Art Journal Pages: Bringing Backgrounds to the Forefront

I never thought that I was one to come up with excuses for putting things off. But now that I’ve had a chance to play around with the exercises in Gina Rossi Armfield’s new book No Excuses Watercolor, I realize that I’ve been putting things off for way too long when it comes to branching out in my art journaling.

Recently, I tried a simple lesson she encourages artists–especially beginning artists–to do. The technique involves creating a background watercolor wash. Sounds easy enough, right? Except that I’ve never intentionally created a journal page around a background. But by using this art prompt, I came up with a painting I never would have attempted (below, right).

Art journal tips | Gina Rossi Armfield
Forest Painting (watercolor) by Gina Rossi Armfield

I began with a pencil drawing. This may have been the hardest part, because I had to decide what to draw! I tapped into my deep love of circus arts and paid homage to tightrope walkers, because I love the way their bodies are silhouetted against the sky as they perform their feats. My tightrope walker is wearing a flower in her hair, and carries a decorative fan that helps her keep balance as she walks so high above her onlookers.

Watercolor art journal page | Cherie Haas,
My Tightrope Walker (watercolor, 7.5×7.5) is nowhere near the level of Gina’s work, but you have to start somewhere!

I used a brownish-orange color for my performer and the tightrope. I painted the tightrope with short brush strokes all the way across the pencil line. This made the line more interesting than if I had gone across the page with a single stroke.

Next, I painted in the background with a blue wash. Easy-breezy!

Lastly, I used a fine-tipped pen to draw the tightrope walker’s fan, the flower in her hair, her shoes, and the trim on her skirt.

I might go back and make more changes to this at some point–the image at right was barely dry when I took the picture. I hope that you’ll see this, think, I could do that, and then go do it! No Excuses Watercolor was the inspiration I needed to create this painting. Even better, it’s part of the No Excuses Watercolor Kit, which includes Gina’s No Excuses Watercolor eBook, No Excuses Art Journaling (eBook), and two of Gina’s video downloads on similar topics.

Happy art journaling,


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Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Painting Techniques, Mixed-Media Techniques


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