Did you know that newspapers are treasures? Neither did I before I began to wrap Christmas presents and realised that I had ran out of wrapping paper. I solved the problem by creating decorated gift paper from newspaper sheets!
Here’s the sheet in the beginning of the process.
I had three various reds of india inks which I used to color the background. Any ink would be suitable. And if you do not have ink, paint a thin layer using acrylic paints.
After the background paint was dry, I painted round shapes with gesso. If you do not have gesso, use white acrylic paint. Thin, even layers are better than thick and bumpy ones. Let dry.
Finally I took a correction pen, some markers and india ink to decorate the white areas.
Ironing makes the papers smooth and shiny.
I could not help making some more. I varied the shape of white areas to make different designs.
I was pretty pleased with all the three of them!
Who would have guessed these were just newspaper sheets in their previous lives!
My collage art is strongly based on my own handdecorated papers. Making my own papers changed a lot. I began to feel more happy and content with my art. Even if it’s imperfect, it’s all mine.
I feel sad when people tell they hate their handwriting and say that they can’t draw anything. Putting pen to paper is very important. I believe that it’s our connection to the subconscious. For me, drawing and painting has always been a part of self-discovery. Despite of that, I have felt bad with my drawing too. But I have got rid of that by drawing so much that I have found my own style and accepted it’s imperfections.
The little collage shown here consists of my own papers and doodles. But some of the papers are made with the help of a machine. I used ink jet printer to combine layers of doodling by photocopying. Here’s how I did it!
1) I took some of the papers that I had made using watercolors and color pens. (You can see the instructions at the blog post Frugal Crafter’s Guide to Hand Decorated Papers)
2) I put the paper to the printer’s tray. At my printer (Canon MP550) you have to put the paper backside up to get the printing to the right side.
3) Because I love doodling on white paper I have a small pile of these wildly doodled sheets. I opened the lid and put it upside down to use it as a photocopy.
4) Then I pressed the Copy button and here’s the result!
I could not help making more of these!
Some extra directions: Make sure your papers are completely dry before inserting them to the printer. Use fairly thin paper. When making the colorful papers, do not use very dark colours so that the copied doodles will show.
Have fun using those odd doodles again and again!
I love my houseplants and many of them appear in this collage. It’s style is a mix of art nouveau and 1960s. It is the result of staring some art nouveau tiles and the works of Birger Kaipiainen. Namely, not too long time ago I went to see Birger Kaipiainen’s exhibition in Espoo, Finland.
This decorative plate was one of my favorites. I love the way the artist used textured surfaces to show off the details. And I have always loved ceramics, one of the favorite materials that I like to think of when making art. I am constantly inspired by materials and I try to imitate them by using inks, markers and other supplies.
Speaking of supplies, I took some photos of the phases when making the collage. I began with india inks.
Then I randomly added some cut pieces of handdecorated papers. In the beginning I work very systematically but for a while I start to get impatient.
I have reached the point where I want to do something crazy. This time I just made a mess with a correction pen!
I added collage pieces and doodled with markers. Then I decided to add black acrylics to add contrasts. Looks pretty awful but I do not mind. It always looks terrible at this point.
India ink looks great over white doodles.
Here’s a detail of the finished work. I love to use thin markers, it is like sharpening a blurry image!
I missed the feel of cotton fabric so I decided to use it as a base instead of paper. It was so much fun! I used both the fabric paints and fabric markers here.
There’s not much difference between drawing on fabric and drawing on paper. I use thick cardboard under the fabric so that I do not have to worry about colors ruining the table top. Another tip is to wash the fabric first so that the colors get into it. And iron well before and after painting.
This is quite large piece (19,5 in x 13.5 in) but you can start with smaller ones. I am so tempted to start a new project by painting small squares and use them in the next quilt.
I made a greeting card from the paper scraps that I have. I make my own papers that I use for collage art. And even the tiniest scraps are saved in a container that I call “The Treasure Box” with capital letters.
These scraps have practically no monetary value but still I treat them as they would cost a million. I have put a lot of time in creating each little scrap.
The scraps also have another property that I am fond of. They look ugly as individual scraps but are beautiful when they are combined together.
Many things in life are like that. Nothing particular when examined separately but spectacular and successful when they are seen in the big picture.
More photos of the card
Trash can become a treasure
It was only a small cardboard box but I wanted to take it to the extreme. There’s something extremely satisfying in taking trash and treating it like a treasure. Many times when I draw I miss working with 3-dimensional objects. This time I wanted to enjoy playing with the box and use all its’ sides. Mixed media was the driving factor here too.
First removed all the extra tapes from the box surface. Then I covered the box with white gesso. It would give colors better background than brown cardboard.
I painted the inside panels yellow. It is one of my favorite colors and I often use it when I want to add light but do not want to do that with white. As you may know, I am not a big fan of white!
Plain yellow surface looked little bare so I added some collage elements. These were made by coloring pages from children’s books with color pencils and then randomly cutting circles from the colored areas. I glued the circles with gel medium.
The bottom of the box needed something different. I decided to crochet a piece that would fit inside the box. I began with a small square and crocheted around it using a couple of colors. Finally I finished the pice by embroidering a flower.
At this phase the box reminded me about the sunflowers in the end of the summer. Then I began to decorate the outside of the box.
I continued with crochet. I made flowers and a long chain which I used in the outside bottom. It feels great to lay the box onto the table when there’s soft wool in the edges!
The I wondered how to attach the decorations like the crocheted flowers and various buttons to the outside edges. They were pretty heavy. Golden Fiber Paste was the perfect stuff! It created the textured surface and attached all the little pieces securely.
The end result is unusual looking but perfect for my indian ink bottles!
Last spring my friend asked if I could design a tattoo for her.
A tattoo! An image that you can’t remove, at least not easily! And so personal one. That really is a challenge, I thought. I should not do it. No. Yes. I should try to!
It was my friend’s first tattoo. She had been wanting it for years. She told me she wanted a tree or a branch. That’s where the design process began.
I drew sketches and asked questions. Should it be strong, edgy, round, feminine? Full of leaves or bare? Ornamental or simple? And so on. I knew I had to trust on the design process and let each of the phase take me closer to the end result.
When the process went on, I began to draw sketches on computer. Adobe Illustrator is a great program for this kind of work.
Between computer work I printed the design and continued with handdrawn details. Finally every little detail had been finetuned with computer and the design was finished.
The finished design was presented to the tattoo artist. She changed the thinnest lines stronger so that they would last.
The tattoo is located on the arm. I am glad my friend loves it and I like it too. It represents a lot of her style but I can still recognize it to be my work of art too.
What an exciting project!
This is the cover page of my water color paper art journal. I just sewed the pages together and glued them to the back strip. On the cover I also used fabric to add texture.
The journal is called “Mental Images”. That’s what art journaling is for me. I want to create pages where I express things that are less concrete but still important part of my life.
The cover is a reminder of Japan. I love how Japanese yearn for simplicity and how they value the tiniest details. My home and my style is not visually plain but my style of living is. I do not own a lot of stuff and I want to keep things simple. My creative process does not require any fancy supplies. The older I get, the more I want to simplify. For me it means that I can do more with less stuff.
I finished this bag in the summer but have been saving this for blogging. Now when the autumn has come to Finland, showing this feels appropriate.
When making this my goal was to create something based on my own style so I created everything myself. All the patterns and ornaments are my own designs.
This bag is inspired by nature in the way many folk style objects were. It also represents the design process where wild plants change to stiff ornaments.
I named the bag after another of my work. This is called Dancing With Imagination because it is so much alike than the art journal page that I made a while ago.
I love the word “self-sufficiency”. I don’t know if it sounds as wonderful to native English speakers but it reminds me that I am sufficient, I am enough, nothing more is needed.
I am often asked: what materials do you use, what should I shop first when beginning art journaling? In the beginning it is all about the equipment, I understand. But this has happened for me: the more I create, the more I begin to value self-sufficiency. It means that I use what I have. I only buy when I have run out of the material. When making a page I try to find creative ways to use even the tiniest pieces of papers. It makes me happy. I feel independent and powerful.
It is great to have supplies that work for you and shopping them can be a joy too. Still, it is also true that you can make your best adverts, the greatest shop. Only you can create images that you are naturally drawn to. By examining what you like and why, you will first find your own style, and then your own happiness. Self-suffieciency is not always the absolute but in art journaling you really are enough!