Art Journal Musings – Mixed Media on Paper

Two-page spread of art journal

An art journal is a wonderful place to play with products and processes. It’s also a perfect spot to record your thoughts and attitudes. Tell it like it is in your art journal – nobody has to know but YOU!

An old friend, still faithful and true

Look what I found!

I was going through some folders in my craft closet the other day and came across some books that I hadn’t opened in years. And lo, there it was – my trusty art journal from back in the day when blogging was more of a “look what I did today” and less of a “what can I help you with” endeavor. (Thankfully, I’ve learned a little something since then.)

And I’m thrilled to discover that my art journal still reflects my sense of color and texture as well as my personal philosophy about life – and that is, that birds of a feather are indeed boring. At least in the creative world.

So let me ask you a question: does color frighten you? Do you find yourself hesitant to be bold when putting colors or patterns together? Are you intimidated by textures? Do you wish you could just sit down and create, but you’re afraid to really step out and DO it? So you fall back on “safe” colors and patterns? Or no patterns at all? And then you’re slightly bored with the outcome?

Ok, that was more than one question. But my point remains – are you afraid to create? Are you afraid of wasting resources, worried that your creations won’t “measure up?” I get it because that was me once upon a time. Oh my, I created all sorts of projects using (ok, wasting) all sorts of resources in my efforts to create beautiful things for friends and family. Bless my heart. I didn’t know any better. I did eventually get better, but the progress was slo-o-o-w. And sometimes painful, especially when so many of the attempts ended up in the waste basket. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Until the day my daughter came home with an art journal

It didn’t look like much, just a small 8.5 x 5.5 book with oddly thick cream-colored paper and a lovely smooth cover. “Practice in that,” said she. So I did. Art journals are the perfect place to really cut loose with inspiration. Lest you think “But nobody will see it,” that’s just the point – YOU will see it. All these years later, I still get a thrill about the pages in this journal. These pages weren’t created for anyone else, they were created for me. Your pages will be created for you.

I used several products I had never used before. I’d been afraid to use them, unsure of what to actually DO with them (like… sticky back canvas anyone?). My art journal came to the rescue. I’ll let the images explain how I learned to use these products, creating something fun along the way.

Stamped branches, then canvas leaves, painted with Gelatos and adorned with tissue paper "flowers" in the art journal
Textures rule in my art journal

Color goes down first, always, and I had a brand new product to play with – a fun coloring medium called Gelatos. Gelatos are like crayons for grownups. Fat, creamy crayons. They’re the size of lipsticks, and they’re water soluble which makes them a whole lot of fun in the craft world. In this case, I scribbled them on the pages then blended them with water until I had a lovely rainbow effect.

Once the color dried, I placed a stencil over the pages and rubbed a damp paper towel on it to remove some of the color. You can see a little of the ghostly effect at the bottom of the image above. It doesn’t shout “texture!” but whispers it very softly. Then I stamped the branches in solvent (waterproof) ink, as well as some hexagons and script. The faint hexagons and script were for textural effect only so that the eye would have a path to travel around the page. Prep done, it was time to move on to the surface treatment.

That was fun, but this is more fun

While laying down base color is always fun for me (covering up white pages is a thrill I never get tired of), I’m always anxious to get to the meat and potatoes of a project – the STUFF. In this case, the leaves came next. And for that, I used that sticky back canvas I mentioned earlier, cutting them out first then coloring each one with various colors of Gelatos and blending with water and a paintbrush. Talk about fun – once again, it’s like the grownup version of playing with crayons. Who says kids should have all the coloring fun?

After I colored the leaves, I then edged them with a very thin line from an artist’s charcoal pencil and blended it with a finger. That’s an artist’s trick to add definition. It really does add pop. To top it off, I added “flowers” in the form of torn bits of white tissue paper with gold metallic spots which I sprayed with homemade pink shimmer spray (tutorial coming soon!). Looks almost like cherry blossoms in spring.

Now it was time to add the focal point, meaning the bird. The bluebird of happiness. I cut him out with a one-piece die (which sadly I’ve lost along the way) and gave him a festive party hat. Because he’s not like other birds and likes to wear snazzy headgear. I cut him from the pages of an old book and colored him with homemade shimmer paints. I painted his beak with a metallic paint pen and gave him a black pearl eye, then I outlined his body, hat and wing with that charcoal pencil. And stamped the sentiment below the branch.

A cutout paper bird with hat, colored with shimmer paints
This bluebird of happiness sports a hat

I drew the tree trunk freehand and filled it in with Ferro Gold and Rust Metallic Pastes dragging the tip of a palette knife through it to mimic the texture of a real tree trunk. Note: the spots in the middle of the hexagon stamps are what happens when you press too hard. It’s ok in an art journal that’s for your eyes only. Oops.

Close up of the tree trunk, hand sketched and filled in with molding paste in two different colors
Freehand tree trunk

Here’s an interesting stamp from the Urban Chic set from Stamper’s Anonymous on which I applied metallic gel pens and then the date. Kind of an explosion of gothic sparkle. My numbers looked much nicer back then than they do now. And you can see the water stenciling much better in this image.

Grunge heart stamp with date written in gold gel pen
Creative, kind of gothic provenance

And last but not least, the main sentiment, printed on the computer and cut out into individual words. I glued them in a pleasing composition, colored them with more gelatos then edged them with… ink? Probably should have used more charcoal pencil but I was thinking I’d used enough. And I can see another lovely spot there in the middle of the hexagon almost out of sight but not quite. If I recall that was a very shallow stamp. And I wasn’t using a stamp block that day. Memories…

Close up of the main sentiment on this journal page
Because in the creative world… they are. Go on, be yourself. The world will be glad for it.

Do YOU have an art journal?

Are you going to get one? Because now it’s your turn to share your art journal journey. To try a new product or two (or three), or some new processes, and come on over to the FB page and share it or them with us. Let us share in your journey of discovery. And let’s have some fun!

To your success – happy crafting!

You might also like…

Painted Canvas for Mom- the Queen of Ever’thang
Mixed Media Collage – Make It Your Time to Shine
Peachy Floral Mixed Media

Two-page spread of art journal

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