Monday, 14 November 2016

5 mistakes you're making when painting comma strokes and how to fix them

When we meet our customers at shows or at our Ambassador courses, they will often say that they love to complete our dotty designs made popular by our Starter kits and Dotty collection but that they just can't get the hang of comma strokes.  For many, it seems like a huge leap of faith to suddenly swap your dotting tool for a paintbrush and it can be easy to become disheartened with your progress if we don't get it right first time.  Sound familiar? 

The thing is, not everyone will experience these 5 issues, some may only be missing one of them but each factor can make the difference between a wonky comma stroke and the brush stroke you've always dreamed about painting.  The great news is that each one of them is a minor thing and we see them time and time again but we also see that with awareness, practice and perseverance, these issues can be overcome and anyone can create the perfect comma stroke.  

So, what are you doing that is throwing your brushstrokes off track? 

When we are painting, it is easy to become so focused on the act of painting that we don't consider the fact that we might be doing something differently to what we have seen others do.  The next time you sit to paint a design from one of our Series 1 add on kits, we would like you to become aware of these issues and, if you see that these are something you do, work on improving them.  

1. Thinking too much

Well of course we need to concentrate, we are learning a new skill! Right? To a point.... Yes, we need to think about how we are sitting, where our paintbrush is pointing but once we have mastered those, we should let the brush do the work rather than our minds.  So often we become so hung up on creating the perfect curve, the neatest point, that we try to control the direction our brush is going and flick the bristles or pull the brush away too quickly from our paper.  

We will let you into a little secret here..... if you position your brush on the paper correctly and move your brush slowly, you will find you get a much smoother stroke.  It does not matter if each practice stroke is not perfect, what matters is that you sit back, relax and enjoy the process.  The funny thing is that once your paintbrush knows you're more relaxed it will work with you instead of fighting against you! 

2. Loading your brush with too much or too little paint.  

When you load your brush with too much paint, you will find that as you paint your comma stroke, the comma will not be flat but will have two ridges of paint on each edge of the stroke.  If you do not load your brush with enough paint, no matter how you move your brush to create the point, your brushstroke will fade away and disappear before you can finish it.  

To see how to load the correct amount of paint onto your brush, take a look at this video (you will have a similar demonstration on your DVD included with the add on kit you've bought). 

3. Holding your brush too flat. 

When we are striving for the perfect brushstroke, we want to get it right and it's easy to think that if we hold our brush flat meaning the handle is close to our practice paper, then it will help us to control the brush more when in fact it often makes it harder to use. 

To overcome this, you need to forget about the brushstrokes and the outcome and perfect the way you hold the brush. To help you paint the best comma stroke, sit upright and hold your brush in the hand you feel most comfortable using.  Without using any paint to begin with, simply place your brush on the paper and point the top of the handle towards your shoulder.  For example, if you are left handed, the handle should point towards your left shoulder.  This means that your brush should be almost upright rather than pointing to a wall.  If you are right handed, your paintbrush should be pointing up and tilted towards your right shoulder.    

4. Holding your brush too high up. 

For many of us, when we have painted in the past, as a child or later on, no one has showed us how to hold a brush as there isn't necessarily a correct way to do so.  If you find that your brushstrokes are not coming out the way you would like them to, check where you are holding it.  If you grip your brush higher up on the wooden area, you are not alone and you need to reposition your grip now.  

To correct this mistake, you need to think of your brush almost like a pencil.  You should be holding your paintbrush close to the ferrule - the metal area of your brush.  Holding it here still allows you to see your comma strokes as you create them yet it gives you much more control when you are painting.  

5. Not putting enough pressure on your brush.  

It can be easy to be afraid of putting pressure on your brush when creating this lovely brushstroke and many new folkers tend to put just enough pressure on their brush for the bristles to touch the paper.  Doing this has a tendency to create thin, wobbly brushstrokes.  

To help you paint a confident, rounded comma stroke, as you hold your brush pointing towards your shoulder, press your brush towards the paper so that the bristles lay almost flat on the paper (but do not allow the metal ferrule to touch the paper) you will see the bristles spreading out slightly as you do (this helps to create the nice rounded shape at the top of the comma stroke).   Once you have added this pressure, to complete the stroke, slowly drag your brush and lift at the same time.  It is the process of removing this pressure and lifting the bristles away from the paper that helps to create the point at the end. 

It may seem daunting to try to tackle these issues but just as you learn anything new, it will get easier and with enough practice, it will become automatic.  As you practice, you are teaching your body how to carry out these actions, building muscle memory until eventually, your body and hands will help you create confident brush strokes without you having to consciously think about it.  Whether you have already perfected this skill or have some way to go, the fun is in practicing.   For us, completed projects are wonderful but nothing can beat sitting down and just painting and not worrying about the outcome.  

Happy Folking! 


Friday, 23 September 2016

Go dotty for our brand new kits!

You Can Folk It Dotty Collection

 We've all been there haven't we? That place when you see something creative and automatically think to yourself, 'There's no way I could do that. I'm not artistic"  Some projects, some crafts seem so complex we think we would never be able to master them.  

Just as Kandinsky once said, “Everything starts from a dot” our gorgeous new collection of painting kits do just that.  Using nothing more than a dotting tool and dots of paint, each kit gives you everything you need to create not one but 6 gorgeous designs. 

Step by step, we want to help others re-discover the joy of creating.  Watch something beautiful emerge from a series of dots as you forget your worries and enjoy relaxing as you learn to paint.

What you get in each kit...

3 1oz bottles of Acrylic paint 
6 designs/pattern sheets to trace (there is no freehand drawing involved!) 
Full Colour, step by step instruction booklet 
A link to an Online lesson 
6 colour mount shapes - perfect for turning into gift tags, personalising books and journals or decorating gift bags. 
Transfer paper 
Dotting tool 

We passionately believe everyone should have to opportunity to create beautiful things. So whether you prefer the beautiful Sweetheart designs, classic wreath patterns or festive baubles, there is a kit for everyone.   Even if you believe you can’t paint, you can! 

Welcome to the first step on your creative journey. Take time out from your day to have fun and dot it! 

Start with one dot and see where the dots will lead, after all, it’s about the

journey, not the destination.

Happy Painting
The You Can Folk It! Team x

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Create the perfect crackle finish every time with DecoArt's Weathered Wood.

At You Can Folk It HQ, we love creating new projects and playing with different mediums and products to create different surfaces to add our Folk Art designs on to. One product we have been loving lately is DecoArt's Weathered wood. This fantastic liquid can help us turn any plain surface into one with texture and detail by causing your paint to crack and split.   Following our journal makeover, we have had so many questions about using weathered wood, we thought we would let you know how to use it well to create the best finish for each and every one of your future projects. 

Use DecoArt's weathered wood medium between two different colours/layers of paint to create cracks in your paint. This gives any project a vintage, aged look.

For this project, you will need: 

2 different colours of Decoart Americana or Chalky Finish Paints 
Base coating brush sponge 
Mount board for practice - this is great as it won't warp and we can add any practice boards we don't use for a project to our painting journal.

DecoArt weathered wood is known as a 'sandwich crackle' because it has to be sandwiched between 2 layers of paint to work. How you apply the top layer of paint determines how the crackle will appear, so it's always a good idea to try out variations before starting a project.

Here you can see some of the different effects you can create:

By applying the paint using a sponge or a brush, DecoArt Weathered wood creates different cracks on the surface of your project.

Depending on the look you wish to create, you can apply a dark colour on the base and a lighter colour on top or vice versa.  If you are using DecoArt Americana Acrylic or chalky finish paint for both layers, they can be used in any order you wish.  However, when you are using Dazzling Metallics, as we have done (see mount board No 4) metallics do not crackle. For this reason they can only be used as the base coat, not the top coat.

So now you have chosen your colours, let's begin.

Step 1. Basecoat your board and leave to dry. As always, you can leave your paint to dry naturally or speed the process up with a good old hairdryer.

Step 2. Apply a layer of the crackle medium and allow to dry naturally. This normally takes around 30 minutes.You'll know it's ready for the next step when your fingers don't stick to the surface.

Step 3 - Apply your top coat.  Feel free to mix a custom colour for your top coat but never water down your paint as this will affect the medium and prevent it from working as well. Once you've got your topcoat ready, this is where the magic happens! Two factors contribute to the crackle pattern you end up with; what you apply the top coat with and how thick you apply the top coat.

Applying paint with a sponge - dabbing the top coat onto the crackle medium. The trick to this method is to always work in a methodical way. Don't go back over the area you've already added paint to as this will remove the paint you've just applied.  On mount boards 1 & 3 above, you will see this method creates a lovely spidery pattern which is often finer than when you apply it with a brush.

Next, create some test samples using a brush to apply the top coat. When applying the paint lay the paint down gently, don't apply any pressure to the brush - you need to aim for a nice solid covering in one coat.

Again, once you've laid the paint down, don't go back over it, otherwise you will remove the paint. The main reason for this is that the top coat activates the weathered wood and it turns to a jelly like substance that is easily disturbed.

When applying the paint with a brush, the direction in which you apply the paint with a brush is the direction in which the cracks will form. Looking at examples 2 & 4 above, you can see that the paint has been applied with a brush using vertical strokes.  Had the paint been applied from left to right, the result would have been horizontal cracks.   

When painting circular or cylindrical items, apply DecoArt's weathered wood with a sponge. Creating vertical or horizontal lines would look severe and distract the eye from its shape.

The direction becomes important when you are considering the finished look of your project.   For a circular project for example, applying the paint with a sponge is the best option. As you can see from the enamel bucket we painted (above), the spidery cracks give it a beautiful finish. Creating lines of crackle would have distracted from the shape. However, when painting a wardrobe for example, by applying the top coat vertically, the cracks begin to enhance the shape of each panel you apply it to. 

Applying the top coat of paint in varying thicknesses will change the size of the cracks that form on your project.  Thicker paint will create larger cracks and a thin layer of paint will create finer cracks.  Never water down your paint or change the consistency in any way.

There are so many ways you can use crackle and there are so many factors that change the appearance of the finished look. Play with different colours and investigate whether you prefer light colours underneath or deeper shades as the base coat.   Why not try applying with a brush in a cross hatch motion which will give you a different effect once again. The great thing is with this medium is that you do not need to apply the medium all over the object or surface.  It's fun to just apply patches of weathered wood to the base or vary the thickness of the topcoat to change the size of the cracks you wish to form (as the love heart above shows).  

Change or update the look of any item with DecoArt Weathered Wood medium. We love the crackled, aged effect it creates.

Once we were happy with our crackled items, we used DecoArt Metallic Lustres to add stencils to some of them and also dry brushed the lustre around any raised areas/edges to give each one a bit of sparkle.  Whether you wish to leave them plain, stencil them or add a bit of Folky detail on your projects, each one will look nothing less than beautiful. 

Happy Folking, 

The You Can Folk It team xx


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

A foolproof way to create a complimentary colour scheme every time

There's nothing worse than feeling inspired to paint a card, gift or piece of furniture and then sit back and feel a pang of disappointment that somehow the colours just don't compliment each other. While some of you out there are lucky enough to be intuitive enough to select colours that work together, this is not a gift that all of us have. The great news is that there is a solution with the colour wheel. With one of these by your side, you have a foolproof way of creating your own complimentary colour schemes. 
A few weeks ago, we created our own version of the Ives colour wheel using comma strokes. Not only is this a therapeutic and fun activity as you enjoy mixing each colour and practicing the strokes, you are creating something you can refer back to, time and time again. 
The great thing about this wheel is that it makes planning your colour scheme for a project so easy. To find complimentary colours, simply look at opposite ends of the wheel. When you put two complimentary colours side by side, they intensify each other. 
You can see this each time you pair red and green, purple and yellow and orange and blue. 
Create complimentary colour schemes by choosing them from opposite ends of the Ives Colour wheel. Always create stunning projects with this practice :)
By picking two opposites you are creating and working with a complimentary colour scheme but it doesn't end there...
If you think your colours are too bright, you can tone them down by mixing the two complimentary colours together. This will mean you are neutralising the colours. 
Red/green, blue/orange and purple/yellow are complimentary colours as they sit at opposite ends of the colour wheel but by adding a touch of one colour to the other e.g a touch of red to green and a touch of green to red, you neutralise them and you give yourself a wider range of colours to play with.
For example, by adding a touch of red to bright green, you tone it down.  Similarly, adding a touch of green to your red paint gives you a darker red. As you can see, this works with all complimentary colours. 
We used a complimentary colour scheme to paint our two sets of roses - red and green. On the left, we added white to create pink roses with light green leaves.  These still work as a complimentary colour scheme because after all, pink is still from the red colour family.  On the right, we created a complimentary colour scheme using burgundy and green creating a more vibrant look.
Red and green are complimentary colours both sitting at opposite ends of the colour wheel but so are pink & light green and burgundy/dark green. Each combination gives you a different look to your project.

As well as our complimentary colour schemes, you can create a monochrome colour scheme like the one we used for our Angel gift box. Choose one colour (we used violet but you can choose any colour family - blue, red or orange etc) Add black and white to create your monochrome palette
HOMEWORK: take two complimentary colours and use them to paint a design. 
Why not go one step further and add black/white to these colours to create tones and tints and create more colour schemes.  We hope you feel inspired to play around with your own colour schemes after learning a bit more  about colour theory. 
Which colours are you itching to put together first? 
Happy Folking! x 


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Get to know colour: How to create tints, tones and shades

Colour is important when we are creating our Folk It projects. Whether we want to mix a loved one's favourite colour or just experiment with the paints we have, now we know how colour families are made, we can change the colours by creating a tone, tint or shade. 
Focusing on one colour family from the colour wheel we can change it by mixing in black or white. We will use the colours from the Series 1 Starter kit. You can practice this using any colours. Last week we learnt how to mix red and blue together to make violet.
Create tints by adding different amounts of white to your original colour. Painting a flower on top of each new tint shows you how much it has changed.

1. Tints - by adding white to your violet  you create a variety of tints. Like we did last week, begin with your violet and add white slowly. You don't think you are making a difference but when you paint a flower in the original shade of violet on the top, you begin to see how much it has changed

Creating shades of violet by adding black. These were created using our Series One paint kits available from

2. Shades - by starting with the original violet and adding a little black each time, we create a variety of shades.

Create tones by adding black AND white to your original colour. Created using our Series One paints available from

3. Tones - by adding black AND white to your original colour we begin to create tones.

We can measure these tints, tones and shades on a 'tonal scale' also known as a 'grey scale' or 'value scale' which becomes very useful when you want to put your own colour schemes together.
Tonal scale - so useful in design.

Painted box using our Series One lace and angel designs - available from

Using my knowledge of tints and tones, I decorated a box using our Delicate lace and Angel designs to give these designs a completely different look! The only colours I've used for the base here is Tomato red and baby blue to create Violet. For the angel and lace I added black and white to this original colour to create tones and tints. There is no pure white used anywhere on this box. This shows how light and dark creates a gorgeous, sophisticated look on this gift box. 

HOMEWORK: why not have a go at creating your own project using one original colour and black and white to create tints and tones? 

Happy Folking, 

Carol x

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Understanding colour mixing: create a colour wheel in three easy steps

It is often so easy to simply stick to the colours we buy or the colours we are given as part of our kits but the truth is that a small number of colours can mean endless tints, tones and shades. If you aren't sure how to mix colour, we are here to help. 
Before we learn how to create colours, it is important to know how they are made. There are only three colours that exist - Primary Red, Primary Blue and Primary Yellow. Black is a mix of all three and white is the absence of colour.
Folk It's version of the Ives colour wheel containing the three primary colours

All colours are created using these elements - the three primaries, white and black. Learning the theory behind colour mixing and about the Ives colour wheel will not only help you with your painting, it can help when decorating and furnishing your home, choosing your wardrobe and make-up!
The theory of mixing paint is completely different to mixing light. If you mix three paint colours, you get black. When mixing light however, the colour is subtracted so the end result is white. Although it seems complex, colour theory is revolutionary.
Consider the Ives colour wheel as a clock - both with 12 points. Containing three primary colours (pure pigments), in between these are the secondary colours (2). By mixing 2 primary colours, you will create your secondary colour. (Think 1+1=2)
Folk Its version of the Ives colour wheel - containing primary and secondary colours

Next are the intermediate colours (2a). These are still created by mixing two primary colours together but in different quantities. On one side of the secondary colour will be a red orange, on the other, a yellow orange. The amount of intermediate colours you can create is endless - just play around with the ratios.
Folk It's version of the Ives Colour wheel containing primary, secondary and intermediate colours
Alongside Secondary and Intermediate come the Tertiary colours - these are created when you mix all three colours together. In different quantities they make black and other 'muddy' colours such as brown.
Folk It's version of the Ives colour wheel - containing tertiary colours as well as Primary and secondary ones
Creating your own Colour wheel....
To understand paint mixing, you can read about it but you will understand it more by getting out your paints and mixing them yourself. Although the Series 1 kit doesn't have primary colours as they are not pure colours (for example, the Baby Blue has white added to it) they do contain Red, Blue and Yellow. These are a great place to start learning about where they sit on the Ives colour wheel.
1. Using Tomato Red, Yellow Ochre and Baby blue, paint a flower at 12 o'clock, 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock. This leaves enough space between your primary colours to mix your secondary and intermediate colours.
Folk It's version of the Ives colour wheel using Series 1 DecoArt americana colours. Not true primaries as there is a lot of white added but you can still learn so much from completing your own.
2. Mix your secondary colours and paint smaller flowers (at 2 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 10 o'clock). This will help you differentiate between the primary and secondary colours at a later date. 

NOTE: A secondary colour is not equal quantities of 2 primaries. When mixing your secondary colour always start with the lightest colour- so if mixing yellow and red - yellow would be the lightest. Slowly start adding the darker colour (red). You are mixing the 2 colours together until the colour resembles neither of the primaries - ie: when mixing green stop for a second and see if you think you can still see a yellow hue, if you do add more blue. If it starts looking too blue add more yellow. You will learn so much from experimenting.

I always like to paint strokes when doing the Ives Colour Wheel or any paint mixing - it looks prettier and it's good practice! Make the primary colour flowers big and the secondaries smaller to differentiate between the 2.

3. Next mix your Intermediate colours. Do this by adding different amounts of primary colours to the secondary colour.  I always like to paint strokes when doing the Ives Colour Wheel or any paint mixing - it looks prettier and it's good practice! 

Above, I have painted the flower in Violet (secondary colour) which is made of red and blue. To the right, each time I painted a comma stroke, I have added more red to the violet which creates a Red Violet and to the left, I slowly added more blue which creates a Blue Violet. Imagine how many hundreds of different hues there are between the violet and the red!

You can't learn about colour mixing for your designs by reading about it, I do hope you get out your paints and create your own version of the Ives colour wheel.  Please do post pictures of your completed colour wheels on our Facebook page this week - we do love to see how you are all getting on. 

Love Carol x

Monday, 13 June 2016

How to create a Father's Day card that they will love

With Father's Day coming around, many of us are thinking about what to buy, create or bake that will express our thanks for being there for us. It's true there are many shops and websites out there offering great ideas but there's nothing better than creating your own cards, gifts or even gift wrap. 
Here are a few ideas to help you create a gorgeous Fathers Day card with You Can Folk It...

What you'll need: 
Any of the Series 1 add on kits - these teach you the all important comma stroke. 
Templates (below) 

1. Dot Rose card 
With any of our designs, you can create so many different looks just by changing the paint colours you use. Here, we used the dot rose heart from our Series 1 Starter kit. Instead of using the colours from the original design, we created the heart using Lamp black and Warm white from the kit to give the design a more masculine look. 

One of the fantastic things about Folk Art is that it is not the design that is important but the brushstroke. Once you have mastered the comma stroke from our Series 1 add on kits, you can use it to create anything you wish; from roses to angels, daisies to beautiful borders. 

However, this versatile brushstroke can create so much more! Here at Folky HQ, our resident designer Sandra has been working her magic to create a few other designs. 

2. The Chef card 
Still limiting the colour palette to Lamp Black and Warm White, base coat your chef in White using the round brush. To achieve a smooth finish, use comma strokes to fill the area in.  Let it dry and if needed very lightly sand smooth.  Continue this process until you have applied three coats.  Using the liner brush and the Lamp Black, paint comma strokes  to create his moustache.  Using your dotting tool, add dots for his buttons.

3.  Moustaches 

Using the Lamp Black and your round brush, paint the areas with comma strokes. If your brushstrokes do not give you the shape you want, especially if you find it difficult to create the curled moustache, simply fill in the shape using your brush. 

4. Guitar - For all those musical or music obsessed Dad's out there :) 

Base coat the guitar in Lamp Black with the round brush, let dry and lightly sand. With the liner brush, paint the stems in Lamp Black.  Add black dots with the large end of the dotting tool. A good tip here is to make sure the dots are dry so your work doesn't get smudged as you continue to paint the rest of the design. If you wish to move on with the design, simply use a hairdryer to speed up the process.  Next, with the small end of the dotting tool, add comma strokes for the leaves in Warm White. 

For the detail on the guitar apply the top heart in Warm White with the small end of the dotting tool. Next, apply the white circle with the large end of the dotting tool. For the middle heart, use the large end of the dotting tool and the last one at the bottom with the small end of the dotting tool.  When these are dry, add more hearts over the top of the white using Lamp black and the small end of the dotting tool.  To finish, using the liner brush, paint stems close to the edge of the guitar in Warm White and with the small end of the dotting tool apply tiny leaves in the same colour.  Once dry scatter white and black dots around the stems.


When you have created your card, it is easy to get so caught up in the satisfaction of your make that the envelopes get overlooked. To complete your handprinted creation, why not add designs to the back of the envelope as we have done here or add a small design to the corner of the front of your envelope? 

What will you be creating for Father's Day? We hope we have inspired you and as always, if you do create one of these cards, or something different using our kits, we would love to see it. 

Happy Folking, 

You Can Folk It! 

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