Happy first Advent-weekend!

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my advent decorations

Happy first advent-weekend, everyone!

Just thought I’d share with you my creation for this year’s advent-time. I hope you all have dug out your Christmas decorations and went all over the place! There can’t be too much red at this time of year.

Enjoy this magical time and keep up the crafts.

Up next on the blog:

A mobile for babies. Great gift for occasions such as birth, Christening, or any other occasion….

 

“How to Color” – the Color Circle

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Hi there coloring-friend!

This is the first part of my series on “How to color”. The section will introduce you to different techniques that will make your drawings unique and your coloring experience more fun. The new trend for adult coloring books has shown that it is not just a great way to occupy children with. Grown-ups can just as easily escape in the world of colors. It has a meditative effect because you focus on your picture and staying in the lines that takes over your thoughts of every-day chores.

FYI, copy the picture you want to color in so you can reuse it or give it to someone for a present. This way you will keep your coloring book clean to copy it as often as you like. If you are more advanced and you want the book to be your own works of art, then go ahead – but, here is a little challenge for you: copy one picture three times and color it using different colors (and optionally different materials). Do not use a color more than once in all of the three pictures. The result will make a great trilogy!

If you are a first-timer and want to get coloring, just sit down with your favorite pencils and don’t let any rules stop you. But, if you want to give your picture a special design, you can learn techniques such as layering, shading, and mixing colors for more variety.

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colored samples

To challenge the mere aspect of coloring, you have to think in advance about the colors you want to use. When the picture you chose has many small elements, I would suggest using not more than three colors. Even though the areas are meant to be colored, you can leave a few of them white to take out the excitement of too much color, especially with highly contrasting ones (see sample, third butterfly). Also, don’t be afraid to use achromatic colors such as black or grey. By adding just one color to the mix it will stand out even more. It doesn’t always have to be all-color to make a picture interesting, as the second butterfly in my example illustrates. Black, white, and grey pictures can look very elegant, too. The first butterfly of the example shows that white can be expendable when you are using lighter shades in a group of colors that harmonize greatly to create contrast. For all of the examples I used only three pencils, but by varying the pressure of the pen on paper I was able to create more shades of each color.

To get you in the mood for learning more about coloring and the use of colors let me introduce you to the color circle!

The Color Circle

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colors and emotions

Every person has a different perception of colors. While some might think of red as aggressive and negative, others (like me) perceive it as warm and comforting. The Design Originals “Color Animals Coloring Book” features a color pallet called “A Spectrum of Emotion”, which shows that certain colors express certain feelings. Take a look at the picture and see if you think the same about the combinations. Feeling should also decide about the colors you want to use for your pictures, but there is a kind of doctrine for artists on the harmonies of colors. The color circle is a great help to find matching colors and find out how to mix colors to create new ones. Here are the basics of color theory:

 

The facts:

  • Primary colors: red, yellow and blue (they cannot be mixed from other colors on the circle)
  • Secondary colors are mixed from the primary colors: orange (red + yellow), green (yellow + blue), and violet (blue + red)

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    color circle (front)

  • Warm colors range from red-violet to yellow
  • Cold colors from violet to yellow-green
  • Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color circle, they are highly contrasting when used together and they can be mixed to create different shades.

There are million different shades of colors, but the primary colors are the basis to all of them. Black and white can be used to create different shades of one color, but they also create depth, a 3D-effect. As mentioned in the facts above, complementary colors can be used to create shades as well, this way the color will remain brighter. Black and white make colors fade, therefore you have to decide yourself which effect you want in the result of your picture.

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color circle (back)

The triad marks three colors with the largest distance possible on the color circle. The primary colors, for example, are separated by three colors in-between, which means they have a high contrast to each other. The smaller a distance between two colors the better they harmonize.

If you want to use the color circle online you can find many different options that you can print out or use on your computer, for example the simple version by Johannes Itten. There is also a great version you can get online or at craft-stores that have resolvable layers to show you the results of mixes and relations between the colors. You do not have to use the circle, but it can help create great combinations to reach the best contrasts in your pictures.

Until the next “How to Color” article, get a sheet of white paper and try to play with the intensity of your colors by varying the pressure of the pen on paper and see what happens. Get comfortable using the color circle if you have trouble knowing which colors match.

The Chalk-Style Holiday Coloring Book – Review

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“Chalk-Style Holiday Coloring Book” by Valerie MCKeehan, Design Originals an imprint by Fox Chapel Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4972-0164-4, $9,99 or 6,99€

The “Chalk Style Holiday Coloring Book” caught my attention because I hadn’t seen coloring books with a black background before. The colors are so much brighter this way.

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Valerie’s colored samples

The book starts out with an introduction of the author, handletterer and chalk-style artist Valerie McKeehan. She gives a short insight into her work how she transfers her pencil sketches on the chalk board and digitalizing them to add color on her computer. Valerie includes many of her colored examples to inspire her audience.

Tips and tricks on coloring in chalk-style art help you to get the best effect for your picture. Valerie suggests using gel-pens to add your own design on the black background. I would also use a white pen to create extra (snow) decorations. Gold and silver pens add a festive touch to it. She also uses layering and shading to create 3D-effects in the drawings. To learn more about these techniques, stay tuned for my series “How to Color”.

The individually detachable pages are made of acid-free paper under fair-trade principles. Each page has a quote on the back and space to include a personal message.

In a section called “Color Theory” Valerie serves you with basic ideas of combining and mixing colors. Here she says to use black and white to create shades and tints, but I would rather advise you to use complementary colors on the color circle. If you use black or white the color might fade and lose its brightness with the black background. Try it and see which effect you like better. In case you need suggestions for color pallets, Valerie gives you a choice of colors and her fully colored picture on “super easy coloring pages”.

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super easy coloring page

Pencils suit the typical chalk-style best, even though the colors might need some layering to make them stand out more. Gel pens can create a great contrast to the black background and Valerie even recommends neon colors for highlights. The only disadvantage of some of the designs is that the drawings presuppose certain colors, because you would not normally color a Christmas tree blue or yellow. Hence, there are limited color options, if you want to make the pictures look authentic and realistic.

If you are a beginner and you still have trouble staying in the lines, this book makes it easy for you to practice, since the black background hides your mishaps better than white paper does.

Some of the designs feature a drawn recipe that will sweeten-up your holidays.

Since I love Christmas, I cannot get enough of this book! There are so many playful designs with wonderful lettering that get you in the Christmas mood. You can find the “Chalk-Style Holiday Coloring Book” by Design Originals on amazon.

In case you are looking for a non-Christmas item, there are various other themes available such as “Blessings”, “Simple Life”, “Nature”, and “Garden”.

Advent Calendar Tree

At Christmas time, there is no German home without an advent calendar. While they are not as widespread around the world, in Germany, it has become a  beloved tradition. It started with Gerhard Lang in 1902. His mother used to give him little boxes filled with cookies to sweeten-up the wait for Christmas Day. As an adult, Gerhard started producing calendars made of paper with pictures to cut out. In the 1920, the typical advent calendar form, as we know it today, started circulating the country. In the 60s, chocolate became the most prominent option of fillings. Although there are many different shapes and fillings to an advent calendar, I sillt prefer a personalized, self-made version of it. That is why my sister and I have started our own little tradition of making a calendar for each other every year. Since the new advent calendar for this year is still in the works, I want to give you the instructions on the one I made for her last year. We had decided to craft a calendar with quotes and sayings. Please excuse the low quality of the picture, back then I did not expect to be running a blog about crafts… Still, I love this creation and I really want to share it with you.cimg1879

Materials:

  • Green carton (large, high thickness)
  • Paper with Christmas-themed prints (you can fashion the cards out of just one print or mix several prints, even different ones for each day)
  • Chain of lights
  • Carton to stabilize the tree
  • Red Napkins
  • Ribbons

For decorations:

(They are up to you, but here are some suggestions, but don’t overdo it, since the cards on the tree should stand out)

  • Little red ornaments
  • Silver or golden stars (you can also paint these on or use stickers)
  • Item to put on top of the tree (angel, star, Christmas-hat)

Instructions:

  1. Creating a Pattern

First, you need to create a pattern for the tree. Put several pages of white paper together with tape and start drawing. To make both sides of the tree match you can fold the paper in half, draw one side of the tree with the middle of the tree at the fold, and cut along the lines. Fold it back up and there is your tree. Make sure the surface is big enough to fit the number of your cards. FYI: the measures of my pattern are 70cm x 50cm or 27.5in x 19.5in, for 18 cards.

  1. Fashioning the cards

Collect the quotes and sayings for the calendar. This can also include quotes from songs, jokes, or your favorite Christmas recipe. Pictures are a great alternative if you do not like the idea of quotes. If you have longer quotes, write them on a page and roll them up in a red napkin and ribbon to go under the tree as presents.

Cut the printed paper in any shapes and sizes; just make sure they are big enough for the quotes but not too big to fit them all on the tree. Number them from 1 to 24. You can either paint the numbers on yourself or use stickers.

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  1. Preparing the Tree

Cut lines of about an inch in the tree where you want to place the cards and slide them in the opening. To avoid the cards from falling forward, and to stabilize the tree, use a second carton. Cut it with the tree pattern and glue it to the back of the green paper. Only put glue above the lines you cut, otherwise you will not be able to slide the cards in.

  1. Fashioning a stand

If you are fine with leaning the tree against the wall or an object, you can skip this point. In case you want your tree calendar to stand on its own, you have to fashion a stand. Use a thick carton that you fold into a triangle. The angle between the floor and the tree has to be slightly less than 90 degrees, so the tree leans back just enough to avoid it from falling over. The side that will be attached to the back of the tree should be at least ¾ as high as the tree. Use glue or double-sided tape to attack the triangle-stand to the tree.

  1. Finishing up

When decorating the tree, start out with attaching the chain of lights. Make sure to have the cards on the tree so you can work the decorations around them. Then you hang the ornaments on some of the corners of the branches and in between some of the cuts for the cards. Finally, depending on what decorations you use, paint stars on the tree, or use stickers if you want to make it a little easier. I used stickers of snowflakes.

Have fun crafting your own tree advent calendar!