As an industry, we are seeing a new found interest in decorative painting, home décor and techniques.

Manufacturers, designers and product developers are at the TOP cycle of creativity. Crafters, artists and designers are exploring new possibilities and are putting aside their fears and trying new things. As a product designer, artist and crafter myself, I am experiencing a new vitality in my own designing and approach to teaching and product design. I am thrilled to see manufacturers embracing technology and updating their websites, pairing with social networking and bloggers to discuss their products, creating projects and listening to the end users. This makes for a very exciting time for all of us!

The internet has not only increased product awareness for the manufacturers, it has got them thinking in new ways. It used to be if a new craft/technique was on the rise, we would have to wait for a couple of years for the manufacturers to get on the wheel of discovery, invention, development and product availability. Long hours and dollars were spent studying trends, mailing prototypes back and forth and trying to come up the proper distribution avenues. Today, companies are working more streamline with face-to-face contact with factories, (via Skype, videos, etc.) and are more efficiently working out potential problems, developing packaging, tweaking products and creating easier marketing channels.

Not only are the manufacturers reaping the benefits of all this technology and interaction, students are learning in new, innovative ways…from online classes to posts on blogs, videos, and searches. I love that I can go online and type in a technique or product and get information about how to use it and what pitfalls to avoid, but better than that, to see what everyone else is using it for and get inspired by their creativity.

Visiting a company’s Facebook or web page can give the basics of what products are available, link you to projects and bloggers, but that is only a part of the story. A visit to YouTube or a click to a blogger/teacher/artist website or crafter channel will give you an opportunity to see the bigger picture. I remember working with a manufacturer in the past that said he loved to gather with the artists using his product because they never used it for what it was originally intended. Isn’t that what we are all about? Technology has increased our desire to learn about everything and to gather information and it is a huge benefit for us in our path to discovery.

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Pinterest is a great place to find so many great ideas gathered in one spot, but be warned that you need a good pillow, snacks and an intervention once you get started. If you search for “jars” on Pinterest, you will get ideas about using them to decorate your kitchen, canning recipes, home décor ideas, recipes for ANYTHING in a jar, how to color them for holidays, spray paint them, decoupage them, add chalkboard labels, use the lids for crafts, frames, ornaments-well…..you get the picture.

From these inspirations, new ideas arise and then a new cycle of development and creativity occurs.


As an artist, I am always curious to try new styles, mediums, techniques and discover new ways to express myself. I teach painting in my home studio and travel to conventions and seminars around the country. I like to share principles of painting and art, and to demonstrate different techniques and styles of decorative painting. While traveling, I interact with artists of all kinds and I find myself getting excited about new surfaces, mediums, and techniques.  Locally, we have a lot of new painters that have never been in a structured setting and wanted the basics of decorative painting, so I decided to teach a new beginner series.

As I was putting the class together, I started breaking it into techniques and theory that I wanted to include. Then, I got to thinking about my own renewal.  I began my year with an online Steampunk class, and while creating my own masterpiece each week, renewed my interest in adding different mediums to my art.   It made me remember how I felt as a beginner: experimenting, and trusting the process and my own imagination.

Even though I have a studio filled with products and tools, I was drawn to the basic kits from our SIMPLY ART® line of products.

I had not used cake watercolors for a long time and forgot how much fun it was to mix and swirl the colors in various levels of water for a soft and airy look. You can use them to block in a section, create a landscape or floral watercolor and even share them with your kids! Don’t get locked into using only the brush that comes in the kit. Try using our La Corneille® brushes with the SIMPLY ART® watercolor cakes to get your creative juices flowing.

Reignited and excited about backgrounds and watercolors, I took out my watercolor pencils and started color blocking in areas and wetting (or not!) the colors to bleed them out.  This gives you immediate shading and highlighting. It gave me some great ideas on how to incorporate them into my projects for those that might be looking for an easier way to shade and highlight sections of their designs.

Tubes of oil paints always seem to get messy when I work with them, so I love oil pastels (wax oil crayons).  They are easy to use, easy to clean, and are portable. Not only are they relatively inexpensive, they are perfect for fine detail and can easily be manipulated with or without solvents. You can easily achieve a nice blended look by applying color lightly with loose strokes or layers. Apply heavier if you want your colors to be bolder.

All of this playing made me feel like a kid again, rediscovering how much fun it is to stray without having a particular idea or project in mind. Use an art board, heavy paper, canvas, SIMPLY ART® drawing pad, or your journal to experiment without worrying about the end product.

Make it part of your journey to try (or retry) some of these old favorites.


Stenciling is a great way to decorate walls, floors, furniture, clothing and fashion and home accessories. Precut stencils are available in a wide selection of sizes and design motifs to suit every personality.
General Stenciling Tips:
– Mask off adjoining areas that will be a different color.
– Use paint appropriate to your surface.
– Secure your stencil using stencil adhesive, painter’s tape or another low tack adhesive.
– Use a brush approximately half the width of the widest part of the stencil opening.
– Preplan your design on the surface. For room borders, it is often best to start in the least noticeable corner. Use a ruler and guidelines to assure your design is level, centered, etc.
To Stencil:
– Start around the outside edge of the opening. While a variety of shading techniques are possible, in general you will create a pleasing effect by keeping the center lighter than the outside edges.
– Use a separate brush/sponge for each color.
– Brushes: Start with a dry brush, load just the tips with paint. Distribute the paint evenly and remove excess by gently scrubbing in a circular motion on your palette. An alternate technique is to use a gentle pouncing motion, stippling paint into the area.
– Sponges: Start with the sponge dry. Dip one side (section) in paint and pounce off excess. Use a pouncing motion to distribute paint through the stencil opening.