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Learning Through Inspiration with Joan Bardee

May 1, 2019

Very excited to be back sharing more of my Learning Through Inspiration series here on the Penny Black blog. That series is all about improving my cardmaking through studying other designers’ cards. Today I’m starting my study of the super talented artist Heather Telford.

When I studied Heather’s cards, the first thing I noticed was her loose watercoloring (including watercolored backgrounds), and her frequent use of blue and purple. Heather definitely branches out and makes cards with white backgrounds, and with beautiful warm reds and oranges. However, it’s those blues that first caught my eye. So today I’m focusing on a particular card that relies on some gorgeous blue watercoloring.



*It’s gorgeous. The card has the “it” factor – it leaps off my computer screen as special.

*It’s unique. I would have used greens, and maybe a bit of purple, to color cacti. Blue and black (!!) are so unexpected. Love that.

*It’s got embossing. And we all know embossing is magical.

*Even though there are only a few colors, Heather managed to make parts of the card look lit from behind. Notice the shadows under the pots and the bright white near some of the cacti? And there’s a suggestion of a table, with no actual table. What???? This takes an artist’s eye and hands– someone who really understands shading and light, and who has the talent to translate it onto paper. That’s Heather.

*Love the loose watercoloring. No staying in the lines!

*I don’t have an artist’s eye. I almost always make a hot mess when I try and watercolor a background. But I work at it. Could I make a card covered with watercolor and make it work?



*Apparently, I cannot make a card covered with loose watercolor and make it work. And least not now. HA!

*Truth: Over the course of 2 days, I “watercolored” 7 cards, trying to make a card that looked like Heather’s. What a mess! I know I don’t have her skills, but I love her card so much that I really wanted that blue/black/white look. Didn’t happen and I have the trash to prove it.

*So, I walked away from that 2 day stamp-a-thon pretty frustrated and decided to abandon that plan. I mean, there’s only so much watercolor paper I’m willing to sacrifice…

*I did learn (eventually) to relax a little and do some loose watercoloring.

*For my first card, I embossed this gorgeous flower (Blushing) in white twice on watercolor paper, and scribbled some color with 3 Zig Clean Color markers –blue, teal, and a touch of black. Then I misted the flowers and dried. Repeated several times and then die cut the flowers. HINT: this is a very fast and easy way to get some pretty flowers and requires zero skill! Score!

*This is what I love about this learning through inspiration process: I wouldn’t have made this card without studying Heather’s seemingly random watercoloring. But, there is no way you would look at my card and think I had “copied” Heather’s.

*For my second card, like Heather, I stamped and embossed the images, but this time in gold. Then I colored the flowers and leaves with markers and let them dry. After that, I added a couple of shades of blue markers to the envelope and sprayed with water and spread the color around the card. Repeated a few times, making sure to dry with a heat gun in between. Not quite as loose as I was going for, but this time I decided to quit while I was ahead.

*Finished the card by blending some Distress inks around the edge and adhering to a blush pink card.

MOOD WHEN DONE: I ended up liking the cards I made, and definitely want to keep trying loose watercoloring. Would love to watch Heather remake her card, though, as I’d still like to be able to make a similar card.

So grateful to Jill Foster and Penny Black for providing me with some gorgeous stamps and dies, and the opportunity to share here on the Penny Black blog. Such a treat! (Can I also just say that Bunches for You and Sympathy Sentiments, linked below, are my favorite of the new release? LOVE!)

I’ll be back here soon with more Heather Telford inspiration!

for the products featured on Joan’s cards above

Card One Supplies: Penny Black Blushing 30-564; Penny Black Blushing die 51-536; Penny Black Flower Teddy 30-543; Canson cold press watercolor paper; Zig Clean Color Markers; waterbrush; teal ink; clear jewels; white cardstock; patience.

Card Two Supplies: Bunches for You 30-570; Sympathy Sentiments 30-582; Canson cold press watercolor paper; Zig Clean Color markers; Ranger Broken China, Linen, and Tea Dye Distress inks; ink blender; waterbrush; gold jewels; blush cardstock; Versamark ink; gold embossing powder.

Disclaimer: From time-to-time we have guest bloggers post on our site. The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Penny Black Inc. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.
20 Comments leave one →
  1. Jan Pignanelli permalink
    May 1, 2019 2:26 am

    Glad you’ve chosen Heather to spot light because I am always inspired and learning from her. I appreciate your down to earth study of such highly skilled artists. And your own cards are lovely! Thank you, Joan!

  2. jillianfoster82 permalink*
    May 1, 2019 6:25 am

    Ditto to what Jan said!! I agree 100% 🙂 Thanks, Joan!

  3. Michele F permalink
    May 1, 2019 7:12 am

    Heather is definitely an artist, and one that has inspired me, too, JB! You’ve surely captured her in the floral especially – well done, you!

  4. May 1, 2019 7:55 am

    You are so kind, Joan!
    And these cards are so pretty. I love your ‘sash’ of flowers in blue, green and black and your envelope layout is so sweet.
    Thank you for such a delightful post.

  5. papermorepaper permalink
    May 1, 2019 8:02 am

    Wonderful post, Ms Joan. You zeroed in on one of the things Heather does best: she inspires you to emulate her superlative talent and believe you can get close. Your own cards are beautiful examples of that!
    (And ditto times three to the previous comments.)

    • May 8, 2019 4:33 am

      thank you so much!! I’d love to have Heather’s skills, but am happy to improve my own.

  6. May 1, 2019 8:45 am

    I’ve been inspired by Heather’s wonderful watercolors for a long time but unlike you, Joan, I just admired and thought I could never do it myself. Seeing her through your eyes makes me believe “Yes I can!”

  7. May 1, 2019 9:31 am

    I’ve admired Heather’s cards for a long time, maybe she’s why I love watercolors so much even though I am not very good at it. But your cards, Joan, are simply amazing as well! You’ve done a wonderful job with the watercolors!

  8. Betty permalink
    May 1, 2019 1:37 pm

    both cards are lovely, Joan and the blue/black floral is especially pretty – have always loved Heather’s watercoloring and your “mood when done” should be very happy!

  9. Lee W. Cockrum permalink
    May 1, 2019 2:51 pm

    I loved reading your assessment of the elements of her card! I learned a lot just from reading that! I love her card, but without your points I would not have noticed those details. Your cards are very lovely!

  10. May 2, 2019 6:19 am

    Both are lovely, Joan, but that cactus one just totally nails it!

  11. barbara lassiter permalink
    May 2, 2019 8:32 am

    Heather’s watercoloring skills are awe inspiring and thank goodness we can see her work. I’ve learned in watercoloring that I can’t replicate what someone else has created because of my skill level and the nature of water color. But I’m practicing and I keep trying until I create something I like. I think both of your cards are beautiful and practicing isn’t wasting paper. I die cut flowers and stuff out of my “wasted pieces” so I won’t feel bad! Lol! This is a fun series and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  12. May 2, 2019 9:29 pm

    Love your observations, and your gumption to try for a ‘Heather’ card! Jill Foster was bad enough, but at least she has sooooo many tutorials to follow along to! Heather has a couple, but even watching those I still think the woman is practicing artistic voodoo or magic! Thank goodness she uses her artistic powers for good and not evil 🙂

  13. Daria permalink
    May 5, 2019 7:50 am

    I share your frustration. I also love Heather’s work and am totally unable to do anything similar. However, in the attempt, I sometimes come up with something much better than my usual. Your cards are lovely so I know you understand what I’m trying to say. Thank you for this series. I am learning to really look at people’s work.

  14. May 5, 2019 10:40 pm

    I think all of us would like to be able to watercolour like Heather. She is amazing!! Thank you for your wonderful post and how you worked at getting that loose watercolouring. Your first card is fantastic. I love the randomness of the colours on the flowers … it produces their own shading. Absolutely gorgeous card!! Your second card is also very special. Great watercolouring and love how you’ve added the bright blue on the envelope that fades to very light. The sponging on around the outside edge of your card front works perfectly with your design. Great work Joan!!

  15. Gina Goodling permalink
    May 7, 2019 1:30 pm

    What a gift you are, Joan! Hopefully you will be back taking us all by the hand, or should I say paintbrush and leading us into the talented teams magical land. Love your quick sense of humor and your ability to nail what we are all thinking in such complimentary words. Your art cards are wonderful as is your talent! Bravo.

  16. Bertha permalink
    May 7, 2019 7:35 pm

    Love the two cards you did and thanks for focusing on Heather. I love her work and your insightful observations.

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