Tag: artist journal

Visual Journal Page 40: A Part of Me

A visual journal page about using a hot glue gun so much it became an extension of myself.

While in college I began creating large scale paintings of women in fancy dresses. I would paint the figures and background in oil paint, then construct intricate dresses out of fabric. I would often take these very high class, traditional looking ladies and place them into an unpredictable scene. A glass might be smashed, someone may have fallen down the stairs, chaos was ensuing. Not a typical scene for a lady.

While on this “clash of two worlds” journey I was struck with inspiration to create a dress completely out of beer bottle caps. Something about the juxtaposition of a traditional woman in a dress made entirely out of beer caps, not very lady like, was very appealing to me. I enlisted help from friends, family, and friend who worked at a bar to start collecting bottle caps and the project was underway.

It tok a few years of planning here and there before I finally took the plunge to put it all together. I had recently reached out to a local restaurant, Carroll Street Cafe, to inquire about displaying my work at their establishment. When I was added to their monthly rotation this became my motivation to finish the monstrous work of art.

It felt like every hour I wasn’t at work I was at home hot gluing bottle caps to fabric. My hands started to ache and clench after bending and cutting cap after cap after cap. My glue gun in one hand, pliers in the other, I felt like a machine. For a time it felt like the glue gun became an extension of myself.

A mixed media work of art constructed from oil paint, encaustic, fabric, mat board, and beer bottle caps.

I was very happy with the end result and the piece was well received at my mini art opening. It felt good to take on such a large project and see it through to the end. For years she lived in our back bedroom, stored away until I could find her forever home. When push came to shove, with Cooper on the way and a need to clear out the room, I practically gave her away to a couple who lived in my area.

Although I hated to see her go, and not earn the amount of time I put into back, I am glad she is on display, not stuck in a back room.

You can read about this piece in a post I wrote shortly after making it here. You can also check out more from my ladies in dresses series here. Although I have moved on from this focus, I still incorporate so much collage, layering, and mixed media in my artwork. My focus is now on encaustic, I have plans to post about my massive encaustic carving undertaking in the near future.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement, Elmer’s glue, or similar
  • White paper
  • Watercolor
  • Sharpie
  • Pastels
  • Charcoal
  • Spray fixative

HOW TO

When planning this visual journal page I wanted to emphasize the repetition and the overwhelming feeling I had somewhere in the middle of this big undertaking. I decided to create abstract looking bottle cap shapes to layer in the background. I started by painting loose color circles in the main colors I used in the dress: blue, green, black, and yellow. Once they dried I outlined them in sharpie and added a wiggly line around the outer edge to reference the look of a bottle cap.

After the bottle caps were complete, I cut them out and glued them down using rubber cement. Next, I started on the hot glue gun hand. I had a rough image in my head of how I wanted this to look. I sketched out an arm and hand, then started working the glue gun shape into the fingers. I used pastel to fill the color of the arm and the hot glue gun, then blended them together. Once this was cut out I glued it on top of the background.

After layering all my pieces together I decided the overall image was just too bright and colorful. It looked silly, as opposed to exhausted, overwhelmed, and in joint pain. I decided to darken the entire image by coloring over the background with charcoal, then smearing it, thinning it out in areas, and rubbing it over the hot glue gun hand. I added charcoal details back into the hot glue gun to sharpen it back up after smearing it.

Once I was satisfied with the overall feel of the page I began planning out the placement of the text. I ended up erasing a line out of the charcoal to create a spot where text would show up. I then added the text with sharpie. The final step was spraying the page with fixative to prevent it from smearing.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a challenging time in your life. Incorporate charcoal somewhere in the image.

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!

My first girl in dress painting, the dress looks a bit like a mattress. Made in 2007.

My first girl in dress painting, the dress looks a bit like a mattress. Made in 2007.

Mixed media painting created in 2008.

Created in 2008.

Created in 2010. This was the start of my transition into encaustic. The birch trees were layered with encaustic, carved, dripped, and painting into. 

Created in 2010. This was the start of my transition into encaustic. The birch trees were layered with encaustic, carved, dripped, and painting into.

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!

Art Classroom Decor: Sharpie Doodle Chairs

Two modern white chairs that have been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

Every two years my school hosts a large gala as a school fundraiser. The silent auction is a huge part of that and every gala the art department is asked to create a class project to donate to the auction. I had tried a number of projects in the past from centerpieces to wall hangings, and was never satisfied with a project, until the doodle chairs.

While brainstorming with a coworker and the art gala liaison, someone suggested a piece of furniture as an art item. We did research and found some examples of doodle chairs. I was immediately hooked, this was going to be fun and create a very successful final product.

The parent organization that plans the gala provided the chairs and we set to decorating them. These same chairs can be found at Home Depot. I did a a lot of experimenting before getting to work. I was hoping to find a way to draw the doodles with sharpie, then spray the chair to help protect the drawing. I tried at least 6 different spray coat products and every single one peeled off of the plastic finish. In the end I decided to keep the doodle mostly on the back of the chair, where sitting would not rub the doodles.

Two modern white chairs that have been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

I left the legs off while we doodled to make it easier to access the bottom. I set the two chairs on a table in the back of my classroom and whenever students finished an assignment early or needed a break, they would doodle. I started the design on one chair so my students would have an example to get started, but then I mostly let them run with it.

Two modern white chairs that have been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

My students covered the back and bottom of the chairs and I decided to wrap part of the design onto the front. I kept it minimal in hopes that it wouldn’t rub off after a lot of use.

Two modern white chairs that have been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

The final product was beautiful. I loved the contrast in the design and the modern look. I was sad to pass these onto the auction, but glad my class was able to help.

A modern white chair that has been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

If you are looking for an art fundraiser, this could be a great way to go. You could ask for donations from parents to purchase the chairs or you could find wooden chairs at Goodwill or similar to paint white with acrylic paint or chalk paint, then add the sharpie design on top.

A modern white chair that has been decorated with Sharpie doodles.

I hope these chairs are being loved and enjoyed in a happy home! I am very tempted to purchase another pair to create a doodle chair set in my classroom.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Interested in other crafty projects? Check out what else I have worked on here. Looking for art lesson ideas? Check out my posts here. Thanks for stopping by!

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!