Tag: art journal

Gelli Printmaking Crash Course From a Self Taught Printmaker

This year I taught myself how to create gelli prints a few days before I started teaching it to students. I had been interested in trying it for a couple of years, especially after seeing a demo of it at the New York NAEA conference in 2017. When it came time to plan a quick, easy, and pretty looking project for an annual art fundraiser my school participates in, it all clicked in place.

This process is so easy, fast, and fun! It creates beautiful results with little risk. It’s perfect for a fundraiser project because generally every student will create a successful print. After playing around with the process I decided I wanted to take it a step further and incorporate this process into my intro to watercolor assignment.

But let’s start back at the beginning with a little how to.

Gelli printmaking supplies

For this project you need a gelli plate. I had enough plates to pair up my students, but it helps to have at least a few to pass around. Don’t cheap out! I tried buying two more at the last minute at an arts and crafts store. It was easily half the thickness and the paint didn’t transfer as solidly from the plate. I highly recommend the Gelli Arts brand. I especially loved the round print shape.

You will also need…

  • High flow acrylic paint (or the cheap craft store paints or slightly watered down acrylic paint. Open acrylics work really well because they are slow drying)
  • A brayer
  • A barren (or a wood spoon or flat object)
  • Thin watercolor paper (if incorporating the watercolor portion of the project), drawing paper works fine if not doing the watercolor addition
  • Printer paper
  • Leaves and other natural materials
  • Stencils and texture plates to add additional texture as you print.

For the watercolor portion:

  • Watercolor paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle
  • Salt
  • Waterproof pen, or thin Sharpie
  • Masking fluid

HOW TO:

Leaves and pinecones you can use to print with in gelli printmaking.

STEP ONE: Collect materials to print with. You can press textures, such as pine cones, into the plate and place flat objects on the plate to print with to create negative space. Look for leaves with interesting shapes. Large, simple shapes won’t print well. Think little leaves, ferns, interesting contour lines.

The natural objects don’t last well overnight. You may end up needing to collect new natural materials before every class. You can try pressing the leaves between flat, heavy objects to keep them from curling as they dry.

STEP TWO: Set up your station with your paint colors, paper, texture plates, and natural objects. You will need a sheet of paper for the first print and a sheet of printer paper for the ghost print. A ghost print is a print taken after most of the paint has transferred during the first print. The ghost print helps clean up the plate for the next print, no need to rinse these off in between, and it creates a beautiful second image that can be displayed or used in collages, visual journals, etc.

A gelli plate with acrylic paint rolled on top.

STEP THREE: Apply the paint. Put 3-4 dime size dabs of paint on the plate. Try to keep similar colors together, don’t scatter random colors all over the plate or you will get a messier look. Consider color theory, what colors work well together? What happens if the colors you selected mix? Remember, complementary colors (yellow/purple, red/green, and blue/orange) create grays and browns when mixed. Roll over the paint with the brayer, roll over the plate until the entire plate is covered. If you see paint “peaks” where the brayer leaves texture behind, you might have too much paint on your plate. The above plate is a little heavy with paint.

TIP: Place one color on one side of the plate, another on the other side, and roll the brayer up and down until the colors start to mix in the center.

How to press a textured plate into a gelli plate.

STEP FOUR: If applying a texture through a stencil, stamp, pine cone, or similar, do that before placing your leaves. Press your texture object into the plate, then lift it off. Paint should pull up with the object, leaving signs of the texture on the plate.

Gelli prints with brushstrokes.

You can also add paintbrush texture by adding a few drops of paint onto the already rolled plate and spreading it out using a paintbrush. This texture will also transfer to the plate.

See how to print with leaves using a gelli plate.

STEP FIVE: Place your leaves on the wet plate. Don’t move them once you place them, otherwise you may create unwanted lines and texture.

TIP: Try to move through these steps as quick as possible, unless you are using slow drying paint the paint may start to dry on the plate.

STEP SIX: Lay your printing paper on top, press the leaves down with your hand before rubbing over the back with the brayer. Make sure you move over the entire plate with the brayer, ensuring all the paint is being pressed to the paper.

STEP SEVEN: Lift the paper and enjoy your print! Set it aside to dry.

Gelli print and ghost print.

STEP EIGHT: Remove the leaves and place a sheet of printer paper onto the plate. Rub over the back with your hands or a brayer, lift the paper, and enjoy your ghost print! This step also cleans the plate. After this the plate is ready to be reused right away.

TIP: The above ghost print shows the correct amount of paint was used because the majority of the paint stuck to the first sheet of paper, leaving only the paint blocked by the pine needles and leaves behind for the ghost print. If your students have messy prints and a lot of paint left on the plate after printing, have them cut the amount of paint by half the next time around.

If you aren’t adding any watercolor to your print you are done at this point! Cut the extra paper off to center the print in the paper, try to leave a border for display. Mount the prints and display them. OPTIONAL: Display the prints with the ghost prints.

Gelli print supplies to add watercolor.

STEP NINE: Add watercolor to the negative space of the print. For this assignment, I had my student print until they got three successful prints. They selected two to test out 12 watercolor techniques and selected one to leave as is.

I have a watercolor handout and an instruction sheet that I give to my students to reference as they work. Both of these are included in my gelli print lesson plan. This lesson is now serving as my introduction to watercolor before moving into a more in-depth watercolor assignment.

Gelli print with watercolor.

This example shows the wet watercolor painting to the left and the painting after it dried with ink added. The ink helped define the fern and add texture.

Gelli prints

Display the three gelli prints together. Cut the excess paper off, mount them, and enjoy!

How ghost prints and gelli prints can be collaged into a visual journal.

If you have sketchbooks or visual journals in your class, encourage your students to save mess up prints and ghost prints to collage with in their journals. I will blog about collaging my ghost prints in the near future!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about art lessons, printmaking, gelli prints, and visual journaling by sharing with others.Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Interested in other printmaking lessons? Check out a relief printmaking blog post here and my printmaking lessons here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

I’ve been sharing a lot of my day to day activities, student work, and art and yearbook lessons on my Instagram. Follow along here!

Visual Journal Page 38: Whispers Make My Ears Itch

This visual journal page is one of those quirky, fun pages that I love falling back on when inspiration just doesn’t seem to hit. I have an ongoing list of visual journal page ideas, and this one lived there for a long time before it became a reality.

Sometimes it seems like inspiration is overflowing. I have too many ideas and never enough time. But what happens to all of those ideas when dry spells hit? We all have our moments of inspiration road blocks, and this page represents one of those.

I had been steadily visually journaling about my life, all things big and small, when suddenly I had no ideas left. Nothing current seemed journal worthy and I didn’t have a vision for my bigger page ideas, but I was itching to create. That’s when I turned to my visual journal folder and ideas list. When nothing jumped out from the folder of odds and ends I had been collecting, I turned to my list.

My list contains big events that have happened that I know I want to include when I have time: births of nieces, anniversaries, big trips, plus little things that don’t necessarily need to fit in a timeline: I love walking barefoot outside, red and purple skittles are my favorite combination, and whispers make my ears itch.

When I had no ideas to start pages for the big events, the one that jumped off the page was the whisper one. Because although it is insignificant, it tells something about me, and reminds me of all the times my hubs has tried to catch me off guard with an ear itching whisper.

Out of nowhere his hot breath is quietly telling tales of “sad Sally selling seashells at the seashore,” because sad Sally is full of high pitch, whistly, and breathy Ss.

So although this is minor it does give my readers a piece of me and it gives me a memory of my husband that immediately makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and goosebumps appear on my arms.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal
  • Drawing paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Book pages
  • Glue

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, including parts of the face in a drawing. Drawing is not my strength, and I knew it was something I needed to work on. I taught a drawing class and had many AP Art students who were drawing focus and needed help creating colored pencil portraits. I had yet to jump in, and decided this would be a good way to test out some techniques.

So I wasn’t too overwhelmed, I only focused on the nose and mouth of one figure and the ear of the other. I sketched them out with pencil on a separate sheet of paper before going in with colored pencil. I started dark and moved in a circular motion to get a smoother look. As I moved from dark to light I overlapped the colors and the circles to create a more even transition from light to dark. I worked on the faces and hands simultaneously, so the skin tones would match as closely as possible. Although looking back I see a lot of issues, it looks flat, the nose and hands aren’t in proportion, the teeth aren’t realistic, at the time this felt like a big accomplishment.

After completing the portraits, I cut them out, then moved on to the text. I was very happy with the way the text curled around the page in my bee sting page. So I decided to create a similar look with this. It helped add excitement, as if the words float through the air before reaching their intended destination. I wrote the words on a separate sheet of paper, then added lines and colored pencil. I cut them out and used an Xacto knife to cut out the hole in the center.

To emphasize the text, I glued it to a book page I had ripped from another book, then cut it out again leaving an edge of book pages showing around the block of text. Next, I glued the portraits to the pages of my visual journal, then added the text. I overlapped the portrait on the text block, making it look like the words were coming out of the figure on the lefts mouth. I used an Xacto knife to slice an opening in the ear of the figure to the right, then slide the text block through the opening to make it look like the words were going into the figure’s ear.

CHALLENGE:

Create a visual journal page about one of your pet peeves.

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

Visual Journal Page 37: Foggy Mornings

Looking at this visual journal page immediately takes me back to my commute to my first job.

My first art position was at a high school outside of Atlanta. I drove 40 minutes straight east everyday until I hit the small town where I worked. It was a very boring drive, straight highway lined with trees. But many mornings in the fall and spring brought beautiful fog that rolled through the trees, making me forget that I was speeding along a highway.

I loved seeing it, and it brought a odd combination of comfort and eeriness watching the white, translucent fog moving through the silhouetted trees. It brought be a sense of calm before I started my crazy, jam-packed day.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Newspaper
  • Watercolor
  • Paint brush
  • India ink
  • Gesso
  • Water
  • Sharpie

HOW TO:

To create this visual journal page, I worked in sections. I first started in my book by gluing down ripped up strips of newspaper and book pages. I then painted the background using warm colors to mimic the look of a sunrise.

While waiting for the background to dry, I used India ink to paint treetop silhouettes on a separate sheet of white paper. I using heavier paper, because India ink can easily saturate printer paper and cause it to ripple and tear. I set that aside and waited for it to dry. TIP: Use a hair dryer to speed up the process!

Once the tree tops were dry, I used watered down gesso to loosely paint fog. I painted the gesso in spirals, circles, and waves to try to mimic the look.

Once the fog and trees dried, I cut them out using scissors. When collaging, I like the look of leaving an edge around objects I cut out. I think it emphasizes the fact that it’s a collage. Once the trees were cut out, I cut them down to fit in the book before gluing them in. TIP: Use a credit card to push pieces into the crease of the book.

When everything was finally put together I added the finishing touches using a thin Sharpie, text that said: “There is something eerie, yet comforting about a foggy morning.”

CHALLENGE:

Recreate a moment when you were in the car. It can be a commute, road trip, or similar! Have fun and good luck!

 

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

Visual journal page 36: The Wedding Ring Incident

A visual journal page about my husband accidentally being buried in the backyard.

This visual journal page is about the day my husband buried his wedding ring.

I have heard many ways people have lost their wedding rings. Leaving it on the bathroom sink and it slipping down the drain, pulling it off in a pair of gloves and accidentally throwing it away. But, until my own personal experience, I had never heard of someone losing their ring because they accidentally buried it.

Yes, my husband buried the physical representation of our eternal love in our backyard.

My husband is a fidgeter. He drums his fingers on any flat surface, wiggles his foot, he is in constant motion. One of his favorite fidgeting pastimes is taking off his ring and spinning it on table tops. So naturally, one afternoon when he suddenly couldn’t find his ring, my assumption was he took it off and left it somewhere without realizing it.

We walked through his day, where he had been, what he did, when he last remembered having his ring. We searched the house from top to bottom, under furniture, on tables tops, in every nook and cranny. We came up empty handed.

When I decided it was time to throw in the towel, it hit Nick. He spent all morning planting plants in the backyard, surely it fell off while he was doing yard work. I was skeptical it could simply fall off, but Nick was determined. He spent the remainder of the evening searching over our not small backyard.

The next day I assumed it was time to start thinking about a replacement, while Nick decided it was time to rent a metal detector. He spent the entire next day combing the yard with headphones on, detector to the ground, listening for beeps and digging to find what was detected.

Let me give you some context.

Our adorable Atlanta bungalow was built in 1940. In it’s hey-day East Lake was a happening Atlanta neighborhood. A beautiful lake attracted Atlantians as a vacation spot and break from city life in the late 1800’s. But, as the years passed civil rights swept the nation and white flight began happening in many cities. This caused East Lake’s previous wealthy inhabitants to leave, attracting lower income residents, and creating the racial divide that honestly still persists today. The beautiful lake that once was a public attraction was purchased, gated off, and reserved only for wealthy golfers to play the course that now surrounds it. Like most Atlanta neighborhoods, East Lake became crime ridden, home owners couldn’t afford to keep up their houses, and things took a turn for the worse. However, the last 15 years has brought new life to these Atlanta homes with people moving back into the city who are able to rehab formerly run down homes. This is wonderful for our area, but also puts our older homeowners at risk with rising property taxes. But, that is a whole separate tangent that you don’t want me to get started on.

All of this brings me to the fact that from the 1960’s until we purchased the house, our backyard was essentially a trash dump. At a glance you wouldn’t think this. But over the years the rain, wind, and other elements would slowly push the junk just under the top soil. The amount of glass we have found, and still find, over the 8 and a half years we have lived in our house is astonishing. So, as my hopeful hub was searching for his wedding ring every few inches he instead found a random piece of rusted metal, an old oil can, a random tin, an empty soda can.

Instead of spending the day searching for his ring, it turned into a day where he uncovered every piece of trash buried in the dirt for the past sixty years. In defeat he returned the metal detector and claimed his ring a lost cause.

At the end of the day he walked out back one last time. He admired a row of newly planted bushes and noticed one bush was just a few inches out of line. He reached down and pulled the plant up in order to replant it in line, and as he describes it, his ring popped out of the ground as the plant came out, as if it were a coin in a video game.

A day of searching and the use of a high tech device had failed him. What paid off in the end was his OCD.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal book
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Old book pages
  • Heavier white paper
  • Watercolors
  • Paint brushes
  • Water
  • Colored pencils

HOW TO:

When it came time to create this visual journal page I was excited because I already had a vision in mind. I knew I wanted to emphasize the bush that ate Nick’s ring, and planned all along to create it in watercolor. Once I had an idea for that, I began on the background.

I wanted an earthy look, so I pulled old book pages that had a variety of page colors. I ripped them in stripes to create a softer look, and glued them down in vertical lines. Once I had the background set I sketched out the bush shape with pencil before I started with the watercolor.

I wanted the leaves to be very bright so I used the wet on wet watercolor technique. I first filled the leaf shapes in with water, then loaded green on my brush before adding it to the water filled leaf shapes. When you add watercolor pigment to water, it will fill the water shape. As long as the area around the shape is dry, it typically won’t extend beyond the limits of the water. Once I had a green base layer I introduced a dark blue at the very edge of each leaf to create a shadow.

I repeated the wet on wet technique with the bark on the trunk and roots, although I used less water so the colors wouldn’t blend as much. To fill in the dirt I simply painted dots all around the bush roots, using different shades of brown.

I really wanted the ring to stand out, since it is the focus of the story, so I decided to draw it out with colored pencil, so the material would contrast against everything else. I drew it on a separate sheet of paper, filled it in with colored pencil, then cut it out and glued it to the page. I cut sections of the ring out to show the roots painted on the page to make it appear as though the ring was overlapped by the roots.

To add the words I wanted to create a space that made sense with the rest of the image, so I drew out and painted a scroll like bar. I painted the same texture at the end of the roll as the bark on the bush, to look like it was being pulled out of the trunk of the bush. I wrote the words using a thin paintbrush and watercolor.

Through the years this page has held it’s spot as one of my favorite visual journal pages I have created. I am very happy with the final image and the story behind it is one I will never forget.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a piece of jewelry. It can be a sentimental piece, the loss of a piece, or the desire for something. Have fun and good luck!

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

Story Bazaar LA: A Visual Journal Journey

I have been visual journaling for the past 8 years primarily for myself and my students. But, and a couple of weeks ago I packed up one of my visual journals to head off on a journey across the country from Atlanta to LA to an event called Story Bazaar LA.

One of my longest and dearest friends, Elly, has put her time and energy into an amazing cause for a local LA charity, Ruckus Roots. They focus on bringing the arts to underprivileged youth in the Los Angeles area, something I am also passionate about. The focus of her event is story telling through a variety of mediums: poetry, fiction, fact, film, photography, music, and other forms of art.

My visual journals focus on telling the story of my life through both mundane and milestone events. Naturally, my journals fit into the theme of Elly’s project, so when she asked if she could use one, I gladly got one ready to ship.

My “Between the Lines” visual journal was mailed to Los Angeles, CA a couple of weeks ago and will be on display at the event on Sunday (6/24/18). Elly plans to have the book open to a specific page, with a blurb about the page next to it. I couldn’t decide which page to choose, so I sent her three options to pick from. You can check out my “Breathe In, Breathe Out” page here, “My Hands” page here, and Don’t Stop Arts is below (a blog post about this one will be coming soon).

I am flattered and excited to be a part of such an important and useful event. I wish I could’ve traveled alongside my visual journal to attend the event, but I will have to live vicariously through pictures and stories after the storytelling event closes.

If you live in the LA area and want more information check out the event page here, facebook page here, and get tickets here. Remember, all proceeds are donated to the amazing organization, Ruckus Roots.

Thanks for stopping by!