When I first saw Dina Wakley’s Ranger Media Journals I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds, I was so blown away. The hefty books don’t just have different types of paper—they include fabric journal pages, made of both burlap and canvas. I was thrilled that Dina, an incredible artist who knows her way around an art journal, had come up with something so brilliant, and I was sure I wasn’t the only one who would think so. But while I knew my way around paper pretty well, I wondered: What could you do with those fabric pages?
So we asked Dina to write an article for the January/February 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors and show us some cool techniques art journalers could start incorporating right away. While I love making books, I hadn’t thought of making one with fabric pages, until I saw Dina’s journals. In “Fun Ideas for Fabric Journal Pages,” Dina shows how to use paint, water-soluble crayons, stitch, and more, to create pages with drama, depth, dimension, texture, and beautiful color. This is one not to miss.
Dina’s journals measure about 8″ x 10″, and have matte black covers (in the photo below, see the bottom book, right). You may recall from a previous blog post I showed how to art up the cover with acrylic paint and stencils (left), and in another blog post, I showed how to make a fabric collage book with pages made from watercolor paper and linen.
Here are the books open; I stenciled the burlap page on the right:
I wanted to try some of Dina’s techniques in my own Media Journal, and decided on a monogram for a focal image. I cut one of the burlap fabric journal pages out of the book and trimmed it into a circle. On a piece of graph paper, I drew the letter J inside a circle the same size. You don’t have to draw the letter on graph paper, but it helped me keep it symmetrical. I cut out the letter and traced it onto the burlap circle with pencil.
Using perle embroidery thread, I filled in the letter with a cross stitch; the open weave of the burlap is an easy grid to follow. These stitches are pretty tiny, and I love the tapestry feel of the monogram. Experiment with the stitching; sew an outline, go abstract—see what you can create with needle and thread.
After I finished the monogram, I primed a canvas page with Dina’s Clear Gesso. She recommends doing this before painting, and clear gesso doesn’t hide the color and texture of the fabric. When it dried, I started painting, pinning the monogram template to the center so I knew how much room I had to work with.
I had no grand plan in mind, other than to do flowers; these roses happened, and I painted them with acrylics in a spring palette, probably a reaction to the lovely sub-zero weather we’ve been having. You can use so many types of color media on fabric pages: water-soluble crayons (try Dina’s Scribble Sticks), pencils, pens, pastels—try your favorites and see what happens! You can also stamp or stencil the fabric journal pages, and Dina’s article includes tons of amazing techniques and artwork, enough to keep you inspired for a long time.
More stitching was added to the painted page; I created French knots in some of the blue dots with yellow thread:
And sewed a running stitch along two corners:
To attach the monogram, I used pink embroidery floss and made some small ‘X’ stitches. Be messy, be neat—it all works, and it all looks beautiful.
This is such a great addition to my journal, and I can’t wait to try Dina’s other ideas for creating windows, pockets, and more with fabric journal pages.
Make 2018 the year you really stretch yourself and try new methods and materials. I feel like I already have a great head start!
Learn how to make the fabric collage book shown above, complete with fabric journal pages, in this tutorial.
One of our regular articles in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine is Studio Spotlight: a fun feature that gives you a glimpse inside the art studios of some of today’s top mixed-media artists. The following spotlight, also featured in our January/February 2018 issue, highlights the studio of Arizona artist Debi Adams. We hope you enjoy this look inside Debi’s inspiring space!
If you believe small spaces aren’t conducive to creativity, Debi Adams would like to prove you wrong. This mixed-media artist moved from a large house with a dedicated art room to a two-bedroom Arizona apartment she shares with her daughter. One of those bedrooms also doubles as her workspace, but her approach and attitude to organizing and creating makes it work. “I like to think of it as my retreat,” she says.
Three large windows supply lots of warm sunshine, copious storage boxes and desktop pieces help keep supplies in place, and the colorful artwork on display offers a unique, creative atmosphere. But Adams, an in-house senior creative designer for Spellbinders®, readily admits that all bets are off when she’s in the zone, and adds she’d rather be messing up than cleaning up. “I like having my things organized before taking on any major project,” she says, “but when I am in the heat of creating, I spread out everywhere.”
Exploration and discovery are best “when things are messy and buried. Sometimes the ‘accidents’ end up being the solutions.”
An array of storage pieces helps Adams easily locate the papers, paints, and embellishments she uses in her work. That storage includes stacked boxes and clean, white drawers as well as rustic metal vintage cupcake tins and bread loaf pans. For a vintage piece to pass muster it must be attractive and useful, and garage and estate sales and thrift stores are favorite sources.
Numerous art supplies are purposely on display, not only to be within reach, but to enhance the creative décor: “This is an easy way to add to the ambiance of the room,” she says.
Pens, pencils, and markers sit in vintage glasses, decorative papers peek out from a 1950s-era metal bin, and chippy flower frogs make great displays for ephemera. Wall space doesn’t go to waste. Rows of clipboards serve as an efficient way to display reminders and artwork. “The clipboards are like sticky notes for me,” she says. “Some have schedules for important events, and many are filled with ideas and sketches. A lot are misguided art pieces that will eventually be incorporated into other projects, while others are filled with my watercolors, drawings, and mixed-media pieces.”
Adams admits to being able to create pretty much anywhere—on a plane, at the beach—but says that this space is special. “This takes me home, and there is no place like that,” she says. “I have surrounded myself with things I love. I go to a whole other world. It’s just me and a substrate, a whole lot of supplies, and an opportunity.”
Debi Adams considers herself an eclectic artist, dabbling in mixed media, party décor, and everything in between. She has been featured in Where Women Create and in a variety of other art and craft magazines. Originally from Southern California, Debi now resides in Phoenix, Arizona, and works in the craft industry. Visit her website at debi-adams.com.
Want to see what else is inside our January/February 2018 issue? View our lookbook preview for a special sneak peek at the mixed-media art and projects featured in this edition.
In thinking about my 2018 creative resolutions, I realized that so much of what I do as an artist is visual. What I select to paint, how I mix a color, and how I place elements within a composition all begin with my ability to see. Every day I am aware that my sight is my partner in my art. I was fortunate to work as a teacher in a residential school for blind and visually impaired children when I first graduated from college. I taught kindergarten there for five years. What I learned there so many years ago has been a force in my life.
I learned that seeing is so very much more than what our eyes can pick up. To describe an object to someone unable to see, one must convey qualities beyond color and light. One must describe weight, volume, size, texture, and fragility. This is not always so easy! Models of objects cannot substitute for the actual thing. Sometimes you must just go out and “see” something with your hands, body, heart, and soul.
That brings me to my creative resolutions. This year, I resolve to:
1. Keep my eyes open and look beyond the obvious whenever I am out and about. I know the flower is beautiful, but what about the way the blossom is attached to the stem? Or the shape of the buds, leaves, and branches? And by the way, did you catch that great shadow?
2. Use my camera to record what I discover. My camera is a constant companion, a portable sketchbook, and an amazing resource for developing compositions. I encourage you to try out some of the photo-editing apps, if you haven’t already. Pixlr Express is my favorite. This app allows you to add effects, overlays, and borders to your photos, and crop and resize them.
3. Always look at the negative spaces. These are found between things; empty spaces with great compositional power. Many times the negative spaces are far more interesting than the objects. Get to know them.
4. Do more sketching to capture shape, pattern, detail, and line. I must admit that I am not a big sketcher. I prefer to create my lines, shapes, patterns, and detail straight on the canvas with brush and paint. However, I have taken to sketching on my tablet with one of several drawing/art apps. I can sketch with the digital equivalent of ink or pencil. I am making a commitment to do more in 2018.
5. Revel in beginning paint layers. Taking joy in color and the freedom to explore color mixes always makes me happy. These playful beginnings lead me to exercise more of my visual senses, as I discover what lies waiting.
6. Stay in touch with the process of making art. There doesn’t always need to be a final outcome whenever you make time for art. Sometimes all you need is to get back in touch with what you have forgotten or have put aside for too long. I recently rediscovered image transfers, and remembered how much I love the way they look.
7. Learn something new. This is wide open for me. I’m excited to discover what it might be. I will keep you posted!
8. Make a lot of mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the better you will get at learning how to do things. Mistakes lead to discovery. Discovery leads to mastery.
I’m excited to be a part of the regular contributors to Cloth Paper Scissors in 2018 with my column, Exploration: Painting. It’s an honor to be able to share with you some of my favorite artists and the lessons I’ve gleaned from them. We can never learn too much from other artists. How we each “see” so uniquely is always a wonder to me.
Chris Cozen is an educator and self-taught mixed-media artist as well as a Golden® Artist Colors Golden Artist Educator. Chris has authored several books, including Acrylic Solutions: Exploring Mixed Media Layer by Layer and Acrylic Color Explorations: Painting Techniques for Expressing Your Artistic Voice, with North Light Books. She has also hosted numerous instructional videos on acrylic techniques with ArtistsNetworkTV. See more of her work at chriscozenartist.com.
A new year calls for a new planner, and this tutorial from Erin Zamrzla will show you how to create your own — mixed-media style, of course! Originally featured in our winter 2015 edition of Pages magazine, the cover of this custom weekly planner is made from vintage bingo card designs. The unique exposed binding is created using a combination of long and link stitches.
Bonus: You can download the cover and page designs; check the link in the materials list.
Bingo Planner by Erin Zamrzla
Several years ago, I made my first day planner. I liked the ability to customize the number of weeks as well as the start and end dates. Adding in fun papers and extra space for notes, sketches, and collage was a bonus. Since then, I have made dozens more, for myself and for others.
This project uses an undated weekly planner design. After printing, write in dates on the pages as desired. Each week alternates with a blank spread, allowing room for schedules, notes, and more. The covers, inspired by vintage bingo cards, were printed on cardstock and stitched onto the extended spine, providing both a sturdy cover and a flexible hinge. The exposed binding is a combination of long and link stitches.
Paper, text-weight, thirty 8 ½” x 11″ (I used ivory, 32-lb., 25% cotton paper.)
Cardstock, two 8 ½″ x 11″ pieces (I used contrasting colors.)
Chipboard, 8 ½″ x 11″
Glue (I used PVA.)
Glue brushes, medium and small
Book press or a heavy stack of books
Sewing machine and heavy-duty needle (I used a denim needle.)
Photo copy machine
Japanese drill or hole punch, 2mm bit
Waxed linen thread, 66″, 3- or 4-ply
Needle, 1 for sewing, plus 2 more for placeholders (I used size 22 tapestry needles.)
1. Print the planner template onto your desired paper.
2. Cut each printed agenda page in half, creating 60 pages total.
3. Fold 30 pages in half with the printed side facing out. Fold the remaining 30 pages in half with the printed side facing in. Burnish each fold with the bone folder.
4. Trim ¾″ from the open edge on each folded page so the pages measure 3½″ x 5½″.
5. Nest 6 folded pages (also known as folios), 3 folios from each group, together to form a signature. Arrange each signature so that a complete weekly planner appears across the first spread of 2 pages. Each planner spread will alternate with a spread of blank pages. Repeat, making 10 signatures.
6. Cut a 7″ x 5½″ piece from scrap paper and fold it in half. Unfold the sheet and measure and mark along the fold, starting at the top, at ½″, 1″, 2¼″, 3¼″, 4½″, and 5″ to create a template for punching the holes for binding.
7. Open one signature and place the template at the center. Lay the signature on a cutting mat or in a book cradle and use the awl to punch through all layers at each mark along the fold. Remove the template. Repeat for all 10 signatures.
1. Print the bingo cover design onto a piece of cardstock.
2. Apply a thin layer of glue to the cardstock and adhere it to the chipboard. Press them together, and allow to dry. Cut 2 covers from this piece, each 3 9/16″ x 5 9/16″.
3. Cut another piece of cardstock to 8 3/16″ x 5 9/16″.
4. Lay the front bingo cover face down on a clean piece of scrap paper. Apply a thin, ⅛″-wide stripe of glue to the back of the cover, along the spine edge. Turn the cover face up and adhere it to the cardstock, aligning it along the far-right edge.
5. Lay the back cover face down and apply a thin, ⅛″-wide stripe of glue to the back, along the spine edge. Turn the cover face up and adhere it to the cardstock, aligning it to the far left edge. Press under weight until dry.
6. Using a sewing machine, stitch along the left edge of the front cover, ⅛″ in from the spine edge, leaving a few inches of thread at the beginning and end. Repeat, stitching along the right edge of the back cover. (Figure 1)
7. Trim the threads to ½″ and tuck them between the cover and the cardstock, applying a small amount of glue to hold them in place if needed.
8. Photocopy the spine hole-punching template (Figure 2) and punch holes at each mark. I created my template on a piece of chipboard. At full size, the spine template should be 5 ½″ high and 1 ¼″ wide (use the solid lines, not the dotted lines, as a guide).
9. Lay the cover on a cutting mat. Center the template over the spine of the cover. Evenly space it between the top and bottom, and the front and back covers. Use the awl to punch a hole at each mark. Enlarge the holes along rows 2, 3, 4, and 5 with a 2mm hole punch.
10. Gently fold and unfold the covers where they meet the spine.
1. Thread the needle with a single thickness of thread, leaving a tail of a few inches.
NOTE: The link stitch is used across rows 1 and 6. The long stitch is used between rows 2 and 3, and rows 4 and 5. Sew the signatures to the cover from front to back, working from the right side toward the left side of the spine.
2. Slightly open the first signature and place it inside the front cover along the first line of holes. Bring the needle out through hole 6 of the signature and out through hole 6A of the cover. Leave a few inches of thread inside the signature.
3. Go back through the cover, into 6A, and into hole 6 of the first signature. Before tightening the thread, place a needle through the loop at the outside of 6A to prevent the stitch from slipping through the cover.
4. Inside signature 1, gently tighten the threads and tie them into a square knot, directly over hole 6.
5. Sew up along the spine, sewing signature 1 to the cover: out 5A, into 4A, out 3A, into 2A, and out 1A.
6. Add signature 2 behind signature 1. Take the needle back into 1A and into hole 1 of signature 2. (Figure 3) Before tightening the thread, place a needle through the loop at the outside of 1A to prevent the stitch from slipping through the cover. (Figure 4) Sew down, sewing signature 2 to the cover: out 2A, into 3A, out 4A, and into 5A.
NOTE: Every 2 signatures share a column of holes in the cover; i.e. signatures 1 and 2 share holes 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, and 5A. Signatures 3 and 4 share holes 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, and 5B, etc.
7. Exit hole 6 of signature 2 and then go out 6B.
8. Remove the extra needle holding the loop of thread outside of 6A. Go through the loop and back into 6B.
9. Add signature 3. Enter signature hole 6 and sew up, sewing signature 3 to the cover: out 5B, into 4B, out 3B, into 2B, and out 1B.
10. Remove the extra needle holding the loop of thread outside 1A. Go through the loop and back into 1B. (Figure 5)
11. Add signature 4. Enter signature hole 1 and sew down, sewing signature 4 to the cover: out 2B, into 3B, out 4B, into 5B, and out 6C. Take the needle to the right and carefully slide it between the threads and the cover. This is the first complete link stitch. Go back into 6C.
12. Add signature 5. Enter signature hole 6 and sew up, sewing signature 5 to the cover: out 5C, into 4C, out 3C, into 2C, and out 1C. Take the needle to the right, between the threads and the cover, and then back into 1C.
13. Add signature 6. Repeat the sewing pattern until all 10 signatures are sewn to the cover.
14. Once signature 10 is sewn to the cover, exit hole 6F and create the final link stitch. Re-enter 6F and then hole 6 of signature 10. (Figure 6) Go under the thread at the inside of signature 10 and loop back through to tie a knot directly over the hole. Repeat, making a second knot. (Figure 7)
15. Trim the threads inside of signatures 1 and 10 to ½″.
Add dates to your weekly planner pages before you use it, or add dates as you go. The finished planner contains 60 weeks and 120 blank pages.
Erin Zamrzla is a designer, bookbinder, teacher, and author of At Home with Handmade Books and Handmade Books for Everyday Adventures. Visit her website at erinzam.com.
Cathy Nichols is known for her colorful artwork, and especially for the way she weaves stories into her art. In her January 2018 Art Lesson, Cathy shares how she uses selected words on a book page as a jumping-off point to create her colorful narrative collages. I loved the idea of starting with a book page, so I selected a few pages from a vintage children’s book and got to work.
I chose several words to build my story around, and circled them in pencil: “two girls,” “They were great friends,” and “we’ll go home,” envisioning young sisters who were also good friends. I adhered the page to the substrate and set it aside to dry.
I created several sheets of colorful prints with my Gelli Arts® printing plate, using colors that reminded me of flowers and the outdoors. I was pretty heavy handed with the paint, so there is plenty of great texture in the prints.
While the printed papers dried, I applied a watercolor wash to the book page, using blue and green, avoiding the circled words, and set the page aside to dry.
As the story grew in my mind, I started cutting and tearing the printed papers and other collage papers to bring my story to life: land shapes, a sun, clouds, tufts of grass, and flowers, and started adding them to the page.
Figures from Tim Holtz® Idea-Ology® Paper Dolls were perfect for my central characters. I added them to the scene and thought about what to add next.
I decided to add some colorful accents with gel pens to make the the black-and-white figures stand out.
The last words, “we’ll go home,” made a house on the hill a necessity. I cut the house from the printed papers, and highlighted the windows and the door with a white gel pen to make the house look welcoming. I used a brush pen to add a path up to the house, and gel pens to draw trees, grass, and flowers. I really enjoyed adding the details, and had to make myself stop.
Starting with words from a book page was more relaxing than starting with a blank canvas. As I chose the words, the story grew in my mind, and everything fell into place from there. Give it a try the next time you’re feeling creative, but don’t know where to start.
We’re starting 2018 with an issue of Cloth Paper Scissors that asks you to challenge yourself. Now, I know that’s not always easy—that’s why it’s called a challenge. But I think if you try some of these projects, you’ll see aspects of your mixed-media art practice change for the better. One of the projects features incredibly fun drawing exercises, and there’s a reason I wanted to include this article in the issue.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I started learning how to draw a couple of years ago, and it’s been a revelation. And while you certainly don’t have to know how to draw in order to be an artist, incorporating drawing exercises into your practice can benefit you in tons of ways: They can sharpen your observational skills, make you less afraid of drawing if you’re fearful of it, and help you hone your unique style. But don’t just take my word for it—check out Carla Sonheim’s article “Let Go and Draw” in the January/February issue. I decided to take my own advice and try her three exercises, and I’m so glad I did.
I created a small, simple still life, composed on a vintage plate. Nothing fancy, but I included a few interesting shapes. I worked on inexpensive 90-lb. hot-press watercolor paper and used a black fine-point permanent pen.
The first exercise focuses on drawing with your non-dominant hand, looking at the subject more than at the paper. I knew this would be challenging, but it felt as if I was trying to guide someone else’s hand. I started laughing because my hand wanted to do its own thing, and my brain wanted it to rein it in. I’m not sure who won this round!
This is the result. You can see that the lines are shaky and unsure, but as I drew the still life I had to really focus on getting my hand to do what I wanted it to, and that taught me to slow down, really concentrate on what it was I wanted to accomplish, and coordinate what I was seeing with my hand movements. I do love the energy of the drawing, and the fact that the pitcher looks like it’s melting.
For the second of the three drawing exercises, I did a blind contour drawing. This time I drew with my dominant hand, but I looked at the subject the whole time, and not the paper. This was even more challenging in a way than using my left hand, since I’m so used to looking at the paper when I draw. I tend to be self-critical, and if I create something I don’t like it just puts me in a funk. Going into this I knew it wasn’t going to look anything like I wanted it to, so I abandoned myself to the process and instead concentrated on what I was drawing. When you get lost in the process you immediately loosen up and let go of expectations. This exercise was incredibly freeing, and the anticipation of seeing what you drew at the end was absolutely worth it. Here is the result.
For the third drawing exercise, I did a contour drawing, again using my right hand, and looking at the subject about 60% of the time and my paper about 40% of the time. I didn’t want to cheat, so I was aware of spending more time looking at the still life. This drawing is still pretty raw, but there’s definitely some improvement in the rendering of the elements. Still missed the boat on perspective and composition, but like the blind contour drawing, I focused on slowing down and coordinating my hand with my eye. Once I started doing this it was difficult to stop—I was having so much fun making these drawings and being smack in the middle of the zone.
But wait, the fun’s not over yet! Don’t toss these drawings when you’re done—Carla suggests using the drawings as a starting point for a mixed-media piece. With that in mind, I added watercolor to the contour drawing, painting loosely and adding a little bit of shading.
I wanted to give the piece a little more zing, so I added collage, first gluing book pages to the top and going over them with white gesso. I used some printed paper cut-outs to add depth and visual texture to the elements and the background, adhering everything with glue stick. For a border, I drew along the edges with a black Stabilo All pencil and went over the lines with a wet paintbrush.
Whenever I feel the need to loosen up, focus, and have fun, I’m going straight for these drawing exercises. One of my goals for the year is do these at least once a week, and use them for a drawing warm-up. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did, and that you begin to see a difference in your artwork. Remember to enjoy the process, breathe, and keep going!
When contributors’ artwork arrives in our offices we can’t wait to open the boxes and see the treasures inside. Two artists who have projects in our January/February 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors surprised us by including something else in their packages: beautiful postcards and greeting cards featuring fantastic photos of their artwork and tools.
Ailish Henderson and Rachel Hazell both live in the U.K., and used Moo, the online printing company, to create their cards. The cards are obviously a great way to market their work, but in asking what inspired them, we got some surprising answers.
First up is Ailish, who wrote Jumpstart: Stitched Collage Portraits, page 45.
CPS: How did you come up with the idea for these cards that feature your abstract self-portraits?
AH: I thought about how I could create a timeless sense for my work. My original art pieces are one offs, and I wanted to keep a visual archive of them. Capturing them in postcard format meant I could show my work to many more people than those who would see the real piece in exhibition (The cards were part of my first solo exhibition last year.).
CPS: Do you consider them a marketing tool, or a way to show more of you as an artist—or both?
AH: Although art is my job and how I make my living, I am a tad complacent when it comes to making things only for monetary gain. I made them as a way to give out special cards to those I care about, and also to sell. They are also useful when sending art to galleries for exhibition purposes, as they have a professional feel and can be used as a “thank you for having my work” card.
CPS: Did you take the photos yourself?
AH: Yes, with my digital SLR camera. Over the years I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error with photography, and it does take time to get it right. The right amount of daylight is needed, along with clear rooms and white walls.
Rachell Hazell, who wrote Books that Speak: Make your ideas come to life (page 80) sent cards that included photos of her bookbinding tools, plus examples of her work, such as sketches and tiny folded works:
CPS: What was the motivation behind creating these cards?
RH: I was looking for something more interesting than a plain compliment slip. Bespoke cards give a personal touch to a parcel and a bit of character to correspondence. I love sending cards at any opportunity!
CPS: Are the cards just for marketing, to show your range as an artist, or both?
RH: They are a subtle method of promotion. So, yes; they are an irresistible marketing tool for someone whose business involves stationery and who is surrounded by special papers.
CPS: What has the reaction been to these since you’ve been sending them out?
RH: Very flattering! Recipients appreciate special touches, such as custom-made cards and handwritten notes. I want people to feel that I’ve taken care of them, even from a distance.
Seeing glimpses of an artist’s creative processes is fascinating and almost magical. Understanding what inspired someone, and viewing the progression from conception to creation, makes the finished work so much more impactful. So it was thrilling to see how Ailish Henderson created her abstract self-portraits (page 45) as documented in her sketchbook, which includes selfies, altered photos, sketches, copious notes about her experiments, and the paper and fabric scraps she used to make the pieces. She writes in the book that the collaged and stitched artwork was inspired in part by childhood memories, life experiences, and by the stories her grandmother told her while growing up.
One of the most exciting parts of the sketchbook is the presentation of her final sample pieces. She stitched pieces together accordion-style to show the progression of her work, from sketches to adding watercolor, then fabric scraps and stitching. Two of the accordions spill off the page vertically, and one stretches across a two-page spread. Detailing a special project or series this way makes sense, and results in a unique work of art on its own. We hope you’re inspired to record your own future projects this way!
As an avid art journaler and someone who devours new creative processes, I found great value in the video Top 10 Doodle, Drawing and Mark Making Techniques. This compilation video reintroduced me to forgotten drawing techniques, like pen and ink cross hatching, and showed me new ideas to add to my creative tool belt. The segments are varied, with clips from several of my favorite artists, so there’s something for everyone, from the true-blue beginner to the seasoned artist.
The video starts off with light and playful techniques, and I was immediately inspired to try Tiffany Lovering’s “windshield wiper” doodling pattern, which incorporates graduated teardrop shapes, as well as her “shoops” doodle flourishes. I used these in a couple of half-done pages in my art journal, sneaking them in here and there.
They worked well in the nooks and crannies of my designs, as they appear to emerge from the corners. I used black Sakura Pigma Micron pens for the doodles, and a lavender-colored Sharpie marker to add pops of color. The simple windshield wiper doodles are quick, easy, and oh, so satisfying, and I added some fun details, like dots and zig-zag lines.
Tiffany’s method of doodling on photographs (portraits of people or pets) was also very compelling. I had a photocopied picture of my great aunt that I knew would be perfect to use for this project, which is a fun way to enhance a black and white or color photo.
To start, I cut out my great aunt’s head and torso and adhered the image to a journal page using acrylic matte medium. I doodled several different patterns around her head, re-creating the look of her hairstyle. I also doodled on her face and neck, giving her jewelry and ridiculous glasses. For this project I used Micron pens, a colored Sharpie marker, and a white Sharpie Paint pen.
In another segment, Pam Carriker demonstrates a dramatic way to shade using Tsukineko Fantastix Coloring Tool, an amazing mark-making and drawing tool. I’d seen these little white sticks in the stamping section at my local craft store, but never knew how to use them. The sticks soak up water and fluid acrylic paint, allowing the artist to use them much like a big felt-tip marker. These unassuming tools are now a permanent part of my art journal toolbox.
I began by drawing a simple face with a sharp 2B pencil, using a photo as a reference. I drew the basic contour lines of the head: the eyes, nose, mouth, and the outline of the hair. A bit of shading was added with the pencil. For the next part, I poured small amounts of fluid acrylic paints on my palette: Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, Yellow Oxide, and Teal. I dipped the Fantastix in water, and then soaked up some of the lightest value of paint, the yellow oxide.
Following Pam’s prompts, I began to fill in the shaded areas of the face and hair, using the Fantastix tool like a marker. I found I could easily adjust the lightness of the color by dipping the tip in more water, as Pam shows. She is a fantastic teacher, and really helped me make marks confidently when shading the face, something I often struggle with.
I deepened the shaded areas with Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold and Teal, using the Fantastix in the same way. The sticks clean up well too—just rinse them in water. Thank you, Pam for this amazing technique. My art journal will never be the same again!
This video has more fantastic clips too, like Dina Wakley’s ink throwing, an easy and super fast way to start off a journal page with large organic marks. That one is on my to-do list. In fact, I wonder how ink would work in the Fantastix? You’ll find a wealth of information and inspiration in the Top 10 Doodle, Drawing, and Mark Making Techniques video. Enjoy!
Mandy Russell is a full-time mixed-media artist with a darling little studio called The Painted Dog, in the heart of Brunswick, Maine. She has a menagerie of goofy pets, two fabulous children, and a super supportive husband. When life isn’t too hectic, she finds time to clean the house. Read more about her artistic adventures and workshop offerings on her website, mandyrussell.com.
Discover a great way to use doodles and scratch art to create whimsical animals in this blog post!
Where do you go when you’re looking for creative motivation? Mixed-media artist Rae Missigman turns to her vision board: a colorful collection of ideas that serves as an artistic prompt and reminds her to create every day. In this tutorial from our January/February 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, Rae shares a series of techniques you can use to create your own unique vision board. We hope your new vision board helps you achieve all your artistic dreams and ambitions!
Vision Board by Rae Missigman
My intention is to create every day. I have learned that even if I only get 15 minutes in the studio, it is more than enough to stay inspired, and it has been a great exercise in staying creatively active on a daily basis. My focus is always to incorporate three key elements in my work: color, layers, and texture. I have always had a vision board hanging in the studio as a reminder to stay creative. Using the board as a springboard to being inspired, I can glance at it while working and find myself realizing a component of color or texture is missing from a current art piece, or use it as a reference point for a favorite go-to technique. Keeping the board updated with new ideas, colors, fabrics, or trending techniques is a great way for me to stay ahead of my own creative curve. I decided to create a new vision board to use as an artistic prompt, and I wanted something unique. This board is a collection of simple, yet bold and colorful reminders of the things that motivate me to create everyday. I am happy to share three of my favorite techniques with you.
Sewing machine and thread
Seam binding or ribbon
Spray bottle with water
Spray inks, several colors (I used Ranger Dylusions Ink Sprays.)
Jewelry pliers (I used bent-nose pliers.)
O-ring (I used an 8mm jump ring.)
Coloring media (I used Golden® Artist Colors acrylic paint and Derwent Inktense Blocks.)
Expired credit or gift card
Yarn or heavy-duty string, a variety
Needle, for hand sewing
Create the background
1. Choose a substrate for your vision board. I decided to use fabric in natural shades. I love the organic feel of a neutral background and the look of the raw edges against all my bits of inspiring color. I tore large scraps of linen and muslin fabric, layered them, and free-motion stitched around the border with a contrasting thread. Once the background was created, I added my inspiring bits.
2. Think about the things that inspire you. Determine which will be included on your vision board and how they will be represented. Is this board inspiration for a particular project, or is it to be globally motivating? For example, if your goal is to try hand lettering, you could incorporate hand-drawn fonts as inspiration.
3. Gather and use a variety of materials, tools, and techniques to complete your vision.
Make colorful tassels
When I catch a glimpse of these beautiful handdyed tassels, I see streamers of loose and beautiful color. I love the idea of creating color patterns that cannot be repeated. No two are alike. Each one inspires me to think outside the bounds of the color wheel, and pushes me to mix and blend colors in a whole new way.
1. Measure and cut 2 pieces of seam binding or ribbon, one 36″ and one 6″. Place both pieces in a shallow pan and spritz them with water.
2. Spray short lines of spray inks across the lengths of ribbon in several colors, overlapping the colors slightly as you go. (FIGURE 1) Spraying the inks in rainbow order creates a pretty finished piece.
3. Wearing gloves, gather the inked ribbons, and gently scrunch them into a loose ball. Over scrunching will cause your colors to bleed together. Set your ribbon ball on a protected surface and let it dry completely.
TIP: Save the leftover ink in your pan to dye your mini art journal pages.
4. Fold the long length of ribbon end over end until it measures approximately 6″ long. Twist it tightly at the center, and secure it with a clip. (FIGURE 2)
5. Open the O-ring with the jewelry pliers, and attach it around the twisted center. Use the jewelry pliers to close the O-ring. Alternatively, you can slip the gathered ribbon through the O-ring, if it fits.
6. Holding the O-ring, fold the gathered ribbon in half at the center and measure down ½″ from the ring. Wrap the short length of ribbon around the folded ribbon several times at this spot. (FIGURE 3) Tuck the ends in to hide them, or knot them to secure. Optional: Trim the ends of the tassel.
Design mini art journal pages
I love to hang miniature art journal pages on my vision board. They are a reminder that all I need are a few moments and a handful of easy-to-reach supplies to make something beautifully layered.
1. Measure and cut 2 pieces of watercolor paper. I used 3″ x 4″ and 4″ x 6″ pieces. If desired, round the corners before proceeding.
2. Mist a shallow pan with spray inks and water, or use the leftover ink from the tassel, and lay the papers face down in the pan. Allow the papers to sit for a few seconds to absorb the ink, carefully flip them over, and then lay them flat on a protected surface to dry.
3. Add stickers, stamped images, and loose pencil sketches and lines to the painted papers. (FIGURE 4)
4. Add more color, filling in around the work completed in step 3. I used acrylic paints and Inktense Blocks to add small sections of bold color. (FIGURE 5) Let dry thoroughly.
5. Make additional marks with a variety of tools, such as gel pens and china markers. Because this is my visual prompt for layering, I like to incorporate different markmaking implements when creating these small art journaling springboards. For instance, combining wet inks and waxy pencils can produce surprising and beautiful results. While the wax pencils do the simple job of mark making, they also create a colorful resist for the layer that comes next.
6. Add a pop of texture by machine or hand stitching the edges of your mini art journal pages, and finish with a bit of journaling. A permanent marker works well for this.
Other ideas for mini journal pages
• Drip permanent ink on your page and use a heat tool to move the ink around before it dries.
• Add a few drops of blending solution to your page, followed by 1–2 drops of alcohol ink. Tilt your page to allow the two to mix and move around.
• Dip an old toothbrush in wet paint and use your finger to flick the bristles, spattering the paint across the page. Or, dip a detail brush in wet ink and tap it to scatter the ink in small pools across the surface of the page.
• Pick up wet paint with a small piece of sponge and rub the sponge along the edges of your page to create a loose, colorful border.
Create a tiny weaving
I love to surround myself with colorful bits of fabric and yarn, two favorites when it comes to adding a tactile touch to a project. The texturized surfaces of small weavings flaunt their pattern and color, inspiring me each time I glimpse them to include some texture in my work. To me, texture is that one final detail that can’t be ignored.
1. Measure and cut slits approximately ¼″ deep and ¼″ wide on both short sides of an old credit or gift card. Bend every other tab slightly forward.
2. Weave a length of heavy-duty string or yarn around each of your tabs, leaving a 3″ tail on the back side of the card, going from one short end to the other and back again (This is your warp). (FIGURE 6) Trim the yarn, again leaving a short tail. Tape the tails down to the back of the card.
3. Cut short lengths of yarn or string, approximately 3 ½″ long, and create a slipknot over each warp string to create small rya knots. (FIGURE 7) Gently tighten the knots, and slide them down to one short end of the card. Repeat across the mini loom, creating as many rows of rya knots as you want. Use a variety of yarns, if you like.
4. Thread a large plastic darning needle with a length of yarn that is approximately 4 ½ times the width of your mini loom. Thread the needle under the warp closest to 1 edge of the loom and just above the rya knots. Pull through, leaving a short tail hanging off the side of the loom. Take your needle over the next warp string, under the next, and over the next. Continue weaving over and under each warp string until you reach the far side of the mini loom. (FIGURE 8)
5. When you reach the far side, loop around the warp string and continue working your weave back in the opposite direction.
6. Use a small comb or your fingers to gently push the weaving down, close and tight to the bottom of your loom, after each few rows.
7. When you reach the end of the length of yarn, tie on a new piece and continue weaving. As you work your weaving you can tuck the knots to the reverse side.
8. Stop weaving approximately ½″ from the top of the loom, trim the weft yarn, leaving a 6″ tail, and give the weaving a final comb down.
9. Lift the warp strings gently off of the tabs at the bottom of the loom, and then lift them off the tabs at the top, pushing your weaving down one final time. Snip the warp strings, (FIGURE 9) and knot them toward the back of your weaving. Use a needle to tuck the tails in on the reverse side of your weaving. Tie a piece of yarn or string onto the top of the weaving for hanging, and attach it to your vision board.
10. Finish your vision board with a hanger. I crocheted over a branch and added some handcrafted rag rope, which made a pretty and vibrant hanger. (SEE OPENING IMAGE.)
My vision board is a colorful and collective reminder to get creative and stay creative. For me, this means staying true to what I love. As I create, I change. I am constantly learning and morphing, and my work changes along with me. Because of this, my vision boards change over time as well. Bits and pieces are added and taken away until eventually the panel is new, inspiring me to create something unique all over again.
Rae Missigman is a self-taught mixed-media artist, who loves to create, blog, and instruct. She has a passion for repurposing found items and turning them into something beautiful. She has a fondness for both pattern and color that has led her to create outside the lines, resulting in artwork that is both complex and polychromatic. Rae‘s new book will be published later this year with North Light Books. Visit Rae’s website at rae-missigman.squarespace.com.