Butterfly art journal page

My art journal is a place where I experiment with new techniques and mediums. It’s also a place for taking ideas further after making a card or creating a gel print. For this butterfly themed page I experimented with layering. I don’t find layering easy so it is a good technique to be playing with in my journal. You can’t see all the layers clearly on this page but there are layers of rice paper under gesso as well as on top of it.

Another technique which I am just beginning to play with is sewing on cards and mixed media pieces. Rachel Greig from Darkroom Door is a master at it and provided loads of inspiration during her recent Artful August challenge. I have tried sewing on paper with my precious Pfaff sewing machine but it didn’t like it so a few weeks ago I bought a second hand machine especially for sewing heavy and unusual materials. The machine is an old one but it is very sturdy and hums along beautifully.

I began by tearing up a large gel print done on rice paper. It featured diamonds on one side and stars on the other, both patterns made with large Darkroom Door stencils. The colour scheme was blues, reds and gold. I glued the torn pieces around the edges with gel medium then painted over them with diluted gesso. After the gesso dried I stamped a few butterflies then added more gesso over the top.

I spritzed over the pages with a faded jeans and broken china distress sprays, only enough to add a bit of speckle here and there, not so much as to cover the colour and pattern underneath. I stamped more butterflies from the DD butterflies set in colours similar to those in my gel print patches.

Once the stamping was done I sewed borders around two pieces of gel printed rice paper then glued them on the pages. I stamped, cut out and glued down sentiments from the DD wildflowers vol 1 stamp set.

Oh, and I stamped the DD French script stamp a couple of times on each page in gold to co-ordinate with the gold on the gel prints. Not a ton of layering or sewing but I am learning how to paint over background layers just enough to make them fade but not so much that they disappear. I realise looking at these photos that the gel print on the left looks like a pocket… it’s not but that’s an idea for another page.

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Winter Garden art journal page

It’s been a while since I worked in my book themed art journal. As I looked over a table covered in gel prints I settled on two blue ones filled with pattern and paint. Both were on rice paper and sized 6″x6″ which is not big enough to cover the whole journal page. I decided to tear a rough edge on the bottom and glue the panels with space above and below.

The inspiration for the page is Kristin Hannah’s novel ‘Winter Garden’. I used Darkroom Door floral stamps to decorated the gel prints with blue flowers then added more stamping to the blue area and the white space at the bottom of the page.

Picking from a few themes in the book I stamped trees to represent the orchard, a suitcase to represent the escape from Leningrad, books from the library where the main character worked. I also used number, correspondence and snowflake stamps to complete the collage.

I am always in two minds about adding words to my pages and this time was no exception. Rather than a quote I just added the name of the novel and author. I used pigment and archival inks for all the stamping, white gesso around the edges and white ink and embossing powder to add the snowflake borders.

Have you read any Kristin Hannah? My book club considers ‘The Nightingale’ our best choice so far! We are always searching for good book club reads; if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments.

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Masked Wildflowers Video

I have a simple design for you today and I turned on the camera while I was doing it. It’s probably something you have tried before but might be new to a few readers. I used washi tape to mask off a frame on a one layer hot pressed watercolour card base then created a watercolour background with distress inks and salt.

The stamps are some of my favourite silhouette stamps from the Darkroom Door ‘wildflowers vol 1’ set with a sentiment from a recent set ‘warm wishes’.

It was fun creating a one layer card again; some of you will remember when I was part of the ‘One Layer Wednesday’ challenge and ‘One Layer Simplicity’ challenge a few years back.

Let me know if you try this technique, I’d love to hear or see what you came up with.

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Global Postmarks et al

The new Darkroom Door global postmarks set features on today’s cards, and if you look closely you can see I chose several Australian postmarks but there are different shapes and sizes from all over the world. It is a very cool set and once again these cards have made me want to create an art journal page.

I’ve had my gel press out after quite a break and I’m hooked again. In any one session I always end up with some duds and some winners but the more I print, the more I like what I;m printing. One of the lessons I learnt in my latest session was the beauty of restricting my paint colours. You would think I would know that by now considering how often I restrict myself to a limited palette when watercolouring.

The prints I turned into today’s cards were made with a turquoise, dark blue, gold, beige and purple palette. The first card was just beige, gold, turquoise and a bit of dark blue left on the gel press from the previous print. To create patterns in the print I used Darkroom Door stencils and stamps.

I won’t go into my gel printing process because there are videos aplenty that will show you. I brayered acrylic paints onto the press and used the new ‘brick wall’ stencil along with the diamonds and starry night stencils. I also pressed the mesh background stamp and the wavy line postmark stamp into the paint before pulling a print.

After pulling the prints I used black archival and black versafine clair inks to stamp the flowers, sentiments and dragonfly. I stamped several of the global postmark stamps in mermaid lagoon archival ink and tiny numbers from the new ‘number medley’ set lightly in black.

The flowers on the square card are from DD ‘tall flowers’ and are stamped in nocturne versafine clair then embossed in clear powder. The black stamping on the larger card is black soot archival ink. I tried popping up the sentiments from the ‘warm wishes’ set but it didn’t look right, the beauty of a monoprint is that it looks like it has depth and texture even though it is a single layer.

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Warm Wishes

Hot off the presses and ironically cold out of my mail box here are some brand new stamps from Darkroom Door. Rachel Greig creates incredibly artistic stamps and these new flowers are no exception. The feature image and sentiment on today’s card are from the new set, ‘Warm Wishes’ which contains five flower stamps and eight sentiments.

I decided not to watercolour them this time (but you know I will), instead I chose a crisp pigment ink so you would see the incredible detail of the flower head. I created a background by stamping some fave florals from DD ‘nature walk’ and ‘wildflowers vol 1’ in memento London fog ink. It is a light enough grey to show up but not take over. On the card above I stamped the feature flower from ‘warm wishes’ in versafine clair ‘shady lane’ ink and added the sentiment in the same colour.

Both the stamped panel and the card base are neenah solar white cardstock and the panel is popped up on a piece of foam to create some subtle framing.

Make sure you pop over to the Darkroom Door blog for more inspiration with the new ‘warm wishes’ set. And check back here too because I’ll be giving these stamps the watercolour treatment very soon!

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Stencils & watercolour

Some recent art from Kathy Racoosin inspired me to use my stencils a little differently. I used four stencils from Darkroom Door and my ever useful distress inks.

All these cards are one layer; I often attach a one layer panel to a card base and keep the layers minimal that way but this time I cut card bases from cold pressed watercolour paper and did all the stenciling and painting on directly on the card base. I taped the stencil to the card base using the grid on my glass mat to make sure the stencil sides and card sides were parallel. I used a large blending brush to transfer antique linen to the watercolour paper. Whatever ink you use through your stencil will lend some colour to the final images as it will mix with the ink painted on later.

On the twelve square background I painted peeled paint and pine needles ink using the blended antique linen as my guide. On the card below I used wilted violet, abandoned coral and blueprint sketch inks to fill the six blended squares.

After both cards had dried I used a stamp positioner to stamp the flowers in versafine clair nocturne ink. There is texture in the cold pressed watercolour bases so I stamped and restamped a few times. After stamping a couple of sentiments also from Darkroom Door I embossed all the stamping with clear powder. (I’ve listed and linked all the stamp sets and stencils at the end of this post.) I used one or two of the same distress inks  to stamp matching envelopes.

For the next two cards I used the same ‘blend then paint’ method. Once again I blended antique linen ink through the stencil then for the ferns painted a section at a time switching between cracked pistachio, peeled paint and pine needles inks.

I smooshed the ink pads on my glass mat and added a little gold shimmer with a few drops of Ken Oliver’s ‘yellow gold’ liquid metals. The shimmer isn’t very obvious in the photos but in real life it adds a little pizazz!

On the cone flowers I also added shimmer and used peeled paint for the stem, and fossilized amber with abandoned coral for the flower and petals.

Techniques like this make me take a second look at my stencils. I want to try it with a different base colour next time. Take a look at Kathy’s video to see her step by step technique.

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Wings & things

This is one of those cards that just evolved. I’ve had the butterfly stamps at hand while teaching a class with them. I did not have a definite plan; in fact, you may be surprised to hear it started with three butterflies stamped in rusty hinge distress ink. The panel sat around for a while then I decided to paint turquoise brusho and metallic sky liquid metal inside each of the brown butterfly outlines. I didn’t love that so I spritzed interference blue pearl-ex spray over all three butterflies to make the colour bleed into the surrounding area. Still not right, so I employed a technique one of my friends calls ‘drowning’ and spritzed the panel thoroughly. The result was a sparkly blue panel with muted butterflies now looking like background images.

I used pine needles and mermaid lagoon distress inks to stamp foreground images, more butterflies and some flowers. I framed the panel by sponging pine needles ink around the edges then splattered a little white gesso over it. As often happens with my cards I started thinking about a sentiment once there was no room left for one. Vellum to the rescue with an phrase embossed in silver.

Supplies

Stamps: wildflowers vol 1, wings

Inks: rusty hinge, mermaid lagoon distress ink, pine needles, versamark

Paper: hot pressed watercolour paper, vellum, neenah solar white cardstock

Paint: turquoise brusho, white gesso, metallic sky liquid metal

Also: silver embossing powder, interference blue pearl-ex powder mixed with water in a mister