Gold Sumi-e Color and a Giveaway

Note: Congratulations to Kimberly Santini, who won the Gold Sumi-e Watercolor in the cute ceramic dish! Can’t wait to see what she does with it!

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One of the items Niji gave me to play with when I became a designer for them is their dish of pale gold sumi-e watercolor paint. Rich with gold and possibility, I’ve found several ways to make the most of it.


Ceramic dish of pale gold sumi-e watercolor paint by Yasutomo.

I can’t help it, I love the 2-3/4-inch ceramic dish it comes in. And I’m giving a dish of it away. (Details below.)

My new favorite way to apply it is with a brayer–the roller you use to apply ink to printing plates.

Using black paper and gold paint, I made a fantasy card.  For the background, choose a sturdy paper like Strathmore ArtAgain or Arches cover. Using a fat, fairly stiff brush (I use a glue brush), mix some water into the dish. Load the brush and then snap the brush to drip gold sumi-e paint on the paper.

GoldXImmediately, roll the brayer up over the paint. You can use a painted stripe if you want to include a horizon line.

Gold7I added a painted circle out of the acrylic paper for a moon and let it extend beyond the edge, trimming off the extra. You can read the entire instructions on the Niji blog page, here.

Gold6If fantasy cards aren’t your thing, you can use the gold sumi-e paint to color shipping tags, too. I had already painted several of them with acrylics (for my Tiny Journal class this weekend at Arizona Art Supply) I splashed some gold ink on them and rolled the brayer across to add bold patterns.

Last week, at the Craft and Hobby Association convention in Anaheim, California, I discovered that Yasutomo was introducing a new paper.  It’s made of  . . . minerals. Called Mineral White in the origami paper and All Media paper for artists, it is amazing to work with. Yes, it is made from very finely ground calcium carbonate in a soft binder. It feels like paper, but it has a huge benefit for watercolor artists–the paper doesn’t curl when wet. It stays flat no matter what you do with it. No buckling at all.

Gold4Here is a sheet of Mineral White with gold sumi-e watercolor brayered across it. It looks like a landscape of mountains. It’s great for art journaling or origami. You can also use it for origami or collage.

Gold9This is the Mineral White with a blue and green Splash Ink wash and a spritz of water to create the look of rain.

Then I brayered gold watercolor across it for another whole dimension of color and glitz.

Just because it’s watercolor doesn’t mean you have to use a brush to paint it on!

To win a 2-3/4-inch ceramic dish of Yasutomo pale gold sumi-e paint, you have to do two things:

  1. Leave a comment on this blog.
  2. Like the Yasutomo Facebook page.

The winner will be announced on January 27, on this blog post and on the Yasutomo Facebook page.

There’s another giveaway going on today: Photographer Bo Mackison (I altered a photograph she took in the Inner Hero book) is giving away a copy of my new book on her blog.

Quinn McDonald is the author of the newly-released Inner Hero Creative Art Journal. She is on the Niji Design Team and is an art journaler, writer, and certified creativity coach.

dtbutton1Yasutomo provided the materials to all design team members and will provide the paint to the winner.

Origami Paper Collage

As a Yasutomo Design-team member, I get to have a lot of fun playing with the company’s art materials. One of the ways I experiment is using different materials in unexpected ways. I’ve always liked origami paper, so today I tried using it as a collage element. You can read the complete instructions on the Niji blog site, but here are the highlights. For the project I used Fold’Ems origami paperSplash Inks, Yasutomo’s gel pens, and a touch of the gold sumi-e watercolor paint.

fleur1Yasutomo’s Fold ‘Ems origami paper is double sided. One side is a print, the other a pattern. This was the star pattern, which worked well to give parts of the collage texture.

Start by choosing a sturdy watercolor paper.

Free-mix Splash Inks in a palette to make green, teal, and purple.Dilute the colors with water, then drop the colors onto the wet paper using a fat watercolor brush.

As the colors spread, tilt the paper to allow blending. I like to avoid mixing watercolors in wet-in-wet technique.

If you must blend, use a light hand, allowing the colors to run and mix.

fleur3Allow to dry completely. Select some coordinating colors from the origami paper.

I like abstracts and a rustic look, so free-hand drawing loose flowers appeals to me. Cut the majority of the flower from the solid paper, then add touches of the patterned side.

Try several shapes rather than just one. It makes the completed piece look more natural.

fleur4Cut double portions of leaves, so you have a mix of dark and light. It makes them more interesting. As a finishing touch, I added a bit of gold watercolor shine to a few of the leaves and darkened the stems with a green gel pen. You can use the purple pen to add depth and give the flower petals some definition.

Quinn McDonald is on the Niji Design Team; she is a creativity coach and collage artist. She was not paid to create this post or any she does as a design team member. She was given materials to experiment with.


Ink Art Forest (Tutorial)

Accidental art is a type of Raw Art–you deliberately give up control to create art. For perfectionists (or us recovering perfectionists), it’s hard to give up control voluntarily. The resulting joy is seeing accidental art develop in front of your eyes.

Niji9For years, I’ve been working with an ink technique based on a mix of control and complete lack of control. Here’s a short video of that technique:

A few days ago, I created a journal page for the Niji Design Team that was both simple and stark.  It does not require you to be an illustrator. Here’s how to do it.



Here’s how you make the journal page

1. Spray a very fine mist of water on the front of the watercolor paper. It will curl slightly, with the middle higher than the edges (convex).

2. Wet the larger watercolor brush, blot, and load with ink. Very carefully, touch the tip of the brush to the drops of water. The ink will jump across the water droplets, forming interesting spidery shapes. These are pine branches.

Niji34. Work slowly and carefully up and down the page, creating these patterns. It takes a little practice–use less spray water than you think. The droplets should be separate to avoid a black wash of ink.

5. Repeat the process on the same side of the page, on the other edge. Allow to dry. Add an ink line down the vertical edge of the page. Rinse your brush.

Niji66.  When the paper is dry,  use the thin brush to draw a horizon line at the bottom third  of the page, between the trees. Use the waste water, it will still produce a light gray line.

7. Fill in some of the white areas with a very pale gray wash to indicate clouds and the ground. You have a journal page of contrast and visual interest. You can add hand-lettering if you’d like.

Niji8You can create different pages with creative use of different details.

For complete direction for this page, visit the Niji Design Team page.

Quinn McDonald is a Niji Design Team member. She was not paid to belong to the team, but did receive free products to experiment with from Yasutomo /Niji.