Check out the new collection of products featuring Prairie Birds! The line art was originally created for my newest book, Birdy, and while waiting for it to be finalized and printed, I started working on a coloring of the Prairie Birds using a mix of colored pencils, watercolor pencils and gel pens. I then digitized the art on my iPad so it was easier to resize for a variety of products.
While I am smitten with the sling chair (alas, not in my budget right now), I ordered a tote bag, water bottle, laptop sleeve and coffee mug for my own personal use in my studio and for little trips. I am sure you’ll see the mug on my desk before too long. Many of these products (just a few are featured below) come in different sizes, and some, like the water bottle, have additional options as well.
Check the prices occasionally because items go on sale at Society6 all the time and they offer special discounts for subscribers. Please note that these products are all made to order, and they typically ship within 3-4 business days from several facilities around the country.
A little about the company … Society6 makes all of its products on demand. Artists (like me) submit their designs to create a collection, and when a customer orders a product, Society6 then produces it using the artwork and ships the products directly to customers (not to me). A bulk of each item’s price covers the cost of the item itself, but every artist makes a modest commission on the products sold using their designs, too⏤which is pretty cool.
I have ordered products from Society6 multiple times and have always had a great experience. If you do have any issues with their products, however, they have a great return policy (though a few items, like furniture of course, are not eligible for returns).
I just got an email saying my laptop sleeve already shipped!
Off I go to give my little studio space a good cleaning. Hope you all have a wonderful day!
It’s been a long wait, but the Ruby Charm Colors Creative Companion: 2021 Organizer and Coloring Art Journal is now available on Amazon! Do you need one?
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a planner that has just a little structure and a whole lot of open space to organize what’s important to you—the way you find most useful and can grow organically with you throughout the year. This planner is a cross between a monthly organizer, a bullet journal, and an art journal and is divided into three general sections: calendars, a compendium for making lists, and a creative planner. There is also an index so you can record a title and page number whenever you create your own lists, notes, to-do pages, etc. somewhere in the book. And there’s plenty of art to color if you need to scratch a creative itch. You may also notice that this year’s Creative Companion is a little more compact which makes it easier to stash or toss in a bag.
Calendars The 2021 yearly calendar and a quick 2022 “look ahead” is followed by monthly calendars (see sample below) with ample room to plan ahead, jot down important dates, track your goals and accomplishments, and do some journaling. Like many, I use the calendar on my phone and iPad to set reminders and such, but when it comes to creative planning and personal notes, I still prefer paper so I can circle dates, color code tasks, and scribble ideas.
Compendium This section of the book is dedicated to making lists like art supply resources and wish lists, books, techniques, favorite websites, podcasts, and even a place to list your favorite hashtags if you are a social media junkie. There are plenty of blank pages to make custom lists—favorite Instagram accounts, gift-giving ideas, movies to watch, novels to read, email addresses, new flowers to plant in the garden—you get the idea.
Creative Planner The last part of the book is loosely divided into 8 different 10-page areas (each with its own artwork and a mix of graphed, lined and blank pages) though you can divide these areas up however you like. I use this part of my book to plan my own projects and have found that my planners from 2019 and 2020 are packed with important notes I still go back to today.
The first Creative Companion came out in 2019, and like the 2020 version, was 7.5″ wide by 9.25″ high. The new 2021 Companion is slightly more narrow at just over 6″ across but still 9.25″ high, so it is a little more portable. Below is the “author proof” copy of the book I received in the mail to make sure everything looked okay⏤hence the “Not for Resale” bar across the cover. The pic on the left is a little deceiving⏤the books are the same height.
My own copies of the Creative Companions the past two years have really helped me stay more organized. In the past, I would jot down notes on random scraps of paper in my studio, but I would usually lose them. When I needed to know, for example, what the ISBN number is for my Oceanimaginary book, or how many illustrations are in it, I would have to jump through a few hoops online to find out because of course I could not find that random scrap of paper. Now I have all of that info in the Compendium and Creative Planner sections of my Companion (and I don’t have to be online to find it).
I also have a section of numbers and stats for my little business, a list of new illustration ideas, a list of ideas for new products, pages of technical notes for turning my drawings into PDFs and books, notes and color swatches for paintings (like the Rebel Moth) and notes about how to use certain tools in Procreate, Illustrator and InDesign. I also have some odds and ends that come in really handy like a list of clothing sizes for my family, what I planted in my vegetable garden, and plenty of journal entries.
If you like to knit or embroider, you could include notes about projects you plan to tackle and even tape snippets of yarn, thread or patterns to your pages. If you are a painter, you could sketch out a new idea and include a few swatches or lists of colors you want to incorporate. If you are a gardener, you could map out your beds on a graph and make a list of the plants or seeds you need to find. And of course, if you love to color, you can list your favorite books, keep track of the colorings your are most proud of, or make a wish list of the pencils you are dying to get your hands on. No matter your creative inclinations, you should be able to fill this book up with the things that are important to you.
Finally, if you need a little inspiration, there are plenty of designs to color in this book. Just grab a few pencils and tinker when your are bored, feeling anxious, stuck on a long phone call, or while waiting for an appointment. I find that coloring small pieces of art helps me relax, focus, and even inspire new ideas. The Companion is not meant for coloring masterpieces, but more for playing with color and sparking creativity. All of the designs for coloring in this book are brand new to the Ruby Charm Colors collection and were created specifically for this book.
No one has to see what’s in your journal, so take chances, experiment, and get some of your ideas down on paper. You are welcome to copy the designs from the book onto heavier cards stock or watercolor paper if you like, and I will also have most all of these designs available on Etsy as downloadable, printable PDFs. Here are just a few of the brand new designs included in the 2021 Creative Companion:
Looking for a few more tips?
The new, slimmer format of the Creative Companion fits more easily in a variety of ring binder covers if you are industrious and want to take it apart by cutting off the spine. You certainly can use the book as is (and many people do!) but I like having the ability to add pages and move things around, so for me, popping all of my pages into a ring-binder makes the most sense. This way, it can grow and change over the course of the year as my needs change. Below is a photo of the Franklin Planner I use (Classic size) with my 2020 Companion stuffed inside. It is a little too wide for the Franklin so I can’t use the strap to secure the binder when it is closed. I am anxious to pop the new one in once 2020 is laid to rest⏤so much so I splurged on a Franklin Classic hole punch this morning! It’s the little things, I know.
Just for fun
Below are a few designs I played around with in my 2020 Companion. After coloring the seahorse, I wanted to see how the Finnabair clear gesso would work as a protective layer. It buckled the paper a bit and picked up some of my pencil pigments so I probably won’t do that again. Maybe as a base layer to provide tooth on smoother paper, but not as an over coat.
I printed this cat on scrapbook paper (back when I was putting together designs for a Singles for Print pack of PDFs for Etsy) and decided to trim the page to size, punch holes in it and add it to my planner for inspiration.
Here is my heron on the art supply wishlist page. I have most of the Irojitens and Luminance now, and finally all of the Polychromos. A few Holbeins and Lightfast. Someday I will complete those sets (I usually buy just a couple of pencils at a time through Blick, CultPens, or Jackson’s) and I really want to play around with the Mitsubishi Uni pencils though honestly, I am very happy with what I have and don’t need more pencils. It really is an addiction, isn’t it?
The Noctuid Treasureattica Moths (originally designed for my Insectimaginary coloring book) was colored with Lyra pencils, a few Irojitens and a black marker. I had just received the Lyra’s in the mail and was anxious to try them. I never finished this coloring, but that’s fine.
Close-up of a seahorse. As some of you know, I am obsessed with embellishing my colorings with gels pens after burnishing with a Caran d’Ache Blender Bright. This was done on one of those days I had too much work to do and just needed a mental break. I shut off my phone and computer and listened to music so I could refresh and refocus. And all of these colorings (aside from the cat) are on what’s known in the coloring community as the dreaded “Create Space” paper. While it may not be my first choice for artwork that needs to last (like pieces I plan to reproduce, hang in a gallery or sell) I have to admit I do love coloring on this paper and can get beautiful results.
That’s all for now, my friends! As always, stay creative, happy journaling, and enjoy each moment!
Following a few photos of the book, I included a description of what you can expect to find in the Big Book of Color Charts. I spent a lot of time polling coloring book fans and members of the Ruby Charm Colors Facebook community to find out what their favorite pencil sets were and a lot of time researching pencils on the Internet to settle on a list of the most popular brands (see below).
Of course there are many more brands in existence, but to fit them all into one book would fill hundreds more pages and wouldn’t be terribly practical for any of us. Hence the ample number of blank charts at the end of the book for adding in those lesser-known charts. In the end, I hope this is a book that will help you further enjoy your coloring adventures!
I removed the Tombow Irojiten page from one of my ‘author proof’ copies of the book to swatch out the colors I currently have, then wrote numbers in pencil next to the colors I have more than one of. This will help when it’s time to order replacement pencils since I’ve accidentally ordered duplicates in the past from Blick. I folded this chart in half and keep it in my zippered pencil case with my Irojitens for quick reference.
This big book of colored pencil charts for adult coloring book and colored pencil enthusiasts is useful for those wanting all of their coloured pencils, pastels, inks, watercolor pencils, gel pens and markers swatched in one handy book.
This is a landscape-oriented, perfect-bound book with a full color cover, black and white interior, and is 230 pages long. It consists of:
Table of Contents
Index page to list your custom color charts and page numbers
27 pre-labeled charts for popular colored pencil brands (see list below)
Pre-labeled charts for pastel pencils, ink, watercolor pencils & markers (see lists below)
Blank charts by color family (reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, violets, browns, greys, blacks & whites)
Blanks charts for additional brands & color combos
Black charts for swatching light colors
Room for notes
A few fun Ruby Charm Colors designs you can color
Basic color theory (inside) with color wheel (back cover)
PRE-LABELED COLORED PENCIL BRAND CHARTS:
Caran d’Ache Luminance
Caran d’Ache Pablo
Chameleon Color Tones
Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor
Prismacolor Premier + Verithin
Special Luminance & Lightfast Combo
PRE-LABELED PASTEL PENCIL CHARTS:
Caran d’Ache; Derwent; Faber-Castell; Koh-I-Noor; Stabilo
PRE-LABELED INK CHARTS:
Dr. Ph. Martin and Tim Holtz Distressed
PRE-LABELED WATERCOLOR PENCIL CHARTS:
Arteza; Bruynzeel; Caran d’Ache Museum, Neocolor II & Supracolor; Derwent Graphitint; Derwent Inktense; Derwent Watercolor; Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer
PRE-LABELED MARKER CHARTS:
Arteza Real Brush Pens; Copics; Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens; Spectrum Noir Illustrator Markers; Tombow Dual Brush Pens
The blank charts section of the book will give you ample room to swatch additional brands that are not listed. Some of the charts are numbered while others have a total count of the swatch spaces so you can more easily determine which chart will work best for the sets you have. Charts organized by color family let you swatch all your reds on one page, blues on another, etc. which is helpful when looking for the perfect hue regardless of brand.
IMPORTANT: watercolor and marker pages have black-backed pages to minimize bleed-through. The paper in this book (depending on where it was printed through KPD) is fairly tough, but obviously thinner than watercolor paper or card stock. Colors can look splotchy until they are completely dry. We recommend using a sheet of card stock or plastic to help protect the pages underneath from colors bleeding through as well as potential rub-through of pencil pigments while swatching.
You can make PERSONAL COPIES of the charts you plan to use onto your favorite paper or card stock if the paper in this book feels too thin for your needs, or, if you just want to put those pages of the charts you are using into a ring binder for safe keeping.
You can also deconstruct this book for ease of use, so feel free to take it apart, keep the pages you are using in one binder, and store the rest in case you need them later. Many office supply stores (and FedEx service centers) will remove the spine and even spiral-bind or punch holes in the book for you for a small fee.
If you choose to do it yourself, I have a step-by-step tutorial using another Ruby Charm Colors book (Creative Companion Book Binding DIY) on my blog. Or keep it as is—the choice is yours! It is meant to be a book that grows along with you and your artistic needs.
I’ve had a few people ask about essential coloring tools recently, and since I just put together a new case of said tools, I thought I would share them with you.
I have a decent mix of colored pencils (not nearly as many as some of my colorist pals, but decent) and I like to organize them by color instead of brand and store them in zippered cases which are much more protective and convenient to use in my humble opinion. Organizing by color works well for me, though I know others prefer organizing by brand and keeping their pencils in the original containers. There’s no right or wrong way, of course—do what works best for you—though that may change over time as your needs and habits change.
The Polychromos pencils are a solid, must-have in my collection. They are versatile, hold a great point, blend well and have a decent light-fast rating, yet are not as expensive as the Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils (which many of you know I really love working with, too).
Polychromos rainbow coyotes in the 2020 Creative Companion
I normally keep all my colored pencils in cases organized by color family and keep them up on a shelf above my work space. Since I have to stand up from my chair each time I need to grab a case of colors (and since I don’t have a ton of desk space to work on) I thought it might be smart to finally put the stuff I use on a daily basis in one “workhorse” case that can live on my desk.
Greens; browns; purples; reds, yellows and oranges; blues; gel pens; and two cases of watercolor pencils on the shelf above my desk area
The case I ordered through Amazon, a grey RiLiKar with 184 slots, turned out to be the perfect size for my most-used tools, flips open and has “pages” like a book, and has a carrying handle which is a nice touch. My other pencil cases are made by Soucolor and BTKSY (also found on Amazon) and so far, with heavy use, they have been holding up quite well.
The first “page” of my workhorse case holds my brush (essential for getting rid of pencil dust and crumbles and is much better than wiping with your hands); a Sakura Sumo Grip eraser (love it); and fine and extra small, black Faber-Castell Pitt pens. I also keep a metal dental tool in my case. It is perfect for so many things like digging broken tips out of pencil sharpeners, scraping paint splatters off my desk, prying watercolor pans out of their tins, etc.. I’ve even used it to tighten the itty-bitty screws that hold my eyeglasses together. Pretty sure I’ve had it since the 80s.
Next is a pencil extender (the only one I have and it really hurts my fingers after a while, but it’s okay in a pinch), then my Tombow Mono Zero eraser and tube of refills. Really great for tiny spaces. Next to the triangular architect ruler is my Rotring Tikky mechanical pencil, and then an odd “picker” tool I’ve had forever but have no idea where it came from or what it’s technically called. Basically, it’s a wood handle with a long needle jammed into it. Next is a Derwent Academy sketching pencil, and then a collection of Sakura Pigma Sensei pens.
Pages one and two
Page two holds a white Uniball Signo pen, several Prismacolor Colourless Blender pencils, and a Lyra Splender blender which I just got and have not have much of a chance to work with yet. Not sure if the Splender blender will stay in the case. A few Sakura Souffle gel pens (I seem to use the white, turquoise and blue the most), a few coveted Caran d’Ache Blender Bright sticks (I use these for burnishing all the time), an Artist’s Loft blender (that probably won’t stay because it is useless), a Papermate “Tuff Stuff” eraser, a few Gellyroll sparkle pens and a Ubrands sparkle pen, then two more Pitt pens.
Page three has a mix of some of the non-Polychromos pencils I use a lot or want to keep handy for the current project I am working on. There’s something I love about the Pumpkin Orange Prismacolor and it seems to sneak into a lot of my work. Same with the Aquamarine and Light Aqua Prismacolors. The short dark pencil next to the Pumpkin Orange is my coveted Rexel Cumberland Derwent Studio Burnt Carmine 65 pencil. It is getting smaller. I have had it forever and cannot seem to find an exact replacement which is a shame. The color is so deep and rich I’d really love to find another one. The longer dark pencil next to it is a Derwent Studio Burnt Carmine 65 and it’s just not the same. I keep a few Irojitens on hand for detail work, and also a few of the Caran d’Ache Buff Titanium pencils which I love for blending over the small designs and patterns I often draw over colored shapes in my work. There is something magical about the ingredients that make up this particular pencil—there is nothing quite like the feel and blending ability of 801 Buff Titanium. Another Pitt pen (I use them a lot) and a white General’s Pastel Chalk pencil which is useful for lightly sketching on black paper.
Pages three and four
Page four is the start of my Polychromos collection. I just ordered the last missing pencils from my set from Blick, so in a few days it will be complete. Almost. I didn’t order the Gold or Silver because (sorry Faber-Castell) I don’t like the metallic copper pencil at all. I want to like it (copper is one of my favorite colors) but it just doesn’t work for me—too hard? Not enough pigment? I also didn’t order the Cadmium Yellow Lemon by mistake.
Pages five and six (above) and seven and eight (below) fit the rest of my Polychromos collection. And yes, I number them myself since I have a hard time seeing the tiny gold lettering on the barrels. I just wrap a piece of washi tape around the top, write the number with a Pitt pen, then wrap that with a piece of clear tape. I’ve also numbered a few with a white Signo pen.
Aside from being a handy way to keep these heavily-used tools close and organized on my desk, it’s easy to zip up the case and bring it along to wherever I want to work for the day.
Polychromos color chart from the 2019 Creative Companion
Finally, since I am using my 2020 Creative Companion to keep track of all my art projects, books, and other important tasks, I took the Polychromos color chart out of my 2019 Creative Companion and plan to trim it down and laminate it (back to back) so I can keep a color chart in my workhorse case as a quick reference.
Last, but certainly not least, my treasured handmade watercolors by Karen Spencer: these I keep in special tins inside a metal tray inside a plastic box near my workspace. I pull them out almost every time I start a new piece because not only are they beautiful to work with, but I find the colors so incredibly inspiring. The ceramic-coated tray is super handy because I can mix colors directly on it, and my extra half-pans with magnets on the bottoms stick to the tray, too. Why do I keep paints and pans in yet another box? Dog hair and parakeet feathers. Remember that little picker tool I mentioned above? Perfect for picking junk out of paints and brushes. 😉
Some of my treasured handmade mica and watercolor paints by Karen Spencer
It’s official—the Ruby Charm Colors project now includes simple arty notebooks in its collection of products! While there are plans for a total of 12 different cover designs in the 8.5 x 11″ format, I’ll also be adding smaller-sized notebooks as well as square books in the coming months.
For now, the 8.5 x 11″ notebooks featuring the Insectimaginary, Little Bird and Flying Pig artwork are available on Amazon. Each book is 118 pages and has a velvety soft, full-color front and back cover. There is room along the spine to write in your own title (if you would like) and in addition to lined pages, there are also a few blank pages to help divide up the notebook and give you room to sketch or map things out.
Each book includes a little Ruby Charm Colors line art that coincides with the theme of the cover that you could color if you wish. The Insectimaginary design was inspired by my Insectimaginary coloring book and was completed with a mix of mica watercolors, colored pencils and gel pens. Little Bird was colored on black card stock with pencils and a few gel pen embellishments. And Flying Pig, inspired by the Chinese New Year and 2019, the Year of the Pig, was also colored on tinted card stock using a mix of watercolors, pencils and pens. The next design to arrive on Amazon, book four, will be Spring Rabbit (March Hare).
These notebooks are handy for all sorts of things including journaling, planning trips or projects, keeping track of what’s growing in your garden, lists, exercise routines, creative writing, brainstorming … whatever you need. I’ve already started filling one up with technical notes about using some of my design software and another will turn into a trip and travel notebook.
Pretty and practical, these notebooks make fun gifts, too!
Full page of line art as a decorative first page (and you can color it if you like!)
It’s been a busy past few weeks in the studio and I’ve been diligently working on a coloring book filled with funky insects (and a few other smaller projects), but I also put together a Bunny Bundle for the RubyCharmColors Etsy shop to help my coloring friends usher in Spring and celebrate Easter. And truthfully, I could use a little Spring magic myself as there’s still snow on the ground here in northern Michigan. Will winter ever end? At least the robins are returning, so there is hope.
The Bunny Bundle on Etsy consists of two coloring pages with bunny designs: one in a circle with a few happy bumblebees, and one in a patch of fiddle-head ferns and flowers. There are also two different greeting cards that can be printed and colored—one with a “happy Easter” greeting and one with just the bunny in the circle design. I also included a full color copy of the bunny in ferns I colored just for kicks.
I had the help of colorist Betty Hung (who is one of my coloring team members) to test out the design for the bunny with bees in the circle. I am always amazed by the illusion of brushstrokes she manages to create using colored pencils, and by her stunning, playful use of color. This girl is on fire!
Betty also colored the bunny in the patch of fiddle-head ferns not too long ago (which is also included in the bundle). If you haven’t followed Betty on Instagram yet, be sure to check out her account as well as her website.
Yesterday, while working on my Etsy listing, I printed out a card and did a fairly quick coloring of it using first, a layer of Karen Spencer‘s beautiful handmade watercolors.
I’ve been storing my pans in Van Gogh “Starry Night” tins which I found on Amazon not too long ago. Nice tight-fitting lids that will help keep the paints semi-soft when not in use.
I started charting out all of Karen’s paints in my copy of the Creative Companion but need to add a few more and do a little reorganizing. Warning: these paints are addictive. You will eventually want them all! And Karen is so terrific to work with as an Etsy Seller.
Did you know she designed a beautiful ruby red mica and named it Ruby Charm? Be still my heart!
In addition to mica paints, Karen has flat watercolors, too, which give me a nice base layer to use under my colored pencils. This often gives my colorings more depth.
Unfortunately, the card stock I used to print this card was a little too toothy (not crazy about Staples 67 lb card stock for coloring). And since I was in a hurry, I was not totally satisfied with my results. My printer was misbehaving, too, and spat out inky black blotches on my page) but I managed to finish it all up with a mix of Caran d’Ache Luminance and Irojiten colored pencils, plus a few Sakura Souffle gel pens and UBRANDS metallic pens that I picked up at Target. Decent pens and economical (a pack of 30 for around $13) but they take forever to dry and are prone to smudging.
What I like best about my card is the mica paints I used for the orange flowers, the “dark blue DA” background, and the “Blanco” I used for the wings of the bees on this card. Hard to see the shimmers in photos, but in person? Wow! In anticipation of the insect book coming out, I would suggest grabbing a few of Karen’s micas—the Blanco and some of the lighter colors can be absolutely magical when it comes to painting and coloring insect wings!
If you purchase the Bunny Bundle, you can print and color a few cards and then make copies of them to send to friends and family for Easter, or just to say hi. Or, send out your original coloring! In this time of endless texts and email, it’s always nice to get something handmade through good old snail-mail. Sorta romantically thoughtful and personal, yes?
In addition to including my coloring of the bunny in the fiddle-head patch in the Bunny Bundle, I also used for a few products through my Threadless shop.
In addition to stickers, a zip pouch (2 sizes), a tote bag (3 sizes), and a cute drawstring bag, I also put the image on pillows. I am hoping to have coffee mugs and maybe even coasters available soon, too.
If you receive something from them that you aren’t happy with, just send it back and they will refund or replace your purchase, no questions asked!
I ordered a pillow and stickers and hope to have them in my hands soon. I’ll let you know how they turned out!
That’s all I’ve got for today! Thank you for supporting an independent artist, and I hope you all have time to do a little something fun and creative. Get some paint under your fingernails and spill a few pencil shavings on the floor.
I originally took the book apart (cut off the spine with an x-acto blade and metal ruler) and spiral bound it. But last week, I stumbled across a decent hard cover Kraft binder at Michaels and thought it might be a nice way to protect the book. I almost always toss it in my bag when I head out the door to work from the local coffee shop or library, and imagine it will get pretty ratty-looking eventually. But I also thought it would give me a little more room to add more stuff. The 8.4 x 11″ hard-backed Kraft binder is made by Recollections and was in the scrapbooking section of Michaels. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find it online otherwise I’d provide the direct link, sorry.
It’s just a little taller than I wanted (and maybe not as thick) but overall, it works pretty well. It came with a sheet plastic, self-stick photo corner fasteners, plus a few Kraft card-stock dividers. And decorative brass corners on the journal itself. I am not sure what I’ll be drawing on the blank cover yet … but I am sure it will happen before too long.
Creative Companion inside the new Recollections journal
The biggest drawback I see to doing this from scratch at home is that the Recollections journal has 9 rings (which, by the way, are not terribly easy to open). Who has a 9-ring paper punch? I don’t. But I lucked out because the holes I had punched for spiral-binding matched up with the 9 rings perfectly.
My guess is that you would be able to take this to an office supply store like Staples and they could trim off the spine and punch the holes for you—if not the special 9-hole pattern, a spiral-binding hole punch with a 4:1 pitch that would line up properly.
I colored the horse on page 3 of the Creative Companion with a mix of Yasutomo pearlesent paints and Caran d’Ache Lumiance pencils.
I use my Creative Companion to keep track of the Ruby Charm Colors project mostly, but also do a little personal journaling in it, too. Like keeping track of how many days of school are cancelled because of the snow, birthdays, appointments, etc.. And, of course, I play with colors and use a lot of the smaller illustrations to warm up my fingers before tackling brand new line drawings for my upcoming books. The Companion is getting a little messy (some of the paints and markers I’ve used bled through a little) but I really don’t mind as it is what I think of as a process journal—something I actually work in and use. Not just for show or decoration.
I wasn’t too careful with the amount of water I used on the Sunbird on the other side of this page. No biggie. I still like the beetle and might incorporate some of the bleed-through into a background for the beetle.
The following pics show a few of my colorings so far in the index pages…
In the pic above, you can see the plastic sheet I keep in my book to protect the pages underneath the one I happen to be coloring (especially if I am using paints or markers). And I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the self-stick colored tabs you can find just about anywhere now are super handy for quick access to certain pages of the book.
For the monthly calendar pages, I write with gel pens and pencil. Light colors work best, of course. I am still searching for the ultimate fine tip, opaque gel pens though I do like my Gelly Rolls.
In addition to finding the hard journal at Michaels, I also found a smaller Kraft booklet I use as an insert. With everything I have to keep track of for the Ruby Charm Colors project (so many lists), I knew I could use the extra space. I simply slide it through an elastic loop that runs through the rings of the hard-backed journal but can easily slide it back out when I need it. Since it is also made of Kraft paper, it looks great with the journal cover. I painted/colored a few bugs on it so far.
The pic above is the beginning of the charting section of the Creative Companion. The Kraft journal cover I got at Michaels came with a few card stock dividers so I used two of them to section off my charts. That blank page is killing me. I’ll have to draw something on it soon.
Also, because I took the Creative Companion apart, I rearranged some of the pages, shhh. So now, instead of four sections of months (3 in each) I now have two: January through June in the front of the book, and July through December in the back, after the charting section in the middle.
Ideas for the 2020 Creative Companion keep evolving the more I use the 2019 version, and you have suggestions I am always open to hearing them.
My Faber-Castell Polychromos chart – a solid pencil choice for coloring based on quality and cost.
My Caran d’Ache Luminance chart – a very slowly growing collection due to their high cost, but these are probably my favorite pencils.
My Tombow Irojiten pencils – all purchased open-stock. Someday I’ll have the whole collection and love them for burnishing and detail work.
My Caran d’Ache Museum watercolor pencils – be still my heart I love these! And yep I mixed up the olives (hence the swappity-swap arrows).
I adore my Caran d’Ache Neocolor II pastels and have the entire set thanks to a dear friend. They are fantastic!
My coveted mica watercolor collection – handmade paints by Karen Spencer! I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have met Karen through another coloring friend … art makes the world go round!
So that’s a peek at my Creative Companion so far. It keeps getting fatter as I tape in bits of paper scraps and notes, and do a little coloring here and there. It’s getting messy and I am curious to see how it will look at the end of the year.
If you’ve got a copy, I hope you are filling it up with goodness and having fun with it!
You can watch the video below, but you must subscribe to her channel and like her video there to enter. Be sure to follow the instructions for your chance to win either a Creative Companion, or a copy of Volume 1 or 2 of the Art Journal!
It’s been really cold here the past few days in Michigan, and combined with new, heavy snowfall, I have cabin-fever and am craving Spring more than ever. And that’s what inspired the Verdigris Rabbit—I need some greenery!
This little fellow is a single illustration on page 23 of the Ruby Charm Colors Creative Companion for 2019. I won’t go through the tedious step-by-step process of the whole coloring, but will point out a few things that might help you explore (or avoid!) in your own colorings with a little mixed media including the wax-resist technique in some small areas.
I started out with several light layers and shades of Caran d’Ache Luminance and Pablo colored pencils for the base greens of the body. Most all of the greens were in the Olive family, though I also used Moss, Titanium Buff (one of my “can’t live without” pencils), and Ocher Brown 10%. I used a few blues as well—Luminance Steel Grey (which has blue overtones) and Prussian blue, plus Pablo Bluish Grey. Lots of light layers, and once I got my colors where I wanted them, I burnished those areas with the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright and a Prismacolor colorless blender.
For the left ear, I used the Indigo Irojiten pencil to outline the stars and draw small circles. I like the Irojiten pencils for detail work because they are fairly hard and I can get the points nice and sharp. I also used a little Titanium Buff inside the stars, then blended with the Blender Bright to soften the Irojiten lines.
For the blue areas (the stripes, inside of the ear, and parts of the flower design, I used the wax resist technique. The Prismacolor Sky Blue light was used for the circle shapes first. Once I had them all drawn, I used the Indigo mica paint (handmade by Karen Spencer) with a Caran d’Ache water brush to paint over the areas. The paint soaked into the paper leaving the waxy Sky Blue circles exposed. I had to swipe over them a little with a semi-dry brush in areas where the paint was a little too thick and stuck to the wax.
I have noticed that mica (and metallic or pearlescent) paints are a little less inclined to “break away” from the wax than solid (non-mica or metallic) watercolors. My guess is that the actual mica fragments are naturally “sticky” because they are composed of tiny bits of mineral. But, if you give the paint a chance to soak into the paper for a few seconds, it’s fairly easy to gently brush it off your designs with a damp (even almost dry) brush. Once the Indigo was nearly dry, I dabbed a little gold mica paint into the center of each circle. Once these areas were bone dry, I then used an extra fine black Pitt pen to give the circles a little more definition.
Another note about the wax-resist method … the wax from the pencils has to be thick enough to truly resist the liquid (paint) you brush over it. It works fairly well on the paper in my books on Amazon, but even better on card stock if you print copies of the designs at home on your own paper. Experiment on different different paper types if you want to explore this technique. Also, try going over your pencil lines a few times (pretty hard) so you get good wax buildup, and choose the right pencil. In my experience, the Prismacolors, Pablos and Holbeins seem to work the best. Your wax designs must be impermeable enough to push the water away.
I used a white Sakura Souffle gel pen for all my dots. What I like about the Souffle pens is that once dry they puff up a little bit, and they dry with a somewhat matte surface. When my white dots dried, I used a darker blue metallic UBRANDS gel pen to dab in the middle of a number of the white dots. The UBRANDS gel pens took forever to dry!
I had to go over my blue dots again in the morning because I left a piece of scrap paper between my pages while it dried overnight. When I color something in my art journal, I close the book and keep it under my laptop so the pages flatten out a bit. It usually works pretty well, but this morning when I pulled the scrap paper off my bunny, a few of the blue dots went with it! And I smudged a few of the coppery colored dots I put down in places.
Up close and personal, things look a little sloppy, but from a distance it looks pretty okay. Aside from the terrible lighting in my studio today.
The UBRANDS gel pens are fairly inexpensive (I got a pack of 30 at Target for under $15) and I like them, but they do take a while to completely dry—especially the metallics. Also, they don’t have the best reviews due to leakage. I haven’t had that happen yet but I store mine in their case, horizontally. There is a nice mix of metallic, clear and opaque pens, and so far they seem to work fairly well. The opaque pens are great on the black pages of the Creative Companion (like the calendars) and are fun to use on the black art pages as embellishments. A little blobbing and skipping now and then, but that’s to be expected with nearly all gel pens in my experience. Be aware of how you store them, keep the tips clean, and the caps on for longer life.
Below is a pic of the primary pencils I used for the rabbit. Far left is the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright (and the dark one next to it is a Polychromos Sepia). And my Prismacolor blender is getting too short to comfortably work with.
I may have mentioned this about the Caran d’Ache Luminance before, but I really do love them. They are expensive, yes, but I only buy the colors I need/want from Blick through open-stock. I can’t afford the full set yet, but they will always be a coveted part of my coloring toolbox. Same with the Pablos and the Polychromos which are more affordable but perform so beautifully.
That’s all for now! I am going back to my line drawings for the rest of the weekend. More fanciful insects in the works for an upcoming book, and a little surprise in the Ruby Charm Colors Etsy shop to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year starting Feb. 5. More on that later!
Happy coloring! And if you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!