witticisms by Jess Witty

June 12, 2011

Happy Trails...

You're already singing it, aren't you?

I know.
Me, too.
It can't be helped :)

You can sing it while you read this post and then later on when you stamp with these stamps :)

Speaking of... today's Papertrey Ink design team post brings you a new set from Nichole... enter Happy Trails.

I'm realizing over the course of crafting for so long that sometimes I need a change.
Which is funny because in real life... I am so not a huge fan of it.
But somehow, when I'm crafting... it can be easier to tackle change.

Because it really just comes in the form of doing something I've never done before.

I used to think that I wasn't artistic because I couldn't draw.
But then a friend of mine showed me that what I could do was stamp.

And sometimes I wonder what else I could do but that I have no idea I can because I've never tried it.

I have that running list in my head of "man... I'd really love to try that."
Silver smithing.
Glass blowing.

The "you color my world" sentiment in Happy Trails challenged me to try one of those things on my list... watercoloring.

And it was fun :)

It was by no means a study in perfection

There was Try #1...

This was my original idea and I enjoyed making it, but when I stepped back and looked at it I realized...
it's way too linear.  It totally showcases my perfectionistic nature in crafting and that is exactly what I'm trying to get away from with trying new things :)

So, no to that one.

Try #2...

I started experimenting a bit... combining colors, getting used to the process...

Try #3...

I'm starting to hone in on a layout idea here. 
Still trying to figure out how exactly watercolors work, though :)
Take away on this one - too much water = bad.

Try #4:

Finally getting somewhere!

One thing I started to understand a bit about letting wet colors blend and letting other areas dry.  Letting an area dry lets you come back with more color or a different color and add some detail.  The details really end up making a difference in terms of depth,

Full confession... it's possible that there were other attempts that are not being shown here today :)

I'm ok with my attempts, though.  I basically have zero idea what I'm doing with watercolors and you know what?


I just walked into Michael's, purchased myself a fancy $4.99 set of watercolors, a fancy $4.99 set of brushes, and a pad of watercolor paper and went to experimenting at my work table.  No rhyme... no reason.  Just me trying to let myself attempt something outside of my comfort zone, to relieve myself of the pressure of perfection... to just do.

And I did.
And I have to say... I actually loved it :)

And this is the result.

It's a whimsical little watercolor finished off with one of my all-time favorite sentiments, a funky butterfly, and a winding little tail behind him.

To make the tail fit my layout a little better, I added the two longer tails in the set together. I just positioned the stamps so that they overlapped a bit (right between the two small loops) then masked both trails near the overlapping point. I also made small pencil pencil marks at the end points of each trail to make it easy to position the inked stamp.

I wanted the butterfly to be extra special so I started by embossing it with black powder on a piece of vellum.  As the black powder heated and melted, I sprinkled some yellow embossing powder over it.  I repeated that until I got to the point above.

Although there is a set of matching Happy Trails dies for the images in this set, I went ahead and emossed it on a small panel of vellum and then hand cut it out after embossing.  With this embossing technique, I just find it easier to do it on a panel that can be easily held on to.

One nice thing about using vellum for this was that because the vellum is more pliable than cardstock, the embossing caused the trimmed butterfly to curl up naturally and just perfectly for this project :)

To give this project some presence and depth, I adhered it with foam tape to a simple artist's canvas base.  To draw the eye straight to the colors I painted the canvas black. 

Putting it on a canvas means that I can move it around the house and mix things up from time to time as I like to do.

For now, it's made a home on the entry way table where Eli's study of Picasso is on the right and a single line drawing of mine from a college art class is on the left.

I think it fits right in :)

I really have to say... I totally recommend giving the good ol' watercolors of your youth a try. 
I found it really freeing and fun.  Honestly, it felt like free art play from grade school.
Good times.
There is zero perfectionism in watercolors. You have to release that expectation right from the start, friends.
It's a good thing :)

One thought... if you love the color Copics can give but find them a little daunting... this would be a great way to experiment with fun color with only a few dollars. 

I was totally taken with them so there are more watercolor techniques to come with the rest of my release projects from this month.

But in the meantime, be sure to check out all the other Happy Trails projects from Papertrey Ink's design team!  I had a tough time trying to decide what image to work with... I cannot wait to see what the rest of the team worked up with the little paper airplane, the ink pen, the quill pen, and on and on and on!

Nichole Heady
Betsy Veldman
Erin Lincoln
Maile Belles
Lisa Johnson
Dawn McVey
Heather Nichols
Melissa Phillilps
Michelle Wooderson
Danielle Flanders

Thanks for stopping by today!
As always, I hope you enjoyed it!

{Happy Trails} canvas
Stamps - Happy Trails
Ink - True Black
Paper - Vellum; watercolor paper
Ink - watercolors (Artist's Loft from Michael's)
Other - Rhinestones; canvas (Artist's Loft from Michael's)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for showing us your process to a fantastic card!

Jill Norwood said...

I love your canvas today! You are brave and creative and fun! I would probably end up with 50 attempts and hopefully get to the beautiful piece that you made in the end....I may just have to try it with my son's watercolors...if I do I will email it to you or let you know somehow...thanks for trying something new! I look forward to more! :)Jill

Sarah Martina said...

I've had such a hidden desire to pick up the paints and let loose... I've made 1 project this year, but seeing this is such great motivation for me to continue. :) Your rainbow of watercolors is absolutely stunning! Glad that you decided to play a bit. :)

Crafty Math Chick said...

Lovely! I also really like the card you describe as 'too linear', not for me it isn't!! LOL!

Smilie girl said...

Yes, there is a world of things to try, if we let ourselves. Excellent card. It really fits in well with your other art works.

Gabby said...

Your final watercolor image is beautiful! The card is stunning! :)

Penny said...

Stunning and fresh - LOVE it! In fact it's my favourite card from all of today's cards from the Happy trails set.

Penny h

Tanja said...

Aren't watercolours fun? I have used them now and again and really enjoy looking at cards done with water colours on Splitcoast stampers. I love your work (and your college drawing!)

Wendy ten Hove said...

This is stunning!!! Good thing you kept on trying, because your final result is one of the most beautiful cards I have ever seen!!!! I love, love, love it!!!!
Hugs, Wendy

Eveline said...

Wonderful card.

Kelly S. said...

You forgot to mention that you are an author, too...you should definitely dabble in that realm! Your posts are always so fun to read, Jess! It's like reading a humor column or mini editorial in the newspaper whenever I visit! Your card turned out great!

Karen H. said...

Wowzers! I love all your attempts and maybe we'll see them on cards eventually. I do love the watercolor you used for your card - rainbows in watercolor, what a perfect combination! Thanks for sharing some of your other attempts too - I need to remember that it doesn't need to be perfect the first time out and that it is ok to start again.

Carol's Ink Spot said...

Beautiful card. The colors seem to be floating on this with the butterfly enjoying the ride. Love it!

Dana said...

Glass blowing is HARD. amd hot. very hot.
Watercoloring is relaxing, peaceful and, lets be honest...cheaper. *grin*
Your true creative spirit is on fire with this piece. LOVE.

RedGem said...

Beautiful card... just love the colors. I have a watercolor set and some paper... guess what I'm going to 'try' to duplicate. Tks for the inspiration.

Joyce across the Pond said...

Aah...wonderful zinging colour - I feel the freedom it gave you doing it from over the pond!
Great result...there'll be no stopping you now!

diana said...

Thanks for putting into words why I love cardmaking and other papercrafts! ;-)

Nancy said...

STUNNING card, kudos to you for trying something "out of the box". I'm definitely going to try this,
love the butterfly trail.

Sarah said...

This post makes me so happy.

I've read so many blog posts and message board topics from depressed crafters who are dissappointed because they feel their work doesn't live up to that of published designers. There's this myth that it's some sort of artistic magic, when really it's a little bit natural talent and an awful lot of hard work and practice.

Seeing the long process behind such a stunning piece is refreshing. The story of your process is as inspiring as the finished work. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Granbeads said...

The attempts to a perfect watercolor card are amazing. Can't believe you have never done that before. I Utterly adore your finished product! Beautiful colors, flowing design, love at first sight! Please do more.... you are my heroine for doing this. I have watercolor paper.... and just came across a $1.29 set of paints in one of my stamp drawers.......... Hmmmm.

StephH said...

Witty: Adjective meaning
possessing wit in speech or writing; amusingly clever in perception and expression: a witty writer.

You are such an inspirational writer and designer. I love that you share your blunders as well as stunning successes. You showed us that you don't have to spend a small fortune on watercolors to create a stunning piece of art.

I foresee a new Make-It-Monday video using watercolors, starring Jessica Witty! Please! (I will be digging mine out today.)

Thank you Jessica!

mel m. m. mccarthy said...

Stunning! Love seeing the process of this super clever idea.

Amy Rohl said...

I have one word for you, girl: awesome. Oh, can I add one more: honest. Love your awesome honestly, and you're pretty darn artsy, too!

Bev Gerard said...

So non-Jessica ... but in another way, it's totally you >>> diving into more creativity!

Love it!

<3 Mom

Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing! The card is beautiful but what I really, really love is the way you guided us through your creative and learning process along the post. Brilliant :)

Anonymous said...

Rainbows have always been a fave of mine. They catch your attention because of how pretty all the fun colors are. Thank you for thinking a little outside the box and filling my rainy, dreary day with rainbows!

Glenda J said...

You are much braver than I am! I shudder to think what would happen if I tried this.
Absolutely love this - stunning! Great work.

Rebecca Ednie said...

I love this! I tried something like it and hated my first and second attempts so I gave up. You've inspired me to try again!

Pegg S said...

So gorgeous and fun! Loved reading this post and seeing how you got to where you are. You are right - why not play and try something new - you never know where it could lead you and what beautiful work you can create!

Unknown said...

You did good!!!! Love your experiment postings...I do love to try things every once in a while to get me out of my rut. Love your creation:)and your musings!

Casmiles said...

Absolutely beautiful - I love it!

nancy said...

Thank you so very much for sharing some of your watercolor attempts. It was interesting seeing your final design take shape. What was my favorite part of your post, though, was seeing how you displayed your project. Your line drawing is intriguing and impressive. I don't think you should say that you cannot draw! And Eli definitely has inherited some major art skills. His study of Picasso is remarkable. Your house must be a true home, a place filled with love where you can experiment without judgment.
PS - You really should get out the charcoal (pencil?) and create some more line drawings.

esl said...

awesome!!! But I think that it probably will look better if the frame's not painted in black...anyway, great project!! love it!:)

esl said...

awesome!!! But I think that it probably will look better if the frame's not painted in black...anyway, great project!! love it!:)

michib said...

absolutely beautiful card!!! Thanks for showing us that we don't have to spend a fortune on expensive products to create beautiful works of art.

Bree said...

Beautiful! And congrats on reaching one of your stretch goals by trying a new medium :o)

I love playing with watercolor--have you ever experimented with salt and alcohol on watercolor? With alcohol, you just sprinkle (or drop or flick) some rubbing alcohol onto the wet paint and let it dry--you'll see the effect immediately, but it will be more dramatic if you've used more paint than water. I like using a little spray bottle or just drip it off the end of my paint brush.

With salt, you sprinkle it on and then rub off the chunks of salt once the paint dries, but you won't really see the total effect until the end. Using a variety of sizes of salt (small granules vs flakes vs rocks) adds to the drama. Suuuuper cool effects--the trick is to use more paint than water--makes it more dramatic.

And then there's always crayon resist ;o)

Have fun!

Carolyn Ruiz said...

BRAVO!!!!! I think you did a great job. It turned out lovely. Also, you found out something new that you can do; it's like opening a new door in your creative studio. Awesome!

Susan said...

An absolutely beautiful card Jessica! Thank you too for showing us the trial and error process you went through. :o)

Donna K said...

I love your project and your progression. My watercolor teacher always says "let the paint do the work" meaning don't overlap your colors (you may get a muddy color) but roll the paper around at different angles and let the colors blend themselves. I also like the salt method mentioned - paint shouldn't be too wet or too dry for best effect.

Taheerah said...

Jess as usual your work is stunning - and as usual I've been a bad blogger and not commented!! I just wanted to thank you so much for the sweet words you left on my log - I am so honoured and it totally made my day!!

Danica said...

Oh, I love it! I haven't played with watercolor paint in ages. I tend to stick with the watercolor pencils because I have ones that coordinate with my inks. I may have to dip into my kids' paints and play a bit. ;)

Kayla said...

Unfortunately, i've never had the privledge of visting your blog before, but i'm glad Craft Gossip featured this article on their page. :) It's brilliant, and beautiful.

When surf the net for watercolors, or paintings, people make it look so simple, they're flawless and beautiful - just like yours. I love this post so much, because you have shown me what no one else does, and that's your "trial and errors", and it was really neat to see and realize that things do take practice. :)

Thanks for Sharing, I can't wait to try one of my own.

Tiff said...

I love seeing watercolor techniques pop up more and more in crafting! Your card is no exception...it is stunning and I can easily see it on the cover of take ten or some other artsy publication! I'm happy to see the copic trend die down a wee bit to make way for funner, messier techniques :)

Mari said...

I just saw this on Pintrest. WOW. Gorgeous!

kiwimeskreations said...

Just saw this on Pintrest - I too have been experimenting with watercolours recently and this has inspired me to be more random - like you I am a bit of a perfectionist :-)