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Ask the Artist


Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions


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  • May 23, 2018
    Q: Ann asks: "I want to add bits of color to black and white glossy prints that I already have, or to intensify color on color glossy prints. Is there an easy way, or a way to use supplies that I might already have?"

    A: I've used dye-based markers and powders on photo paper, and I've also used alcohol markers with success. I found the Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers very easy to control. Watercolor paint will also work, but it's more difficult to anticipate the amount of water needed, and to deal with the strength and texture of the paint once it's on the paper. I'd suggest making an extra print to test your colors on before you do your final work - some of my marker colors were more intense on the photo paper than their index colors indicated. Also remember you won't be able to blend colors on the paper, so plan ahead if you want to layer or add shading.


    May 16, 2018
    Q: Ramona wants to know: "What are your favorite ways to use silhouette images?

    A: I've made a few cards recently with a silhouette image simply stamped onto a piece of patterned paper, with a little penciled shadow at the base of the image for grounding. I like adding them into a scene too, with a soft, stamped or sponged background. (By the way, if you don't have silhouette images, you can use your outline images and fill them in with a black marker! It's a great way to stretch your stamps.)


    May 9, 2018
    Q: Lynette wants to know: "When I do the Inlaid Die Cuts technique, I have trouble either losing the little inside pieces or getting color where I don't want it. Is there a trick to not losing the pieces, but also not having to take them all out and putting them back in?"

    A: If you can keep the pieces in the die after cutting, you can lay a piece of removable contact paper over them and pull them all out together. Some people use Press 'n Seal cling wrap to do the same. Another thing that usually works is to add a cardstock or chipboard shim under your paper when you cut. That will usually hold the pieces in place... it's not foolproof, but it helps!


    May 2, 2018
    Q: Kirsten wants to know: " How do you store Gamsol [odorless mineral spirits] in your craft area to avoid spills?"

    A: For those that don't know, odorless mineral spirits (OMS) can be used as a colored pencil blending solvent (you'll often see the brand name Gamsol used as a general term for this product). I have a large bottle of generic OMS that I have stored away in a filing cabinet. On my desk I keep a small canning jar (4 oz. size) with just about 1/4" of the product in it - it's not easily spilled, and that depth is perfect for getting just the right amount of solvent on my blending stump. (For a tutorial on solvent blending, click HERE.) The inner canning jar lid makes a quick and convenient cover for the jar when I'm between blending steps. (Vapors from OMS and other solvents can cause health issues; these products should be used with care in a well ventilated area).


    April 25, 2018
    Q: Lois asks: "I use precut blank cards for most of my 5 x 7 card projects. I used a watercolor technique on one and the cardstock has curled from the water. Do you know a way to re-flatten the cardstock or keep it from curling as it dries?"

    A: If a card panel is curving upward from water on the surface, you can help it relax the other way by spritzing a little water onto the back side of the panel. If warping occurs as the panel dries, you can press it between the pages of a heavy book, or tuck it inside a folded paper towel and iron it with a low, dry iron. Instead of working directly on the folded card, you might consider doing your painting on watercolor paper, and adhering it to the folded card for more stability.


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