Derwent Inktense on Fabric

This weekend I tried painting with Derwent Inktense on fabric.

I started by cutting out an ACEO sized piece of denim from an old pair of jeans. ACEOs measure 2.5 x 3.5 inches, and you can read more about these fascinating collectible paintings here.

According to Derwent, intense pencils and blocks are washable at 30 degrees celcius proving they have been completely dissolved, so it is important to make sure that the fabric is thoroughly damp before using the pencils. 

So to begin with I used a flat brush and clean water to dampen the whole piece of denim to the point where it was most definitely damp, but not soaking wet.

Inktense pencils work really really well on the damp denim - much better than I have ever found them to work on paper. The colours were very bright.

With the inktense blocks I picked up paint from the block with a wet brush, and these also worked well but were not as vibrant and did not spread very far.

Next stage was to let the painting dry - seemed to take an inordinate amount of time! I'd forgotten quite how long it takes denim to dry, but I was patient and let it dry naturally. You can see that the colours dried into much more muted tones.

Once dry I added some definition using the inktense blocks, picking paint up from the block with a wet brush and applying it to the now dry denim. This worked well as the colour did not spread as much on dry fabric, although it did still spread a little.

Next day the denim had completely dried, and again the whole painting was much more muted.

Now for the scary part - time for my little fishy to go for a swim!

According to Derwent, inktense is fully washable at 30 degrees celcius. I prepared a nice warm pond for him with washing powder (that took ages to dissolve at that temperature)...

And in he goes...

After 5 minutes of swishing, prodding, and a gentle rub, you can see that a little of the yellow has run, but otherwise the washing water is pretty much the same colour as before.

Here is is straight out of the bath, looking good I think! I made the mistake of squeezing him dry, which left him full of crinkles, so I thoroughly wet him again and left him to drip dry.

24 hours later he was quite dry and, disappointingly, quite faded.

I very much enjoyed this exercise, but have to conclude that inktense painting on denim is not durable enough to be wash-and-wearable.

I will be re-painting this fish with my inktense blocks, but this time I won't wash it!

Do please share your thoughts on (and experience with) inktense on fabric in the comments below, I'd love to know what you think.

Derwent Artbar Paintings

I never thought I'd say this, but I LOVE my Derwent Artbars.

I really struggled to get going with them when I bought them 18 months ago at the Society for All Artists (SAA) "It's All About Art" event in Manchester, England. My previous blog post here describes the battle in detail.

This year, we had that rare thing in England - a hot dry summer - and I finally made friends with them! I enthusiastically wrote a blog post explaining the best ways to get the most from your artbars, you can read that post here.

Today I want to show you some of my more recent artbar paintings - from tiny dolls house paintings up to A4 size. I've settled into using the artbars with a brush and water, picking up paint like you would from a watercolour pan, and also flicking paint directly from the artbar onto the painting with a brush.

I really enjoy using the artbars now, and can wholeheartedly recommend that you try them sometime.

I started off with the 24 artbar set, and yesterday I added the 12 artbar set to my arsenal. The way that Derwent have packaged them is quite good in that you don't get a lot of overlap between the sets - I have 7 new colours and only 5 repeats, one of these being white which I am sure to run out of soon.

If you are thinking of buying a set and don't want to go straight in with the complete set of 72 then I would recommend starting out with the set of 12 - the colours are clean and vibrant and very easily mixable.

And an added bonus is that Derwent tell me that all of their products are non-toxic - although they do break easily so would represent a chocking hazard for small children.

If you have tried artbars I'd be very interested to hear of your experience - I'd love you to leave me a comment to let me know how you have got on with them!

Why do I paint such tiny pictures?

What a good question!

18 months ago I was introduced to painting little 2.5 x 3.5 inch art cards by a good friend of mine, Brenda of Gweddus Art. These little paintings are known as ACEOs (Art Cards Editions and Originals) and you can read more about ACEOs here.

Brenda has a very distinctive and beautiful style, this is one of my favourites of hers.

Fantasy Purple ACEO by Gweddus Art

Another of my favourite folksy artists is Max of Paper Chains & Beads. This is one of her very striking ink art cards

Iris by Paper Chains and Beads

Hazel of Art in Wax creates all of her work using hot wax, either melted and painted with a brush or applied with a hot iron.

Poppy Lane by Art in Wax

Trevor of Trevor Harvey Art is a digital artist, and creates some wonderful art from his own photographs.

Yorkshire Landscape by Trevor Harvey Art

Annabel of Animal Glass Designs creates mixed media ACEOs using a laminated photograph glass paints.

Dragonfly Flower Pond by Animal Glass Designs

And finally for today I'll show you one of mine from my shop Stephanie Guy Fine Art. This one was created with watersoluble wax.

Dragonfly by Stephanie Guy Fine Art

As you can see from this selection, the style of ACEOs available is so varied, collecting them can become just as addictive as painting them!

I have plenty more work from artists who paint in miniature to show you next time - to avoid missing out you can become a member and/or sign up for email notification of my blog, look for the icons on the right hand side of this page.

Oil Pet Portraits in Miniature

I've recently started offering miniature pet portraits measuring just 2.5 x 3.5 inches.

These mini paintings are classed as ACEOs - see my previous post here for an explanation of these highly collectible art cards.

This size looks fabulous on a mini-easel, and is perfect for carrying around with you to show your friends and to connect you to your beloved pet all day, every day.

For pet portraits I always work from photographs, usually supplied by the pet owner. Sadly in many cases portraits are ordered by owners who have lost their pets and realised too late that they don't have a good photograph. You'd be amazed at some of the photos that I have been able to work with! I've added missing legs; worked with blurred photos using the colours of the pet and a standard breed reference photo for the bone structure; digitally lightened photos to be able to make out specific areas that are otherwise too dark etc.

I love to get character information so that I feel a connection to the pet I am painting - whether they are cheeky, fun loving, lazy, quiet or shy, all adds to the final feel of the portrait.

The worst thing about working in oils is the time it takes them to dry - it takes a whole 6 months before they are dry enough to varnish. Luckily the varnish itself is quite quick to dry, it only takes a few days, and then the longed-for portraits can at last be posted.  Delivery is also possible after 3 to 4 months with a temporary varnish which you will need to have professionally upgraded after 12 months.

If you want a larger portrait in oils, I can paint up to 10 x 8 inches

Or if you can't wait 7 months for your portrait, I also offer watercolour pencil portraits, from £30 upwards depending on the size and the number of pets. Watercolour pencil portraits are always presented in a mount (matt), and are completed within two weeks of payment and receipt of a suitable photograph.

Cleaning up your oil brushes without turps

Here is something that I just HAD to share with you.

The other day I bought some expensive Safflower oil so that I could add another layer to a semi-dry oil painting.

I know that if I need to add another layer I have to observe the "fat over lean" rule - which means adding oil to the paint to make it fatter and to slow down the drying time. This is to make sure that the layer on top doesn't dry before the layer underneath, which can cause cracking of the dry top layer as the wet underneath layer moves during the drying process.

It's especially important when adding highlights with titanium white as it is notorious for drying quicker than other colours.

I chose Safflower oil as it doesn't cause yellowing of the pigments over time.

So far, so good.

Whilst I was mixing my colours and adding the safflower oil, I noticed that the oil was actually cleaning my brushes!



I had already made the switch to using Zest-it Sovent instead of artist turps for health reasons, but even that has an overbearing whiff that I could happily do without.

So now I keep a small bottle of regular everyday cooking oil in my kit for cleaning up my brushes and my palette.

And I can paint miniature pet portraits to my heart's content! These are just 2.5 x 3.5 inches, perfect for displaying on a mini easel or for carrying around in your wallet to show your friends.

Pre Christmas Offer in my Folksy shop

This is just a quick post to let you know that I am running a pre-Christmas shopping event in my Folksy shop this weekend. ENJOY!

Slowing down the pace of life with artstagram sketches

I have a confession. I used to take hundreds of photos.

I'd see a beautiful scene and want to capture it immediately - I'd pull out my camera and snap away, but more often than not the photos would be nothing like the scene I had wanted to capture. Yes, proportions were (mostly) spot on, and yes the actions were accurate...but the mood? the atmosphere? the colours? No, these were nearly always disappointing

That old man cycling along the street? the teenager out with the dog? people punting on the river? Everyday scenes would be flat and uninspiring.

Nowadays I much prefer to take a little time over a sketch rather than snap a quick photo, it helps me to appreciate and really look at my world. 

Ink sketch, my local garden centre
Ink sketch, Cambridge UK

  •  Can't draw straight lines? Who cares - a wobble here and there adds charm.

Ink Sketch, Ormskirk, England

  • Struggle with perspective? Don't worry about theory - grab a pencil, hold it at arms length between you and your subject, close one eye and measure angles and distances between key points. And then draw what you see. It's only a piece of paper after all!

Ink Sketch, Ormskirk Motorfest 2013, England

  • Find it difficult to see lights and darks? Squint at your subject to take out some of the confusing colours.

Ink Sketch, Coronation Park
Ormskirk, England
Ink Sketch, Ormskirk, England

Most of all - get out there and practice!

Ink Sketch, Liverpool Philharmonic Rehearsals
Liverpool, England

I still take far too many photos, and do use many of them when I'm back in the studio, but my favourite method of painting these days is on the spot with my mini sketching kit.

  • I always carry a watersoluble pen, a water brush, a small tin full of 2.5 x 3.5 inch pre-cut watercolour paper, and a cardboard coaster to use as a mini drawing board.

Ink Sketch, Ormskirk Motorfest 2013, England

No longer do I sit bored in the doctors waiting room or whilst waiting to perform taxi duties for my teenagers

Ink Sketch, Cross Hall Brow, Ormskirk
Ink Sketch, Doctor's waiting room

I have to say, my studio art has also improved no end because of this.

And why the title "artstagram"? In my last post my daughter laughing said that instead of "instagramming" my life I "art" it!

So do you take lots of photos and never look at them again? Try slowing down the pace of life and sketch instead. Let me know how you get on...

I owe the wonderfully talented Polly Birchall many many thanks for introducing me to this pen (Speedball Elegant Writer). Polly's blog is one of my favourites, I always look forward to reading her posts - do have a nosey round her blog, it's well worth a follow.

Artstagram food

Sat in my local coffee shop with my teens I pulled out my pen, paper and waterbrush and sketched my daughter's coffee.

"It's like art-stagram" she laughed "intead of instagraming your life you 'art' it!"

And she's right - everywhere I go I take a small pack of watercolour paper, a pen and my waterbrush, and a coaster to use as a drawing board.

[instagram, for those who don't know, is a photo sharing network sevice]

Stephanie Guy Fine Art (sold through eBay)

I asked some of my fellow folksy sellers if they had any food related artstagram, and they came up with this little selection...enjoy!

Phoenix Projects
The Card Jeanie
The Crafty Bride

Stephanie Short Stationery