Friday, January 12, 2018

Vintage Circus Journal Page

Sometimes I have a concept, sketch it in my idea journal, then work to create a piece of artwork based on the idea in my mind and sketches in my journal. Sometimes I just start painting and--without a plan--go down the path that unfolds.
The Vintage Circus Journal page emerged without a vision or plan--I just took out my journal, paints, stencils and craft bits and pieces and let my imagination wander. I also was working in two or three journals and a few sheets of watercolor paper at the same time...while one section dried I started another page because I am really impatient. When I get in the "zone" my studio space (aka my living room!) looks like an assembly line with papers and journals all over, in various stages of development.

About a year ago, I took a class at the Westbeth Community Room, sponsored by Ink Pad NYC, with the fabulous Dina Wakley. Among the many tips she kept repeating was to never, ever, waste paint. She recommended cleaning your brushes on blank journal page or painting a page with the leftover puddles of paint. (Dina even cleans her brushes on her apron!)

On the page below, I had cleaned up leftover ochre and green paint on a page in my khadi journal. Since it was just a cleanup page, I decided to test Gwen's Decorative Medallion stencil to see how it worked with molding paste for texture. I loved it. So, on the other paintings and journal scattered around my table, I added the same stencil/paste combination.
The Decorative Medallion stencil, with molding paste, on a "clean up" journal page
I loooooved the stencil so much that I started testing it in turquoise and white acrylic paint around the page. I especially wanted to tone down the bright lime green corner and unite the page. In my mind, it was still a test page, so I decided to play with my stencil/mask duo, Gwen's Ornamental Compass Mask. I am new to using a mask with a stencil, so it took some practice to get the effect I wanted. I used an ochre shade for the mask, then, using a wedge cosmetic sponge and tiny dabber tool, stenciled over it with a brown chalk ink. It was looking like more than just a test page, but I didn't know what to add as a focal point or quite where to go next.
The brownish-ochre compass blobs seemed too dark and overshadowed the central textured stencil shape, so I softened the whole page by adding another stencil here and there. I used portions of the Decorative Medallion stencil with white acrylic over the compass to soften and unite the page. I loved it--I was finally getting the "Lafluerish" effect I admire in Gwen's work. But the question remained: what should I DO with the page?
The finished background was beautiful, but needed a central focus
I rummaged through my boxes of ephemera and tried out a couple items to place on the page. I considered a sepia-toned vintage family photo and some inspirational words written on a see-through paper. Nothing was quite right. Then I found a quirky reproduction of a vintage French Circus poster which was kind of odd, but kind of worked. It had been gifted to me in a trade of small artwork, and had been hiding in one of my paper scrap boxes.

Quite a few images were auditioned for use as the central focus on the journal page
After much deliberation, I decided on a strip of green paper and a
small reproduction of a vintage circus poster
A strip of greenish India-inspired commercial scrapbook paper, placed behind the circus poster, seemed to work. I trimmed the mini poster and used my brown chalk ink pad to darken the edges of it as well as the edges of the green paper strip. I still wanted to add something special, something three dimensional--however, I didn't want something lumpy that would prevent the journal from closing.

 It occurred to me that if I had a dangly piece at the bottom, instead of directly on the page, the journal would still close. I set to work auditioning my collection of jewelry parts from Gwen's website and my own boxes of jewelry components.



I chose some Turkmen Jewelry parts, and used some lime-green grommets to strengthen the hole where the dangly pieces would be attached. I used a decorative headpin that had a turn-of-the-20th century feeling, put it through the grommet, then created a loop with my jewelry pliers, and attached the Turkmen pieces. Next, I attached the circus image to the page (with dangly pieces attached) by using mini brads on each corner.


The dangly pieces can swing and pivot, which echos the trapeze artists movements in the mini poster focal point. Best of all, the journal closes flat, yet the little dangly silver Turkmen jewels invite you to open the journal and see what else is inside.


In case you were wondering what else was created while the circus page was drying, here's some of the other unfinished journal pages that I puttered with that day.



7 comments:

Jackie P Neal said...

So...wow! The colors of cleaning your brushes and using leftovers are beautiful, who would have thought those leftovers would meld so exquisitely and go perfectly with that circus piece!It is like you made them exactly to go together!
I really love your closure and may I ask what tool you use? I had a cropidile, and it broke! 35$ broken cropper- geesh!
Those other pages you worked on are yummy as well- I just love Gwen's stencils!!
hugs,Jackie

Kate said...

That is some amazing texture! I love all the patterns from the various stencils and the colors. Beautiful page!
I did a art journal last year with a Vintage circus theme and it is one of my favorite art journals to date. Your fun picture reminded me.
Kate

Lynda Shoup said...

Linda, I am always impressed with your construction. Grommets, brads, molding paste, oh my! You seem to be on a familiar basis with these tools and are able to call on them with great effect. To me, they look like a miracle every time.

Another thing that strikes me looking at your process of a variety of pieces is the way you soften your work and make the whole harmonious. As Jackie says, it is hard to believe you didn't start out with that effect in mind. When I look at a piece and think the colors don't work together I tend to go brighter. I add intensity - or maybe I should say fluorescence. You go the way of muting and harmonizing. It is always stunning and hard for me to conceptualize....I have tried for that look, but it eludes me. Last night is case in point, I started writing in a junk journal about how much I liked the soft colors of the background, but by the time I had finished the page was exploding with bright colors. I want those colors but can't do them.

The swinging Turkmen piece is brilliant! So beautifully mirroring the acrobats and so well placed to allow the page to be functional.

So glad I swung by today. Beautiful piece!

Gwen Lafleur said...

What a fabulous page Linda! I love the way you just started out experimenting and then ended up with something beautiful. Isn't it fun when that happens?

Sandee Setliff said...

I can't add anything that the other ladies put so eloquently so I'll just say wow, and my favorite is the dangly bit!

peggy gatto said...

Wow, layers and layers of beauty!!!!!!

fairyrocks said...

Love all your layered on gesso and paints. You certainly rocked this one outta the park! Nice to have you back at the paper traders too! Keep smiling and creating.