Imagine. Create. Enjoy.
RESTORING THE BALANCE
“Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot”
“Big Yellow Taxi” - Joni Mitchell
Why is that song stuck in my head? Like me, have you ever wondered how a fragment of a melody started what seems like a never-ending loop in your brain? Did a memory trigger the earworm? Perhaps it was a date? I started working on my latest collage on Earth Day…so it’s no wonder Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” became my musical imagery repetition inspiration.
And here my collage begins. I really like my Strathmore Visual Journal. The spiral binding allows me to place the book flat on my work surface. This makes anything I want to do to the page easy. There’s no holding back a cover or other pages getting in the way. It’s such a time saver, especially when working entirely conventionally.
The collage began with a discarded page from a dictionary I found in my box of unbound books pages. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the listing included the word “taxi”. I attached the page to the Journal using matte medium…a quick coat to the paper and back of the dictionary page.
When dried, I started the work from the outside in. I painted the border of the page with Dina Wakley heavy body acrylic paint in Lemon. For the center I mixed Dina Wakley Ruby and Lemon and created a glaze using the Golden Glazing Fluid. It’s a great product. The Fluid allows you to hold vibrant colour, yet produce a lovey transparent effect.
Now it was time for the part I love best…the stenciling. I started with the Artistcellar Blocks Series-Open Work which mirrored the checker board pattern on the taxi perfectly. I wanted an organic shape to compliment the patterns I created on the page. Artistcellar Playful Pod’s Petite Pods fit the bill. It complimented the design just as I had hoped.
I’ve rediscovered how much I enjoy using Dylusion Sprays. I have to admit Bubble Gum Pink is my favourite. The pop of colour is exciting, especially as the hue stays true…no fading when dry.
All that was left was the ephemera and texture techniques I wished to add. It’s been fun working with Seth Apter’s “low-tech” materials. In this piece I created the textured lines with corrugated board and gesso. I had a piece of anaglypta wallpaper. The flower pattern worked well with the gesso technique…subtle but effective. I even added a few words from transfer lettering I had in my collection. From a selection of old newspapers I found the headline: "Restoring the Balance". Perfect.
As collage and mixed media artists we embrace the mantra of reuse and recycle. For us everything old is new again. In our work, our life, the environment: Aren’t we all trying to restore the balance? And often balance is not perfection. “Give me spots on my apples, But leave me the birds and the bees.” Let’s hope it’s not too late.
I had hoped to share the progress in my fabric book but it is going quite slowly so I have a different project to share with you today. Never fear, the progress in the fabric book will be shared in the near future!
This project was inspired by a portrait lesson I taught my 4th graders at school. We have been learning about facial proportions and portraiture and I knew they wouldn't be excited about drawing random faces for long. In an effort to make their art more personal I asked them to draw a self-portrait with a simple line drawing. Then I asked them to fill their faces with words that describe who they are and what they like. It was fun to see what words they chose for themselves.
When I finished my project example and as my students were busy with their own I looked again at my paper and realized I had the beginning of a great piece of artwork. I ended up creating two versions.
Here are the supplies I used:
I began by spraying water and Dylusions ink liberally on the watercolor paper. While the ink was still wet I pressed the mineral paper onto the watercolor paper and then carefully peeled them apart to see how the color transferred. Let dry before continuing.
Before using the stencil I sprinkled water on the mineral paper and after a few seconds I wiped up the water by rolling a paper towel roll on the surface which resulted in the ink being lifted off the paper. I set the stencil down on the paper and sprayed it with water. Since the inks are water reactive I was able to take a soft paper towel and rub it through the stencil design to remove some of the ink. This was done on both the Mineral and watercolor papers. The subtle design it created was perfect for a background.
Using carbon transfer paper and a stylus I transferred my drawing onto both papers. I did not trace the words as I wanted the freedom to change those around if the composition called for it.
Using a small brush and black paint I went over my graphite lines to create a bold outline for my face. I carefully painted white paint onto the face on the watercolor paper. The ink from my first layer is still reactive with wet media so I was careful not to scrub my brush too much on the surface. Some color transfer happened and it was lovely how it created a dimension to the white paint. Having an under layer on a painting always help bring more depth to the piece. For the Mineral Paper I just painted regular water onto the sections of the face and blotted the water up with a paper towel to remove the inked surface.
From this point on I found myself concentrating on the watercolor paper composition. Using a pencil I sketched in my lettering lightly to focus on how things would fit. When everything was where I wanted it I used a black acrylic paint pen to bring out the lettering.
Final details were using Dina Wakley acrylic paints to paint the eyes, lips and shirt.
I am very pleased with the result and I can't wait to finish the variation on Mineral Paper. I hope you will take some time to create your own self-portrait celebrating the qualities that make you, YOU!
I am so happy that you are here reading this blog post. Something that I feel passionate about is staying interested, curious, and present with my creative process. For me, this looks like trying new techniques and playing with new supplies.
For today’s post, I will be using the following SUPPLIES:
I am working on an easel where I’ve set a drawing board.
I clipped the Star and Cross stencil to the drawing board.
Next, I pulled out a few colors of Dylusions Spray Inks. Caution: Sometimes the nozzle gets clogged and the spray goes where you don’t intend it to go! My solution to this problem is to expect that as a possibility and remove things I don’t want to get sprayed.
Using a water-soluble graphite stick by Pacific Arc, I scribbled inside the stencil. This felt very satisfying to do.
Now, I am ready to remove the stencil and add more layers of graphite marks and watercolor paint.
I’d like to say something here about items you may deem as “precious” or “too ‘cool’ to use.” I have experienced this feeling many times. Now, I am getting to the point where I think, “Why not use it? There’s always more cool stuff to discover.” How do you feel about using your “special” items? I am curious to know how others process this dilemma.
So, I just kept playing with the graphite stick and watercolor paint. I rotated my paper. I stood far away, and got close up.
Pictured below is where I decided to stop. As a mixed media artist, I often end up tearing my painted papers to use in collage. I am not sure the fate of this one. For now, I like it whole.
I hope this post inspires you to use some of your “precious” items.
May you explore with some new art supplies, so the creative process feels fun and exciting. May you stay curious and interested, as you play.
Blessings to you,
Briana of OrangeSpiralArts.com
A DAY AT NATHAN'S
"Coney Island is and always will be 'the people's playground.' It's a place where people of all backgrounds come to have a good time." Harold Feinstein, Photographer
It could be the incredible weather. Eighty degrees in April?! Really? Or maybe it was the Pink Full Moon. Or maybe I was just hungry. Nevertheless, my thoughts were drawing me to Coney Island. And one of my favourite places was, and still is, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.
Established in 1916, immigrants Nathan and Ida Handwerker spent their life savings of $300 to pursue the American dream. Still standing on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Brooklyn, Nathan’s was always a great stop on the way home from a day at the Beach. The huge white sign with the “Nathan’s” green script is forever a welcome mat to every Beach weary traveler.
I found a great vintage photo taken in 1947 of a hungry crowd waiting to be served. And there in the foreground was the object of their affection…the famous Nathan’s hot dogs and buns marking time on the rolling grill.
Grabbing my Strathmore Visual Journal I started the design. I brayered layers of acrylic paint on to the stock. I wanted colours that screamed beach, summer, and joy so I selected hues of yellow, orange, red and pink. I especially love the Dylusions sprays. Bubble Gum Pink is outstanding. It really gave the background the pop of colour it needed. But rather than spray it on to the paper, I sprayed my palette, coated the brayer and rolled it on to the surface. The hot pink colour stays true even when dried. I love it!
But what is the Beach without the Ocean? Part of the charm of eating at Nathan’s is feeling the grit of the sandy sidewalk under your feet and the salt in the air. That is why the Artistcellar Water Series is the perfect complement for my composition. I chose to use the 12” x12” Surf stencil. The movement of the stencil is a wonderful counterbalance to the straight brayered patches of colour. In addition to my Visual Journal I also have a digital counterpart. From this collection I chose two watercolour versions of the Artistcellar Halftone Dots Series. Stenciled on to Mineral Paper the samples had just the quality I was looking for to complete the work.
But what is Nathan’s without people? With a bit of digital manipulation the image was ready to become part of the final composition.
And that’s what I love about Art. Even though I couldn’t be at Nathan’s physically, by working on the collage I was able to travel through time and visit a location near and dear to my heart. It allowed me to remember an exceptional, blissful time with my family.
But Nathan’s isn’t just somewhere to eat. For me it is the embodiment of all that is truly American: our spirit of entrepreneurship, our willingness to hope for a better future, a place where young and old, rich and poor can mingle. In essence, it is a microcosm of the tolerant and diverse city I am proud to call my Home.
As a Nation there may be times we seem to go off track. But I firmly believe our collective soul thrives on compassionately embracing ideas that are different. And most of all offering a warm welcome to those who want to make this Nation their own.
Good Day Artistcellar Readers!
Here’s Today’s Supply List:
Have you heard that even artists need to do a little warm-up exercise, just like athletes and performers? Sometimes I remember that little tip, and sometimes it sort of naturally happens. Like preparing for this post, for example. On my art table, I had a piece of newsprint with some black painted lines.
I thought it might be cool to put a stencil over the top. I tried it, I liked it, but it wasn’t where I wanted to go, so I called it a “warm-up”.
What this warm-up did for me was helped me start a new art journal spread as I cleaned off the “Brain Coral” stencil with a baby wipe.
I am just getting several page spreads into the large 9x12 inch journal by Jane Davenport, sold at Michaels.
Feeling inspired by the work of Artistcellar design team members, I decided to take out the awesome 12x12 “Om” stencil.
Tracing and painting in something usually feels too fussy for me, but I tried to push my limits a bit.
So, I traced “Om”, using a black Sharpie paint pen. It was a little tricky to go over the middle of the journal spread, but I did it.
Next, I filled in the stencil shape with the same black Sharpie paint pen. The results were a little too scritchy scratchy for me, so I used black India ink and a paint brush to smooth things out.
Third, I added some colorful spray ink spots.
Since the black India ink wasn’t all the way dry on that “O” it ran a little. I like it, though.
Finally, I added a border of one of my hand-carved stamps, using Staz-On ink.
This was a good experiment for me. And where is the best place to conduct such experiments? I would suggest an art journal is the best place. There is freedom in playing without fear of “messing up.”
In conclusion, Artistcellar 12x12 stencils are awesome! Creative warm-ups are good to do. And, an art journal is a place for artful experiments. Let yourself go!
Thanks for reading this post!
Blessings to you, and Happy Creating!
-Briana of OrangeSpiralArts.com
Have you ever created something that you weren’t satisfied with? You just didn’t like how it was turning out? Maybe you were even feeling like you just wasted some very good art supplies! Hmmph.
I am here to tell you that that’s part of the process, and it’s going to be okay. You don’t have to love everything you create. Each time you attempt to make something and use those precious art supplies, you are learning and growing. Try to give yourself a break, alright? You are doing good work!
Today we will look at how I made use of spray inks, the Crown Chakra stencil, and Dina Wakley Acrylic paint on a piece of Mineral Paper. This art creation definitely had a stage that had me wondering if I could save it or not.
Stepped Out Process Photos Below
TIP: Put a large piece of paper behind your work area before using spray ink. They can be unpredictable.
Perhaps I sprayed a bit too much, because when I lifted the stencil, I saw this.
I tried to print the wet stencil on the bottom half of the paper, thinking I might be able to get a clearer image. However, that didn’t work as I’d hoped.
I put the Crown Chakra stencil back on and used a cosmetic wedge and Dina Wakley acrylic paint to try to save myself.
I ended up painting around the sprayed and painted stencil image. I felt like it was sort of starting to come together.
Since I am not one to waste paint, I started painting the borders around the two Crown stencil images. I sort of felt like Josef Albers, so that was fun!
As you can see the wet print of the stencil needs a little help, so I worked on that section next.
I put the stencil back on the Mineral paper, and applied some acrylic paint with a cosmetic wedge. (Have I mentioned how much I love the Mineral paper? It’s thin but tough!)
Pictured below is what the image looked like after removing the stencil. Can you see where I applied paint?
Yet, there’s still more work to do!
Now things are looking better.
Does anyone else reading this have a secret love with brown paper? I do!
The great thing about smartphones and photography today, is you can easily crop your images and turn them into something new!
I am pretty sure this piece will end up in a mixed papers handbound journal. It might even make a great cover! We shall see!
I like having options, don’t you?
Thanks for being here and playing along with me!
All of my best,
Briana of OrangeSpiralArts.com
“Fashion is Art and You are the Canvas!” – Velvet Paper
Fashion truly is Art! From Haute Couture to Prêt-à-Porter the designer
escorts us through their passionate journey. Colour, form, and
pattern: our shared tools of the trade inspire them to make their
concepts tangible. And how heartening it is to be wrapped in someone’s
When my Artistcellar box arrived in the mail I couldn’t wait to
experiment with the Marked Series Stencils. With circles, X’s, and an
interlocked ladder the graphic feel made me think of Mid-Century
Modern art and interior design. And I was in luck: my Artistcellar
treasure trove also contained Dylusion Bubble Gum Pink Ink Spray and
Dina Wakley Lemon and Lime acrylics. The stencil pattern and my
acrylic colours were perfect for taking me back to the time of
Bakelite telephones and the Camel cigarette man wafting smoke rings
across Times Square from his billboard.
I wanted to start with the background. I went to a new page in my
Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal. The ladder stencil and Dina’s
Lemon acrylic came first. Slowly, I built up the layers using each
stencil in the collection and a variety of acrylics. Then came time to
throw caution to the wind! I grabbed my Dylusion Bubble Gum Pink ink
and sprayed away. I loved the hot pink colour, mopped up a bit with my
sponge and pushed it through the stencil. I really was pleased with
the effect and will be adding it to my favored techniques. I completed
the background with Punchinella, Artistcellar Halftone Dots Stencils
and metallic acrylic.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I love the fact that the
Artistcellar stencils hold up to anything I throw at, or push through
them. Clean up leaves them in perfect condition ready for my next
Now that I had my background ready, and my colours were just as
vibrant as they were wet, I knew the focal point needed to be just as
bold. I am a great fan of black and white fashion photography of the
1950’s. I chose a photo of a woman, head titled back, with eyes
slightly closed. What was she dreaming about… Perhaps a great
adventure? And who would accompany her? And most of all, what clothing
would she pack! I thought of the Bakelite phone…and the phone book she
would peruse. To the left of the work you will see a page which I
infused with bee’s wax.
This is what I love about Art. We have so many ways to express what
comes from deep within us. With so many tools at our disposal we are
only limited by our imaginations. By sharing what is essential to us
we give it life, and hopefully nurture the spark in others.
So the next time you put on that favourite piece of clothing, just
think…you are the canvas helping to make a designers soul immortal!
Did you know that Frida Kahlo's birthday is in the month of July? True story, she was born on July 6, 1907. For the last couple of weeks I have been celebrating her artwork and legacy and today is no different!
I wanted to do something a little bit different than a portrait this time, so I found a Frida quote and set off on a inspired painting!
Today's quote from Frida is, "I paint flowers so they will not die."
To start, I traced around an Artistcellar Diamond series stencil with a General's Scribe-All pencil. I didn't trace around the entire stencil because I think it makes it pretty interesting if you pick out sections. Next, I used a Koi waterbrush and some watercolors to paint in the entire stencil. I let that dry completely so that it could be an awesome under-layer for later!
Then, I continued with my Scribe-All to sketch in some floral illustrations and of course, our quote of the day. When I had the drawing right where I wanted it, I outlined with a black acrylic paint pen.
Next, I started tossing some color at it. I used some fluid acrylics (in the flowers), and watercolor for the background. I wanted it to be a little bit brighter and colorful because Frida was a very colorful lady... to do this, I added in Dylusions Spray in "Cut Grass". This added a perfect pop of extra color that I needed. In some areas I was a little more precise with the brush, and in others I added drips and splatters and was just a little more messy.
That's it! What about you? What is your favorite Frida quote?
Woot Woot! These NEW Halftone Dots Series stencils are soooooo great!
This is Briana from OrangeSpiralArts.com. I am currently teaching a class called, “What Is Art Journaling?” through my local Adult Community Education program. Last week we were talking about using stencils in the art journal, and guess what? I brought the NEW Halftone Dots Series stencils along to let my students be the first to try them! The Halftone Dots Series stencils are now student tested and approved by beginning adult art journalers! Yay!
Going along with the art journal theme, I created a silly page spread to share with you today.
I have a question for ya’ll. Are there any pickle lovers reading this? What’s your favorite kind? Do you like sour dill? Kosher half-sour? Sweet pickles? Or maybe hot pickles are your preference?
No matter what kind of pickles you prefer, you just might want to save the label from the next empty pickle jar at your house. (Soak the glass jar in hot soapy water to help release the label’s glue.) You, too, can make some “pickle pages” in your beloved art journal with a few easy steps and art supplies!
First you’ll want to gather the following supplies:
Since I have already been kind of “chatty”, I am going to post the stepped out photos below.
Step 1: Spray Ink over Halftone Dots Series stencils
Step 2: Scrape acrylic paint over part of your spray inked and stenciled pages.
Step 3: Use Matte Medium to glue down your pickle label.
Step 4: Use a Giant Bamboo Brush Pen and Dye-na-flow to do some journaling about pickles.
I wrote, “I like pickles, yes, I do. I like pickles, how about you? Do you like ‘em sweet, or somewhere in between? I prefer them sour, but that’s just me!”
Step 5: Do some hand lettering about pickles with a Sharpie.
Step 6: Use yellow Dye-na-flow to fill in around some of the main shapes. Use a Uni Posca Paint Marker to color in and around some of your lettering.
I hope you enjoyed this “pickle pages” art journaling tutorial! Be sure to leave a comment below for your chance to WIN a set of Halftone Dots Series stencils! Writing your favorite kind of pickle with your comment is extra credit!
Have an amazing day!
I have a little primer on how to use clear gesso. Haha. See what I did there?
I used to have a love/hate relationship with clear gesso. I first heard about it when I took classes with Suzi Blu a few years back. Great for layering colored pencils and such. But whenever I used it (and I can't remember the brand) it would EAT UP my markers and pencils. I don't know how many marker tips I ruined trying to write over it.
Fast forward a few years and let me introduce you to... Dina Wakley's Media line of Gessoes. Artistcellar has the black and white versions, I just added the Clear Gesso to the shelves because.... LOVE! A lot of gessoes have a very rough gritty feel to them. This one is much smoother to the touch and still does the job! It still has some grit, but it's more like a chalkboard than sandpaper.
I went ahead and did a comparison between the Media Clear Gesso and a matte Gel medium (which has many merits of it's own!) in my art journal.
I grabbed as many art journaling tools that I could think of: watercolor, Neo2 watercolor crayon, water soluble graphite pencil, watercolor pencil, inktense, sharpie, india ink, permopaque marker, prismacolor marker, fude ball pen, pitt pen, pastel chalk...
Just looking over the pages as a whole, I can see that the gessoed page, on the right, has more intense colors. It was especially apparent in the area of the watercolor and the water soluble writing tools.
I glued book pages down in the journal to give some idea of how translucent the colors are. The picture below shows the page with the matte gel medium background. It's respectable and perfectly doable. It has a nice, subtle watercolorey look to it. From top to bottom is Neocolor2 crayons in purple, Water soluble graphite in gray, watercolor pencil in red, and inktense in green.
Now compare the clear gessoed page with the same colors below. MUCH more intense and vibrant. That gesso just grabbed onto the color.
I also tested a bunch of different pens and markers. India ink looked the same over both surfaces, but the others worked a lot better on the gessoed surface than the gel medium. Below is the mark test with gel medium:
It's okay. It gets a little smudgy. Below is the page with the gesso base.
Definitely has more intensity to it. And it wasn't so gritty as to chew up the tips of my markers. The sharpie marker really stood out, as well as the Fude Ball pen. The pan pastel chalk (blue in the corner) really did a LOT better over the gesso, chalk needs something to cling to.
One thing to remember is that ALL water soluble mediums (pens, paints, dyes) will smear if you put gel medium OR clear gesso over the top. Anything wet will smudge them. I had a page in my art journal that I had sprayed with Dylusions Black Marble ink spray and did a little stenciling to give it some depth and texture. I wanted to use the background for a Journal52 prompt "a tribute to David Bowie" but I knew that if I tried to write with white paint pens over Dylusions Ink spray I would get a muddy gray mess, because the ink spray would migrate into the white paint pen on top. This is a perfect example of how to use the clear gesso. I simple brushed a layer of clear gesso over the ink spray to seal it without changing the background much. Because my background was abstract more or less, I didn't mind that it smudged with the brush strokes. If you don't want it to smudge, use a makeup sponge and DAB the clear gesso on top without rubbing it. Let it dry thoroughly before adding anything on top.
I got nice and clear, WHITE lettering with a paint pen, no bleed through. (The white you see behind is a stabilo pencil I first wrote lightly with, to grunge up the piece a little.)
Something else to note, is that if you use a clear gesso over a page, then write on top with a water soluble medium like a neo2 crayon, it WILL continue to be water soluble, until you seal it again. Both gel medium and gesso are water proof and will hold that medium on TOP of the surface. Simply seal with another (dabbed) layer of clear gesso, or a spray sealant. Or don't seal it at all, consider it a top final layer and you're done!
Thanks for reading, see you next time!