My Happy Valentine

Kehena Beach

When I think about all the places I’ve lived in my one and only life I must say I feel very fortunate to have landed here in Hawaii 12 years ago. I live in a very primal and remote part of the Big Island, near a volcano that is still forming new land. Hiking to the lava flow and seeing it going into the ocean at the break of dawn is a spectacular sight to behold. I also live within walking distance to this tiny black sand beach which is growing ever smaller. That is the nature of black sand beaches, as in most things in life, nothing is forever.

For my latest project, being so close to Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a good time to do a card.

Again I looked to the ocean for my inspiration. This time it came in the form of the Hawaiian State Fish. The Humuhumunukunukuapua’a or Humuhumu for short. It’s a type of trigger fish with a raccoonish kind of black mask. I swam close to the fish to study it’s markings.

I start with a piece of watercolor paper. I thought I’d do the drawing using Niji Pearlescent WatercolorsYasutomo Sumi Ink, and Niji Chinese Watercolors or any acrylic or watercolor with a bright red paint.

I quickly drew the basic shape of the fish. Not that accurate, but very loose, using the Sumi Ink and a simple pointed brush.


Then just kind of finish it off adding the eyes, striping, and little fins (it’s “wings”).


I also added the bubbles that become a heart and the message below. I love seeing the name of the fish. It’s so long and musical. I guess that’s why someone put it in a song (‘My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua Hawai`i). I painted the heart with the Niji Chinese Watercolors because they have a very bright red. I wanted to paint the rest with the Niji Pearlescent Watercolors but I knew from experimenting that the red wasn’t the brightness I wanted. Though to make the heart have the pearlescent shimmer, I went over it with the pearlescent red over it, once it dried.


Here’s a close up of the drawing to show you the shimmer of the pearlescent paint. I love things that shimmer and sparkle, don’t you? Below is the finished card with a little coral added in the corners to complete the whole thing.


Have a wonderful day!

“Grow Love” with Chinese Watercolors

Grow Love Niji

1. Heavy cardstock or watercolor paper or card
2. Yasutomo Authentic Chinese Watercolors
3. Yasutomo Authentic Chinese Ink Black
4. (optional) stencil of your choice for background. I used a stencil from Stencil Girl
5. (optional) simple alphabet stencil
6. Design for hand
7. Gampi Silk Tissue paper or plain white tissue paper
8. Nori paste and water
9. Quote or words of your choice ( I used “Grow Love”)
10. (optional) UV protectant spray in Matte or Satin. I used Krylon brand

Note: For this painting I used bright, mottled color mixtures of yellow and red Yasutomo Chinese Watercolors for the background.


1. Paint the background with Yasutomo Chinese Watercolors. Choose colors that you like or that suit the theme .
2. Add a border element. I used part of a stencil from Stencil Girl stencils that I gently dabbed with some Authentic Chinese Ink in Black. You need to make sure that the dauber that you are using is not too wet in order
for this to work well and not smear.
3. Use a letter stencil to add a word in a pale color to the background of the piece. I used the word “Love” with a one inch alphabet stencil and pale white ink.
4. I printed my hand design on Gampi silk tissue and affixed it to the background with a watered mixture of Nori Paste. Using this technique with tissue paper makes the hand appear to be nearly invisible.
5. Print your main words onto Gampi silk tissue or white tissue paper and add them to the painting. Here, I used “Grow Love” on Gampi silk tissue. I added it with the same Nori paste and water mixture.
6. If needed add more black to your main (hand) image using Authentic Chinese ink in black.
7. If needed add a ‘color pop’. Here I added a brighter green to the cuff and fingernail with Yasutomo Chinese Watercolors.
8.(optional) Spray with a UV protectant or spray finish. This will protect the painting as well as set all of the elements. I used Krylon brand matte finish for this project.

Background Close Up

Background Close Up

Puppy Love

Hi, it’s Tessa from here to show you a quick and simple art project that you can make to honor your pets…

Here is what you’ll need:

*Watercolor Paper

*Yasutomo Traditional Chinese Ink in Ultra Black


*Yasutomo Pale Gold Sumi-e Watercolor

*Yasutomo .07 Permawriter

Step 1: Paint your entire piece of watercolor paper black using the Yasutomo Traditional Chinese Ink in Ultra Black.  Allow to dry completely.

Step 2: Paint a picture of your pet using gesso.  My dog is white, so that made it easy, but if your dog/pet is a different color, use the gesso as a base, let dry, then add other colors on top.  Using the Pale Gold Sumi-e Ink, add some fun details like leaves and a banner.

Step 3: Add some more details with the black Permawriter pen, including the phrase, “Best Friends,” and you’re all done!

Thanks for reading,


How to Make Art

Purrfectly Paper Doll

cat paperdoll

October brings out the kid in me. I love the falling leaves, the cooler weather, and all things Halloween. I can’t wait to decorate with tacky Halloween decorations, buy mounds of candy for the neighborhood children, and help my own children create their costumes. In my excitement for the season, I decided to create a black cat paper doll set including some festive Halloween costumes.

Supplies I Used:

Step 1: With the pencil, draw a paper doll body on the cardstock. I chose to make a cat. Just for fun, I created a calico cat who is wearing a black cat suit. Go over the pencil drawing with the permanent black marker.

cat drawing

Step 2: Paint any large black areas with the ultra black ink.

cat painted with ink

Step 3: Paint color details with the watercolor paints and use the metallic pens for any accents. I used the silver pen to make the zipper on the black cat suit.

cat with painted face

Step 4: Place the deli paper over the paper doll and use a pencil to create clothing items that will fit the paper doll body. Move the deli paper off the cat drawing and use the black permanent marker to trace over the pencil lines. Use Nori paste to adhere the deli paper to cardstock. Once dry, cut the pattern pieces.

cat costume pattern pieces

Step 5: Trace the patterns onto decorative origami papers and cut.

Step 6: Use Nori paste to adhere the origami papers to cardstock. Outline each piece with the black permanent marker. Remember to add tabs to the pieces so that you can attach them to the paper doll. Cut the pieces. Add accents with metallic gel pens.

go-go suit

Step 7: To create fairy wings, paint deli paper with metallic watercolors. Add sparkle with metallic gel pens. Cut two wing shapes. Glue or machine stitch the wing shapes to the wing piece. To create straps, cut small strips and glue them to the top and bottom of the wing piece.

Step 8: To create a fairy tu-tu, paint two rectangular pieces of deli paper with metallic watercolors. Add dots with the metallic gel pen. Match the long edges of the rectangles and baste a single stitch across the top. Carefully pull the threads to gather the paper. Use Nori paste to glue the tu-tu to the body suit.

metallic painted pieces

fairy suit

Step 9: For a fancy mermaid tail, paint a sheet of deli paper with metallic watercolors. Cut a small strip of the deli paper (about 6″ x 1/2″). Accordion-fold the strip and cut a fish scale shape. When you unfold the strip, you will have a row of fish scales. Continue making these fish scale rows, as you’ll need quite a few to fill up the tail! Layer the scales onto the tail using Nori paste.

gold deli paper


Step 10: Carefully cut the paper doll.

cat in cat suit

Step 11: Enjoy your new paper doll set!


cat a go go

Cat Fairy:


And my favorite… Mercat!

cat mermaid

You can use paper dolls in so many unique ways. Create fun displays in frames, arrange them on your mantel, or use them in a garland by hanging the pieces onto twine using tiny clothespins. Once you get started, you’ll discover your own way to play!

A Simple Silhouette

I’m Tessa from HowToMakeArt. com.  Today I’m going to show you a quick, simple art piece that anyone can make…


*Digital camera or camera phone

*Black and white printer with regular copy paper

*Yasutomo and Company’s Gel Xtreme Metallic Rollers


*Watercolor Paper

*Yasutomo and Company .05 Permawriter

*Yasutomo’s Traditional Chinese Ink in Ultra Black


1. Take a profile shot of a friend, relative, or even your pet.  I asked my friend Heather to sit for a quick portrait.

2. Next, print your profile shot in black and white onto regular copy paper.  You can use your home printer to do this, since the quality doesn’t have to be great.  I printed Heather’s photo to 5″x7.”

3. Draw a line all around your silhouette using a contrasting color of Yasutomo and Company’s Gel Xtreme Metallic Rollers.  This will be a guideline for your art piece, and you can feel free to change it up a bit as you go – I changed the shape of Heather’s hair a bit but kept her face the same so it would be recognizable.

4. Use graphite paper to transfer the image onto a piece of watercolor paper, or make your own “graphite paper” by using the following technique…  Use a regular pencil and color all over the back of the photograph like this:

Now, sandwich the papers like this so that your watercolor paper is underneath, then your photo is picture side up:

With the same pencil, trace over the lines you made with the Gel Pen, and it will transfer onto your watercolor paper like magic!  I refined the image a bit more with my pencil after it was transferred.

5. Using the Yasutomo and Company .05 Permawriter  go over your pencil or graphite lines.  Wait for the pen to dry, then erase any pencil lines.  At this point, I decided to add Heather’s name over the top of her silhouette.

6. Fill in the image with Yasutomo’s Traditional Chinese Ink in Ultra Black ink by using a small paintbrush around the edges so that you can get all of the details.  I used a bigger brush on the inside of the silhouette after going around the edges with my small brush.  Let your painting dry completely.

7. Using a metallic gel pen, write and journal inside of the silhouette.  If you aren’t sure what to write, choose one word you like, or a word that goes along with the person you drew, and write it over and over again.  I wrote “Strong, Sweet, and Fun.” to describe my friend Heather.  I also used a gel pen to create a border, which you can see in the photo at the top of the post.  This project would make a great gift for someone special!

Have fun making art!


The Last Fruit of Summer

ImageWe are still running our air-conditioners, but summer is on its last leg here in Georgia. Yellow finches are cleaning out the purple cone flower seeds. The grass is starting to dry up. Purple blossoms are dropping from that mysterious bush out back. Summer is fading out.

Like many of you, my back yard is a constant source of inspiration. This week, I’ve been inspired by the soft, washed-out colors and warm breezes of September. Using inks, rice paper, and my sewing machine, I created a soft paper lantern embellishment that conveys the nostalgic feeling of the last fruit of summer. This easy project is such a fun way to add an element of softness, light, and color to any room or outdoor space.


Step 1:   Stack 4-6 sheets of rice paper on your work surface.


Step 2:   Spray the paper thoroughly with water.

Step 3:   Drip inks directly from their bottles onto the paper. If you want to create new colors, mix them in a small cup and use a wet paint brush to drip the ink colors onto the wet paper.  Use the spray bottle to further dilute and mix the colors on the paper.



ink splashed paper

As you can see from my photo, I really had no plan and kind of played around with dripping, using a paint brush, and spraying with my spray bottle. The pattern is not very important, as each piece is cut into small pieces once dry.

Step 4:   Hang the wet rice paper on a drying rack that has been covered with plastic wrap. The wet rice paper is very delicate, so be careful as you place it on the drying rack. Once dry, it is quite sturdy.


Step 5:   Once dry, cut the pieces into small rectangles.


Step 6:   Using a sewing machine, stitch the pieces together side by side about ½” from the top of each rectangle. Do not worry if the pieces don’t line up perfectly. When you’ve stitched all the rectangles together, you will have a garland of lovely imperfect flags.


Step 7:   Wrap the garland around the paper lantern, using a small blob of Yasutomo Nori paste every 3-4 inches. The paste works so well with the rice paper. Just a tiny bit of paste and a little bit of pressure secures the garland into place.





Step 8:  If you have gaps of unpainted or unadorned lantern, add some ink drops and squirt with water. Hang the lantern to dry.



  • Instead of a white paper lantern, use a colored lantern.
  • Mix Niji Splash Inks to create colors that perfectly match your décor or party theme.
  • Add some shimmer with metallic gel pen accents.
  • Create a variety of lamps in different sizes. Hang them in a cluster for a dramatic effect.

How do the changing seasons inspire you?