Free Art Magazine: Creative Muse

I wanted to create something fun for my newsletter subscribers but felt that all the options were overdone. I decided what better than an art magazine full of fun projects, worksheets, coloring sheets, color palettes, supply guides, and tons more. So that’s what I set out to create and I’m so excited to announce that the magazine is ready to go.

If you are a current subscriber the email with the free 76-page magazine already hit your inbox, so go check it out.

If you aren’t yet a subscriber, that’s okay, there is still time to get your copy of Creative Muse.

November Sketchbox Supply Review

This month’s Sketchbox supplies were all about Manga art supplies. I think many times people get into the idea that just because an art tool is created for a certain purpose that there is the only one way to use it. I think the thing I love the most about getting the Sketchbox each month is the challenge of finding ways to use new supplies in my art practice that fit inside my style. I don’t have to change my style to fit the box, rather I’m always testing out ways to push a product to do new things.

Premium Box Items

Copic Classic Markers (BG02 New Blue) – Since this was the lightest colored marker in the box, I found this to be the perfect base color. I’m not a huge fan of the Classic Copics and that’s because I prefer the brush tip instead of the chisel tip that comes with the Classic markers. The color was beautiful and I made the tips work, I just had to plan my drawings accordingly. There is a bullet nib which is great for the small fine line areas. (Amazon)

Copic Sketch Markers (BG5S Holiday Blue & BG99S Flagstone Blue) – The Holiday Blue color was a great color to use over the New Blue. The tones worked beautifully together and the Holiday Blue became my darkest value so I used that to create my shadows. The Flagstone Blue color is really a deep green color, which is very beautiful. The Sketch markers come with the brush tip I love, so these markers are a huge win for me! (Copic Ciao Holiday Blue / Flagstone Blue – Amazon)

Holbien Colored Pencils (OP368 Prussian Blue & OP267 Forest Green) – These pencils were a perfect way to sketch my drawings before adding the markers. They weren’t overpowering and blended in well with the Copic marker colors. I haven’t used Holbien Colored Pencils before so I enjoyed working with a new colored pencil. I used them on the marker paper and found they worked well enough, but if I were to create a drawing with them I would use a different paper, one with a bit more tooth to it. The vibrancy I think was lost a bit on the marker paper. (Amazon / Amazon)

Kuretake Mange Liner (White & Silver – Extra Fine Point) – These are my new favorite liners for adding highlights and detail work. The extra fine point allowed me to add intricate marks on top of the markers. They are similar to paint pens as you have to prime the tip the first time you use them, but after that I never felt I had to pump the tip again. The ink flowed smoothly across the paper and never skipped or ran out. The silver is striking and vibrant, which I loved. If you haven’t tried these liners yet, I would highly recommend. (Amazon )

Clairfontaine Mange Marker Paper (4×5.8” 100 g/m) – This paper has a great smooth-texture and works beautifully with the Copics and Liners. The paper is a brilliant white which really makes the marker colors jump off the page. I don’t use marker paper often, but I would definitely get this paper again in the future. (Amazon)

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that I will make a small commission if you choose to purchase these items at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your continued support!

Create Illustrative Botanicals with Watercolor and Ink

My Illustrative Botanical illustrations has to be the most asked-for class. I’ve had the class scripted and planned for a couple of months, but I was waiting for the new studio to be done before I started filming. I wrapped up filming last week and my amazing son and video editor took over, and today I finally got to hit publish.

I’m currently offering it on Skillshare and for those who are members of Art After Loss Community the class will also be available there.

In this class, we’re going to create these fun and whimsical botanical line art drawings over loose watercolor backgrounds that any beginner can do. Intermediate artists will also love these projects because they’ll get tons of tips and tricks throughout.

We’ll go over the basics of watercolors and how to create super whimsical effects with the wet-on-wet painting technique. I’ll share tips on the different ways to use wet-on-wet and my favorite ways to create these fun backgrounds.

Then we’ll go over how to draw sketchy botanicals. I’ll share tons of examples and how I approach creating sketchy flowers.

Then we’ll work through three projects that will increase in difficulty as we progress. The first will focus on the basic loose watercolor background and one single flower. The second project will focus on adding additional colors and working with multiple botanicals. In the third project, we’ll add splatters and work with a bouquet of flowers and greenery.

Class Supplies

Here are the supplies I’m using in this class.

(This section features several affiliate links, meaning I’ll earn a small commission if you purchase through these links.)

Steps to Creating a Shuffle Collage

Creating digital collages in Shuffles is subjective. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, but I’ve found that working with Shuffles as a creative business marketing tool, there are some basic steps I take when creating a collage.

1) Pick a theme

It’s important to decide what you want the purpose of your collage is. Are you promoting something? A collage for an event, a class, or a book would be focused on that event solely. Whereas if you are promoting an item, such as a hat, a purse, or even stickers, the item may just be one piece of a collage, rather than the sole focus. Understanding the purpose behind the collage is an important first step.

The theme will help keep your collage pieces in line with your purpose so as not to let your collage get off track.

For this example, my theme was fall clothing.

2) Find images that fit around your theme

Search Pinterest boards, Your Pinterest Boards, Shuffle Stickers, or even take photos with your phone.

3) Edit Images

Resize, change layer positions, move, lock items in place, add blending modes, change opacity, add borders, and add effects. There are so many ways to alter and edit an image to make it look the way you want in your collage. This is the step where I play with the layout and just try different things until the collage looks the way I want.

4) Add animation and overlays

There are a couple different ways to add movement to a collage and adding animation during the creation process can make images wiggly, slide side to side, or spin around. This feature allows you to draw attention to a part of the collage that you really want to come alive. You can add additional movement with overlays like butterflies, city lights, glitter shower, and many more. During the publishing step you’ll get to add additional overlays as well to add even more dynamic visuals to your collage.

5) Add text and handwriting

Shuffles offers the ability to add text. The color selection is limited but there are decent font choices and you can change the color of the font and highlight colors.

Handwriting can be added as well. You have a choice of pencil, pen or brush lines in small, medium, and large thickness. Again the color choices are limited. Adding handwritten words, marks, lines or squiggles gives a personal touch to your collages.

6) Add description & hashtags

Once you’re ready to publish your collage it’s a good idea to add a basic description and hashtags. Adding hashtags makes it possible for others to find your collage when searching Shuffles.

7) Share / Publish Collage

You can share your collage publically where everyone on Shuffles can see it. If you don’t want to share publically, you can send your collage to another shuffler or save privately.

Here’s a timelapse of my fall clothes collage

Shuffles by Pinterest for Creative Businesses

Pinterest launched a new app called Shuffles. If you haven’t heard of Shuffles yet, it’s a collage-making app where you can create engaging visual content using the power of Pinterest’s image library to create mood boards, project planning, influencer marketing, contests, and giveaways to drive traffic to their websites.

The company quietly launched it in August and because it’s in its initial testing phase the app is available via invite only. Which means, you’ll have to snag an invite code in order to gain access to the app.

Shuffles appears to be a hit for Pinterest and I believe Shuffles is on its way to being a powerful tool for creative businesses.

The best feature by far is that each image used in the collages remains 100% interactive and everything added to a collage project remains clickable…automatically linking back to the original Pin on Pinterest and to the website of origin.

Just think of the possibilities!!

After playing with the app and all the ways it can benefit a creative business I decided this information had to be shared, so I created a class on how to use the app and all of its features, as-well-as how the Shuffle app can aid creative business marketing.

How to Annotate All Kinds of Books

What is annotating? Basically, it means that you underline/highlight and add notes interacting with the text.

I do most often write in my books, but there are ways to annotate and not mark up your books. Here’s how I annotate my books, and if you want you can try it yourself.

Why you should annotate your books

Mostly Because it’s fun. That’s the main reason I annotate books. Many annotate books for classes/homework, which is where I learned to do it, but now I do it for fun. I’ve found there are just so many benefits to doing it, here are some of the reasons:

It helps you be a more active reader– I remember so vividly the day my 6th-grade teacher taught the class how to skim-read, but what I found over the years is that it makes for a lazy reader. Active reading is when you are engaging with the text rather than just passively reading the story.

It helps with your memory – You remember more details of the book.

You get a better understanding of the book – Annotating a book can help you absorb the born more fully. It helps with understanding the plot, the story, and even character development. Annotating especially helps with books that deal with heavy or complicated topics.

Supplies Needed for Annotating

Here are the basic supplies I use…

Buy Alison’s book

Annotation Key

I like to find tabs that match the book cover. Then I sit with the book and come up with areas that I want to keep notes on. If it’s nonfiction I like to find topics that are connected to the book subject/text and I tailor them to the topics the author is writing about. If it’s fiction, then I have some basic go-to colors and topics.

  • Red – Scenes that make me angry/things I dislike
  • Pink – Romance moments
  • Orange – Inspiration
  • Yellow – Worldbuilding
  • Blue – Sad moments
  • Dark Purple – Favourite quotes
  • Green – Character Building

Here is an example of a nonfiction book and how I create a key that’s targeted to the author and book topic.

Now that you have the colors assigned, you can also match the sticky notes to your pens and highlighters.

How to Annotate Books

There are two ways to annotate…using all the tabs with tons of colors and notes and using only one tab and pen.

Using all the tabs/colors

With this method I’m using all the colors, marking up the book, writing notes in the margins, and highlighting like crazy. This does take the longest but it’s so fun to look back at these books and see your thoughts during a particular time of your life.

Using only one tab

When I don’t have a ton of time and need to move quickly through a book I’ll keep a set of tabs no color in particular and a pen that I mark important details or information that I don’t want to forget. (Plus I can always go back later and annotate in more detail if I want to..wink, wink).

Taking Notes

I don’t always do this step, but when a book is just bursting with information that I want at hand I will transcribe important quotes, details, etc into a notebook or notecards.

Final Thoughts

There is no right way to annotate! Annotating is such a personal habit that each person will do it differently. If you haven’t annotated before or if you haven’t done it for a while, pick up a set of tabs and pens and let yourself enjoy that next book!!

Art After Loss Magazine

I created Art After Loss shortly after we tragically lost our baby boy in 2018. It was art that got me through that first year and it’s continued to be a major part of my grief journey. When I turned Art After Loss into a class I wasn’t sure if I would do more than that. I kinda thought maybe one day I would write a book, but in the last eight months, Art After Loss has become more than I ever imagined. I knew I wanted to create art education that would support those suffering from loss and grief, but creating a monthly digital magazine has far surpassed what I had originally planned.

Creative Heart Magazine is a digital monthly magazine that uses creative expression (art) as self-care for those dealing with loss and grief. Something our world seems to have so much of nowadays. It breaks my heart that loss and tragedy is what brings us all together.

This digital magazine offers support, guidance, and inspiration throughout the grief journey. Each issue features a theme and includes articles, creative and journal prompts, monthly affirmation, color palette, sketchbook explorations, full-length art lesson (with video tutorial), curated resources (book recommendations, Pinterest Boards, playlists, etc.), and MORE! Each issue includes a Sketchbook Exploration which gets readers working in their sketchbooks and an Art Lesson which focuses on creating art as self-care.

I’m offering the first issue as a free download if you sign up for Art After Loss’s email list.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be opening up the Membership side of Art After Loss, which will give access to classes, resources, community group, monthly meetups, the Creative Heart Magazine and so much more!

4 Ways to Find Your Art Style

Artists hear all the time the advice that you need to find “YOUR STYLE” as if it’s this thing playing hide-n-seek with you. That if you turn over enough rocks you’ll find it hiding beneath. This thinking messed with my head for so many years. It’s something that my son and I were discussing the other day and I told him to let go of the idea of finding his style, but rather to get comfortable with his process. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized doing just that was the turning point for me as an artist and as a writer.

Finding your style takes an analytical approach to art and the process is in the doing. Everyone tells struggling artists to just make a lot of art, but that too feels vague. What it truly boils down to is the process and the feelings you get when creating.

In 2018 when our baby boy died I feared I’d never make art again. I was focused on a career in children’s illustrations and I was suddenly an artist who couldn’t create art. My husband pushed me to try a new medium. He suggested acrylic paint since my daughter had some and I refused. I didn’t know how to paint with acrylics. It seemed hard and way outside my comfort zone, but finally after enough needling from dear hubby I came into my studio, which I had avoided until then, and I started painting. The painting was terrible but it was the freest I’d ever felt when creating. That led to a year of me creating art just for me. (I even documented it and turned that year into a class…Art After Loss). I tried tons of mediums and I played. In the end, what I had discovered was a process that worked for me and ultimately when I look back I see my style forming.

So if you too are struggling to find “Your Style”…here are the four things I did that might just help you too.

  1. Try Different Mediums – Try something new. For me that was acrylic paint, then soft pastels, inks, markers, and the list goes on and on. This also means to try different paper or try digital art if you’ve always done analog.
  2. Look For What Inspires You – Look through your Pinterest boards for what grabs you. Maybe it’s something outside…the ocean, your garden, the trees. Finding something that excites you visually will drive you to your art desk.
  3. Listen To That Inner Voice / Your Gut – Don’t make art that you think people expect you to or want you to. Maybe you are moved my graffiti art. Maybe you want to try painting large murals but are afraid. That little voice inside is trying to tell you to go for it. Listen to it!
  4. Take Classes Outside Your Comfort Zone – Classes are the best way to try new ideas and mediums, but what I suggest is instead to push yourself to take a class that is so far outside your comfort zone. The reason is you stretch your creative muscles in a way that I’ve found always inspires new work. I read books about comic book art not because I want to create comic book art, but because I always learn something that I can use in my own art style. So try new things and see how it shows up in your own passion projects.

Preserve PDF hyperlinks in PowerPoint on MAC computer

When creating my digital planner I did all the layout and design work in Canva and then had Canva transfer the file to Powerpoint. From there I added the many hyperlinks in PowerPoint to make the planner easy and smooth to navigate. But I ran into a problem with my PDF losing the hyperlinks when I saved the file. I should also mention that I’m working on a MAC.

The solution is this…

When you’re finished editing your file, Save it as a PowerPoint file. Then log into your microsoft.com account online and click go to your account. In the upper left corner there is a box of dots, click on that and open PowerPoint.

Open the file you just saved.

Then from here, you can do a Save As and select Download as PDF. Your hyperlinks will be preserved.

The issue…

MACs have their own PDF creation mechanism so when saving as a PDF in PowerPoint the MAcs converter overrides PowerPoint’s native PDF creation tool, and in that process, you lose the hyperlinks. By saving through the online PowerPoint it overrides the MAC creation tool and allows PowerPoint to preserve the hyperlinks.

It’s a pain that we have to take the extra step but thankfully it’s there for those of us who still prefer Powerpoint over Keynote.

2022 Digital Planner

For all my digital planner lovers…I’ve designed a digital planner just for you.

I used my popular to-do list planner as the model making it the perfect design for those that get overwhelmed by complicated digital planners, those that prefer a checklist-style planner, and those who just need to keep things simple and easy.

I could go on and on about this awesome planner, but instead…let me just show you!

With tons and tons of hyperlinks making this planner is super easy to navigate.

Let’s do a little flip-through…

Buy the Planner