Winter Tree art journal page

I continue to create and experiment in my 6×6 art journal, definitely inspired by the current season and view. When I started this page I had a technique in mind but no picture in my head of how it might turn out. I couldn’t be happier with the end result!

I am trying a range of techniques and methods in my art journals because that is what they’re for and because I have a series of workshops coming up this year (temporarily postponed until restrictions change). On this spread I started by layering and gluing torn papers on the pages. I pulled blue pieces from my considerable stash of papers, some old (Penny Black 6×6 packs) and some new (decorative rice paper) along with Dina Wakley printed white collage paper. After gluing the strips here and there I added modeling past through a stencil and let that dry.

Over the papers and paste I painted white gesso and then a couple of blues from Dina Wakley’s acrylic selection. You can see some of the patterns show through from the papers and in real life you can also see the texture from the stencilled paste. I added stamping in blue and white with Darkroom Door background stamps, ‘snow flakes’ and ‘French Script’.

I had started the page with a vague idea of adding a picture from a Christmas card or magazine. In choosing the tree picture you see included I fell down a rabbit hole of memories going through boxes of saved cards! I have saved cards since childhood and I was sorting and reading for quite a while. I didn’t open every single card but I found some adorable and hilarious cards made by my children and some I taught in school, I also found many sweet notes in cards from my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The picture I chose of the single tree on a snowy hill was in a Christmas card from a sweet friend.

It is worth noting at this point that I didn’t plan this layout or have this card on hand when I started the painting so the colours did not match perfectly. You know how I feel about the matchy-matchy so I ended up adding paint to the sky around the tree to make the blue a bit more purply and less aqua. I also extended the scene by turning a white area that was already on the page into a clearly defined snowy hill. I used a white gel pen to add more foliage to carry the scene off the little square onto my page. I finished off the page with some die cut Penny Black snowflakes.

I know that is a lot of description that would be better understood with video footage but it didn’t happen this time. As I continue to make pages I will try to capture some of them on film.

Do you save the cards you are given? Do you put them to use making something new? Just wondering…

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Gingerbread Journal page

Six years ago I was given a delightful and incredibly thoughtful gift. Four friends I met through teaching card making classes gave me an art journal. It’s a large Dylusions 9″x11″, a very generous gift in itself.

The journal was just part of the gift. What amazed and touched me deeply was that these friends worked on individual pages in this journal far enough in advance to have completed four different spreads before they gave it to me. Each person completed a 2 or 3 page spread describing Christmas traditions they were familiar with.

I have in my journal pages about Polish and German Christmas traditions along with a description and illustration of Mummering in Newfoundland and a depiction of the carol, ‘I Saw Three Ships’. The depiction is set in Bass Strait with a view of a King Island lighthouse, a nod to my birthplace! I was speechless when I opened the gift and it still brings me joy whenever I look at it.

After Christmas that year I began two different spreads in the journal having decided it was to be filled with Christmas themed art journalling. Although I began soon after receiving the journal I didn’t finish a page until last week. I am embarrassed to have let it sit so long but in the interim I have completed many journal pages in other books and have ideas aplenty dancing around in my head – like sugarplums!

Gingerbread baking and decorating is a tradition for me and a fitting choice for my first Christmas spread. I started making gingerbread in Australia in 1995 after hearing a radio interview with Jill Dupleix whose recipe I use to this day, more often than not with gluten free flour now. This year I made several batches, a couple with friends on a Sunday afternoon where much mixing, cutting and decorating was enjoyed.

I used my own cookie cutters to trace the shapes onto watercolour paper painted with dark brown and light brown brusho. The background ‘check tablecloth’ I painted with a mix of Dr Ph Martin’s deep red rose and hansa yellow. The gingerbread shapes sat for years with pale white patterns on them and it was only this year after trying quite a few white paints and pens that I was able to make the patterns bolder with a posca paint pen.

I finally added the recipe, glued the cookies down and added a title using MFT little lowercase letters (I think they are retired now but they worked to look like little gingerbread letters).

So that is the story of a wonderful journal, four kind and generous friends and an adventure started in 2015 which I am happily continuing even though I made a very slow start.

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Nestled in Winter

Although I see the beautiful contrast of foliage and snow outside I am not seeing many birds on the feeder right now. Instead I have placed a very cute robin in amongst the wintery Christmas foliage of an art journal page.

This isn’t just any art journal page; this spread is in a new journal I have been using for the last few months as I schemed and dreamed up a new in-person class for 2022. It isn’t just a class it’s an Art Journal Adventure.

To create this double page spread in the Dina Wakley 6″x6″ mixed media journal I used acrylic paints, distress spray and some ‘easy to find around the home’ texture tools. All the die cuts are from Penny Black and are listed below.

To keep things within an acceptable level of fiddliness I die cut all the foliage from coloured cardstock and painted only the the little bird. To see more of my ideas in a promo for the upcoming class watch the video below.

I know this is an in-person (in Ottawa) class which excludes quite a few of you but if you are interested in seeing something like this in an online version please let me know in the comments.

If you have hints for attracting birds in winter please let me know. I imagine it has a bit to do with being consistent in keeping the feeder stocked before winter and maybe something to do with keeping the chipmunks and squirrels off it too!

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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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Artful August Home Journal page

The fun and inspiration continues in Rachel Greig’s Artful August challenge. I am so impressed and inspired by what I have seen. Rachel’s own art has been beautiful and unique every single day. As I mentioned in my last post I have not participated every day but I have definitely enjoyed the times I have followed the prompts. Today’s prompt is ‘Home’ and I decided to make an art journal page of a street.

Make sure you read to the end of this post to find out the winner of Summer Giveaway I hosted with the Foiled Fox.

None of these quirky houses look anything like my home but I have had thirteen different homes over the years so I wasn’t going for realism, instead I wanted to create more of a neighbourhood feel. Once again I cut up gel prints to make the houses, trees and flowers. I particularly like the gel print trees. The one on the left was printed with bubble wrap and the one on the right features texture from three different stencils which ended up giving me leaves and a branch to hang a swing on.

I began by masking the top and bottom edges then used blending brushes to fill the sky with blue distress inks and the road with black soot ink. I cut all the shapes by hand not worrying about perspective or scale and glued them on with multi matte medium. Once the glue dried I drew around all the edges and added detail with with a black ultrafine sharpie. I added markings to the road with a white sharpie paint pen.

Thank you to everyone who entered the Summer Giveaway by telling us your favourite summer activity. I enjoyed reading about beach walks, mountain hikes, picnics, porches and time spent with friends. I hope you are all still enjoying those pastimes. Summer is not over yet! Congratulations to Stephanie Clapper, check your email for your gift certificate to the wonderful Foiled Fox online store.

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Artful August Circle Journal Page

Rachel Greig from Darkroom Door is hosting ‘Artful August’, a challenge to make something arty each day in August. She has provided 31 prompts and I am going to play along as often as I can. Circles was the prompt yesterday so I cut circles from a just few of the many gel print panels I have piling up. I used only gelprints done on rice paper and they cut and adhered very easily.

Once I had cut circles in different sizes from different gel printed panels I stamped flower silhouettes from several Darkroom Door sets. Before gluing the circles to the pages I painted the pages with a base of gesso + light brown paint and added some scribbly circles by tracing inside circle dies.

I glued the printed, stamped circles with matte medium both on the back of the paper and over the top to seal it. To add a bit more interest around the circles I blended antique linen ink through a homemade paper stencil.

The prompts in the challenge are very open and participants are encouraged to interpret them in any way and with any medium. If you are on instagram you can view the submissions by searching for #artfulaugust or #rachelgreigartfulaugustchallenge

As I participate in the challenge I will have simple experiments along with some completed projects like this one. The fun is simply playing with the prompts. In making today’s journal pages I was very happy to use some pretty scraps, experiments and clean up pages from gel printing sessions. There are always too many to turn into cards but each one has a unique texture and colour mix.

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Enjoy the Journey Journal page

This week I have shared a gel plate video and a series of cards made with prints and leftovers from that gel printing session. If you look closely at this journal page you will see a couple more prints put to use.

The Darkroom Door set, Nomad, recently arrived in my mailbox and the main reason I chose it was the pile of suitcases. I own one old suitcase which belonged to my grandmother; it houses the ‘dress up’ collection. It is not unlike the third one in the left hand stack. The stamp set also has a single suitcase, some passport stamps and two sentiments, one included on this page.

To add even more vintage-ness to the vintage suitcases I stamped them on a grid and striped prints from the gel printing session. I used corrugated cardboard to make the patterns on the gel plate originally. I stamped the suitcases in archival inks then added extra colour with distress inks and gel pens. To create the background I smooshed blueprint sketch distress inks on a piece of acetate, spritzed water over the ink then transferred it to the masked journal pages. With the blue protected I blended a brown base, also with distress inks. Over the top of the inking I added some impressions with the DD world map and scratches background stamps. To balance the suitcases I added the vintage car and sentiment on the right hand side.

Maybe these pages came from my longing to be out and about seeing new and old places, or a longing to be poking around antique and thrift stores. The latter will probably happen before the former.

Are you longing for a trip somewhere? Are you thinking near or far?

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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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Fern gel print journal page

Another art journal page today which is unusual for me. After noticing there was a fern growing beside one of the drainpipes off my roof I had to try gel printing with one of the intricate fronds. I made a card with a fern gel print too but carelessly I let it leave the house before being photographed!

To gel print a leaf or feather I use a two step process. I apply paint to the gel plate; I used blues and greens and the large 12″x14″ gel plate. I lay the fern frond as flat as I could on the plate and then took a print; once again I used rice paper. The first pull picks up all the surrounding ink leaving a white empty frond shaped space in the middle. I carefully removed the fern which reveals the print of the frond still on the gel plate. I took a second pull, laying the paper down in the same place so it picked up all the detail of the fern. You can see a video of the same process in an earlier post.

To attach the large print to my art journal pages was a little tricky. I cut it in half and worked one side at a time applying the matte medium to the page not the print. I will do the opposite next time. Rice paper is thin which makes it less bulky but I had to be careful not to use too much glue. When I made the card (which is gone!) I applied a thin coat of matte medium to the gel print and immediately pressed a piece of cardstock down on the rice paper and put something heavy on top. It worked well.

Thanks for joining me this week as I went off in card-less directions. I have enjoyed your encouragement and thoughts in the comments. If you are free tonight at 7:30 EDT and want to see me creating live online for the first time I would be thrilled. I have no idea what I’ll make; it all depends on what the wheel spins for me!


If you have a garden…

The rest of the quote says, ‘… and a library you have everything you need.’ My art journal is pretty much all book or flower related pages; I guess there is room for a new inspiration. Currently with a garden that is looking promising and an online course newly launched you could say flowers are on my mind.

The background for this page was created months ago when I was making subtle backgrounds for a few cards. Instead of swiping a whole panel through waterbased inks I was inking a piece of acetate then spritzing it and swiping it on a stamped panel. I opened a spread in the art journal and swiped the acetate across the pages a few times to leave some ink there. I don’t remember the exact colours but the smooshed ink covered the lower half of the pages in blue, green, yellow and pale orange. Last week I pulled it out again and turned the page into a messy garden.

As I said the lower half of the pages is smooshed ink. The upper half is broken china distress inks applied with a blending brush. The flowers are a mix of silhouette stamps from Darkroom Door’s ‘you are everything’ and ‘wildflowers vol 2’ sets. I inked with papertrey ink cubes, spritzed the stamp and stamped on the pages. Sometimes I blended the stamped ink, other times not. To make the blue flowers stand out a bit more I painted blue gouache paint over the stamping. The gouache works well on the journal pages so you will probably see more.

Once all the flowers were added I stamped the DD ‘scratches’ background stamp in black on the lower section of the page and added black and white splatter all over. I added the quote with a black gel pen. If you are in my Floral Faves online class you might this was inspired by one of the projects in lesson 3.

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