Creating Complex Botanical Monoprints

I’m excited to share with you techniques of creating layered botanical prints in your journals using a variety of different inks and gesso.

As you watch the detailed instructions in the video, please note that you can create different kinds of layers depending on whether you use darker colors before lighter ones and vice versa.

If your botanical prints feel like they’re not very high-contrast, you can always apply a coat of gesso or white acrylic paint on the gel plate, place a leaf on and pull a print — this will tone down or “mute” everything in the backdrop except for the part you masked off with the leaf.

It’s a great trick to have a very complex image as the central focal point of your journal page without any “busy-ness” surround it.

While the original botanical prints were nice enough, because I printed them in my journal, I wanted to do something more with them. I’m sharing some before and after photos here so you can see the original layered botanical print and the final images after I had worked on them with my colored pencils and markers. 

I hope you enjoy this video and the photos showcasing the complex layers one can achieve with inks and leaves from one’s backyard. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

Supplies

One flower three ways

Hello everyone,

When Yana Smakula emailed me two weeks ago telling me she loved my work, I was floored! Her work is so inspiring, creative, detail-oriented and so innovative…for her to say that she loved what I do has definitely been the highlight of this month for me!

Taking cue from her creative ideas, I worked with this FSJ Buzzworthy Collection from Spellbinders, creating three very-different-looking cards using the same central flower image. I wanted to push myself creatively, so decided to use alcohol inks to color the first flower. I used Yupo paper, Brea Reese red and purple alcohol inks, 91% isopropyl alcohol and rich gold from Jacquard products. It was more challenging than I thought. The inks have a mind of their own…and I am comfortable using this medium for abstracts, but this was the first time I tried containing the inks within the confines of a stamped image.

Work in progress

You can see in this photo, how the inks didn’t quite blend as much or as easily as I wanted them to (or as watercolors typically do). I kept diluting the inks with more and more alcohol, hence the various tints in my palette. I lifted off quite a lot of the ink from the petal edges so I could still have some highlights and that helped push the colors more toward the center, making the outlines between the petals a bit more defined.  But by itself the flower wasn’t doing anything for me. It needed something to help elevate it! I looked at all the other 18 designs that are part of this stamp set and felt inspired by the honeycomb. So, using distress inks in a combination of stamping and blending techniques, I created a subtle background.

Closeups of the relief paint

The flower still didn’t seem to pop…so I resorted to using my Pebeo Vitrail Cerne Relief royal gold paint to give it really thick outlines. It felt so rich and wonderful…and that extra dimension from the paint was just what this flower needed. I finished off this card with a simple metallic gold strip and a freehand scripted sentiment. 

With this card complete, I decided to try my hand at photo paper working with the same alcohol inks. I’ve had tons of experience creating abstract paintings on Kirkland photo paper from Costco (because the pack of 500 is very affordable and also because I had to justify buying so much of it!). But since I’d never tried to control the inks a particular way inside a stamped image on the slick surface of photo paper, I thought I’d experiment and see if they’d look different from Yupo paper. And, wow, was I surprised!

The colors looked just so much more intense and shiny! I could not get any definition on the petals, though because of freely the inks moved and how quickly the alcohol evaporated making it very difficult to blend and lift the pigment. So, I resorted to using a black glaze pen and outline the petals wherever I saw variations in ink color. So, this final flower image isn’t a true reflection of the stamped image, but my interpretation of it. 

Because the flower was so vivid, I decided to give it an equally happy background color, using the same stamp as for the first image but with the addition of some honey bees. I added glitter to their bodies and glaze to their wings. Small details that I think really make this card and all of its different stamped images pop. I also added a triangular piece of Duralar to mimic the wax in the honeycomb…and finished it off with the simple “Bee Happy” sentiment also part of the stamp set. This card has such a different vibe than the first one, using the same tools, don’t you think?

Given how I wasn’t able to blend with alcohol inks the way I’d wanted and that this flower is so gorgeous, I couldn’t not paint it with my favorite coloring medium: distress ink reinkers! 

So, I set forth on a third variation of this flower and enjoyed every moment of painting it. I even made a process video, so you can enjoy it as well!

Once the flower painting was done, I assembled this card by using the Spellbinders rectangle frame die set and adhering the cut-outs over the card base. I then splattered some of the inks on to the cuts. Stamped some other images that are part of this Fun Stampers Journey with fine detail black ink from Pinkfresh Studio and colored them in quickly with Faber-Castell polychromos pencils. I thought it added some cool dimensional elements to the card…what do you think?

I had such fun playing with this image and I still have so many ideas on how this flower can look so different when used with embossing powders, color pencils, water-soluble pencils, printed with a gel plate…oh the possibilities are endless!

 Here is a look at all three cards, together. Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

And if you’re curious about the supplies I used for making these cards, they’re all listed below. (These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.)

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!

Mansi.

Interpretive Watercoloring of Anita Jeram’s Illustrations from Guess How Much I Love You

I cannot tell you how excited I am to be part of this Colorado Craft Company October release: they secured the licensing rights to the designs of the world renowned children’s book illustrator, Anita Jeram, and I have spent all of last week coloring these amazing illustrations!

Anita’s and Sam McBratney’s beloved children’s book, Guess How Much I Love You, has sold over 43 million copies and has been printed in 57 different languages.

Today, I share with you all the images I painted, with more detailed photos of each on my Instagram and Facebook accounts between the 3rd and the 7th of October.

I painted each of these images with distress ink reinkers and finished them off with Faber-Castell polychromos pencils. 

You’ll notice that I took some creative liberties with the images, turning the hares into female protagonists. My six-year-old daughter is always asking difficult questions about our patriarchal society and often gives me pause … so, of course she saw a mama hare and a daughter hare in this book. And she inspired me to say, “well, why not?”

I love that the book isn’t limiting. It is the love between a big one and a little one (no matter their gender), or could be between a couple in love or two friends. To quote the website: “there is a universal truth at the heart of Guess How Much I Love You that enables it to have an extraordinary relevance to many different people.”

The Colorado Craft Company has brought home to crafters one of the most beloved book of all times "Guess How Much I Love You" and I am beyond excited to share my creative interpretation of the wonderful illustrations.

I hope you’ll like my interpretation — it’s my first time painting animals, so go easy on me. 

To celebrate their new release illustrated by Anita Jeram, Colorado Craft Company is generously giving away a $35 gift certificate to their store for each blogger participating in the reveal! Simply leave me a comment telling me which of the new sets is your favorite. I will leave the contest open until the end of the day on October 7, 2020.

Please also make sure you visit each of these artists below. Each one of them has some amazing inspiration to share. Lastly, don’t forget to shop for these stamps and, in Anita’s words, “create something delightful today!”

Supplies

Curious about the products I use? I have listed them below. (These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.)

Be a Dreamer: Whimsical Card

It’s the first day of September and I can feel a nip in the air. Fall is officially here and while I’m hoping for rain to put out the raging fires in Northern California, there’s none in sight. Given that’s what’s on my mind, it won’t come as a surprise that I reached for the BB Puddle Jumper stamp set from MFT Stamps.

I used Gina K’s Warm Glow Amalgam Ink to stamp the image on to watercolor paper. I like that the ink is barely visible when stamped and completely disappears upon watercoloring. When I started painting the boy, I didn’t really have a plan. 

All I was focusing on was getting my light and dark areas right, having enough variations of color (because boys tend to be shown as very boringly monochromatic) and making sure I got the rainbow in there without him look like one. Lol. 

Once I had his skin tone just right (yes, continuing to be intentional about representing diversity!) and the shading on his clothes, shoes and the umbrella complete, I thought I’d start working on a puddle. But the puddle would need to have a reflection and I had already spent close to two hours perfecting this image. The thought of painting a “duplicate” image didn’t feel appealing at all!

So, instead of going the conventional route and painting an elaborate puddle for this cutie to jump into, I decided to take a more fantastical approach: creating a story book illustration feel with oversized fall leaves, a thicket of woods in the background and some warm autumn colors. 

For the leaves, I used Tim Holtz’s alcohol inks on Yupo Paper and Duralar for varying degrees of translucency again using fall colors. I then used Sizzix Tim Holtz Alterations Collection 3D Impresslits Embossing Folder to cut and emboss maple leaves. I absolutely love the texture it added to my paintings!

I decided to make this a slimline card to give me more real estate to create this fun scene. As I placed the various elements on the card base, playing around with the placement of the leaves, I realized I needed some kind of interesting background.

I used Speckled Egg to color the entire card panel, added some trees using brown paper and affixed all the leaves first before placing the boy atop. 

The last thing I did was add an appropriate sentiment from Simon Says Stamp — also notice that I used a die cut heart to stamp the “Be” on — some sparkly accents and some iridescent dots on the insides of the umbrella. 

I am so in love with this mixed media card and I hope you like my interpretation of it as well!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read. I’ll see y’all next time!

Supplies

Curious about the products I use? I have listed them below.

(These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.)

Flamingo Coloring with Pencils

Say hello to Bella: the flamingo I colored this weekend. It turned out to be a two-day project with more colored pencils than I had imagined using.

I’d been wanting to color this gorgeous stamp from Colorado Craft Company ever since they released it. When I saw Del & Artie color it live with Copic markers, I knew I needed to buy it right away. And I did. But when it came, I felt daunted. Everyone else had already done such an amazing job coloring it…what could I do that was different?

Last evening, though, when my daughter picked this stamp out for our family coloring night, she said to my husband, “We are going to have one rule before we start, Daddy: we are not going to compare! We are coloring for fun and we’ll just do our best because that’s what matters.”

It was such a great reminder!!

Sometimes I forget what I tell my own child. Lol.

Well, after many hours of blending, shading, laughing, talking, and coloring some more, Bella is ready to make her debut. My daughter hasn’t finished her version, yet and my husband isn’t one for sharing 🤷🏻‍♀️ I love that we are able to spend time coloring together. This is the second time we’ve gravitated towards stamps from Colorado Craft Company to color — their big and bold series is perfect for all ages and all skill levels!

Supplies

Curious about the products I use? I have listed them below.

(These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.)

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Journal Page: Intuitive Mixed Media

When I decided to paint this journal spread, all I had envisioned were three faces. I didn’t know which mixed media products I would use or even which colors! I started out with three circles, created using packaging tape as a guide, and just built a scene from there.

There was no plan, no choice of colors laid out…more a grab what’s within reach and see what happens. I love being able to paint like this for myself…there’s no agenda, no motive, no end goal. When I open my journal spread, the empty pages seem full of possibility. The first stroke is usually the hardest but once I have a line, or a scribble, or a color splashed on, intuition takes over.

Have you ever painted in your journal just for the sake of the process? How did it make you feel? Scared? Anxious? Free? I’m always curious where the journey will take me and I am rarely displeased with the results. As I add more textures, more layers, more colors and more of “my self” expressively on to the page it metamorphoses into exactly what it was supposed to be.

I hope you’ll enjoy this video and be inspired to create something for the pure joy of creating…something that makes you happy inside.

Supplies

Curious about the products I use? I have listed them below.

(These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.)

All My Atoms

Cute Chemists in Rainbow Colors

I absolutely LOVE this Cute Chemists stamp from MFT Stamps, and I assure you I’m not one for cutesy stuff! But would you just look at this? I’ve only used the two main characters and a couple of hearts but you could totally create an entire lab scene with this stamp set. 

I colored my chemists with Karin markers, using the same wet-on-wet method I used for my flower girl in the Bundles of Love stamp (watch the process video if you haven’t already). I also added a touch of glitter to make the love concoctions stand out a bit, just for fun! 

For the background, I used Gelli Arts’ ladder stencil, dry embossing the pattern on heavy cardstock and then coloring over it with distress inks.

Cute chemist card

Then it was just a matter of putting the layers together on my card base and adding a sentiment (from the same stamp set) on black paper heat embossed with ultra fine white embossing powder

See you next time!

Mansi.

Bundles of Love

When I saw this Pure Innocence Bundles of Love Stamp from MFT Stamps, I knew instantly I needed to use my Karin BrushMarker pens. The girl is carrying pretty posies in a dainty basket and I love that you can add details to her dress. You can celebrate spring with an abundance of color by taking advantage of the opportunities her flowers provide. Or you can pair it up with other sentiments in your stash to create a variety of special occasion cards. The possibilities are endless!

In this process video you can see how easy it is to use the fine-tipped pigment-loaded brushes in intricate areas. You’ll also see how I don’t use more than a little drop of ink. With watercoloring, the number one rule is to allow your water to control the flow of your ink.

So, using the wet-on-wet method, I was able to get beautiful gradation in my colors by using a very little amount of ink.  

Once I finished coloring the stamped image, I fussy cut it. I didn’t want anything taking away from the coloring, so decided to turn this into a clean and simple white background card.

I did dry-embossing with the Altenew Mega Rose Stencil on the card panel as well as one of the die cut circles to make a subtle highlight area for the girl. Getting creative with sentiment placement, I used Stitched Ric Rac die cuts as a base. The sentiment “This One is For You” is from MFT’s Cup of Love stamp set.

Bundles of Love is such an apropos name for this stamp set…there are so many little details to love in it ! A sweet little honeybee and trio of sentiments complete this cheery set, so make sure you check it out. 

Hope you enjoy the video. As always please let me know if you have any questions.

Supplies

Curious about the products I use? I have listed them below.

(These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.)

See you next time!

Mansi.

Papercrafters Unite Against Racism

If you’re here from Dana’s Kraft Paper Stamps blog, welcome! If you haven’t visited her blog, yet, please do!

When Justine Hovey sent a call out for paper crafters to partner up and make our voices heard in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, I was all in. I’ve been journaling and painting my thoughts out because words aren’t easy to come by, and I am grateful that these art sessions have led to some deeply meaningful conversations with my young daughter. 

PaperCrafters Unite Against Racism Poster

The goal of this hop is to come together to stand behind our crafty sisters and brothers of color not just in the art industry, but also to show our support in the never-ending fight for equality all over
the world.

For this blog hop, I decided to go back to the basics: skin color. At the core of it all is the value attached to how much melanin your body has. It’s absurd, really, that your skin should dictate how you’re perceived and treated.

I’m unable to explain to my six-year-old why it’s ok for lighter-skinned people to feel superior to those with darker skin…why there is so much systemic bias in our societies worldwide against those who are dark, why humanity takes a backseat when it comes to skin color…why we still run commercials promoting fairness products and try home treatments to get whiter skin. Why fairness is desirable and dark skin demonized…

Isn’t it what’s inside that matters? The color of the skin is purely a coincidence of genetic materials co-mingling…it doesn’t make you who you are! More than anything else, what makes us human is empathy, kindness and respect. It’s our heart, our mind, our soul that makes us human. Not the color of our skin. 

With this card, I wanted to share how we are all joined by the common thread of kindness…there may be gaps in our understanding of what we consider “the other” but those gaps can be filled with education, with empathy and with kindness. We may all look different on the outside but we can all strive to be the same on the inside. 

We have to listen harder to the voices that have been suppressed for centuries, do better to support those who have been marginalized, and be better every day in our thoughts and actions, so that our future generations focus more on what counts inside over what appears outside. 

To continue on this blog hop, please visit Ingrid’s blog next.

Also, here is a list of Instagram Accounts of Black Crafters (Thanks Kristina Werner!) and a List of Ways to Help (Thanks Jennifer McGuire!)

If you’re looking for a way to help, please consider donating to one of the following charities:

Black Table Arts – organizes and brings in black artists into communities and provides creative spaces for leadership

The Loveland Project – helps provide therapy for black women and girls

Fair Fight – a movement to ensure free and fair elections

Black Girls Code – a movement to increase women of color in STEM fields and exposes girls to computer science and technology

The Bail Project – mission to combat mass incarceration and reshape the pretrial system in the United States and helps reunite families.

Supplies

Curious about my cardmaking supplies? I have listed my most-used items below. These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.

Specifically for this card, I used a Gelli Arts gel plate in conjunction with Brea Reese alcohol inks to get the skin colors. Next, I used Concord & 9th’s Sew Seasonal Dies to cut out the leaf shapes and sewed them together with a gold thread. I thought My Favorite Things Cross Stitch Die in combination with the Stitched Circle Die cut to make a backdrop for the leaves (representing holes in our understanding of “the other”). Last, I added the Altenew Be Kind Sentiment, which really drives the point home. 

A Post for Pride Month

Today, I bring you a colorful, cheery post celebrating Pride Month and all that’s good about humanity!

Rainbows signify happiness to me and I love that these colors are deeply associated with the LGBTQ movement in America, signifying the diversity in the community but also each colors holds its own symbolism:

  • life (red),
  • healing (orange),
  • sunlight (yellow),
  • nature (green),
  • harmony/peace (blue),
  • spirit (purple/violet)

Blending the colors in this card signified harmony and unity and the sentiment I chose spoke to that symbolism as well.

I used My Favorite Things’ Splotchy Dot Background first using dye inks in all the colors of the rainbow. Then I blended Distress Inks in the same colors over the dots. Next, I used My Favorite Things’ Heart Tree DieCut to make a cavity in the cover of the colored card panel. I also used the Wonky Stitched Rectangle Die Cut to give this panel a fun border.

Now the only thing missing from this rainbow was the pot of gold! So, I adhered some glitter gold cardtsock to the back of the tree die cut and voila! It just made the card so much more vibrant in a flash!

I then added a sentiment from My Favorite Things’ “Cup of Love Clear” Stamps that seems to play well with the blended background. I also added two hearts that had cut out from the tree to the side of the sentiment to make this the perfect anytime card.

Hope you enjoyed learning more about my process and I look forward to seeing you next time.

Supplies

Curious about the products I use? I have listed them below.

(These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.)