Just be creative: Watercolor

Watercolor Practice
Watercolor Practice

In an effort to just be more creative and let my creativity roam freely I’ve started dabbling in other mediums. There has been a lot of watercolor in design lately (fashion, stationary, textiles) and I enjoy the look. I think what’s attractive about watercoloring is I only need 15 minutes to make something. It’s a quick, creative outlet. In an effort to practice more, I’m sharing my watercolor pages here. And to make it even more of a creative outlet, I’m using the space I watercolor on to share my confessions, random thoughts and feelings as I travel authentically on my journey and aim to be more present.

Watercolor Practice, i am a introvert, scrapbook,
Watercolor Practice

As a yogi, I am constantly studying, keeping an openness and willingness to learn about oneself and to be present for each moment, letting go of ego and expectation. It is hard. It’s hard to be open and honest with oneself. It’s hard to turn off the inner critic and just be accepting of where I am at right now. But the more I discover, for me, it is an absolute must that I practice life in this way. When I let myself get caught up in the rat race of trying to do everything, and buy everything, and be everything to everyone, I lose sight of what is really important, and I get an overall icky feeling. This in turn manifests itself sometimes as illness, lethargy or (admittedly) crabbiness, and I do not like that feeling at all. When I breath, when I meditate, when I read, when I journal, when I create, and when I take time to step back and be present, I feel so fulfilled and at peace. The cornerstone of this is also gratitude. Being grateful, being conscious, being content. These things help me to achieve my present being and not get overwhelmed by the external forces.

So marrying the two concepts of just being more creative via watercoloring, as well as using watercolor to reflect on how I’m feeling makes sense for me.  Enjoy.


Playing with Type

heart layout, scrapbook, 8.5x11, i carry your heart with me, Amy Tan Plus One, Dear Lizzy
Heart Layout

Sharing a layout of a heart doughnut photo from Valentine’s Day. Not only is this my favorite love poem, (I carry your heart with me by EE Cummings) but it has a significance for me. I challenged myself to combine all of these heart print papers. I used my typewriter to add the poem onto paper from MME. The other heart papers are from the Dear Lizzy hot buy pack from Michaels, and Amy Tan’s Plus One collection. I cut out the hearts from the Plus One stack and sewed them down the page onto the Dear Lizzy paper. I wanted it so the hearts on top were a lifted off of the page. I didn’t want any other journaling on the page, so I recorded the date on back.

It’s just the beginning of Ali Edward’s Type class on typography and I am loving the content. I recommend jumping in to take it or taking it in the future if she offers it again.

I’ve had typography lessons before in Photoshop class, but this has been a good reminder of some technicalities I forgot. Also the links and inspiration are fun. I am always so focused on the photographs and story, it’s nice to come at it from a different angle and maybe I will actually get some more layouts complete!

Type supplies - alpha stickers and stamps, scrapbooking, scrapbook. layouts,
Type supplies – alpha stickers and stamps

After reviewing the first lesson, I decided to gather up some supplies and assess my relationship with type: how I use letters and words in my projects.  A few things I noted:

  • My favorite or most used computer fonts:  Arial, Lucida, Bradley Hand, Traveling Typewriter, & Courier
  • I prefer a title in either all caps, all small caps or all lower-case
  • Even though I don’t love my handwriting, I love the idea of handwriting in general, and therefore try to use my own a lot.
  • My regular handwriting is a mix of print and quasi-cursive.
  • Lately I like the look of tall, narrow letters
  • I love typewriter fonts and especially using my actual typewriter
  • I either left-align or right-align text and prefer right-align
  • I like to mix typefaces with one being a clean, sans serif and the other being more like a script or curly font.
  • I manipulate the spacing of letters and words with separate text boxes (I learned a new way in class!)
  • I like to use outline letter stamps – they offer room for more creativity

I’m hoping this class and this focus on font will keep my creative juices flowing and getting some layouts done in the next few weeks.  I pulled out a bunch of photos I’ve been wanting to scrap that have stories waiting to be told.

Type supplies - journal cards, scrapbook,
Type supplies – journal cards


Photo Printers

I use a variety of photo printers for different needs, but one thing they all have in common is quality.  I stopped using printers that offer freebies because I found the product became discounted as well.  Also, these companies have attentive customer service, are willing to correct mistakes and work with the customer.  I also appreciate that these service providers engage in their own creative endeavors: they interview photographers on their social media platforms, they host creative contests, and give useful advise regarding photography, editing and printing.

Some of the photo printers I use:

I used to print photos wherever was cheapest, but as my photography has improved I have become more selective with that process.  I no longer go for the “100 free prints” deals.  For one, I do not print that many photos.  I try to select photos based on the stories I really want to tell.  Being more selective means I only get photos printed a handful of times a year, give or take a few depending on special events and gifts.  In general, I prefer to have variety and options, so printing photos is no different.

Mpix – a division of a professional printing lab with 3 facilities


Mpix photo order - 8x12, 5x7 & 4x6, photo printer,
Mpix photo order – 8×12, 5×7 & 4×6
Mpix Print - Lion's Mane Jellyfish from Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California
Mpix Print – Lion’s Mane Jellyfish from Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California

What I order?: 4×6 photos, portraits or any other larger format photos

Mpix is a quality photo lab with great color technology and quality paper.  They have periodic sales if you are an email subscriber.  I have not had any printing issues, but they seem to have good customer service as well.  I recently purchased one of their wall art products, a photo standout, which is a thick foam mounted photo.  I was very happy with the quality.  The shipping was fast and is reasonably priced.

For scrapbooking I especially love their 8×12 size which is unique on a page.

Please note: In the jellyfish photo above the colors are actually more vibrant in real life.

Persnickety Prints – a dynamic team with a variety of products targeting the digital designer/scrapbooker, based out of Utah


Persnickety Prints - Digital Layout - January 2014
Persnickety Prints – Digital Layout – January 2014

What I order?: digital layout prints (12×12 & 8.5×11), 4×6 & 4×4 photographic prints

I have used Persnickety Prints as my digital scrapbook layout printer for about 5 years.  They appeal to the scrapbooker and take into account full bleed photos and true-to size printing.  I am happy with their quality, reasonable and quick shipping, as well as periodic sales.  They also offer some unique print sizes that appeal to scrapbookers, such as 6×12 or 6×8, that I would like to try.  I enjoy their digital freebies and articles related to scrapbooking.

Social Print Studio – a small, innovative company of artists and engineers providing quality printing solutions and unique products, based out of San Francisco


Social Print Studio Square Prints
Social Print Studio Square Prints

What I order?: 4×4 square prints

Social Print Studio, formerly Prinstagram, is a grass-roots company that thrives on its unique and quality products.  I tried them out very early on in February 2012 (they started in 2011) to get Instagram photos printed, which was one of the only square photo print solutions at the time.  Since then, they have emerged with several new, edgy products.  I mainly purchase my 4×4 square prints from them, which are printed on high quality paper with a matte finish.  I have tried other resources for square prints, but have decided to stick with SPS for square prints.  IMO the quality is superior to its competitors.  And if you love a matte finish, you will not be disappointed.

Social Print Studio - Mini Book
Social Print Studio – Mini Book

Another fun product I purchased from SPS is the tinybook.  It’s only 2 inches in size, but adorable and magnetic!  They make great gifts.

Artifact Uprising – an environmentally responsible printer committed to the importance of archives based out of Denver, Colorado


California Artifact Uprising album
California Artifact Uprising album

What I order?: Photo Book

An eco-friendly printer with a personality of its own.  I have yet to purchase regular prints from Artifact Uprising, but it is on my list.  I did purchase my California trip album from them.  A 166-page, with over 300 photos.  The quality is superb and I was extremely happy with the layout.  The interface to make the book is easy to learn and there were just enough edits to make without it being overwhelming.  I was able to save my work and continually go back and add to it over a period of weeks.

There are some rustic gift options that have an earthy vibe.

4×4 Square Prints Comparison


Sometimes it’s good to see a side-by-side comparison to help you make a selection that fits your needs.  Both Persnickety Prints and Social Print Studio offer a high quality print:

Persnickety Prints and Social Print Studio Square Prints Comparison
Persnickety Prints and Social Print Studio Square Prints Comparison

Social Print Studio’s square prints (left column) are slightly under the 4×4 size, offer a matte finish and a thicker quality paper.

Persnickety Prints’ square prints (right column) are true to 4×4 size, pictured here with a matte finish (they offer luster as well), and a quality paper.

PP and SPS Square Comparison
PP and SPS Square Comparison

The verdict….(in my opinion)


If you are more into quality photography and are mastering your manual exposure, get prints from Mpix.

If you are a scrapbooker, looking to print some digital or hybrid layouts, or are interested in a variety of sizes, print with Persnickety Prints.

Want quality square prints?  Social Print Studio, hands down.

If you have a lot of photos to add to an album quickly and want something comprehensive with nostaligic quality, check out Artifact Uprising.

Any of these printers above will no doubt give you quality products at reasonable prices with shipping options that make sense.

I would love to hear your feedback: experiences with the companies above or any recommendations I may not have covered?  Please share in the comments section.

Happy printing!