Sally in the Sunny Spot

A jack russell terrier sitting in the sun
A jack russell terrier sitting in the sun
My jack russell terrier sitting in the sun

Daft little dog sitting in the sun blinking because it’s bright and she hasn’t figured out she can turn her head the other way!

Scrawlrbox #15 review

Contents of Scrawlrbox December 2016
Contents of Scrawlrbox December 2016
Scrawlrbox December 2016 full contents.



My second box arrived in December, and it was packed with goodies.  December’s featured artist is Rebecca Loechler and the challenge is to design a colouring page. If you’re not familiar with adult colouring books, Scrawlrbox has you covered with a beautiful A6 colouring book and a colouring sheet designed by Rebecca Loechler herself.

I’ve had a lot of fun this month doodling different sea creatures and using my new light box to fill  two different pages and ink up some colouring pages.

Again I’ve included Amazon links to the included goodies if you want to grab any right away. Note these include affiliate links to help cover my site costs/art supplies stash.

Box contents:

  • 8 pack of Spectrum Noir Colorista pencils
  • 2 Spectrum Noir Colorista markers (canary and nectarine)
  • 1 Sakura Identi Pen (black)
  • 1 Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pen
  • 1 Spectrum Noir Colorista A6 Marker Pad
  • Spectrum Noir tips & tutorials CD-Rom
  • 1 colouring sheet
  • 2 blank sheets of paper
  • Sweetie! – Werther’s Original.. yum!


Spectrum Noir Colorista A6 Marker Pad –
(Exquisite Florals Taster Pad)

This little pad is a great testing ground for playing with different markers. The paper is sturdy and a delight to work on. You get a blank page to put between pages to prevent bleed. Some sheets are outlined with metallic gold, silver and other glittery colours. I used the first page to test the canary and nectarine markers with some other pens in my stash (see below).

You could easily use the completed pages as front covers for handmade notebooks. I’m planning on having the snazziest sketchbooks this year!

Flower illustration colouring book page, uncoloured
Spectrum Noir colouring book – sample page


Spectrum Noir Colorista pencils –

I love the colours in this set – they’re bright and pigmented enough to add a real fun pop of colour to your work, versatile for sketching in the garden too. The selection of colours is spot on. They blend nicely and seem well pigmented. I’m already using these to do little sketches and colour illustrations.

Spectrum Noir Colorista markers (canary and nectarine) –

These pens have alcohol based ink and dual tips. Both are bullet shaped, one fine end and one ultra fine. The ink seems well pigmented and I can blend the colours and layer over to add subtle shading. The Colorista pens are a bit chunky but still comfortable to hold and use. The caps can be a wee bit fiddly.

Coloured in page with flowers and leaves
Spectrum Noir colouring book – the orange and yellow inks here were the pens included with this month’s Scrawlrbox. Love that gold outline!

Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pen –

I love this pen!  The ink is colourless with glitter so you can add a shimmer to any colour you have already. It’s very similar to a water brush – you have a synthetic brush tip attached to a reservoir. You squeeze the reservoir gently to get more ink flowing down. I tried mine over some pen ink and coloured pencils. A bit of colour can lift onto the bristles but I put a few drops of water on my palette and used it to clean the pen. That left me with some glitter water that I could re-use for a more subtle sparkle. I have a lot of experimenting planned for this pen!

There are some tutorials over on the Spectrum Noir website to help you get the best out of the sparkle pens.

Sakura Identi Pen –

This is a handy little black pen intended for ID marking things, but it comes with two handy tips and contains waterproof archival quality ink. The 0.4mm extra fine tip is sturdy and capable of some sharp fine lines, the fine 1mm bullet end gave me a nice range of line widths when I held it at an angle. Being compact, with waterproof ink and the range of line widths, I’m thinking this would work well in a portable sketching kit. I used it for some inking to do this month’s challenge making my own colouring page.

Ink illustrations of sea creatures for colouring in
Top sheets are the original inked sea creature illustrations that I did for this month’s challenge. These were scanned and I tidied a couple of errors before printing them out at A5 size for colouring (bottom right).



Scrawlrbox #14 Review

Contents of the November 2016 Scrawlrbox.

Scrawlrbox is a monthly subscription of art materials. November’s box is my first. I’ve included links so you can buy any of the pens you’re interested in. Note: this post contains some affiliate links to help pay for more pens my web hosting.

November’s featured artist is Emma from Black Chalk Collective. The theme is brush and the box is themed around hand lettering. I love calligraphy and hand lettering, but I’ve never fancied brush pen script for some reason. I haven’t fallen in love with it since getting this box, but these pens are all versatile enough for other lettering styles and different art projects, so I’m delighted with them.

Inside the box were:

  • 3 Artline Stix brush pens (black, purple and blue)
  • 1 Artline Stix colouring marker (grey)
  • 2 Ecoline brush pens (turquoise and blue violet)
  • 1 Edding 1200 Metallic Colourpen (74 green)
  • 1 Crayola broad tip marker (blue)
  • 2 sheets of lined practice paper
  • 1 sweetie – a whistle 🙂
  • a PDF file sent by email with guides and lower case letters to practice


Artline Stix brush pens –
Artline Stix colouring marker –

The Artline Stix pens are triangular shaped brush pens with a lego-style texture that allows you to stick them together.

I found the Stix tips firmer than the Ecolines, but as a brush lettering newbie this felt easier to control.

The Stix colours were quite saturated and consistent, though the black wasn’t a truly jet black on the page. This may or may not bother you as these pens can create a gradient/ombre effect, giving your black letters some shading too. These pens can bleed through thin paper but they’re fine on sturdier papers. There are 20 colours available.

The colouring marker pen has a bullet-shaped tip. It doesn’t respond to pressure like the brush pens and delivers uniform width strokes. The grey is quite dark but useful for shading in sketches with black ink or adding a drop shadow to some lettering.


Ecoline Brush Pens –

The Ecoline brush pens are a wider round pen with a brush pen tip. I believe they use the same Ecoline ink that Talens sell separately. The pens come in 29 colours and the ink is transparent. Their ink isn’t waterproof so you can continue work on a piece later.

The tips on the Ecoline pens are nice and flexible and the colour seems to flow really well. I find them a bit harder to control because they are so responsive, but they’ll give you really expressive strokes with some practice.

I doodled on watercolour paper and used one of my water brushes to introduce water to the ink and vice versa. I made a teeny puddle of water and touched it with a pen a few times and the ink just danced around.  A drop of water on the pen diluted the colour long enough to attempt a graduated wash of sorts. I can use a water brush to soften edges and lift the ink out a bit too. With practice these pens are really versatile.


Edding 1200 Metallic Colourpen –

The Edding 1200 has a bullet tip so it won’t respond to pressure, however the stroke does vary from 0.5 – 1mm and a bit wider if you tilt the pen. You don’t need to shake or pump the tip to get the ink flowing. These pens seem ideal for adding accents to artwork or writing cards and gift tags/labels. The line width is really easy to control and write letters with. It doesn’t soak through thinner paper either.

The colour varies depending on the paper you use it on. On my creamy cheap watercolour paper it came out almost like a metallic mossy green. On pure white paper it’s brighter, but I preferred it on black paper. The ink dries quickly even on shiny paper.  There are 6 metallic colours and the 1200 also comes in 24 normal colours for use on light coloured paper.


Crayola Broad Tip Marker –

The line width of these pens varies depending on what bit of the tip you use. The point delivers finer lines, tilted you get a really chunky stroke with a lot of character. I love how it can sometimes break up and give you that rough wild texture. These are also cheap and readily available.

To create hand lettering script you’ll need to practice tilting the pen to control your thick and thin strokes. They don’t respond to pressure like a brush pen. The Crayola markers make a fun alternative to more expensive art pens, especially if you want to digitise strokes for graphics software or customise your pens by cutting into the tip for some extra texture effects.

Multi-tasking & time management follow up

I’ve been meaning to write this sooner, but I was too busy making stuff to blog about it.  Which is great for me, not so great for the blog 😉

Every day I’m getting up and writing my Morning Pages (see the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron). It took a few weeks to establish that daily routine and not forget to do them. Also, to open up into full stream-of-consciousness and not edit or be too polite and superficial.  The idea is to get to my real thoughts, not the ones I homogenised for others.

I’ve returned to using a paper diary rather than my computer one.  The computer one just wasn’t nagging me like my paper one did.  Remember when you were at school and teachers would give out gold stars and such for your work?  I find writing things in my diary is like giving myself a gold star.

I use a cheap diary with enough space to list my work/creative activities each day.  You don’t need to have a diary, just a blank notebook with space for each day.  I write in how many morning pages I do (all 3 or less) and any work/creative things I do.  The diary stays open on my desk. I see how well I did yesterday and how the current day is going.  The blank space nags me to do something and fill it in.

The worst thing in my diary is an ’empty’ day, if I can’t think of any creative thing I did that day it spurs me on to do twice as much the following day.  Or frantically rush to get things done before bedtime!  It’s been months since my last empty day, so this works well for me.   I never lie to myself in there, though one of my early entries makes me laugh…. It just reads: “I created…..a fruit salad!!” It was one of those days I meant to do something and all I made was this fruit salad.

I only use to-do lists when something specific needs to be done that day.  I let myself do a range of activities each day and I’m not feeling guilty about it.  My output has multiplied so much it’s incredible.  I feel happier and I haven’t been bored or stale in weeks.  So the proof is in the pudding. Or the fruit salad 😀

I seem to be spending time evenly considering I don’t schedule anything.  But I’ve spent days where I’ve written, made some jewellery, sketched and then done some cartoon practice.  Other days I’m doing just a couple of things.  It all balances out in the end. Once I stopped feeling guilty at moving from one activity to another, it made all the difference.  I keep things where I can see (and be tempted by) them.  Shoving something in a drawer is the easiest way to forget it.

I still use timers if I’m on the PC – it ensures I take regular breaks and I’m aware of how far I am through the day.  When you’re at home alone all day it’s so easy to lose track of time! If I’m not on the PC I’ll set up a playlist of music that will run out when I want to take a break.

So a big thumbs up for multi-tasking artistry and managing time effectively.  Even if I can’t tell you what I’ll be doing tomorrow.  But that’s the whole fun of it!

Time to unleash that wayward multi-tasking artist

I’ve noticed recently that my interest in artistic work isn’t what it used to be.  My work output has just been deathly quiet for a long time and I really struggle to get any work done.  I just can’t feel enthusiastic painting and drawing as I did when I was younger.  I suspected this was just a result of me becoming older and losing that buzz, or that my frustrations with other aspects of life had just dampened my enthusiasm.  Those seemed like reasonable explanations.

So this general feeling of “meh” led me back to doing my morning pages – writing stream-of-consciousness for 3 pages each day.  And some meditation each morning too.  I wanted to find out what the problem was and return to a more productive workflow.

I did my morning pages today and realised that I had a much simpler problem.  I’m bored!  Instead of letting myself create different types of art and crafts alongside each other, my sensible side decided that I must focus on one discipline and not deviate from it.  No matter how much I wanted to stop drawing and make some jewellery, I didn’t let it happen.  I forced myself to specialise. One by one my specialities were abandoned after the forced specialisation got too frustrating.  My mind simply resents being told it must stick on one path, stamps its little foot and tantrums.

I admire anyone who is genuinely delighted that they do the same thing each and every day.  But for me it’s like some advanced mind torture. Rather than improving my output and making me into a better artist, it drove me crazy, killed the output and made me worse.  Screw that for a game of soldiers!

So, I had a think about this and here’s what I decided:

  1. I’m miserable if I stick on one path.  Even my sensible side admits this was dumb 😀
  2. Each time I leave crafts and favour a speciality, those skills get rusty through lack of practice.
  3. Rusty skills mean wasted time practicing to get back up to speed.
  4. Considering 2 and 3, it’s better to have all my skills sharp at any given time.
  5. More sharp skills enable mixed media/technique work which would make me stand out in the artistic crowd.
  6. I would have a range of stock to sell at different venues.
  7. I’m not going to be putting all my eggs in one basket depending on 1 single discipline for my income.
  8. Variety during the day will prevent me sitting too long in one position which is better for my body than sitting over the same thing all day long.

So it’s official… I’m going back to multi-tasking!

Moving forward I’m going to return to a previous workflow that I enjoyed.  Where I allow myself one project for each discipline – one knitting thing, one crochet, one painting and so forth.  Then I can switch between activities for variety but I don’t accumulate a ton of unfinished work.  I’ll probably be more relaxed than that – I’m very good at finishing work even if I don’t feel it’s going well.  But I am certainly going to let myself have variety in my working day.