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Ask the Artist


Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions


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  • August 26, 2020
    Q: Betty asks: "Years ago you shared how to use clear embossing powder and ink to color it so you didn't have to buy different colors. Would you share again?"

    A: Your best asset would be a MISTI. You would be able to make multiple impressions in the same place, using any colored ink, and then a clear embossing ink with the clear powder. If you don't have a stamp positioner, you can ink up your stamp with Versamark ink before adding dye ink - the Versamark makes the impression embossable, and the color of your ink will show through the clear powder. Learn more about the MISTI in our My Sweet Petunia forum.


    August 19, 2020
    Q: maslex asks: "What marker do you use for coloring an animal's eyes?"

    A: A fine black liner pen is great for giving an eye a deep black covering. Another option are black glaze pens - they are a deep black and have that little shine that will really liven up an image. For the little light-reflection dot, I've been using acrylic paint or gesso instead of a gel pen, and dotting it with a pencil point, pin, or tiny stylus.


    August 12, 2020
    Q: Shari asks: "What do you use clear gesso for?"

    A: Gesso is a primer, used to prepare a surface for painting. You can apply clear gesso to allow the original color, pattern or print of a surface to show through (like a book page, collage, etc). It also has a little grit mixed in, which makes it a good surface prep for dry media like pastels, pencils, etc. I've also used it to give a little extra 'tooth' to a pencil drawing so I could add a white highlight over a colored area.


    August 5, 2020
    Q: Kmay wants to know: "I love my Prismacolor pencils but the leads keep breaking. Any suggestions on keeping it from happening? Thanks."

    A: I love just about everything about them except for that breakage issue! A sharpener that sharpens a shorter point is a huge help against breakage. Less surface against the blade = fewer turns, and less core exposed. I use a T'Gaal sharpener that is adjustable, and the #1 setting is the shortest, which is great for Prismacolors. Also, keep superglue handy. If the lead breaks you can line it right up and superglue it back in place. Let the glue dry well and you can continue using the pencil as usual.


    July 29, 2020
    Q: Loralee asks: "What is the difference between regular Bristol paper and vellum Bristol paper and when is it appropriate to use each one?"

    A: Bristol is a multi-ply paper that is great for use with a variety of art media. The difference between smooth and vellum bristol is the texture of the paper's surface. Vellum bristol has a bit of texture or tooth, so it's better for dry mediums like pencils (which need a texture to fill as you build up layers) or pastels (which need a texture to grab onto when applied). The smooth bristol is better for ink blending or for markers - it's also heavy enough to take a little water, so you can use it for mixed media backgrounds (like the smooshing technique among others). If you're not sure which surface you prefer, try out the Canson XL Series Recycled Bristol Paper Pad - each sheet has a smooth side and a vellum side, so you can test both surfaces without buying two pads of paper.


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