Thursday, May 22, 2014

Art Journal Thursday: Textured Background Tutorial

I've been playing with texture. There are lots of ways to do this (gluing tissue paper to the page, modeling past with stencils, etc.) but I found this method accidentally a month ago. I was wiping off my gesso-laden palette knife on to a page and then used the same page to soak up some excess thinned acrylic paint (Art Journal Thursday: Unknown) and Eureka! Color variation that creates visual texture!

Sound simple? It is. Here’s the process.

Gather gesso, a palette knife, acrylic paint, baby wipes, paint brushes, jars and water.

Pour a little gesso directly onto the page. Now grab your palette knife and start swiping. Use broad strokes and move the gesso around. Cover as much or as little of the page as you like. Or your can pour just a bit of gesso onto the palette knife and drag it across the page.

You can create little beads of gesso by applying it with a very light touch.

Let it dry.

Now thin some acrylic paint with water. I make my really thin because I want to build the color over several applications. Brush the color wherever you want it. It will look darker where there’s no gesso and much lighter on the gesso.

My favorite brush for this is a large filbert but a flat brush works too.

Using a baby wipe, remove excess paint in places that you want only a hint of color. You can let it dry a little for a different effect. If you do let it dry, you will have a clear brush line so you may have to scrub a little harder to remove it. Be careful not to rub too hard or you could start removing paper not just paint. Let the page dry. If you want a more intense color, reapply.

Baby wipes are a great tool to move paint around or just plain remove it.

You can also add more gesso with a palette knife. Then reapply paint.

This would also be a great way just to add clouds.

Here’s the finished page!

Let me know how this technique works for you. I’d love to see what you do with this technique. You can send me your photos at

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Exploring My Creepy Side

Don't judge me but I have a creepy side. When traveling, I visit cemeteries and marvel at how people commemorate those they've lost. Sometimes the markers are very simple as if there is no way to express the enormity of the loss; sometimes there are elaborate sculptures that depict a grief that will last as long as the statues stand. This love of the quiet and expression of graveyards inspired a new art series.

The sentences were pulled directly from a book.

But I wanted to try a different direction with my cemetery photography so it was time for art journal experimentation. I found this woman’s face on her gravestone. It has survived there for more than 120 years. There she was looking out from eternity.

One of the things that makes this a little more creepy is that the woman looks like she could have been related to my grandmother.

But instead of keeping with the monochromatic of the gravestone, I decided to place her in a field of stylized realism such as green grass and blue sky.

The black lines were from a charcoal pencil, smudged. When the lines got too thick, I used a little rubbing alcohol, which also took a little extra paint.

Again, using my own photography, I made a black and white laser copy of the graveyard scene. I transferred the image onto the page using matte medium; I could have just pasted the copy directly onto the page, but I wanted to avoid the obvious edge the paper would have left. I then painted around gravestones using a dark green acrylic paint. Once dry I added a layer of very light green paint, applied haphazardly.

The image transfer had lots of grass and barns in the background. The layers of paint kept the feeling of grass without the noise of the original image.

When I showed the page to my husband, the only thing he said was, “Creepy.” That reaction made me very happy. While the colors I used are usually associated with a light or happy feeling, they did not overwhelm the seriousness or other world quality that I wanted.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Art Journal Thursday: Oceanside

Art journals are about experimentation. As I look over the last few months of sharing my journal with you, I realize that artistically I am all over the place. Sometimes I think this is a bad thing, a little bit of artistic psychosis. I worry that I am still trying to find my voice. But with each page, I reveal something about myself, something that I didn't know or remember or intend.

This week’s page is really more personal that exploratory. I recently moved back to Kansas City. And while it is grand to be back among familiar streets and people that I know and love, I miss the beach. I miss the sound, the wind, and the incredible peace. I miss the lovely little town of Oceanside, Oregon. So this week, I wanted to memorialize it in my art journal. Besides, there is no voice more personal or real than expressing the things that vibrate in your soul.

This heart is a shape that I drew and I have used it over and over. It has now become a part of my personal iconography.

The background was created using the top and bottom margins of vintage book pages. I glued them to the page, end to end. It gave me nice lines.

I gave the background an acrylic wash in one of my favorite colors. The imperfections of the page allowed the thinned acrylic to pool.

This is a color laser copy of my beautiful beach that I transferred onto the page using matte medium.

Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear what you’re working on in your journals. Are you experiencing artistic psychosis or just happy to explore the landscape of you?