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Ask the Artist

Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions

  • Submit your question to Dina
  • August 5, 2020
    Q: Kmay wants to know: "I love my Prismacolor pencils but the leads keep breaking. Any suggestions on keeping it from happening? Thanks."

    A: I love just about everything about them except for that breakage issue! A sharpener that sharpens a shorter point is a huge help against breakage. Less surface against the blade = fewer turns, and less core exposed. I use a T'Gaal sharpener that is adjustable, and the #1 setting is the shortest, which is great for Prismacolors. Also, keep superglue handy. If the lead breaks you can line it right up and superglue it back in place. Let the glue dry well and you can continue using the pencil as usual.

    July 29, 2020
    Q: Loralee asks: "What is the difference between regular Bristol paper and vellum Bristol paper and when is it appropriate to use each one?"

    A: Bristol is a multi-ply paper that is great for use with a variety of art media. The difference between smooth and vellum bristol is the texture of the paper's surface. Vellum bristol has a bit of texture or tooth, so it's better for dry mediums like pencils (which need a texture to fill as you build up layers) or pastels (which need a texture to grab onto when applied). The smooth bristol is better for ink blending or for markers - it's also heavy enough to take a little water, so you can use it for mixed media backgrounds (like the smooshing technique among others). If you're not sure which surface you prefer, try out the Canson XL Series Recycled Bristol Paper Pad - each sheet has a smooth side and a vellum side, so you can test both surfaces without buying two pads of paper.

    July 22, 2020
    Q: crafterinnc asks: "Last year I got a box of Prismacolor pencils for my daughter. She uses them for high school art, but the tin box they are in does not close. What would be a good way to store them and also so she could take them to school? I think there are 120, so it needs to hold that many!"

    A: I keep my pencils in zippered cases - there are several brand options but the ones I have are made by Global. They have a variety of sizes holding up to 120 pencils, in leather and in canvas. There are elastic loops across the panels that each hold 3 pencils in place. I love how portable they are; I also love that each pencil has a place, which makes storage and inventory easy for me.

    July 15, 2020
    Q: Lara asks: "Do you swatch your inks?"

    A: I do! It's really helpful to me to be able to see a colored sample of the inks I have, especially for layered stamps. My swatches are on 2" squares of cardstock - I swipe the ink directly on the upper portion of the card, and then write the ink company and name at the bottom. If I have a reinker for the pad, I note that on the card as well. My swatches are tucked into coin pocket sheet protectors that have twenty 2" pockets per sheet. They are in ROYGBIV order (not by company or type) and store nicely in a binder.

    July 8, 2020
    Q: Lydia asks: "How can I create the look of wood on my card?"

    A: The easiest way to create wood grain is with inks, using a 'direct to paper' technique (dragging the inkpad across the cardstock instead of using an applicator). You can add more detail and depth with a stencil or embossing folder. We have a site tutorial HERE that shows the technique, using the inked paper for a die cut frame. For a more distressed and crackled look, grab some ink, paint, and school glue, and check out our Faux Barn Board tutorial!

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