Art Journal variations on a theme

The three journals featured in today’s post are getting quite full. One contains only projects completed during my art journal adventure workshops and the other two have a mix of workshop pages and other experiments and explorations. I have enjoyed art journalling for years but in the last twelve months it has captured more of my interest. Possible techniques or layouts continue to pop into my head waiting for a chance to be tried in the newer 6″x 6″ Ranger journals or the 6″x 9″ Fabriano journals I started years ago.

Sometimes I design a page especially with the art journal adventure in mind. Other times I look through the journals and decide to feature a technique, theme or mixed media material. By the time I have tried the page once or twice then completed fresh ones during the workshops I have four or five pages made with the same theme or technique. I am not keen to make the same thing more than once so I am always thinking about different ways to approach each page.

The five spreads featured today started with the one below (featured in more detail in a previous blog post). The technique remained the same for at each workshop, but the shapes, colours and layout varied from one session to the next.

Of course not only are my pages different from each other but every page in the class is unique and I am always inspired by the colour choices, additional elements and different approaches each participant takes. Inspiration abounds. Can you tell I am enjoying myself?

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Off to School journal page

Some of you might recognise the artwork on this journal page. I have saved calendars, magazines, greeting cards and diaries over the years and now that I am creating collages and journal page spreads they are coming into their own. Quite a few years back I saw a calendar featuring covers from Good Housekeeping magazines of the 1920’s and 30’s. I thought the covers were delightful and bought two of the calendars. I enjoyed it during the year then tucked it away for future inspiration.

The calendar images are larger than the 6″x 6″ pages in the journals I am currently using so I chose a painting where I could cut out components and create a smaller scene. I cut the two children and the dog and glued them onto a collaged and painted background. I used floral paper mainly around the edges, blue paint for the background. The fence and cobble stone path were created with texture paste through a stencil. I used a few different Darkroom Door stamps to add vintage details across the page.

I did have to do more fussy cutting than I usually care to but these sweet images were worth it. Once they were glued down I used a black marker to go round the edges of the cut outs and immediately smudged the ink with my fingers or a damp brush. It’s a technique I have seen Vicky Papaioannou do many times on her journal pages. I used a white gel pen to add highlights, another trick from Vicky.

If you want to see what the original artwork by Vernon Thomas, just search good housekeeping magazine with the date I have added to the bottom left corner of my page.

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Coffee art journal page

I’ve been having a delightful time in my art journals and in the Art Journal Adventure workshops. We have gone in three different directions so far and the next one is coffee or tea themed. You can see an example of a tea themed page on my classes page and here is my first coffee page.

It doesn’t show up in the photo but the red cup is embossed and glossy and I want one just like it in real life! I used distress embossing glaze for both the words and the cup then had to create a visual triangle in red, do you see it?

I am currently not a coffee drinker which actually makes the quote all the more apt for me. I love the aroma! For Christmas I gave my husband a coffee subscription and each month the coffee comes in a cardboard package which smells delightful as does the mailbox !

If you are interested in joining in the art journal adventure please check out my Classes page where you will see the next two sessions or click on the Crop A While classes page.

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Remember when we all had library cards?

I have always loved the library, perhaps now more than ever. I remember as a child having my own library card at the Civic Library in Canberra as well as library cards at school. Filling a library card with date stamps seemed a worthy achievement and then I would get a fresh new card. If only I had kept those cards for forty years later when I wanted to put one in an art journal! I worked in my 9″x 6″ ‘literary themed journal’ for this one not the 6″x 6″ I’ve been sharing a lot lately.

The library card on this journal page I made with a new Darkroom Door stamp, but I’m guessing you already knew that! The new set ‘library books’ includes a library card stamp, two stacks of books, an open book and three quote stamps. What can I say; it’s a delight.

This page was not a delight most of the way through but as I tell the participants in my art journal adventure classes this is often the case. Many pages really do not pull through until the very end. It is an example of a collage page which is what we will be doing in Art Journal Adventure Episode #3. All the dates are listed and linked on my Classes page including a couple of Episode #2 sessions next week.

I began this spread by gluing down pieces of old book pages. If you look at the top right corner of the photo above you will see the aged rounded corner of an old page. It has been become one of my favourite collage tricks to stick the book corners over my page corners then cut away the journal page behind to leave that soft round corner. I did it on all four corners of this page. After the old book pages I added stamping, paint and a couple of photos of books from magazines. More paint then more books using stamps from the DD set ‘bookworm’. I had already stamped my library card, distressed it and set it aside.

The stacks of very old books I made by stamping the DD ‘bookshelf’ border stamp on some gel prints. I cut them out (fussy) and defined some edges and spine details with markers. Once everything was glued down I added splatter and ink blending and some partial stamping with the DD world map stamp. Last but not least a wonderful quote.

I couldn’t end a post like this without asking for a couple of book recommendations. You have helped me before so please leave a recent favourite in the comments below. A few months back I read the first two books in a trilogy and now I am very keen for the third to be published. They were The Lost Queen and The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike. I also enjoyed The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and have The Wild Silence, her second book, waiting for me at the library. I’m in the middle of Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy which introduced me to her story telling podcast. That’s enough from me; I want to hear from you.

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Pods & Wings

The background of today’s card is another gel print featuring a gorgeous Lavinia stencil called ‘pods’. You can’t see in the photos but in real life there is some shimmer on the print as I used silver paint along with blue, green and white.

Over the print I added a green and a white wreath die cut from Penny Black. It is part of the new ‘soaring’ set which also includes four butterflies. The background called for dragonflies rather than butterflies so I die cut three from the ‘flutters’ set, an oldy but a goodie.

As I spent a chunk of time yesterday listening to Ann Voskamp’s book ‘One Thousand Gifts’, the joy sentiment seemed like a good match for the design.

I was watching a Julie Balzer book club discussion on youtube today as I worked and she mentioned how addictive gel printing is and how if you haven’t tried it you must (48 minute mark)! She called it the one tool that has changed her life! So I will again shamelessly plug my upcoming gel printing workshops and hope you will join me in this addiction!

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Circle Flowers journal page

Last week I spent several happy hours gel printing. One of the prints I completed has ended all over this art journal spread. If you are a gel printer you know you can sometimes pull a couple of prints of the same design. The first one is full of colour and pattern and the second is often called a ghost print as it displays outlines and left over bits of paint.

For this journal page I used both the bold blue and green print and the ghost print. The ghost print can be seen on the top left and bottom right corners and is peeping out in a couple of other places. The first print which was very geometrical has been turned into circle flowers. It also had traces of a new stencil called ‘pods’. You will see more of it here on the blog because it is fabulous!

Also in the background you might see some black ink stamping (DD mesh and alphabet medley) and the texture of paste through the DD ‘checkered stencil. The text you see is a fabric tape with dictionary definitions of happiness; it is the first 49 & Market product I have bought and it is going to be handy!

There is plenty of white gesso over the background to pull it together and mute some of the bold elements.

The flowers are all cut with Penny Black ‘abstract flowers’ dies which basically cut slightly wonky circles so I could have cut them myself but why bother when the machine will do it. The print was on rice paper so I could cut a few layers at once. After drawing an edge on each circle with a silver paint pen I stuck a small circle on a larger one, then sewed a cross in the centre with silver thread. There are stems in the set of dies but I doodled mine with a black marker. The blue splatters and pops of pink are from inktense pencils which are coming in handy for art journalling.

I know that was a lot of photos and chit chat but that is the way with some art journal pages especially the collage ones which involve different papers, paints, stencils, and mediums. I probably haven’t mentioned everything I used but if you are still here now I’m sure you’ve heard enough!

If you are in Ottawa and feel like doing a little art journalling of your own, there are still spaces left in my next Art Journal Adventure workshop where we will be creating a watercolour green and leafy spread similar to what you see below. All the details are on the Crop A While website.

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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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Grafix Mixed Media Journal Cover – video

A couple of weeks back I shared my process for creating a mixed media swatch book. I used the new mixed media journal from Grafix and swatched alcohol inks as well as metallic and paint markers. You can see the blog post and video here.

After creating several swatch pages I got to work on the cover. The mixed media journal comes with craft plastic and dura-lar film pages along with two chipboard covers. I used texture paste, a stencil and pearlescent paints to create a bold and shimmery cover. You can see my process in the video below.

I was pretty happy with the shimmery circles that appeared on top of the texture and will be putting this technique to work again on some journal pages I’m sure.

I also tried something I have rarely done and that is sealing my artwork with a fixative. I took the covers outside and sprayed them with a Blair fixative. It gave them a lovely satin finish but did not smell good. I decided to leave it outside in the fresh air for a while. I had put the swatch pages back in so the whole book was sitting outside in the sunshine. Within a short time it started raining and I didn’t notice straight away. When I rushed outside to save my swatch book I was happy to see the fixative had protected the cover and the plastic pages were also unharmed. Yay! And the chemical smell was gone.

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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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