As the creative director at Chartpak, Koh-I-Noor's US parent company, I've worked on a lot of product development projects with my team. I’m here to share some of those ideas with others that love art and hope to inspire artists and makers to create their own art kits as gifts. These kits can be adjusted for media type and complexity, so you can make a truly original gift. One of the best aspects of making this kit yourself is that you can make the artwork collaborative. You’re not just giving a beautiful work of art, but giving an art experience!
The first project in this series is a childhood favorite of mine: Connect-the-Dots.
Essentially, you are creating line art that gets distilled to its most essential points, which become the dots for this project. Make the connections a complex nexus of lines and dots, or make it a minimalist piece depending on your skill level or development time frame. You can create a background or other images that aren’t part of the final connect-the-dots or keep it on a clean sheet of paper. You can make a booklet out of it with mini connect-the-dot projects or make a large stand-alone piece.
We’ve created a zodiac inspiration piece that’s simple and easily customizable. Here’s the basic step-by-step:
1) Using the Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel, trace a circle that will be the area for your galaxy background. With a permanent fine line marker add the points of your constellations. You can create them as dots or as stars. You can also create dots for the name of the zodiac sign below.
2) Wet your paper with a mop brush and water inside the circle you just drew. This will be where your galaxy background will be made.
3) Mix colors of your watercolor paint in the paint palette wells, (these are in the lid of the watercolor wheel) and add them to your wet paper. The wet on wet technique will allow your colors to blend into one another, so make sure your colors are not complementary (aka opposites on the color wheel). For instance, if you mix purple and orange, your colors will be muted or brown. Greens and blues, yellows and greens, and magentas and blues or violets are all good combinations.
4) By letting your paint dry, and adding more layers of color, you'll get a more vibrant background.
5) There are two different ways to make the stars in your galaxy background. You can take a clean, wet brush and load it with white watercolor. Tap the brush against your finger or a hard surface in the air over the galaxy; this will create a spray of stars. You can also use an opaque acrylic paint marker to draw in the stars.
6) Add the dots or stars back into your galaxy. At this point, you can also add in numbers so that your recipient knows which order to connect the stars/dots, or you can provide an outline of what the constellation looks like. This can serve as a guide on how the stars are connected if you don’t want numbers to show up in your final piece.
7) Include a sheet of instructions and an ink marker to your kit. You can also include a frame and matte so that your gift recipient can display their gift when they’ve completed it.
Let your gift recipient work more with the supplies. After completing step 1, stop. In your gift set, include a watercolor wheel, a brush or two, and an ink marker with your dot work on clean paper. Provide them with the instructions from steps 2-6, adjusting the last step to instruct them to connect the dots at the end.
Watercolor Supply List:
• Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel (FA171506.BC)
• Grumbacher Watercolor or Mixed Media In & Out Page Pad
• Grumbacher Goldenedge or Academy Round Brush, size 4 • Molotow Signal White One4All Marker, 1mm (127.102)
• Molotow Blackliner Pen, .2mm (703.203)
Where to get supplies:
Other variations on this project using Ink or Acrylic can be used with products from our sister brands, Higgins and Grumbacher.
More on this idea: This project is a mutation of artwork I gave as Christmas gifts last year to my workmates here at Chartpak. Our brand manager, Jen, created a holiday kit with Koh-I-Noor and Molotow items using this concept. I've modified it to be something that can be made with a collaborative twist by artists at home. Artwork and video shown in this post were created by our talented in-house artist, Diana Waldon. Diana also taught a workshop at Art Start in New York using the items from the zodiac kit that Jen created. SPREAD THE ART!