This week, I show one of my art journals in the video and share ideas for what to create from messy backgrounds.
After a painting session, there’s usually some leftover paint on a palette. I try to squeeze the tubes carefully, and sometimes I put the paint in a box with a lid, but most often, I grab an art journal and wipe off the extra paint from the brushes and palette. If I am tired, I just spread the paint carelessly. If I still have energy, I add details to a page that already has some color. When I don’t like something in the next session, I paint new strokes over it.
Many Rounds – Some Quicker than Others
I rarely make a page at one go. This spread has oil paints, and it took ages to finish it. But it didn’t matter, because I was practicing for the class Decodashery, and I needed time to dig into the heart of decorative painting style.
However, the one below is more abstract, and it was really quick!
Messy Backgrounds and Beyond – Watch the Video!
In the video, I show messy pages and not so messy pages of my current art journal and how I finished the spread above. Watch the video!
Even if bigger paintings are my main work, art journal pages are an important part of my creative process. It’s like yin and yang! I need the mess-making to find joy in working with details.
Art Inspired by Music
In the video, I mentioned the idea of visualizing a musical landscape and a melody. Music is the theme in my mini-course for Gratitude Junk Journal 2020 as well. This online workshop has 12 instructors, and it begins on Nov 1st, 2020. Register in October to get 20% off. Enter JOY2020 at checkout. >> Buy Here!
When there is a big crisis in the outer world, it’s important to protect and strengthen the inner world. In this project, we paint spiritual energy with loose strokes, continue it to form a face, and then add a protecting frame around the painting. I find this project soothing and healing. I hope it makes you pick the brushes again too!
A) Where to Paint?
I have made these paintings on my newest art journal which is a black Dylusions Creative Journal. It is my third Dylusions Creative Journal, and I really like this product. It’s durable, the paper is thick, and it can be closed with an elastic band.
My first two Dylusions Creative Journals were large ones, but the newest one is a bit smaller, the page size being 8 by 8 inches.
The links above are Amazon.com affiliate links to product pages.
This project can be made as a painting or as a collage where you paint the figure separately from the rest of the image.
When I did this project the first time, I made a collage. I painted the profile on a paper, cut it out, and glued on the art journal page, and then continued painting the background and adjusting the facial features. In the photo below, the white line shows how I cut the face.
If you choose the collage technique, it’s good if the paper is not too thick. I used Bristol paper, which is fairly sturdy but thinner and easier to attach than thick watercolor papers.
C) Pick the Colors that Bring Energy!
I painted the second version directly on an art journal page.
Both versions have a limited color palette. By picking only a few colors, they come alive and express energy more effectively than if you work with all the possible colors. So, choose the colors that energize you – that you feel drawn to at the moment.
I recommend choosing three different tubes of acrylic paint and adding white to the mix as well. If none of your colors is dark, pick black or another dark color so that you get a strong image with good contrasts.
For the first version, my colors were these (+ Titanium White):
For the second version, my colors were these (+ some Mars Black for finishing)
My acrylic paints are Golden Headybody Acrylics.
D) Paint Spiritual Energy!
Let’s create some abstract art! Use selected colors and paint with horizontal strokes. Mix white to get lighter strokes and make muddy mixes to get tones that make the pastels shine. Enjoy the colors and making most of the narrow selection.
If you paint directly on a page, mentally divide the page in half, and paint on the other side only. This way, you will have enough room for the face.
E) Sketch the Face!
Pick a pencil and sketch a profile. You can adjust it later by painting, so focus on the location of the face more than the actual look. I used a white pen in the photo below so that you can see my sketch clearly.
F) Draw a Frame!
Take a round object, for example, a plate, and draw a protective frame around the person.
G) Paint the Face!
Paint the skin and facial features. Instead of outlines, paint shapes. Allow yourself to be more unconventional. Don’t paint bright white scleras or red lips but shapes that connect the person with the abstract part of the painting. In this project, the energy that the strokes represent is more important than the person herself.
H) Paint the Background!
Surround the person with everything that soothes and heals. At this point, it can be just subtle strokes that will be more defined later, when you finish the painting.
Paint the frame too. Use muted colors so that the frame doesn’t take the energy away from the person.
I) Finishing: Give Her All the Beauty She Needs
Paint details with a thin brush so that she will get all the softness and beauty she needs. Again, prevent using intense colors for the details on the background.
Connect her forehead with the beauty so that she is in the middle of the energetic strokes and more delicate and soft fillings.
I also added some decorations on the frame.
Less Control – More Energy and Expression
Art is freedom! In this project, we started with wild strokes and then built a portrait around them. These kinds of less-controlled uses of supplies are an important part of self-expression.
On Thursday, March 26, 2020, I will be talking about doodling and how to expand it to various supplies and styles in my art community Bloom and Fly. The session will be recorded too. If you have bought my class this year, you are invited! I have sent an email to the members yesterday.
My second large Dylusions Creative Journal(affiliate link) is full now, and I made a video of it for you. It’s not just an ordinary art journal flip-through, because I find many of them boring, but this video has 75 creative prompts and inspiring additional clips where you see me making many of the pages.
Dylusions Creative Journal – Thick but Durable
This journal is very thick, but the book is amazingly durable. I recommend Dylusions Creative Journal for all who love to create collage art and paint thick layers! The paper works quite well with watercolors too. It took nearly four years to fill 66 spreads of letter-size paper. It’s not my only journal though! It feels a bit strange now when this one is full. I might buy the third one in the near future!
I have been browsing my art archives lately, and it has been surprisingly inspiring. I have lots of art journals and a big box of paintings and drawings from my teenage years. Even if I have experimented with many techniques and themes, it all looks very similar now. Everything fits together and gets my approval. Painting “Icebreaker” gave me a new kind of confidence, and with that confidence, I am now blogging about a playful idea that I got from cross-stitching – hand-drawn collage samplers!
These samplers are composed of hand-drawn paper pieces so that they look like cross-stitch samplers. They have ribbons, many identical ornaments, tiny floating elements, and some symmetry. There’s also stiffness and order so that it looks like the elements are on a grid.
Cross-stitching is one of my hobbies, and even if I try not to think about art when stitching, I just couldn’t resist this idea! Here’s how I applied cross-stitching to collage art.
The original size of these pieces is much bigger than in the printed sheets.
Use All Kinds of Hand-Decorated Papers!
Samplers have a variety of designs, so every little doodle is a potential sampler piece. I have a box of hand-decorated and painted papers (mostly leftovers from Collageland) and two boxes of hand-drawn collage elements. I have also cut some old art created in the 1980s. All these are a good addition to small printed pieces.
Of course, you can also use store-bought die-cuts, pictures from magazines, etc. but if all the elements are handmade, they will all fit together much better because they are all YOU!
Perfect Project for Hand-Painted Background Pages
If you are an art journaler, I bet your journal has a lot of pages that are more like backgrounds rather than finished pages. You can use them for collage samplers!
The background of this sampler was busy and bright, but I just added brown over some of the areas and let the colors speak, or should I say shout!
I attached the pieces with paper glue and some larger elements with double-sided tape. I usually use gel medium, but it’s messier, and it’s too difficult to cut all those tiny pieces with sticky fingers.
Self-Expression with Hand-drawn Collage Samplers
Sticking paper pieces can be just a relaxing hobby, like cross-stitching. But samplers can also tell stories!
My first page is called Squirrel Sampler, and it has all kinds of little treasures that Paivi the Squirrel has collected.
The second page is called Rabbit Feeders. It refers to women’s status and importance in Virginia Woolf’s novel The Voyage Out. An isolated woman looks at herself from the mirror and questions her importance for the world. I read Voyage Out as a teenager, and this allegory, even if it’s just a few rows in the book, touched me deeply.
It often happens that creative play evokes feelings and stories that are too big to express in any other way. I hope you’ll enjoy making these samplers!