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Ask the Artist

Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions

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  • February 15, 2017
    Q: Sheila asks: "I'm a beginner with pencils and blending methods. What do you recommend for paper, especially for blending? "

    A: Your preference may vary from mine, but I prefer a paper with a little texture when I use colored pencils - as you add color you are filling in that texture or "tooth", so the more texture there is, the more room for pigment there will be. When you blend with a solvent or blender pencil, you press the pigment down into the tooth (with a smooth paper, you could just be moving it around on the surface). I've been recommending that people try Bristol paper - the kind I have (Canson XL Recycled Bristol) is toothy on one side and smooth on the other... that way you can try both and find your preference.

    February 8, 2017
    Q: Channelle wants to know: "For pencil shading, it's often recommended to have 3 shades of a color: dark, medium, and light. What if you only have a medium shade?"

    A: If you have limited colors to work with, you can vary the intensity of a single pencil by changing the pressure you use when you color. Work with a sharp pencil and a light pressure for a pale shade. Holding the pencil further away from the tip will help you to lighten up your pressure. Move your hand closer to the point for increased pressure and shading and even closer for dark shading and detailed lines. Work in layers of color, letting the pencil blend the pigment as you build up. Use a darker color (like purple, brown or black) for deeper shading and details.

    February 1, 2017
    Q: Christine asks: "Is there a way to sharpen punches and corner rounders?"

    A: Our dear Kittie, who does a lot of punching for her scene cards, recommends punching into aluminum foil and wax paper every 10-15 punches to keep the punches sharp and lubricated. Also, try punching through fine grit sandpaper to help sharpen the edges.

    January 25, 2017
    Q: Carol wants to know: "What is the best way to get ink from my pad onto a paintbrush? That is to say how do I paint with ink from an inkpad?"

    A: There are two methods I've used. If the lid of the inkpad has a little give to it, you can squeeze the pad while closed to get some ink into the lid. Otherwise, I just tap the corner of the ink pad onto an acrylic block or craft sheet to get some ink down. Use a wet brush or waterbrush to lift the ink, and paint just like you would with reinkers or watercolors.

    January 18, 2017
    Q: Margaret asks: "Do you have any tips for using a glue gun? I recently completed a Christmas craft project that required using a glue gun. What a mess! Not only does it dry too fast I had strings of glue all over the place. Can you help?"

    A: A friend of mine recommends using silicone finger guards - they'll protect your fingers and also allow you to press into the glue without sticking to it... I think they would also help with controlling the stringy nature of the glue. I've also read that a quick blast with a hair dryer or heat gun will shrink up those pesky strings.

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