*Guest post by Mandy Russell.
To begin an art journal page without a clear plan can be daunting to say the least. I have a hard time with blank journal pages. To take bold, definitive action on the white space before me is not how I would describe my journaling process. I do take action, but it’s followed by stops and starts, second guesses, do-overs and, well, you get the picture. Life can be like that; full of stops and starts, second guesses and attempted do-overs. I find that when I art journal using positive, powerful words and thought processes, I actually experience a feeling of positivity come over me. This positivity can be empowering for life in general, but also for the art journaling process. The positivity propels the art journaling. The art journaling propels the positivity. It’s circular and quite wonderful!
Yet still, where does one find this sort of instant, “original thought” type of positivity for the blank journal page in front of them? How do you climb out of your own spinning thoughts to freshly begin? I have the answer: From sweet little fortune cookies and Yogi brand tea bags! They usually come equipped with lovely little sayings that impart of feelings of positivity, wisdom, or healthy action. So save your cookie fortunes and Yogi tea advice as journaling prompts for this easy art journal technique.
Begin with a blank journal spread and lightly cover both left and right sides of the open page with gesso and let dry. I prefer to work with a loose sheet of hot press watercolor paper and bind it into a book later, but a blank 2-page art journal spread will work fine for this process.
Using heavy gel medium and a stiff brush, adhere your tea bag saying or fortune in one of the four quadrants of your page. It can pretty much go anywhere- so don’t over think it! Using a crayon, scribble just a few words on how you interpret the fortune or tea bag saying along the bottom quarter of your page. Just compose an incomplete sentence about what the words mean to you or feelings they invoke in you. Keep a positive spin on it! Then dry brush on a bit of heavy gel medium here and there on your page, including over your fortune but not so much over your crayon scrawling. Let the gel medium dry completely.
Next use a large brush and a light value watercolor wash and cover your entire page and let dry. Then, using a bit darker wash (say a medium value), paint the bottom third of your page. Puddle the paint on here and there, then turn the page upside down and lift it vertically so drips occur. Let dry completely.
With a pencil, draw a simple shape on either side of your page; a square, a circle, or a heart, are easiest. Fill in the shape with a medium value watercolor wash and let dry.
Place a stencil over about half of the shape. Using acrylic paint and a stencil brush, fill in the stencil openings. Remove the stencil and rinse it immediately. Let the acrylic paint dry. Take a stiff brush and some slightly watered-down gesso and lightly paint the background of your page. Paint over the section of the stencil that hangs out beyond your shape. Paint the “sky” area, or the light-valued watercolor wash, and let dry. Using a “Marks-All” Stabilo brand black pencil, outline your shape. Add another design element, if desired, on the opposite side of your 2-page spread. I like adding stems to my shapes. This adds to the landscape look. Using a wet watercolor brush, wet the inside of the black lines and drag towards the center of the shape slightly, “fanning out” the dark wash. Let dry.
Draw a line along the horizon using a blue Stabilo “Marks-All” pencil, dividing the sky area and the ground. Drag a wet watercolor brush along the line, “fanning it out” a little bit along the ground. Let dry. Use a colored pencil and fill the sky with positive, affirming thoughts about what the tea bag saying or cookie fortune means to you. I journal illegibly and usually use incomplete sentences.
Lastly, choose one verb, or an action word, that best describes the fortune’s message. Artfully letter this inside your shape using the blue Marks-All pencil. Unsure of your artful lettering ability? Visit my website here for a couple quick and easy tutorials on my style of lettering. Activate the blue penciled letters with a small wet watercolor brush and let dry. Since the Marks-All pencil instantly activates with water, I sprayed my pages with matte sealer by Krylon.
Mandy Russell is on a forever changing artistic journey. She never knows what she’ll make next. She has many loves; some of which are chartreuse, a dog named Odin, her kiddos, and extensive hybrid day lily collection. Read more about her wonderful arting adventures at www.mandyrussell.com.