Art and Gemstones

Katie LeDonne

Paper + Malachite


It may seem trivial and boring to discuss the best types of paper to use, but using the right paper can be detrimental to your artwork. Some artists can get by with a regular sketchbook that has essentially printer-grade paper. This finer paper is perfectly fine for mordecai and rigbypencil drawings, but it sub-par if you use other types of materials. In my experience I’ve found that mixed media paper provides the most bang for your buck.
Mixed media paper is a thicker grade than regular monochromatic.jpg
paper and is more durable against erosion caused by excessive erasing (one of my chronic problems). The thicker grade is better if you prefer to use markers or watercolors. The paper will absorb more of the ink or pigment and combat running or bleeding of colors.
However, if you like to shade drawings or do multiple layers of pigment for richer color, I would still recommend using a spare sheet underneath your drawing to catch ink and keep it from bleeding through onto fresh  sketchbook pages!


Malachite occurs in nearly all copper mines in the zone of weathering. It is a secondary mineral formed by concentrations of copper transported by water to a level just above the water table. Large banded masses of malachite have had important decorative and architectural uses.

The word derives from the word “mallow” meaning “green herb” which is extremely fitting for its intense and striking green color.
The mineral is an important ore of copper, and primarily forms on or near limestone. It contains bands of various colors, marking that is formed by the addition of successive layers.

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Malachite has an interesting history. It has been used used since ancient times in inlay work and has also been used in carvings in churches and cathedrals.There is evidence that malachite was mined as early as 4000 BC on the Sinai Peninsula. Even the Victorians had an admiration for the stunning gem.
Malachite is also said to have metaphysical value. It is known to be a gem of of balance and virtue that is considered to be a stone of both balance and transformation. In early civilizations, the gem was worn in attempts to ward off illness and peril, and lore says that when danger is near then malachite will shatter.

Shading + Sardonyx


Deciding where to shade can be tricky, and learning the tricks of the trade have taken me a while. I’m certainly not an expert shader, but I do have a few tips on how to know where/when to shade!

From my experience, shading is best when you have a smooth or close color gradient to work with. Let’s say you have a light brown and a darker brown and you’re trying to color hair. To shade with these colors, start by coloring the whole area with the lighter color.   Then

char char
done using sketchbook pro and a wacom bamboo drawing tablet

Hopefully I can follow up this post with a step-by-step photo of how I shade for better reference!

* also note that shading with graphite pencils is also an option!


Sardonyx is the semi-precious gemstone onyx with reddish brown and white bands on its surface, “sard” meaning reddish brown and onyx meaning “veined gem.” This gem was especially valued by ancient Romans, who in their daily lives would all be seen wearing some form of the gem.
Sardonyx belongs to the chalcedony family, and contains many quartz fibers that have been layered to give it the banded appearance. These “color veins” have no particular pattern and can vary widely from gemstone to gemstone, giving each one its own uniqueness.
The stone is of wide availability making it fairly inexpensive, and while many countries are known to have deposits of it, India is the main supplier. Often the color of the stone is enhanced with dyes and artificial coloring, and naturally occurring sardonyx is valued on the market at a higher price than its enhanced counterparts.

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3 Color Challenge + Amatrix


The 3 Color Challenge

Sometimes it can be difficult to think of things to draw, but it can be helpful or fun to do a drawing “challenge” to provide some motivation. One of the challenges I like to do is the 3 color challenge. chlorophyll fairy
This challenge can be done using any media (colored pens, pencils, markers, watercolors, ect.). To start, dump out or lay out all of your utensils and close your eyes. Mix your hands through all that art supplies, and pick out 3 colors at random. Open your eyes and see what colors you get, then see what you can make with them!!
I’ve found that this challenge can really get you thinking outside the box, and can be a great way to get the artistic cogs turning. I highly recommend trying it out whenever you experience art block!

fairy queen
I sort of cheated on this one by shading! 


The term “amatrix” is abbreviated form of American Matrix, and is varicite inter-grown with quartz and chalcedony. Varicite is considered one of the rarer “collector’s gems”available. It is named after ‘Varisica’ which is the historical name for the Vogtland district in Saxony, Germany. It was first discovered in 1837 and found in a massive, fine-grained aggregate form. Crystals are extremely rare. Due to the fact it forms in a very unique way and it is associated with other phosphate minerals, it has a multitude of coloring patterns.
Quartz occurs in basically all rocks, and is a component of many minerals. It also has the most variety of all minerals, ranging in formation, color, and habits. Chalcedony is a form of Quartz that generally occurs in geodes underneath the layer of larger Quartz crystals.

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Doodling + Lapis Lazuli


I must admit I do have the tendency to doodle, and do so on not only my papers but my friends papers as well. Whenever an idea comes to mind that I don’t want to lose, I feel it’s bpumpkin boy doodleest to quickly scratch it down on paper with a pen or pencil than let it dissipate completely. My doodles are generally pretty simple. I sketch them out in pencil first (always pencil first!!), and if I have them handy then I’ll outline using staedtler pens and maybe even shade in with them as well. I never bother to erase the pencil layer underneath, but the dash of color creates enough pop to distinguish it from the messy, smudged monster girl doodlegraphite. Doodling has a variety of uses in my life, like passing the time, getting thoughts on paper, and even alleviating some stress.
I’ve also found that doodling keeps me in the practice of drawing. Considering I never have much time to actually sit down and whip out a fully colored drawing, and when I do have the time my materials are all tucked away and nowhere nearby, I usually have paper and a pencil around that enables me to hash out a quick little drawing. Sometimes it takes a while for me to get back in the habit of actually drawing, so in the meantime I will sketch so my skill and progress doesn’t get entirely lost while I’m on an art-hiatus.



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       Lapis Lazuli 

Lapis lazuli, or more commonly just “lapis” has been in use as a gemstone for thousands of years. The stone itself has been mined since around the 7th millennium BC, and has even been discovered in the funeral mask of the famous King Tut. Named for its striking blue color, “Lapis” is the Latin word for ‘stone’ and “lazuli” comes from the Persian and Arabic names for the stone, ‘Lazaward’, which is also its mining location. Lapis lazuli has influenced the name of blue hue

lapis lazuli
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s in many languages, like “azure” in English as well as the Italian, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish words for the color blue. Lapis usually forms in crystalline marble through its geological process of contact metamorphism and the stone is classified more as a rock than a mineral. It is primarily composed of lazurite, however it is comprised of other components as well. For more information about lapis lazuli click here!

What I Use + Feature Gem Paraiba Tourmaline

So, for starters I figured I should explain what I use in my day-to-day drawings before I start doling out my tips and techniques to others. I am a big fan of Copic markers (which you can check out here for more details). While I have used Prismacolor markers, I find that Copics do not bleed as much as Prismas and I personally feel they blend colors better.
Every drawing I do begins with a pencil sketch (I personally prefer mechanical pencils to ordinary ones, but in the long run it doesn’t really matter as long as the markings can be erased), topped by an ink outline. For my outline I primarily use Micron pens of .05mm, .03mm, and .01mm thickness however Copic Multi liners and some other off-brand micro-liners do just as well in my opinion. Finally, I like to add a little flare to my drawings by topping them off with little details in white gel pen. Any white gel pen will do, but I tend to use Gellyroll because they last quite a while. All of the drawings are done on multi-media paper, which has a good thickness to prevent marker bleeding through pages and lines.
In the past my main medium was Prismacolor pencils, but I have found that my drawing style is better suited for markers and my best drawings have been completed with Copic markers. From time to time I attempt watercolor painting and digital artwork, but both take an extremely long amount of time for me to finish any work and I have found that neither of those media come out as well as my marker drawings.

Feature Gemstone: Paraiba Tourmaline
This beautiful gemstone was discovered in the Brazilian state of Paraiba by Heitor Barbosa in 1989, and because of its beautiful color and rarity it first sold with a $3,000 asking price. However, similar gemstones were discovered in both Nigeria and Mozambique, which have a similar appearance and composition to that of the Brazilian paraiba- but not identical. Mozambican tourmaline was found in a variety of colors, and may be both cleaner and larger than Brazilian tourmaline. Nigerian tourmaline was found to contain copper and have a similar blue-green color to the Brazilian tourmaline. The tourmaline group itself is mparaiba-tourmaline1ade up of a variety of gemstones and those coined “paraiba tourmaline” can refer to the Nigerian, Mozambican, or Brazilian tourmaline as the “paraiba” has been deemed to not refer to any specific location.


Reference for Gem photos and facts

Give Me a Break

Last week, December 23rd to January 4th, was what public schools across the nation call “Winter break.” To be honest it really was not much of a break at all for this high school senior. As most people know, college deadlines kick start the new year, and I really had to get going on applications. I was deferred by my top school, which remains my top school, but obviously there are no guarantees in the college. In the course of 5 days I completed 8 college applications. It was neither fun or relaxing. Of course my work was not done after that, I still had a physics packet to complete– and let me say I had no idea what I was doing on it.Fortunately friends were able to offer some assistance!

Don’t get me wrong, winter break wasn’t all bad.. Well, actually it kind of was. I went to the Jordan’s Furniture indoor ice rink one day. That could have been fun if it hadn’t been for the other 70 people on the “ice,” 50 of which were children that could barely walk on stable ground. Then, on New Year’s eve I was supposed to go to 5wits with some friends, but traffic was backed up for miles and the left turn I needed to take was blocked by traffic cones and severely agitated police officers. I found myself in the car with one of my friends listening to show tunes until we finally found a Starbucks and got ourselves a drink.

The Sunday right before coming back was no prize either. For one, I had to wake up early for archery team practice. I love going to it, I just hate waking up before 8:00am. Plus afterward I had to do some last minute homework.

Now, we’re all back in school and the “good times” just keep on rolling.

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