Using Caran d'Arche Neocolor II pastels

Caran d’Arche Neocolor II water soluble wax pastels

I’ve been asked a few times to explain what these wax pastels are that I’ve been using lately.  They are Caran d’Arche Neocolor II water soluble wax pastels, also called Aquarelle Artist Pastels.  Now, be sure that you’re buying Neocolor II and not I– Neocolor I pastels are water resistant.  they still do very cool things but under different circumstances and with different media.  I’ve been using the NII pastels in mixed media pieces, mostly with casein and acrylic paint.  
In the images above, I simply scribbled some NII into the areas that I wanted to use as a thin paint. The pigment in the pastel is so concentrated that it really works well either on its own or blended into other paint.  If you’re working on top of casein, the water will reactivate the paint and your colors will blend.  If you are working on top of acrylic, as I am here, then you will make semi-transparent layers of paint on top of your color.  Use it on its own for a nice underlayer of color.

You can also lay down some paint and, while it’s wet, use the NII to scratch into the paint to reveal the colors underneath. Vary the heaviness of  your hand to reveal deeper layers.  Things get interesting when the color from your NII is left behind in your marks.  If you want to increase the likelihood of this happening, wet your NII before drawing. 
I like to paint/draw/paintover/draw/paintover/draw/paintover … until I feel like it’s done.  This is the beginning of a small painting I’m working on but thought it was ok enough to share for purposes of explaining the Neocolor II pastels.  
It’s hard for me to pass up a colorful art supply I come across– I’m glad that I picked these up to experiment with!

The Chicken Chick

Ocean Blue and Jeweled Purple scarf

Finished another handwoven scarf!  I really love using my table loom. It’s such a great therapy of sorts for me — when I’m not feeling 100% to work on painting in my studio, I can sit in front of the tv and comfortably weave.

For this scarf, I wove in two threads at a time, mixing the thinner thread to create more depth of color in the stripes.  Experimenting with color blends was so much fun, it was like mixing paint on the palette!

This is the first that I’m listing for sale in my Etsy shop.  Visit the link for more images, info, and close ups of the colors and texture.


No longer Impossible

First couple of shots with the Impossible Film

Ready for some fun!

I must have spent a small fortune on Polaroid film back in the day. But the satisfaction of an instant image spitting out of that camera and knowing that it was the only one of its kind was fantastic.  As a painter, I really enjoy the unexpected color and light that a Polaroid camera and film capture.  I can’t tell you how sad I was when they closed their factories and stopped producing film.  But I hung on to most of my Polaroid cameras hoping that the film would make a comeback one day.  Well, that day has come!

The Impossible Project is now producing film to be used in Polaroid cameras.  They purchased an old Polaroid factory in the Netherlands and have resurrected it to make artists like us happy.  You can read all about their story on their website here.

They had an in-person only sample sale of their expired film a little while ago and I begged anyone in the NY area to please stop by their studio and pick me up some….through the fate of “putting it to Facebook,” as my family and I now say, my friend happened to be walking down the same street and checking FB from her phone.  So she called me, went in, and mailed me my purchase!!

I’ve only taken three photos. The first one was a complete dud but the next two came out ok (above.)  This pack had an expiration date of August 2011 so they’re not very much past their expiration date yet they had some neat effects. There are some areas of high grain which is pretty interesting.  The brown areas at the top may be from my rollers needing to be cleaned; I’ll experiment with that for the next photographs.

I’m very excited to work with this film again– it handles differently than original Polaroid film so there’s going to be a slight learning curve but I’m ready to dive in and see what happens.

Weaving on

LOVING the colors of my newest scarf! This is only my third woven item and I’m ok with saying that I’m proud of myself! 🙂   After being shown by my friend how to weave on a loom and researching, reading tutorials and blogs, watching videos, etc, I wasn’t sure if I could handle the complexities of weaving. But taking some step by step directions really helped me– breaking it down into smaller parts and taking my time really made it seem doable.

I worked out some loom tension issues after my second weaving and this third one came out straight– hooray!  And this is so darn soft!!!

Warp: 5/2 Egyptian Cotton- Chestnut Rose
Weft: Bulky Cotton Boucle- Moccasin & Light Worsted Cotton Boucle- Egypt– all yarn from Yarntopia Treasures

90 threads, 10epi, multi-patterns

Made this one for myself and now I’m going to work on some to list in my Etsy shop.

Video tutorial and review: Winding yarn

Below is a short video tutorial and review of some new yarn supplies that I’ve acquired…

Winding bulky cotton yarn from using the “Medium Hard Maple Yarn Swift Winder Adjustable Skeinwinder” from and the “Knitting yarn ball winder” from

Review: The swift was extremely easy to assemble and very fluid. I think I should have purchased the next size up (large) because thinner yarns are falling off of the swift but that’s my own fault- I didn’t know what would work best. I’m positive I can make some simple adjustments to this one to keep that from happening in the future. Really a great swift and at a really great price.

The yarn winder works really well. I’ve been choosing to use it hand-held because the clamp is taking me some time to figure out how to use. The instructions that are printed on the box don’t explain how the clamp attaches without the clamp being in the way of the crank. Maybe I’m just dense but I can’t get it to work without these two parts interfering with one another. Overall, it’s a great winder.

Now if I could just find a way to get my loom to warp itself….

Weaving scarves on the loom

My new loom

Last month I posted about my new venture: weaving. I’ve since acquired a Structo Artcraft table loom. The loom is 21″ wide so it’s perfectly suited to make scarves, placemats, and small rugs or runners. I’ve started off with scarves and am absolutely loving it!

My 1st scarf – cotton chenille & cotton
2nd scarf – bulky cotton boucle & cotton

I’ve always been drawn to fiber but didn’t quite know how to incorporate it into my art and craft. I have a friend who weaves and she sat me down in front of a floor loom and taught me the ropes, so to speak. A very comprehensive book and many Youtube videos later and I’m throwing that shuttle as fast as I can!

It’s a nice break to take from the painting studio and a great thing to do while watching tv. I have my loom set up on the coffee table so that I can be fairly comfortable (if you know of an ergonomic loom, please let my back know!)

The major downfall to weaving is how completely addicting it is! The worst part is all of the beautiful yarn out there!! I’ve been so enamored with the hand dyed yarn from Yarntopia Treasures— she will custom dye to your whim or you can choose from her color palettes and/or at hand supply.  I’ve been using her bulky cotton for my weft (the shorter part of my scarves) and just purchased some thinner yarn to be used in future warps (the long threads that run the length of the scarf.) It’s the best and the cotton boucle is so darn soft!!

I’ll keep posting my progress– more very soon!

A new venture

…almost done…

Because I can’t stay only on one project and because I can’t help but learn new things… I started learning how to make rag rugs!  Inspired by the weaving of an artist I am mentoring- she showed me how to weave on a loom and I was so taken with it!  I’m working on getting a table top loom but in the meantime, I needed to learn how to weave something fast.  

I’ve always been drawn to rag rugs and decided to research how they were made.  Some google searching and youtube watching later, I found out that I could make my own rug frame. Since I’m a painter, I have a ton of canvas stretcher bars hanging around the studio and they work perfectly! On the shorter sides, I put some nails in one inch apart and then strung some dyed cotton yarn as the warp.  

The piece above is bathmat sized and a good starter project.  I’m going to go bigger and tighter on my next rug and I think I’ve found a great new hobby!  (I’ll post a tutorial soon!)
a view of the warp before I started weaving

Where do you start?

“Talked Into It” casein & wax pastel on arches watercolor paper mounted on cradled board 6 x 6″, available here
The other day, my friend, who has known my paintings for a few years, asked me about my process, “Where do you start?” An interesting question that I never had asked of me before! 
Right now in my current paintings I start with a ground color, since I know I’ll typically scrape away parts of the painting to reveal it. Then I think about a general color palette, knowing full well that it’ll change as I paint. And I just go from there, drawing, painting, scribbling, scraping, layering, until I’m happy with where it lands. Sometimes I draw shapes, sometimes words usually from things I’m thinking or a conversation with myself, or what I’m watching on tv or something my husband says. Sometimes it turns into an inside joke with myself and I name the piece after that.
Anyway– I’m thinking of all of this as I continue to post my new small paintings in my Etsy shop.
So tell me, where do you start?