Ain't No Ninny

Where Creativity and Everyday Life Collide


Life Book 2015 Week 3: The Artful Wordsmith

I love Joanne Sharpe’s work.  She is an artful lettering expert, in my humble opinion.  Her book, “The Art of Whimsical Lettering” has all the tips and tricks you might need to learn to hand-letter your own artwork’s quotes and mantras using your own embellished handwriting.  In week 3 of Life Book, Joanne provides a set of videos demonstrating exactly how to turn our own slopping writing into something artful and how to use watercolors to create a painting from our letters and a simple drawing.

Okay, I’m still not comfortable with watercolors and I have horrible, shaky, slanted handwriting . . . but I’m game.  I watched the videos and, while sitting in a chair, I created a small practice painting using her techniques.  All I had with me was my 5″x8″ watercolor Moleskine notebook, a black Sakura 03 Micron pen, a black Sakura Identi-pen, a few water soluble Tombow markers and a water brush.  This is what I produced:

Practice Lettering

Not too bad!  I was surprised how the Tombow markers actually emulated regular watercolors. Plus they are nice and bright, to boot!  I was rather proud of my little practice piece.  Much more confident than when I started out,  I decided to follow up with a larger piece on better quality 9″x12″ watercolor paper using a new set of gouache (opaque watercolors) that I had not yet tried. And I used quality watercolor brushes too.  This is the result:

9x12 Watercolor Lettering

I am not so pleased with my efforts here.  I used too much water in spots and too much paint in others. My lettering AND the borders are uneven and oddly crooked.  The right side of the composition is too crowded and the lettering on the left side is too small and bland.  Sigh.  It’s not ugly but it is not what I had hoped for.  I will have to try and try again to master both lettering and watercolors but I’m willing to keep trying, even if it’s an uphill battle.  That’s how I learn.

I hope you did something creative this weekend and that your inner critic is not screaming at you the way mine is at me!



More 12.31 Holiday Art Journal

I’m on an art journal roll lately.  In the last two days I finished two pages in my hand-made holiday art journal and started on another.

The photo below shows a page in my journal that I drew and doodled using a black Micron 05 pen.  My objective was to capture a small close-up section of a Christmas tree.  This particular page is half of a 11×15″ piece of Bristol paper.  A few days ago I placed a stencil that had been covered in yellow iRESISTable paint face-down onto the page to use up leftover paint from the journal cover. Nothing goes to waste in this re-cycled journal!  When I started drawing on the page, I noticed the yellow texture in the background but forgot that it was a ‘resist’ product.  Yesterday I decided to use watercolors to color the page instead of using markers or gel pens or acrylic paints.  And whoa! The yellow iRESISTable paint spray surely did resist the watercolor!  That made for some interesting texture.  Because there was a significant amount of yellow on the top-right side of the page I went ahead and used a yellow watercolor wash for the rest of the background.  I’ve never seen a yellow Christmas tree but, then again, this is MY fantasy world and in MY fantasy world Christmas trees can be any color in the rainbow.

All That Glitters
I really liked the page when it was just a black drawing on the white paper with yellow peeking up through the decorations.  But I’m not unhappy with the watercolor page.  It gave me the opportunity to practice painting with watercolors since I am still a little uncomfortable with that medium.

The next page was done on the outside portion of a Toasted O’s cereal box in my journal. First I covered it with white gesso, using a catalyst tool. I left a lot of scratches and lines in the gesso for texture and let it dry over night.  I decided to use Dawn DeVries Sokol’s 12.31 Holiday Art Journal Workshop video prompt for 12/09.  The prompt was to doodle picture frames on the page and then fill the frames with people/pets signifying who I would like to spent Christmas with). I combined the video prompt with her prompt of the day: To write out all that I am grateful for this season.  First and foremost, I am grateful for my family so they take center stage on the page.  (You can find Dawn’s free workshop prompts here: )


As you can see, I decided to make this a grunge page.  The texture I left in the gesso was a good start.  Then I used complementary colors of Dina Wakely heavy body acrylic paints spread on top of the gesso with a palette knife, making it even more textured.  I scribbled into the wet paint to allow the white gesso to show through.  I resized three photos of loved ones (including my pets) and copied them out, collaging them to the page with matte medium. I found it interesting that the complementary blues and reddish-oranges could be found in the photos I chose (completely unplanned!).  I drew picture frames around the photos with black and white Posca paint pens     and journaled my gratitudes around the page using a black Fude ball pen and a white Signo Broad pen.  I do not often use grunge techniques in my art journals but I really enjoyed doing this one and I like how it turned out.  I will try this again in the future.

Making time in my day to be creative relieves the stress of the holidays and allows me to focus on my own needs.  I hope you can find time in your own busy schedules this season to be creative too!


31 Days Has December…

It’s been about a week since I blogged last. I got sick with either whopping allergies or a cold two days before Thanksgiving.  Cleaning the house, preparing the feast, and then cleaning everything up afterward took a toll on my energy and I am finally beginning to feel myself again.  And just in time too!

December is here and it has 31 days in which to create.  The late fall is full of fun and a flurry of family activities. One of the activities I decided to do this year is to keep a holiday art journal.  I feel no pressure to work in it every day or to finish a page each day, but I do want to get in the holiday mood and sustain some form of creativity for the next 4 weeks.  I plan to loosely follow prompts given in a free “12.31” holiday journal workshop sponsored by Dawn DeVries Sokol, the same person who does NaNoJouMo during November.  If you’re interested you can find it here: .

I decided to create my own journal out of cereal and cracker boxes using a technique that Dawn teaches in a workshop on .  I used two cereal boxes, two cracker boxes, a greeting card and four pieces of heavy scrapbook paper/cardstock.  I will gesso and paint or otherwise decorate each page as I use it.  Yesterday (December 1st) I started putting the journal together and today I finished the journal and decorated the cover for it.


You can see that the boxes, cards, and papers I used are different sizes.  That’s A-okay for what I will be doing.  I’m happy to re-cycle items I would otherwise throw out.


Along the right edge I deckle-cut each of the boxes to give them a little more interest.

Holiday Journal 1231

After binding all of the pages together with a needle and twine, I covered the outside spine in decorative duct tape.  I decorated the cover page with gesso, Dylusions sprays, Posca paint pens and a white gel pen.  The two snow-people are made from circles that I had painted as an exercise in a watercolor workshop a few months ago.  I kept those exercise papers just in case I wanted to use bits and pieces as collage in my art journal.  Again, re-use & recycle.

I have no idea what this journal will look like at the end of December, but I’m pretty sure I will have fun working in it.  I hope you also find something fun and creative to do during this last month of 2014!

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Art Every Day Month – Day 21

Wow!  This month is flying by!  It will be New Years before we know it.  Yikes!!

Today I got back to the Jennibellie challenge (7 art journal pages in 7 days, each day a different technique or product).  I am on day 4 and this is the technique I blindly drew from the box on my desk:


Finally!  I’m glad I got paint/ink sprays this time because the remaining two techniques (ephemera and pens/doodling) don’t make sense before the pages are painted.  That’s the good news.  That bad news is that at least one page really didn’t lend it self to either painting or ink sprays but I did my best.  Here are my seven pages after I applied paint or ink:

Oops!  I guess I forgot to crop this one.  I water-colored this using Ranger Distress stains instead of watercolor paint.  I really loved this after Day 2 when it was all black and white but now I’m not so sure.   We’ll see where this ends up after Day 7.


This page really didn’t call for paint and I think I screwed it up trying to add gesso and some blue paint around the face/braids.  I may have to fix this in the final step.  I did change her lip color to be consistent with the colors on the page and painted the whites of her eyes to stand out more.  I liked this page the best after Day 2 and now I like it the least.


I’m really liking this one right now.  I water-colored the dog and some of the stencil pieces with autumn-toned Ranger Distress stains.  I have no idea where I will go from here on this but I love it as it is.

I used water color paint on this for the towel, her hair and a yellow wash around the body.  I wanted the body to remain untouched because I might doodle on it or add words later.  I love the soothing but bright colors on this page.

On this page I started with the sky and decided to use a complementary color to the art-deco blue washi tape that was on the page.  Watered down orange/yellow acrylics seemed to make it stand out and is consistent with a fiery sunset skyline.  I do wish, however, that I had not highlighted the swirls in orange. The buildings I did using cheap watercolors in pastel colors, much like what you would see on the art-deco buildings in Miami along South Beach.  I still have to meld that bright sky and those pastel buildings.

I love how this turned out with her bright hair and pale eyes & skin.  I used soft body acrylics and gesso for her face/hair/lips/eyes.  I gessoed the rest of the page, over the collage/stamps, then sprayed Prima Color Bloom spray in Summer Sky over that.  It was a coincidence that it matched her eyes.

I couldn’t figure out what to paint on this page so I used a guache watercolor the same color as the ball to outline the feathers, the stamped words and all of the circles.  I also touched up the areas on the girl’s body that had torn when I glued them with a glue stick and tried to make the tears less noticeable.  I painted the sky blue with an acrylic wash and then went over it with gesso to tone it down some.  I think I will end up liking this page after I finish it up on Day 7.  Right now I’m a little ho-hum about it.

I spent a lot more time on these pages today than for any other step and I’m rather ambivalent about them right now.  Most are in that in-between ugly stage.  I’m hoping the next three days will fix them up and I’ll like them all in the end.

I am glad I created and I hope you got to be creative today too!


Art Every Day – Day 2

Today I decided to practice watercolor painting as I finish up Tammy Garcia’s Watercolor Playground workshop on  I decided that for this practice I would use my cheaper Canson watercolor paper and my student-level watercolor set knowing that this would be a precursor to the final piece I would make for the class.

I also wanted to do something for Dawn Sokol’s prompt for NaNoJouMo listed on her blog at .  The prompt was another song title:  “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz.  I happen to prefer the original 1970 version of the song done by The Guess Who.  But, hey . . .  what does it matter unless I planned to do an album cover of the song, which I didn’t.

In Tammy’s workshop, the final piece is supposed to be watercolored doodles inside several small rectangles on a piece of watercolor paper.  No problem there, I penned in quite a number of rectangles of different sizes and doodled them with a Staedtler Fineliner pen.  I incorporate elements that met the “American Woman” prompt and added several other disparate designs.  The overall page looked pretty good in black and white.  Then the problems began.

Problem #1:  The black fineliner pen ended up not being waterproof so, as I painted, the black bled into the colors making them look muddy.  Problem #2:  The cheaper watercolor paints either needed too much paint to show up and then they looked opaque or they were too watery and didn’t show up well.  It was difficult to maintain consistency.  Problem #3: I started with a #6 round brush that didn’t have a point which caused me to go outside (or inside) the lines.  I switched to a smaller #4 pointed round brush and a #2 round one.  But I slogged through the painting.

When I had finished I let it dry.  I then decided to enhance the painting by adding definition back with a black Fude pen and to add to the design by doodling with a white Signo broad pen.  That helped a lot.  Here is the finished watercolor painting:

Day 2 American Woman - Lenny Kravitz

Although this is just a practice piece and watercolor painting is NOT about perfection, I found it frustrating.  I did however learn some lessons, particularly to use a waterproof pen in the design and to use the correct sized brushes for the job.  I am okay with the final piece and I’m happy that I created art today for Art Everyday Month #aedm and that I satisfied the daily prompt for #nanojoumo.

I hope you did something creative today whether or not you are happy with it.


Grungy Word Bubbles in Watercolor

I love watercolor paintings (done by someone else, of course).  I always make a muddy mess of watercolors when I paint.  But I want to learn, get better, maybe even paint something recognizable someday.

To start down that path, I am taking a couple of online watercolor workshops taught by Tammy Garcia of  The workshops (Watercolor Playground and Painted Paradise)  are not free but they are very reasonable for the amount of material Tammy provides.  And the course material will remain open until January 2015 so there is plenty of time to watch, practice, watch, practice some more, and watch again before the videos are closed.  The workshops start with the real basics, such as which types of watercolors, brushes, paper should be purchased, and end with you knowing how to mix, blend, design, and execute real paintings.

I am halfway through the first course (having learned how to mix and blend and separate paint.  The video I watched this week teaches us how to create grungy watercolor word bubbles using watercolors, a fineline pen, and Neocolor II crayons.

This was my first attempt:


The colors I selected for the bubbles and the Neocolor II crayons surrounding the bubbles caused some muddiness.  I forgot that red + green = muddy brown.  I also used a black Gel pen for the flower names inside the bubbles and the ink was just a little too harsh for the watercolors, I think.  Further, the painting looks a little clunky.  More practice needed!

This was my second attempt:

In this one I used only yellow, blue and green Neocolors for the grunge look between the bubbles (and more water to tone them down).  And I used a Staedtler Fineliner marker for the words inside the bubbles.  Overall, I like this second attempt better.  It is softer and more consistent.  Yes, it is colorful and, yes, it is grungy.  Mission accomplished!

The good thing about watercolors is that you are never completely in control.  That leads to all sorts of surprises (both good and bad).  But if you are not satisfied with a painting project, you can always cut the paper up and use it as colored collage paper for a mixed media project . . . which I am likely to do with these.  And I plan to practice this exercise again, and the next, and the next.

Until tomorrow, I hope there is a rainbow in your skies and loveliness in your eyes!

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More My Style

A quick and easy art journal  page and one that is much more my style than my last post (colorful and easy!).  This is based on the Art Journal Tangents and Tactics #AJT tutorial #5: Beach Umbrella from Tammy Garcia’s page.  If you’d like to see how to do it you can go to her page and click on the button on the right side of her home page.  It’s free!

Art Journal Tangent 5 Beach Umbrella

The quote comes from the lyrics to “Umbrella Beach” by Owl City.

I hope you have a creative day!


And the Sun Will Shine on You.

Okay, this isn’t really about the sun…or about you.  It’s about a starburst.  My very own special starburst. Special because I created it.

Remember the Daisy Yellow Index-Card-a-Day challenge?  Yes, well, it ended on July 31st.  I’m sure you had enough of seeing my index card art week after week.  But just as I started to panic wondering what I was going to do with all of my time since there were no index cards to create, Tammy Garcia of Daisy Yellow Art came up with a new weekly Art Journal Tangents and Tactics series.   What it consists of is viewing a short video of a new technique that Tammy demonstrates and then creating something using the demonstrated technique & materials.  This particular series is only once a week (whew!) for a few weeks but it will give me an outlet for my creativity and it will show me how to create new types of art.  Love it!

This is the *starburst* I created this week in Art Journal Tangents and Tactics.  Easy peasy and lots of fun!  It was a very meditative exercise and one I want to do again.

AJT Wk1 Sunburst Watercolor
Water colors and gel pens on watercolor paper, 9×12

If you’d like to play along (it’s free!), you can see the series on the Daisy Yellow Art website at this url:

Happy creating!