Mixed Media Alchemy: Sketchbooks and Journals

by Lisa L. Cyr

If you are feeling creatively blocked or stagnant, I highly encourage the daily practice of working in mixed-media sketchbooks and journals. When you allow yourself to play with paint and drawing materials or write freeform in a journal, you open the door for insight to enter, breathing new life into your work and process!

In my book Art Revolution, I provide an inside look into the work and minds of 21 of today’s leading mixed-media artists. Many of them use sketchbooks and journals as a way to spark ideation. In the in-depth profile on mixed-media guru Barron Storey, I reveal the artist’s unique ability to make a dramatic sensory connection with the world. By exploring graphic language and the cutting-edge work developed in his amazing journals, I unfold the artist’s ability to take chances and push boundaries. The signature work created in the journal format documents the artist’s ability to translate visual perception into graphic form. “The journals are not areas where ideas are developed but instead are daily records of experience, real or imagined. It’s a great big stew, uniting the body, mind and senses,” shares Storey. “For me, it’s important not to think first and draw after. I like to keep in the domain of the magic that happens when you’re thinking, seeing and drawing all at the same time.” Art Revolution is a highly visual, thought-provoking book packed with exciting profiles of leading artists and illustrators, showcasing their stellar, multi-media work. In addition, exciting splash spreads featuring demonstrations and behind-the-scene looks at the groundbreaking artists at work reveal signature processes and techniques. The book also provides insight into the historical influences behind contemporary thinking and approaches, investigating the origins of alternative, unconventional picture making throughout the decades.

If you are new to mixed media or need to expand your repertoire, I have some fun techniques for you to try. Using collage, texture and mixed-media processes, I adorn my journals, sketchbooks and altered books as a visually stimulating way to jumpstart my creativity. Many of these techniques are demonstrated in my latest mixed-media book called Experimental Painting if you are interested in learning more.

TEXTURED COVERS & ASSEMBLAGE ACCENTS

Onto the cover of an ordinary sketchbook or journal, apply matte gel medium evenly across the front, back and spine. While it is still wet, deboss some of your favorite textures directly into the surface, making a unique imprint. Once the surface has dried overnight, apply several acrylic washes using various blotting techniques to infuse pattern. To reveal the tactile surface, employ a fan brush and metallic acrylic paint, using a dry brush technique. For my sketchbook shown here, I also added a metal assemblage accent to the surface, giving it an intriguing focal point that has a meaningful message. When I open the sketchbook, I open the door to discovery.

Mixed Media Alchemy

Sketchbook Cover
by Lisa Cyr

TREATED ENDPAPERS & MIXED-MEDIA BACKGROUNDS

It is also fun to create your own custom endpapers and backgrounds using mixed-media techniques. Shown is the art used as endpapers for my book Experimental Painting along with the inside panel art from one of my sketchbooks. To create the unique patterns, I used plastic grocery bags and plastic wrap for blotting into the wet acrylic paint surface. You can use almost any material as a blotting device. I’ve used almost everything from natural and synthetic cloth to food such as various lettuce leaves! Keep your eyes on the lookout next time you are at the grocery store or taking a walk in nature.

Lisa Cyr

Endpapers
by Lisa Cyr

Lisa Cyr

Endpapers
Lisa Cyr

ALTERNATIVE FORMATS & CUSTOM BOOKMARKS

Exploring alternative formats, custom tip-ins, gatefolds and die-cut borders is a creative way to challenge yourself in the sketchbook. In the illustrations, I show the use of an alternative format that employs die-cutting, a custom tip-in and two handmade bookmarks. The sketchbook art is produced using a plethora of mixed-media techniques, including texturing, dripping, collage, spraying, dissolving, palette knife, marbling and sponging just to name a few. A bookmark accent folds in half and is placed in the sketchbook, marking the page through the use of a magnet in the back. Shown also is a bookmark made from handmade paper that is imbued with natural fibers. An embossed metal tip-in is placed on top as an accent. Embossing metal, making handmade paper, exploring collage techniques, embossing and debossing surfaces and many, many other exciting techniques are demonstrated throughout my mixed-media books Experimental Painting and Art Revolution.

Lisa Cyr

Sketchbook in Process
Lisa Cyr

Lisa Cyr

Sketchbook Completed
by Lisa Cyr

Lisa Cyr

Bookmark
Lisa Cyr

DECORATED & EMBELLISHED SLIPCASES & BOXES

To store your custom sketchbook or journal, decorate and embellish a slipcase or box. The examples shown feature raised stenciling, resists, gesso texturing and the creation of a unique assemblage accent using clay.

Lisa Cyr

Slipcase
by Lisa Cyr

Lisa Cyr

Journal Box
by Lisa Cyr

I look forward to seeing your mixed-media inspired journals and sketchbooks!

copyright 2012 Lisa L. Cyr, Cyr Studio LLC www.cyrstudio.com

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