Mixed-media portraits are hot, hot, hot, and no wonder—the variety of mediums and styles that can be used is huge, paving the way for artists to create any type of face they choose. Pam Carriker, the author of Mixed Media Portraits with Pam Carriker, is here with a great tutorial on how to use just a few materials to create a stunning portrait. If you can’t draw, don’t worry—Pam’s book has great info on creating portraits from stencils and photo transfers. Give this technique a try and start adding portraits to your art journals, collages, and sketchbooks! ~ Jeannine
When creating portraits, I love mixing Conté à Paris Crayon with my Fluid Matt Sheer Acrylics (my paint line with Derivan® Matisse), or other white paint. The key is the viscosity of the paint—you want to use paint with a lot of pigment, but you also want it to be fluid. You can also use thicker paint and add a paint medium to it to thin it down. Water will also work, but you have less ‘play’ time, and have to work a bit faster.
Note: To increase the workability of the paints I create a gessoed background. I used gray gesso for this piece and love the way the portrait looks on a darker background.
1. Sketch a portrait with pencil. You can do this in a variety of ways and even use a stencil if you’re unsure of your portrait drawing skills. I show several ways to transfer a photo or use an existing sketch in my book. Using a Conté crayon, add some shaded areas around the face. Don’t be afraid to go heavy with the crayon, as this will be mixed with the white paint later.
2. Add in some white highlights with the white paint. I pat it on the paper with my brush.
3. Load some white paint on a paintbrush and mix the paint into the areas with crayon. You’ll see the crayon and paint mix to form lovely gray tones. The key here is not to over mix and turn everything the same shade of gray.
4. Continue blending and mixing. Wipe your brush off on the background to create hair. If the paint on the brush becomes too gray, rinse it.
5. Continue painting, adding additional crayon to darken select areas until you like the look of the portrait.
6. To finish the portrait, use a pencil to re-sketch some of the details and add some white highlights to eyes, nose, and lips.
This is a fun way to practice painting portraits and learn shading. It only takes a few supplies, and I find it a quick way to add faces in my journal work as well.
Pam Carriker is an artist, instructor, author of the books Art at the Speed of Life, Creating Art at the Speed of Life, and Mixed Media Portraits with Pam Carriker, and a columnist for Somerset Art Journaling. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she now resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area with her husband and her youngest son, while her two oldest boys serve in the Army and National Guard. Traveling to teach around the country is something she enjoys very much, as sharing the satisfaction that comes from creating art is her passion. She has created instructional art journaling videos for the Strathmore Artist Papers line of Visual Journals, and she has designed a line of stencils for StencilGirl Products, rubber art stamps for Stampington & Co., and continues to develop her line of signature mixed-media products for Derivan Matisse. Turning her hobby into her dream job has been the culmination of a life-long pursuit of living a creative life, and she firmly believes it is never too late to begin living Art at the Speed of Life™! See more of Pam’s work atpamcarriker.com.
Several weeks ago the Cloth Paper Scissors team had the great pleasure of meeting artist Suzanne McNeill, whose article “Drawn to India” appears in the July/August 2017 issue. The article features her fantastic art journal that she created before, during, and after a trip to India, and it’s a must-read. Her artwork is inspirational, and she includes great tips and techniques for making and filling your own travel sketch journals.
When Suzanne and her daughter came to visit our offices she brought more journals with her, and we were thrilled to look through each one. We knew they were too great not to share with you, so we asked Suzanne to reveal a little more about her travels, her journals, and her artistic process. Here’s Suzanne! ~ Jeannine
I love my home in Texas, but I get itchy feet and like to travel. I began traveling to foreign destinations 30 years ago when I helped chaperone my daughter’s spring break trip to Mexico with her Spanish class.
Voila! I was hooked! I found that I could travel on a budget; not only was it cheaper, but it also made the trip more memorable than staying at a fancy resort. Soon, my sisters and I started taking our mother on a budget trip each year to Mexico or Guatemala for a meaningful family-time-together journey.
An Experience Like No Other
What?! A volcano was erupting 30,000 feet below our airplane on the way to Peru. At midnight the pilot woke us to see a volcano erupting down below. Streams of hot red lava were running down the sides of an earth cone, right before my eyes.
My sister and I could see the lava clearly, but there was no way to take a photo from a tiny airplane window. I grabbed paper and a ballpoint pen and created a sketch. No matter how amateurish this page, it preserves a cherished memory. This was the event that inspired my first travel sketch journals.
When I Travel
I travel a lot, always carrying sketch supplies with me. I keep an extra sketchbook stashed in my car too, just in case. Whether I’m close to home or traveling abroad, I take a sketchbook, permanent black pens, watercolors, brushes, and a small fold-up stool. They all fit in one handy flatpack carrying case.
While traveling, I document as many views as possible: scenes from hotel rooms, train windows, street curbs, cafes, flowers, people, and village squares. I sketch anywhere I can be still for a few minutes. By sketching, I see more, connect more, feel more, and best of all, I remember more long after I’ve returned home.
I often take artistic license with what I see, jotting down the flavor of a place rather than every detail. Everything I document in my sketchbook is something I have experienced firsthand—places I have visited, sights I saw, food I tasted, people I met, and roads I traveled on.
Year by year, my journeys have taken me to 30-plus states and more than 30 countries around the world. Being able to travel is a blessing. Everywhere I go, visions of beautiful landscapes, nature, intriguing culture, and charming people inspire sketches in my travel sketch journals.
Suzanne McNeill loves anything hands-on. She often sketches while traveling. New people, ideas, and places feed her imagination and fuel her artistic drive. She is the author of more than 30 books. Suzanne has a bachelor’s degree in art from Southern Methodist University, and received the lifetime achievement award from the Craft & Hobby Association in 2012. Discover more about Suzanne at sparksstudioart.com.
Texture invites viewers to take a closer look at a piece of art. Once I saw Crystal Neubauer’s texture techniques, I knew I had to try them. In the July Art Lesson, Crystal uses everyday materials (coffee and tea bags) to stain, stamp, stitch, and stack to add both visual and physical texture and create unique works of art. Such a cool look! And I had everything I needed on hand.
As a tea drinker, I had a variety of tea to give this lesson a whirl, and decided that a collage would showcase the results nicely. It was interesting to see how different teas not only stain the bag itself and the paper they were placed on, but some of the tea leaves added interesting texture to the stain as well.
Two of my favorite teas, raspberry and blueberry, provided good strong colors.
On another test piece, I used a regular orange pekoe tea bag and another blueberry tea, different brand, and the colors were rather disappointing. I decided to splash some of the tea water onto the background, and I liked the effect. The splashes definitley add to the design.
Investigating other possibilities, I opened a few of the bags and emptied the tea leaves. The papers were full of color. I chose two papers and, after smoothing them flat with my fingers, I allowed them to dry. Going with Crystal’s suggestion, I cut a piece of corrugated cardboard, dipped the edge in white paint, and stamped on one of the tea papers. I used the end of a Bic® pen with white paint on the other.
I decided to try out a few of Crystal’s other techniques. I chose one of my favorite stencils and placed a steeped raspberry tea bag on top. I placed the stencil/tea bag setup over a sponge holder (The holder has holes, and Crystal said it was important to have air flow), then placed a rock on top. I was not confident that it would work with my setup, so I was surprised and pleased when it did.
Adding rust to the mix was another fun adventure. With this technique it’s the tea water that goes to work. I splashed tea water onto mixed-media paper, and then stood a small can and several rusty washers and nuts in the puddle. I let them sit until the puddle dried up, then removed them. The colorful results were worth the wait. I chose this paper as the base for one of my finished pieces.
Still in discovery mode, I grabbed a piece of Jacquard ExtravOrganza, and set up a candle (with water nearby for safety). After removing the backing paper, I singed the edges of the organza by moving it quickly through the flame. Holding the organza taut is important, as holding the organza loosely seemed to cause it to singe more than I wanted it to. After a few test runs, I was able to get the organza to singe just the way I wanted. I love the way the organza adds a veiled effect when layered over the stained paper.
Crystal’s finished art in this Art Lesson involved stacking several of the stained, stamped, and singed pieces. She stitched around some of the stains on her papers, and layered some organza in other pieces. I decided to rip some of my favorite stains and cut the stamped tea bag papers into shapes. I stacked several of the test pieces and then added stitching for more texture and interest.
I think I should create a book just for my regrettable art journal pages. You know the ones—you start out with such good intentions, and then it goes horribly, miserably, wrong. If you’re wondering how to transform an art journal page you don’t like, I have a solution that is enjoyable, rewarding, and really works.
The techniques come from artist Mandy Russell, whose Jumpstart feature in the July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, “Art Journal Reboot,” is all about giving less-than-great art journal pages a second chance. Mandy writes of her disliked journal pages, “There was no connection to the real me. They were just plain awful. Before I ditched the journal, I decided to take another look, and I thought of a way to save it and start fresh.”
Thank goodness she did! I love Mandy’s techniques and decided to try them on one of my art journal pages that was especially hideous. Now, I’m all for keeping old work, because I think that’s an important part of the artistic process. But let’s face it—not everything is a winner. Including what I’m about to show you.
This is the first journal page I did in my new Ranger Dina Wakley Media Journal. I was so excited when I got the book, and I couldn’t wait to start working in it. Unfortunately, this is what happened. As you can see, I had already started to rip it apart because I hated it that much. The page is overdone to the point of torture, and I think it wanted to be put out of its misery. Just…yikes.
When I read Mandy’s article on how to transform an art journal page, I knew this was the page I wanted to revive. To begin, I attached more stuff. I know that seems counterintuitive, but that’s part of the genius of this process. I grabbed a bunch of fabric, lace, ribbon, and paper scraps, and positioned them randomly on the page. Although you can plan this out if you have a layout in mind, I wanted to experience the serendipity of the haphazardness. The pieces were tacked down with glue stick, and then it was on to the sewing machine.
I’ve sewn on paper before, but I have to admit, I’ve never sewn a book page while it’s still attached to the book. I trusted Mandy’s process, and I wasn’t disappointed. I simply removed the extension table on the machine, placed the page under the sewing foot, and voila! I was off and running.
You can definitely do this part by hand if you don’t have a machine, or you can simply glue the pieces down. I like that the stitching adds another bit of texture and interest, and the stitching on the reverse gives me a great starting point for that page. If my free-motion capabilities on my machine were better, I probably would have done that. But I’m totally okay with a straight stitch. Here are the results:
For the next step, you’ll take this page back to a blank slate by covering it with white gesso. You can control this part, too—make it white-white, or pull back and let some of the prints, patterns, and colors show through. This is one of the key elements for how to transform an art journal page. I chose a mixture of both.
I also inscribed into the wet gesso with an awl. Knowing I would apply paint to the page, I thought this might make for some nice added texture.
The gessoed page became something of a Rorschach test. I stared at it until something appeared. That something was the trunk of a tree, sitting smack in the middle of the page. Remembering how previous iteration was all over the map, I thought a tree would be a nice, solid image I could focus on.
For the first stage of painting I added burnt umber acrylic paint to the trunk, painted in some branches, and mixed up shades of green paint in different values for the leaves. I also sketched in a background so the tree wouldn’t be floating in space. For an extra collage element I painted some book pages with acrylic paint and used them to cut some rough leaf shapes, then glued the leaves to the tree. The nice thing about the gesso is that if you want to remove paint, that’s easily done with a baby wipe.
For stage 2, I filled in the background and added some shadows. Although the paint pretty much covers the page, I like that you can still make out the textures and patterns underneath.
Here’s a detail of the inscribing I did with the awl; it’s more noticeable now that dark paint has settled into the grooves:
And here’s a detail of the collaged leaves, with the lace peeking through:
I added a collaged flower to the composition, and a little bit of journaling. Highlights and more shadows were added with Stabilo Woody crayons. Done. Or…was it? I had a feeling this page needed one more element, but I wasn’t sure what that was. Should I risk stepping over the line, as I did before? Or should I throw creative caution to the wind and follow my heart?
Yeah, I went for it. I added just one more tiny, itty-bitty layer by stenciling a few pale motifs on top.
Finally, really, done. This page has been successfully resuscitated, and the one underneath is just a dim, bad memory.
Be sure to read Mandy’s article and get the full instructions for how to transform an art journal page, lots more tips and tricks, and see her gorgeous artwork. Even if you love each and every one of your art journal pages, you can still use these techniques on new pages…I won’t tell!
We have so many great resources for art journaling and for creating cool textures in your artwork, so I hope you check them out. Remember—you have the option of adding these to your digital library with just a click, so you can start creating today!
***The free download link is below for logged-in users. To access Cloth Paper Scissors web extras, bonus patterns, tips, techniques, and more—all absolutely FREE—please register or sign in here. *** Continue reading The Jewelry Box→
Artists tell stories—it’s what we do. But sometimes we need fresh inspiration and a new way of looking at things to keep our stories dynamic and compelling. So I’m excited to tell you about a brand new kit called Storytelling Art Collection that’s all about helping you reveal your unique stories through your artwork while adding some really fun techniques to your mixed-media repertoire.
The collection features the work of Cathy Nichols, a mixed-media and encaustic artist whose work is whimsical, dimensional, colorful, and—yes—it tells a story. The bundle includes her new book, Storytelling Art Studio: Visual Expressions of Character, Mood and Theme Using Mixed Media, plus four new videos: Collage & Painting Techniques for Storytelling Art, Encaustic Collage Techniques: Storytelling Art, Encaustic Painting Techniques: Mark Making and Color, and Acrylic Mark Making for Encaustic Effects. Best of all, you have a choice of a physical kit, with a book and DVDs, or an all-digital collection.
Let’s start with the book. I think what I love about it most is Cathy’s approach to creating art. No matter what your style or technique, you have a story to tell, and you need to tell it in your own way. Cathy helps you get there by showing you innovative techniques, new mediums, and by giving you great inspiration and ideas.
In the introduction she writes, “Remember that storytelling is a process. If, at first, you can’t draw a person or a tree, please don’t be discouraged. You’ve simply uncovered a skill you can develop. Keep practicing and concentrate on your strengths. Make mistakes. Make things up.”
Among the ideas you’ll discover is how to use trees as characters in stories. That’s right—trees. This speaks to me, since I have trouble drawing figures. Cathy takes you through every step of creating a background, drawing a tree and imbuing it with personality, incorporating collage, and adding great details like mark making. All of these things are designed to make your piece come alive.
The chapter Mark Making for Mood is one of my favorites; I love adding expressive touches to my artwork, and Cathy shows how to use mark making and paint glazes to take your work from okay to amazing, and it’s all incredibly easy and enjoyable to do. This book has so much to offer: tips for choosing color palettes, inspirational warm-up exercises—you won’t want to put it down, except when you have to grab a paintbrush.
Onto the videos—and remember, there are four. I’ve seen all of them, and I honestly can’t choose a favorite because I learned so much in every. Single. One. Also, they’re paced perfectly. You’ll be able to absorb everything without feeling like you’re racing to catch up.
In Collage & Painting Techniques you’ll work on two pieces at once, which allows you to organically work in a series. You’ll get insights into Cathy’s painting and collage processes, which are thoughtful and intuitive at the same time. She brings calm to what is sometimes chaos (at least it is for me at times) when trying to build a cohesive collage.
In Acrylic Mark Making for Encaustic Effects you’ll create a stunning piece on a wood substrate, incorporating easy mark-making methods that yield amazing results. More painting techniques are also included, such as using color to enhance the mood of your piece, and Cathy shows a great way to get the look of encaustic using special techniques.
Encaustic art is intriguing, and it’s easy to see why; it’s difficult to get that soft, dreamy look any other way. While the technique may seem intimidating, Cathy makes it so easy, explaining the components of a basic encaustic set-up, and how to use encaustic medium and paint. Both Encaustic Painting Techniques and Encaustic Collage Techniques show you, start to finish, how to create with wax, incorporating everything you love, like collage, color, and drama. Following Cathy’s instructions as she builds her pieces is a breeze. Throughout, she always comes back to using art to tell a story—your story—with your distinctive voice.
The nice thing about this collection is that you don’t have to decide which combination of book and videos to get—you get them all! Whether you choose the physical or digital bundle you’ll find, as I did, that a new door has opened—and amazing things are waiting for you.
Taking art outdoors requires some guts and a little planning, but few things are more exciting and rewarding. Whether you’re art journaling in an outdoor café, painting en plein air, hosting a hand-lettering demo, or just doodling in a notebook in the park, being outside or with other people adds elements of inspiration and surprise to creating art.
The July/August 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors is our travel and adventure issue, and it’s filled with great projects for making art on the road—or in your own backyard. Get tips for sketching in cafés, learn how to prepare travel journal pages, and create mixed-media paintings from maps. If you’re a little reticent to go public, you’re not alone. As I write in the editor’s letter, the first time I sketched in a café I was a wreck. A sweaty, paranoid wreck. I thought I’d be judged harshly by passers-by, leaving me with shaken confidence. Turns out hardly anyone noticed, and those who did only had complimentary things to say. I now take my art journal with me wherever I go, creating art in coffee shops, at the beach, in museums—and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
We asked a few mixed-media artists to tell us their tales of taking art outdoors, and we got incredible responses—funny, poignant, and inspiring. Read on:
Rae Missigman (raemissigman.com)
I like to take an art bag with me wherever I go so I can create no matter where I am. You never know when inspiration will strike! Being out of my element is often the springboard I need for new and interesting art material. One day I was working in my tiny Pocket Journal™ while at the beach. I was trying to sketch and paint and journal, all within the confines of my lap, to avoid getting sand in my book. I was struggling a bit, trying to balance my palette, when a woman near me leaned over and said, “I commend you for what you are doing right now, for doing anything it takes to make a little piece of art. I gave it up years ago, and would never have had the courage or patience to do what you are doing right now.” It caught me off guard because I was so busy doing what I am passionate about. In that one moment I realized how much the creative process means to me.
Jodi Ohl (jodiohl.com)
To be honest, creating art in public is something I rarely do. I have a bit of a fear of being judged or scrutinized by people. However, when I make a commitment to paint or create in public I really enjoy it, and the anxiety goes away once I’m in the moment. A couple of years ago I was asked to create a painting during a First Friday art event downtown in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Music, food trucks, tons of people, sidewalk sales, kids’ games, and more were going on while I worked on the biggest painting in my life in front of a crowd. I was stressed beyond belief because of the number of people there. What if what I created was junk? What if I choked? Those fears could have paralyzed me if I had let them. Kids came up wanting to help, so I let them add brush strokes or their names to the piece. Adults wandered in and out of my booth, most with kind and encouraging comments, or they took pictures. One man stopped by and asked me what was I creating—other than a mess. Ha! If that had happened at the beginning of the event I probably would have cried. But, after a couple hours in, and seeing that my painting was starting to come alive, I dismissed what he said and told him that I was creating my life. After the event I took the painting home, finished it, and brought it back to the shop to be put up for sale. I ended up selling the largest artwork I have ever created for the most money for an individual piece. One person’s mess is another patron’s treasure.
Gina Rossi Armfield (noexcusesart.com)
I walk the walk as an artist, author, and educator, so when it comes to No Excuses Art, I truly mean no excuses. The great thing about watercolor is that you can do it anywhere—and I mean anywhere! I have worked in my journal in restaurants, planes, boats, airports, at the beach, in the car, and even at the base of a mountain watching my boys ski. A favorite pastime when I travel is finding a quiet spot in a coffee house or bookstore, and spending a few hours working on watercolor sketches in my journal. I usually do this alone—or sometimes even better, with my sister. It’s so rewarding to have strangers come up to me and ask about my work. They often share their own experiences with creativity, telling me how they used to draw as a child or teenager, but gave it up. I always find this such a wonderful opportunity to encourage them to keep going. My mantra is, you don’t have to be an artist in order to draw or paint—you simply need to enjoy it! I can’t dance and sing like Lady Gaga, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sing along in the car or shake my groove thing on the dance floor. I am an introvert in many ways and can find my happy place working in my sketchbook, drowning out the world. But I’ve found that creating in public allows me the wonderful opportunity to share my passion for art and connect with the most amazing people.
Chris Cozen (chriscozenartist.com)
For years I have done live demos for groups where I have painted in public. But the most fun I have ever had painting in public was last year when I organized a painting booth at the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland, Ohio. We prepped large canvases with black and white gesso, put them on easels of various heights, and invited people to come paint with us. It was pretty great watching parents, toddlers, teens, and seniors stopping by to put their marks on these big pieces. This painting event was planned as a marketing tool for my niece to introduce her new Montessori school to the public, and it worked like a charm. The booth was never empty, and we filled up six 3′ x 5′ foot canvases. My niece used a couple of the painted canvases as backdrops for class photos. Showing that you are comfortable painting in public really invites people to come over and visit.
Mandy Russell (mandyrussell.com)
The funniest (or maybe not so funny) thing that happened to me while taking art outdoors occurred several years ago on a warm, sunny day in Bath, Maine. I was sitting in a small historic downtown area, perched in my portable camp chair on a sidewalk with my sketchbook, and positioned (unbeknownst to me) very close to a storm drain. The street was hilly and crooked with granite sidewalks and cobblestones. I packed light that day with my art supplies, trying to simplify my routine. I had a cheap black ballpoint pen and several Caran d’Ache Neocolor II crayons—the glorious water-soluble artist’s crayons that are expensive, but worth every penny. You can see where I’m going here…I had been drawing the street scene for a bit, and I felt the need to reposition myself. I got up, forgetting that I had put the crayons in my lap. The crayons leapt out of my lap, hit the street, and a couple of them rolled down the storm drain. The moral of the story? Have a better organizational plan. Pack light, but don’t depend on your lap for storage!
Before you head out to take your art on the road, get more techniques for creating art and travel journal pages!
Artist and author Jen Wagner designed Happy Hand Lettering to help readers learn the basics of hand lettering and incorporate lettering into different areas of their lives. Her lettering adventure started with a challenge she gave herself to learn a new art skill. After several months of practice and learning, she accomplished her goal. In Happy Hand Lettering she discusses everything from basic lettering terms to kerning to composition, and much more. Wagner provides plenty of information, and lots of fun projects, too. It was definitely something I had to check out.
Whether I’m just doodling or creating something special, there are always letters involved. What I loved about Happy Hand Lettering is that it offers so much information and inspiration—and not just concerning letters. Once you have your lettering skills down, you’ll use the letters in lots of fun ways.
Wagner helps you take your basic hand-lettering to the next level, stressing that “imperfection is a wonderful thing.” Learn to thicken lines, add flourishes, use a paintbrush instead of a pen, and . . .
Add decorative elements. She makes it look so easy! This delicate flower started with dabs of paint. Adding water with a clean brush, she formed loose petals and leaves to complete her design. Easy, but impressive! Wagner’s many samples and step-by-step instructions will have even the most timid painter creating beautiful blossoms in no time, enhancing any lettering project.
If you want to take your new lettering skills even further, there is plenty of instruction for making place cards, menus, gift tags, decorative signs, and more.
One of my favorite projects is a decorative mug. Simply lettered using an oil-based paint pen, it’s sure to please someone on your gift list.
The longer days of summer offer the perfect opportunity to try something new, and Happy Hand Lettering is a great resource to get you started. Think of the possibilities!