Granulation Medium

I bought some granulation medium earlier in the week, and this morning I've finally found time to have a play with it and to share my findings with you.

To make the comparison, I have used a standard 300gsm "not surfaced" paper and the following paints:

  • W&N Cotman UltraMarine - normally very flat and uniform,
  • W&N Artists French UltraMarine - naturally granulates providing an artistically uneven wash

I'm very impressed with the results. Once the granulation medium is added, it's very difficult to tell the difference between the Cotman and the Artists UltraMarines. I think the granulation medium adds depth and variety to the Cotman paint, and will be very useful when a flat wash is not required.

This photo shows the paints whilst still wet:

And this one shows the paints now dry:

The next photo shows the effect on the following colours:

  • W&N Cotman Turquoise - normally flat and uniform,
  • W&N Cotman Cerulean - normally flat and uniform,
  • W&N Cotman Alirizan Crimson - normally flat and uniform,
  • Derwent Aquafine Sap Green - naturally granulates providing an artistically uneven wash
  • W&N Cotman Burnt Umber - normally flat and uniform,
  • W&N Artists Burnt Umber - naturally granulates providing an artistically uneven wash

I hope you found this blog post useful - feel free to ask any questions in the comments box below.


The value of photographs

There are many tutorials on the use of photographs in creating art - composition, how much detail to include, colour distortion, capturing the feel and mood of the occassion etc. But one thing I have never read is that taking a photograph of your artwork-in-progress and looking at it on the computer screen can be really helpful.

I find it absoloutely fascinating that a photograph of what I think is a finished piece of artwork can show me that it is not at all finished! 

This is a watercolour of my daughter out horseriding in Cornwall

Straight away I can see what needs to be done next - I most definitely need to work on the depth. At the moment the difference between foreground and background is too great. The middle distance needs some development with mid toned greens whilst still keeping the far distance lighter to keep it further away.

When I've done the middle distance I'll take another photo and review it again. I have a feeling that perhaps the sunset will need strengthening.

If I haven't got a camera handy then I will often review my work using a mirror - I stand a little way from the mirror and look at the reflection of my painting. It gives me distance from the painting, and sometimes reversing the image can help with perspective.

Well, off I go to add in those mid-toned greens, and maybe a little more purple too.

Have a great day!

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called? Feel free to link back to your own blog too.


What exactly IS an ACEO??

ACEO stands for Art Card Editions and Originals.

They can take any form of art - textile, oils, watercolour, pen, pencil - whatever you choose.

The only rule is that they must measure 2.5" x 3.5".

They can be easily displayed in a photo album, or mounted and framed, or displayed on a miniature easel.

Mine are all originals - that is, they are original works of art. It is also possible to get prints in the ACEO format - these are known as editions.

Here's one of my ACEO originals displayed on an easel, I think they are adorable displayed like this!

And here is one in a mount, ready to be framed:

If you like ACEOs you can see many more from lots of talented artists and join in with the chat on the Folksy ACEO thread - follow this link and look for the daily "ACEO and Art Thread"

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called? Feel free to link back to your own blog too.


Derwent Artbars

I bought some Derwent Artbars on impulse at the Society for All Artists convention in Manchester, England, after watching 5 minutes of an hour long demonstration. It was way too hot in there, and far too many people for my liking, so I had a quick play at the try-it-out table, decided to buy the set of 24, and left.

I've been regretting the decision ever since...until yesterday.

Derwent Artbars are watersoluble-wax triangular-shaped sticks and are a fairly new product; hence there is not much guidance out there on the web about using them. I have found a few youtube clips showing techniques, but not much about creating a picture.

However, once I stopped thinking of the artbars as a set of scary sticks with not enough variety of colour, and started thinking of them as a cross between watercolour pencils and wax pastels, I got on a lot better.

I have found the best paper to use is watercolour smooth or almost smooth paper.

To begin with, I use the artbars like watercolour pencils - lay down some colour and wash it around with a little water on a brush. Beware though, unless you use the artbars very softly, your marks do still show after the water has been applied. This can be good so long as you apply it carefully and don't just scribble your colour anywhere!

The first of my pictures is a rabbit. I created him using an initial wash, and then built up layers of grass - yellow first, and then darker colours on top. Then I picked up the scraper tool and scratched off to reveal the other colours underneath - much as you would do with a child's firework picture using wax crayon and a pin. Remember those??

The next picture I created by placing colour on the page and spraying with water to achieve a softer look. I'm not so keen on this one, but here it is for you to see

The final picture I'm going to show you today is my dolphin. To begin with I put marks on the paper with the artbars, following the shape and highlights of the dolphin and the water, then I carefully washed these in using a small amount of water.

From then on I used the artbars like pastels. The key to getting them to blend well is warmth, if the atmosphere is not warm, they will not blend. This is why I found them easy to use in the hot convention room, and was struggling in my typical English Summer kitchen! Take them to Costa Coffee, where it is roasting hot, and they worked like a dream!!

I hope that this blog has been helpful to other people who, like me, are finding the artbars a challenge. I recommend you throw your inhibitions to the wind and have a go!


Art Play Time vs Art Promotion Time

When I began selling my art, I had no idea how much time I would spend promoting my work! Here's a quick breakdown of how I spend my time:

At least 2 to 3 hours a day.

This is surprisingly good fun. I have met some lovely people through the Folksy forums, and get a lot of support from fellow artists here. Whether you paint for pleasure, paint to sell or are just interested in art I encourage you to visit the daily "art and aceo thread" on the folksy forum. Each day we share and comment on new work, new ideas, tips and techniques. Sometimes we have an art thread challenge where we all paint along a theme - great fun and produces an amazing variety of work.

This link will take you to the folksy forum - just look for the latest art thread, it will be named something like "aceo and art thread" Folksy Talking - look for the Art and ACEO Thread

I also take part in some of the mutual promotion threads on Folksy, where we all tweet and pin each others work to Pinterest boards. Today I also created a Pinterest board of all my paintings in my folksy shop. This link will take you to my Pinterest boards where you will find work from fellow folksy artists and a catalogue of my own paintings. Pinterest - FlowaPowa Art and Other Folksy Art and Craft

I also promote my work through my facebook page FlowaPowa Art on Facebook

And I mustn't forget writing my blog! This one has probably taken me an hour to write and check.

Bricks and Mortar shops
I spend around 2 hours trawling around shops whenever I have new cards, plus monthly follow up visits to shops that take my cards.

I get a lot of positive comments on my work, however because production costs are high for someone like me, and shops take between 60% to 100% profit on cards, it's very difficult to get cards into shops. I do have my cards in one local shop, and am still waiting to hear from a national chain.

Photographing my Work
This is quite quick - it takes around 10 to 15 minutes per painting to photograph, upload and crop, and resize ready for uploading to Folksy.

Uploading to my Folksy Shop
This is SLOW! It can take as much as half an hour per item to upload to my Folksy shop. I have learnt to upload "internet ready" pictures - I resize them on my pc to the "medium" size setting, and this helps considerable with the upload speed. Folksy does say that you can upload up to 6mb per image but I think I'd still be here next week waiting for the upload to finish!!

Art Play Time
And time spent actually painting? Probably an average of one hour a day! Much less than I would like!  I go to two art clubs each week which are very supportive, and I run a community facebook page for one of these groups. If you're local to Ormskirk, take a look at this facebook page Aughton Artists on Facebook

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called? Feel free to link back to your own blog too.


Folksy Plus Account

I have just come back from a lovely relaxing holiday in Cornwall, where I spent most mornings painting while the family were still in bed - what bliss!

Inbetween the the obligatory washing and putting holiday gear back in the loft for another year, the last week has been spent on-line, listing paintings and cards on my folksy website and generally promoting my work.

Since I had at least 20 items to list, I decided to pay for the Folksy Plus account. It costs £30 upfront, and then all listings are free for a year - worth a go for at least one year - and this way I have the artistic freedom to list items that might be less popular. I still have to pay the standard folksy commission when items sell, but it's still good value.

Here are some of my latest listings

You can see more of my work in my shop at

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called? Feel free to link back to your own blog too.


Greetings Cards

I recently had some of my paintings made into greetings cards.

I decided that I would start with my local art paintings - The Liver Building in Liverpool,  Ormskirk Clock Tower, Ormskirk Bandstand and Lathom Park Chapel in West Lancashire, thinking that these would be nice to send to friends and family around the world.

After much um-ing and ah-ing, I plumped for They were running a free business card promotion at the time, and they had good reviews from fellow crafters on the Folksy forums.

My cards arrived within a week, and were on very high quality card stock...however I was horrified to see white lines across the top of some of my cards. Fortunately Moo have excellent customer service. They explained that I had not allowed enough extra image at the top and bottom of the cards to allow for slight cropping differences. To Moo's credit, they do explain this on their website - I was just too eager to get going to read it all properly! And Moo then offered to reprint the whole order with faster shipping for free. Yay!

I was so pleased with the resulting cards that I decided to try a few local stores. To my delight, an independent newsagents / card shop, and a chain book store both said they would take my cards! The independent shop bought 15 cards on the spot - and the thrill of seeing them in pride of place as you come into the shop was amazing - I was ginning from ear to ear!

The book store, being part of a national chain, is a much slower process - they have to send them off to head office for approval. The shop manager was very optimistic that they would be accepted, but warned that it might take a couple of months.

I have created a pin board to display my cards

They are all available in my Etsy shop

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called? Feel free to link back to your own blog too.