Completed Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Journal and Flip-through

I’m having a bitter-sweet beginning of May.

I’m supposed to be in Hawaii right now, visiting with friends and enjoying the ocean air.

But I’m not. I’m home, instead.

About a couple weeks ago, I contracted a nasty upper respiratory infection, and it was stubbornly hanging on. To make it worse, the more stressed I got about getting well by the day I was supposed to fly, the worse I felt. (We probably all know how well stress and illness go with one another…)

I made the difficult decision to cancel my trip at the last minute and instead use my already approved time off from work to just stay home and rest up.

It’s been a blessing in disguise. I am still shaking off the last remnants of the cold, and I was certainly verifiably ill enough on the day that I was supposed to fly to feel pretty justified in my decision to cancel my trip (the thought of spending nearly a full day of traveling in flying petri-dishes was certainly a determining factor for me to stay home.)

But, wow, I sure needed this down-time. Along with just resting and relaxing, I was able to leisurely catch up on chores and errands that had gone neglected during the peak of my illness. I even managed to transplant a couple basil starts and get my containers ready for my tomatoes.

Best of all, I had time to complete the last painting I was working on in my Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Journal (link in materials list below). I’d been working on it for what felt like at least a month (between work, other obligations, and being ill.) I’m really happy with how it came out, too.

This one has a story behind it, too. Corn isn’t exactly something I ever feel compelled to paint. I barely even eat it. But I was introduced to this type of corn, called “Glass Gem” by my work. I was actually almost given the opportunity to create the piece specifically for my job, but one of our established (and way more talented) botanical artists heard we were going to be featuring this corn and really wanted to do it, so we gave her the commission.

I was still very intrigued by the corn, however, after seeing photographs of it, and decided I wanted to do a composition just for my enjoyment. I’m very happy I pushed myself to complete the painting (it sat as just a line drawing in my journal for at least a couple weeks as it was.)

And with the completion of that painting also came the completion of the watercolor journal. Huzzah!

If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you know how satisfying it is for me to complete a sketchbook from cover-to-cover.

What’s even more great is that because I’ve had all this time off, I’ve also had time to record and post a flip-through on YouTube, plus I actually have some time to blog about it. Whoopee!

This watercolor journal took nearly a year to complete. In no small part because I obviously jump between other art projects, particularly focusing on filling up other sketchbooks, like my pocket Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook, and now my current pocket Moleskine sketchbook.

As you also know, while I love watercolor, I don’t like to be completely obligated to using just that single medium so I often work in different mediums. When I felt the urge to just do a watercolor piece, I would jump back to my Strathmore watercolor journal and do it in there (and that was also if I was not in the mood to gesso pages in my Leuchtturm1917 or Moleskine sketchbooks.)

Overall, the Strathmore was a very nice journal to work in. (I’ve just swapped over to Moleskine’s equivalent watercolor journal, and I’m admittedly already feeling a bit disappointed with the Moleskine’s paper quality in comparison – it’s far less heavy, so it warps pretty quickly. I’ve also discovered that paint easily bleeds through the binding, as well. Drat!)

The Strathmore’s paper was nice and heavy—300lb—and the binding is nice and tight so there was never any problem of paint bleeding through the binding to other pages. I actually did already purchase another Strathmore watercolor journal to work on in the future. But that will come after I finish up this new Moleskine.

It was fun to watch my flip-through, however, and see how my art continues to progress. I’ll post up a few photos of my favorite pieces in the blog, although if you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen these images before.

In any case, very happy to share this with you.

I hope you feel inspired and the art brings a smile to your face!

Be sure to follow my Instagram account @kellyro77 to stay up-to-date on my creative endeavors.


List of materials:

Strathmore Watercolor Art Journal
Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor Album
Sakura Brush Pen
Sakura Micron Pen
Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolors
Mission Gold Watercolors
Daniel Smith Watercolors
QoR High Chroma Watercolors
Schmincke Horadam Aquarell Watercolors
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Pentel Aquash Water Brushes

“Bohemian Rhapsody”


It’s been a while since I’ve posted in regards to an actual art journal page.

You know I’ve gotta feel this one is special if I’m doing it now!

Yesterday I found myself digging around online for ideas for a bedding set. I recalled a long time ago I came across these gorgeous, colorful—and extremely pricey— bedding sets that would sometimes be sold at Macy’s. I couldn’t remember the name of the company that provided them so I spent a great deal of time googling “colorful bedding”. This lead me on a wonderful journey of gorgeous bright colors particularly under the style of bohemian.

Eventually I found the name of the company whose bedding I adored: Natori. And I even found a photo of one of their sets that I’d fallen in love with (which is currently not available any longer—sadness.) Just look at those colors!

natori bedding
Gorgeous Natori bedding set.

By the time I found the Natori bedding set I’d remembered, my creative mind was totally saturated with bright, beautiful color combinations. I was just itching to smear down the colors of this set and then it all took on a life of its own from there.


Once the colors were down I had to add some pizazz with gold stamping. I was almost tempted to leave the layout as it was, but that is typically difficult for me to do. I really wanted it to have a focal point so I decided to draw a mandala over the background.




I’m so glad I took this risk. I love how the page turned out. This is the first really colorful mandala I’ve ever done, as well. All my other mandalas are straight black and white. There’s a couple I did over the top of a messy watercolor background, but I didn’t actually color any of the components of the mandala itself.

This was pretty straightforward, however. I used Artist’s Loft Acrylic Paints in Crimson, Deep Magenta, Yellow Ochre and Turquoise. ColorBox Gold Metallic Pigment Inkpad was used for the stamping, and then I used my Sakura Micron and Uni-Ball Signo pens for the black and white detailing. The final touch was to scribble down a brief sentiment, which I did using a dip pen and Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink.


Hope these colors make you as happy as they make me feel. Now I just have to get my hands on a bedding set like the one that inspired this design.

In case if you didn’t get enough, here are some more juicy details with eye-blinding, happy-making colors!

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Hope you enjoyed the layout. Please leave a comment, like or share the page, and be sure to follow me on Instagram where I post other miscellaneous projects and sneak-peaks of future layouts! Thank you!


List of materials:

Ranger Dylusions Dyan Reaveley’s Creative Journal
Artist’s Loft Acrylic Paints
ColorBox Gold Metallic Pigment Inkpad
Sakura Micron Pens
Uni-Ball Signo Pen
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink

2016 – Year in Review

Is that right? 2016 is over? Or just about…

I am typing this out the evening of New Year’s Eve and I may have this finished by the time midnight strikes. (Nope, not a New Year’s Eve party-gal here. Staying indoors, nice and warm, keeping my cat company and setting up for 2017.)

Every year, like a lot of people, I tend to set goals for myself. Actually, I like to think of them more as aspirations as that word just gives me needed wiggle-room. I find if I set actual goals and do not accomplish them, I use that as an excuse to be unkind to myself, and I really don’t need that in my life. I am certainly trying more and more to accept life and myself as is – imperfections and all.

Kudos to you type-A goal-setters and achievers out there. You will certainly have me cheering you on—but don’t worry that I’ll be chomping at your heels trying to out-do you anytime soon.

That said, at the end of the year, I find it enjoyable to look back at my aspirations that I’ve written down and see how far I’ve come, if at all. Actually, I’ll do this periodically through the year as curiosity arises. But overall, my aspiration list sometimes turns into a “set it and forget it” type of exercise. I don’t constantly monitor the list and fret over it all year long.

I had several aspirations for 2016. Several of which are personal on the spiritual level, and I’ll choose to keep that information private. This is an art blog, after all – not a philosophical spirituality blog.

In addition to those personal, spiritual aspirations, I also had several aspirations regarding my creativity, however, and I was able to check a few of those aspirations off my list by the end of this year.

I get odd satisfaction out of discovering my accomplishments after not having looked at my aspirations for the majority of the year. It kind of gives myself a sense of having achieved them without actually trying. It really does feel like the universe just works with me. Ask and ye shall receive…

Here are a few creative aspirations I accomplished this year:

Continue perfecting my handwriting.
Now, I don’t know why I wrote the word “perfecting”. I’m done with ever expecting perfection out of anything I do. “Improving” would have been a better word. And I feel I’ve really managed to do that. Most especially along the lines of brush lettering. This is a huge deal to me, as not long ago, I continually found myself envying those people who did such beautiful brush script that I would see everywhere. I definitely have not “perfected” anything, but I have certainly improved. I believe this aspiration will make it onto my 2017 list, as well.

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Practice watercolor skills.
If you’ve been following my blog, or especially my Instagram account, I’m sure you’re well aware that I tend to do quite a lot of art in watercolor. So yes – I have definitely stuck to my aspiration to practice watercolor skills. This will be another aspiration that makes my 2017 list. It will probably remain on my aspiration lists for the rest of my life. This is such a fun aspiration, too. I just love working with watercolors.

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Finish a full art journal by the end of the year.
Now, this one I’m gong to give myself a little leeway on. When I first wrote this aspiration, I was envisioning a full mixed-media art journal. As my art journey has progressed, I’ve found that I’ve stepped away from doing a lot of mixed media art journaling in favor of doing more specific art layouts. Most of which were in single-media. When I started doing daily art challenges on Instagram, I found myself favoring single-media layouts, as they were simpler to work with all around. Far less time-consuming. Mixed media requires pulling out a lot of different materials, and when I’m trying to whip out something in just an hour or two in my spare time between my full time job and other commitments, sticking with a single media was far more practical.
So, while I did not finish a full mixed media art journal this year, I did, in fact, finish three sketchbooks this year. I’d say I met that aspiration and then some.

Try video-recording my art layouts.
I did this with one art layout thus far. It was for a piece I did in my Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook that was called “My favorite color is October.” I found by doing this, that I still have a long ways to go where recording and sharing my work goes. This first trial run only made a 45-second run on my YouTube channel. That was because I could really only get 45 seconds of useful footage out of the entire session. The rest of the time, I was either creating out of frame, or my head was smack in the middle of it. I really don’t know how other artists do these recordings without their heads getting in the way. Maybe they just have better eyesight than me, but I really need to put my head over the top of my work, for the most part, to be very clear about what I’m doing. Will I try to do more? I really don’t know. I don’t think this will make my aspiration list for 2017. I just don’t think it’s that important. At least not at this point in my art journey.

Get an art journal flip up on my blog.
Done. Not once, not twice, but four times I shared my art journals and sketchbooks as a video flip through on my blog and YouTube channel. Not much more to say about that aspiration, as it’s pretty straightforward. Do know it’s my intention to continue filming and sharing flipthroughs of completed art journals or sketchbooks when they’re ready. You can go here to see my blog posts about three of them (for some reason my tag isn’t functioning for my Moleskine flip.)

What did I not complete?

  1. I wanted to really spend a good chunk of time practicing human face and figure drawing. It is still an aspiration of mine to be able to draw people without having to reference photographs. I can draw people that way just fine, but that brings up the tricky line of making sure I’m not violating a skilled photographer’s copyright on a beautiful photograph of a model. Yes, I’d love to draw people straight from my imagination. I didn’t get around to working on that in 2016. Clearly 2016 was not the year to do that. This will make my 2017 aspirations list, however. Maybe when 2018 rolls around I’ll surprise myself with this. Or maybe it’ll end up back on the list with no progress.
  2. I wanted to have my art published again in another publication like Art Journaling. I think I could have made this happen, but this is really an issue of my not taking the time to submit my art for consideration at all this year. I think this will go back up on my aspirations list, however. It’s good to put myself out there.

So I met five out of seven of my creative aspirations. All without looking at my list constantly and fretting about it. They just happened organically. And for that, I am grateful.

What other art experiences did I have this year that I enjoyed?

Well, I gave bullet-journaling a good six-month try. I ended up dropping it around mid-August. I am going to try to take it up again, but with a few adjustments. I’m not going to keep trackers on it (like a checklist of how many times during the month I vacuumed the floor, or whatever other nonsense I put on my tracker.) Again, the trackers were just an opportunity for my perfectionist to see problems and berate myself for them instead of use those “gaps” as opportunities to do better.

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Trackers are not for me.

I also disliked how time-consuming these were to set up and work on. I think I may still find this to be an obstacle. Especially when setting up a brand new month.

Why have I decided to give bullet-journaling another chance, then?

Ultimately it was because I really enjoyed flipping back through the pages, especially my monthly memory pages, and being reminded of special little events that I would have otherwise forgotten. A favorite of mine that I came across was a little note and doodle in reference to an experience I had in the spring rescuing a baby bunny from one of my parent’s deep window-wells. I had almost forgotten all about it until I came across that memory in my bullet-journal.

What I think I’ll find challenging about bullet-journaling is my desire to doodle and then share those doodles on social media. While this particular blog entry may seem like a huge tell-all, I really am a pretty private person where my daily life is concerned. The world does not need to be privy to my doctor appointments, waking and sleep times, family events, when the oil in my car needs to be changed, etc. I know there are a lot of people out there who seem completely comfortable with sharing all of that information on social media, but not me.

What is difficult, however, is that I do like to share my art with everyone. There’s something I just find fun and cool about journal pages that share hand-written notes with pretty doodles, scribblings, colorings, etc. I feel like a jealous miser when I flip through my old bullet-journal pages, admiring how pretty they are, but not sharing them with the world. I guess that’s just something I will need to learn to be comfortable with. The world doesn’t have to see every little doodle and scribble of mine.

Another experience I really found rewarding in 2016 was participating in daily Instagram challenges. This activity lead me to create something new for around 200 days straight. It still boggles my mind that I managed to do that.

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image final-1

Processed with MaxCurve

I started giving the daily challenges a break around August, as well (something apparently broke in August, haha!) But that doesn’t mean I stopped creating entirely. Again, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been continuing to create on a regular basis. Just not every single day. And that’s perfectly okay. But again, that was a wonderful experience to have.

I finished a full-size painting. This girl has graduated to actual canvases now. Well, I don’t exclusively work on canvases. But I’ve done a couple now, and doing one that was 40″x30″ was quite the experience for me. It was definitely an exercise in patience. Coming from creating something daily within an hour or two every day, being accepting of a piece taking a few weeks to complete was a big deal. I was extremely proud to have completed the painting, however. It now hangs in my bedroom above my bed. I have a lot of other big white walls in the house to cover, so there may be more large-scale paintings in the future for me.


Finally, another fun experience was selling a few coptic stitch commissions. It’s still so fun to imagine those sketchbooks getting filled with other artist’s creations and ideas. I hope for future commissions on those, for sure.

Final product ready for beautiful art to be created inside!
Final product ready for beautiful art to be created inside!
Sketchbook with Manga-themed colored pencils and pens.
Sketchbook with Manga-themed colored pencils and pens.

So that’s 2016 wrapped up all nice and neat. It was a wonderful, creative year.

What’s ahead for 2017?

Well, you’ll just have to make sure you follow my blog and my other social media accounts to find out. I don’t have a crystal clear picture of all my latest aspirations yet. Some I shared with you—I may end up with even more. You’ll find out with me when it’s time!

Happy new year everyone! Thank you so much for reading. I hope the upcoming year is full of happiness and wonderful experiences for all of you.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook flip

Another six months have passed and I have another completed sketchbook flip to share!

Most of you may remember that I announced that I had decided to use a pocket Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook this time around while I participated in various Instagram challenges, and worked on my own ideas. This sketchbook contains art from #dndchallenge, #sealemon, #worldwatercolormonth, and #inktober. I really enjoyed flipping through it and seeing how my work continued to progress through the year, as well as observing so many different focuses, approaches, styles and techniques.

I enjoyed working in this sketchbook for the most part. It’s a little larger both in size and in page numbers than the comparable pocket Moleskine sketchbook, and the paper is actually white versus the Moleskine’s offwhite, cream-colored stock.

The only real downside I found to the Leuchtturm’s paper was that it did not interact well with wet mediums. I tried watercolors, Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay India Inks, and Faber-Castell Gelatos in it and I had issues with the paper absorbing the wet medium quickly and bleeding through. Where the Gelatos were concerned, the paper pilled up when I took the approach of using a baby wipe to distribute and blend the colors.

This was all remedied in later layouts by preparing my pages with a layer of gesso if I knew I wanted to use any wet mediums on them. The gesso step was sometimes an inconvenience, however, if I was really wanting to just get moving with a painting.

That said, the paper did take well to pencil, colored pencil, ink pen, and Faber-Castell PITT artist brush pens. I just saw a little bit of feathering on the straight ink drawings, but there was no bleed-through or ghosting to be seen.

This is yet another proud moment for me—seeing another sketchbook through from cover-to-cover.

I hope you enjoy the little tour.

Thanks for dropping in to check out what I’ve been up to. Remember to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to see my latest creations.

Have a fantastic day!


Materials used:

Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Sketchbook
Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolors
Sakura Micron and Brush pens
Faber-Castel Pitt Artist Brush Pens
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Inks
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Liquitex Gesso
Pentel Aquash Water Brushes



In viewing my recent art projects, it has become clear to me that autumn is a favorite subject of mine.

Small wonder, as it is also my favorite season by far. It seems to be the favorite season for a vast majority of people out there, actually.

I cannot speak for everyone, so I’ll just explain why it is I love autumn so much.

I think most living far north of the equator will agree that winter is just a season of “yuck”. Bitter cold days, gloomy overcast skies, and worst of all are the icy, treacherous roads on our daily commutes.

Spring brings relief with warming days, flowers peeking out, and birds singing—however it’s also a tumultuous season with erratic temperature swings and sometimes violent weather in the form of thunderstorms, hailstorms and tornadoes. Often, it feels as though we get just a couple days of nice, pleasant temperatures and suddenly we’re thrust into the sauna of summer.

Summer is just hot. Hot, hot, HOT. And I don’t even live down in the oven states like Arizona—don’t know how you folks survive down there! The only relief I get out here is escaping up into the mountains on the weekends, which then makes it the reason summer is my second favorite season—because the mountains aren’t buried under snow and I can get up there and view all their amazing beauty and enjoy comfortable temperatures at the same time.

So this brings me to autumn. Autumn is just lovely. The temperatures mellow out but there’s no crazy mood-swings like you get in the spring with violent weather. I get to snuggle up in my long-sleeve shirts and boots and comfy, cute coats. I can throw an extra blanket on the bed, enjoy hot drinks and have it feel relevant, like my favorite chai tea lattes or an occasional hot chocolate. (Never really got into the whole pumpkin spice craze.)

And then there’s the colors. Oh, the beautiful, gorgeous colors. I’m a huge fan of warm colors and contrast, and autumn is full of it. The leaves all turning hues of yellow, orange and red, vastly contrasted by the azure blue skies. It’s an artist’s dream come true.

So autumn is therefore a season of inspiration for me. Small wonder I’ve been doing so much to honor the season.

I’m going to share a few of the pieces I’ve been working on that are autumn-inspired.

I have been participating in #Inktober this month, as well, so you will see a few black and white ink drawings in the mix.

What’s your favorite season? Do you find yourself drawing inspiration from it in your art?

Thanks for reading, and be sure to follow me on InstagramTwitter and Pinterest.














Documenting through art


There’s a wonderful quote from Pablo Picasso, where he said:

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”

After actively working in art journals and sketchbooks for the last year and a half (or thereabouts), I have to whole-heartedly agree.

I have a few loose pieces of art hanging around (literally—they’re on my walls), but most of my art is tucked away in various sketchbooks. Some handmade, most purchased.

I have to say I really prefer my sketchbook art over the loose art for a few reasons.

First, a sketchbook is an extremely handy way to keep all your art together. And, unless you’re particularly careless with the handling and storage of it, a sketchbook keeps your art safe from creasing, wrinkles, stains, and even light. What’s not no love about that?

Second, especially if you keep a pocket-size sketchbook, they’re extremely mobile. This means I consistently have a sketchbook on me—on hand and ready to take ideas whenever inspiration hits. And this is important if you’re like me and trying to incorporate art into your life and stay creative on a consistent basis.

Last, and to the point of this blog post title, sketchbooks serve as a wonderful visual diary of your life—even if the subject matter of your art is not at all along the lines of a “dear diary” entry.

Flipping through and older sketchbook is like flipping through a time-capsule. When I do this, each layout on each page takes me back in time to images and feelings of what was going on in my life the time I created the art.

More often than not, my sketchbooks are chronological, as well. Not only do I get to see my art at certain times in my life, but as I flip through the pages, I get to witness how my work, skills, and techniques progress and change as time passes.

Occasionally, I will do a very conscious merge of life and art in my sketchbook. Mostly this has been practiced through a few plein air sketches, or possibly illustrating a quote that really touched me on a particular day.

And then, there are rare occasions where I decide to honor memories by documenting them in an illustrated manner.

I’ve had such an amazing summer this year with friends and family going up into the beautiful Colorado Rockies. I honestly don’t think I can ever remember a summer where I’d spent so many weekends surrounding myself with nature. I owe a huge thanks to my friend, Steve, who loves being in the mountains probably even more than I do. Between both our desires to be strolling through the pine and aspen forests, we managed to get each other into the mountains on average at least two weekends each month.

The realization of how special this felt to me prompted me to do a sort of sketch-note layout in my pocket Leuchtturm1917 in memoriam of the wonderful times I had.

I ultimately decided to do a little tiny sketch of each adventure, noting the month, location, distance (if it were a hike), and a little painting of related scenery.

I had a lot of fun doing the layout and thought it deserved a mention. And now when I flip back through that particular sketchbook, I will definitely be reminded of the fantastic summer of 2016.

Photos from the referenced adventures above:

May 2016 Golden Gate Canyon
May 2016 Golden Gate Canyon
May 2016 Castlewood Canyon


June 2016 Gross Reservoir
June 2016 Gross Reservoir


June 2016 Staunton State Park


July 2016 Rocky Mountain National Park
July 2016 Rocky Mountain National Park


July 2016 Slaughterhouse Gulch
July 2016 Golden Gate Canyon
July 2016 Golden Gate Canyon


August 2016 T33 Crash Site. (Very sad story. It's amazing they left the plane debris there, but it's a good way to get some honor and notoriety to the service men who lost their lives in the crash so long ago.)
August 2016 T33 Crash Site. (Very sad story. It’s amazing they left the plane debris there, but it’s a good way to get some honor and notoriety to the service men who lost their lives in the crash so long ago.)


August 2016 Craig Ghost Town
August 2016 Craig Ghost Town


August 2016 Alpine Loop
August 2016 Alpine Loop


August 2016 Mt. Evans
August 2016 Mt. Evans


August 2016 Jefferson Lake
August 2016 Jefferson Lake

Lessons learned from #WorldWatercolorMonth July 2016

July just flew by. Frankly, I’m a little surprised to realize we’re entering the second week of August already.

Summer is just about over here in Colorado. With September will come cooler weather, which I am certainly looking forward to. We’ve had 90º+ days here just about every day in July and even around the end of June. While I like warm weather, 90 degrees for endless days is not my preference!

On to the art!

I’m not sure if it was the challenge to stay working in a single medium, or that I was starting to feel a bit burned out after making something new just about every single day since February, but wow, I really fizzled out on the #WorldWatercolorMonth challenge about half way through July.



In all honesty, I do think I needed to give myself some kind of a break, and I actually did take a couple days off from creating so I could re-charge. I’m going through another such non-creative feeling at the moment but I’m quite alright with it. I know I want to get back to doing fun, pretty things sooner rather than later.

One thing I did see in myself is that I got really tired of working primarily in just one medium for an extended length of time.

It is really clear to me that I enjoy variety in what I do. So part way through the month, I ended up giving the watercolors a break and instead drew a couple of mandalas, and did some ink drawing, as well as a marker piece. I felt so much better, creatively, after doing those things.


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And I have, of course, continued to work on brush lettering prompts from the #dndchallenge on Instagram.

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Don’t get me wrong—I love watercolors. I think they’re really quite fun. But I apparently don’t want to just live in watercolors continuously.

At the beginning of this month, I gave myself a real treat and actually did a mixed media piece. It was really a lot of fun (aside from the pulling out and cleaning up of all the miscellaneous supplies!)


I ultimately feel back in my stride again after taking a break from only doing watercolors.

I stepped further away from art stuff today and sated my creative hunger by creating a miniature watercolor block to take with me when I go on vacation soon.

I’ll still bring my pocket Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook with me on my travels, but having a really small, compact watercolor block on hand for days I’m itching to put color on the page will be a good option for me (and I won’t have to worry about prepping my Leuchtturm1917 with gesso.)

If you’d like to learn how to make a mini travel watercolor block, hop over to Lindsay’s YouTube channel to see her how-to video.

So of course, what did I do just yesterday after moaning and groaning about watercolor? A watercolor galaxy painting. :)


So do you get burned out with your art at times? What do you do to change things up? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Pushing through 150+ days of creating

It’s happening again. I’m getting that “burn out” feeling. Seems like my blog ends up being my place of solace when I start to feel that way.

That “Ugh… another painting? I’m tired of it.” feeling

I definitely have it today. And maybe it’s just simply that I don’t feel particularly inspired by the prompt that I would normally be working on for tomorrow’s daily creative challenge.

Regardless. Right now, I don’t want to paint or draw anything. I just want to sit on the couch and binge-watch something on Netflix. Or go outside and play. The weather is quite nice right now. I love how it cools off in the evenings.

You’ve read my blog title correctly, however. I’m actually well over 150 days now of doing something creative just about every single day. It kind of boggles my mind. That’s close to half a year.

I do feel like I am continuing to get invaluable practice out of this commitment. I feel like I understand my mediums better, and I also feel more certain with my hand-eye skills.

I’ll go ahead and share a few of my favorite images since my last catch-up post.

I think my favorite out of the favorites right now is the abstract poppy painting I completed just a couple days ago. I love the colors and how it looks. It was another one of those paintings where I really wasn’t 100% sure how it would turn out and then was pleasantly surprised by it afterwards. It keeps growing on me.


Processed with MaxCurve


As you might guess, I’ve been doing a lot of watercolors recently while I participate in #WorldWatercolorMonth

I was sharing on the Facebook group there how amazed I sometimes feel with some of my paintings. They turn out way better than I give myself credit for and I consistently wonder to myself “did I just do that?”


Processed with MaxCurve





Of course I’ve been doing a lot of hand lettering in between. I’ve been trying to insert hand lettering into #WorldWatercolorMonth paintings to kill two birds with one stone.





I’ve been continually happy with how some of my sunset paintings have been turning out. For some reason I always assumed painting a sunset sky would be mind-bogglingly difficult. It helps to use reference photos. The first paining below is one that I referenced from a photograph I took during my last week of living out in Hawaii. I still really miss the Big Island and my amazing friends out there.


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I dabbled a little in painting a scene with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Inks, as well. I still have a long way to go with painting with inks. Definitely a different experience than painting with watercolors.



And, of course, I’ve been doing a lot of hand lettering in my bullet journal. Playing mostly with colors or different backdrops for the quotes that are part of the #DNDChallenge.

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And last, but not least, I managed to get out and do some plein air sketching when I went on a hike a couple weekends ago up in Rocky Mountain National park. Can’t think of a more gorgeous setting than sitting by an alpine lake at the base of two majestic mountain peaks.

I also learned plein air is quite a challenge. Not only do you have to figure out how to get comfortable and set up all your equipment without it rolling off a rock or getting blown over by wind. You then have the challenge of ever changing shadows and light. You plein air experts have my respect!

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Thanks for dropping in to check out what I’ve been up to. Remember to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to see my latest creations.

Have a fantastic day!


Materials used:

Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Sketchbook
Strathmore Watercolor Journal
Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolors
Sakura Micron and Brush pens
Faber-Castel Pitt Artist Brush Pens
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Inks
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
Liquitex Gesso
Pentel Aquash Water Brushes

Watercolor supplies

With #WorldWatercolorMonth kicking off just yesterday, I thought I might put up a brief post about the supplies I will be using.

While I am primarily participating in the #WorldWatercolorMonth challenge, I will also be continuing to participate in the #dndchallenge on Instagram, primarily the lettering prompts, as I still enjoy practicing my lettering skills.


For most of my #WorldWatercolorMonth paintings, I will be doing them in my pocket Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook.

Now, this sketchbook is not a watercolor sketchbook. The paper is not really made to handle wet mediums. I have done several trial runs with watercolor and India ink in the beginning of this sketchbook and found that the color would bleed through the paper. It would also absorb pretty quickly into the fibers so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to blend colors very well. Finally the paper would start to pill and/or buckle under all the water.

I was a little disappointed with this, as I found my pocket Moleskine sketchbook’s paper held up significantly better to watercolor. I think it’s because there is a sort of glossy finish to that paper that partially resists the water and allows for better movement. In all honesty I really, really wanted to love my Leuchtturm1917. I still do like the sketchbook, but it’s just sad that the paper doesn’t hold up like I was hoping it would. That said, this sketchbook holds up very nicely to markers, pens and colored pencils.

Thankfully, all my previous practice with using mixed media in the past gave me the knowledge that I could remedy the problem of the paper quality by giving it a coat of gesso before I begin any paintings. So that is what I will be doing with any watercolors in my pocket Leuchtturm1917. The gesso I use is Liquitex white gesso.

Next, I will occasionally be using my Strathmore watercolor journal. This does have watercolor paper in it, so there is no need for me to prep the paper ahead of time. I’m not totally sure when I’ll be using this journal. Probably when I’m not in the mood to deal with prepping a page with gesso, or for more practice runs and just playing with techniques.

To be clear here, watercolor behaves differently on a surface treated with gesso versus actual watercolor paper. A gesso-treated surface is a lot smoother and I find it just absorbs the pigments differently than watercolor paper. So, if you’ve been painting on watercolor paper for many years and want to give the gessoed surface a try, just be aware that you may have some surprises there, perhaps even some frustration. They are not one and the same.

For my #dndchallenge lettering pieces, I will be doing them in my dot-grid Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal. I will not be prepping the paper with anything, just painting direct on the surface. This paper is extremely thin, but like Moleskine paper, it has a sort of glossy finish to it that slightly resists the water so it allows for a little better movement. I am only going to be doing really light and small applications of watercolor in this. Mostly to use as a backdrop for my lettering.

For my watercolor palettes, I will be using my custom palette probably the most. This palette uses tube watercolors from mixed brands in my collection. Those brands include Winsor & Newton Cotman, Grumbacher Academy, Mijello Mission Gold, and Susan Scheewe.

If I do a painting while traveling for any reason (I’ve been going on a lot of hikes in the beautiful Rocky Mountains on the weekends), I will be using my Winsor & Newton travel palette.

Finally, for the paint in my bullet journal, I will be using my Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor palette.


There is a possible chance I may choose to use Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Inks here and there if I get the urge to experiment with those more. They are a different beast from watercolor, because once they dry, the pigment will not move again. So no going back and re-blending colors like you can with watercolor.

Where tools are concerned, I’ll be using my Pentel Aquash brushes (whether traveling or not), and Master’s Touch watercolor brushes. For any ink drawing or brush lettering, I will be using my Sakura Micron and Brush pens (possibly my Faber-Castel Pitt Artist Brush Pens, too.)

What are your favorite watercolor tools? Leave a comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest to stay up-to-date with my current entries for these two super-fun challenges.