Thursday, February 27, 2014

Art Journal Thursdays: The Tension of Spring

I am in the minority; I really like winter. It is quiet and peaceful. The trees are bare and the winter sun’s light is diffused (see my earlier "winter art" post here). Winter is books and coffee by the fire, long Sunday afternoons with football games and stew and seeing your breath as you walk through the snow. But this particular winter has seemed long.

So, I am starting to be anxious for spring. I can glimpse that the season of renewal is coming. There is a smattering of days where the fireplace is empty, the sky is blue and the bulbs are pushing through the ground. The transition between the quiet, bleak beauty of winter and the emergence of color is the inspiration for this week’s art journal page.

The ephemera in the background is a torn piece of scrapbooking paper with gesso and think acrylic paint over it.

You can see the words of the ephemera through the image transfer.

For me texture is critical to any piece of art. So I laid down a layer of ephemera in varying shades of off-white. To unify the background I applied a generous layer of gesso. I didn’t want to cover up the ephemera so I took a great deal of it off with a baby wipe. I found the landscape and flower images in my stack of laser copies and glued the landscape to the page while I transferred the flower image onto the page.

I added a wash of ivory to this laser copy to cut down the black and white contrast.

I randomly applied a wash of a grayish-buff color to the page. Then, using a thin wash of a spruce color, I panted the hills in the window image and extended that onto the page to really incorporate it into the overall piece. Green was then applied around the flower to encourage the eye to move down.

I created the lettering using a set of script stickers as a guide.

I used a thinned dark teal paint to write the quote. Thinning the teal a little more, I added it around the page in order to create a balance of color.

This is the time of the year is when the stark, monochromatic nature of winter begins to give way to the lush colors of renewed nature. I hope that this page captured that tension of the season and the tension of anticipation in my heart.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Art Journal Thursday: Uncertainty

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I made the decision to move back home. It was a difficult decision because there are so many unanswered questions.

So there has been a lot of stuff swirling around my head. Is this the right thing to do? Should we stay here and stick it out? Is this the path that God wants us to take? There aren't any quick or bright, shining answers. There is just hope, faith, and inspiration for this week’s journal page.

I found this number and decided to use it since it was my age. I had other numbers in the collage, but they didn't make the cut.

I gessoed the underlying page and then added some dress pattern tissue to add texture. I started an image transfer but too much of the toner came off, so I added a thin layer of gesso. I decided to keep it because it felt like the hidden piece of me that is actively living with the uncertainty. I added another, smaller version of the transfer in the lower corner. This is the “me” that is on the outside.

Using my own portrait feels like a big risk, but makes the page so much more personal. 

I thinned midnight blue and black acrylic paint and applied them around the page randomly. When I took a step back, I realized that there were compartments. (Maybe this is the state of my thoughts…Am I compartmentalizing?)

The tissue paper create crooks and crannies for the thinned paint to pool in.

I layered the thin paint over and over; sometimes on top of the same color, sometimes overlapping. I then applied a thin layer of gesso to incorporate the layers. I created writing space by applying full strength gesso on the page.

I used a Pitt brush pen to write; if you make a mistake, just take a little rubbing alcohol to remove it and let it dry.

The writing forced me to stop the swirling and really focus on the questions and fears I have. It yielded no answers, but the swirling has slowed down from gale force to a gentle breeze.

How has art journaling helped you articulate your thoughts and fears?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Art Journal Thursday: Exploring Shame

This week’s art journal page is about shame. A prevalent human experience, shame can seep into every aspect of our lives—thoughts, interactions, behaviors—everything. The pain of feeling “less than,” “unworthy” or “unloveable” detracts from one’s ability to enjoy life and love. It is a deeply felt pain that separates us from others and our true selves.

I used pages and images from an old book that luckily had a section on eyes.

“Shame is an experience of the eyes,” says Dr. Dan Allender, author of the book, “The Wounded Heart.” It is a real or perceived defect that others can see. He goes on to explain, “Shame is an interpersonal affect; it requires the presence of another, in fact or in imagination, for its blow to be felt.” In other words, I am so defective and it is so easily seen by everyone that I cannot be loved by someone else.

I journaled on this a slip of paper and put it in the envelope. It's there but can remain private.

It is painful. It is muddy. It is destructive. We don’t have to stay in the pain of shame, but it takes a lot of work and help to leave it behind. There are a lot of resources out there to navigate away from this damaging emotion and one of them is art journaling. It can be so very relieving to express emotions, fears, and even joys within the covers of one’s art journal.

A quote from Dr. Dan Allender's book, "The Wounded Heart."

My process for this journal page was to take bits of various ephemera, ranging in color from ecru to very tea-stained, and weave them together. I glued them to the page using matte medium. I laid down a coat of gesso and removed it with baby wipes, especially in areas that I wanted to draw the eye to. I then combined a very thin mixture of black acrylic paint and water and applied all over the composition.

An old library catalog card, book pages and a sewing pattern size chart applied to the journal page.

I then dry brushed more gesso over the piece to enhance the contrast. I added the words and drew a box around them to pull the eye to them and give context to the piece.

Several applications of the black paint to give the piece an anchor.

Art journaling can be a very therapeutic and introspective process. If you haven't started an art journal yet, I suggest you do. It doesn't have to be this dark or personal when you first get started. Just start and go where your heart tells you to. You'll be surprised at what comes out.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Art Journal Thursday: A Place to Wait

This week I have been thinking about how life changes; how our stories are told, wiped clean and retold. The distance of time brings with it new perspectives. The things we thought we understood at the time, we now see in a different light. Years from now, we will see them differently still. So this week's mixed media art journal page is about texture and layering.

I cut my first stencil for this page. Using some old epoxy stickers as a template, I drew around the unusual shapes with a sharpie.

Make sure that you have a new blade. A sharp blade and going slowly will help you avoid cutting too much.

Got out my handy X acto knife and cut out the squares. I then used the stencil to apply light modeling paste.

Once the modeling paste was dry, I glued some toile tissue paper onto the squares and a piece of dress pattern to the page. I let that dry and applied white gesso and a light wash of a sunflower acrylic paint over the whole piece. I then took a baby wipe and removed the layers.

Be careful when applying the glue to the squares so that the tissue paper sticks only to that.
If you need a little clean-up, grab your X acto knife and cut the excess.

I added some additional texture by randomly stamping some words around the page. Then added another light coat of gesso. I drew a sparse "curtain" of leaves to add another layer. Then I added the words of the things I was feeling.

I wanted another texture so I stamped these locked hearts on a scrap piece of muslin.

The older I get, the more I see my past differently--the benefit of experience and introspection. I would love to think that I will use that experience to live a better future, but who knows. I am a human living in an imperfect world. I will continue to make mistakes, overcome hardships, and have moments of joy. So we'll have to wait and see how it all works out.