Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lessons From an Art Journal Chapter Two

Chapter Two 

Validating Fears of Ruining a Project

One of my biggest fears is creating a base for a project that I absolutely LOVE and ruining it.  I think that is why it takes me FOREVER to complete even a simple card; I am afraid that I will have finally put together the "perfect" elements and ruin it.

Lesson Number One: You WILL ruin the "perfect" background.  Time and time again.  Get over it.

I have yet to bite the bullet for a larger Gelli plate.  I have a 6x6" plate, which I LOVE!  It is rather ironic that I can smear paint on that plate and make mono prints all day without stressing about ruining the prints. It is probably the only time I let go and let the process just take over.  Of course, that does not apply to actually USING the prints! HA!! There I still have the overwhelming fear of ruining the prints. 

Since my mixed media journal is 9x11" I decided to experiment with an idea that that I hoped would give me the look of a mono print.  What I achieved was almost better! A mono print with texture.

I wish I could capture the amount of texture on this page!! The ridges are actually raised.  I could run my fingers over it all day, just feeling the rise and dips of the paint.

I started this page by putting a layer of Gesso down. I then randomly put globs (such a artistic, technical term) of Claudine Hellsmuth paint and Liquitex Gloss Gell on the page.

Using a brayer and a Martha Stewart paint tool, I spread out the paint and added the textured lines.

Just for your information:  I bought this paint tool from Home Depot.  There are three different textures tools in the pack.  I think I spent $10.  CHEAP and gave me the texture I was hoping for!

Lesson Number Two:  There is no rule that says you cannot have a journal page of just lovely paint and texture.  There is an extensive amount of art hanging on gallery walls that exists of just paint and texture.  If you create such a piece that makes you happy, don't feel pressure to add to the piece.  

Lesson Number Three: If you choose to ignore Lesson Number Two, then don't be shocked and disappointed when you ruin that lovely piece of textured art.

I admit it.  I ignored Lesson Number Two, despite that nagging voice that was yelling in my head to just leave the piece alone.  I got greedy and thought to my self that adding some wonderful embossing paste through a stencil would give me even more wonderful texture.

Totally ruined the piece.  All those lovely ridges of paint do not make for a good surface to place a stencil over and achieve a crisp image. When I pulled the stencil, I had GLOBS of embossing paste that had slipped under the stencil.  

Lesson Number Four:  Learn from your mistakes. 

I decided that I would try again, but with a few deviations from the original background.  First:  I did not Gesso the page.  Actually, I just forgot this step. Interesting outcome was that my textured base layer did not have as high of ridges.  I'm not sure if this is because the paint and gel soaked into the paper more, or because I did not use as much as much paint and gel as I did the first go around.  

Second:  I used the stencil again, but instead of using embossing paste, I pulled out various artist markers to fill in the stencil.

The stencil is the center skull and flourishes from the TCW.  The stencil is only a 6x6".  It was swallowed up by the larger page so I free handed the "roses" in a style I hoped complimented the stencil. 

Highlights were done with a Sharpie Paint pen

Not quite as much texture, but maybe that enabled a crisper image from the stencil.

Lesson Number Five: It's okay to feel uncertain with the outcome of a piece. This piece is a bit busier than I usually create.  The texture adds another dimension in reality that I cannot capture with the photo.  I like the fact that I pushed my creative boundaries.  I'm a bit iffy on the amount of "activity" the piece conveys.  

Lesson Number Six: Try to relax and enjoy the creative journey. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lessons From an Art Journal...Chapter One

Chapter One

Letting Go

In case you haven't noticed, mixed media art journals are all the rage.  Everyone seems to be getting out all their ink sprays, stains, paints and stencils and creating layer upon layer that somehow comes together as a whole.

I bought a new mixed media journal at the beginning of the year.  The original plan was that I'd try jumping on this creative band wagon and see what all the hoopla was about. I had the over zealous idea that I would let my creativity flow at least once a week and let it meander where ever it decided it needed to go.

But what I am finding is that I am struggling with the question as to whether or not this type of journal art fits me.  Or, if the struggle I'm having is a result of not having done this type of creating previously and I am lost in how to make it happen.

When I look at journal pages I have one of two reactions.  First reaction is "Whoa.  Waaaayyyy too much happening on this page".  My mind/eyes don't know where to focus as there are too many layers, colors, dots, dashes, words, zig zags.

The second reaction is "Whoa!  I like this! How does this person put together all these different elements that draws my eye to seek out the details in all the layers?"

My first attempts at an art journal page enlightened me to a few personality traits that I'm not sure fit this type of art form.  For one, I apparently have the compulsive need to control where and how inks, paints and sprays apply to the paper.  I don't like, or perhaps, cannot foresee how the blotches of the above mentioned mediums will look like a cohesive work of art.  This is more than likely due to my lack of skill using stencils and inks in this manner.  I have used stencils for many years to assist in painting of murals.  But, those stencils were to facilitate a more realistic piece of art.  Not a free flowing "let the splatters land where they may" type of art.

The second annoying trait would be that I over think each and every placement of the different elements.  This should come as no surprise to me, as I have over thought each and every element on every card I have every made.  But, when one is trying to have a random, flowing of creativity, this does not work in one's favor!

As a result, my first page looks exactly like what is is:  an over analyzed, stay within the lines, stiff piece of work.

Please don't take me wrong!  In reality, I know that there is nothing really wrong with this page. It is just not the page that I was hoping to create.  This page, unfortunately, just does nothing for me, except bring to mind the feelings of frustrations, disappointment and a major "Eh. Whatever", attitude.  

Instead, this page will be a page of lessons learned from my vast amount of mistakes.

I began my page by applying Gesso over a 9x11" multi media journal page.  I then randomly smooshed (technical term) Distress Inks over the page and moved them around with a watercolor brush that had been dipped in some water. 

Lesson One:  I need to figure out how to use spray inks.  I don't know if it is because I did not adhere the stencils down securely or because I held the inks too close while spraying.  What I do know is, I was left with just a blotches of ink, pooling under the stencil. 

Lesson Two:  It is just paper.  The ink spray splotches were beyond my tolerance.  And before I even thought to try and salvage the piece, I redid the background.

 Which is where my compulsive need to control the inks came in.  I replaced the stencil and used a variety of inks to give the background leaves a definite outline.  The edges were still a bit fuzzy due to the fact that I was too impatient to let the wet paper dry completely before applying the Distress Inks.  Which, if you have never used Distress Ink, react with water and spread out.  

Lesson Three:  When one is applying Wendy Vecchi's black embossing paste through a stencil, one needs to be aware of the smudges of black that are being spread around in the haste to apply more paste instead of properly cleaning the stencil between flipping it from front to back.  

Lesson Four:  Yes, Gesso covers mistakes. But, sometimes, covering the mistake with Gesso makes a larger mistake.  

To my dismay, I discovered that Distress Stains and Inks do not completely cover Gesso.  The resulting color is muted, as if the Gesso absorbs the ink, leaving areas that do not "match" the rest of the background.  No matter how many layers of ink you apply.

Lesson Five: Walk away.  Sometimes you just have to walk away and let the stewing simmer to a less frustrated level.

  At some point, you have to acknowledge the fact that the page is never going to turn out like you had hoped it would.  So, grab another stencil and experiment with using Copics through a stencil.

Lesson Six:  Review Lesson Five and walk away.  Several days (okay, a couple of weeks later) grab some random paints and try to fix the leaves one more time.

The leaves still don't match.  But they aren't as muted as they originally were.  

Lesson Seven: Take to heart the words Kenny Roger's sang so long ago in The Gambler

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

I'm walking away.  

'Till next time...................


Dear Blogger,

I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY dislike you right now.  Seriously?  All I was doing was checking my final draft before I hit publish.  I don't think I realized that the automatic "save" during my typing NEVER happened.  

And you decide to BLIP.  Erasing EVERYTHING but my first paragraph.  


Okay, to say I'm beyond frustrated is an understatement.  I am just not up to rewriting my post today.  I feel like I'm turning in the tattered remains of a term paper that the dog chewed.