Art Journal experimentation

I kinda feel like I have gotten away from making art journal pages, instead doing experiments on other paper or doing smaller projects, and I don’t know why. I get a little antsy when I don’t get to make an actual page. I made a couple of pieces, playing with the technique of stenciling with gloss gel medium then applying gloss spray over it, with no clear idea of a final project for the pieces. I decided to do something I very rarely do – just stick the piece to a page in my art journal and build on it.

I never really captured the process but basically I filled the background with stamping then stenciled the stars over the top then sprayed the gloss spray over that and when it had mostly at least partially dried on the PAPER (very quick) I wiped the spray away from the gloss gel stars. I did some other stamping over that for a bit more depth. I decided to gesso the brown paper bag page and stick it on that, then stencil more of the stars around the perimeter of the stuck-on piece to (hopefully) tie them together a bit.

There is a bit of scribbling round the stars. black around the yellow ones and white around the original ones – I wish I had done the white around the original before stenciling but oh well…

I wanted to add some text so I went back…waaaaaayyy back, to the technique I came up with the seal inkjet printer text so you can use gel medium over it without the whole thing becoming a dense black smear. We still have a laser printer to buy but finding the right one with all the options we want is tricky. Anyway, the original post is here and originally was more abut using the technique to seal your pan pastels without using a stinky spray sealant, but basically you print the text

then roll gel medium onto your gel plate and press it on the text, being careful not to wiggle it about.

Worked a treat, as usual. Added a face stamped on deli-paper so it could melt into the lumpy background better. The final page turned out ok, although I am not sure if the lower left needs…something there or not. I’ll consider it for a bit.

DAY 60 feels like a milestone. Definitely on the downhill slope, although right at the beginning of it! And nice to occasionally put something smack in the middle of the page. There MIGHT be too much going on here. A lot of colour, a lot of pattern…just A LOT.

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More letter sticker masking

If you aren’t keen on risking a nearly completed art journal page, but like the idea of the letter sticker masking I showed yesterday, this might be a better technique for you!

The technique is the same, more or less, but you do it on something other than your actual page, to add as a separate element. Begin with a gel print, some mop-up paper, even a bit of scrapbooking paper, and stick your letters to it

I decided to mask off above and below the letters so I could make use of the other areas for something else. The placement of the letters in the middle was just because of what was below them and what would be revealed when the mask was removed! This is the same brand of letter stickers, just a different font.

Again, I stamped over with a loaded gel plate, this time just white

and overstamped with another flourish once the paint had dried.

I am loving my flourish stamps lately! Peeling off the letter stickers and cutting out the band of white gives me the final piece to add to a journal page as text.

but it ALSO gives me the peeled off masks as letters in their own right – a twofer!

This particular set of letters has stacks of 20 or so letters in each of four colours. In this case you can slightly see the original colours peeping thru, but that is easily overcome – or you can choose to make it a highlight!

Tomorrow is WOYWW day and if all goes well I will be home for that, then back to the hospital for a final day on Thursday. Fingers crossed….


While I am away…

Morning all! I am away at hospital this week for another IVIG infusion, in an attempt to keep my myositis at bay. Sadly, each infusion lasts only a couple of months before things go south. My fervent hope is that at some point we will find the magic bullet that keeps it under control for longer periods of time. So I am going to schedule a few posts that I have dithered about adding, for one reason or another, but that may be of interest.

I played around a bit with ways of adding text to a journal page when you are not confident in your writing or hand lettering. This was one I felt warranted a little more play. Here is the final page:

I had a comment from a friend who expressed some annoyance that she could not pin the image she wanted to pin using the button under my posts. I tried – she’s right. It seems Pinterest wants to select the FIRST image in a post. If this is different for you, let me know in the comments. If correct, I will have to remember to make the most critical image the first one (usually the final page, not how it got there) and then go on to explain.

This page is in my small Roben-Marie junk journal. The background page was just black smears, really. But I came across about three packs of these sticker letters and had an idea

I stuck them over the background

and grabbed by small gel plate and built a background using transparent paints

After letting it dry I added a thin layer of heavy-bodied white paint and stamped that over the stuck on letters

When the paint layer dried, I stamped over this with a flourish stamp

I removed the letter stickers to reveal the background

I thought it was a really interesting technique, and could be done easily with any old letter stickers, not just these packs. This was done directly onto the background page, but will show you a twofer tomorrow that works well too! Also worth noting is that I used the journaling stamps her too, adding the Small Talk words on the lines. All of the stamped circles are in silver, the top ones that look white are only due to them catching the light!


Old blog posts and when they spark an idea

I had a comment and a flurry of hits on an old post about adding gilding flakes to embossing paste. You can read it here. Sometimes, I forget something I blogged about years ago, and follow a link back to my own blog to see what I said. Old age is creeping in, but at least I recognize it was ME that said it, so it could be worse!

That idea totally sparked the idea to use something else I realized I have quite a lot of an nearly never use. Embossing powders. I have a drawer full of them:

And I found it interesting that some of them still have a price tag on them!

MJD – or MJ Designs, was owned by one of some number of brothers (three, I think, one owned Micheal’s, maybe still does!) and went out of business in 2003 – the price tag is dated 1997! At least one of the other pots still had the shrinkwrap on it. DOH! I painted the page with some watery acrylic paint in pinks and blues, pale colours made paler by watering them down and NOT colours I would usually pick. Hummm. seems I added the blue after the modelling paste and embossing. Whatever. Here is a process shot – I didn’t do a very good job of capturing every step this page.

I picked two colours, a Claret Tapestry and a Worn Lipstick Distress powder – they work well together, I think

I found it a challenge to know when they had embossed, given they don’t go SHINY per se, but you can just see the change in a ray of light:

THEN I added the pale blue and lots of water. The embossing resists the paint but it pools a bit in the craters and valleys of the embossing.

More water spray, some drippage, and un-filmed steps of background stamping…. Will do better.

I found a stamp with a quote I liked (stamp by Teesha, quote by Andy Warhol) and stamped then embossed it (in for a penny….) and dulled the extreme shine slightly by brushing matte gel medium over it, which worked better than I thought it might.

I stamped another Teesha image, and puled together some of the black embellishments from my vintage box of yesterday and eventually got to here:

I love the double circle stamp, which is the roll from the tape I used when wrapping Christmas presents! Quite glad I noticed it’s uniqueness before I binned it LOL! A close up:

The attribution to Warhol was on the stamp but when embossed it turned into a block of shiny black. Oh well. I will go back and add a date stamp – I have one, I used to do it on every page, but lately I have been forgetting. I really love this page, despite it being in colours I wouldn’t normally use. I am totally going to figure out how to pry off that slightly wonky don’t and re-set it! It’s buggin’ me.

30 hours to go, give or take. WOYWW tomorrow!


Making spray inks…permanent?

This is a tricky one. Let me begin with the page –

I hope you can see that the ink in the circles is darker than the ink outside the circles. I have been on a quest to figure out how to make the Dylusions ink no longer water reactive. Heat drying it does not work. I have had instances in old journals where adding a layer of gel medium over them, even carefully, leaves a colourful schmear. Not ideal. I am 90% sure at some point I saw a video where no less that Dyan herself said she often gets asked about how to make the inks permanent and said “You can’t.”

But still I try. I had a comment on a very old YouTube video (about sealing pan pastels with gel medium using a gel plate) and was reminded of that technique. My still video is less compelling than one Carolyn Dube did after seeing my take on it (and she did ask, in case you were wondering) and the technique is one I use for sealing lots of stuff. I thought, why not spray ink?

I began with gesso and modelling paste in my experimental junk journal.

Just a few warm colours of acrylic paint and some punchinella stencil wiping. Then I sprayed the ink – cool blue and lime-y green.

A fair amount of ink, and it is worth noting the depth of the colour to be able to see the effect of the protective stamping. Basically I brayer on gloss gel medium onto a small round gel plate, then stamp onto the page, over where I want to preserve the ink.

I did this in three places. The plate picks up a bit of the colour, and I just stamped that off on the edges of the pages. You can see the ink is, as expected, water/wet reactive.

So the tricky aspects are worth noting. First, it can be a little hard to see exactly where you have protected. I thought I might maybe use something at the very edges of the gel plate, maybe my Stabilo All pencils, after adding the gel medium, and stamp a defining line around the protected area. Also, and this is a broader question, how MUCH of the page for you protect? Is sealing the ink sort of the final step, before pen work? In which case why bother, you aren’t adding wet over reactive. If you are sealing the whole page, how does that affect other things like how acrylic paint moves, or stamping? Do you have to commit to protecting a shaped area and does that prevent you from then doing something else over top? Like more ink? The whole thing just needs a little more experimentation! What I did way spray quite a lot of water on the inked area – and I hope you can see that the area that I stamped remains much darker and much more vibrant than the area where the water washed away the ink.

You can just see the halo of the gloss gel medium around the top circle, can’t you?

On the right hand page I hope you can see, in that bottom drip, how much paler the ink is. Inside the circle it is stronger, right? It’s maybe more obvious in real life, but I think you can still see it here.

Still having fun with words, another quote built from phrases in the Small Talk booklet.

And just to wrap up a bit from yesterday – in looking for the gel wax crayons from United Office I have, for a reference, I came across these:

At 36 crayons for about £17 that seems a real bargain. 33 gelatos are almost £40. I would say if you are tempted, maybe try the less expensive ones first and see if either they will do. I am pretty happy with my cheaper ones, but this set has a much wider variety of shades and a nice carry case. I’m just sayin’…

Finally, if you liked the Project Life card I used in my journal, the whole set looks like this:

and you can download the sheet to print and use yourself from the post here. That post is about a second set, but there is a link in it for the ones I used as well. I might just print the other set out for another page myself.

I must have a rummage about and see what other unused or rarely used supplies I have to play with.


Junk journal fun – highlighters and rub-ons? Really?

Yep. I am enjoying the hell out of my junk journal. It is pure experiment, no pressure, draggin’ out them old supplies and making use of them. It’s a blast. Because of the glossy pages I really almost always begin with gesso. Not today.

Instead, I collaged the scraps of my painted papers over the top – and you can see I STILL have some left. Will I ever use it up?? Remember, this is still from the first A3 sheet I made, from one each of the six colours of deli paper – I have two more sets of six to play with.

I had the idea to try the reductive painting technique, where you block out all but selected bits of a busy background. I grabbed a favourite magazine image mask and an old stencil I created and had a go.

This paint is not heavy-bodied. While I liked the fact a bit of the colour underneath is still showing thru, I feared too light a cover would not let the words shine. I had to go over the stencil a few times with the paint to get the cover I needed.

Even at that it needed higlighting. And that word rattled around in my head until I spun around and grabbed….

Highlighters. The fluorescent yellow was what I settled on. The combination of that and outlining the letters really made the text stand out. I recall seeing a video from Niamh Baly about the use of fluorescent paint and it stuck with me – I didn’t have the PAINT but the highlighters worked really well to do the same thing. Love the glow. Weirdly, the sketchy lines around the letters reminds me of the lettering in Rankin-Bass old TV shows. Must be from watching Frosty the Snowman etc. over the holidays!

I needed a title and … something. I thought back to the rub-on XOs and had a rummage. I picked a bunch of white flowers from a couple of manufacturers and a couple of bits for a title.

I ended up using the big JOURNEY, and both bits of the It’s a GIRL rub-ons for the title and then scattered the flowers about for a bit of an extra layer of interest.

I added a few paint pen circles as well

Realizing that even when struggling with your health, even when the world is in a state of chaos, even when all around you there are things that make you feel a sense of both hopelessness and helplessness, we all have things that bless us. They might not be big things, and there might not be a LOT of things but there ARE things to spark joy, if we let them. Realizing they are there, and accepting the joy they bring? It’s a journey.

Oops. Got philosophical there for a moment. Normal sark will resume shortly.


Painted Papers part 2

Finally. Sorry for the wait.

So, I have cleared my desk and begun by setting out all I need:

  • a large A3 sheet of sketch paper
  • gel medium
  • a brush
  • my painted papers

The first step is to tear all the papers into strips as you like. I began with strips this time, although I did more chunks last time. I’m interested to see the difference.

Also different, I added in some bits of the glitter-full tissue paper from my Twinchies. Love that stuff.

Begin to add the strips to fill the page. Use plenty of gel medium to make sure it is all stuck down well.

I left a few gaps where the white showed thru on the first pass, then filled those gaps the next pass. For the final pass I filled any remaining white spaces with the glitter tissue:

So that is the first sheet. And I MAY have over-produced. Look at all I have leftover from making sheet ONE using one sheet each of the six colours. Remember I have two more sets of six left!

I think I could ALMOST get another full sheet from the scraps – and I am pleased to see (maybe with the exception of the green) there is about the same amount of scraps for each colour. I have an idea of a variation that I will play with later and report back.

Th final step is adding additional surface colour and design. I’ll collect my tools and carry on. More tomorrow – and this time I do mean tomorrow, not with a two day detour into cleaning and organizing LOL! There is more work to be done in my craft room, for sure, but it can wait.


Will it be a masterboard? OR just lovely paper?

You might recall a while back I did an art journal page with (IMHO) a really stunning background. Here it is before the final sticking down into my journal:

Man, I LOVED that background so much I almost didn’t want to put ANYTHING over it, maybe just a tiny text sticker. I got a sheet of fairly sturdy, but also thin, art paper in the sales and I had a mind to create a few sheets of this so I could use them as the fancy struck me and not feel like I had to hoard them. And as I was doing it anyway I figured I might as well do a better job of documenting the process, step by step.

I planned to work on three sheets of deli paper at a time, creating all three with the same method. First, I made three sheets each of green, blue, purple, orange red and yellow.

Today, Layer ONE:

This was super simple – although, to be fair, the whole process is super simple. I took a selection of paints of three basic types. I used a dark-ish opaque paint, a transparent paint in the same or an analogous hue, and finally a Dyna paint.

In some cases, I didn’t HAVE one of the three options in the right type. Most often I was lacking the Dyna version, so I might mix something else in. The method was simply brayering the paint on to the deli paper. I aimed for a thin coating, leaving open areas in each layer, so the sheets maintained a bit of their transparency. Here is the RED version:

I worked my way thru each of the colours till I had a full compliment, three sheets of each, all yummy, although the blue ended up a little dark for my taste. I just didn’t have anything bu opaque blues and it was a challenge to get something close to what I had with the others.

The second layer is BLACK – this could be stamping or stenciling and I used a selection of mostly homemade stamps or things like bubble wrap, a hot pad, and some plastic canvas.

Love that pattern on that hot pad! I worked my way thru all of the sheets, adding the black layer

then moved on to the WHITE layer. Again I used a variety of tools:

These were also mostly homemade tools, like to texture plates made from embossing folder impressions, textured wallpaper, and some stamps. I also used some sheets made from embossing cardstock with a hand-cranked embosser. In a previous post I talked about making the texture plates by embossing heavy cardstock or this weird text-transfer film I had in my stash, then backing that with sticky-backed fun foam. They are still holding up and work great!

Once I got done with that, this is what I had! Sorry it is a little dark.

Here are some close-ups of each colour:

Oops. Missed out the purple. The next step is disassembly then re-combination. Lots of fun and this time, I have so many sheets to play with, I can experiment with recombining them in different ways. Once that is done there will be another surface embellishment layer and then, finally, I would hope for at LEAST six full sheets of yummy goodness. IS that a masterboard? Seen them on WOYWW desks, love them a lot, but not sure if this qualifies. I might ask on Wednesday if I finish by then!

Watch this space! If they turn out fabulous I might scan and share them – if there is interest. Do drop me a comment and let me know.


Art Journal text for not very confident writers

Well, that sums me up in a nutshell. I love adding text to my pages, but my lettering is not great. I know I should be fearless, like I keep telling myself, but I am just not. I also know with time it is likely I WILL get better. But what to do in the meantime?

I am always finding things when I am tidying up and organizing. I found a ton of old scrapbooking frames and journaling spots and I thought how can I use those in my art journals?

Turns out, LOTS of ways. Even the journaling spots, which I thought might be a bit useless, actually work well. Hands up if you have a ton of these and haven’t used them in ages?

They work well if you stamp them with some sort of very light ink, then use the lines as guides.

And then cut them out to add them to a page. This is just the block, plunked down on an old page, to show you how it might look:

I love that I can make 50 samples if I need to and stick the best one on the page – and all that practice has to help me improve!

The frames offer many more options, I think. Just filling the space with quirky lettering looks cute.

A little not-perfect drop shadow looks good. You can also stamp on old gel prints, watercoloured backgrounds, whatever.

Drawing a few curved lines, you can do some funky lettering inside the frame

Then cut it out to stick to your page

And if you REALLY are scared about lettering, you can add pre-printed bits of text (either with the blank paper inside the frame or you can cut that away, leaving the page to show thru)

Or you could stamp the letters within the frame – helpful if your stamping is dodgy or your placement is, or if you want to alter the stamping – like maybe stamp one word on each line, rather than the way it is laid out in the stamp:

Or use simple stamping as a jumping off point and do that thing where you make the ends into triangles, to funkify the text a bit. I have plain letters in many sizes, and there are LOTS of ways to alter plain letters – bullet journal lettering tutorials always seem to have a ton of simple ideas.

This is so photo-heavy, sorry, but there were a lot of samples. I am not so much altering these old supplies, and I am only sort of using them in a non-traditional way. – a frame is a frame, a journaling spot is well, a journaling spot for keeping text aligned. It’s more about looking at my stash of stuff and finding a way to use them TODAY. And the practice I get taking the time to make something a little better than just my writing on the page is a bonus!


Altering common art journal supplies to make them yours

Merry Christmas! Hope you all had a good one. I am excited cause I found a few new art supplies under the tree and I have been playing with them. Well, between all the holiday movies my darling daughter has insisted we watch, and all the cooking that we have had to do. Seems like the fact Christmas was not the usual affair didn’t sink in till we were faced with a very full fridge and a dawning realization that we were only THREE people this year. So my holiday goal is to not shop till after New Year and I think I can do it!

Anyway, back to the art. I have mentioned that I tend to watch a LOT of art journaling videos while I walk on the treadmill. I have my favourites, and they all have their favourite supplies. Some of them (a LOT of them) are sponsored videos, or monetized in some way, so I always watch them with that in mind.

I have resisted, mightily, buying a Dina Wakely face stamp. Don’t get me wrong, I love them SO much, but I just felt like every page I used them on would be more about HER art and less about MINE. But in the end I caved. I bought one.

I like the words too, and that was probably what swung me towards this one over another. Well, that and availability LOL! I wanted to figure out a way to alter it to make it more useful to me, to make it look more unique. I liked the different halves of the face and that was what gave me my idea.

I started my masking off the mid-line of the face and stamping just half on deli paper.

Then, I inked the same half and turned the deli paper over. with the stamp on the desk I lined up the midpoint as best I could and pressed the deli paper on to the stamp.

Not perfect, but then on the right (forward facing) side, I drew over the face stamped on the back and fixed any little issues with alignment

Not bad, if I do say so myself. As it is on deli paper, over a background, it all melds together even better.

And adding the catch lights makes it even better. Ages ago, I saw Teesha Moore do this with her collage images (Good lord! I just checked – that video was from 2009! Crikey) and I was reminded of that trick when I saw it again it on a few more recent videos. It really makes a difference, don’t you think?

What’s more, I also have the OTHER side of the face that I can mirror, so I get two versions with one stamp!

I think by masking off, for example, the squiggle over the eyebrow on one side it could make it all look less symmetrical. And this technique would ALSO let me stamp on the reverse to use the half-face along the edge of the other side of a page. So stamp a right-side image then reverse it so I get the half I want along the right edge of the page rather than the left edge.

It is a small thing, but as my proficiency in drawing faces is, well, pretty much non-existent, this lets me use the image in a way that is unique to me. Well, until someone reads this and does the same LOL! This is one of my goals in 2021 – find as many ways as I can to make mass-produced supplies my own. I like the challenge and while I may falter after a month (because I mean really? how many options are there?) I will give it my best shot and see how it goes. And I suspect future purchases might slip into my basket only after I have considered how appropriate they are for altering…