Let that be a lesson to me…

I’ve been working on both versions of my art journal workshop exercise off and on for the past few days, squeezing in a scribble here, a smudge there, and a swipe of the paintbrush in passing.

Right now my desk is covered in supplies — my color journal and my art journal, various watercolor pencils and watercolor crayons, pens, brushes, paints, and various other implements of artistic nature. And — most significantly for this story — a jar of water to rinse my brushes.

At least, that jar of water HAD been on my desk. When I walked away from the project early last evening, I forgot to empty it. Mayhem (one of my loyal feline studio assistants) took care of that for me.

You know it’s a bad thing when you’re sitting downstairs and hear a hard clink, a soft thump, and the sound of water hitting a hardwood floor in your office above.

The damage to the desk, floor, and supplies was minimal. (The toe I stubbed on the chair in the dark, however, not so much.)

Let that be a lesson to me: empty the water jar. No exceptions!

Art Journal Workshop 1: Do-over

My first attempt at the Strathmore Visual Journal workshop exercise was less than satisfying. I didn’t like working with the oil pastels. I thought the charcoal dirtied up the page. I didn’t have gesso, so I used a semi-opaque watercolor instead.

So I decided I needed a do-over, using materials that I’m more comfortable with. After all, they keep saying it’s all about the process, right?

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Materials

Steps from Lesson 1

  • I resized the sketches and reformatted the text and printed them out.
  • I prepped a two-page spread with a random application of turquoise watercolor, added texture, stenciled stars, and random sprays of ultramarine blue.
  • Strips of blue metallic tissue paper provided my vertical element.
  • After topping it with my sketches and text, I brushed on a light wash of my turquoise watercolor to tone down the white and darken some of the shadow areas.

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Supervisor Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Lesson 1

Steps from Lesson 2 and Lesson 3

  • I added a few details and “underjournaling” in white crayon, which will provide a resist under the next layer of water-based color.
  • Using Derwent Graphitint and Inktense water-soluable pencils and an unknown brand of watercolor crayon, I added the shading in blue and purple, and highlights in yellow and green.
  • A thin application of white gouache enabled me to smooth out and re-establish the white areas, and to add highlights to the eyes. I then added more shading and color.
  • For the stars, I made a stencil using cardstock and a punch.
  • I used a blue Faber-Castel brush pen to re-darken the text.

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Lesson 2 and 3

Lesson 4 is still a mystery. I expect we’ll be able to access the video for it this weekend.

I didn’t do it! ACEO

“I didn’t do it!” by Allison Stein.
ACEO 2.5 inches x 3.5 inches, watercolor on Arches 140# cold pressed paper.

I posted this little darling to my ETSY shop last week. I used a combination of watercolor and watercolor pencil. The texture was created with salt. I love the expressiveness of the eyes and the color, but I do believe I’ve reached the limit of how big I should make them.

Three ACEOs

Three ACEOs to ponder. All of which should be posted soon in my Etsy store.

Pretty Cleo, 2.5″x3.5″ ACEO, watercolor on 140# Arches

“Pretty Cleo” is another attempt at an image I posted a few months ago. She’s a cutie, isn’t she?


The Twilight Castle, 2.5″x3.5″ ACEO, watercolor and watercolor pencil on 140# Canson

This ACEO started as I contemplated castles and landscapes. I need to start adding more environments to my work. My imagination apparently inhabits a barren, rocky world that has specatular sunsets.



Smokey Joe, 2.5″x3.5″ ACEO on 3″x4″ paper, watercolor on 140# Canson

“Smokey Joe” started as a practice piece, experimenting with wet-in-wet on Canson paper. He’s such a well-mannered kitty.

Penciled Peppers, 3 views




Penciled Peppers 1, 4×6, watercolor pencil on Canson 140#
Penciled Peppers 2 and 3, 2.5 x 3.5 (ACEO), watercolor pencil on Canson 140#
I stumbled on a great deal at the outlet store — a set of 24 Derwent watercolor pencils for a pittance. Here is a 4×6 pencil painting of three peppers, drawn from life. (And they were tasty, too.) I also did two small ACEO-sized pencil paintings of the peppers, from different angles.
Lessons learned:
1. Painting from life is easier than painting from the imagination.
2. Painting with pencils is a layering process and takes a long time.

Sketchbook: Mr. Grumpy

Mr. Grumpy, watercolor pencils in sketchbook, approximately 9″x12″

Class was cancelled this past week due to bad weather. My teacher suggested I use reference photos of reptiles in sketching my dragon critters. This grumpy little guy was inspired by a photo of an inquisitive little lizard perching on a flower bush. This isn’t a realistic portrait, but I feel good about the facial expression and the round little belly. The icky weather also inspired my use watercolor pencils for color instead of my usual graphite. The water made the paper buckle, as you can see on the left side.