Let Art Lessons Make You a Better Artist

Imagine mixed-media project tutorials from top artists that feature page after page of large, clear photos, great instructions, lots of extra inspiration, and a companion video. Guess what—they exist! Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lessons are a monthly digital download that let you do a deep dive into a fantastic project while learning tons of techniques; there’s practically a photo for each step. I have the perfect way for you to get acquainted with these tutorials: our 2016 Collector’s Edition.

The theme of the 2016 Art Lessons is The Extra Touch, and all 12 are included: Learn printing, papermaking, and collage with Lynn Krawczyk; explore Rae Missingman’s world of vibrant colors and mark making though art journaling, canvas, and fabric projects; discover Roxanne Evans Stout’s nature-inspired paint, stitch, and collage techniques; and follow along as Darlene Olivia McElroy cooks up artistic alchemy with unique materials.

All 12 Art Lessons
All 12 Art Lessons are included in the 2016 Collector’s Edition of The Extra Touch series.

The techniques in these lessons are geared to all levels, and each is designed to help you forge new creative paths, taking your artwork to new heights. Start with Volume 1 or skip around; there’s no right or wrong way to approach them. I started with Rae’s Journals With Texture project (Volume 4). You know I love me some book art, and this project, which adds texture to a small journal cover with modeling paste and fibers, called my name.

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I started with a photo for my cover; you can also scan a favorite art journal page, print it on cardstock, and use that as a cover. I printed my photo onto canvas paper, and along the way I had a happy accident. My printer started to run out of ink, giving the image a distinct purple tone, instead of black and white. I decided to go with it.

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Using an offset palette knife, I mixed some light molding paste (I used Golden Artist Colors) with a few drops of acrylic ink to tint it (I used Liquitex).

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The paste was spread through a stencil directly onto the canvas, again using a palette knife.

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Here’s the result; you can see how much the color and the texture add to the cover photo. The green dots were made with modeling paste mixed with green ink and spread through a piece of punchinella (also known as sequin waste).

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Using another stencil and yellow heavy-body acrylic paint I created some abstract circles, pouncing the paint through the stencil with a cosmetic wedge.

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When that dried I mixed a little of the paint with the molding paste, then applied it with a palette knife through the same stencil. Layering the designs gives the piece even more interest.

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After that I pretty much went to town with paint pens, acrylic paint, and gesso, creating marks, doodles, and drawings. The image was trimmed to the edge, and the corners rounded. In Rae’s Art Lesson you’ll see why her style of creating abstract florals, designs, and marks is so popular. Her artwork jumps off the page.

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Light molding paste is softer and more flexible than regular molding paste, but it can still be sanded. Rae recommends doing this step when the paste dries to make the cover smoother and prevent the peaks from chipping off with handling. It’s these types of tips that add to the value of the Art Lessons; artists love sharing information and discoveries, which go a long way in helping you be successful. The sanding took just a few seconds but made a huge difference. I wiped off the paste dust with a soft cloth.

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This next step was so incredibly fun. To add even more texture to the cover, Rae adds stitched circles of wool roving fibers. The technique is super easy: Pull a small bunch of fibers (try a mix of solids and blended colors), shape them into a circle, and machine stitch them onto your cover. You can do this with free-motion stitching, but my machine doesn’t do so well with that. So, I turned the cover as I sewed, occasionally lifting the presser foot (with the needle in the down position) to make a tight turn. The look is meant to be fun and wonky, so don’t go anywhere near perfection with this. Enjoy the process.

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These fiber circles may be my new favorite thing. Can’t wait to make another book incorporating them.

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Since the canvas cover is flexible, I gave it some heft it by adhering it with a glue stick to a piece of cardstock slightly larger than the cover. For a closure, I sandwiched pieces of ribbon between the cover and the cardstock on the front and the back. I let the piece dry under a heavy weight so it wouldn’t buckle. Check out the Art Lesson for Rae’s technique for making another type of closure—it is not to be missed.

While that piece dried, I cut the paper for the inside pages. Taking inspiration from Rae again, I used a variety of found papers for the pages, cutting them to different sizes: book text, maps, decorative papers, blueprints, and vintage ledger paper. If you’re using this as a journal, you can gesso over the printed papers, giving yourself a nice surface to work on.

When the covers were dry I machine stitched around the edges, then cut the cardstock flush with the canvas and rounded the corners again. The pages were bound with a 5-hole pamphlet stitch, but in the lesson Rae shows you how to attach the pages to the cover with your sewing machine. Here’s a view of the inside pages:

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I can’t stop looking at this little journal—the textures draw me in every time. I never would have combined these techniques for a handmade book, and that’s why these Art Lessons are so indispensable. You’ll go back to them again and again for inspiration, and you’ll think of new ways to try these ideas with other projects.

If you’re looking for innovative, doable, mixed-media techniques, it’s time to get Art Lessons. This 2016 Collector’s Edition is exactly what you need to wake up your art practice and bring your skills to the next level—and you’ll have so much fun doing it!

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