How to mix black watercolor paint like a pro

By Nicole Tinkham

How to mix black watercolor paint

If you’ve painted with watercolors at any point, you’ve probably run across a question most artists do: should you use a black watercolor paint right out of the tube or mix your own? Sounds way easier to get the pre-mixed version, right? You should know that pre-mixed black watercolor paint tend to be neutral and dull. By mixing your own, you’re able to adjust the tone going on either the warm or the cool side. Doing this will bring more life into your painting. We like to think of these as “darks” rather than blacks but we’ll get more into that later. Mixing your own black watercolor paint also puts you in total control. Your dark background can support your main focus in the painting and really make it stand out. Playing with warm and cool darks also creates depth in your painting. Are you interested in learning how to mix your own blacks? We’ll show you how to do this like a pro with these 5 simple tricks.
1.    Use three basic colors:

Alizarin Crimson

Phthalo Green

Phthalo Blue

When mixing the three, keep in mind the color of the object you want to stand out in the painting. Our objective here is to produce a complimentary color. Say you’re main subject is red. In this case, you’ll want to compliment the red with green. To do that, you would mix Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo green with only a touch of Phthalo Blue. Basically, you’re favoring the complimentary color when mixing your black.

2.    Think of them as “darks” not blacks

In your painting, you don’t always have to use straight black. Dark blues, greens, and browns are also an option. You can still get a rich, dark color this way and it prevents that dull and muddy look of using too much straight black.

3.    Use little water

The less water you use, the more pigment you will have and the more intense color you will produce. So if you’re looking for that super rich black, don’t load your brush up with water, don’t constantly wash your brush between colors, and be sure to use plenty of paint.

4.    Play around with mixing

Just like mixing other colors, mixing black will take practice. Use the basic formula (color 1 + color 2 + small amount of color 3) then add even more of one of the colors. See what you get. Try different types of red, blue, and green paint. How does it differ?

5.    Mix with Ivory Black

If you want a very dark black, you can use Ivory Black in the tube and mix it with either red, blue, green, or yellow depending on what tint you want the black to have. This is the shortcut to mixing black but still produces lovely dark colors.

When it comes to mixing paint, don’t be afraid to jump right in and experiment. This blog features 5 tips for mixing your own black but it’s only meant to be a guide to get you started. Feel free to ditch the “rules” and figure things out for yourself by playing around with color. Whatever you do discover, we’d love to hear about it! Leave a COMMENT below with your findings and your own tips for mixing watercolors.

14 Tips for painting a winter scene

By Nicole Tinkham

14 Tips for painting a winter scene

Something magical happens in the winter when the snow starts to fall. Everything gets really quiet and peaceful. It’s an absolutely beautiful time of year. We love staring out at the snow coated shimmering trees… through a painting or photograph, of course. Unfortunately, we don’t get to experience the whole winter wonderland thing here in Florida. But it is nice to dream! Whether you’re out in a snow storm or cozy inside, painting snow can be a little tricky. The conclusion is this: painting a winter scene can be quite challenging! Don’t assume that painting snow is easy because it’s all white. NOT TRUE! Snow reflects the colors around it so there are actually many colors to be aware of. And since there are many light hues, you must be careful not to dirty up your colors. Here are 14 tips to help you create a better snowy scene.

1.    Snow is not just white. It actually reflects the colors around it, creating an array of colors.

2.    For your white areas, use frisket to block out them out when using watercolors. Apply the frisket, allow it to dry, and paint over it.

3.    Add gels to acrylic paint to achieve more dimension.

4.    Modeling paste can be used to add texture.

5.    Keep in mind that as white nears you, it has a bluish hue.

6.    Make sure your brushes are clean so you don’t dirty up your pretty white snow.

7.    To make your snow look brighter, drop the value of your sky.

8.    Paint snowy areas on thicker. It will come forward and appear brighter.

9.    For a snowy plein air painting, be sure to bundle up and wear plenty of sunscreen. The light reflects off the snow which means you’ll get twice the sun exposure.

10.    Darken the snow with shades of blue, not black.

11.    Work from light to dark to eliminate color contamination.

12.    White paint can be flicked on the surface to create a snow fall effect.

13.    Snow peaks can have a hint of orange or yellow in them.

14.    When working with watercolor paint, use the salting technique for a falling snow effect. To achieve this, sprinkle salt on your wet painting. Let the salt absorb the wet paint and once dried, brush it off your painting. This texture looks best on a dark background because of the contrast.

The best advice we can give is to really look at the shadows and highlights. It’s not just straight white. What different tones do you see? How can you recreate that wintery feeling? It might take some practice but luckily you have all winter to nail it!

Now over to you! What are some of your best painting techniques for a winter scene? COMMENT below or over on our Facebook page and we will add them to the list.

6 Common watercolor painting mistakes and how to correct them

By Nicole Tinkham
6 of the most common watercolor mistakes & how to deal(1)
Do you have an interest in learning how to paint with watercolor? A lot of our customers either currently paint with watercolor, or have in the past, but what about those just starting out? Is it a difficult medium to start using? While watercolor is a unique medium, we believe with a few pointers and a fun sense of adventure, you can take it on and have a blast doing it. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll flow through the painting like a pro. So, no need to stress out, we have solutions for your slip ups! Here are the 6 most common watercolor mistakes and how to deal with them.

#1: You’re painting too close to an already wet area
Oh no! Your colors are bleeding together! You’ll most likely run into this at least once on your watercolor journey but don’t freak out. This happens when two colors are wet right next to each other. Luckily, there’s a simple solution. Wet your paintbrush with water and paint over the area. Let it dry and paint over the area again with the appropriate color to fix the mistake.

#2: You’re using the wrong brush
Using too small of a brush on a large area will not only take a long time to paint but will also leave your painting looking rough. And using a brush too large is way too frustrating to get those details in. We suggest having a range of brushes ready before beginning a painting to eliminate your oncoming headache.

#3: You’re not planning out your painting
Just winging it doesn’t always cut it when working with watercolors. It’s important to know which steps you need to complete and in which order for a successful painting. For instance, you may need to mask a particular area before you begin.

#4: You aren’t working quickly enough
Watercolors dry fast so if you’re working on a wash for your background, you’ll have to work quickly. If you stop in the middle of a wash and allow it to dry you could end up with uneven color. To fix uneven color, wet your brush and paint over the area. Next, go over the area again with your wash color a few times. This should blend everything together and make those uneven marks disappear.

#5: You’re not using the correct amount of water
Too much water on your brush results in washed out and less than vibrant colors. For darker colors, use more (or almost all) paint and less water. If you keep getting light colors, try to figure out where the excess water is coming from. Are you washing your brush every time you pick up a new color? This could be the issue.

#6: You purchased poor quality supplies
In the art supply world, the phrase “you get what you pay for” is more than accurate. If you want a beautiful painting, you’ll have to invest in some quality supplies to get you there. A cheap paper can be absorbent and produce a very different effect. The big thing about watercolor brushes is the amount of water they can pick up. The better the brush, the more it will hold. Do yourself a favor and start with good, lasting supplies. Let us know if you need help determining the best supplies for your next project.

Starting anything new can be terrifying especially if it’s just not “clicking” with you. Remember to practice often and try some different ways of doing it. You may discover your own personal style when doing so. The 6 most common watercolor mistakes listed above are just a few of many. Not everything will work out the way you had planned but that’s ok! You’ll learn as you go.

What do you think of our list? Do you have anything to add to it? Leave a COMMENT below or on our Facebook page with any advice you would give a new watercolor artist.

14 Quick Tips For Working With Acrylics

By Nicole Tinkham

Quick Tips For Working With Acrylics

Acrylics are a wonderful medium to work with and if you haven’t done so already, we highly recommend playing around with them. But before you do, there are some very important things you need to know. If you typically work in oils or watercolor paint, there’s a trick to help you feel more comfortable when making the transition to acrylics. For instance, if you use them straight out of the tube you’ll get more of an oil paint feel. Mixing them with either a medium (to achieve different consistencies) or water tends to thin the paint and will remind you of watercolors. There are numerous types of a medium you can use to create different effects but that’s a whole other post. Literally, check it out here: The Various GOLDEN Mediums Explained. Anyway, one challenge that you’ll be facing is keeping these paints workable as they dry extremely fast. They’re also permanent so that could be another adjustment if you’re used to lifting color with watercolors. And we’re sure you’ll encounter other unexpected things along your journey so remember that there’s always a learning curve when trying something new in the art world. Luckily, we put together these 14 quick tips to prevent some of the oopsies that tend to come up when working with acrylics.

1.    Keep them workable by having a spray bottle near by to mist the paint as you work. Since they dry so quickly, only put on your palette what you’ll definitely use to avoid wasted paint. A Stay-Wet palette is another option to look into. It’s basically a sheet of wax paper that lies on top of a wet piece of watercolor paper.

2.    Make them transparent by mixing the paint with a retarder which will also open the working time of the paint. Water can be used to thin them but will compromise the pigmentation. Stick with the retarder instead. Note: Not all acrylic paint is opaque. The tube itself will note whether it’s opaque of transparent.

3.    Blend quickly by dampening the canvas first which will buy you more working time.

4.    Create hard edges with masking tape. The tape can be applied to a layer of dried acrylic paint and removed without lifting the paint. Use this method to easily create hard, straight lines. Just be sure not to paint too thickly up along the tape.

5.     Use it as glue when working on a collage as long as the pieces being held together aren’t too heavy.

6.    Masking fluid can be used as a resist if you’re using the acrylics like you would watercolors (watered down). Be sure the masking fluid is dry before you paint over it and don’t paint over too thickly.

7.    Acrylics dry darker. Don’t freak out, you’ll get the hang of mixing them just right with a little practice.

8.    Create depth by layering. It takes away the flatness of the piece and adds dimension.

9.    Applying white over a dark blue can give you a blue tint. The trick: Paint a second layer of white OR neutralize the blue by adding a little bit of yellow or orange to your white.

10.    Use larger brushes when possible to cover large areas quickly before the paint dries. Of course you still need smaller brushes for details so keep those handy as well.

11.    Clean your brushes right away. Acrylic paint can harden on your brushes quickly and ruin them if left on for too long. Be sure to have some water close by to dip them in while you work. Also be sure to rinse them with warm water and Murphy’s Oil Soap (no solvent necessary) right after use.

12.    Prime your canvas with acrylic gesso primers instead of oil based primers.

13.    Don’t stack acrylic paintings face to face as the paint can stick to itself and destroy your piece.

14.    Use a palette knife for mixing. Palette knives make mixing acrylic paint much easier (not to mention a lot of fun) and you can even use this tool to paint. Learn more about the palette knife technique here: Painting with a palette knife.

Experimenting with any new medium can be a challenge. Even though it may feel foreign to you right now, remember that acrylic paint can be used similar to oil paint or watercolors. Starting out with what you’re already comfortable with can make transitioning much easier. But it all really comes down to experimentation so grab a brush, a few tubes of paint, a blank canvas, and get started!

Name one type of medium you’d love to learn more about and we might just feature it in our next blog! Comment below or over on our Facebook page!

36 Art Journal Tips For When You Run Out of Ideas

By Nicole Tinkham

Art Journal
Image from Flickr Creative Commons by alicia bramlett.

Keeping a journal of your life can have many positive benefits. If you did so as a child, you know that reading it years later would bring up thoughts and emotions and memories of your childhood. In the same way that journals remind us of our past, they can also be great tools of encouragement and motivation for the future. The same goes for art journals. Whether you’re starting your very first art journal or just need a few new ideas, we’ve got you covered with these 36 tips.

1. Get inspired through books, magazines, Pinterest, Instagram, art blogs, art museums, etc.

• Top 12 Pinterest Boards for the Artist
• 15 Instagram Pages Every Artist Should Follow

2. Gather materials: You want to have a variety of fun supplies such as stamps, ink pads, paper (in a variety of colors and textures), an assortment of pens, ribbon, paint, stencils, and more on hand. Also start collecting scraps like ticket stubs and hand written notes.

3. You’ll need to make space to work but a full art studio is not necessary.

4. Focus on the process, not the end result. Don’t try to copy other art journal pages. Your journal should be 100% YOU!

5. Experiment with color by switching up your palette. Choose colors that you wouldn’t normally work with.

6. If you’re not sure where to begin, change it up and start with a border.

7. Experiment with water-soluble pencils. These are so fun to play with!

8. Challenge yourself. There are many art journal challenges made to help when you’ve run out of ideas.

9. Journal everyday! You don’t have to spend hours on your journal everyday, although we bet you’d like to. It’s important to have some “you” time and focus on something you enjoy, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

10. Try something new and journal on canvas. You will find that you end up with a totally different look!

11. Use your foot as a stamp because why not?

12. Ask yourself “what if” and create something you would never have thought of.

13. Create a travel journal. Bring what supplies you can on vacation with you. Being in a different place is the perfect opportunity to get creative.

14. Don’t forget the cover! You may be so concentrated on the inside of your journal that you completely forget about the most important part, the cover. Tip: Make sure the cover expresses what’s inside.

15. Learn new techniques. There are so many techniques that can be incorporated into your art journal. You can learn new tricks through art blogs, Youtube videos, and even art groups in the community.

16. Have projects ready to go. You can work on other projects that can later be used in your art journal. Use sketches, paintings, handmade cards, even poetry in your journal.

17. Journal to organize all those creative ideas bouncing around in your head.

18. Be patient. One art journal page can have many details and may take awhile to complete.

19. Practice Zentangle, the art of organized doodles.

20. Work on your writing. Art journals are often a combination of image and words so unleash your writing skills!

21. Learn the art of lettering. Since you’ll most likely have some type of words in your journal, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your calligraphy skills.

22. Art journals tend to be random but think about the composition of your layout and where you want the focus to be.

23. Prep work: Prep every page with masking tape and a coat of gesso. This will prevent paint from leaking into the binding of the book.

24. When you’re all out of ideas, work on interesting backgrounds.

25. While painting in your art journal is a great idea, don’t over saturate the pages. The wetter the page gets, the more it will curl.

26. Experiment with different paper. If you tend to use a lot of watercolors, consider using watercolor paper in your journal to avoid the issue in #25.

27. Think of your art journal as your diary and make it personal.

28. There is no wrong way to art journal. There are many techniques for art journaling but don’t count on yours looking like everyone else’s. You don’t want to anyway!

29. Failure is not an option. If a page doesn’t turn out how you expected, you can always keep it to learn from or gesso over it and start again.

30. Art journaling is a way to experiment and get messy. It’s not supposed to be perfect.

31. Never give up. We feel that everyone has a touch of creativity in them. It’s just a matter of getting it to come out. Don’t become frustrated, just keep trying and you will eventually find your niche.

32. Schedule time if you need to. We live in a busy world and sometimes we actually need to schedule time for ourselves.

33. Get involved by taking art workshops (there’s always something new to learn that can be used for your art journal) or join art groups in the community.

View The Artist’s Corner for upcoming workshops at Keeton’s.

34. Get advice from friends and artists to learn and share new techniques and tips.

35. Choose the right journal for you. There are many different sizes and types of journals out there. You can even make your own! Check out your options before making any commitments.

36. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Have an art journal tip to add to the list? Comment below and we’ll add it on! Also, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for new product info, great resources, inspiration, and more.

What You Need to Know About Yupo Paper

By Nicole Tinkham

You’ve probably heard the name Yupo art paper when taking a workshop or browsing your favorite art supply store, but you may not be familiar with this popular paper or how to use it. In this post, you’ll learn why watercolor artists love this paper, tips for using it, and examples of how it can be used. We think you’ll be surprised at the different effect Yupo paper provides!

What is Yupo paper?

Yupo paper is a tree-free synthetic paper that’s 100% recyclable AND waterproof. Because of these properties, it’s often used for design, packaging, and labeling. For now however, we’re going to focus on how it can be used with watercolor paint and inks. Being water-resistant makes this paper ideal for use with watercolors as Yupo doesn’t absorb the paint like ordinary watercolor paper would. Because of this, you’ll notice nice textures that form as the paint dries on the Yupo paper.

Why you should use it

Yupo paper has many characteristics that will catch your interest as an artist. Here are a few:

• Smooth surface
• Durable/will not tear
• Waterproof
• Wipes clean

How you can use it

As mentioned, you’ll most likely use Yupo paper when working with watercolor paints and/or inks. Since Yupo is much different than your ordinary watercolor paper, here are a few tips to help you get used to this plastic-like paper.

1. Paint loosely: Since the paper will not absorb water, pigments have a tendency to “swim” until evaporated. Precise details may be difficult to achieve so a loose painting style may be a better choice.

2. Don’t touch the paper: You don’t want oils from your fingers getting on the Yupo paper so make sure to wash your hands frequently and use a towel to rest your hand on when working.

3. How to fix your mistakes: Simply add water to the mistake and wipe clean with a paper towel.

4. Experiment: Play around with Yupo paper and give yourself plenty of time to get the hang of it!

Do you think Yupo paper will become your new paper of choice when working with watercolors/inks? It’s a great paper to at least experiment with if nothing else. Stop by Keeton’s and grab a sheet of your own to test it out. Make sure to let us know what you think! You can connect with us here on the blog (just leave a comment below), or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Rework a Painting That’s Going Nowhere

By Joanna Coke

Here is a series of images of reworking a painting that was originally going nowhere.
With today’s more contemporary approach in creating artworks with various media, I decided
to use brown AND white gelly roll pens along with white and cobalt blue acrylic paints to make
the necessary changes.

1. The 1st image is a painting done with watercolors only. There is no depth of space
and the values and contrasts are in the mid-range so the painting reads flat.

Passage of time1



2. The 2nd step was to draw OVER the image with a related object, 1 tree overlaying
onto the other tree using the brown gelly roll pen. Both trees were different in
shape but related in subject matter which unifies the imagery.

Passage of time3



3. The 3rd step was to use white and cobalt blue acrylics to cover up some shapes to either
bring them forward or push them back.

Passage of time4



4. The final steps were to refine with both pen and paint in the area of focus and add
more contrast and details to that area of the painting.

Passage of timeFinal300dpi 6 2011

The end results are shapes in space being manipulated in a more intriguing manner.

To see more of my portfolio, please view my website at: