Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reflections on Filberts--Watercolor brushes that is. #Watercolor

I got this nifty new brush.  Unfortunately, it's a cheapie from Artist's Loft, under $3.00.  I did this one painting below (card sized) and already the bristles are starting to splay.

It is just labeled as a filbert, worse luck, because I'd like to find a better version, possibly in a larger size.  I like the effects you can get with it while painting foliage and grass. (Edited to note that I've learned these are called 'Wisp' brushes.  They come in both Filberts and Fan style)

This was a very quick painting, mostly an excuse to try out the brush, plus I needed a birthday card.

Wednesday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

New Tangle Pattern O-Cee

Art Journaling Prompts & Inspiration
Prompt #1064 Visual Prompt of the Week 

Live Beautifully Canvas Tutorial
How to Mix 156 Colours from just 6
The Watercolor Triad Tree

BasicGrey Goodie Bag Giveaway
Graphic45- An Eerie Tale gift pack
The Art Colony Giveaway-win a free copy of Joy of Zentangle (must be a member of the Art Colony)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Still Life with Cut Melons #Watercolor #KDAllegri #LifeImitatesDoodles

Today was the last day of my watercolor class with Kathy Delumpa Allegri (boo!  I'm going to miss going--though I am going with her and seven others to do plein air painting at a lavender farm, tomorrow. Yay! Rain, rain stay away.  I want sunshine to shine that day!)

We painted on Shizen paper again, and I really like the textures you get with it.  Not as happy with the painting as I was with last weeks, but I did take on a bigger challenge.  I may go back and deepen the shadows and life more highlights in the cloth.  I was starting to fuss though and that's always the time to stop.  Better slightly unfinished than over-worked!

Journal52 Week 25 Prompt: Nature Inspired #Journal52 #ArtJournaling #DalerRowney

This week's Journal52 prompt just seemed to create itself.  I had barely read the prompt--Nature Inspired--when the mail arrived and I saw the gift that a friend had all fell into place from there.

Step 1: I already had a lot of color on the page from last week's prompt, where I had closed the book and transferred excess paint to this week's page.  I wasn't sure how the color would tie in.  As it turned out, I covered most of it, but it supplied some interesting background shapes and made for a richer color overall.

And my friend Robyn sent me this cool soda can cut-out (along with several soda can hearts).  The moment I saw this, I knew what I wanted to do.

Step 2: I started by blocking out the shape of the moon.  To start with, I wanted some transparency, so I could decide how much of the background color to keep as I went along.  I squeezed out a little Metallic Yellow and spread it with a baby wipe.  Then I squeezed some Antique White (which is not transparent) and spread it out, letting the two colors mix until I had the tint and level of transparency I wanted.

Step 3: I used Metallic Blue to color in the sky.  Again, there is transparency with this color.  I knew I'd probably cover up most of that background, but I wanted to keep my options open, and save those shapes, for as long as possible.

Step 4:  Once I had my major shapes colored in, I wanted to start modeling.  You are probably aware that when you talk about shadows and shading, you have shadows that are cast--for example, a tree that blocks the light of the moon casts a shadow where the light is blocked.  But you also have shadows within an object that are caused by the shape of the object.  The moon is round, therefore it has shading that occurs because parts of the moon are closer to the light source than others.  (and while the the moon is the light source for forest, the light source for the moon is the light from the sun).  When you add this kind of shading, you are modeling the shape.

Many factors affect modeling.  It can be dramatic, but is usually more subtle.  Often you shade with color that is only slightly more intense or darker than the main color.

I chose to shade with metallic pink, and then add highlights with a very pale pink--it's almost white.

I wanted my highlights to be around the bird and branch shape so that the highest contrast of color would be there.  So I placed the cut-out on the page and dabbed the pale pink around it.  Then I used the baby wipe to add the Metallic pink in sort of a semi-halo shape around the inside edge of the moon.  I blended it with the pale white.  While I wanted to imply roundness, I didn't want it so noticeable that the moon became the main focus.  

The other thing about my color choices was, again, a matter of transparency and opacity.  The pale pink, being almost white, was very opaque, allowing very little yellow to show through.  The pink was very transparent, and added a blush, but let much of the yellow show through.  This is a more subtle form of contrast, that will add to depth.

Step 5:  Once the paint had dried completely (5-10 minutes), I spread Polymer Medium on the back of the bird branch shape and glued it down to the page.  Golden's Polymer Medium comes in a jar, but I pour small amounts of mine into a plastic container with a tip that makes it easier to use.

Step 6:   I let the Polymer Medium dry, holding down the tips of the bird branch so they'd stick properly.  Then I add the trees, using Sharpie markers.  I wanted the trees to be mostly shadows with a few highlights catching on the branches.  I decided to draw evergreen trees rather than deciduous, partly for simplicity. Firs are easier to draw, and partly for contrast, making the deciduous branch a stronger focus.

I kept the colors somber and closesly related to the sky color.  The closer to the sky color the farther away they seem.  The darker blue trees seem closer, adding to the sense of depth.

Gellyroll gel pens were used to add white and yellow highlights, and I added more yellow highlights to the moon.  (My scanner picks up all the gel ink as white and makes it stand out more.  It's all more blended on the actual page).

Step 7:  To finish off, I modeled the bird and branch, using the blue Sharpie to add a shadow along the middle for a sense of depth to the shapes.

The whole thing took about 1/2 an hour, including drying times.  The process was much faster to do, than it was to write up, lol.

Daler-Rowney Graduate Acyrlics-Metallic Yellow, Metallic Blue, Metallic Pink
Martha Stewart Acrylics-Ballet Slipper
Ceramcoat Acrylics-Antique White
Polymer Medium
Sharpie Brush Tip-Blue, Turquoise
Sakura Gellyrolls pens-Classic White, Moonlight Yellow
Baby Wipe

Tuesday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

How to draw WOODLOCK
Ben Kwok template (must belong to Facebook group Ornation Creation)

Art Journaling Prompts & Inspiration
The Documented Life Project - 6/21 (Week 26)-bible verse

The Pen is Mightier: 7 Awesome Pen and Ink Drawing Tips
Avoiding 'Same Facing' when drawing portraits
Just 6 Colours - a lovely limited palette

Giveaways Summer Sweepstakes  - new giveaway each day thru 6/30
Win these stamps & try this faux sumi-e technique
Jetpen Pen Perks: Retro 51 Giveaway

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review of the Tim Holtz Distress Marker Spritzer Tool #TimHoltz #DistressMarkers #Spritzer

What is this strange looking object, you say.  A turkey baster?  A clean-up suction tool for coffee grounds?  An alien ray gun?

No! It's a Tim Holtz's Distress Marker spritzers, and you use it to get watercolor effects using water-soluble markers.  My friend, Tina Walker, kindly sent me one, and I thank her profusely!

You may have already seen these or not, but either way, you are probably wondering whether you desperately need one for your craft stash.  I know I wondered, but I hesitated to spend the approximately $15 without seeing how they work.  

Look & Feel

The name specifically mentions the Distress Marker, a water-soluble double-ended marker with a hard plastic tip at one end, and a felt brush tip at the other.  The spritzer will work with most felt-tipped markers.

The marker needs to fit into this guide-hole, or...

... you can remove the screw and the inner tube, then fit your larger markers into the bigger opening.  The screw can be used to tighten down and secure markers that are thin enough to be loose in the guide holes.

The marker needs to be long enough to fit in the opening and...

...line up with the tip of the air flow opening.  

So--any felt-tipped marker that will fit through either of the guide holes and is long enough to rest at the air flow tip will work with the spritzer.  It doesn't have to be water-soluble.  Even alcohol markers will work.

Once you have your felt tip lined up, you squeeze the bulb and ink goes flying across paper!  

In the video demos I've seen, people use the spritzer one-handed.  I found it to have a bit of a kick and prefer to use one hand to squeeze and one hand to hold the pen stable.  this may vary from person to person, depending on the size and strength of your hands.  

I have a bad wrist, and did find squeezing the bulb a little painful.  If you have arthritis or carpal tunnel or something like that, you might want to hold off on purchasing one of these.  I don't experience enough pain to stop using it, but I will limit my future use to add effects rather than creating a whole piece with the spritzer.

I also found that there was a variation in how much ink I got from a pen.  Some gave me a strong spray of color, and others an anemic spit.  Some of this probably has to do with how well I'm lining up the felt tip.  There's a sweet spot, for sure.  I think the amount of ink in the marker counts as well.  Most of my Distress Markers have been used a lot, and they're a couple of years old.  It only makes sense that a fresh, barely used marker will give you more color.

So what effects do you get?

The spray is a bit like splattering watercolor--you have some control but mostly with aiming the random splatter.  How harder you squeeze, the amount of water you use, the kind of marker you use, and the paper are all going to make a difference.

Basically, I found that I got three different types of spray.  The factors mentioned above make a difference, but the pattern of the spray and overall look are similar.  I got the widest variation using watercolor paper, and these examples are all done using Strathmore 400 series watercolor cards.

Just spritzing the color onto dry paper gives a pebbly textured look with strong coverage in the center and a soft radius around the edges.  The largest spritz I could get was about the size of an elongated dime.

Before I spritzed this second example, I wet an area of the paper so that it what shiny, but not pooling.  You still get some of the pebbly look, especially around the edges, but you also get some feathering and the color travels along the water, covering a larger area, and taking the shape of the water-covered area.  This example spritz is more quarter-sized.   Because water always dilutes color, the intensity of the color is less.

For this last example, I wet the paper thoroughly, leaving big drops of pooled water.  When I spritzed, the air moved the water, taking some color along with it.  The color, itself, didn't move too much--almost like the water protected it.  I got spots of color surrounded by dilute streaks.

This technique gives your hard edges to your color where the first two give softer edges.

I did find one other technique that I like, but I'll discuss that when I get to my second example artwork.

For this card, I use all the techniques above, and then used a water brush to spread some of the color.

After it dried, I picked out floral shapes with a Pigma Micron pen.

As well as the Spritzer, Tina sent me a cool exclusive stamp set from Frog Dog Studios that included a telephone call box.  If you're a Doctor Who fan you know his ship, the Tardis, looks like a call box, and that when it's traveling time and space, there are all sorts of lights and special effects.

For this card, I wet an area of the card where I intended to stamp the call box.  Then I colored the stamp with Dusty Concord and Chipped Sapphire Distress Markers--colored right onto the stamp itself.  I stamped into the wet area, and then used the Spritzer--with no marker--to spread the water and color across the card.

Those lovely purplish streaks were a result of using the spritzer purely to move water mixed with color.  The stamped image gets a soft, out-of-focus look very similar to the Doctor's Tardis as it comes in for a landing.

I used a series of different markers in the spritzer to add more color and different textures.

This is a nifty little tool.  You can get interesting textures and more full-blown watercolor effects than you would normally get from a water-soluble marker.  It does take a little experimenting to get the hang of it, but it isn't difficult.

Using it might be difficult for people with arthritis or other pain in their hands or wrists.

Is it a must-have for your craft or art stash?  Probably not--but if you use felt-tipped markers very much, you're probably going to want one, anyway!

Here's a great video that demonstrates the use of the spritzer.

Tim Holtz Demonstration of the Distress Marker Spritzer


Monday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

Weekly Zentangle Challenge #173
New Pattern - Verity
Tangle Pattern Bananas
WINDFARM - a new tangle

Art Journaling Prompts & Inspiration
No Excuses Art Weekly Sprout #19: National Geographic

Creating DEPTH in your artwork with stencils
Using Molding Paste in Collage Art
free guide to art stamps: fun ideas and easy stamping techniques

Giveaways Summer Sweepstakes  - new giveaway each day thru 6/30
Disney Pixar Blog Hop giveaway-DCWW Paper ,Rowlux Film, $25 GFC, scissors, Scrap'n'Easel
Win new Die Storage Solutions

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Journal52 Prompt: Week 24-Courage #Journal52 #ArtJournaling #KobiYomeda

One of my favorite quotes is from Kobi Yomeda's 'She' and this week's Journal52 prompt, Courage, seemed a good time to use it.

I already knew what techniques I wanted to use--peeled paper and negative shapes.  So it all should have been easy peasy, right?

Nah.  It turned out to be one of those fussy, complicated  pages where I kept layering because I didn't like what lay underneath, but then I'd end up removing much of the layer I just put down because I had also covered elements I did like.

I finally said enough, and maybe I'll come back and add more at another time--and maybe not.  For those interested, I've written up my process.

Step 1: I tore up 3 sheets from an old music book.
Step 2: The entire journal page was covered with Polymer Medium (glue).
Step 3: The strips of torn music were glued down, pieces overlapping and turned in different directions.  Once the page was covered with the strips, I applied another layer of Polymer Medium.

Step 4: While the last layer of Polymer Medium was still tacky, but close to dry, I used my fingernails to dig into the strips of music, and peel off pieces of it.
Step 5: I made sure some peeled strips left layers of text underneath and some left white.
Step 6: I rolled up the bits of peeled off paper, and used the Polymer Medium to glue them back down where the wings would go.  Without getting too detailed, I glued them down in a pattern to suggest feathers laying downward in the shape of the wings.

Step 7: Higgins Inks have eye droppers attached to the lid.  I squeezed out three colors of ink at the top of the page and let the colors trickle down the page. 
Step 8: If I could go back, I would skip this step because it mixed the ink too much.  I misted the ink with water because I wanted it to run more, but it all pooled together instead.  This method would have worked all right if I had been using analogous colors instead of the three primaries-red, yellow and blue.  Something like yellow, yellow-green, green or pink, orange and red, colors that are close to each other would have done better.  I hadn't intended for them to mix very much.
Step 9: I spritzed some alcohol onto a paper towel and used it to lift off some ink.  The indigo was very staining though and didn't come off well.

Step 10: I closed the pages of the journal, rubbed a little and then re-opened.  This took excess paint off the page I was working on (the left), and laid the foundation for my next page (the right).  I used a paper towel to spread the paint on my future page.

Step 11:  I squeezed off a dab of vermilion paint and used a brush to spread it around the page, leaving the negative shape of the woman and her wings.
Step 12:  I used a mix of light pink and light orange paint to block in the shapes of the face and arms. I added metallic yellow for the hair, layers of ultramarine blue and metallic yellow for the dress.  I used Metallic Pearl and Iridescent Gold on the wings.
Step 13:  I started adding detail with the Pigma Micron and highlights with the Gellyroll gel pens.

Step 14 thru Who Knows:  I fussed and re-added vermillion and other colors.  I lifted off much of the color I used with alcohol soaked on a paper towel.  I highlighted with the gellyrolls, adding swirls in the hair and decoration on the dress.  I made feathery lines on the wings.
Step the last: I used the moonlight yellow Gellyroll pen to write my saying, and darkened around it with the black Sharpie pen.

Because of all the metallic, iridescent and shiny this page looks like a hot mess at some angles of light and pretty cool from others.  This shot shows more of the texture on the wings from the bits of peeled paper I glued on.

3 sheets of old music paper
Polymer Medium (any white glue or gel medium, such as Mod Podge, would work)
Acrylic Paint-vermilion, metallic pearl white, metallic yellow, ultramarine blue, iridescent gold, light pink, light orange
Higgins Ink-Indigo, Yellow and Red
Sakura Gellyrolls-Moonlight Yellow, Classic White
Pigma Micron-.05
Sharpie fine point-black

Thursday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

Tangle Pattern Yah
Tangle Patterns: How to draw STITCH

Art Journaling Prompts & Inspiration
Where Your Book Begins

Ten-minute art idea: “Tie-dyed” paper
Quick and Easy Art Journal Page
7 dots studio notebook tutorial

Giveaways Summer Sweepstakes  - new giveaway each day thru 6/30
Simon Says Stamp July card kit giveaway
Giveaway: 4 Sewing books, Gütermann thread, a tape measure and buttons
1 Year subscription to Scrap n' Art Magazine GIVEAWAY

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Elephant Mug #KDAllegri #Watercolor #lifeImitatesDoodles

Today, in watercolor class we played some more with the Shizen recycle paper, focusing on the way the color lifts which presents both problem and opportunity.    If you keep trying to apply color while the paint is wet, it just slides around and gets muddy, so you need to wait until the paint is dry, and add color in layers.  Not glazing, necessarily, though that would work.

At any point, even once the paint has dried, it is easy to wet the color and lift much of it.  Non-staining colors can be lifted almost to the white of the paper.

We each brought in familiar objects to be the subject of our paintings.  I took in a novelty mug I have with an elephant's head as the handle.  Since I mixed Gamboge, Ultramarine Blue and Pyrrol Red for the elephant's brown/gray color, I used those three colors in the background.  The colors were used wet-in-wet and meant to be non-objective, but of course, I saw a map, and couldn't help but play with that.

Another online drawing program #NewHive #DrawingBoard

Recently, a friend, Ale, told me about another online drawing program at NewHive.

Drawing Board is pretty rudimentary--no levels, no image upload and no erase (unless you want to clear and start over at the beginning).  Just some brushes and colors.

Still, it's fun.  I like the squares brush, and think the program is worth a try just for that.  While I won't be switching away from Scribbler Too, I'll keep my eye on this one and see if gets any improvements.

Tuesday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

Tangle Patterns: How to draw JINGLES
Ben Kwok template-Butterfly (must belong to Facebook group Ornation Creation)

Art Journaling Prompts & Inspiration
The Documented Life Project - 6/14 (Week 25) - Cover your flap in hearts

The Barn Door-a Watercolor Demo
Mandalas for Rubber Stamping Fans
Misting Techniques-video

Giveaways Summer Sweepstakes  - new giveaway each day thru 6/30
Enter to win a copy of No Excuses Art Journaling
Word Notebooks Giveaway
NEW distress minis...GIVEAWAY

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

Weekly Zentangle Challenge #172 

Art Journaling Prompts & Inspiration
No Excuses Art Weekly Sprout #18: Lettering

How To Prevent Mod Podge Bubbles
Aligning Sticker Letters-video
masking stencil and layers in gelatin printing-video

Giveaways Summer Sweepstakes  - new giveaway each day thru 6/30
Win a 1-Step Big Looper (Facebook)
​​​Shape Studio Tools Butterfly and Chevron giveaway-facebook
Enter to Win a Copy of Joanne Sharpe's new book The Art of Whimsical Lettering

Review of the Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Notepad #Exaclair #Clairefontaine #Triomphe

Exaclair, Inc. distributes several products lines from France in the USA, including Clairefontaine.  A while back they sent me one of their Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Notepads.  It was longer ago than I like--I try to get my reviews done in a more timely fashion.  In truth, I had everything ready for this review shortly after I received the pad.  But I was doing several other reviews on Exaclair products around that time, and the plan was to spread things out a bit, instead of throwing several reviews at you all at once.

Of course it was.

Somewhere along the way I forgot that I hadn't done this review yet.  So the spread was a little thinner than expected, lol.  I apologize to Exaclair for taking so long, and to you for making you wait to find out about this nifty writing pad.

Size: A4/8.3 x 11.7 inches (also comes in A5)
No of sheets: 50
Format: Lined, 8 mm (5/16 inch) (also comes in a blank version)
Paper: Color-White, Weight-90g, acid-free, pH neutral, archival, environmentally harvested
Binding: Top-bound, glue

Look & Feel
The Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Notepad has a clean, crisp look with gold and light blue on a field of white.  When I first looked at it, the word that came to mind was 'Champagne'.  Not because of color.  It was just the impression of quiet elegance it gave me.

I assumed it would have the usual fountain pen friendly Clairefontaine paper, and at first glance it seemed so.   When I felt it, though, it seemed slicker than usual.  I wasn't sure if it was just my imagination, but I've since found that it is slightly different and considered one of their better papers.

So in what way is it better?  It's hard to quantify, but to me it just seems more Clairefontaine-ish.  A little more slick, a little more fountain pen friendly, a little longer drying times for your ink.

The paper is a bright white but not glossy, with a hard surface.  It's thin and flexible.  Thin that is, in thickness.  It's 90 g in weight, and you notice that when you lift the pad.  It isn't a tremendous weight, but it does have heft.  That might be a consideration if you intend to carry it to a lot of meetings or for sketching (it comes in a blank version as well as lined).

The lines are fairly narrow (8 mm) and in a purple-gray color.  Personally, I like my lines a bit lighter, especially since I tend to use the paper for drawing.  These are light enough though.  I didn't find them distracting, and you don't notice them too much in the drawings unless you are looking for them.

The inside of the cover is this beautiful blue, matching the logo and writing on the front.  It's another touch of elegance that sort of makes you go, ahhhh, when you flip the cover up. The cover isn't very thick and might be subject to creasing, though it's flexible enough that you would have to bend it harshly to do that.

There is a creased line at the top that allows you to flip the cover back and keep it back without strain.  The edges look frayed in this scan because it is so close up.  In real life, you hardly notice it.

The sheets are not perforated but tear away easily from the glued binding.  They aren't likely to work free though.  I held the notepad by the bottom of one sheet and bounced the pad with no separation of the sheet.

I also wondered if the cover might pop free from the glued binding.  I actually worried at it enough to make the cover come loose slightly at one corner. But when I pressed it back down, the seal recovered to the point where it was no longer loose.  It's good glue. Humidity and temperature may be factors, so I don't recommend trying this experiment on your pad, lol.

Writing Example

I had no trouble with feathering or bleeding, even with my dots of saturated ink where I add wet ink to still wet ink.  There was no show-through except where I held it up to the light and no bleed-through to the back.

Drawing Example-Kuretake Clean Color Brush Pen

Kuretake Clean Color Brush Pens are water-based.  They can be blended but I only used them dry.  With some other papers, I've had some pilling when I added a layer of ink into the ink that was still wet.  I had no pilling on this paper.  The colors go on bright but not brilliant.  While the fountain pen ink took a while to dry, the inks from these pens did better.  They still took a few moments (you can see a little smearing around 'NineSense').  I was using my non-dominant hand and I drag a little a more with it.

There was more show-through, which is only to be expected with the heavy coverage but it's still not bad.  I think only the most finicky would find it disturbing.  There were a few spots that bled-through.

Drawing Examples-Fountain pens & Roller ball pens

Moving back to fountain pens, I used a variety of inks, fountain pens and my J. Herbin rollerball pens.  I had no feathering, and very little show-through.  There were a few spots of bleed-through, but I couldn't get my scanner to pick them up.

However, I did notice one thing and I'm still not sure if it's my imagination or a quality of the paper.  Once dry, the ink seemed 'drier', like with slightly less even coverage than usual.  The lines seemed just a bit streakier than usual. 

As I mentioned, I was using my non-dominant hand, I couldn't be sure that the issue wasn't caused by the shakiness and heaviness of my strokes.  The reason I'm using my non-dominant so much lately is because of wrist pain and weakness in my dominant hand, but I decided to do a small drawing on the paper using it, anyway.

The coverage was definitely better but still not as good and the lines still seem a bit streakier.  Still, with the wrist problems, I may be causing the issues not the paper.  Months later, I still have the wrist problem so I haven't been able to verify one way or the other.

In all, I don't see it as a problem, anyway.  Just a factor in how I use the paper for drawing.  

Whether you want something with a soupçon of elegance to grace your office desk or a writing tablet that will handle any pen you use, the Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Notepad is up to the task.  It's eye-catching without being flashy, sturdy, and fountain pen friendly.

If weight is an issue for you, it may be a little heavy for carrying around.

It does have a longer drying time and the paper is smooth to the point of being slick.  If you tend to drag your hand over your writing or drawing or simply prefer a paper with tooth this won't be your notepad of choice.

Be sure to check out the new Exaclair, Inc. website!  You can find a list of their many products lines and places to buy.

I received this Clairefontaine Triomphe writing pad from Exaclair, Inc. but I was not asked to review it, and I received no other recompense for any reason.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Other Reviews
Spiritual Revolution of the Bean
Gourmet Pens
Ink Nouveau - video

Friday, June 13, 2014

Journal52 Week 23 Prompt: Passion #Journal52 #ArtJournal #ArtJournaling

When I saw the word 'Passion' for this week's prompt, the phrase 'My Passion is Pale' popped into my head.  No telling why.  The workings of my brain are unfathomable, lol.

My wrist was aching, it was late, and I knew if I didn't do the page NOW, I wouldn't get it done for a while--so I went simple.  Again.  I think I should have called this my Simple journal.  It's been fun and refreshing and I've learned a lot from it.

So, I had an idea for my words, and wanted a simple style. All I needed to get started.  For those interested, I've written up my process and a little about the products I used.

Step 1:  I made a monoprint on a piece of clear vellum paper.

Clear vellum paper reminds you a little of wax paper.  It has a grayish, translucent surface that is slick.  Most media will stick to it, but drying times are often slower.

I had a piece that I'd used to pull a print from a gelli plate.  A gelli plate looks and feels a bit like a square of jello, but that wobbly surface is great for smearing paint onto, making marks and patterns into the paint, and then pressing paper into it and pulling it away.  You get cool designs and colors on your paper.  I have a stash of these prints that I use as whimsy dictates.

My print had been made a while back so I don't remember exactly how I did it, but I know I'd put a couple strips of self-adhesive paper drywall tape onto the gelli plate (the hole pattern), and brayered some yellow acrylic paint with a brayer that had a touch of some brownish-red paint on it.

Step 2: I glued the vellum into my journal using Polymer Medium (sort of a thin glue).  Later I discovered I hadn't done a very good job in spreading the medium.

Step 3: I colored areas of the page using Neocolor II water-soluble wax pastels.  I left much of the background color showing, and rubbed the Neocolor with my finger to thin and spread it around.

(Note the II in the title.  It's important, because Neocolor I's are NOT water-soluble).  These look like crayons, and you use them much the same way.  Then you use water to blend and spread them, although you can also just leave them dry, and blend with a sponge or your finger.

Step 4: I tore strips of the vellum from the page.  As I colored, I realized that some areas weren't sticking well.  As I considered my options, I decided that if I tore the vellum away where it hadn't stuck it would do two things.  I'd be able to add more Polymer Medium around the edges, and I would be adding some cool texture to the page.

I was too busy thinking things through to remember photography, but you can see the torn edges around the blue streaks on the page.  Besides the interest of the torn edges, the white of the paper beneath changed the intensity of the color adding some contrast as well.

This is why you should never disrepect mistakes!  They truly are opportunities to go beyond your original idea and often help you create something better than you planned.

Step 5: I colored the torn areas using beeswax.  Viva Decor's Inka Gold is a colored beeswax creme that adds translucent, shimmery color and also seals your work.  Although it's creamy, it doesn't spread to easily so you sort of dab and buff it on.  I colored the torn areas with Steel Blue, overlapping the vellum edges.  For balance, I added some of the color to other areas of the page.

Step 6:  I then used a water brush to blend my colors.  Even the Inka Gold will move and blend a little with water, though I wouldn't call it truly water-soluble.  The Neocolor II pastels are though, and I did quite a bit of blending at this point.

Step 7: I used a black Sharpie (of the original kind) to write my words, border pattern and, because the colors made me think of a cave wall, I added rock like shapes.  Both the Neocolor II and Inka Gold are waxy and will clog most pens and markers.  I chose the Sharpie because it will write over both, and because it is cheap.  It doesn't clog as easily, but can eventually.  I usually have one that I mark and use specifically for this kind of work.

Friday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Journal52: Traveling #Journal52 #ArtJournal #ArtJournaling

I'm not really big on traveling.  It makes me nervous, and I'm usually too wound up to enjoy it.  But I love maps so when I saw the Journal52 prompt for this week I decided to go that route. (Route.  Maps. Get it? Lol!)

Scale and fancy map keys are too much work for my messy mind, so I just went for a map-like look.  I let the flow of color and shape dictate my choices more than trying to be realistic with my depictions of location.

I didn't have my camera handy to take step-by-step photos, but if you are interested in my process I have the steps with photos of the products I used, below, along with some of the reasons I chose the products I did.

Step 1: I used a yellow (not shown in this photo) 15mm tip Montana Marker to color the entire page.  These wide tipped acrylic paint markers cover large areas fast.  I was able to do the whole page, with no effort, in a matter of seconds.  Though you can get empty Montana Markers, I used one with Montana paint.  It's very fluid and matte (almost chalky).  I like that in a background color, because it doesn't compete with your mid-ground and foreground as much as a glossy color might.

I also chose acrylic paint, though it would not have had to be Montana Marker acrylic, because acrylic paint acts as a seal, and when you use alcohol or permanent marker over it, the marker is less likely to bleed through the page (this differs according to marker, paint and paper, so test before doing this).

Step 2: I decided to get funky and add a chevron shaped border.  I cut two strips of FrogTape's Shape tape to fit, cut each in half, lengthwise, sticking matching halves to opposite sides of the page, so the patterns would match.

Step 3:  I used a black Sharpie brush tip to outline the shape tape.  A Montana Marker in Shock Lt. Blue was used indirectly--I pushed the marker tip down on my non-stick craft mat, and then used a make-up sponge to spread the color thinly in various places.  The very light blues and greens on my maps were created this way.  The thinner the paint, the more green it looked because more of the yellow showed through.

I wasn't trying to re-create any real map or location.  I just went with the flow, but started light because it's harder to change dark areas, if you decide you don't like what's happening.

Step 4:  I used a Lime and Green Sharpie brush tip to color in areas of the map.  I blended the colors in some places to imply that the terrain types were overlapping in some places.

Step 5:  I used a Lt Blue Sharpie brush tip to draw in lakes and rivers.

Step 6:  I used a Burgundy Sharpie brush tip to draw my roadways and imply populated areas.

Sharpies are a permanent marker (alcohol marker).  I prefer the brush tip variety, which produces a thick, bold line, covers large areas quickly, and has a little flex to it.  It doesn't permit much line variety, which brush tips often do, but I think it requires less pressure to use.

The ink in a Sharpie is mostly opaque, meaning little or no color from underneath shows through. The lightness or darkness of a color counts--yellow won't cover green, but will make it yellow-green.  But light blue (which isn't very light) will cover green, yellow and pink without too much change in color.  If I had wanted to keep my water the exact same color through-out the map I should have done the lakes and rivers first and colored around them.  I felt that would give the map a stilted look, leave the possibility of white spots (from trying to avoid coloring over the blue) and would be a lot more work.  A slight change in the blue seemed preferable to me, but this would be an artist's choice.  Another choice would be to use a different medium, with truly opaque colors.

Many water-soluble (blendable) markers won't stick to acrylic paint, but alcohol markers will.  They do take longer to dry, though.

Step 7:  I used a white Sakura Gellyroll gel ink pen to add more roadways and populated areas.  Most maps use different colors to show different types of road systems--international highways versus local streets, etc.  The same goes for populated areas.  A rural city might be colored differently than an urban city.  Depends on what the map is trying to portray.

I decided to go with a gel ink pen for a couple of reasons.  It didn't have to be a gellyroll, that's just what I had on hand.  I wanted to lighten certain areas of the map, and a white gel ink pen is opaque enough and of a consistency that it will write over darker colors.

I also wanted more contrast, but not so much that I created strong focal point.  Gel ink reflects light differently than either the acrylic paint or Sharpies that I was using.  It gives a little more texture as well.  I felt the yellow of the background, despite being matte, was pulling the eye away from the map instead of pointing into it.  The white, I felt, was light enough to pull the eye into the map without bisecting into definite sections.

Step 10:  I pulled off the shape tape, and, of course, all that yellow was too much.  But, I had a plan for that.

One of the fun things about using that Chevron shape border is that arrow shapes--triangles--tend to lead the eye.  I used my Sharpies add more arrows.  The dark blue and red were a bit of a calculated risk.  They are a bit more intense on-screen than in actual life, but either way, some people may find their eye goes around the edge of the page instead of into the map.  Others will find that the darker color keeps the eye from leaving the page altogether, and the red points them into the map.

Although this only took me about 1/2 an hour to do, it's a very busy piece.  Normally, I'd call it too busy.  But people expect maps to be busy, and I believe we relate to them a little differently than we do most artwork.  That's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it, lol.

Step 9:  A Pigma Micron is a waterproof, permanent ink pen than comes in different point sizes and colors.  It is one of my go-to pens and I used one to write down the names on my map.  I chose my names for whimsy and to make clear this map was just for fun.  I didn't write many names because as I've already said -- busy.

Step 10:  When I started this journal, I decided that I would stamp the name of the prompts using this alphabet stamp set that I bought somewhere for $1 (probably Walmart).  I use StaZon ink because it will stamp on most surfaces, though I switch to Ranger Archival if I think I'll use alchohol markers over it, because StaZon (solvent ink) reacts to alcohol and smears.  I also found a Date stamp on sale at some point, and sometimes I remember to use it, lol.

A matter of note, I'm using Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper in this handmade journal.  It's a mix of synthetic and cotton fibers, fairly thin for watercolor paper, but sturdy and it doesn't buckle or dimple very much (the edges curl sometimes), no matter the medium you're using.

While it isn't very toothy for a cold-press paper, it isn't great for stamping.  I don't mind a rough look, and usually used fill-in gaps with a Micron or color around it with a Gellyroll.  While Strathmore Aquarius II is a good choice overall for mixed media--not so much if you do a lot of stamping.

Ginger Horse #ZentangleInspiredArt #FountainPen #PenAndInk

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