Friday, February 20, 2015

Journal Collage with Thermofax

Unplanned collaging in your journal is a great way to keep your creative juices flowing. By letting yourself be totally instinctive, you lubricate your brain and “prime the well” of creativity.

Many writers follow the steps in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, and write morning pages to prime their creative well. Artists often follow her process, but do artwork in a journal daily, sometimes in combination with writing. Although I must confess I don’t work in my journal every day because of time constraints, I DO do something artistic or creative daily, even if it is just a doodle while I am on the phone or in a meeting.

One of my journals is just stuffed with little doodled sketches I have done over the years. I often flip through the doodle journal when I am looking for inspiration, and I have translated a lot of my doodles into bigger projects.

One of the doodle shapes that keeps coming up is a swirly twirly heart. A few years ago I sent some of my designs to fiber artist Lynn Krawczyk (yes, the very same person who has a collection of four Artistcellar stencils!), who turned them into thermofax screens. It is very cool to be able to print your own designs on paper and fabric. The screens print very evenly, and even a sloppy artist who is always hurrying (who me?!) can successfully use them. You can read more about thermofax in Lynn’s Esty shop or on her website.

If you want to see some of my other thermofax experiments, check my blog--there are several posts with thermofax work, or click here for a direct link about my thermofax fun.

On this page, using matte medium, I collaged a bunch of unrelated paper pieces—a food receipt, magazine pages, and leftover design scraps.  The word BOOK was from a magazine advertisement; I liked it because it reminded me how much I love to read.

As a central focus, I added an imperfect thermofax print. I printed it with turquoise screen printing ink, and while it was wet, sprinkled embossing powder on top of the paint, then heated it. The heart shape looked okay, but there were some accidental sprinkles on the bottom of the heart that looked smeary. Still, I liked the heart’s color and shape and decided to use it in the collage anyway.

I decided to add some subtle stencils to the page. I used sections of the Flower Piecing stencil here and there with a fine black pen and white signo pen. Next, to camouflage the smeared thermofax heart, I added black dots with a fat sharpie marker around the edge, then added some gradations of white over the smears with my Faber-Castell: Stampers Big White Brush Pen. Last, I took some black and white washi tape, cut it into thin strips, and added them around the word book and above the heart.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love According to Rumi

The minute I opened my jar of Dina Wakely Crackle Paste, I knew wanted to use it for a Valentine’s Day project. Somehow I felt that it would work well in a heart shape with pink shades, and represent how the human heart stays whole and strong even though it may have cracks and scars from a lifetime of emotion.

I tested the paste on several kinds of paper—it worked great on cardboard, cardstock and heavy colored paper, especially black. On shiny surfaces, it cracked and peeled off. When I tried it on red tissue paper, it shriveled the paper too much. For this piece, I selected a small piece of heavy orange paper, and, after taping the corners down, pulled the crackle paste through a harlequin stencil using a big plastic flat-edged spatula.

Some of the paste leaked under the stencil…mostly due to the fact that I was hurrying. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough time—I hurry because I am excited and impatient when I am in the “art zone.” Once the paste dried, it didn’t matter—the smears added to the textured effect. I decided to cut it into a heart shape.


For the background, I used Derwent blocks in shades of pink, red and orange on a white journal page. After smearing the color with a very wet paintbrush and mushing it around, I added some white Crayola slick stix to soften it in the center.


The paper I used was a little too thin—next time I would use a true watercolor paper so it didn’t buckle. I considered ironing the page, but was afraid that the I would lose the design and it would bleed off like when you iron the wax out of batik. I did hurry the drying along with a blowdryer, which helped flatten it a bit.

Once the background was dry, I added a variety of stenciled images with a Faber-Castell white PITT pen. The effect was soft and watery, which was just what I wanted. I used the chakra pocket stencils, mini damask, the edge of the Balzer deco doily stencil and sections of the garden gate.


Next, I “auditioned” the orange crackle heart on the page to see if I liked it, and to see where I wanted to glue it. After deciding on placement, I added some brown chalk ink to the heart edges to age it, and smeared a bit lightly over the stencil to add to the aging and enhance the crackle. I also tore the background page out of the spiral journal, trimmed the torn edge away and added a strip of solid orange paper on the side.

A favorite Rumi quote seemed to be just the right words for the page.  After I selected the types sizes and fonts I wanted, I printed the Rumi quote out on Avery clear mailing labels and applied them to my page.

My thought for Valentine’s Day is that everyone should celebrate self-love, and not be afraid to chase their dream, go after what they love, and follow the little voice in their head that is whispering the way.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dina Wakely Faces ATCs for Roses on my Table

When I saw the theme for the February Roses on my Table ATC trade, it was right up my alley. I love faces of all kinds. The face seems to be my "go to" ideas. I have all kinds and sizes of face stamps, face stencils, vintage photos of odd looking people and many self portraits.

The problem for this trade was...which kind of face? Since an ATC is only 2.5" x 3.5", that limited the field. There was also a time factor...I only had a week to do it, and with a full time job (and you thought maybe I was a full-time artist?) there was a time crunch.

I settled on my Dina Wakely stamps. For the background, I used the stamp with Stazon ink on vintage newspaper prints for some, and a white painted background for some others. I used white paint and a white paint pen in the background and gave it a grungy, aged effect. On the ones with the whiteish paint background, I used a Retro CafĂ© Arts Tree of Life stencil with a pencil, then filled in color with pastel TomBow brush tipped markers. I added words that had been printed on clear Avery mailing labels, and edged them with distress ink.

Year of the Cat Journal Page

2015 will be the year of the sheep, not the Year of the Cat. But somehow the song by Al Stewart—a hit way back in 1976—keeps running through my head. There is so much beautiful imagery in the song, but my favorite line is: "She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running like a watercolour in the rain..." I kept wanting to try and illustrate it. It took three tries until I got something I liked.

I started the page with Derwent blocks on Coquille watercolor paper, and using both a koi watercolor brush and a traditional sable brush, added color and water until I got something soft and dreamy. I left white space where I wanted the figure to go.

From a fashion magazine, I chose a photo of a model in a silky slip dress, carefully cut out the figure, and used matte medium to adhere it to the page. That dress had a black and white diamond pattern, so I tried whiting it out with a white Crayola water soluble Slick Stix. It didn't cover as opaquely as I wanted, so I carefully painted over the dress with white gesso.

Then it seemed that the white dress was too stark, so I gently added a touch of color on top of the gessoed dress with Derwent blocks in shades of orange and pink.

The song also refers to "...the blue tiled walls near the market stalls..." so I wanted to add a suggestion of tile—not necessarily blue tiles, but a feeling of tiles—without competing with the subtlety of the watercolor and dress. With a Faber-Castell: Stampers Big White Brush Pen, I used sections of the Balzer Design Flower Piecing and Doily stencils in just a few places. The edge of the Doily stencil in the top left corner hints at the sun. The subtlety of the white brush pen over the watercolor background was just what I wanted, and kept the feeling of watercolors in the rain.