Category Archives: Reviews

Animalitos A Class With Artist Tracy Verdugo

I’m taking a class called Animalitos with artist Tracy Verdugo. It’s all sorts of awesome so I had to share it with you. Tracy Verdugo has no idea I am writing this review of her class, but since I’m exuding positivity and doing cartwheels over it I am sure she won’t mind.

Animalitos with Artist Tracy Verdugo
My first attempt at animalitos following the class tutorial.

What are animalitos? They are little animals painted with ink, and other mediums too of course, but the ink is just so luscious to work with.  I can’t stop raving about the ink. You know I love working with ink! What is so fun is you just sort of sculpt your animal with water on some watercolor paper, drop in the ink and watch it do it’s magic. SO MUCH FUN.

Tracy Verdugo’s class is terrific for a number of reasons. First of all it’s on video and a PDF that you can download to your computer and keep forever. This is important to me because my internet is not conducive to streaming video. Plus, I like to watch, pause, experiment, and watch again. I like having the video right on my computer because I can access it even when I don’t have an internet connection. The PDF with explanations and material lists is nice because you can print it out and take it to the store with you or refer to it as you are painting without having to get on the computer, go on the internet, log into the class…well, you know the drill. Anything that saves time is a big plus for me.

Animalitos with artist Tracy Verdugo
There is a story here. If I ever illustrated a children’s book this is the medium I would choose to work in.

There are several projects Tracy Verdugo walks you through in the class. Some include collage and using materials I have never used before. To be honest, I have only completed the first project because I am obsessed with these adorable, fantastical, little inky animals. I feel like I am telling a story with each one I create. I’ve started on another project, but the drying time makes it a longer process. I am sure I will share that one with you once I have completed it.

What else? Well, first of all, if you are feeling a little blocked or stuck in your art making right now this class will be an amazing boost for you. I don’t think I’ve ever taken an art class online that made me feel like a kid painting for the very first time like this one has. I find myself giggling with amusement and just having FUN. It’s pure fun. That is a really good recipe for creative development, and forward marching, and idea sparking. I seriously have an entire notebook page of new ideas just from the first project in this class. I’m like an idea factory right now. I owe it all to the fun.

Animalitos with Artist Tracy Verdugo
Dragon and cat? BFF’s for life!

The other thing is this class comes with membership to a Facebook group where you get to see the creations of other people taking the class. It’s so inspiring! I love how the same animal can look so different painted by so many people. It’s kind of fascinating.

I am going to go ahead and shout this out too: Get this class for your kids! I think it’s perfect for kids. They have to be old enough to use the art supplies safely of course, but it’s such an open, free form, experimental approach to painting that I am positive any kid would excel. Any grownup too. No need to be able to draw a straight line to do this kind of work.

Interested? Hop on over to Tracy Verdugo’s website and sign up.

 

*I didn’t receive any compensation for writing this post. I paid for the class myself. Tracy Verdugo probably doesn’t even know I exist and I am not affiliated with her in any way. This is just pure, unadulterated fandom.

How To Make Your Own Stamps

I’m involved with some art journal groups this year. I haven’t kept up with the weekly prompts, but I am doing some of them and maybe I will catch up eventually. I see many of the artists in my groups using stamps in their work and I wanted to do some stamping too, but I also knew I wanted to make my own stamps so I figured I might as well learn how to do that for my art journal pages. I found a book on stamps to read up on the process. I bought some supplies. Then I started experimenting!

I bought some E-Z-Cut Printing Blocks and a couple of linoleum mounted blocks from Dick Blicks.

How To Make Your Own Stamps
Linoleum carving block.

 

I drew a picture I wanted to carve, after reading some tips in this book: Stamp Carving 101: A Complete Guide on How to Make Your Own Custom Rubber Stamps. Then I got out my trusty Speedball Linoleum Cutter and got to work carving. I tried to keep the images simple because, to be frank, I didn’t really know what I was doing.

I tried the linoleum first because it was what I was most familiar with. It was really hard to carve. I found it difficult to scrape away the linoleum. I only cut myself once so I am still claiming VICTORY! Once I had the stamp carved I used a brayer to apply some printing ink to my stamp. I turned the block over and pressed the stamp into the paper, but I think the linoleum was too rigid to make a clean, solid print. It might have come out better if I was able to put the block through a printing press and really squeeze it to the paper. Unfortunately I don’t possess a press so I can’t try that out right now.

I wasn’t too happy with how hard the linoleum was to carve or with the way it printed. It was a lot of work and a lot of disappointment. I think it might work better with a smaller block, but I haven’t tried that yet so I don’t know for sure.

How To Make Your Own Stamps.
The linoleum stamp doesn’t hit the paper in the same way. The flower doesn’t all appear. I may need to use a press with it. The bird on this paper was carved with the E-Z block and makes a clearer print.

 

Next I tried the E-Z printing block. It was like a big floppy rubber eraser. It carved like butter. I had to be careful about not cutting off more than I meant too, but quickly adjusted my pressure and started enjoying the process. It was so easy to carve that my four year old was able to do it. What a joy to work with! I cut the tree out of the block using an x-acto knife and was able to use the extra pieces to make some smaller stamps too (see the bird in the above photo).

How To Make Your Own Stamps
E-Z Block Tree Stamp.

 

I liked the way the E-Z printing block printed better than the linoleum. The rubber was completely flat on the paper allowing the printing ink to stick to the paper and create a lovely print. It was so much easier to carve. I don’t think I’ll bother with the linoleum again. The only problem with the E-Z block was it can crumble which makes me wonder how long the stamps will last for.

How To Make Your Own Stamps
The E-Z blocks were bendable and rubbery.

 

I was really excited about how my tree stamp printed. I just ordered some ink pads so I can see how the rubbery stamps print using that kind of ink next. I’ll keep you posted on how printing with an ink pad comes out in comparison.

I have plans to create many more stamps so I will have plenty of experimenting to do.

How to make your own stamps.
E-Z block tree stamp on card stock.

 

I am using this tree stamp to create hand stamped cards for my customers. It’s been fun using different colors of printing ink to see how the tree comes out. I am looking forward to making more prints and using my original stamps to decorate shipping envelopes for my online sales. It’s a pretty easy and fun way to customize your packaging and to help you establish the often elusive “branding” that businesses are always trying to capture. It’s also just fun to send mail to your friends in really cool envelopes.

Have you done any stamping? Do you have a favorite stamp related art product? I am interested in trying new things to see what I like to use best. Your tips and insights would be extremely helpful!

 

Happy Monday!

 

*Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Need Help Branding Your Blog?

Do you need help branding your blog? I did. I needed a lot of help. I barely understood the concept of branding when I started blogging, never mind trying to become an actual brand. People kept saying I needed to brand myself. I just kept scrunching up my face like they were speaking a foreign language and shrugging my shoulders thinking I’d get around to all of that one day…in the very distant future. Like never. Or the day after never. Infinity.

I had a lot of questions. Could a person be a brand? It sounded so weird. It sounded yucky. I am a brand? My blog is a brand? My art is a brand? Like Campbell’s soup or Minute Maid orange juice? That can’t be true. What is going on here, PEOPLE?

Well, I’ll tell you what is going on here. I woke up one recent morning and realized I needed to figure this marketing business stuff out. I was getting bigger opportunities. I didn’t want to seem like an amateur. I realized I needed to become a brand. I needed to have a consistent face to show to the world. Not my own face because nobody wants to see that all day long…especially me, but I needed a logo. I needed a logo that could be recognized by my fans. A logo that would send them all rushing to my Etsy shop to buy up all of my art every single time they saw it float by on their computer screen. A logo that would drive traffic to my blog because all the people in all the world must know the latest antics of Tiny-Small…and our chickens…and my painting…and poor Jim just trying to survive in this crazy dome we call home. It’s a tall order. I know.

Need Help Branding Your Blog?

I know because I tried to design a logo all by myself. I’m an artist. I have an eye for beauty. I have mad skills y’all. I know what I am doing over here with my free photo programs and random font choices. “I got this,” I said cockily while tipping my chair back like the cool kid sitting in the back of the 6th grade class.

Well, maybe not exactly. It turns out creating a brand and a logo is a lot harder than it looks. It turns out there are people out there called “graphic artists” who spend hours coming up with concepts and designs to help businesses create a brand. It takes a special talent to do this right.

A talent I do not possess. After pulling my hair out and begging people on Facebook for feedback I decided to seek professional help. That’s when Joules from Pocketful of Joules (an awesome blog go check it out) saved me from myself. She happens to be a graphic designer with 15 years, let me repeat, 15 YEARS, of experience designing logos and helping people create a brand for their businesses. She saved me days of frustration and gave me hours of my life back. I’d much rather be painting and writing than fighting with photo software and getting it so very, very wrong over and over again.

Joules quickly put together some ideas she thought might work for my blog and presented them to me. In a matter of days I had a new header and a new logo to use on all of my promotional materials. What I like most about Joules is she goes to your website and pokes around. She gets to know you. Her logo designs are original. Sure, you can go to certain websites and get a $5 logo from someone, but it’s going to be some generic clip art with your blog name on it. Joules creates something that makes sense. She understands your personality. She gets to know your style. Your logo will be unique and people will recognize it belongs to you immediately.

Here is the logo she designed for me!

 

Its a Dome Life - logo with tagline - web version

I am writing this because I am so grateful to Joules for helping me get my logo and brand identity right the first time. I want to recommend her services and promote her new “Blogger Special” logo and header design package. I urge you to take advantage of her talents. Save yourself a headache. I am the Do It Yourself queen, but even I know my limits. It’s important to get this right so you can spend your time on the thing that matters most: Your business!

 

blog logo by Joules

If you’d like to learn more about Joules services just click on her button!

 

P.S. Joules and I are friends. We met on the Internet. In full disclosure, she provided me a discount for her services. In exchange I put her business button in my sidebar. I am writing this post because I want to. It was not part of the deal. All opinions are my own.