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Sometimes I regret creating my art on the journals. When I created these mixed media seascapes for the mini-course Stormy Scenery, I wanted to keep the journals open and visible for days just to get back with the process and look at all the colors. And when I saw what my students had created, I secretly wished the same – that not so many weren’t in journals but frames. I want to share some art made from the mini-course and share some tips for expressive seascapes.
1) Play with Colors!
When creating the waves, show how the water reflects the colors from its surroundings. When there’s a storm, there will be a lot that’s moving, and it will affect the colors too. You can show your current state of mind as the sea and bring out the variety of thoughts and feelings. See how Claudia Watkins has made a row of waves with various colors.
Claudia Watkins, UK
2) Create a Connection Between The Sky and The Sea!
If the sea represents you and the sky represents the outside world, how do they interact? Susan Rajkumar has expressed the connection in a brilliant way. It looks like the sea is willing to hug the sun and the overall feeling in the piece is warm and happy.
Susan Rajkumar, India
Sheila McGruer’s sun has left the sea, and it has caused an explosion of energy.
Sheila McGruer, Australia
Sheila’s piece also has the softness which takes us to the next tip …
3) Express the Softness of Water
Cheryl Rayner shows the softness with both long strokes and splashes of water. With softness, you can practice gentleness towards yourself and others.
Cheryl Rayner, USA
4) Show The Movement of The Waves
Enjoy the transformation that happens when you focus on creating art! Strokes and lines express the movement. Lorraine Cline’s green sea is captivating because it’s wonderfully dynamic!
Lorraine Cline, USA
Terttu Laitinen has the great eye of the storm.
Terttu Laitinen, Finland
5) Make The Scene Look 3-Dimensional!
In any scene and any mind, some things are closer, and some things are further away. Add more 3-dimensional look to make some elements more blurry and some sharper than others. Satu Kontuvuori has a striking focal point where sharp white waves are on the top of the blurry black eye of the storm.
Satu Kontuvuori, Finland
Mackie d’Arge also has a clear focal point and lots of less defined splashes around it.
Mackie d’Arge, USA
Internal Seascapes – Connect with Your Internal Energy!
But in Stormy Scenery, more than just to paint the sea, I coach you through the process of opening up and bringing out your expression. With the mini-course, you are not so much mimicking the sea outside but expressing the power inside. I believe that every artist has a unique power as well as every day has a unique energy.
If you have followed me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve already seen that I have had a special project in November. I have been painting a replica of an old painting and learning techniques that artists used already hundreds of years ago. These are called old master painting techniques. Famous old masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Johannes Vermeer used them when creating their masterpieces. My painting is a copy of detail from Moretto da Brescia‘s painting “Portrait of a Lady as Salome.” I call mine “Dreaming Salome” because I gave her a more dreamy look and different meaning. The portrait was painted in the course organized by The National Museum of Finland. The teacher of the course was Emmi Mustonen.
5 Tips You Can Learn from Old Masters
After painting my first oil painting, and the first one that uses these techniques, I feel that there is still a lot to learn. So I will be painting another one with these techniques during the spring. However, I have already found out a lot of things that can be used with any supplies, and I wanted to write a blog post about what you can take from my experience. These tips can be applied to any themes, even to abstract art. At the end of this post, there’s also a short video (watch it on YouTube) that shows more images from the process.
1) Don’t Get Discouraged in The Beginning!
My process of making the painting started with a charcoal sketch. While sketching, I felt I was just making a big mess. I pressed too hard, and the drawing wasn’t detailed enough. The image shows the sketch once it was cleaned with an eraser – just before the first layer of paint. If you compare it with the finished painting, there’s a huge difference between the two. The expression of the lady looked sad in the drawing, but she has a half-smile in the finished version. I understood that the facial features and characteristics are so subtle that it takes a long time to get them right.
When sketching, I hadn’t the persistence to finish her hair and shawl but still, I was able to make them quite detailed during the painting process. If I had made the original sketch without attending the course, I would have called it a failure and lost my hope of achieving something that would look like an old painting.
I often talk about raw ideas (see this blog post) and that applies to realistic art too. The first lines are just the beginning for understanding what the final work will be. When I was sketching, I only had a rough idea about how my lady should differ from the original version. But once I continued the painting process, my vision got clearer. So, stay curious about the insights that you will get during creating, and don’t get discouraged in the beginning!
2) Before Diving Deeper, Limit Your Supplies!
In my painting, the first layers were made with just two colors: burnt umber and zinc white. These first layers form a so-called underpainting that shows where the shadows and lighted areas are. It enforces the painter to look for contrasts, and on the other hand, it enables working with details without making color choices. The philosophy of underpainting can be applied to any media and style when it’s seen as a phase where you limit your supplies and add more content to the piece. When you go through every area in your work and make sure that it connects well with the next one, you will control the big picture through details. I find this much more enjoyable than trying to see everything at one glance all the time.
3) Slow Down to Maintain a Gentle Focus!
I was surprised by the positive feelings I went through while painting with old masters techniques. I thought that there would be a lot of demanding voices in my head, but the process surprised me. Even if I was stretched out from my comfort zone, I realized that there could be “a gentle focus,” where you put all your energy into work so that it improves your self-image too. I believe that this kind of new self-acceptance was based on two things.
First, I knew that it would take a long time to finish the painting. Six sessions in the classroom weren’t enough. I also had to do homework. Each of the layers had to dry before adding a new one, and drying took several days. This slow pace felt old fashioned but good too. It made me think how much gentler we would be in general if weren’t so busy all the time. I also noticed how I became less worried about mistakes. When the progress is slow, mistakes start small, and it’s easier to correct them.
The second thing that helped me was that we were using a finger to remove the brush strokes. When I gently caressed the canvas with paint, it affected my whole thinking. It felt like the beauty created and seen by Moretto da Brescia caressed my brain.
4) Don’t Try to Make Your Middle Look Like the End
Before attending the course, I made one decision: I would do my best to follow the teacher’s advice. Because I was not familiar with the techniques, I didn’t know beforehand how the painting should look after each layer. When I teach art, I often see people worry over details that will look gorgeous once they just move on to the next steps. It’s human to compare your middle to the desired end. But if you can set your criteria according to each phase, it will lead to the better quality.
So, when laying the colors one by one, I tried to quench my worries about how yellow the dress looked or how red the fur was. When using old masters techniques, colors are not mixed on a palette. The pigments from the tubes are laid in thin layers as they are. So if you want green, you will start with yellow, let it dry for few days and then move on with blue. The transparent layers with soft edges result in a mixed color and a realistic look.
When painting these thin layers of color, I couldn’t help thinking that the skin was too uneven. But my teacher advised me to continue creating color differences to get the painting ready for “a white wash.” A thin layer of zinc white made the skin more even, and all the previous layers made sense. Try this approach of seeing layers and elements as building blocks to new ones!
5) Sharpen The Soft, Not Vice Versa!
I was often reminded to make every area and detail softer. Even most of the tiny spots were softened with a finger to make them more translucent and blurry without sharp edges. As a result of that, the painting looked blurry and untidy. But when finishing, sparingly added sharp lines and dots did the trick. It felt magical how suddenly the whole painting looked accurate. I learned that it’s very easy to sharpen the softness. Adding few strokes finished the fur. Adding a tiny sharp dot finished the eye. The nose didn’t need sharpening at all because I wanted to bring the eye to the mouth where I added a small white spot.
When you add softness, you will also make your work look more dimensional. Leonardo da Vinci has said: “The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.”
After painting my “Dreaming Salome,” I have become fascinated by watching the edges of items and how soft they are. I know that today’s world is sharp. We aim for sharp photos, clean graphic look and turn on the fluorescent lighting. The things we use are industrially made and as perfect as they have been designed on a computer. But try visiting Leonardo’s softer world! Light a candle and observe the lights and shadows. Let everything soft inspire you when you are creating art and reflect that softness towards yourself too!
Bonus: Make it Meaningful – Watch the Video!
My “Dreaming Salome” is now framed and she has a special place in our library room. I was so happy to be able to finish her before Christmas.
This painting is my first exercise when learning from old masters, but it also has other symbolic meaning. I have made a short video showing the images from the class and how she was painted layer by layer. In the same time, I also explain what Dreaming Salome symbolizes to me.
Learn a New Approach – Sign up for inspirational Drawing 2.0!
If you have followed my blog before, you know that painting a replica of an old painting is not what I usually do. But if we limit ourselves to learning only one style, one approach, one tool, it prevent’s our artistic growth and the full use of our imagination.
Learn drawing from your inspiration and imagination! >>Sign up for Inspirational Drawing 2.0! The class has begun in January 1st but you will receive the first set of materials right after signing up.
I have now finished my first big canvas painting. It is called “Human Nature.”
1) Smaller Paintings Can Take As Much Time
About two years ago, when I left my day job, I had a dream about creating a big painting. But my job is to teach art, and I don’t have much spare time, so it felt impossible to fit in the schedule. Now when I think about that, I kind of feel that the lack of time was an excuse. I think I was intimidated even by the thought of painting on a big canvas. The usual question raised: “What should I paint?” And then: “How could I maintain my focus for such a long time?” I exaggerated the time that painting would take. I thought it would take months and months. But when I started painting, I realized that I could use broader brushes and be less detailed. If you have ever tried to make small paintings as finished and polished as possible, it takes a long time. Adjusting the details on a big canvas is much easier.
2) Use an Easel, at Least in the Beginning and Finishing Phases
My canvas was not huge. It’s 60 cm x 50 cm (appr. 23.5 x 19.5 inches) Still, it was hard to see the whole painting when it was laid down on the table. I painted parts of the canvas so that it was on the table but set the foundation and finished the final details with the help of the easel.
My easel also has sentimental value. My father who passed away a long time ago has made it. He was a skilled woodworker. We didn’t talk much, but I think that making the easel was his way to encourage me to paint.
3) Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time
I got the courage to start the painting when I realized that I could combine painting with building an art class. My upcoming workshop Nature in Your Mind(do sign up!) has instructions for the techniques that I used. I treated the canvas as my sketching board for the class.
For example, the project for the first week of the class is “Rising Butterfly.” I practiced the techniques on a big canvas and then sought for the easiest and most enjoyable way to create a butterfly on a smaller canvas.
This kind of experimenting transformed the big canvas to my playground. The size was no longer intimidating.
4) Big Brushes are Great for Details
Thin lines, little dots, all look so much better when working with a big brush! It has changed my attitude towards broader brushes. I have started to use them on smaller paintings too.
It was surprising that sharp lines can be so easy with a big brush!
5) Big Canvas, Big Story
If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that my style is detailed. I know now why I wanted so badly to create a big painting and why I was so intimidated by it. You can express a much greater story on a big canvas. It’s much easier to create images that are like events or scenes on a big canvas. When one detail connects with another, it’s like moving from one chapter of a book to the next one.
My story is about human nature: how we are spiritual beings, have imagination and ideas and are conscious about the circle of life. I doubt if I could have expressed all this on a smaller canvas.
Quick question: When you create art, how much time do you spend for composition? I mean: trying to make it work, trying to balance it, trying to make it look more eye-catching?
For me, finishing the composition can take as much as 50% of my creating time! Some years ago, it was easily 75 % … I don’t find adjusting the details particularly relaxing. I take photos, use a mirror, and change the orientation of the piece to see if I have missed something. Sometimes I sleep overnight and make the last adjustments in the morning.
But teaching art has had some benefits here. I get to help people to make better compositions and thus, I have become faster. Namely, the two top requests that I get in my classes are: 1) How can I make this look finished? 2) What more could I add here?
So when I created a new class, Planet Color, I wanted to build a step-by-step creative process so that when you add elements, you don’t have to worry about the composition so much. I wanted to find ways that support you so that you can release your mind and fully enjoy working with colors.
What’s in a good composition?
Here’s my conclusion. A good composition has elements that a great party has:
1) concierges who invite the viewer to the painting
2) a star singer who takes the viewer’s attention
3) clear routes and breathing space which make wondering around easy
4) good food and good company which makes the viewer stay in the party
I have built all these elements in one 7-step process. It doesn’t mean that this process produces identical paintings. It means that when you enter the finishing phase, you have already done most of the work you should do anyway. But without all the agony and with all the creative enjoyment! That’s why my workshop Planet Color is as much about composing elements as about releasing your mind with colors.
And again, if you have problems in making the final adjustments, I am there to help for all the 14 days.
I am an idea person. When I get exposed to new things, my mind fills up with new ideas. Most of the ideas that pop into my mind are not that good. They are either too conventional or too radical. Some ideas are impossible to implement, and some have nothing to take on.
When I was a child, I happily filled the days playing with what came to my mind. But when I was studying computer engineering at a university, I became a master in shooting down my ideas. It may sound depressing, but it has led to a brilliant realization for me: the number of ideas doesn’t equal to the number of projects. When you have limited creative time, you don’t have to divide it with all your creative ideas.
Raw Ideas – Bad that Produce Good
When a new idea comes to your mind, call it “a raw idea.” If you get visual ideas, quickly sketch them on your journal. If they are more words than images, write them down. Don’t over-analyze your sketches, treat this just a routine that makes you move on and continue producing new ideas.
Raw ideas are often not so great, and you have to be careful not to spend too much time in implementing them. Raw ideas are like raw potatoes. Add some rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil, carrots, onions, and zucchini and put them all in the oven for 30 minutes, and you will have a brilliant idea.
Many believe that getting new ideas is the thing. They fall in love with their raw ideas and then get disappointed with how they look on paper. But the essence of creating is in the processing. It’s about combining tens of ideas into one focused idea.
We humans are very similar to computers in one aspect. We have a limited capacity of processing unsaved ideas. If you never draw or paint or write down your ideas, the processing of them becomes difficult, almost impossible.
I often have an illusion that if I just think a little bit longer before I begin painting, l can start with better ideas. But then I remember that it’s just the opposite: when you see your raw ideas on paper, you can make them better. When you use the raw ideas to create the new painting, you can then visualize stories instead of creating single conventional elements.
From a Disappointment to a Happy Art Journal Page
Here’s an example of how a conventional raw idea can turn into an expressive story.
When I am finishing a painting session, there’s always the same problem: I still have paint on my palette. Have you confronted this too?
It doesn’t feel good just to wash it away, so I take one of my art journals, and use it up. I often feel tired already, and painting isn’t particularly inspiring, especially when there’s a limited amount of colors left on the palette. I made this gloomy landscape on one of those moments. The painting looked sad and empty. It felt like I had wasted my time for a lousy raw idea. But then, another day came, and I got the idea to add pastel elements in the dark painting.
While painting, I remembered a television series, The X-files, that we used to watch with my boyfriend, now a husband, a long time ago. When an episode began, I always whistled the tune then grabbed my knitting. Although the episodes were terribly exciting, we always laughed at the whistling. The same mixture of suspense and happiness entered my spread after adding the pastel elements. The painting that had no real emotional connection became a reminder of a happy memory.
Ideas that Keep Coming Back
When you sketch ideas, you will also notice that most of them are very not different from each other.
This similarity of ideas is fascinating. When I come up with the same idea again and again, I have to find out what’s behind it. Why does my mind repeatedly travel to the same place?
When preparing for the fall, I was about to release only one new painting workshop: Nature in Your Mind. It’s an online class where I have processed a lot of technique ideas to give you the very best experiences and results in painting. But while working with Nature in Your Mind, I had one more idea that I kept shooting down again and again. No matter how much I did that, it always came back. I saw color. I saw circles. And yes, I sketched them hundreds of times just to get rid of them! But then one day I said to myself: “Ok let’s find out what behind this idea.” So I discovered a compelling formula for creating abstract paintings so that you can fully enjoy painting with colors.
Planet Color – Get the 7-step Formula!
With the 7-step formula, you can release your mind and focus on color. You can create unique paintings while experimenting with unique color combinations. You can work with your raw ideas and combine them to a bigger picture. The workshop is called Planet Color, reserve your spot now!
When I catch myself building a visual image in my mind, I say to myself that my hands have to process the idea first. The idea can be a decorative design or a new painting or anything visual. When my mind is vigorously trying to create images that I would be happy with, my hands don’t understand my mind at all. My mind is a fool and my hands are ruthless.
In my mind, I can easily miss the elements that are needed for building the beautiful image. If I imagine a scene, the details that make the scene look so wonderful, are not all there. My mind only has a glimpse. The connection from the mind to the hands feels easier if it’s the other way around. The hand draws a couple of circles and the mind gets creative with them. This way building the bridge from my mind to my hands seems to work much better. Big pictures, personal stories, attractive designs are not born in my mind first. They are born in a conversation that is led by my hand drawing with pen on paper.
But hands don’t decide when to get started, the mind does. This is why I will give you few ideas to start the conversation between your hands and your mind. Like this, this and this post, this blog post is illustrated by my students. The art journal pages that you see here have been made atModern Mid-Century art journaling class.
1) Build ornaments by grouping simple shapes.
Nel Wisse has created colorul clusters and then grouped them to bigger ornaments.
2) Create a surface pattern and cut a shape from it.
For example, see Darci Hayden’s cat and the stairs! Shapes that include patterns look always fascinating. (More patterned paper ideas)
3) Play with Sizes and Layers
Cut some elements smaller and add dimension to your page by playing with layers. Sue Jorgensen has a good variety of both large and small elements.
4) Build a map, a house or a room plan
A clear hierarchy between the elements pleases also your left brain.
Marie Jerred’s fox is in the middle of an adventure!
Stephanie Carney’s Flamingo is just entering a house of dreams.
5) Express Micro or Macro World
Both micro and macro biology deal with basic shapes. Explore either molecules or satellites!
Susan Prothero’s micro world is captivating.
During the last spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Painter’s Ecstasy. Like in the previous blog posts (this one and this), I want to share some of them with you.
Build Imagination with Watercolors!
The pieces of this post are made with watercolors mostly. To my experience, watercolors are the supplies to go if you just stare at the blank paper and have no ideas in mind. They are soft and not so exact than pens or acrylics. It’s also easy to see something interesting appearing and start building new details from that. Maintain an open mind and not try to figure the end result beforehand. Instead, start with a general idea in mind.
1) Start with Mixed Emotions
Because creating art should be enjoyable, we often want to express positive feelings. But to get more connected to your piece, analyze your emotion more in detail. It’s often mixed: joy can hold tears of affection, happiness can contain worry, love can include dependency of some kind. This doesn’t mean you have to dwell in negative emotions but pondering about the more complicated nature of emotions can also free up your imagination. When controversial issues are allowed, it’s a sign to your mind that anything is allowed. This, in turn, will build imagination!
Sheila McGruer’s art journal spread tells a visual story about a woman who has an origin. This would not be so expressive without the tear drops!
2) Get Surreal
People say: “I do only abstracts”, “I focus drawing faces”, “I like landscapes”. Break the rules and combine various approaches. Could abstract contain faces? Could faces include landscapes? Could geometry meet human parts? Could 3-dimensional meet 2-dimensional?
Terry Whyte‘s piece is fascinating. It’s simple if you count the elements but mind-blowing if you examine their relations. A wonderful example of how the surreal can look like!
3) Play with Proportions, Colors and Abilities
Can houses be smaller than faces? Can trees be red and purple, then change their color and leave off the ground? Anything can be possible in your art journal!
Annemarie de Brujin plays brilliantly with proportions, colors and dynamics. The painting feels like an experience, more than just an ordinary scene.
4) Envision Your Location
Mind-travel to a place where you would like to go! It can be a real location, an imaginary one or the mix of many! Nothing has to be exact. Get inspiration from the colors and the atmosphere. Make your art journal a mind-traveller’s notebook!
Gail Brule‘s art journal spread is a wonderful interpretation of the city Barcelona. Mountains, the beach, Gaudi, the colorful street life … it’s all there!
5) Treat Inanimate Object as Humans
One of the easiest way to get imagination going, is to treat anything inanimate as a living object. Can a house have an identity of its own? Can group of items look like a choir of brilliant singers? How do the trees look like when they are smiling?
Claudia Kern has created more than a landscape. The painting is like a big and inviting party!
6) Merge Everything into One Flow
Instead of adding single elements, build connections and flow to your piece. Connecting lines also connect the viewer to the painting and it all seems to make sense. This way, small elements can be used to build big pictures.
Debbie Kreischer shows it so well: we are all part of the same flow!
7) Express a Conversation
If you always do faces, why not creating more than one and express a connection between them. Then take it even further: what are they talking about, where are they walking, why are they together? Show it all visually!
Patty Furey’s dreamy woman and dynamic man are the perfect couple to dive deeper into the story. They seem to live in a city. Maybe the man has brought the flowers for her. She seems to be the country girl in her heart, though! These kind of pages that evoke stories are the best ones. If you like creative writing as well, use your image as an starting point for a poem or for a short story!
8) Get Ideas from Treasured Items
Open your treasure box or shopping wish list and analyze how the single items are constructed. Does your favorite blouse have ruffles? Do you grave for jewelry that holds the beads elegantly? How are the details of your dream hand bag? Thinking like a designer can give ideas to an amazing art!
Vikki Hoppes’ painting is a great example of how to build imagination by constructing elements creatively.
When planning Painter’s Ecstasy, I spent weeks examining the paintings of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. He had students but to my knowledge they didn’t get much guidance, only a green classroom:
– “I tell them nothing. I just put the plants there and leave them alone together.”
My first sketches were made with few bold strokes but they didn’t catch the essence. Sketch by sketch, I slowed down and toned down. Hunderwasser called his way of working “vegetative painting” as it develops slowly. It doesn’t start with drum rolls but with little bell sounds. The techniques that I discovered with trial and error
make starting easy but stopping almost impossible when you reach the spheres of painter’s ecstasy!
This mini-course, Painter’s Ecstasy, was published at “Imagine Monthly Spring 2016” art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!
This time I show pieces that are very different in style. I also include style tips and analysis. This kind of comparison can be positive and beneficial. By creating similar work and then comparing it with other artists’ pieces can make you understand more about your own signature style.
1) Warm and Dominant
The first piece is by Terttu Laitinen. Her way to use visually heavy elements feels like a weighted, warm blanket that you want to snuggle into! This piece makes you stop and calm down and still feel inspired! It’s so loaded with energy that the fruits could drop down at any moment.
2) Detailed and Holistic
Gina Meadows takes a step away and makes you think about your life as a whole. It feels like every element in her work has a designated mission, connected to the cycle of living. Her strokes are clearly defined, but living and expanding as she uses very few straight lines.
3) Playful and Social
Michelle Rydell combines round with angular strokes very playfully. It looks like every little leaf and cloud has a personality of its’ own. She is also a master of combining imagination with visual clarity. A clear focus looks always appealing.
4) Intimate and Symbolic
Terry Whyte‘s work is more intimate. It’s like the tree protects the like-minded couple. A lot of care and thought has been put into shapes of each element to make them look both aesthetic and meaningful.
5) Primitive and Mysterious
Ulla M. Holm combined William Morris with Henri Rousseau. Her own unique style goes perfectly with Henri Rousseau’s naive masterpieces. This is an insight that’s worth pondering: how could you combine your favorite artists so that they enrich your own unique style?
6) Decorative and Sophisticated
Patricia Bush has an eye for details. But she also knows how to make them differ in size and color so that the result doesn’t overwhelm you. You might stare the gorgeous pegasus first, but take a look at the trunk of the tree too. It’s wonderfully ornamental and has a very wooden feel. Sophistication in every detail, including the castle and the moon is her magic!
7) Relaxed and Emotional
Meri Andriesse’s style goes to other direction. Her relaxed piece is more than all the careless elements together. Her strength is to create an atmosphere that any creative aspires to have. It’s loose and sunny, just perfect to get inspired and go creating!
8) Connecting and Thoughtful
Sherry Pollack has whimsical style with lively lines but it’s also extremely thoughtful. It’s like every little creature has its’ own thoughts even if the creatures share the same experience. This makes it so easy to imagine being among them. It feels like I could listen to the same sounds, observe the same things and join the conversation that is more spiritual than outspoken.
When using the same mixed media techniques, how would your scene look like? This mini-course, Flowing Greenery, was published at “Imagine Monthly Spring 2016” art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!
This spring, I have seen gorgeous pieces of art made from the mini-course Doodled Luxury and I want to share some of them with you. There were so many great pieces that choosing was difficult but this time I thought to share pieces that are very idea-driven. You can never have too many collage ideas, especially if you process several at the same time!
1) Many Variations of One Shape
Gina Meadows shows beautifully how hand-drawn elements are all like from the same family when created by the same person. I also love how it’s full of feather-like shapes. They repeat the idea of a free, observing bird.
2) Solid Ground
The second art journal spread that I want to show you is by Debbie Loftus. Her work is a wonderful illustration of the quote she has picked. This piece also reminds me of how we can create very free flowing, beautiful mess that still speaks harmony. This can be done by simply making the bottom of the page strong and solid. This piece communicates how we as humans see nature. It’s full of weeds and still so beautiful!
3) Mystery That Can Be Revealed
Mary Werner’s lady looks a bit mysterious here – but wait until you see the second picture!
The lady has a secret, a dog who is her muse, making her to relax and take in much more than when walking outside alone. Mary has used velcro to attach the lady above the muse. Isn’t it a great idea to include a hidden mystery!
4) Spiritual Softness
Speaking of true friends, Stephanie Carney has illustrated two sisters. I love the way they look at the flowers, sharing the same experience. Examine how softly the round frame has been decorated and compare it to others! These kinds of little nuances can communicate a lot visually!
5) Real Person in a Fantasy
Terry Whyte made her grand daughter the central person. Isn’t this spread a treasure? Combine your hand drawing with the photos and start building your own fantasies!
6) Many Sides of One Personality
Satu Kontuvuori included her cat who is a very wild character. Even if she stays still in the image, it’s like the wildly flying bird is one of her many lives. If you are expressing a personality, or any subject that has many sides, you can scatter it into various elements of the same piece. That way you will focus on one theme but still express it in a free-flowing and rich manner.
7) Focal Point Balances Richness
Speaking of focus … Christie Juhasz has a trick for creating a clear focal point. See how her mermaid is sitting on a white frame! Even if the work has full of details, white circle makes sure that the main character gets noticed.
8) Movement + Space to Breathe
Another great example of using circles: look at Betsy Eaton’s fish and how there’s a circular space around it. Brilliant! Another thing which makes this so appealing is the movement of elements. That dynamic feelhas been created by adding swirly shapes.
9) Rainbow Softness
Kathy Lewis (a.k.a KjAllison) made a gorgeous spread full of multicolored elements, like mini-rainbows. This makes me think about macro photography and dew drops! Soft transitions of colors – why not use them in your next art journal page?
This mini-course, Doodled Luxury, was published as a part of Imagine Monthly Spring 2016 art journaling class. It’s now available individually as a self-study class – Buy here!
You can also buy all the 6 monthly classes as a bundle. I will also release the other 5 classes individually one by one later this summer, and show more ideas on how to apply them.
Here’s my latest art journal spread called “Explorer’s Destination”, based on a messy painted background. The spread is a bit rugged looking in the photo as it’s made on my older Dylusions Creative Journal. The journal is getting really full and the spread is in the end of the book so it was a bit difficult to photograph.
I remember when this journal was brand new and I was afraid of ruining it. Now all thosed filled pages, some more messy than others, make me happy! Am I the only one who loves journals that are worn and full, I wonder!
Messy Backgrounds – Do You Have Them Too?
My very unintentional mess was created by just using up extra paints left on a palette. I know that many of you have these kind of pages or canvases that are more like messy backgrounds than finished paintings. They are supposed to be finished some day but don’t look very inspiring after some time has gone by.
So to help you make the most out of your messy backgrounds, I made a video about creating “Explorer’s Destination”. Hopefully it will help you to turn some of your messy backgrounds into more expressive pieces.
Watch the Video
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