I’ve been telling Courtney a bit about how I create art (sometimes I feel silly calling my work art, but what else is it?). I maintain that it’s super easy to do and completely satisfying. She still had questions so I made a page today and took pictures of the process to build a little tutorial. After we move and I hopefully can rearrange my work space into an area that’s more than 2 square feet, I’ll try making a video, but for now this is what we’re working with.
Step 1- Masking tape:
I’m using a scavenged book about the United States Navy. It’s a smallish book, I would have preferred something a little wider, but it’s what I had lurking under my bed that didn’t have a glued binding so there we go. If you want to find dozens of amazing trick and tips for using a book like this, just try Googling “altered books”. I’ll wait.
Anyway, I put masking tape along the center seam to try to prevent paint and glue from seeping in between the pages and to help hold the pages together. Sometimes they like to pull out as the book gets more full of thick, lumpy pages.
Step 2- Gesso:
This is a good time to recommend that you buy a heat gun if you don’t already have one. I use the crap out of mine (as you can see). I spread a thin layer of gesso on my pages to mute words a little and to help keep the paint from bleeding through. I’m trying a squeeze bottle this time around due to my tendency to use dirty brushes in my tubs and cause funky mold to grow in them. Gross. I’m not a fan though.
From this point forward, I have a sheet of paper tucked under the pages on the right side so I don’t get stuff on the layouts I’ve already done. Also, of all the things to get brand snobby about, gesso isn’t the one. I’ve tried all kinds and none seem better than others. I just buy whatever is cheapest at whatever store I’m at.
Step 3- Gluing paper for sturdiness:
I do this step about 50/50. I just grab whatever paper is near at hand and rip it into smaller pieces and glue them down randomly. I like it because it makes the pages thicker and because it adds interesting dimension and texture to the overall layout. This step is what prompted my 8 y/o minion to refer to my layouts as “secret pictures” when he was younger because I’d let him write notes or draw pictures and then glue them down as well as using receipts or scraps of junk mail. Everything I put down in this stage will be covered with paint in a minute and nobody will ever know what’s under there but me.
It’s stupid and superstitious, but I like to include things that are meaningful. If I were making a page about my love I might write a note about how much I appreciate him or snag the packaging from a piece of clothing he bought. Something that represents him and how I feel about him. I can’t help but to believe that when you put thoughts out there, they have a better chance of coming true. This page is boring though. Just book pages.
Step 4- Subtle texture:
Sometimes I’ll take a stencil and add a thickish coat of gesso to leave a raised texture. This time I used sequin waste (you might have better luck finding some if you Google “punchinella”) which leaves a cool dotted pattern. I love circles and I get a lot of use out of mine. I have various sized dots ranging from really big to tiny.
Step 5- Paints and border:
I smeared some turquoise, red, and yellow ochre on the page in layers. I generally use my fingers to spread it in organic shapes without brush strokes. I let each layer of paint dry (mostly with some help from my heat gun) and use a damp cloth to lift the color in some spots.
I enjoy adding borders around my page. I kept this one pretty tame, but if you really want exciting borders use magazine ads. You can get some really bold colors and patterns. I don’t worry about things matching or lining up very well. I just cut strips and glue everything down in a way that pleases my eye.
Step 6- Focal images and tying it together:
I put down a couple of images that represented the theme of my page. Sometimes picking out an image is what prompts me to journal about a particular topic, sometimes I have a topic in mind and add pictures that go with that. You could also use photos you’ve taken.
I’ve got TONS of collage fodder saved up from years of scavenging. I mean seriously, I’m the girl who took time out of my trip to Las Vegas to hit up thrift stores so that I could flip through their magazine stashes.
I used a watercolor crayon to laydown some color along the inner edges of the border. It’s subtle, but it helps to bring some cohesion to the whole thing. You could also use charcoal for shading. I just happen to prefer more color.
I used some hand carved stamps to further add repetitive elements. You can’t see the bottom right corner very well, but it’s got the same corner stamp.
Step 7- Journaling and finishing touches:
I decided to be a little silly with my lettering. I’ve seen some great examples of that kind of journaling looking amazing. Mine? Well, not so much. Oh well, it was fun. I used some gems and sequins to add a little shiny. I like shiny.
Anyway, as you can see I don’t look for perfection at all. I don’t mind wrinkles in my pages (which is handy since I use a crap ton of Mod Podge and liquid adhesives cause wrinkles faster than anything) or misaligned lettering or what have you. I like my pages to buckle and warp and the edges to be stained with 20 different paint colors from other spreads. But it might not be your taste. That’s cool though. There are a million different ways to keep an art journal. This is just what works for me.
And as for my index card for today:
This one was kind of interesting. I tried a gel medium transfer with patterned paper onto my index card. Unfortunately, it was with my dried up gel (I bought more yesterday so I look forward to better transfers from here on) which I applied with my fingers and a lot of water. The stripes didn’t stick particularly well.
I did the transfer after I glued down a book page and gave it a watered down coat of turquoise acrylic paint. Then just for fun, I used a smaller sized piece of sequin waste and green ink to add a layer of dots.
The little minion is obsessed with those letter stamps. He loves pulling them out and sorting them. It turns out that I’m missing the “n” stamp. I substituted a rub on instead. Again, I’m not particularly bothered about stuff like that, but if I didn’t like it, I could have painted over the title or used a different method of lettering on a different piece of paper and glued it on top.
I’m looking forward to trying this technique again now that I have fresh gel medium. They didn’t carry Golden brand though so I’m trying out Liquitex. I hope it works just as well.