Sunday, January 15, 2023

My Adventures in Painting with Handmade Watercolor

 Hello all,

It has been a while since I have written a blog post.  I have been spending time maintaining a presence on Instagram.  But with all the algorithm problems lately, I thought I should revisit blogging and maybe branch out to other platforms as well, in an effort to connect with more lovely people.

So let us play catch up on what I have been doing over on Instagram. In February of 2021 I participated in my first art challenge with Sarah from @its_art_oclock .  For the past couple of years she has hosted a February Floral Alphabet art challenge, where you paint a flower a day according to the prompts. A is for Amaranthus, B is for Bachelors Button, C is for Columbine and so on. It was a really fun challenge to be a part of and Sarah is so welcoming to everyone of every skill level.

While painting for this art challenge I was discovered and approached by Lindsey Starr from who makes handmade watercolors.  She sent me some paint to try out and eventually asked if I would be one of her Brand Ambassadors.  After trying out her paint, and falling in love with it, I agreed.  I have painted for many years with watercolors, but I had never heard of handmade watercolors before.  The quality of this paint came as a big surprise!

Unboxing is so fun.  Lindsey sends along extra goodies.

I chose to work with Artistic Isle because these paints are made in the USA and are professional grade, comparable to Daniel Smith and Holbein.  They are lightfast (don't fade over time) and activate quickly with just a little water. They are also non-toxic, made with organic ingredients (which helps when my cat decided to eat the paint!), plus they are packaged with biodegradable plastic and paper.  It also makes me feel good to support a small business with a real person you can chat with when you have questions.  Not to mention the fun and unique colors Lindsey comes up with.  Her specialty seems to be amazing metallic colors that really shimmer!

Snow & Cocoa
I painted this one with some of the goodies I received in the Winter Unboxing video above.

Part of my Artistic Isle Collection of handmade paints

A little of this paint goes a long way.  It is very long lasting and very pigmented.  I would recommend using a ceramic palette for mixing.  The paint pools better and doesn't bead up.  If you use plastic that is fine too.  I have both.  I use a plastic palette that folds up if I am out and about painting. 

If you want to give Artistic Isle Handmade Paint a try, use my code Debra15 for 15% off a $25 or more purchase.  This code is good through the end of January 2023.

If you want to follow me on Instagram to see what I create daily go to @debramejiaillustration

Happy Painting!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

My Non-toxic All Natural Summer Nighttime Routine Watercolor Journal Sketch

So it is officially summer and so hot here in Southern California.  I thought I'd share my nighttime routine for this summer and how I am transitioning to non-toxic all natural brands to keep me hydrated and refreshed.

I first searched around for some cool summer cotton pajamas and eventually found these cotton poplin pajama pants with a coordinating rib-knit sleep cami at Old Navy.  If you hop on over to their website all the pajamas and loungewear are on sale right now. 

Before I put my pajamas on I take my shower and apply Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Body Lotion all over. I received my first tube of this lotion in a Petit Vour Beauty Box.  You sign up for a monthly subscription and receive different all natural beauty items each month.  It's great fun and you discover things you may never have purchased on your own.  That's exactly what happened with the Andalou Naturals body lotion.  I might never have picked it up on my own, but once I tried it, it's really soothing and the rose scent is lovely.

Once I discovered how much I loved the rose scent, I decided to try the French Girl Organics Le Lip Tint - Claire lip balm which is infused with rose and peppermint.  I never thought about it before, but it is really important to be careful what ingredients you are applying to your lips.  You lick your lips all day, so you are ingesting the ingredients of lip balms, lip sticks and glosses.  Right now the French Girl Organics website has a free shipping code - BASTILLE25 for Bastille Day! Vive la France, Vive la Liberté!

The next item I apply is the Clove + Hallow The Everything Oil.  I have very sensitive skin so it's hard to find things that don't make my face react in redness and itching.  Happily this oil did not trigger any sensitivity issues.  There are only four ingredients in this facial oil; squalane, organic rosehip, black cumin seed and argan oils. The description says that it helps regulate oil production, moisturize skin and deliver a dose of antioxidants.  I wasn't too sure about this oil at first.  The scent was a little off- putting.  But after using it for about a month I've grown more accustomed to it and I believe it has really cleared up some stress breakouts I was having due to the whole uncertainty on the planet earth due to Corona virus thing.

Finally I apply a little spritz of S. W. Basics Lavender Water to my face right before bed time.  This company is amazing.  Each product only has a few natural ingredients in it and you can pronounce them all.  The Lavender water is great for sensitive skin and promotes relaxation.  In the morning I use the Rose Water or Orange Blossom Water.  As you can see, I'm collecting all their floral waters!

So there you have my nighttime routine.

After that, it's just bunny slippers and my little kitty Sky, who curls up with me to fall asleep 💤

For this watercolor sketch I used the 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 inch Square Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal by Speedball Art. This is such a great journal for watercolors.  It is linen bound with 60 pages of high - quality 95 LB / 200 GSM acid free paper.  It can really handle watercolor washes without buckling or tearing.  This journal/sketchbook comes in a variety of sizes.  I also used a combination of Mono Drawing Pens from Tombow and  Pigma Micron Pens and White Gelly Roll Pen from Sakura.

I also used the Mijello Mission Gold Watercolor 24 Set and the Mission Mijello Fusion Folding 20 Space Palette.  I'm really enjoying this watercolor set.  The colors are gorgeous, but I don't know what I was thinking when I bought this palette.  24 watercolor tubes of paint and only 20 spaces in this palette.  I just thought is was cool looking and I needed a travel palette quick for an out of the studio job.  Other than the fact of it only having 20 spaces, it's perfectly fine.

In addition, I bought these Paper Fashion brushes and a Silver Black Velvet Brush to try out.  Oh, and I can't forget these cute little rose gold Kikkerland Wire Clips that do a good job of holding the pages of the journal down when I apply a watercolor wash because I believe in function and beauty, or at least function and cuteness.

Sweet Dreams everyone!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Live Fashion Illustration Event - Bespoke Watercolor Portraits For Websites, Engagements, or Weddings

I'm so happy I was a part of the Sip & Shop event put on by the team the other night in support of small businesses.  For this Friday night event they partnered with a truly unique boutique in Old Towne Orange, Something's New OC.  

The lovely and vivacious Stephanie Robledo, contributor to @livingmividaloca, was my first watercolor sketch for the night.  

To prepare for this event, I packed up my Tombow Storage Tote with it's Tombow Dual Brush Pen Desk Stand, filled with Dual Brush Pens of course!  I also brought along my PrismaColor Pencils. Then I packed my brand new Mijello Mission Gold Water Color Set in their brand new Mission Mijello Fusion Folding Palette.  I really liked these watercolors. And my two new favorite colors are red brown and rose madder.  The palette is going to get a little getting used to, though.  The other brand new item I brought with me was the 9"x12" Hot Press Fluid Watercolor Paper Block.  When I first bought this paper it felt just like Bristol Board to me.  I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but it really surprised me.  It worked out perfectly!  I like the smooth hot press finish for the markers, but it  was also able to handle the watercolor washes.  I'm definitely getting more of this paper.  The last thing I packed was some large clear cello bags for clients to take their paintings home in and washi tape to secure the bags with.  I found the bags at my local Daiso store.

If  you want your own custom portrait or bespoke illustration whether it is for your business, engagement, wedding or a gift, visit my Etsy store and message me the details of your requirements.

And here are a couple more watercolor sketches from the event.

Ciao Bellas!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Last Minute Holiday Cards and Festive Party Invitations by Paperless Post

If you are anything like me the holidays are crazy and there just doesn't seem to be enough time to accomplish everything on my to do list.  Let's face it, it's Dec. 23rd and we are down to the wire here.  But if you still need to send out Holiday Cards or last minute impromptu Party invitations Paperless Post is your solution.  This is an online greeting and custom stationery company with some really fashionable choices in designer cards by Kate Spade, Rifle Paper Co., Kelly Wearstler, Paper Source and many more.  It's so easy to email out some really cute ecards or invitations in no time at all.

I've posted about Paperless Post before, and when I was approached again to write a holiday post, I jumped at the chance.  It's fun to look through the wide variety of cards and invitations.  And I've been using them to send out get well cards and birthday cards since my last post.  You can customize your backdrop, envelope, envelope liner and my favorite - choose a cute stamp for your envelope.

Here are some stylish choices in holiday cards and party invitations for the holiday season:

Isn't this a cute Cityscape Holiday card? I especially love the taxi with the tree strapped to the roof!

And if you want a little bling for the holidays...

And here's an option for those of you who like to include a photo.

I really like the simplicity of this one.  Polka dots get me every time.

How cute are the matching blue swiss dots in the envelope?

All this sparkly gold confetti is festive for sure!

You can purchase coins on the Paperless Post site in packages of: 

25 coins for $10
100 coins for $20
200 coins for $30
400 coins for $50
1000 coins for $100

In the first card shown (Holiday in the City by Rifle Paper Co), you can see that the card starts at 2 coins.  When you start to customize, each item after that will cost another coin.  You have choices of picking designs in backdrops, envelopes, envelope liners and stamps for an additional coin each.

I chose all customizable options on one card I sent out, and it ended up costing 6 coins.  All these fun choices and I'm not making a big paper mess on my desk!

So don't despair, get those cards out ASAP with Paperless Post!

Happy Holidays to you all!

This post was coordinated by

Monday, December 16, 2019

Trying out Art Philosophy Inc. Watercolor Confections Palette

I've decided I want to try stepping out of the studio and painting on the go a little.  I use several palettes and watercolor in tubes in the studio, so I thought I'd try a more portable option.  I found this cute little Art Philosophy Inc. Watercolor Confections Pan Set and a Pentel Water Brush Pen.  I bought The Classics set which comes with 12 colors: white, pinky, red, orange, yellow, green, icy blue, blue, purple, cocoa, grey, and black.  The paints seem to be a little more opaque than what I am used to with my mixture of tube paints: Sennelier Auarelle, Winsor & Newton and Winsor & Newton Cotman, Sakura Koi,  and Grumbacher.  But I'm having fun with them.  I'm truly not used to painting with a water brush and a pan set, so it's going to take a lot more practice before I'm really comfortable with this change.

This is a good basic color set.  I think I want to try the Pastel Dreams or Vintage Pastel set next. And I might get a couple of different sizes of the Pentel Water Brush

The first piece I tried to paint with these supplies was an utter failure.  I'm using it as a paint tester paper.  It's hard to judge how much you need to squeeze the pen to get just the right amount of water out.  Plus I reflexively try to dip the brush in a non existent water jar out of habit.  More practice needed!

A little Autumn doorway doodle.

Another little doodle of a black gown.

I'll keep on practicing with this pan and water brush and hopefully I'll get used to painting this way.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Holiday DIY Clean Beauty Lipstick Palette With Honeybee Gardens

I started this little project out of necessity.  I'm slowly trying to transition to all natural clean beauty products, but I don't want to jump in to expensive products if I've never tried them.  I will be so upset if I spend a lot of money on something I don't like.

While trying to ease the pain of overhauling my makeup bag, I stumbled upon an affordable green beauty company, Honeybee Gardens.  You can buy Lipstick Samples for 50 cents each or a set of all their colors for $11.  That way you can try out several colors.  I bought a few samples that I thought might look good on me.  They came in mini ziplock bags.  While trying to use them in this packaging, I decided to empty my new tin of ginger mints from Trader Joe's and use that as a lipstick palette.  Now I have a cute little palette that I can use at home or bring with me in my purse.  Along with my Sephora retractable lipstick brush, this is a great way to have several colors at your finger tips. I like a retractable brush, because when I'm on the go, I don't have to worry about fooling around or losing a lid.  And once the brush retracts, I won't get my makeup kit or purse messy.

I must say, since I created this little palette, I'm having a lot of fun combining these samples and creating my own unique lipstick colors.  Just like mixing paints!

Honeybee Garden Lipstick Samples - Valentine , Sweet Pea, Bombshell, San Francisco, Bermuda, Goddess, and Risque

I bought this retractable lip brush at Sephora, but I couldn't find it on the website anymore so here are some alternatives that are similar:

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Chloe Perfume Watercolor Print and Home Decor

Just packing up some orders on a Saturday afternoon.  Here is my Chloe Perfume Print taken from my original watercolor.  It's heading off to a happy home.  I've got my assembly line going.  A brand new cutting board, new cute heart washi tape, and a new batch of Moo business cards to help the pack up day go smoothly.  Stationery items make me so happy!