Saturday, September 11, 2010

Demonstration: After Sunset

On a bit of a whim, I painted this giant watercolor painting of a couple strolling on the beach in the sunset.

Usually I buy 140# paper in large packs, but a while back I purchased a single sheet of 300# paper, so I could do a full sheet painting without having to stretch the paper. Several times I have chosen a subject to paint on this large sheet of paper, but never went through with it. At 22 x 30 inches, it seemed so huge! But a few days ago, I decided to finally do it. I had already decided I wanted to do a large beach scene in the glow just after sunset, using some photos I have from a trip to the beach a few years ago. At the last minute I decided to go really large, pulled out my 300# paper, and went for it! I'm glad I did; I think it looks pretty good. Below are photos with explanations of my process.

1.After I sketched in a rough design of the major elements of the painting with a pencil, I wet the entire paper with clear water. Then, using a large flat brush, I began painting the colors of the sky and sunset with cobalt blue, rose madder genuine, and quinacridone gold, overlapping the colors a little bit to encourage shades of purple and orange to appear as the colors spread into each other. The image reverses at the horizon line, (which I don't think you can see in this photo, but it's about 2/3 of the way down the page) so that the ocean is a mirror image of the sky.


2. In this photo, I am continuing to add layers of cobalt blue, rose madder, and quin. gold, also adding antwerp blue and paynes gray at the upper corners, until I achieved the values that I want in the sky and the reflection in the ocean.

Every time, before I lay down the colors, I wet the entire sheet with clear water. By the time I get to the bottom, the top has begun to loose it's sheen and is ready to lay in nice, smooth graduations of color.



3.Once I was satisfied with the colors of the sky and sunset, I started adding clouds and a few wave lines to the ocean. I also lightly placed in the shoreline, to serve as a visual aid to me. I won't darken it until later, but having it there helps me see what I'm doing, and where I'm going with it. (I need that kinda help, you see. ☺)
I used the same colors for all of these elements that I used for the background. But this time I mixed the cobalt blue and rose madder on my palate until I got a nice, deep, bluish-purple, then added quin. gold until I was satisfied with the gray I had made.

4. Here you can see I have simply continued adding darker mixtures of the same trio of colors to the clouds and ocean, trying to create shape to the clouds and suggest the direction of movement of the ocean.

When painting the clouds, first I wet the area of the cloud liberally with my large flat brush. Then I drop in puffy cloud shapes with a large round brush. I also have a paper towel or tissue all wadded up that I use to gently blot the paint and create further variation of values.

*Tip- When you're painting over an area that you have already painted, such as these clouds, make sure your previous layer is really dry, or it will smear. I frequently use a hairdryer to make sure my layers are good and dry.

5. I continued creating the waves in the ocean, using layers of different strengths of my color trio. For the dark shorelines I used winsor green, alizarin crimson, and lamp black. (The black wasn't all that necessary, by the way, but I'm low on winsor green.)








6.Still using the same color mixture I added more and darker layers to the clouds, wetting the area first with very clean water and keeping in mind their round, abstract shapes. I also continued to add depth to the waves with darker values, and started scrubbing and lifting out some foamy areas where the waves break. I put in a very light silhouette of the people walking to determine their shape and placement.





7.To finish the painting, I added seagulls to the sky, more scrubbing and lifting (with a fritch scrubber and a viva paper towel) to the sea foam, and I finished painting the people. I signed with a white gel pen, and I'm done! So... now I just have to figure out how to frame this big sucker!

When you're done leaving your comments or questions below, see more at lauraposs.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Demonstration: Great Egret

This is a peaceful little scene I put together from photos around my house. The great egret sits on a fallen tree I can see from my kitchen window, and I modeled the trees and water from other views around the house. Below I will show you the steps I used to complete this painting. Most of the WIP pics were taken under my table lamp, so the colors vary a bit in the pics.







1. After I sketched the scene onto the paper and taped it down to my board, I painted the egret and her reflection with masking fluid to preserve the whites and allow me to paint freely over them. After the masking fluid dried I wet my paper with a large flat brush and covered the entire paper with varying washes of cobalt blue. Once that dried I added the distant treeline across the lake with a mixture of cobalt blue with a little transparent oxide red (similar to burnt sienna, but better, I think) and new gamboge.







2. Next I wet the entire lake area again and added more wave patterns to the water, using the large flat brush and mostly cobalt blue, with some trans. oxide red and payne's gray. Once that dried (with the help of my hair dryer ;) I added the first layer of foliage to the trees, using a mixture of new gamboge, thalo blue (also spelled pthalo), and a little trans oxide red.




3.The next step is pretty much like the second steps repeated, except you increase the values of the greens and the blues. In the water I added a bit more paynes gray and added more shadowy areas. In the foliage I switched from gamboge to quinacradone gold and increased the amount of thalo blue.

*Tip-When painting foliage of any kind it helps to remember the shape of the bunches. They work the same way as any other smooth shape, except with leafy patterns. The side facing the light source is lighter, and the shape gets darker the further it is from the light source.


4. Here I have added another layer of leafy shapes, this time using more thalo blue and trans. oxide red and less quin. gold to get a really dark, rich green. While that was drying I removed the masking from the egret and added shadows and other details to her. I also painted the branch she's standing on and details to the reflections of bird and perch. When I paint reflections of this kind, I have two brushes, one with paint and one with clean water to blend the edges, so they look natural. Then I painted masking fluid on some of the green leaves where they overlapped the tree trunks so that I could work on the trunks without worry. When the masking was dry, I wet the tree trunks, wiped off the sheen with a paper towel, and painted each of them with two vertical brush strokes. On the light sides of the trees I used a mix of mostly trans oxide red and a little cobalt blue and on the shadow sides I used mostly cobalt blue with a little trans oxide red. I also added some wet-in-wet wavy shapes to the water with some green leftover from painting the foliage, to suggest the reflection of the trees.


5. Once the tree trunks dried, I used the same mixes I did for the first layer, and painted on the lines that represent the shaggy bark on the hickory trees. The paint left on my palate had dried up some, so it was darker in value and perfect for adding the lines on both sides of the trunks- light and shadow. To finish the painting, I added more details and contrast to the egret and her perch, added branches to the trees, and signed my name!

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.......And when you're through leaving your questions or comments below, check out my website at lauraposs.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Five (More) Things I Have Learned Participating in Art Shows


So, it's been a bit too long since I have blogged. Sorry, I have no profound reason, just busy, I guess.
My most popular post ever was the one I did about the Ten Lessons I learned at Art Shows and Festivals, so I've been thinking maybe I should expand on that.

Here are Five More Things I Have Learned Participating in Art Shows and Festivals.

1. Avoid shows that are not well established in their area. If it's a first or second year, especially, most of the people there will be surprised to find the show, and you'll hear a lot of comments like, "Wow, I didn't even know this was going on! Is it just today?"

2. People will ask you all sorts of questions. They will want to know how you made your craft, how long it takes for you to make a piece, how long you have been creating art in your medium of choice, why you started in the first place, what kind of training you have or haven't had, and so many more things. They aren't necisarily looking for a particular answer, they're just curious to learn more about you and your craft, so don't get too nervous about things like whether or not you've had training, just be prepared with an intelligent answer and you'll be fine. What I hate is when I fumble for an answer to a question I hadn't thought of. That's the worst.

3. People love to tell little stories about their own experiences. So listen to their stories. Listen for clues about what they like, so you can use that info to help them find something you are selling that they would like to purchase.

4. Just because someone has looked at your display does not mean that they have understood everything they have seen. It is very likely that they did not even read that lovely sign that you made telling them about your prices or policies or drawing attention to a special deal you are offering. You might want to point it out to them verbally. Obviously you can't point out everything to everyone, but you can start with one thing and work from there.

And last, but far from least:

5. How you arrange your products has everything to do with how many people stop to look at them. People are especially attracted to items that are grouped into like colors, as color is a major factor for most people when they are deciding whether or not an item matches their taste and decor or wardrobe. It is important to put as much effort as you can into arranging your display. Set it up at home if you can and re-arrange until you are satisfied it is the best you can do. Think of how a successful retail store arranges their products. Study them, because they know what they are doing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Frame can Make All the Difference

I wanted to share this example of what a wonderful difference the right frame can make for a painting. I call this watercolor "Afternoon Showers". I thought it was pretty, but too bland to be noticed much.

I decided to double mat the painting with a sharp black inner mat and a lighter gray inner mat. Then I made a beautiful dark and shiny frame, with gold-ish highlights and wonderful texture.
I think you'll agree that now the painting would really stand out on any wall, and is sure to get noticed.

When you're through leaving your comment(s), check out my website at lauraposs.com

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

What do you do when you don't feel creative?

I want to ask you readers a question today!

What do you do when you need to get some art work done, and you just don't feel creative? I know I have done some of my best and some of my worst work during times like this!

For example, sometimes "forcing it" ruins my creativity and makes my work come out stale and boring. This isn't always the case, though! Sometimes I have a deadline to finish a project, and I just can't quit, and the pressure to keep going forces me to "loosen up" with my paintings, stop analyzing every brushstroke, and work with more intensity. One thing is for sure.. when I need to get in the mood to paint, nothing helps like cranking up my favorite music!

So what about you? What do you do when you don't feel creative? Do you come back later, or do you have some tricks up your sleeve to get the creative juices flowing? Please leave your questions or comments below!

When you're through leaving your comment(s), check out my website at lauraposs.com

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Friday, April 2, 2010

How to attach artwork or photos to matboard and backing board

I do my own matting and framing for my artwork, and I was recently asked how I attach my watercolor paintings to the other framing contents such as mat board and foam board when I am framing them. Sounded like a blog opportunity to me! So, without further ado, here's how I do it.

This process will work for any type of artwork on paper, including photography. It is called hinging, and is a good way to attach these items together in a way that they can be removed in the future without much risk of damage to the artwork.

1. These are the items I am assembling for the contents of my frame: Mat board cut to the proper size, with a window cut out for the art to show through, foam board cut to the same size as the mat board, and the artwork itself. Here I am using two pieces of mat board, and I have glued them together so they don't slide around.



2.The first thing I do is lay my painting face up in front of me, with the top of the painting toward me and the bottom of the painting away from me. I then cut pieces of acid free artists' tape and attach them to the back of the painting, at the top, with the sticky side up (as shown).



3. Then I position the mat board the way I want it over the painting, and lay it down on the painting, and press down in the spots where the tape are underneath.



4. Next I flip the whole thing over, mats and painting, and press down on the tape again firmly.










5. Then I cut two more pieces of tape and create a hinge. This step is not necessary, and sometimes I skip it for smaller paintings, but I always do it on large ones just to make sure it holds well to the mat board.




6. The next step is to attach the mat board to the foam board. The way I do it is to take two pieces of artists' tape and stick them to the edge of the mat board, at the top, with half of the pieces hanging off the edge.




7. Then lay the edge of the piece of foam board against the mat board as shown, and use the pieces of tape to secure them together.




8. Finally, bring the mat board and foam board together, using the pieces of tape as hinges, and you're done!












Please leave your questions or comments below. If I've helped you, I want to hear about it, and if you don't understand something or want to know more, I want to help!

To see my art, new and old, please visit my website www.lauraposs.com.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Value Studies

A value study is a great way to prepare for a new painting, and helps ensure that you will get the result you want when you paint your final painting. A value study is a sketch using only one color. Usually it will be smaller than the final painting, and done far more quickly. The advantage of a value study is that you take the focus off of the colors, and put it on placement and values.

I read about value studies many times before I tried it myself. I did one for the first time while at a workshop with Joe Miller. Now I consider it an important step in my artistic process.

I almost always do a value study of some kind for every larger painting, even if it's only with a regular pencil and shading. They're not always pretty, and are usually done very quickly. Pencil value studies, I spend maybe 2-5 minutes. If I paint it, maybe 15-20 minutes.

*Tip- If you do value studies with paint, don't choose a light color on your palette! You won't be able to create values that are very dark with a light color! My favorite choices for value studies in watercolor are ultramarine, burnt umber, sap green, and quinacradone gold.

The pics I have here are some of my favorites I've done. (And least sloppy!) I hope you enjoy them, and find them useful to get you started practicing your own value studies! :)

As always, happy painting! Leave your comments or questions below... don't be shy! I want to hear from you!

If you like, please also visit my website at www.lauraposs.com.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Musings on Painting


“Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do.” This quote by Edgar Degas has been on my mind all day. I have found it to be so true.

When I first began painting, all I had to worry about was making the painting look "pretty". I used colors that pleased me and chose compositions from photos I liked.

Now that I have far more experience, I have learned that there's so much more to worry about! Sometimes I get really frustrated trying to create paintings with optimum composition, correct values, proper use of color and hue, and on and on it goes.

What do you think about this? Should one try to follow established "rules" to create art? Is it better to ignore the rules and simply follow your intuition and create something that pleases you? I want to hear your opinions!

To see my art, new and old, please visit my website www.lauraposs.com.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

How to stretch watercolor paper

Stretching watercolor paper keeps it from buckling while you are painting on it. It is not necessary for 300-pound paper, but lesser weights of paper will immediately start buckling as soon as you add a wash to them. 300 pound paper gets expensive, so many watercolor artists buy 140- pound paper and stretch it to a hard surface.

There are lots of ways to do this. Today I'm going to share with you how I do it. I drew some little doodles in my notebook to help you see what I mean.

You need a hard backing surface to stretch the paper to. I use gatorboard. Gatorboard is similar to a super-thick piece of foam board, but it has a much stronger outer surface that will hold up a lot longer than foam board. It's lightweight, easy to staple (and remove staples from), and doesn't mind getting soaked, so it's perfect for this purpose. (You can find it at various art supply stores under different names, or you can order gatorboard from Cheap Joes Art Stuff, at http://www.cheapjoes.com- my favorite place!)

Other supplies:
water, stapler and staples, masking tape or artist's tape, watercolor paper


Steps:

1. First I cut my paper to the size I need, and lay my gatorboard flat on a table or counter.

2. Next I run the paper under cool water in the sink or bathtub, moving it around just until it's wet everywhere. Then I hold it up and let the water drain off of one corner until it stops running and starts dripping.


3. I lay the paper flat on top of the gatorboard and smooth it out with the sides of my hands, starting in the center and working my way out, pushing the excess water puddles off the sides as I do this.


4. I let it sit for a few minutes until the paper no longer looks shiny. (Tiny shiny areas are ok- you don't want it to get too dry.)

5. I start stapling the paper to the gatorboard along the outer edges of the paper. I start by putting one staple in the middle of each of the four sides, then work my way towards the corners, a few staples on each side of the paper at a time, putting the staples at the corners last. As I do this, I use the side of my free hand to smooth the paper and pull it taught.



6. Let the paper dry thoroughly. This can be sped up with a hair dryer, if desired, but don't try to draw on it until it's completely dried!

7. For a finishing touch I tape all the edges with masking or artist's tape. This keeps water and paint from running under the paper while I'm painting, and also makes a nice clean edge all around my painting when I am done.


Happy painting! Leave your comments or questions below... don't be shy! I want to hear from you!

Please visit my website www.lauraposs.com.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My first impressions of Etsy


I recently embarked on a new venture... the wide world of Etsy. If you don't know, Etsy is a website that provides internet "shops" to small business people who are selling their own handmade items, vintage items (at least 20 years old), or craft supplies. It's a little like ebay, except crafty!. It's a lot like a regular craft show, except online instead of outside, and instead of paying large booth fees, you pay a small listing fee (20 cents per item, for a four-month listing), and then a small percentage of the sale price when you sell an item (3.5%). There are no membership fees or other fees for your shop, which makes it very accessible for everyone.

My first impressions of Etsy? I love it! ♥

Here are some of the things I like so far.
The shops are well organized and easy to navigate. For each item you list, you are allowed to upload 5 photos for no extra fee. (If you've ever listed with e-bay, you'll appreciate that!) You are able to create all your own "shop policies" to determine how shipping, returns, and so on will be handled. There are tons of ways people can find items they're looking for, beyond the old search by name or category. My favorite tool is a page filled with dots of all colors where you can move your curser around the page, and when you see the exact shade of a color you are looking for pop up, you click on it, and then Etsy looks at the thumbnails of all the items currently listed, and shows you any items it finds that have a significant amount of that color. How cool is that??

However, I think the best thing I've found in my first few days at Etsy is all the information they have organized for you to read to help you be more successful. They have a blog and a forum, and they have compiled article after article in one place for you to find and read. These articles are immensely helpful, and it looks to me that they are all written by fellow "etsians" (Etsy buyers and sellers) who have been there, done that, and want to tell someone else how to do it the best way that they found. Very helpful!

If you have bought or sold from Etsy, I'd love to hear how your experience is or was. Don't be shy, let me know with your comments! I appreciate them so much!

My artist website:www.lauraposs.com
My new Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/lauraposs

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Words of Wisdom


"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary"

I love this quote. I try to keep it in mind always. These exceptional words of wisdom were spoken by our dear friend Pablo Picasso.

When I'm not sure what direction to take with my paintings I try to remember that it's my diary. I should paint it the way that pleases me. Everyone has a different taste in art, and you can not please them all.

http://www.laurposs.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ten lessons I learned my first year at art shows and festivals


Last year I entered a daring new world. I bought a tent and a bunch of other equipment, and I started looking for art and craft shows in my area where I could try to sell my watercolors. I had a great time, and I can hardly wait until spring, when I'll start another year of shows! Here is a list of the top ten things I learned last year.

1.Only sign up for shows that are specifically for arts and/or crafts. (Or whatever you're selling.)The more targeted the show is toward your particular art form, the better. Shows with lots of entertainment and food and cotton candy draw a big crowd, they are fun, and you meet fun people. However, the people coming to those shows are there for the food and fun, and maybe a little shopping, but they are not there to invest in art.

2. Put lower priced items out front where they will get people's attention, and stop them from assuming that all your art is expensive, which is what they will do if you have expensive art where they will see it first.

3.Don't stand out in front of your booth doing nothing. People seem to get the idea that you are waiting to "pounce" on them if they stop, so they don't.

4. Don't sit in your booth staring at people. The same reason as number 3.

5. Don't assume people understand what your artwork is. The difference between different painting mediums or what the functions are of your various pottery dishes, etc. may seem obvious to you, but that doesn't mean that the people who walk into your booth know what it is. Be friendly and tell them! If they stop to admire your artwork, you could say something like, "Hi! Just for clarification, the paintings you are looking at hanging on that wall are all original watercolor paintings." You could also point out what other things you have, if any (briefly! You don't want to smother them!)and then tell them that if they have any other questions you're here to help. Doing this accomplishes several things; you have opened a line of communication, helped them understand what they are looking at, and given them the idea that it's ok not to know about your art form, and that you are informative and helpful.


6. Bring lots of "backup supplies" like tape, safety pins, string, scissors, basic tools, and a step ladder. You never know when they will come in handy, and they are likely to be used at every show to help make sure everything looks perfect. They may even, at times, stop a bad situation from becoming a disaster

7. If you are doing outdoor shows, go ahead and plan for bad weather. In doing this, make sure you plan not only for precipitation, but wind.

8. Don't be insulted when occasional passerby comment on the high price of your art. A certain number of people will do this. They don't understand it's rude or don't think you can hear them, or something. Every once in a while they may even say something to you. Be prepared to smile through it. If you've done your research and feel comfortable with your prices, then you can explain to them that your prices are comparable with similar products from artists with your level of reputation in your area. If they don't agree, so be it. Don't sweat about it. Just make sure to always do your research on pricing.


9. Bring lots of business cards and/or other promotional materials, and hand them out liberally. Many of them will turn into later sales, especially if you have a website and also especially if you offer commissioned art.

10. Dress nicely, but wear comfortable shoes. You will be standing a lot. You don't want your smiling and greeting and chatting with potential customers to be hindered by a terrible pain in your feet!

To see my art or contact me, please visit my website www.lauraposs.com

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Handprint

HANDPRINT: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/water.html

If you enjoy watercolor painting, you have to check out this website. The main page claims " the world's finest guide to watercolor painting", and I cannot disagree. This site is created by Bruce MacEvoy. You can learn more about him by clicking on "FAQ" from the main page, and see his artwork by clicking "recent works" from the main page.

If you are new to the site, I suggest you hop on over there, (after you finish here, of course) and click on "intro" at the top of the list of links on the left side of the page. From there you can read a info about the site, and explore the site map.

The site map on this site is an extremely long list of all of the content within the site. You can click on anything on the list to see the page containing the information which interests you. This fabulously detailed list begins with links to a wealth of information about the tools and materials for watercolors. Paints, brushes, paper, pallattes- even including things like explanations of how the paints are made and guides to the many choices and brands available. There's also tons of instructional info like color theory and mixing, composition and design, drawing and watercolor technique, and lots more "how-to"s. Unbelieveably, that's just half of the list! They also offer an extensive directory of instructional books available, complete with full reviews, a directory of retailers for the watercolor artist, and one more incredible thing: a large online watercolor painting exhibit. Artists are chosen from the 18th century to today, and works and stories of their lives are there, on this amazing website, for you to study and enjoy.

Have fun!!

lauraposs.com

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Making note cards from your art -Part 3


So you've decided to make note cards from your art, you've decided whether you're going to make them at home or have them printed elsewhere, and you have all your supplies. You're ready to get started designing your cards. I think this is the fun part, and the easy part. (If you have not done the above steps, please see Making note cards from your art-Part 1 and Making note cards from your art-Part 2)

You'll need a computer program that allows you to create cards with images and text, like Print Shop, which is what I have, and I'm happy with it. I can select different styles of cards from a menu, so I don't have to worry about creating my own formatting. The program has many different templates I can choose from, and all I have to worry about is how I want to design them. Style your card any way you wish. You can make them in horizontal or vertical format, depending on the shape of your paintings. If you wish you may crop your images to make them better fit in the card shape. I have not found this to be necessary, but if I had one that was very square-shaped, or very panoramic I might do it if I thought it would improve the look of the card.

It is up to you whether or not to add text anywhere on the card. One suggestion is to add the name of the painting either on the front or back of your cards. I recommend that you at least add your name and some sort of contact information, such as your web address, on the back of the card, in the center, at the bottom. If you want to add the © symbol beside your name (you do own the copyright), and you use Windows, you can do so by typing 0169 while holding down the alt key on your keyboard. If you have a Mac, or it doesn't work for another reason, you could try copying and pasting the symbol from this article, as well.

When you have completed designing your cards, it's time to print! Save your work, and either print it from your home computer, upload it to the custom printing website of your choice, or take the files you wish to print to your local print shop. If you choose to have them cut and folded by the printer, you're done making your cards. Otherwise, you'll still need to cut each sheet of paper down the center to separate it into two pieces, and fold the pieces to make cards. The best way to get a professional look is to use a bone folder, or paper folder. Fold the card perfectly in half, then use the flat side of the tool to press it down and smooth it out. If the cards wrinkle at the fold, or don't stay folded well, score them before folding with the other end of your bone folder, or with a separate paper scorer. (Usually they're sold either as one tool with two different ends, or as two tools packaged together.)

Finally, you have your own note cards featuring your artwork! It's time to decide how you will finish them. You'll need envelopes, of course, which you can find at most office supply stores or online. You'll also need protective packaging, such as boxes or clear bags, if you plan to sell your cards. I use clear folding boxes, and sell them in packs of 8 cards and envelopes. Some are assorted, and some are packages that contain the same image on all 8 cards. If you wish to order packaging online, clearbags.com has an incredible assortment of different sized boxes, bags, and other packaging choices and accessories. There are also plenty of other choices out there that may have a better value for your location, so I recommend you shop around, but at least check them out, simply because their selection is really amazing, and may help you get a better idea of what you're looking for. If you do sell your cards, don't forget include an insert or label that tells the customer (very clearly) exactly what is inside the package!

So that's it! I hope you love your cards, as I do mine. Enjoy!

See more cards on my website
.