Fluximagery Q&A Session with ZEM Brush

Hey guys!  This is me working in my beautiful studio/office/creative and happy space.  So grateful for the light and to have a space to call my own, it's great.

I have another article over at ZEM Brush but this one is a Q&A style.  I'm talking about how I got started in watercolor, how I manage to squeeze in time to be creative with two young kids and what brushes I love in my kit.  

Also, I have new prints up in my site shop, a little mermaid with blue pigtails and a trio of super cute bunnies with bow ties.


How to Use 3 Washes in One Illustration

The way you paint with different watercolor washes in your work is how you get your signature style.  My top washes are wet into wet, gradient and flat washes.  I talk about them in greater detail over at ZEM Brush.  Go check it out, it is my third article over there and I'm loving explaining my behind the scenes as well as showing how I paint.

Don't forget that you get 10% off with the code ERIKA10.

If you have any other questions, let me know!

How to Deal with a Creative Slump

I've been feeling a little down in the dumps.  Inspiration and creativity come and go, comes with the territory a bit.  I found an artist that completely inspired me but at the same time made me doubt what I was doing.  That's all my little protective positivity dam needed to spring a little leak and then a rushing river of negative thoughts came pouring through.  

I needed to make it stop and quickly so I thought about what I would do if this happened and I was still in college.  I would walk up to my professor and I'm pretty sure he or she would say, "What do you like the most about this other artist's work? Break it down and get back to basics."  So that's exactly what I did.  I took screen captures of this artist's work, put them all into a Word doc, printed it out in black and white.  

The thing that I felt the biggest slump about was composition and adding more elements to my pieces.  So I went back to basics, The Rule of Thirds, and I drew little grids over the artwork.  This was so helpful in showing me what I wasn't able to see on my own just by looking.  Bigger element here, smaller complimentary elements here and they are placed here because of where they fall in the grid.  The basics.  Once I worked on that for a bit, I started sketching again and ideas started to flow.  Not immediately but the point is that they did.

Always remember to push yourself, there is always something new to learn.  Even if it is the basics and you have "been there, done that", do it again.  And be kind to yourself.  I think artists have the worst negative self talk, we are brutal sometimes.

What do you do when you get into a negative funk spiral?  

P.S. I get in creative slumps often and I write about my process and how I get through it in my newsletter, The Creative Club. Join today, would love to see you there and you get 20% off your first order as well.

Angel Bird - Watercolor Process Timelapse Talkthrough Video

I love birds.  They are so cute, cuddly and innocent already and then when they are decked out in super cute outfits, I'm in heaven.  I posted a pic of this guy with my Evan Healy cleanser on Instagram, tagged Evan Healy and they reposted it.  That was one of my highlights last week!  

This is my latest watercolor process timelapse talkthrough video of my angel bird from that post.  I share info about how I layer, my thoughts on colors straight from the pan and I really would like to know what you are interested in hearing about next. I go into more depth about colors and color mixing in my Carefree Color Mixing Video Course.

Definitely comment below and let me know if you love talk through videos, art supplies videos, talks about art technique, talks about how to stay inspired, etc?  I can't wait to hear from you!

Have a great day!

Conquer Creative Challenges

Creative challenges are so necessary.  Nothing lets you explore your artistic growth like committing to a challenge; be it 30 days, 52 weeks, 365 days, etc. When I participated in The 100 Day Project this year, I hadn’t come anywhere near completing a project like that before.  This year was different and one of the things that helped me was finding more ideas by incorporating them from other challenges.  There was a point where I didn’t know what to draw next and I thought I might have to stop participating.  I love learning sites, I’m a member of Skillshare and CreativeBug, so I just knew I wanted to paint a bird but had no idea what to actually draw/paint.  My solution was to look at a prompt from another challenge and mix the two prompts together.  An example would be my bird and a prompt of “birthday” from another challenge.  I added them together with a little story behind it (another goal of mine was to improve my storytelling) and I was on my way.  

I wanted to help other creatives with finishing creative projects they signed up for, personal or community based, so I created a video course showing the tips and tricks that helped me complete my own creative challenge.  

The next community challenge I want to participate in is Inktober, creating art with ink every day in October and I cannot wait!  Happy creating!

P.S. If you are a busy illustrator who needs help with success in your practice and goals, this printable worksheet helps you prioritize your day. You can organize your day, list your goals, make notes, track your habits and sketch daily. An awesome recipe for success, baby steps count. Get yours here!

DIY Watercolor Palettes

I used to have a dream that I would paint at my painting desk with a huge portable palette everyday.  I would only paint in the best daylight, I would play music as loudly or softly as I liked and all would be wonderful in the world.
However, this is not the case yet with being a busy mama with pockets of creative time here and there so I need to be more mobile and my paints need to be more compact.  This was not easy to do.  I had to back away from my palette with nearly 30 paints and downsize to 16! Gasp.  

This turned out to be the best thing I'd ever done.  I chose colors that spoke to me and finally put paint in my Holbein metal palette.  I love it so much.  There is enough room to make my washes (I don't wipe my dirty wells down, just mix in the leftover paint) and it is super small at 3"x6".  I also followed the instructions on this pinned Altoid palette post and it's handy as well.  I only have 9 colors in this one but they are colors that I don't have in my Holbein.  I don't use it as much but it was fun to make and I love knowing I have more colors around if I want to use them.  

Check out the supplies I use and dream supplies I want to use as well.  This is my watercolor board on Pinterest.

P.S. If you are a busy illustrator who needs help with success in your practice and goals, this printable worksheet helps you prioritize your day. You can organize your day, list your goals, make notes, track your habits and sketch daily. An awesome recipe for success, baby steps count. Get yours here!

Mermaid Party Invites

Z's party was in February (she has 2 bottom teeth now) and I think I needed some recovery time because I never posted this!  Now I just finished A's invite for her party this weekend.  I've also been busy with switching this site from Wordpress to Squarespace.  I love it by the way, but I digress.

I have started a little tradition for the past 3 years of making my kiddos birthday invitations.  It's fun coming up with something original do it yourself illos for them, keepsakes forever.  We'll see how long I can keep it up.  For this birthday it was all about mermaids.  I made some rough sketches of different mermaid characters, then designed all of the elements in my small graph paper journal.  I scanned it in, blew it up and transferred to watercolor paper with my light table.  

Then I painted, scanned it in again and printed from Photoshop.  I loved the way they turned out and the party was so fun!  Love my baby girls so much.

Watercolor paper 101


When I realized I wanted to finally take a dive in the watercolor pool, I really didn't know where to start.  Choosing the paper seemed as good a place as any.  I took a class at a fabric and craft store and we were given cold press paper as a part of our little supply kit.  Cold press is great for getting that bumpy texture that can accentuate watercolor washes.  The downside of this is when you go to scan and you can't get a good scan or print because of that texture, it gets in the way for me.

I was then introduced to hot press paper when I took a landscape painting class and this was intimidating.  The paper has no texture, super smooth but you can get frustrated because you don't have as much time to play in the washes.  When you are first learning water to paint ratios, hot press paper can be tricky.  But it is wonderful to scan and print when you work with hot press.  No bumps, no lumps, no coconuts.  ;)

Soon after that I think Tracy Bishop, an awesome watercolor and digital artist, told me about soft press paper.  Now this paper is like hot press and cold press had a baby.  There is some texture but just enough, super light.  This can still be a problem with scanning but you get the play time like cold press and a little less intimidation than hot press.

Papers come as free sheets, in block form and in journal form.  I tend to lean toward the blocks for my premium paper.  Pretty much when I want to get a print from my painting.  But when I am on the go and I want to experiment, etc, I use watercolor journals.  My favorite so far is my Moleskine watercolor paper journal because I like the way the paper takes the paint. I'm able to mix just enough to simulate washes like I get in my premium paper.

Lastly there is mixed media paper and this is what I like the least.  I bought a Strathmore Mixed Media journal and the texture is super smooth.  However, it resists my paint from time to time and that can be annoying.  It is a good journal just for messing around without investing a lot of money.  There are 64 pages and you don't get much transfer from the front of the paper to the back.  

If you are starting out I would go the same route I did with cold press paper.  Then you can see how you like the texture and many of the cheaper brands/student grade are in cold press by default so you're golden.  

You can see a list of my favorite watercolor resources and more right here.

Happy experimenting!

P.S. If you are a busy illustrator who needs help with success in your practice and goals, this printable worksheet helps you prioritize your day. You can organize your day, list your goals, make notes, track your habits and sketch daily. An awesome recipe for success, baby steps count. Get yours here!

My Watercolor Supplies.


This isn't everything, I obviously forgot my paper!  Probably because the day I sketched this I really did forget my paper (whole pad was in my scanner), but my friend Christie met up with me and spotted me a sheet of soft press.

Here is what I bring everywhere so I can paint on the go....or even just downstairs instead of being stationary at my watercolor desk.  Doesn't happen that often right now with a 3 year old and a 5 month old.  Need to be mobile!

  1. My pencil pouch - got it from Urban Outfitters years ago.  Holds my pens, mechanical pencils (.03), long click eraser, brush pens, iPad/iPhone stylus, lead refills and cough drops.
  2. Herschel backpack - I. Love. This. Backpack.  It's so cute and functional.  I almost bought a Kanken one but it has no padding or real structure with my stuff in it.  There is a separate compartment for a laptop but I put my iPad in there, books and sketchpad.
  3. Assorted brushes - I love DaVinci and Sceptre Gold.  Prefer natural hair vs. synthetic.  My brushes range from 00 (super tiny) to 8.  I work teeny tiny so small brushes are my jam.
  4. I have a travel watercolor paint case with a mix of tube paints inside.  I love Winsor Newton professional, Holbein and when I run out of these I think I will try to get my hands on Schminke.  Can't justify buying a set right now...but it is very tempting.  Next month is my birthday month after all.  I am hopeless.
  5. A rubber portable cup for my water  - It folds up and it's amazing
  6. Paper towels - I don't take the whole roll, just about 5 or so sheets.  They are a life saver for mopping up mistakes, drying my brush and adding effects.
  7. Paper (not pictured) - I love pads and cold press (some texture) is what I use, soft press (light texture) and hot press (no texture) are turning into my favorites though.  Fabriano is my number 1 choice.

Seeing the supplies of others is a guilty pleasure of mine so I thought I would share some of mine.  Here's a list of more of my favorite supplies and resources.

Have a great weekend!

May MATS Bootcamp - Marine Mashup

The MATS (Make Art That Sells) assignment for this month was a marine mashup of marine life and pattern for a plate design. I focused on the following crustaceans: shrimp, crab and lobster. I researched online, looked in my marine life book, doodled and sketched them first. Part of the instructions in the mini was to illustrate the crustaceans in a dark color and then work on vibrant patterns as well. Even though it is the biggest sin ever to use black watercolor (ivory), I used it for this because I was using it by itself and not mixing with other colors to get a dark shade. I discovered I love working with it and it was fun to work with pure values, black and white.

So once I got that done I worked on my patterns. I used my compass to draw circles and then I painted the backgrounds using cool toned sea-glass colors. Lastly I painted the hand lettering as well. I scanned in all of my elements at 600 dpi and once I got the compositions the way I wanted them, I merged them together in Photoshop. I completed the finishing touches as a mock-up design using this tutorial. I love my final result and if any of my favorite stores like Anthropologie or Crate and Barrel are interested, it would be a dream come true to stock these in your shops. Just sayin'.

Hope you're having a great day!