I hear these words all the time. I hear them when I bring home some fabulous yarn or to-die-for fabric. I hear them when I spread my found object loot from a day of yard-saling on the dining room table. And I hear it when I create a sketch or practice some surface design on fabric.
"So, what are you going to do with it?"
I bet you hear those words a lot, too. Sometimes, the question is asked with puzzlement, typically from someone who doesn't understand why you might just collect fabric or amass found objects for the fun of it or for inspiration. Or someone who doesn't appreciate that making sketches or practicing a technique can be an end in itself.
This "what-ifing" can go on and on, and is best done with a journal or sketchbook by your side so you can record your experiments and thoughts on each one.
Of course, it never hurts to have a little guidance for your what-iffing, especially from a seasoned what-iffer. So again, I turn to the lovely and talented Jane LaFazio for advice on what to do with your painting, drawing, and other art journal exercises if you want to make something with them.
1. Trace it. Cover your drawing or painting with a piece of tissue paper, sheer fabric, or other material that you can see through such as Lutradur® and trace around select shapes or motifs with a waterproof pen. Now you can cut the shape out and paint it (or leave it plain) and layer it over another drawing or fabric as part of a collage.
2. Make a stencil. Put a sheet of freezer paper or acetate over the image and trace with a permanent marker. Then using a craft knife on a protected surface (such as a self-healing mat), cut out parts of the image. You can paint over the stencil with oil sticks, acrylic paint, etc., as part of a mixed-media piece or to create a surface design motif on fabric.
3. Make a stamp. Jane has a neat trick for this one that you might have learned in school. Trace your motif with a pencil on regular copy paper. Now, turn it over and place the design on top of a piece of lino or other material you can cut into to make a stamp. Rub over the back of the paper with another pencil or a bone folder and your design will be transferred onto the lino, ready for you to cut it out and use.
4. Transfer it. With products like TAP transfer paper on the market, it's easy to transfer a design onto paper, fabric, or many other surfaces. Use the image on its own or as a focal point in a collage.
5. Stitch it. If you like to stitch, by hand or machine, you can make a what-if impact in a hurry. Use embroidery stitches to outline the motif or design or add details; trace the design onto stabilizer and machine thread sketch or paint over it to render your drawing in thread; or use stitching to artfully enmesh several layers into a collage.
Chances are, if you're like me, you'll want to combine many or all of these techniques, plus a few more.
When you're looking to make something out of your art journal renderings, paintings, or even older pieces of art you've forgotten about, I recommend "what-iffing" along with Jane as she demonstrates in the Cloth Paper Scissors® WorkshopTM "From Art Journaling to Art: Drawing, Watercolor, and More Techniques for the Mixed-Media Artist."
This way, you'll always have an answer to the question, "So, what are you going to do with it?"