Signing Artwork and Prints – Who Knew??

As I’ve improved in my botanical work, I’ve been curious about how I might eventually create prints or cards from some of my works.  A couple of months back, I completed a botanical that I thought would be a good one to use in exploring this next step.

When I finished my picture, I signed it and sent it off to be scanned and to get a couple of giclee prints made which I’d hoped to eventually gift or sell.

The good great news is that I actually SOLD a print…and to someone who wasn’t a friend or relative.

What I didn’t know at the time was that there were many other steps that I should have thought through before I started selling prints. Here are a couple of things I learned…

Think about how you’re signing your original.  Do you want your signature to be bold or discreet on the original.  Are you going to sign the print too? Are you signing it in a way that would make a second signature look redundant?

beet with wrong signature

I not only signed my original in a not too discreet way…but also way off to the side.  I’m not sure why I did that! And when it came to the print, I didn’t sign it.  I didn’t know that you should. But had I signed it, I think it might have looked a little redundant.

2. If you are making prints, particularly giclee prints, are there a limited number of prints you’ll make?  You should think about that. Giclee prints are not just ‘copies’ of the original.

I didn’t even think about the numbering I see on prints  (“1/250” for example).  The numbering tells the buyer how many are out there or expected to be out there.  It would have been nice to give my buyer print number 1!  But I didn’t even sign the print, let alone number it.

My botanical instructor, Jeanne Debons, has helped me understand print numbering a bit more. You can order prints as you need them, but you need to keep track of what number you are on.  If I had done prints that were, say, in a series of 25, and I reached number 25, that’s it!  It wouldn’t be right for me to start another ‘series’ of the same print. Having said that…if you really think it will sell, don’t limit your series to something small like 25.  Maybe make them x of 250 or x of 500 🙂

So…I redid the signature on the original in a more discreet place.

beet with better signature

…got the original rescanned, and got new giclee prints made. I will sign and number my prints going forward, starting with #2 because I’m going to track down my first buyer and give her a ‘correct’ #1 print! And I know that my work is still improving, so I’m going to limit this beet series to 50.

I am sure there are still many other points I’ve yet to consider, but this is a learning experience for me and I welcome your feedback!

And here’s the beet!

golden beet

beta Vulgaris


pencils down…for a minute

I have been loving exploring colored pencils and learning more about how, when used correctly, they can give an illustration that watercolor look. I love this because I’VE ALWAYS HATED working with watercolor. It’s the most unforgiving medium I know of.
After looking at a lot of botanicals though, I see that watercolor is the medium of choice. Hmm…
Last weekend I decided to face two of my fears head on – driving in the snow alone all of the way over the hill to Bend, Oregon (fear #1) to attend a two-day botanical painting workshop in watercolor (fear #2).
The snow was a cake walk, and the workshop was a blast! Jeanne Debons is a botanical artist and instructor who lives in Bend. One of the classes she leads is a two-day workshop in the fundamentals of botanical painting in watercolor.
I attended the class with three others – all at varying skill levels, but all well above me. No problemo – I was there to learn 🙂
Jeanne started me on a reintroduction to painting shapes – spheres, cones and rods…enough to learn how to shade, and ‘move paint around’.

painting shapes

First thing I learned:
I learned that not only is it OK for watercolors to touch one another (I always thought that was a no-no), but that layering the color is what gives depth and luminosity to a painting. (maybe this is just so for botanicals – not sure).
Once I practiced a bit I moved on to my piece! A pepper. I had to sketch it, and then use that sketch as a base for a more detailed picture showing the shading. Then that piece was what I referred to as I painted. My pepper started out pretty lame though.
Second thing I learned:
Paintings go through a phase Jeanne calls adolescence. In this phase paintings look awkward, and you often want to pitch it, but they’ll grow out of this phase as you continue working with them.. An earlier me would have thought this concept hokey, but I saw it firsthand and its true! The eggplant in the first pic up top is still in its adolescent phase.

Painting a pepper

I worked on my little pepper for the rest of day 1 and a LOT of day 2. Sure enough – it started to come together. It’s not a perfect pepper, but I learned a lot in painting it.

Here’s my pepper after about 2 hours.

pepper after about 2 hours work

and here’s the same pepper after about 4 or hours:

pepper after about 4-5 hours work

The third thing I learned was:

I came home and continued practicing. This little tangerine has taken me three days!

watercolor tangerine

Evolution of my colored pencil swatches

My early attempts at color matching were done by holding pencils up to the flower or plant that I was drawing, leaning in close and then closing one eye to get the most accurate read possible. What I thought was color matching was really just guessing… So I read about using color swatches – I know! Duh!

On a swatch I drew the pencil light to hard to see the full range of a color. That along with the name/number of the color created the swatch.

colored pencil swatch - combined

pencil swatch the 'old' way

An artist friend of mine helped me see that this swatch, while an improvement over eyeballing it, still wasn’t ideal because on my swatch the colors were too close together and so each color was influencing the one butted up next to it. Also, how was I to add colors to my swatch as I got more pencils? Hmm…

So now the new swatch looks like this:

individual color swatches

color swatches the 'new' way

These new swatches still show the same information for each pencil but, being individual cards, they can be seen without their neighboring color interfering. This swatch can also be added to easily with each new pencil I get! Much better!

color swatch on key chain

color swatch success!

botanical art for beginners

I got hooked on colored pencils on my last vacation. I painted a red onion and was surprised at how well the color came out even though I’d blended a bazillion colors together. This wouldn’t happen with paint. With paint, too many colors always turns into mud.
I looked around online for some instruction and found the amazing Ann Swan. She’s not only a great botanical artist, but she also describes her craft in a way that a novice like myself can digest.
I read the articles on her website and purchased her book, Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils.
I spent the day today drawing my neighbors rose hip plant. This took me about 4 hours total.

1. asked the neighbor if i could pick these rose hips. I can’t really draw from a photo as well as I can from a real plant. Photos lack something – depth? not sure what it is – but when I draw from a photo it looks flat.



2. did a loose sketch. this was hard because with botanical art I guess you’re supposed to try to draw things true to size. There are probably exceptions to that, but I’m new to this so I don’t know all the rules.

rosehip sketch

first sketch of rosehips

3. shaded with grey colored pencils. I had no idea this was a step! apparently it’s a very important one. I’m new to this, ok? Don’t roll your eyes.

shaded rosehips

first layer is grey shading

4. layer colored pencil over this now… wowza. shading in grey first made such a difference!

shading rosehip leaves

shading with greens...

shadign rosehips red

...and reds...

5. after I colored in the rest I used a blending pencil. its like a colored pencil with no color. it smushes the colored pencil into the paper more so that it looks, well, blended. it is supposed to look more like paint when you do this…but mine looks like pencil still. I’m sure there’s something I’m not understanding about that step…but I was still happy with the outcome – Rosehips Neighborus

neighbors rosehips



I stopped into Cline Glass looking for a stained glass lampshade. Turns out they don’t sell those there, but they do sell glass to people who make stained glass lampshades and they do offer classes to people who might want to learn stained glass so that they can eventually make their own stained glass lampshades.


So I started the class in late June. 3 hours a night once a week where we learned to cut, grind, foil, flux, solder and, oh yes, bleed.

On the first night of class we just practiced cutting random pieces of glass, which sounds easy, but there’s a finesse to it that apparently you acquire over time…

art glass shards

Be careful! This stuff is sharp!

While I cut my finger three times that night, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience! At the end of the night I had successfully cut out glass using my practice pattern (note piece #5 in the pattern – it comes up again):
stained glass test patter

practice pattern

The next class was where we picked our projects. I picked a cute, but rather complicated squirrel pattern. It was 25 pieces, lots of curves, and not a realistic pick for a first project. But, my sweet, squirrel-loving dog had just passed the weekend before and when I saw that pattern I thought it a sign from BEYOND that I was meant to make the squirrel. My instructor, Becky, was probably reluctant to talk me out of using that pattern because I was a little weepy when I told her why I chose it.

Cut..cut…grind…grind… With laser focus I cut out my little squirrel parts. I did not cut my finger even once.

Here is a picture of all of the pieces after I cut them. Remember piece # 5 in my practice pattern? That’s a complicated cut (for a newbie) and similar to my squirrel arm. It took me SIX times to cut it out without breaking the arm off in the process!

squirrel pieces cut out

squirrel cuts

In the last class we took our foiled projects and soldered them. And I got to walk out of class with my first finished stained glass piece! Ta-dah!

stained glass squirrel


What have we here?

A couple of weeks back I purchased three interesting arts & crafts frames.
three arts & crafts picture frames
They had neat old pictures from Venice, Italy, but I really just wanted the frames…so I set about taking the pictures out..which involved pulling old rusty nails from the back that had been there for maybe 80 years?…old venice photo
When I got the pictures out I found these painted boards which were used to hold the photos in place!
painted crestcrest2
and the last one which is the most complete and has a date – 1902.

So now I am so interested!! Where are these from? They’re all different views of the same crest. ‘l’union fait la force’ (strength through unity) is the motto for Belgium and the lion is like a Belgian lion…but its wearing a little crest of its own which I can’t place. Also, the right side of the crest has a LOT of different things on it… what does it mean? so fun trying to figure this out 🙂 any ideas?

Woodblocking – A Beginner’s Take

Ever since I went to the M.C. Escher exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, I have been intrigued with the idea of block printing. Until the exhibit I had always thought of Escher as the staircase guy.

Ascending and Descending

Ascending and Descending

..but the exhibit introduced me to a different side of Escher – a side that blows me away far more than any of his illusion pieces.
Snakes for example, was created out of three separately carved wood blocks – each carved in different ways to compliment the others and allow for multiple colors within the same print. One of the blocks was just the snake with the skin intricately notched out. The actual wood blocks were in the exhibit, behind glass that had dozens of little nose prints on it…you really needed to get that close to see just how amazing it was.


The day after the exhibit I went to Utrecht’s and bought a Beginner’s Block Print kit. If anything, the experience has made me all the more aware of what a genius Escher was.
This weekend I finally got a chance to try it out! One BandAid and 5 lobster cards later I can honestly say.. block carving is a very manual, but highly rewarding medium. I loved it.

Here’s what I did:

First I traced and transferred a picture of a lobster onto the linoleum block (its linoleum in this beginners kit…). Then I started to carve it out…very slowly..

starting to carve out picture...

starting to carve out picture...

Once I got the first cuts in, the rest was easier because the ‘trough’ was already dug around the image (the part that requires the MOST concentration).
mostly carved!

mostly carved!

I inked it up!

And just like that – I was making lobster cards!

lobsters everywhere!

lobsters everywhere!

My two fancy ones were the dark green one (because that’s what an uncooked lobster can look more like…),,,

an uncooked lobster

an uncooked lobster

and this two-tone one. I inked the block with orange and printed it and then I inked the block with dark green and nearly got it to line up…nearly.

two-tone lobster

two-tone lobster