A Wintry Introduction to Art Journalling

My Art Journal Adventure workshops kicked off last Saturday with this wintry page. As I mentioned yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was great to be in the room as the creating happened. I know not all my readers live near me but if you are in Ottawa and would like to do some art journalling there are still a few places in the next two Wintry Introduction sessions (March 4 & March 12). Hope you are not too tired of seeing all things winter but at least I have titled the above pages ‘winter’s end’!

This is another take on the wintry theme. If you haven’t tried art journalling before you will not be alone. Click over to the Crop A While website to learn more or register. If you drop into Crop A While one of my journals is there to give you an idea of what we’ll be doing this week and in future episodes of the Art Journal Adventure.

Tomorrow we will return to regular programming…


Doodle on Kraft

As you know I’ve been enjoying the 6″x 6″ white Dina Wakley journal; I have two on the go now full of experiments and ideas for my upcoming Art Journal Adventure workshop. Ranger has also made a kraft journal the same size so yes, I had to try it.

As you can see in these photos working on a kraft background tones down the colours used on top. I could paint the pages white before starting but I am interested in experimenting with kraft backgrounds for now. I also bought a few distress oxide sprays the other day. I love the traditional distress sprays but hadn’t tried the oxide sprays before. They are a good match for the kraft journal as a little ink soaks in while plenty of pigment sits on the surface.

I used prize ribbon and worn lipstick sprays on this page then doodled with a black gel pen. For inspiration I looked at zentangle pages I’d saved on pinterest and instagram and adapted them to spread across the pages. I also found pink and blue metallic gel pens from years ago and did some colouring in. I used a white gel pen to highlight parts of my design.

As I worked I wanted to make everything brighter to compensate for the brown background but that is an experiment for another page. If I had started my doodling in white the overall effect would be brighter but I like the opacity of the black.

I found the quote in a book I am currently reading and it seemed to fit my meandering pattern.

The art journal workshops that were originally planned for January have been rescheduled in late February and early March. You can find out more on my classes page or on the Crop A While website where you can register for either the March 4th or 12th workshop.

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Crumple & Colour journal page

While creating art journal pages lately I’ve noticed that they often look a bit rubbishy until the end or just before the end! It’s a good thing to keep in mind throughout the process, especially as the process sometimes stretches over a few days.

I started this page while I was at Crop A While and a friend looked over at me and said, “Heather is having fun playing with toilet paper!” For the record I was having fun with tissue paper not toilet paper! Working in the 6″x 6″ Dina Wakley journal I glued crumpled tissue paper over the whole spread with gel medium, scrunching it as I went to make folds and texture over the pages. (it didn’t look at all special at this point)

Later I used my Dr Ph Martin’s hydrus watercolours to drop blue, yellow and red ink over the pages. I worked one ink at a time tilting and diluting the ink so it would spread over and around the crumpled paper. (still underwhelming)

I let the watercolours dry and left the page for several days. The colours were bright and there were some nice blends and patterns but too bright for me so I painted over the spread with white gesso. My aim was not to totally cover the watercolours but to soften their impact and highlight the texture of the paper. I used my fingers to move the paint and a baby wipe to remove it where it was too thick. (looking better but still messy)

Settling on a focal point for an art journal page is sometimes hard; I don’t always begin with one in mind. You won’t be too surprised to see I chose flowers. I have a box of gel printed panels, some on rice paper and some on light card or computer paper. I found several prints on rice paper that matched the colours on the page and doodled flowers and leaves on them with a permanent black marker. I cut them out and started arranging them on the pages. (it was beginning to show promise)

After quite a few rearrangements I glued down the flowers and leaves making sure I didn’t cover up all the yummy colour and texture but also didn’t cover up the important white space. (it was finally looking ok) With the elements in place I continued to doodle more foliage on the pages including a border around the whole spread. I scribbled some thoughts around the flowers then splattered gold paint over the finished pages.

I am very happy with the final result but had no idea it would end up like this. At one point during the process I thought, “hmmm, I don’t think I’ll do this technique again…”

But I will.

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Beauty of the Earth journal page

I have another double page spread in the 6″x 6″ journal today. Don’t tell the others but this one seems to be getting all the attention at present!

The pages in this journal are thick watercolour paper so I wanted to take advantage of that and use watercolour techniques. Most of the pages I have completed up until now have had a base layer of gesso or acrylic paint.

As you can see I taped the edges of the pages with tape before starting. I added some stamping in black here and there using a stamp from the Darkroom Door ‘number medley’ set. Next I used the DD ‘honeycomb’ stencil and modeling paste to add a texture strip from left to right down the centre of the spread. I added a small section bottom left also. Once the paste was dry I began painting colour around the honeycomb and across both pages. I spent a while doing this so as to see the blends and build up some depth of colour.

Other than some black stamping I used only three colours of distress ink, both spray stain and from the ink pads. I took care to keep some white space; sometimes I realise too late that I have colour all over the pages. I stamped some grasses in peeled paint archival ink so they would not dilute and broken china distress ink so they would dilute. I also stamped sections of the world map in rusty hinge. Although I loved the combo of peeled paint, rusty hinge and broken china I thought a bit of metallic shine would be nice so I added some wildflowers embossed in Brutus Monroe ‘penny’ powder.

With a copper coloured gel pen I wrote the first verse of ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ in the lower right hand corner then added the embossed word ‘beautiful’. And of course there is some copper splatter to finish it off. This is a style and look I have been hoping to create so you’ll probably see a few more like this one.

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Butterfly Gold journal page

I have a new spread in the 6 x 6 art journal today though not a seasonal one this time. These pages include a couple of photos from a magazine along with some layering of stamped tissue paper, book pages, stamping and some transfers.

I began by stamping butterflies on white tissue paper in black archival ink then ripped up the paper before gluing it to the pages. I also ripped up some old book pages and accidentally ended up with a strip mentioning butterflies

Over the paper layers I painted with white gesso and acrylic paint before stenciling gold paint through the Darkroom Door honeycomb stencil.

I glued the butterfly photos down and painted over the edges to soften the transition from journal page to photo. I used a black fineline pen to sketch over some of the stamped butterflies and added random texture using the DD mesh stamp.

The page was almost finished at this point but the two butterfly photos were at opposite sides of the spread with a lot of space in between. A visit to Crop A While ended up helping me out. I wasn’t there looking for anything butterfly related but after talking about transfer sheets Carole showed me the Vintage Butterflies sheet from ‘Dress my Craft’ and I had the final elements for this page.

I had not used transfer sheets in a very long time, they work just like the temporary flag tattoos my children applied to themselves on Canada Day years ago. Unlike the temporary tattoos these ones should stay stuck rather than gradually looking rattier and scrappier over a period of weeks!

I used three of the transfer butterflies to create a visual path across the two pages then finished things up with quotes from the Darkroom Door ‘Wings’ set and of course some black, white and gold splatter!

Thank you for all the kind and generous messages about the cardinal card; it is always lovely to hear from you.

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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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(Compensated affiliate links used when possible)

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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(Compensated affiliate links used when possible)