Art Journaling at Your Desk

painted art journal
Art journal by Paula Phillips.

cate pratoIt's summer: Have you started your traveling art journal yet?

If you haven't, I have a fun and easy exercise to help you begin, and you don't even need a studio. I call it the "everything at your fingertips" art journaling background launcher.

I was inspired while watching two new Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM videos, "Mix It Up! Paint, Collage, & Found Objects" with Erin Partridge and Paula Phillips' "Layered & Textured Backgrounds: Art Journaling Tips & Tricks."

Both artists believe in being spontaneous, using what you have at hand, and layering.

I had already prepared a few sheets of watercolor paper with paint that I (at Paula's suggestion) applied straight out of the bottle and spread with my fingertips.

One of those papers was on my desk while I was watching Erin's video, and that's when I started applying both artists' techniques with the principle of using simple tools and supplies that I had at hand.

Note: My goal was just to create a background for a page in my travel journal, not a finished piece.

erin partridge
Erin Partridge

1. As Erin went through the list of materials she likes to use, she mentioned writing on her canvas to add texture and the "hand" of the artist. Looking for something to write with, I grabbed the mug of utensils on my desk and pulled out a pencil. I recalled Paula saying something about using a ballpoint pen or pencil to make impressions on the painted surface, so I just scribbled horizontally and then vertically over the dried paint. The marks were very subtle, because the paint acts as a resist to the graphite (or ink).

2. I happened to have a couple of vials of fluid acrylic on my desk that I had received as samples, so I splotched some paint here and there on the paper. At this point, I realized I should protect my work surface, so I grabbed a couple of empty file folders and lay them underneath the journal page.  Using a napkin pulled from a desk drawer, I rubbed the paint all over the surface. This forced color into the grooves made with the pencil. Nice effect!

3. At this point, Erin was demonstrating on the video how she builds up layers. Again, I looked around me. I spied a bottle of hand sanitizer. Hmmm, didn't Paula say something about using wipes or hand sanitizer to spread or remove paint? I spritzed hand sanitizer here and there and again rubbed the surface with a napkin. This spread the color around and even removed some of it, giving the page a mottled effect.

4. Now I was on a roll. Erin was talking about adhering leaves to canvas using gel medium. I had a small container of gel medium on my desk (doesn't everyone?), but no leaves. Wait! I did have an image of a landscape I had taken and printed out from our weekend on Cape Cod. Being spontaneous, I randomly tore it into strips and applied the pieces with gel medium.

layered art journal
My layered art journal background.

5. Believe me, I don't keep a studio's worth of art supplies at my office, but I did happen to have a couple of rubber stamps and some small ink pads. I added those images to my background. Hmmm. Not thrilled about how that worked out. One bird was probably enough. But I can always cover that up with a picture or something later.

6. As Erin was talking about how she uses tissue papers and paint to integrate layers, I was thinking to myself: yes, my page is just meant to be a background, but it needs something to unify the elements. I had just gotten a sample of shimmering spray inks that morning.

The colors were purplish pink and pale green; not what I would have chosen, but that's what I had. I spritzed on the pink first, then dabbed it here and there with my new best friend, hand sanitizer. I liked the effect of the green ink better, so I spritzed that more liberally, leaving it to dry in spots as it fell.

At that point, I had run out of video and desk supplies. So I left my art journal background to dry. Looking at it today, I think it's a great foundation for the art journaling I plan to do on my vacation.

I found both videos to be filled with fresh, useful ideas for art journaling and collage. In both "Mix It Up! Paint, Collage, & Found Objects" and "Layered & Textured Backgrounds: Art Journaling Tips & Tricks," you'll learn how to be more loose and free with everyday materials and materials you might not have thought of that are readily available.

Be spontaneous and download these videos now!

P.S. What's your favorite "everyday" material that you use in an unusual way in your art? Leave a comment below!


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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