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I was invited to do a spread in a “newbies” altered book round robin on ANUK having acted as a mentor – not that the new members needed mentoring, nor from the results, would anyone think they were new to altered art – the spreads I have seen have all been really fabulous. This spread is for Linda G.’s book, the theme of which was Yellow, sub-theme The Garden. I started with a layer of textured paper which I then covered in gesso – I like the feel this gives to the page and also the fact that any paint layered on top can be worked in various ways. Over this I then layered various bits and pieces, some cut out flowers and butterflies in thickish paper, some coloured strips of canvas and some real leaves. I then put a layer of gesso over these as I did not like the design at all – perhaps one day I will learn to work things out first although I doubt it – I do tend to work spontaneously. More paint over this layer of gesso over which I then did loads of leaf prints. These were done by literally painting real leaves and using them to print with – there are many layers of these although the scan does not show the variance in colour very well. I then applied several leaves which I had printed separately on paper and outlined, along with the butterfly. Ta da:
Oh and the quote is by Van Gogh.
After completing the doodle quiltie I went back to the Soul Journey Journal. I decided I wanted to continue with this journal even though the project itself is finished, my journal is not nor, of course, is my journey.
I started this spread not having a clue what I wanted to do or express but determined to stick to my arting every day this month, so I applied torn text etc to the pages adding a layer of gesso over this. I then collaged and wrote random numbers as per one of the spreads we did with Caspiana – still not knowing where I was going. Next a wash of colour which I really didn’t like so another was added after that. I then decided I wanted some texture so dry painted some acrylic paint onto the pages and closed them to create uniform splodges on each page. Left to dry overnight, hated it and covered with another two washes of colour. Again for texture I added some paper weaving using electrical tape to fix it in place which I then sanded and added yet another wash of colour. Whilst waiting for this to dry I was flicking through an old Wemoon Diary and saw a painting entitled “In Gaia’s Garden” – ta da – yeah that’s it. So that became the theme of this spread. I actually love the title and feel of it so much I may well do a whole altered book or art journal on that theme. I was sifting through my collage materials wondering how I wanted to visualise the title and found a picture of a leaping cat, so I proceeded to make a stencil from that and a moon – the text underneath I had found already – all the bits came together…the visual of the cat leaping over the moon to me totally communicates the legend underneath. Finally I added the text at the top of the right page – Gaia’s Garden speaks to me of possibilities, things seen and unseen, things known and unknown – so much to explore and experience.
I have been using a Khadi paper book for this journal and would recommend – it takes so much punishment and is holding up brilliantly.
This is the last spread of this project – mind I still have to go back and work the taped pages. The background was prepared with torn pieces of papers, receipts etc in this case – an alternative to shredding – then gessoed. Over this we were instructed to write “Today I feel…..” for at least five minutes. Then to the self-portrait. This was to be done with our hands – good ol’ finger-painting. I have resisted doing this for about a week, no idea why but determined to get it done today. Of course, once I started I really enjoyed it. I have taken artistic license with the colour – I am not orange – more a pasty shade of pale, plus my fingers were too wide to put in all the wrinkles, but the hair is almost right, I have had white hair since my early thirties. This was great fun to do returning me, as it did, to childhood playfulness. I will be using this ‘technique’ again – I would encourage all to try painting with your fingers.
Opposite the portrait the background is made up of my finger and hand prints, over which I stamped a few lizards and printed from a lino-cut a fabulous raven/crow. These two creatures have meaning for me. Oh and at the top-centre two runes which I pulled before starting.
It is a shame this particular project is over but I am going to continue in this journal to play and try out techniques old and new.
For this two page spread we were instructed to photocopy at least three of our journal spreads and pick out our favourite bits to re-use here. I knew which bits I wanted to use in the main, but decided to use all of the photocopied pages. I tore out the images I wanted to keep whole, the stencil figure, the face and the tree and glued them in place. I then ripped up the rest into smallish pieces which I glued to the pages, sanded and then painted with a yellow wash which came out green – I did this a couple of times to get some depth to the colour. I added the quote, which comes from a traditional women’s circle song, in between the washes. I am happy with the finished effect.
In case you cannot see it the quote reads:
“Be careful what you lean on
It may not hold you up
Or lean freely
And be prepared to make an art of falling”
The above is the name given to the technique for these spreads by Sarah. On each of three days we were given a list of various things to do on our pages. We were then to cut up each of these lists and pick at random the order in which we would work them on a particular day and spread. I have enjoyed working/playing this way and I now realise that I can use these techniques for work that I have wanted to do for a long time but was reluctant to do in an in-your-face downright obvious way. Now that I am getting to grips with the layering techniques I feel I can embark on the personal projects that have been gathering much dust in my mind.
Days 16, 17 and 18:
The next spread in the Soul Journal Journey was to create our house in a child like style – enjoyed that loads even though it falls off the bottom of the page. The right hand side is of the flats on the other side of the green and behind the trees, which is the view from my window. I am lucky to live where I do – almshouses which are listed buildings within a beautifully green oasis in the middle of the inner city. A young friend visiting from Spain on her return home reported that, “Jill lives in a park!”
We were then to collage making a pocket on the main body of the house. As I am playing catch-up I could see what the next step was to be and this was to make paper dolls which represented our family – an interpretation of that was fine. I am thinking to do family/relationships spreads later on perhaps – but I really didn’t want to do paper dolls. Not meaning to offend anyone, each to their own and all that, but it was just too cute for me – I cannot do cute. So being who I am I did my house and surrounds but no folks.
My house actually does look like the sort a child would draw, a friend described it as looking like a fairytale house. Here is my spread before and after collage:
Pages 3 and 4: squares
This spread is all about layering. We were given a list of 27 images to find and put on our pages in any order we chose, previously having coloured the pages with a dark paint. Returning to this after pages 5 and 6 we were instructed to draw squares etc around pics of our choice and to spread on and wipe off a pale colour. I did this and ended up with a basically pink page which I really didn’t like at all – hated in fact. The pictures sank into the page and it just looked awful to my eyes. I know the point of this is not to make pretty pages, but it is about getting to know ourselves – and I definitely did not like what I had achieved so I decided to go over it with, firstly oil pastels and then paints of various dark hues. I am much happier with this now and will leave it alone until I decide to fiddle some more :).
Pages 5 and 6: “I forgot to tell you….”
The pages were gesso’d first of all to prep them. Next the instruction was to write in a stream-of-consciousness style filling both pages, starting with the prompt: “I forgot to tell you…”. Well, I was surprised at what came out of this for me, it was really quite cathartic, as is often the case when writing in this way. It ended up as an almost letter to my mother who died earlier this year, many of the things I never got to say. I knew the next step for this spread was going to be to cover the whole thing up and I really wrestled with this as I felt that what had come out in the writing was important for me and I did not want to suppress it again. So I left it for a day or so until I came to a firm decision about what I wanted to do: leave the writing totally uncovered as was my initial emotional response, or follow the instructions and see what happened. As you can see I opted for the latter, however I did copy the text before doing so – so yeah it was a bit of a cop-out but I am happy with that. Next it was tape, all sorts anywhere, then gesso, then sanding that lot, then paint. I like the effect of this and am happy that I am getting to do the sort of backgrounds, many layered, that I have wanted to achieve.
I have started a new art journal journey which is being hosted/run by Caspiana. Samm from SoulfulArt at the Soul Food Cafe provided the link and inspiration to go have a play. So play I am, although I started late so am several days behind but I don’t think that matters, the results and the learning are what counts.
I have done pages one and two so far and am working on pages 3 through 8.
Page 1: Claiming the book as your own:
Believe it or not this is my name page! I was reluctant to do this – I am not sure why, but once I got started I had such fun – what a great experience – I spent hours, doodling, colouring, sticking, playing. It really loosened me up. I am thinking that in all future journals, and where I have space in those I have already done or started I shall make room or tip-in a name page – it is well worth it and definitely shows who owns the book.
Page 2: Protecting your Creative Spirit:
When I first looked at the prompt for this page, Sarah the initiating artist has used a suit of armor to depict her protector. Armour really didn’t feel right for me so I thought long and hard and then slept on it. Of course, the image that has hung by my bedside for many many years was the right one. This is a drawn and painted copy of that image, one I created some fifteen years ago – she is one emanation of several protector-teachers that I have – at the time of her creation (she is a stitched tapestry on canvas) She named herself Raven Mother – quite apt eh :). The mirror at the centre of her chest is to deflect and reflect negativity, the spiral shield I have placed at her crown as it represents for me both internal and external negative criticism and put-downs…the spiral transforming/transmuting these or just spiraling them away from me. The red stone on the left depicts heat/energy and nature both nurturing and inspiring aspects of life.
I am enjoying this journey and realise that although I am working on several seemingly disparate projects at once they all are connected – each is teaching me very similar things. I do so love this world of creativity and expression!
This month’s theme was slash n’ burn. Now I would assume that there is a particular technique to this but I am ignorant of it so what I did was to make a piece, using the journal techniques in the sectionals then slashed ’em and burned some of the threads and fabric and quite a bit more actually – I used a heat gun, not a craft one and mistakenly put it on the highest setting so a lot more got burned than I intended, plus I set off the smoke alarms which I couldn’t switch off because of the probs with my arms lol – so all in all quite an adventure. Some of us should not be left on our own too long ;). Anyhow, once I had gathered all the bits up I stitched them together again with different placement. This would be the result:
As I began to embellish each section I decided to join them into a whole piece rather than forming them into a book as I had originally intended. I am really liking the result so far………
Initially I was thinking to use this as a background, á la art journal style. My first thought being to create some form of self-portrait as a surface design…. as these were literally journal sections that I had cut up and reformed, a representation of my life, albeit for a day or so only, it would make sense to have some form of self imprinted/embellished onto the background. However, now I have stitched it all together I am not so sure. At present it is pinned to a wall where I see it often – I will wait until it tells me what it wants me to do with it. More stitching probably – and, as Marci suggested, some beading ….. it may then be complete perhaps.