Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

Hello Lovelies! I hope your summer has been filled with fun, good food and ART! I also hope you get a chance to "get away" even if it is in your own town. :)

The project I am bringing to you today is one of my favorites. I have had this idea rattling around in the right side of my brain for awhile now.

If you could flip through my sketchbooks you might see a reoccurring theme. Houses. I think every artist has symbols, images, etc. that mean something extra special to them. One of mine is houses. Growing up my family moved often. In fact, I realized recently that I have moved, on average, every 3-5 years my entire life. That is many many houses. One house that has remained constant is my grandparents' farmhouse in Idaho. It is one of my very favorite places on the planet. If you want to read how my very favorite place influences my creativity you can read a blog post I wrote a couple years ago.

So, continuing this thought process about home. What does home mean to you? What function does a home have? I am sure it can mean different things at different times of our lives. These are the questions that were going though my mind as I created this series.

I started with three wooden house forms I found at my local craft store and my first layer was GAC-100 by Golden. It is a multi-purpose acrylic polymer that seals the grain of the wood. (Another option for this is clear gesso or you can go rogue and just start painting!)

Using a selection of Dina Wakley acrylic paints I painted each side a different color. Using the same colors on each house will help them have continuity. 

Then I grabbed my palette knife, Deco Art Media Crackle paste and the larger Halftone Dots Stencil and applied a medium to heavy layer to each side of the houses. (Tip: The thicker the paste the bigger the cracks.) Some sides were just the dots and others were solid crackle paste. When the paste was dry I went all ooooh and aaaaah at the delicious texture that I saw.

The next layers were paints (same as before) and dictionary pages. I only glued the paper to a few sides of each house. Again, using the same ephemera on each ties them together. (Kinda like Project Runway when they have a group of designers design a mini collection. The successful groups have a common element that appears on each of the designs, whether it is color, pattern, etc.)

At this point I found a quote I liked and also sketched out some imagery I wanted to paint onto the house blocks. When I looked at the super awesome bumpy surface from the crackle paste I knew it would be a smidge difficult to paint details. So I grabbed my favorite sanding blocks and went to town sanding all sides of the houses. Dust was flying and the result was AWESOME! 

All the divine cracks stayed but the overall surface was more flat and so so smoooooth. A bonus was the distressed look I got from the paint partially sanding off too.

Now that my surface was ready I started painting!

I felt the sides needed something snazzy so I picked out my favorite stencil from the Cathedral Series and it was perfect. 

I also used gold paint to add details and the shimmer shine just tied everything together. 

The result is a whimsical house set that makes me smile. Mission accomplished!







Hello texture and mixed media art supply fans!

Today, let’s explore a variety of art supplies on top of the new DecoArt Media Crackle Paste!

If you are not sure what crackle paste is all about, it gives your surface a broken eggshell like texture once it’s dry. Take a peek at the picture below.

To play along with me, here are the supplies you’ll want to gather:

9x12 inch canvas board or panel, Dina Wakley heavy body paints, Dye-na-flow liquid color, Ranger Archival Ink Re-inker, crackle paste, a palette knife, Kaleidoscope Series stencils from, a cosmetic wedge, a Koi Brush Pen, and a few random inexpensive acrylic paints.

In case it’s helpful for reference, here’s the back of the canvas board I used:

I decided to apply a coat of acrylic paint first. I chose to use red paint as the under layer. Once the paint was dry, I applied the crackle paste over the entire canvas, using a palette knife. Some areas were thicker than others, but no spot was too thick, as I wanted it to dry quickly.


After the crackle paste was mostly dry, I applied some light blue Apple Barrel acrylic paint and some neon orange acrylic paint from Target.

In a dry spot, I decided to try out a Koi Brush Pen to see how it would respond to the crackle paste. I was impressed with the color saturation. I also love the transparency of the marker, which allows the cracks to show through well. (See below)

The crackle surface intrigues me, so I wanted to try another mixed media supply that I love: Ranger Archival Ink Re-Inker. The re-inker has a fine applicator, so drawing a shape, like a circle, is fun and easy to do.

What I loved about this medium with the crackle paste was how the ink started to instantly spread underneath. The dark ink really made the “crackle” stand out. See close-up below:

Next I added some Dye-na-flow –yellow drips and green splotches. I wanted to see if it would bleed like the re-inker. Guess what? It did!

I played around with some Dina Wakley acrylic paint. Sometimes I watered it down with a wet brush so it wouldn’t be too opaque over the “crackles”.

Now, it’s stencil time! I added parts of Black Orchid stencil from the Kaleidoscope Series, using a cosmetic wedge and blue acrylic paint.

This canvas panel is not complete, but my mixed media experiments over crackle paste are finished for now.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Stop over on to see the finished canvas piece!

Happy creating and experimenting with the lovely supplies over at!




Oooo!!! I am so glad to be back home with all my art supplies! Oh... and... um... I missed my husband too. Tee Hee!

I love my acrylic paints, all brands regardless of viscosity. The problem is they are not very compact when flying so I settled for my watercolors while I was in Wisconsin visiting. I also missed all my wonderful stencils! They make it easy to add interest to a page either as a focal point or a background.

For this weeks blog piece I decided to get my inspiration from my Artful Journeys prompts #199 Polkadot and #205 Rockabilly. Not only did it save me some time trying to figure out what to paint, it also gave me a reason to paint a face!

I started by getting one of my mixed media journals and sketching out my Rockabilly girl using my Generals Scribe all pencil.

I love this pencil because it is water soluble to I can use it in a variety of ways, I can use it as I have here, with watercolors for shading or with other mixed media blended with light color acrylics to add contrast and shadows.

I then used acrylics to paint the background and the face. To really make her pop I used the largest "Shadow" Dot Halftone Dot Series stencils to add the pattern to the back ground.

I continued to paint the girl and realized the background was a bit blah.

Yea... blah.

So to remedy the blah-ness of it I went in with all but the smallest of the set of the Halftone dots, adding blue and white.

I think that little bit of added color from the stencil made her pop and made the background more interesting to look at with out taking away from the page.

I missed my stencils so much while I was gone!

Big hugs and Mushy stuff!

Watch the video to see my full process!



"Photography helps people to see." – Berenice Abbott

Do you “see”? Do you mindfully take time to appreciate the glorious sights that surround you? Do you find similarities in beliefs and dreams reflected where you least expect them?

The incredible photographic work of Berenice Abbott is without a doubt thought provoking. And while I agree that photography helps you to see, I also think music, literature, painting, printmaking, drawing, and in my case collage, also encourages introspection.

My passion for New York runs deep. While many people find rejuvenation rambling through the countryside, the sound of my heels clicking a staccato rhythm on the sidewalk sets my soul on fire. And if I can’t physically be in New York, Berenice Abbott’s dramatic black and white photos are a passport not only to my hometown, but to another time.

Looking at Abbott’s catalogue housed at New York Public Library, I decided to work with a photo of a Manhattan courtyard on laundry day taken in the 1930’s. The realist in me knows doing laundry in the tenements was a back breaking job at best. But the romantic in me yearns for the days of seeing clothes strung on a line, the patterns and colours enhanced by the sun and wind.

I knew I needed a background as dramatic as the photo. I chose a handmade scarf completed at a workshop I attended at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center. The silk chiffon was accordion folded, secured with wooden blocks, drizzled with reactive dyes and steamed in the microwave to set the colour. It was the first time I tried this technique and I was extremely pleased with the results.

The warm tones of coral, orange and yellow were the perfect framework for the cool palette I chose when using Artistcellar’s Seafoam stencil. The foamy look of the stencil merged perfectly with my wash day theme. And that’s what I love about the Artistcellar products. The only limit to their use is your imagination. With a swash of watercolour, a splash of acrylics and Artistcellar Halftone Dots, my background was nearly complete.

But something was missing. Looking at the patterns formed by the laundry I wondered what stories they had to tell. Life was challenging, but still there was hope. I wondered about the letters sent home to family and friends…some who would be making the journey soon and others would only experience Die Goldene Medina through their eyes. So I added the text in Chinese, Italian, and French.

The Arts are a mirror by which we see a reflection of ourselves and each other. A photo, a painting, a bit of prose they all help us to truly see that hopes and dreams are passions we all share.



In art and in life there are ups and downs and today I feel a little bit sad because this will be my last Artistcellar design team post. It is for the best that I let go and let someone else shine. I have enjoyed seeing the work others have created with Artistcellar stencils and I hope I have made some friends here.

I love the portrait series by Jane Davenport as they are a great way to make beautiful portraits without the worry of getting the eyes, ears, nose and lips in all the wrong places (unless you want to of course). I chose ACS063 (Side) because it expresses so much with so very few lines. I love doing portraits over a colored background instead of the white paper. Having a colored background gives me more creative freedom where I can have fun accenting shapes and colors using watercolors and ink.

Supplies needed:

  • ACS063 Jane Girls Side stencil
  • Canson Moulin Du Roy 140 lb watercolor paper cut 5” x7”
  • Daniel Smith Watercolors: Quinacridone Rose, French Ultramarine, Pthalo Turquoise, Hansa Yellow and Shadow Violet
  • Yasutomo Traditional Chinese Ink Ultra Black (CM18)
  • Memento Bahama Blue stamp pad
  • One round and one flat watercolor brush
  • Small stencil brush

First, create a graduated wash of  blended color and apply it to a sheet of cold press watercolor paper. For a smooth graduated wash, wet the paper first by brushing on clear water until the paper looks semi shiny but not dripping or puddling. Load a flat brush with a generous amount of blue watercolor and brush it along the top, then quickly add a wash of yellow and finally a wash of rose. The colors will blend nicely and will be lighter once they are dry.

Position the stencil over the paper and secure with masking tape. I chose a blue stamp pad to being out the image but not to overwhelm since I want the lines to disappear when I start painting. Hold the stencil in place and scrub the ink in with the stencil brush in a circular motion to bring out the details.

Use a pencil to lightly draw in hair and other details.

I used transparent watercolors for painting in the details and shadows. I prefer transparent colors because they mix beautifully without creating mud. Brush on a wet wash of color and drop in another color without actually touching the brush to the paper. Doing this causes the colors to dance, mingle and create new colors. Remember, the secret to watercolor is water!

I felt the image needed more contrast so I used Yasutomo Chinese Ink Ultra Black to block in the background and bring out the face. This ink is really dense and concentrated so don’t mix it with your watercolors and use a different water container and brush for the ink. I love the way it dried to a matte finish.

Fill in more details with various shades of watercolor and ink until you reach the desired effect you want. 

Well it’s not goodbye, it’s so long for now and I hope see you out in the land of creativity.

Thank you for having me here!

Karen Elaine


Hello again!

Did you know that Frida Kahlo's birthday is in the month of July? True story, she was born on July 6, 1907. For the last couple of weeks I have been celebrating her artwork and legacy and today is no different!

I wanted to do something a little bit different than a portrait this time, so I found a Frida quote and set off on a inspired painting!

Today's quote from Frida is, "I paint flowers so they will not die."

To start, I traced around an Artistcellar Diamond series stencil with a General's Scribe-All pencil. I didn't trace around the entire stencil because I think it makes it pretty interesting if you pick out sections. Next, I used a Koi waterbrush and some watercolors to paint in the entire stencil. I let that dry completely so that it could be an awesome under-layer for later!

Then, I continued with my Scribe-All to sketch in some floral illustrations and of course, our quote of the day. When I had the drawing right where I wanted it, I outlined with a black acrylic paint pen.

Next, I started tossing some color at it. I used some fluid acrylics (in the flowers), and watercolor for the background.  I wanted it to be a little bit brighter and colorful because Frida was a very colorful lady... to do this, I added in Dylusions Spray in "Cut Grass". This added a perfect pop of extra color that I needed. In some areas I was a little more precise with the brush, and in others I added drips and splatters and was just a little more messy.

To finish up the painting I simply added white highlights and doodles throughout.

That's it! What about you? What is your favorite Frida quote?


Since my last shrink film project was so fun and there were still a few sheets left in the package I decided to make something else to shrink.

Ya'll, it's addicting and oh so easy. Woohoo! 

This time I grabbed my absolute favorite stencil from the Sacred Geometry 2 stencil set, a white Sharpie water-based paint marker, Permapaque markers in bronze, silver, gold and white,  and lots of regular colorful Sharpies. 

I used a clipboard to hold my stencil in place on top of the shrink film. I also had a plain white sheet of paper under the film so I could see my colors better. 

Then I picked out several shades of a few colors, traced the stencil and filled in the shapes. You can blend two colors of sharpies together on the film and make beautiful gradients. Don't worry if your sharpie color looks really light because it will darken after it is shrunk. 

It is up to you and your imagination how you go about decorating the stencil design!

When finished with the coloring and embellishing cut out the charm. If your charms need a hole in them for hanging now is the time to punch one. When you cut out your shape you can include a tab like shape where a hole can go if you do not want to punch a hole into your design. Remember that the hole size will shrink too so use a larger size than what you need. I've found 3/16" or 1/4" to be good sizes. 

Shrink according to the package directions.

Didn't they turn out so cute and fun! I can see these mounted on a handmade greeting card, made into a mobile or attached to the cover of a sketchbook. Again, your imagination is the only limit to what you can come up with. 

I hope everyone is enjoying their Summer and take a little time to try this project. You'll be glad you did!


Hello Wonderful People,

When your heart is heavy or broken, turning to art is proven to be useful. Today, I turn to an altered book I started years ago.

Step One: Find a dark magazine page, a piece of sandpaper, and an interesting stencil from artistcellar.

I am using “Sea Fan” from the Coral Series. (Pictured below)

Place the stencil under the magazine page and rub with the sandpaper until you see the design coming through.

Step Two: Choose an existing book to work in.

Step Three: Tear up your magazine page and glue it down on your page spread with matte medium.

Step Four: Add some marks and scribbles. I used a Carbon Black Lumber Crayon by Dixon.

Step Five: Choose another stencil by artistcellar, (Infra stencil from the Quasicrystal Series) and place it under your book pages. Use the Lumber Crayon to create texture.

Below is a close-up of the texture that comes from the stencil, as well as scribbling over slightly damp magazine page (from the fluid matte medium).

Step Six: Add some color using acrylic paints.

Step Seven: Add a contrasting color. Pictured below, I am using a Crayola Dry-Erase Crayon in orange.

Step Eight: Use a black pen and a white paint pen to add lettering. Pictured below, “Let us have vision for a new way in the new day.”

There you have it, eight easy steps for creative expression and tending to your heart.

Sending Many Blessings Out to You!


PS I’d love for you to visit me at


Hello my lovely lovelies! I am so happy to share this week! I am home in Wisconsin to visit my awesome family like I do every year.

I always bring art supplies with me and this year I brought my Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box, my Sakura water brush, Faber-Castell Graphite Aquarelles and two art journals, one a homemade with watercolor paper, and the 2nd my Strathmore  with mixed media paper.

When I am home I just create to keep flow going, I don't go about trying to get a style. I just paint or draw things around me, with the landscapes here it's easy to be inspired. Sometimes my Daddy and I just hang out and have beer summits so I decided to record that in my journal! It's always Pabst Blue Ribbon and always served in my favorite bass can cooler.

Other times we go for drives and end up driving home with the sunset, the colors are so vibrant that I can't do them justice because they are so bright they don't look real.

Or other times I just doodle away, my favorite doodle this year is this pretty fairy girl.

All of these quick pages started with a sketch with Graphite Aquarelles and then I activated the pencil using the Sakura water brush with watercolor and without. These are by no means glorious works of art, but they are bits of time that I cherish recorded in my journal.

I will be back in Arizona before my next post so I will have a video to go with it! Thank goodness for cell phones so I could share with you!

Big hugs and mushy stuff to you my lovelies!



And so began the journey for so many of our ancestors. For me, it’s always all about the story. I am fascinated by the motives behind a person making the decision to depart the land of their birth. What made them head off to begin life afresh in a distant country? Did they ultimately fulfill their dreams? Was the move as successful as they hoped? Given the chance, would they complete the journey again?

Ellis Island was, and is, part of the fabric of our family. So many of the stories passed on to me by my Grandmother certainly were the catalyst of my interest in all things relating to immigration, especially at the turn of the Century.

America. Die Goldene Medina. The Golden Land. A land of opportunity for everyone. A place like no other where every dream, every wish, could and would come true. Looking at the photo of an Italian woman taken as she waited at Ellis Island, I wondered about her story.

I have been using my Strathmore Mixed Media Journal quite a bit lately. With 140lb vellum finish paper that is acid free, it is quite a help in building a portfolio of backgrounds that I can use for future projects.

For this piece, I started with the Artistcellar Seafoam stencil and my water colours. I wanted the overall appearance to be bright and “golden” so I limited the pallet to tints of yellow, magenta and orange. I allowed the pattern of the stencil to dictate where the colours would fall, as well as where to use the flat or pearlescent paints. When dried, I stenciled using one of my all-time favorite Artistcellar products, the Halftone Dots stencils. This time I reached for my metallic acrylics and layered complimentary colours.  Again when dried, I finished the background with my Punchinella and metallic acrylic.

I assembled my images…the photo of the lady from Italy, a postcard of Ellis Island, a map and airship from the Lunagirl Moonbeams collection of collage sheets.  The last element was a clever bit of repurposing: an artist friend sent me a dryer sheet she used to mop up paint. I loved the rough edges of the sheet and the lovely texture. I am a believer in Synchronicity and her generous contribution was flawless! Just the colour I needed to tie everything together. The timing was perfect!

Looking at my finished work, I wondered, did the Italian woman find her “Golden Land”? What became of her life? I hope she did find all she wished for.

I feel fortunate, as I am sure many of you do, to be an Artist. Our work and imagination can take us wherever we wish to travel.  Art allows us the opportunity of self-expression and experimentation. Our Art allows us to venture to our golden land where dreams can come true.


1 2 3 11 Next »