Author Archives: jacquiholmgren

Inktense pencils on fabric

Inktense pencils on fabric


I was recently asked to talk about Derwent Inktense pencils and how they can be used on fabric. Last year we held a course at Gredelin Konstnärshandel, here in Sweden, where the students embroidered in black thread onto both plain cotton and also linen fabric. We then used Derwent Inktense pencils to colour them in. Inktense are water-soluble, have an impressive amount of pigment, and dry permanently on both paper and fabric. The important thing is to make sure you have dissolved them with some kind of liquid – water, or is in this video fabric medium. If you leave any areas dry, those will wash out of the fabric in the first wash.  I always hand-wash. I even use them on canvas paintings together with acrylic paints. You can buy Inktense pencils (for finer work) or Inktense blocks (for covering larger areas), both work really well on fabric. Tape the fabric down to a hard surface, stretching it slightly – either the table covered with a wax cloth or onto a piece of hardboard. If you are using lots of water then have plastic under the fabric – like a garbage bag which you stretch and tape down first.


I worked on these three cushion covers a few years ago and filmed the process. I used fabric medium when I drew and painted the roosters – because I didn’t want the water to take the colour too far outside the lines. Fabric medium is perfect because it’s much thicker and you can move it around with a brush. It dissolves the pigment on the surface and then dampens the surface. Best of all it stays put, and doesn’t bleed away into the threads of the fabric. Then you can go back over, working in shading, etc. Working with Inktense onto a damp surface however, can cause the colour to be MUCH more intensive – so always work into the area you want to be darker or brighter first and don’t press to hard. Once it has dried you can’t move the colour so if you see that you’ve got a dark patch, take more fabric medium and work into the spot with a brush – you should be able to move the pigment and spread it out. Someone asked me how lightfast Inktense are. Certain colours – the pinker reds, and some bluer greens can fade if exposed long periods to very bright sunlight. Covering them with fabric medium in the process does help. If you want to frame something use a UV protective glass. But these cushions in the films below are still looking good after several years, and they sit on my daughter’s sofas daily.

Here’s a colourchart from the Derwent homepage click on the link below) I own all 72 colours in the pencils,though I always choose my favourites and I have collected my absolute favourites in the Inktense Blocks.

Inktense colourchart

My favourites (I have quite a few!) are:
Sicilian Yellow
Sienna Gold
Burnt Orange
Hot Red
Chili Red

Red Violet
Dusky Purple
Dark Purple
Iron Blue
Deep Indigo (a REAL favourite!)
Dark Aquamarine
Green Aquamarine
Iron Green
Ionian Green
Light Olive
Leaf Green
Baked Earth
Saddle Brown
Bark (another all time fave!)
Sepia Ink
Indian Ink
Paynes Grey
Antique White (doesn’t really work on fabric, even dark fabric)

I’m not suggesting of course that I never use the rest of the 72 colours, but this is a list of the pencils I tend to grab first.

So here are the films I made a few years ago – you can watch them below. I have plans to do some more during the autumn since I’ve only really scratched the surface ( oops! A pun!) of what you can do with Inktense!

Webshop launched and Stockholm Hobby and Craft!

Webshop launched and Stockholm Hobby and Craft!


On Friday I launched my webshop, http//

I’ve started with about 45 stamp designs, all from birds, dogs, cats to children drawn in different styles. Some are realistic and sketchy and some are more cartoony. Here are a couple of bird cards I made before the Stockholm Hobby and Craft event we were at this past weekend. I taught 10 different workshops, almost non stop, and two of them were how to colour in my stamps with Polychromos pencils. My students let me take pictures – so here are a few:


I also had five workshops teaching how to do text for cards and signs working with a basic alphabet and then decorating the letters. Here are some photos from those classes:


The third kind of workshop was printing with gelliplates – my favourite technique at the moment. Most of my students had never tried it before so it was so rewarding to share the process and the “aha” moments. Here are a few pictures:


Now I’m going to start working on some online classes which will be available on my webshop. If you’re interested in hearing from me when they are available, then contact me through my website and I will add you to my mailing list!




About 10 years ago I started designing stamps for a company called Pyssel Passion. The stamps were mostly small drawings of two characters, called Agnes and Melwyn. They are still available for sale at a shop on Öland called Borgholms Bokhandel ( see Facebook:

Anyway… that was a while ago. I’ve now decided to start designing digital stamps which can be downloaded and printed out any size you like and then coloured in with coloured pencils, or watercolours or marker pens. I’m working on my web shop page at the moment, and also working on the stamp designs. I’m using my own children as inspiration this time (even if they are now very grown up – I have always drawn and painted them over the years, so why stop now?)

In May I’m going to be teaching a load of workshops at the Hobby and Craft event in Stockholm where I’ll be using my own stamp designs to show colouring techniques with Polychromos pencils.



Using photos as inspiration

Using photos as inspiration

When I was in England in May, I visited Grey’s Court in Oxfordshire and took masses of photos. One of my favourite apps on my iPhone is Hipstamatic which takes the most marvellous, arty photos – just ready to paint!


So here’s a film of how I used this photo to paint a painting inspired by it. I used mixed media – that is, acrylics, gesso, fiber paste, Gelato crayons and Inktense pencils, and different acrylic markers…



I have recently discovered Gelatos, which are not Italian ice-creams, but water-soluble, creamy crayons which dry permanently so you can easily work on paper, canvas or fabrics. I’ve decided to try and do a series of films showing the different ways you can use them. Here’s the first one, Gelatos Part 1…

Pages 6 and 7

Pages 6 and 7

Pages 6 and 7 are rather similar. Using the photos I showed in my previous post, I did some Image Transfers. An Image Transfer is where you brush gloss or matte acrylic medium onto the surface of a laser copy (I prefer laser printers to Inkjet printers as Inkjet prints are not permanent and therefore sensitive to water) – then you turn it face down onto your paper, or canvas. Using an old credit card you press out the air bubbles and smooth the back of the paper until the photo is really stuck down. Leave it to dry for 5-10 minutes and then carefully tear off the paper from the back of the image. The image will have stuck to the matte medium (which is still drying), so you will leave a fuzzy white surface once the paper is removed. I then usually leave it to dry overnight – which is safest, but a couple of hours will do.

pages 6and7

When it’s completely dry, spray the back of the image with a water spray and start to carefully rub off the fuzzy paper surface to reveal the image beneath. It IS possible to rub off all the paper and reveal a clean image – but it takes a bit of practice, and sometimes you find yourself rubbing a bit too hard and you a rub a hole in the image – however! No matter! I actually quite like the distressed look.

If you look at Page Six below – you can see that before I did my Image Transfer, I collaged down some old book paper from an old school songbook using Golden Matte Medium. When that was dry I did the Image Transfer with my photo of my dried tulips. When I had rubbed off as much of the paper pulp as I could be bothered to (it IS a bit of a process), I took some Golden Fluid Nickel Azo Yellow, Permanent Maroon  and Paynes Gray and I painted over the image, extending the stalks of the tulips with paint. Then I did a yellowish wash over the whole page so it gave it an aged look. Click on the photos to enlarge and see details.

Page 6

I decided it needed something else and so I carved myself a little stamp like a small seedpod out of an old eraser…

page 6 stamp

Here’s what it stamps like, I used Golden Fluid Titan Buff::

page 6 detail dpage 6 detail c

On page seven I did another Image Transfer, but I didn’t have any collaged paper as a background – this was straight onto the watercolour paper. Then I painted over it with Golden Fluid acrylics again, using colours which went with the image…

page 7

Again I left some of the fuzzy paper pulp around the edge of the image which the acrylic paint soaked into and left a nice effect..

page 7 detail bb

Page 5

Page 5

Page 5

Page five. Here I left the seed pod theme, and was inspired by some photos I’d taken of some tulips which had dried up in their vase – and become even MORE beautiful than when they were in their prime! I have an iPhone and my absolutely favourite camera app is Hipstamatic, which takes the artyest photos I know, with one click. Here are a few photos of my crispy tulips – look how the app changes the colouring so it just becomes a painting by itself…

IMG_0846 IMG_0841 IMG_0832

Aren’t they exquisite? I take no credit for the beauty – God made the tulips and Hipstamatic did the rest, I just threw them on the table and focused the iphone. So…back to page five. I began by collaging on some old book papers again, but you can’t see much of them because I painted gesso over them – but they give texture. Then I used one of my seedpod stencils and scraped a very thin layer of Molding Paste through it. In fact so thin, I think I just used what was left on the stencil from the last page so as not to waste it, or wash it down the sink (a no-no). Below you can see the fold in the page which I just painted straight over…

page 5 detail c big

Then I painted a very thin watercoloury wash of Golden Paynes Grey, mixed with Raw Umber over the page. I love the way the washruns into a picks out the Molding Paste seed pods even though they are part of the background just adding texture. Before it alldried, I drew the shapes of the tulips and the leaves using my Inktense pencil (Bark) which is wonderful to work on top of thinned wet paint. The pencil runs – especially if you spray it slightly with a spray bottle filled with water. When the pencil and thin wash had dried I then painted some of the tulips and leaves using similar colours to the photos. I used Golden OPEN Nickel Azo Yellow, and I mixed the purple using Golden Heavy Body Permanent Maroon and Paynes Grey, sometimes adding some Titanium White to lighten the purple in certain areas.

page 5 detail a

page 5 detail b

Page Four

Page Four

Page 4

More seedpods, this time I found a botanical illustration of Cocoa bean pods. I remember when I was little, in my first year at school, a famous English chocolate factory (Cadbury’s) had an art competition, and my painting won one of the prizes. I can’t remember the painting at all, but I do remember that we had to watch a film (shown on an old film-projector – high tech in 1964) about cocoa plantations and what the pods looked like containing all the beans. Who’d have thought I would grow up to become a chocoholic?

Anyway – I used the illustration to draw my own stencil again…

page 4 detail d

I also made an alphabet with a set of lino-carving tools, using large erasers (so easy to cut into), and used it to print the word Seed in Golden Fluid acrylic Naples Yellow. I started as usual with the background, this time gluing down tissue paper with Matte Medium, then when it had dried I gave it a coat of Gesso. I used the stencil and scraped Golden Fiber Paste which I mixed with Golden Heavy Body acrylic in Yellow Ochre, through it leaving a raised effect. Fiber Paste is much more matte and more absorbent than Molding Paste and I like the rough surface. To see more about Fiber Paste, check out my two films in earlier blog posts.

page 4 detail c

When the Fiber Paste had dried, I painted over the whole thing with a thin wash of Golden Fluid acrylic in Permanent Violet Dark. Then using a baby wipe, I wiped off the purple from the surface of the Cocoa pod, Where the Purple and the Yellow Ochre mix round the edges you get a lovely terracotta colour. Finally I added a mixture of Gesso and Golden Fluid Naples Yellow on certain areas to highlight the beans and give them life…

page 4 detail a

Lastly I painted Yellow Ochre mixed with Permanent Violet Dark onto the bottom left hand side of the page then put my stencil over it and wiped through the holes in the stencil with a baby wipe, removing the yellow mixture and revealing the purple underneath. When I removed the stencil, I was left with the outline of the bean pod, in yellow ochre…

page 4 detail b

By the way – if you click on the pictures, you can enlarge them to see details ….

Page Three

Page Three

page three

As you can see, page three contains a fold. When you make the watercolour paper journal, you use different folds to create the book – it makes it more interesting. Here I found a botanical illustration of some seedpods filled with seeds and sketched it freehand onto a plastic file-divider. Then using a heat-tool (normally used for soldering metal wire) I cut some stencils. The heat-tool is so much easier than using a knife or a scalpel as it melts the plastic and you can easily cut out circles and curves which are trickier with a scalpel. The only thing is the plastic smells a bit as it melts so you have to work in a well ventilated area, or outside.

page three stencils

If you look at the detail below you can see that after collaging some more old book pages onto the background I used the stencil with Golden Molding Paste, which leaves a raised surface. I let the Molding Paste dry overnight then I painted over everything with Golden Fluid acrylic Phthalo Blue (GS). Because the Molding Paste has a slightly shiny surface I could wipe off some of the blue paint from the seedpod shapes. Then I used Golden Fluid Nickel Azo Gold over the top to colour the seedpods. I love using complimentary colours, and the blue and rusty orange are delicious together. Then of course where they mix, they blend together to create a wonderful green tone…

Page three detail a

Page three detail b

page three detail c