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Mixed Media Layer Journey

I really need to take pictures of the process, but when I’m “in the zone” I don’t think of the camera. Plus, my fingers are coated in glue, acrylics, gouache, and other various art supplies, which isn’t iPhone friendly. This blog post is a reminder for me, in case I forget the many layers of “the zone.”


I’m excited about the art journal, because I’m almost finished it. Just a few more pages to go! I might be sad on the last page, but right now I’m like - YES!


To understand my joy, you might need to know this journal was trash bin aimed after multiple art attempts. When I first learned about refurbished art journals it sounded like such fun and hey, on YouTube, it makes it look so easy! Take a book, yeah, got it - old piano book I never used - presto, zero cost! Tear out pages. Um, yeah, okay, done! Use masking tape on each page where it meets the binder to secure the pages back in, because ya know, you just ripped out some pages... okay, this is getting tedious. But whew... done. Add masking tape over all of some of the pages, because acrylics likes masking tape. Things I didn’t know before.... And you’re all set! Huh? That’s it?


Only, there was a lot of learning to do and my first pages were... well, water color sucks on piano paper. It sits on the paper. It doesn’t blend. It’s ICKY and I love watercolors (not good at it on a normal day, but in my refurbished art journal, it was a disaster) I didn’t even care for the acrylics, except for one piece of art I did... was on the verge of tearing out that one piece to save it and pitching the art journal - file 13. My muse whispered, “No, don’t throw it away!” To which I replied, “It’s crap!” My muse insisted, “Just keep it for a while, store it away.” I think my muse is a hoarder....


Then one day I watched an artist create fantastic art in a refurbished kid’s notebook! NO WAY! Notebook paper is thinner than piano book paper! I wasn’t watching for the lesson on doing the art as much as I learned a ton about how to prep the paper to withstand a crazy just learning mixed media artist!


So, here I am.. I’m almost finished my refurbished art journal, ridiculously happy that I’m using this book. Art finds a way.


The one I just completed was started in a Oh Crap! Moment..... I had this vision of what I wanted to do in my art journal. Singing out loud (nobody was home thankfully)... “Gesso, I need Gesso....” la la la... walked over to the wire rack with a ton of bottles.... grabbed one and poured it out in random abandon.


Then I looked at the bottle.... ut ohhhhhh..... it wasn’t gesso, which is used to prep the paper for paint.... it was a whoopsi.... Matte Medium bottle. Glue... all over two pages. Well, in art... THERE ARE NO MISTAKES - all caps, because it’s a truth.


Before all this glue could dry and make me cry, I reached for some vintage pages. I found some I recently bought from Etsy.. oh that makes me think of a story I once heard from a fellow artist. Walk with me on this side path of thought.... this was when I first watched YouTube videos of artist doing mixed media. I didn’t know what the heck matte medium versus gesso was or how to use any of it back then, honestly... I wasn’t paying attention. I wanted to see the pretty paintings she did. She showed one of her projects and said, “But I can’t zoom in to show you the details... because after I finished it and thought it was beautiful. I hung it on my wall! I was so proud of my art. It was at this point, with the art in front of my face, hanging it on the wall, I realized the pages I used from the book for the background media dropped the f-bomb and other inappropriate passages. Apparently I didn’t know one of the pages was from an erotic romance book!”


I didn’t remember or understand her process, but what she said about the pages made me laugh and stuck with me, so I always make sure to read my pages before applying them. I made sure these pages I added to the glue were safe, well mostly.... because some cool pages from Etsy were from other countries... in other languages... so I hope there aren’t any curse words or weird stuff in my art now. Foreign written words are pretty - art in itself!


That’s the first layer, gobs of glue by mistake plus wonderful vintage paper. Let it dry over night. Oh, there’s some that say, “I have no patience, use a heat gun.” I bought a heat gun. Let me tell ya... heat guns are HOT. And if you get art fog and day dream about what the next layer will be and your heat gun doesn’t move and stays in one spot... umm did you know that acrylic paint can bubble and burn? Sure can! So, I prefer for my artsy lesson of patience and let layers dry on their own.


Next day, grab the colors. Singing voice, “Colors, I need colors, Bright and Bold, La La La La...” (Why did I just picture Snow White singing to the birds?) Anyway... the colors - ohhh, this one I wanted pinks, yellows, oranges and blue. All acrylics and swoosh them on the page. Let the brush take its own path. Sometimes I use regular acrylics and sometimes liquid acrylics. Before the paint dries, I use a tool (could be an old credit card, back of a paint brush, husband’s screw driver, wait, did I say that? No, not that, get your mind out of the gutter!) and scrape the paint away. Yes, you put the paint down. You take the paint away! All of this is intuitive. There’s no lesson about it. Just do it. I like taking the paint away, because it allows the words under it to breath again.


And let it dry over night. Patience, my friend.


Jump out of bed and run to the art table! Okay, this is true on some days, Lol... like when it’s 4am in the morning and I had an art thought.


Those sploshed pretty colors are nice, but they need something.... yeah, some sort of pattern. Grab a paint brush and create various designs. Want something more detailed? Grab an acrylic paint marker. This should dry quicker and starting at 4am gives it time to dry while getting ready to go to work!


I was considering doing some ink stamping but figured this had enough layers. Next up, draw the figures. Now the magic muse brings it together - liquid acrylics in a lovely deep blue goes around the figures. Oh night, how it sets off the bright colors in the background, which now pops to the front. Fascinating stuff, right! Let it dry.... add a moon, splatter some stars and touch in a few details. Happy Sigh. Let it dry.


Add some finishing coat spray and wax. What’s that? Yes, wax. I love the arting community, because they share helpful info! When I started my art journal and used acrylics... after the project was done and dried, I’d close the book... and open it to pages sticking together. This can be bad, very, very bad, because it’s paper and can tear. Another artist shared her trick... use a heat gun, really?? Yes, moving it quickly and at all times, warm up the pages and use a small candle to add wax to the pages, then wipe off excess wax, let it dry, close book, open book, no stick! Happy artist!


Side note.. no wax needed for watercolor art! If it’s only watercolor, there are tons of art journals you can buy or make (which I just recently did!... but that’s another story...).... now to the next to last few pages on my piano/art journal, I’m inspired... “I need Gesso, oh the Gesso... la la la... going to read the bottle... I need Gesso...”




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