretty sheen that pops nicely from the other matte products we use.

Mixed media artists paint with acrylic inks, they stamp with them, and they let them ooze and drip all over. Everyday, somebody somewhere comes up with a new use for these inks, so they're always fresh and fun to work with.

FW Inks are made by Daler Rowney and I think they're amongst the best I've tried (and I've tried some pretty bad ones...). My favorite set is the Pearlescents shown above. They come in a cute little box which your mixed media person will rip open so that they can oogle the bottles like the little gemstones they are.

Seriously. I spent about 20 minutes shaking these inks and turning the bottles, just to watch them shimmer.

Oh, and they look good on paper too.

#6- Neo-color II Crayons

Don't let the name "crayon" turn you off. Crayon is simply French for "weird little stick of color".

Hey, if Leonardo Da Vinci loved crayons, ain't no shame in us usin' 'em.

Neocolor II crayons are watersoluable. That's what makes them amazing. They go on like oil pastels but can be melted and softened with water. The finished look can resemble pastel or opaque watercolor (gouache).

I mentioned oil pastels just now. If you talk to some crafters/artists they may recommend the new breed of oil pastels called "watersoluable oil pastels" in lieu of Neocolor IIs. I've tried them both and I greatly prefer the Neocolor II crayons.

By the way, that "II" at the end of Neocolor II is important. You want the second generation Neocolors with a TWO at the end. Neocolor I (one) are permanent oil pastels. They don't do the whole watery melty thing.

I'm directing you to a set of 30 here. They come in larger sets and they come in smaller. The larger sets are overkill for a beginner. The smaller sets are frustrating because they're missing some key colors. 30 is good.

#7- Glass Bead Gel

Mixed media lovers are suckers for gel medium.

This one is extra special. It's full of teensy tinsy glass beads.

I know. It looks like kindergarten paste, it smells funny, and this kind is lumpy and bumpy. What's the big deal?

Well, gel medium is magical stuff. It's a glue, it's a transfer medium, it can thin out the color of paint, it can thicken paint... it does everything but weather-proof your lawn furniture for the winter.

Actually, it can waterproof things, so scratch that... it can protect your lawn furniture.

Your special person will love playing and experimenting with the glass beaded version of gel medium. They can mound it up for 3D effects, spread it out smooth for a bit of grit, or let the little beads collect in corners for beautiful texture. Glass Bead Gel can be mixed with acrylic paint to colorize it or they can paint over it later. 

#8 - Butcher Trays

Of everything in my studio, butcher trays are about the most humble yet handy things.

Butcher trays are aluminum coated with baked on enamel. They come in lots of sizes.

I originally purchased mine as paint palettes. They work great for watercolors but also for acrylics- both rinse right off and never stain the enamel.

What I didn't realize was that butcher trays would help me organize my projects in progress.

An 11x15 butcher tray can hold my watercolor block of paper, the paint brushes, the photo references, and anything else I'm using on the project all together and I can slide it on a shelf at the end of the day.

At any one time, I've got 3-8 class projects in progress and each has it's own tray. This not only simplifies my clean up process but it also keeps me from having to search around for supplies the next day.

A few butcher trays are a welcome addition to your special person's craft room.

#9 - Alternative Art Surfaces

If you've read my other gift suggestion lists, you know I'm not a fan of project based recipe books. Sure, it's fun to look at someone else's project but I have no desire to recreate what they've done... I'd rather take the inspiration and explore new directions on my own.

That same attitude is typical of mixed media lovers. The reason why they're in mixed media in the first place is because they love to play and experiment.

Alternative Art Surfaces by McElroy and Wilson is just our kind of book. Instead of presenting projects, the authors present different supply materials- like resin, nylon, spray foam, or sheet aluminum.

The entire book is essentially "Here's this thing you may want to use, here's a few pics of how others have used it, and here are some generalized basic techniques to get you started."

There's no step 1, step 2, step 3 going on in this book. Instead it skims over non-traditional materials and challenges you to learn on your own.

And I love that. Your mixed media lover will too.

#10 - Donna Downey's Inspiration Wednesday membership

Disclaimer here, I do not know Donna, I've never met her, and I'm in no way affiliated with her or her studios.

But I am a fan.

Mixed media people tend to be visual people (duh) and visual people learn best by doing. Physically getting their hands into a project and feeling the materials and gathering inspiration from the process.

Some days are pretty good days where the supplies sing and great stuff happens. Other days you might sit and stare at the blank page and the pots of paint... and nothing.

I teach expressive art journaling classes once a month, so that's one day out of 30 where a student is being challenged to "try this" or "mix this and that". As much as we love art-play, we do sometimes need a poke in the ribs to stop recreating the same thing in twelve different colors.

MM lovers are always happiest when they're doing something new, but novelty is sometimes hard to come by.

Inspiration Wednesday is membership based access to a weekly project blog and corresponding video by Donna Downey. She's very entertaining but she's also fearless. Personally, I don't recreate anything she does. Instead I watch and learn from her mistakes and successes. Later I can pick up her same ingredients and feel more comfortable with getting my materials to behave based on what I've watched Donna do. She's a gentle push into new directions that I usually haven't considered.

Donna does have other art journal workshops but Inspiration Wednesday is a reasonably priced foot in the door. I'd never recommend that you purchase a full workshop for someone else, instead consider this low-commitment, no obligation blog-course as an appetizer. 

#11 - Digital Stamps... by me!

Okay, I know I was supposed to stop at 10 Gifts.

... but you read this far and so I might as well throw in a plug for my own products.

I teach expressive art journal techniques to students who want to move from simple coloring to art experimentation. We play with paint, stamps, stencils, and also DIGITAL STAMP IMAGES.

Sometimes we transfer digis to the page with gel medium. Other times we trace the image. No matter how we use them, I find that students love using well drawn artist quality images to add sophistication when their own drawing skills are lacking.

All of my digis are drawn with wide open spaces, perfect for students wishing to add their own personality to the image. I draw the guidelines and let the user's talent shine.

DIGITAL STAMPS FROM VANILLA ARTS COMPANY

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the colored pencil lover in your life.

Be sure to check out my other helpful gift suggestion lists for Copic, colored pencil, watercolor, and mixed media fans.

Questions? Suggestions? I'd love feedback in the comment section!

Happy Shopping!

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