Art Journal spread completed

I’ve been working on my art journal spread which I spoke about in my previous post.  This is the progress of my page at the end of that post, you can read about it here.

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My next step was to consider background and hair. I wanted to use watercolor paints and my attempts were less than satisfactory. It ended up too bright in a dark sort of way which meant the white or black pen I wanted to use to draw in her hair didn’t work. It became rather invisible.

To try and fix the situation, I decided to use white acrylic paint with a fairly wet brush. This meant the watercolor would then mix with the white paint creating a soft pastel background. Once dry, my black Sakura gelly roll pen then showed up nicely.  I often had issues with the pen skipping which at first I worked hard to try and avoid. Eventually gave up when I realized I liked the effect it had with the pattern in the hair.

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Once I completed the hair with the black pen, I realized I wanted more color in the hair so I went back to my watercolor paints. I applied a small amount of the dark purple to the areas I felt would be shaded or darker, then using a wet brush I blended the color out to give a gradient appearance.  I added more color, some pinkish purple, and a bluish color (sorry don’t know the names, they are colors in the Prang watercolor set of 16 colors) around the darker purple leaving some areas white for highlights. I really loved how this turned out.

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I learned about Prang watercolors from Barb Owen. Since I have a very tight budget I decided to give them a try. I didn’t originally use the Prang set when I started the background with watercolors. I decided to try a Daler Rowney watercolor set I had gotten a while back that were in tubes of 24. I bought a palette so I could squeeze some of the paint out to dry and then see how well they worked. I have to say I was disappointed in the Daler Rowney. In  fact, so disappoint, I switched to using the Prang set when my first attempt at using watercolor (Daler Rowney) failed.

It may be I just need to practice with the Daler Rowney set to get the hang of them but Prang is so vibrant it was difficult to switch to using Daler Rowney. The rest of the page when I say I use watercolor, I am using Prang watercolor.

For the opposite page, I first wanted flowers and tried more watercolors but it was an immediate fail. I am sure the fail was because of trying to use watercolor over acrylic paint without applying a watercolor ground first, so I went over it again with white acrylic paint. Before the acrylic paint was completely dry I added another layer with a wash of watercolor which mixed with the white acrylic paint. I dabbed at it occasionally with a paper towel. Below is the result.

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You might wonder why I added the watercolor paint to the acrylic paint. First, the addition of more white acrylic paint meant what color had been in the background had disappeared even more and I wanted more color. Second, I wanted to see what would happen. My Prang set is almost used up so I wasn’t worried if some acrylic paint ended up in the watercolor paint. I became rather sloppy in my application but it was FUN!

I really liked the result and was trying to decide what else I wanted to do. I was still thinking about flowers when I saw a blog about an interesting technique. You can see the blog post here.

I tried a few things differently since I was working on top of acrylic paint. I eventually found what worked.  The biggest obstacle was in trying to figure out what pens or paint pens to use. I used Sakura gelly roll black pen for the initial drawing of the circles and lines. I tried using Faber-Castell markers, alcohol markers, and Permapaque markers but didn’t like any of them. Plus I was afraid of drying up the tips of the pens. Eventually, I decided to use a small paint brush and white acrylic paint to color the straight lines, to make them stand out more from the background. Then I used a Sharpe oil based paint pen for filling in the circles with black.

Once it was dry, I tried using charcoal to try and create the translucent effect but because the acrylic paint didn’t have enough tooth, it wiped right back off. My hands were covered in the charcoal more than the page. I wiped off the charcoal by just lightly wiping my hand across the page. What was left on the page, I left alone. I resorted to using graphite by rubbing the graphite onto the tip of a blending stump and then rubbing it on the page. I only covered the areas outside of the circles with the graphite.

My last step was to use darker shading of graphite around the circles and where the lines overlapped other lines to try and give it a 3D effect. To fix the graphite I sprayed the spread with workable fixative. I used workable fixative in case I wanted to add anything else to the page.

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I may actually journal on the page by using either a white pen in the black circles or a black pen in the white lines. It would make an interesting journal page.

So far she is my favorite. She posed interesting challenges for me and I found I could do what people have been saying  which is if you don’t like it you can always paint over it.

I lost track of time while doing this art journal spread. I worked on it over several days. I know I started her before October ended but exactly what day, I’m not sure. I generally don’t spread something out this long, however with work, and #inktober going on when I started her I wanted to see if I could work on her in small doses. Instead of drying her with my heat gun between layers, I put her aside and let her dry naturally, usually over night. I only worked on her in October after I did my inktober drawing and if I had some time to spare.

When #Inktober was over, she became my main focus and is all I worked on until she was finished. I finished her yesterday other than the writing I may add later. I think her hair is my favorite part of her, that is, if I had to choose a particular technique from this art journal page. Otherwise, I love her in her completeness for what she represents of my art journey.

Note to self: I had to be careful of not drying out the tip of the markers I used. I am hoping I didn’t ruin any of them. They all still functioned after I used them and in some cases not as well as when I had started with them.

I need to learn ways of layering and using products that will help lock in a layer and give me a better surface for using other products on, hopefully reducing the chance of ruining a product. I considered using clear gesso, or matte medium but in the end didn’t use either. In some areas when I went back to go over the black gel pen lines on the lines due to the white acrylic paint covering some of them up, my pen would cause some of the paint to come up. I think the clear gesso or matte medium would have prevented this but I wasn’t sure how well my pen would work over top of either product. I do have an Art Techniques and Test journal (my Effy Grimoire version) which showed either of the products would have been a good choice, but I didn’t refer to it when working on this spread. I just went with my gut instinct.

One of the reasons I didn’t refer to my Art Techniques and Test journal is because I didn’t test what would happen if I applied clear gesso or matte medium over top of gel pen or some of the other pens I had applied to the page. I was afraid of, in particular, the gel pen smearing. Effy Wild addresses some of this in a couple of her lessons which I need to go back and make some notes about but I also need to add to my grimoire by testing what happens when particular products are applied over top of different pens.

Another reason I didn’t refer to my Art Techniques and Test journal is because I wanted to just experiment on the page. I wanted to find out if I could fix my own mistakes or work from just pure instinct. I think I was successful on both accounts.

The other things I learned:

  • when in doubt check my Art Techniques and Test journal
  • when it isn’t in my Art Techniques and Test journal, then add it
  • let myself experiment on my art journal page
  • let myself fail

I am not at all disappointed in this art journal spread. In fact, I love it. When I compare it to my previous art journal page in this book which was created from one of Effy Wild’s BOD2017 lessons, I can see so much improvement.

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The difference between this art journal page and the one I just created is, this one was done by following a lesson. The one at the start of this article was done completely from my own imagination. The Effy lesson one was done around June 2017, so there is only about 4 months separating the two.

There are so many factors that separate these two pages. I think I’m more invested in pages I design and create on my own than I am when I’m doing one from a lesson. I don’t really consider something I have done from an art lesson as my own work. Therefore, I think I work harder on trying to do a good job on my own designs. Inktober, dare I say Inktober has been a powerful influence for me this year and I think it shows in this spread.

There is something here I cannot ignore. Following a lesson is wonderful for helping me to gain confidence in my ability to do something someone else is demonstrating. What it doesn’t do is give me confidence in my ability to create something completely on my own. Inktober is a demonstration of that this year.

In the page from Effy’s lesson I can’t even begin to tell you how I did it, but in the page I created all on my own, I can visualize almost every single step I took and the issues I ran into. I can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons I haven’t been doing any more of the classes is because of this.

Don’t get me wrong. I love doing the lessons and yes they have helped me immensely in taking that next step in my art journey. It just feels as though my journey needs to move forward more on my own than in following someone’s instruction. What these lessons have given me is the courage to step out on my own, without them I probably would have given up.

This is something I will need to think on for a while to decide if buying more of the art course offerings is something I want to do, or do I want to spend the next year just playing around on my own to see what develops.

What I keep hearing from that inner voice that tells me what to do is this. Do buy what I can afford in the art course offerings but do so only if it provides what I need for furthering my art journey in the direction I visualize myself going while challenging me to try something new and different. In other words, don’t keep buying the same thing and expecting my skill to grow if the courses don’t offer anything more.

This is paraphrased, of course. My inner dialogue is quite different and difficult to put in writing. It is comprised of a mixture of images, words and feelings/emotions. The wonderful thing about this is only I need to understand it.

This inner dialogue is also based on a lot of what I have learned over the past year from my purchasing experience. After having purchased a couple of courses which could not be saved and had a limited period to access them, it became quite clear to me this doesn’t work well for me. Logically, if I purchase a digital class, I feel it should be accessible to me for as long as I want and as often as I would like to view it. I know some art teachers don’t feel this way about their courses and feel they should be offered like courses are in college or live in a classroom setting. I think they miss out on a lot of students because of this.

I totally love the idea of buying a course and having permanent access to it. I have considered monthly or yearly memberships but this doesn’t work for me because of losing the access to the classes if I need to end the membership. I totally get the membership option that appeals to art/craft instructors, unfortunately, this doesn’t work for me and my budget. The other reason it doesn’t work is in the cases of the sites I’ve had an opportunity to look at, the membership doesn’t provide a good enough value for those courses that interest me. Basically, buying the individual courses would be better for my budget than buying a membership.

As stated, I will need to think about what art course offerings I will want to invest in for this coming year. I may find that list to be quite short, especially if I feel a need to pursue my art on my own to see what develops. The good thing is, most of the courses that appeal to me can be purchased over the next ten months or so because they are year long courses. Granted I might not get a discount but I can spread them out so it isn’t a huge hit on my budget at one time and I get more bang for my buck with these types of offerings. On top of that, I can take my time to decide if it is something I want after I experiment with playing around on my own for a while.

So much to think about and time will probably fly so fast I’ll wonder where the year went. That is how I feel about this year. Where did it go? It feels like it had been spring only a couple months ago not six or seven months ago.

By the way, since I started my job, my art supplies have suddenly stopped dwindling. Where I once thought I would never be able to keep up with my art supplies to have on hand for the art I was creating, I now find myself worried my supplies might get old before I have a chance to use them. Such an about face in such a short period of time. It is challenging for my mind and emotions to keep up with. I’m glad though. It means I have plenty to work with over the next several months and I’m still enjoying my job.

 

Merging Poetry with Art and more artwork…

I have been playing around with the concept of merging my mixed media art with my poetry.  I have been wanting to find a way to do this for a while now. I have added some of my poetry to a couple of my art journal pages but something felt missing.

The below spread is from a lesson on Mood Journaling from Book of Days 2017 by Effy Wild. The concept is when something is bothering you, to sit down and just let yourself go, feel your emotions, and just reach for whatever paint color immediately comes to mind. Then just slap it on the page, making marks with whatever medium you reach for and allowing your mood to express itself through the application of the medium. Her lesson is much more descriptive of the process of how to do this and I’m hoping I’m not revealing too much by the description I have given so far.

For this piece I really didn’t have any strong emotions but did tap into some of the feelings I have. The point is to tap into your feelings and get them out. This is usually what is behind my poetry as well, which is what made me think about using the mood journaling process to help me merge my poetry with my art.

Once I completed the lesson, this is what I ended up with:

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At first, I considered using it as a spread for an MDS (Multi Day Spread) for journaling my week. Then one of the individuals in the class Facebook group suggested it would be a good spread for reflection. I liked this idea. Then I thought about a poem I had written earlier in the month and thought it would go well with the spread.

I chose to add a second silhouette, making it look like she was on the other side of the window. Then, I took a picture, imported it to my editor on my computer and added the text from my poem to see how it would look. Here is the result:

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I like it. I like it a lot, although the wonkiness of the boxes kind of bothers me. That perfectionist side of me being too critical but, it will do. I plan on using the spread to add text about what I learn about myself, positive things. Things that are insightful and uplifting.

At first I wasn’t sure how I would add the poetry text to my actual page. I did some calculations and found if I place a line every 1/4 inch I can have 36 spaces for writing which is just enough to fit the poem in the same way it appears above, only it will be written in my handwriting.  I won’t be placing any other pictures of it here, because the rest will be very personal.

I do, however, love this process. When I read a poem I have written, I can usually tap into the original emotions I had when I wrote the piece . I should be able to use this same process to create a mixed media page which will become the background for the poem. Maybe one day I can turn them into a book of mixed media poetry.

Give Your Story to Wisdom copyI worked on some other art lessons this week from Life Book 2017 organized by Tamara Laporte. This first one is a lesson given my Tamara. I love her whimsical animals. She gives them all human eyes. My daughter thinks my elephant looks cute but creepy with its human eyes. I sort of like her.

Intuitive warrior copyThe next lesson is also from Life Book, the teacher Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici, is the Intuitive Warrior. I am loving all the different techniques I’m learning. I would not have considered using the colors I have in this piece if it wasn’t for this class.

Less is More copyThis last is a lesson by  Melissa Dinwiddie on Less is More. I’m not crazy about how this one came out. Abstract painting doesn’t come easy to me. This is something I will need to work on if I want better results. I think I used too many different colors and too large a canvas. The instructor used small canvas so this minimalist approach seemed to look better. Or, maybe I should have had a larger variety in shape sizes. It is something to consider if I want to do another piece like this.

My journey into meeting my inner artist has been and continues to be an interesting one. I’m learning a lot about what makes me happy in my artwork. I love it when I can do a face or in this case, the face of an elephant and have the shading come out so well. I am learning, I’m not a fan of collage, especially not when it comes to mixing different decorative pattern paper together. It doesn’t come out looking right to me. I have yet to put my finger on exactly what or why that is. I do, however, love collaging with old text paper. I’m learning the more I work with watercolor, and other water soluble products the more I love them and the easier it becomes to work with them, this includes acrylic paint.

This week has been the best. Finding a technique I may actually be able to use to mix my writing with my art is a feeling I find difficult to describe. Oh, heck, it makes me happy. And, I just realized, the last piece I don’t like so much? That technique will also have a place in merging with my writing. I almost missed it. Looking at it just now, I realized, with a little practice, it could become a very dynamic technique that will merge well with my writing. giving plenty of white space for text.

The other great part of my week has been, I have finally narrowed down a process for editing my ink drawings. I was getting frustrated over not having crisp, clean lines, that looked like a print shop created them. I finally realized, “Hey, these are hand drawn pieces. I don’t want them to look like they were made by a computer digital program. I don’t want them to be perfect in that way. I want them to be perfect in the imperfections that come with something made by hand.” These will be my one of a kind hand drawn pieces which once I have the majority of them edited, I can sell individually or in a collection for people who like to de-stress by coloring or just want an ink print. The editing I’m doing is to mainly clean up any stray marks and to make sure they will print clearly when enlarged.  I have over fifty drawings I can convert to digital files, most of them are mandalas. I’m looking forward to when I can open up a web store to sell them.

~Patti

Multi Day Spread

I’m am taking Book of Days 2017 class which is a year long class given my Effy Wild. In Week 11, Effy has a lesson about creating multi day spreads. I LOVE THIS LESSON. I can’t go into the details of the lesson, so will just show my progress so far. If you want to learn more, you can join her year long course Book of Days. This class isn’t just about techniques on how to use your different mediums to create art. It is about meeting yourself on the page. For the content she provides, it is worth the price of admittance. She is unbelievably generous in pricing, otherwise, I could not afford it. Thank you Effy! I am learning so much!

I begin with Monday, my first day working on my MDS (multi-day spread).

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Monday, focal image

I do not plan any of the days in advance.

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Tuesday, view of complete spread

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Tuesday, close up

Some days, I have no idea what I’ll be doing, and I just start adding color to the page.

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Wednesday, full spread

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Close up

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Slightly different angle

Wednesday was one of those days.

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Thursday a bit closer

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Thursday close up

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Thursday full spread

Thursday, I had a plan. It was a strange day, waking up hopeful, happy and excited, then by evening, after a nap, feeling as though I hadn’t accomplished anything, and feeling scattered.

The more I work on this art journal spread the more I feel the desire to try something like this on canvas. I have never worked with canvas before. I have wanted to for a very long time and I think trying something like the techniques I used in this spread would be the perfect thing to try on canvas.

I used mostly Inktense pencils in this spread so far, along with some acrylic sprays I created by just adding water to my acrylic paint in a spray bottle. I layer colors until I’m happy with how it looks. Paint pens, gelly roll pens, uniball signo white pen, pilot super color gold pen, are just some of the tools I used for the details. The stencils are my own creation.

Each day I am thrilled with how my daily addition has added to the spread and created a cohesive view of my week so far. I won’t be doing Saturday and Sunday but I would not be surprised to include them on future spreads.

Because it is Friday, I will wait to post this until I do my Friday addition and can show the completed spread. So, I’m saving this post so far and will return to it later tonight or tomorrow.

I’ve been having a conversation online with some friends about working through fear, finding what works for us, getting past the frustrations and what causes frustration to begin with. I’ve dealt with this very thing for most of my life.

In the past, two weeks, I picked up “The Artist Way”, by Julia Cameron. I only just started week two. Week one was powerful. It gave me insight into my negative thoughts, how to alter them into positive thoughts, and ways to discover their origination. What I find wonderful about this book is at the end of each week’s chapter she provides a list of tasks to work on. There are a lot of tasks. You don’t have to do them all. You can select the ones you want to do. These tasks reinforce the process she speaks about as well as help you dig deeper into your past to find out what is causing the blocks, negative thoughts and so forth.

I mentioned this book in our discussions because for me it is giving me a process to follow. A much needed process to work through what has blocked my way for so many years. I fumbled my way through my life for a long time, and at times,  stumbling upon things which worked for me. And… sometimes, forgetting about them as I got lost again in my internal self made drama, because I didn’t know the tools to stop the self-sabotage. This book is about learning the tools that you can use for the rest of your life.

Ever since, the end of last year, when I decided to make a concerted effort to heal, using art to do so, it has been like a tiny trickle of water has gradually grown into a river and the flood gates are being opened. I now find myself having a multitude of choices and having to let my inner wisdom be my guide as to which choices are the best ones for me. Each choice has opened up more gates increasing the flow of knowledge and understanding.

Someone once said, once you hear a thing, you can’t unhear it. Or something like that. For me, this is so true, once I know a thing, I can’t unknow it. Without the appropriate intent, it can end up left at the side of the road until something brings you back to it to take it back up again but the knowing is always there.

The problem is if you don’t know the process to acquire the knowledge you seek, it can be a very difficult path to travel. I am learning that until we show the great Creator/God/Universe that we are serious about our intention, then we will only receive the minimum amount of help, just a bit of bait dangling to see if we are serious enough to take a bite of it. We are given more and more opportunities if we continue to take what is offered and utilize it. This week’s spread and the classes I am being drawn towards definitely reflect this concept. I am being overwhelmed by the amount of help available, some of it free, some of it expensive, some of it not free but within my means.

Here is my completed spread:

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I am absolutely thrilled how this came out. Considering how long I have been learning multi media art (not all that long), I think I’m doing really well. If this was done on canvas instead of in a journal, I would be tempted to hang this on my wall.

I really don’t care what others think of it, though it is nice to hear from time to time if someone likes my artwork. Any artist enjoys hearing when others like their art. It helps with the self-confidence if we are really honest with ourselves. It, however, doesn’t crush me if someone tells me they don’t like it. It just tells me their likes are different from mine.

This is the work I focused on this week. I worked on this along with “The Artist Way” which I mentioned earlier. My week was a combination of profound happiness mixed with being overwhelmed by the efforts I have taken on to improve myself and my artistic skills.  Overwhelmed though in a good way.

The one thing I know for sure, is I have gone from hating my life, to loving my life and that is a huge accomplishment for me.

~Patti