Jane Davenport’s Altered Book Art Journal

When I embarked on creating a year of Art Lessons for Cloth Paper Scissors, I decided to make a special journey of it. I created all of the tutorials in one altered book art journal for the Supply Stash Series.

I love creating in books! Having one spot that spans a multitude of moods and months, that I can open and shut and easily move with me, appeals to my creative soul.

In Jane’s October lesson, she shows how to work with Hero Arts Ink Daubers and Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow to get flowing, layered effects.

There are three types of art journals that I like to use: my 9 x 12 Jane Davenport Canvas Journal with watercolor paper (from American Crafts), my own handmade journals with sheets of watercolor paper and found papers, and an altered old book that I use as a journal.

For my Art Lessons I decided to go with the third option, and I selected a cloth-covered book published in 1965 titled You are an Artist by Fred Gettings. The book paper was nice and thick, so it is was robust enough to paint on. The subject matter suited my purpose also, with passages about art and creativity peeking through paint.

Why draw with colored pencils? As Jane says in her December lesson, “Pencils are difficult to erase, which encourages you to learn to live with your marks.”

The binding and spine were good and strong. I often use older books with damaged covers, and although they can be salvaged and made sturdy, a book spine that is already in working order is a bonus.

You should check that the book you are going to work with for your altered book art journal isn’t a valuable first edition or something special from someone’s beloved collection.

PanPastels offer vibrant color and encourage artists to loosen up. Jane offers fantastic tips and techniques for working with this unique material in the February lesson.

When you are working in an altered book, you will be adding paint and collage and texture, which all add bulk and put pressure on the cover over time. For that reason, I like to remove a third to half of all the pages. I keep the torn-out papers and use them for collage if they are interesting.

I also like to stitch in some smooth watercolor paper, so there is a combination of the original pages and fancy paper throughout the journal.

For her April lesson, Jane worked with watercolor markers on watercolor paper in her altered book journal to show how to use the markers for washes, pops of color, and details.

Old paper needs some help to deal with all the paint, watercolor, ink, and pastels that are going to be swirled on top of it, so I usually prepare the pages with a mixture of gesso, matte medium, matte acrylic paint, and clear gesso.

I add a few drops of each medium on the paper and mix it right on the paper. This variation in the recipe for each page means the texture is a little different throughout the book. You can change the transparency of the mixture by adding more or less matte medium, so that the text or photos on the pages are muted. I apply the mixture loosely, so that I have lots of variety before I even start creating. Make sure to let pages dry before adding gesso to the reverse side.

The strength and beauty of Derwent Inktense blocks are revealed in the January Lesson, as Jane uses the blocks in a variety of ways.

You can see the end result throughout the Art Lessons series in my altered book art journal. All the Art Lessons combine to make one of my favorite journals!

Happy Creating!

Jane Davenport is a professional artist, online workshop leader, and the author of Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces and Fabulous Figures. Jane’s mixed-media art supply collection with American Crafts is available in the U.S. and Canada at Michaels stores, and on her website. Jane’s website features a free mixed-media workshop series tips and techniques; see it at janedavenport.com. See more of Jane’s work on Instagram (@janedavenport) and on YouTube.

See the new products Jane debuted at this year’s Creativation show in this blog post!

Let Jane Davenport show you how to get the most out of your supplies with the Art Lessons Supply Stash Series Collector’s Edition. An entire year of lessons, plus a bonus lesson, are included in one download.
See where it all began! Jane Davenport’s The Whimsical Face tells you everything you need to know to begin drawing faces. Download this video today and add portraits to art journal pages, paintings, and more!


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.