Feeling Colors

I am fascinated by colors and what they make us think and feel.  It amazes me that we can be influenced to think or feel a certain way about an object just because of the color that it is.  I am going to outline a few of the things I have picked up about color and what they have to do with being an artist.

Using color allows an artist to manipulate the way you think about a drawing, painting, or sculpture.  The color in a piece can change the story that is told.  A street scene that is mostly blue will make a viewer think of being alone on a cold night , whereas a street scene in oranges and yellows will make the viewer thing about a warm evening probably with friends or enjoying happy thoughts.  Color has a huge impact on how we think about things.

It is kind of hard to figure out the best way to present this information.  I think I will go down a list of common colors.  Feel free to comment if you have questions.

Color-GradientRed:  Red is a “hot” or “warm” color. Psychologically it makes people feel like they are warm, standing next to a toasty fireplace. It is usually associated with passion, recklessness and urgency. Being “hot headed” is a red head trait.  A person in a red room will get agitated and anger easily. Using red in an art piece usually denotes warmth, heat, and urgency.  Red calls to our baser instincts do DO something.

Blue: Blue is a “cold” or “cool” color.  Psychologically it make people feel cold, like they are standing outside in a snow storm.  Blue is usually associate with calm, cold, sadness and trust.  Put someone in a blue room and you will see that they get sad, cold and unmotivated.  Using blue in an art piece usually denotes cold, emotional distance or detachment and calm.  Blue calls to us to think, ponder, stare at they water and figure out the pattern in the ripples.  Blue is also a color of loyalty.

Yellow: Yellow is a “warm” color.  Psychologically it makes us happy. It is the color of sunshine and daisies.  Blonde’s have more fun because they are always happy (so says their hair color.) Yellow is also a bit weird when it comes to being a wall color for a room.  Many people that go into a yellow room will come out happy and ready for action.  Others come out agitated and paranoid.   Yellow is also an action color.

Purple: Purple is generally a “cool” color.  Purple is the color of royalty, contained passions and wealth. People react in a variety of ways to purple.  In most cases it is treated like a blue with the calm thoughts and coldness.  In other aspects it is like a red with the need for action hidden under a layer of logic.

Green: Green is another “cool” color.  It is the color of nature, money and caring.  Put a person in a green room and they will come out content.  Green is also a bit “flaky.”  Unlike blue that is unfailing and trustworthy, green has a tenancy to over compensate and can miss the mark, but it is the thought that counts, right?!

Orange: Orange is a “warm” color.  It is the color of caution, awareness and innovation.  It is used as a call to action or attention (traffic cones.)  An orange room will leave people energized and possibly a bit crazy. Mixing the passions of red with the happy of yellow can leave a person feeling unbalanced.  Companies that use orange in their logos are said to be innovative.

Brown: There generally two kinds of brown.  A warm red one and a cooler yellowish one.  A nice red brown is reminiscent of red dirt in areas such as Oklahoma.  Yellow brown is more reminiscent of tree bark like an oak tree.  Browns are considered a neutral color in most of the art world, even fashion.  Brown is a “down to earth” color, practical.  Not as imposing or threatening as black, but can hold its own.  Brown is steadfast and will never stray.

Black: Black is seen as nefarious and evil.  Black things are cloaked in shadow and hid things.  Black has an affinity for the things that make us pause in wonder.  Black is fear.  Black also indicates technology and is used a lot in tech company logos.  Black is sleek, fast, emotionless and collected.  Black is the future.

White:White is the opposite of black.  White is innocent, carefree and transparent.  White has an affinity for the things that make us remember and reminiscences about the past and more innocent times.  White is life.  White is used to indication honesty and tradition.

That should cover the basics.  Mixing colors gets you more meanings. For example, a blue and white logo would indicate loyalty, trust, transparency in cations and policy, longevity and thoughtful process change.  Something that a company like GE, Samsung or even WordPress would like you to think about their companies.

Take a look next time and think about the colors and what the company wants you to know, think, and feel about their


color flower

A Bit about Color Theory

Every day I come across someone who does not seem to know that Blue plus Yellow makes Green.  This is like forgetting that 1+1=2.  Basic color theory is taught in school (well, it was when I went to school) and not something that I would expect anyone to forget.

I thought that this would be a great post for those who have forgotten or were never taught about colors and how they work.  I am not going to get technical, this is just the basics.  Maybe I can make a series of posts about this.

First thing to know is that Art and Science have different ways of understanding and explaining color.  They have different tools and purposes.  Art Color Theory deals with blending colors and, in some circles, the way they make us react. In Science colors are studied as light waves and how they work with the eyes and brain to make us see.

In Art Color Theory black is the presence of all colors.  In Science black is the absence of light or a surface that reflects no light.  Similarly, in Art, white is the absence of all colors and in Science white is the presence of light or a surface that reflects all light.  It is kind of confusing but important to know.

Color Theory basics: For the Artist

There are three colors that are the foundation for ALL other colors.

Yellow,Blue,Red Sample

Yellow, Blue and Red in Gouache

Red, Blue, and Yellow.

Without these three colors there would be nothing for us to see.  Not even black or white.

In theory mixing the three basic colors together makes black.  If you mix red, blue and yellow together in real life you usually get this really nasty brown.  The colors artists use are not usually “pure” enough to mix the way Color Theory says it should.

2015-11-29 10.38.50

The basic colors blended to make secondary colors.  Plus making a composite black vs using a blank paint (center)

Mixing the basic colors together gives you different colors.  Red and Blue make Purple.  Red and Yellow make Orange.  Blue and Yellow make Green.  Mixed in equal portions you should get a middle or generic of each of Purple, Orange, and Green.  Mix in more of one color and you get slightly different mix, an Orange that is more Red or a Green that is more Yellow.

The best thing to do is buy some cheap paints (Tempra is always cheap and easy to use) and play with them.  Find out what they do and what mixes make you happiest.

Playing with the colors and mediums is the best way to learn about them.

I hope this was generically helpful.

2015-11-29 11.01.34

Product Review: Yupo Synthetic Paper

yupologoA while ago I read about Yupo “Paper.” Since then I have wanted to try it out.  This weekend I got a 10 sheet pad.  I sacrificed one page to do some tests on.  I want to know what it would be best for, and what not to use it on.

Yupo makes a “paper” out of polypropylene, basically a plastic.  It is plastic so that makes it water proof, tear resistant and durable. It is advertised for use in packaging and outdoor marketing.  For artist use it is recommend for use with watercolors and inks.

As an exterior marketing media, it must be brilliant.  The stuff is really durable.  I can imagine how nice it must be as a packaging material or even just as labels for items that spend a lot of time near water or moisture.

For Artists:

This “paper” is smooth.  “Like a baby’s bottom” does not do this stuff justice.  It is also very white.  Brilliant white does not even cover it.  Think about staring into a florescent light-bulb white. I like both of these aspects of it.  Black marks just leap off the page and the colors are about as true as you can get, no paper color getting in the way.

I tried this with three different mediums, artist pens (Microns,) crow quill pen (Higgins, Black Magic ink) and Gouache.

2015-11-29 11.01.34I will tell you right out of the gate DO NOT use artists pens with this.  The stuff is plastic and does not absorb the inks and additives used in the artist pens.  The ink never dries.  I waited 3 hours and I can still smudge the doodles (the eye and feather.)  It works great with crow quill and ink, both Indian and acrylic based.  They take a while to dry.  You do not get the ink absorbing into the paper, you have to wait for any moisture to evaporate.  It might not be a big deal in dry warm areas, but in the Northwest US, it takes a while, about 30 min for the thick lines.

I also notice there there was no bleeding or feathering on my lines.  This stuff is that smooth.  The only time I snagged the “paper” is when I was doing the spirals and had the pen stabbing into the “paper.”  Still fewer occurrences and less splatter than with traditional paper.

2015-11-29 10.39.18Like the ink the Gouache went on the paper well. I did experience some beading, but I was able to do a few additional strokes to get a smooth color.  I discovered that you can “pickup” colors 100% if you get them off before they can stain the “paper.”  Really handy to know if you are experimenting.  Like the ink, it took a while for the Gouache to dry, about 30 min.

This stuff is crazy durable.  No more worrying about messing up the paper with repeated passes over a spot, with pen or brush.  If you have a REALLY heavy hand, you can make a dent in the “paper” when drawing lines.  You have to push pretty darn hard. I would worry more about breaking your nib before hurting the “paper.”

Once you get your medium on the paper the next worry is usually about transporting and storage.  I rolled it, made weird wavy shapes and even dropped it a few times.  Still looked good, no noticeable damage to the paper and the inks and paints did not flake or crack.  If you use waterproof ink, you can even run it under a faucet and it will not do anything… Water colors and Gouache would wash away leaving a stain of color behind.

This is a really neat paper substitute.  If you are into temporary art or like to test out colors and strokes this might be a great product for you.  You can wash away most of your art or tests.

Quick Pros and Cons:


  • Durable
  • Smooth
  • Bright
  • Stain resistant
  • Water proof
  • will not warp
  • no feathering or bleeding


  • Drying time
  • No Artist Pens
  • Beading

Over all I like the stuff and will use my nine remaining sheets.

I am interested in hearing about anyone else’s experience with this stuff.  I am interested in finding out how it works with acrylic paints.  Being a similar base substance, it could be amazing or really bad.

~This is an honest review of this product.  I am no where near famous enough to be asked to do a sponsored post. – Carissa~


An Introduction to Drawing Techniques: Stippling

There are a lot of different ways to draw.  Most of the time we use lines to create the basic shapes and even to indicate where shadows are.  There are other ways to go about it though.  One of the most time consuming yet interesting ways is to use dots.


Stippling! 60 hours and an estimated 1,188,000 dots. I think this is my best work this year.

Using dots to create an image (in the drawing world) is called stippling.  If you were painting or using colors it would fall under the pointillism style.  Definitely an abstract way to go about creating an image, but beautiful, in my opinion.

This past year I have done several drawings using stippling. While very time consuming, the results look very unlike any other drawing style.  It is indistinct when looked at up close, just a collection of dots.  When viewed at the correct distance the image is reviled.

Like most other drawings (or any art) you start off with an outline of each shape or section.  Make notes or some way to tell yourself how dark each area will be.  Having decent sketches and reference photos/images for the illustration are going to be a big help.

My process:

First I look up some reference photos. I like to check for textures, positioning, layout, lighting, and other things that make a drawing come to life. Google is great for this.  Lots of images with different view points.  This is also a good time to pick you medium.  All the samples I have are in pen.  You will need to make allowances for the size or color of your medium.  That will dictate how close your dots need to be in order to achieve the effect you want.

Second I sketch out the layout in my sketch book.  Most of the time that is all I do.  If I have trouble with any of the shapes or textures, I will do some practice, but not often. (No images of this.  I do not usually document this part.)


Done on black paper with a white GellyRoll pen. This was really fun.

Next up is moving to the nice medium.  Sketch out your design on your paper (or canvas.)  Make sure to mark areas that will need extra attention.  Fine but defined lines, almost black or black areas, and solid white areas, are good to mark well.

Pick a spot and get started.  This is going to vary depending on the piece and you.  I like to start on the key object (s), once that is done I work from the top down.

Like anything the key is to have fun and take breaks.  Lots of breaks.  Ever time you start going cross-eyed or have trouble seeing the area you are working on, take a break.  Make sure you eat.  Shaky hands are not helpful when stippling.


GreatMinds - EleanorRoosevelt

Overall I am pleased with how this turned out. I hope you enjoy it.

Beginning Web Development : Let’s Make it Pretty!

The web is full of pages that look the same.  To make ours stand out we should make it different, add some color and formatting.  We can do this two ways, but we are going straight to the best way, an external style sheet.

A style sheet is a single document that has all the formatting stored in it.  This way you do not get confused with all the HTML elements and the style tags.

To create a style sheet in Notepad you are going to save a blank document with the file extension of .css (it stands for cascading style sheet.)  Just like last week we will go to File ->Save As, change the “Save as Type:” field to “All Files” and in “File Name:” enter our file name with the extension we want.  I chose to do style.css as my file name.  It is also in the same folder as my file index.html.

The next thing we have to do is tell the browser that we have a file it needs to look at so our website will look pretty.  We have to add a line into our <header> element.

Here is what the first few lines of our index.html file look like.

<!DOCTYPE html>
 <html lang="en">
 <meta charset= "utf-8"/>
 <title>Mere Magic Designs Tests Site</title>
 Home || Vocabulary || About

We are going to add a new line of code right after the <title> element.  It is going to tell the browser to look for our formats in the style.css file we made.

The new header should look something like this (depending on what you named your file.)

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

<meta charset= "utf-8"/>
<title>Mere Magic Designs Tests Site</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css"/>

Home || Vocabulary || About

You may notice that we did not do a separate end element </link> on this line.  Since all the code is contained in the one line we are able to take a short cut and just use the /> at the end of the line to tell the browser we are done with the code and it can move on.

Basically we have told the browser that we are adding a stylesheet and that the name of the style sheet is style.css.  We are also telling the browser that the location of the stylesheet is relative to the location of the file index.css.  Meaning they are in the same folder.

Now we should create some coolness for our page and learn about Cascading Style Sheets.

There are a few things you need to know about how a stylesheet is set up to make it work properly.

Each element in the HTML document can be styled how ever we want.  We can make words red or blue, big or small.  We can make all the <h1> elements line up on the right instead of the left and change the fonts if we want.  We can make the background of our page a picture or just a color and add a boarder to the <nav> element if we so choose.  I recommend playing with these things and looking up all the things you can do on the internet, w3schools is a good place to start.

To make a change to the way the web browser will display things you must first select the element you want to change.  Let us make <h1> element bold(er) and change the font to Helvetica.  To do this we enter the below code:

h1 {
 font-family: "Helvetica", sans;

We have told the browser that anything with an element of <h1> should be in the font Helvetica, if Helvetica is not installed on that users computer it should be displayed as a sans-serif font.

More Vocabulary!

Font: how the words look on a page.  Some fonts are really easy to read and other hard.  Ariel, Helvetica, and Times New Roman are all examples of fonts.

Serif: A serif is a “fiddly bit” on a font.  Times New Roman has lines hanging off the letters. Open a MS Word document and check out the different fonts.  Find out which fonts have a serif.  Fonts with a serif are considered more formal.

Sans-Serif: Sans translates to “none” or “without.” So a Sans-Serif font is a font without a serif.  No “fiddly bits!”  Ariel is a Sans-Serif font.  In most of the things I create I use sans-serif fonts.  I feel they are cleaner and easier to read.

Hex: No you are not going to curse anyone.  This is short for hexadecimal, or six decimals (characters in this case.) It is the way we tell the browser what color things should be.  You can use other ways but I find hex colors to be easier to write and understand.  White is #FFFFFF and black is #000000.  I recommend looking up the colors you want to use on the internet so you do not surprise yourself.

Ok, back to making the web page prettier.

In addition to changing the fonts we can change the color of the page and maybe make the footer font smaller than the rest.  The footer text is not as important as the rest of the text, so we should make it smaller.

With those changes the file style.css looks like so:


h1 {
font-family: "Times New Roman", Times, serif;

footer {
font-family:"Ariel", sans-serif;
font-size: 10px;

It is important to get the parts of these correct.

First you have the name of the element you want to change, body, h1 or footer.  These are followed by a set of “curly braces” {}.  This tells the browser what is being changed.

Once inside the braces you name what you are changing, background, font-size, font-family, etc, followed by a colon.  Then you tell it what you want the change to be, Hex color change, size change in pixels, whatever the change is.  End the change with a semi colon so the browser knows that you are done with that line.  If you do not end the line with a semi colon the change will not be made.

Play with making changes.  To the way your page looks.  Check out the w3schools website and find out some of the other changes that you can make.  In addition there are many tutorials out there that you can check out if you want more examples

Click here to see what my test site looks like now!

Beginning Web Development : Let’s Make a Page!

… and learn some vocabulary.

A lot of books teach you to build the site, then find hosting.  I always thought that was a bit like putting the cart before the horse.  You need a place to put your site even before it is made.  Set up your hosting first.  Check out my previous post on getting your hosting set up to make that happen.

All of my coding is happening in Notepad.  Yes, that wonderful staple of MS Windows software.  It is free and it will not fail you.  There is other free coding software available, but I want you to know how easy it is to do this yourself and with stuff you already have.

Notepad can be found in the Accessories folder of MS Windows.  Find it and open a new document.

Once you have opened your Notepad document we are going to save it with the correct file extension, .html or .htm.  This will prevent issues in the future

We are going to save the file as index.html. To do this we need to go to File -> Save As. You will need to change the “Save as Type” option to “All Files.”  On the “File Name:” line type in index.html.

We are saving the file as index.html for a reason.  Most browsers will not load the front page of a website unless it it labeled home.html or index.html.  Some hosting sites will let you flag a file to load first, but we are using free stuff and you should not expect a free host to allow that.  In addition it is good to learn to do things the smart way to prevent issues later on.

You may also want to make a file somewhere for you to put all your files.  You do not want to lose anything.  I made a file called Test Site and saved index.html in it.

You should test your index.html to make sure it is saved correctly.  The icon next to it should be the icon of whatever browser you use the most.  Internet Explorer will have the IE logo, Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera will have their respective logos next to the file name.  If you have a page icon next to your file name, the file was not saved with the correct file extension and will not open in a web browser.

If you double click on the file index.html it should open your web browser and show a blank page, and the file path in the address bar.

Try it!

We should go over some vocabulary before I get to far into this and lose you.

HTML: HTML is an acronym for Hypertext Markup Language.  It is the language that web browsers can read and understand.  It is what allows the browser to know what goes where.  Currently most sites are using HTML4 but HTML5 is the newest update to the language.  HTML5 it is what we will be using.

elements: HTML works by using elements to tell the browsers what certain things should look like. Elements are surrounded with <>.  An example is <body> (start the body) or </body> (end the body.)

A basic shell of a website will look like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

  <meta charset= "utf-8">
  <title>Site Name Here</title>

Home || About

 <h1>Welcome to the Test Site</h1>

<p>The gibberish in the next two paragraphs is called "Greeking." Greeking is used as a 
place holder.  That way you will know what the text on the screen will look like when you 
do various things to the page.</p>

<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam id orci risus. Donec id neque 
justo. Donec a ipsum vitae magna semper tristique. Morbi non pharetra enim. In finibus lectus 
nec ipsum varius ornare. Suspendisse mollis, urna non porta dignissim, leo leo vehicula risus, 
ultricies posuere massa risus sed ex. Morbi ipsum diam, viverra quis sodales quis, dictum ac 
nibh. Donec fermentum facilisis purus eu fermentum.</p>

<p>Nam id sapien vel leo elementum varius non a magna. Curabitur porttitor velit eu sapien 
maximus laoreet. Proin cursus condimentum tortor vel hendrerit. Morbi euismod neque vel 
tincidunt volutpat. Aliquam quam turpis, lacinia eget egestas eu, suscipit vel purus. 
Vestibulum tincidunt porttitor risus, in consectetur elit volutpat at. Pellentesque maximus 
tellus a mi posuere interdum. Donec lobortis dapibus luctus. Vivamus quam nibh, sagittis ac 
ultrices vitae, gravida at lectus. Curabitur porta erat ut lorem bibendum blandit. Nulla 
aliquet sit amet ex ac tincidunt. Quisque leo dui, dapibus eget felis sit amet, viverra 
placerat libero. Donec pretium in nisi id blandit. Pellentesque et pretium sapien.</p> 

  <h3>This is the Footer</h3>
<p>In the footer we usually put links to copyright information, site maintenance 
information and even links that you think visitors might find useful but not very 
<p>Many people/companies put site maps, tech support information, or advertisements in this 

Can you spot all the elements?

We have <! DOCTYPE html> to tell the browsers that this is an HTML document.

<head> contains information that users do not need to see but the browser needs to know in order to display the site properly.

<meta> contains things like what language your site will be in.

</head> Tells the browser that you are done with all the important content that makes the site look and act correctly.

<nav> Designates a navigation area.  This is how people will get around your site.  All the names of all your pages here, we will make them work in the next lesson.

</nav> ends the navigation area.

<body> This area is for the body of your web page.  All the important content goes here.  We have added a few other elements that will make things easier to read in the <body>.

<h1> Tells the browser to use its default Header 1 format.  A big bold header to tell people Welcome, or the name of the site.

</h1> Ends the Header 1 area.

<h2> Tells the browser to use the default Header 2 format.  It is smaller than <h1> but still nice and bold.  Good for article titles.

</h2> Ends the Header 2 area.

I hope you are seeing a pattern by now.  If you start an element you need to make sure you end it.  Not all browsers will know when to end an element and may cause things to load incorrectly.

<p> and </p> indicate the start and end of a paragraph. If you do not separate your paragraphs many browsers will just run them together.  That makes things hard to read.

</body> Ends the information in the main part of your web page.

<footer> and </footer> indicate the start and end of the footer or bottom of the page.  if you look at the bottom of most websites you will see that there is information in teeny words.  This is the footer.  It holds useful but unimportant information.

Make sure you save your file.  Test it!

It should show up as a white page with black words on it. Kind of like my test page.

IF you really want you can upload your test page so others can look at it.  You will have to follow the directions that the hosting site gives you.  They are pretty varied.  If you have issues leave a comment and I will see if I can help.

Play with the elements, check out other elements like <h3> or <h4>. Try leaving off a closing element and see what your web browser does.

Have fun with it and I will be making a new entry in a few days. 🙂

Beginning Artist : Pick Your Tools : Drawing

Tree drawn with a classic stylus and nib. Carissa Carnahan 2014

Tree drawn with a classic stylus and nib.
Carissa Carnahan 2014

Drawing is usually the starting point for aspiring artists.  Can you get the stuff in your head onto paper.

Many tutorials start off with the suggestion of spending an hour a day drawing.  Do blind contour drawing, negative space, shading, still lives or from photo.  This is valid advice.  I think that you should do this AFTER you learn about your tools.

Learning the basics of drawing is very important, no matter what medium you choose.  It forces you to see things that are really there and what they look like.  The important thing is to see what is there and make your hands translate what your eyes see onto paper.  The way this is done depends on what tools you are using.

Common materials for drawing and sketching includes a variety of graphite pencils, various charcoals, conte, ink, chalk and pastels.  The way you use them is very different and practice with them can improve skill with the more expensive mediums.


Pencils come in a wide variety of hardnesses,  the hardness dictates how dark the pencil shows up on the paper.  The harder it is the lighter it is.  Try buying a variety pack and try them out.


Charcoals are similar to pencils in that the harder they are the lighter they are on the paper.  They also very from what kind of plant they came from.  Vine charcoals are very dark and fragile while Tree charcoals tend to be lighter but sturdier.  Charcoals smear a lot and are good all kinds of things.  I like them for light studies (shadows.)  They take practice to use because they smudge easy and they never really come off the paper all the way.


Conte drawing tools


Conte is commonly referred to conte crayon.  It is a neat way clay like substance that is a cross between a pencil crayon and oil pastel.  The common colors are black, white and red/brown (sepia.)  Conte is a really smooth drawing material, one of my favorites.  Conte is great for textures, shading and tons of other things.


Chalks are common.  You used them to draw on side walks when you were a kid!  Artist chalks are brighter and more expensive.  They stay around longer (on paper) when sealed correctly.  Chalks blend really well and can create amazing treatments. Messy and fun.

You can also use high end chalk pigment to create your own paints and cosmetic products (hair and nail colors are common.)


Pastels come in two varieties, dry (essentially chalk) and oil.  They are hard to get the hang of right away.  More is not always better with them.  It seems counter intuitive, but it is true.  I like the feel of oil pastels over chalk.  They are smoother on the page and your hands do not dry out.


Inks are more of a finishing product. Inks can be used from a standard pen (go Bic!) or you can go modern with fine tip felt pens or sharpies.  You can also go traditional and get a fountain pen or stylus with a variety of nibs.  Inks are great for practicing lines, line shading techniques and stippling (drawing with dots.)

Art supply stores usually have all of these items in the same area.  Start off with the cheap ones.  As you get better move up to the more expensive ones.

I hope that this opens you new artists up to some new mediums!


A variety of pencils and the type of lines they make.