How to get your paintings printed onto greetings cards

What a pa-lava!

I've had a series of my original artwork professionally printed onto greetings cards and I'm so pleased with how they have turned out I thought I would share the process with you.

The Kicking Donkey, Ormskirk
The Buck I'th Vine, Ormskirk

Why a pa-lava? Well, it took three months of to-ing and fro-ing to the printer's to get there!

Here is the process I went through. If you follow these steps you should be able to avoid some of the pitfalls and have a successful outcome!

The Bandstand, Ormskirk
Clieves Hills, Aughton, Ormskirk

  • Start well in advance of when you want your cards to be ready. For me, the process took 3 months - I consider this to be time well invested because when I need a rerun it can be done at the push of a button.
  • Take good quality photos in good light. I take mine outdoors on a bright day, out of direct sunlight and not behind glass. I have a 20MP digital compact bridge camera. Make sure that the lense is clean and use a tripod to eliminate camera shake. Don't touch up the photo - let the printers do that. They have the skills required to know what changes need to be made to suit their printing equipment.
  • Choose your printers carefully. Unless you have a LOT of money to spare, you will be looking at digital printing rather than lithographical printing. This isn't a bad thing, just make sure your printer has a top quality printer to work with. Previously I made the mistake of going to a small scale printers who used a standard office printer - needless to say the quality was not good, and that print run ended up in the recycling bin. You will be viewing a lot of proofs, so locality may be important to you - it certainly was to me.
  • View proof printed samples of every image to make sure that they looked like the originals. This is VERY important - my previous card run (at afore mentioned small scale printers) was done without proofs and was a complete disaster - as I said, the cards ended up in the recycling bin.
  • Choose the card stock (finish, thickness, texture etc) and view more proofs. My cards are printed on white 350gsm card with a satin finish.
  • Source good quality envelopes. The ones that my printer had on offer were very basic - I chose to search for some myself and found some good ones in The Range (UK).
  • Source cellophane bags of the exact size to fit the card with the envelope tucked inside. Mine came from The Works (UK).
  • View proofs of the cards made up to the size I wanted, and to check the wording and the positioning of my logo on the back was correct.
  • Once printed, check every card for quality (quality of cut, finger prints, any bends, ink marks, accurate fold etc), match with an envelope and put them into cellophane bags.
  • Seal the cellophane bags - this bit took a surprising amount of time - persuading the extremely static peel-off strips that they wanted to go in the bin and not stay stuck to me was a challenge!

Ormskirk Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul
St Michael's Church, Aughton

Now that they are all packaged up I am looking for local shops to stock them. I have 2 Ormskirk Cafe's signed up: "The Edge" near the bus station and "Brew and Bake" near the library. I am also in discussions with a couple of independent card shops.

And finally I sell them through the greetings card section of my online shop

I hope this article was of use to you! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments box below.

Wedding and Christening Gift Idea

Are you attending a wedding soon? Stuck for a gift? 

Here's a really unique and thoughtful gift idea that will make a wonderful keepsake...a custom watercolour painting of a local landmark of your choice, including artistic impressions of yourself, your pets and/or your loved ones!

Simply email me photographs of your special place and your loved ones, and I will create a beautiful watercolour and pen portrait for your to treasure.

The better your photo, the better the result will be, but please don't worry if your photo is not great - simply email it to me prior to purchase along with a description and I will see if I will be able to work with it.

Commissions will be completed within a 2 week timeframe from payment and receipt of a suitable photograph, so if this is a gift please allow ample time for creation and postage!

Where and how to store oil paintings while they dry?

I love painting in oils but they do take a long time to dry - up to 6 months (and sometimes longer) before they can be varnished.

Since I don't have a dedicated studio I need to store my paintings somewhere in my house.

I have been keeping them on the mantle piece, and they do look fabulous there, but now I have too many so need another solution. This is what I came up with...

All I needed was a piece of wood from the garage, a pack of long nails, and a hammer - and now I can store 28 more paintings!

My paintings are very small, just 2.5 x 3.5 inches. The nails I used are 75mm long with an oval top, and they are spaced at 1 inch intervals.

If you need to store larger paintings than this you could use wooden dowling instead of nails, and simply drill holes to fit the dowling.

Floral Collection at Ormskirk's Brew and Bake

I adore flowers; the colours and heady scents are simply divine.

So for my latest collection I've been busy painting fuchsias, tulips, and my spring favourites - daffodils. 

My floral collection is now on display at Brew and Bake in the lovely little market town of Ormskirk in West Lancashire. Brew and Bake is a relatively new tea shop selling teas, coffees, homemade cakes, soups and sandwiches, all with a local twist.

You can read all about Brew and Bake on the Love Ormskirk website and you can also find them on facebook.

The Floral Collection

On display at Brew and Bake

Smaller paintings from the Floral Collection are available in my Folksy Shop:


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.