Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Step# 12 - Using a Different Style

If you look at the page featured in today's post, you'll see that the style is a little more streamlined than most of my other pages - most of the ones that I do on a regular basis are a more grungy, distressed feeling page, while the page that I'm showcasing today is quite different. Sure it's got a few of those things, but there's a lot more straight, planned lines, with my style inside of them. I actually created this page as a challenge page. Over on Ky's blog, she told us that our challenge was to showcase a checkerboard. A lot of times, at least for me, when I'm told something like that, an idea normally pops into my head, and I feel that it's my responsibility to put it on paper. So I got an idea, and I just decided that I'd go with it, whether I felt like it or not. But a lot of times when I get such an idea, I automatically go crazy - I feel it's my duty to let it free, and it's me holding such a wonderful idea from sprouting.

Another note about using a different style every now and again in your art journals is that it gives you a new feeling of accomplishment - and if you always do the same kind of pages, then it gives you the feeling that you actually can do something other than what's in the zone that you are comfortable with. And when you learn this; that you can do it, and that you can take it to the next level. So go out of your comfort zone today - do a page idea that you've had in your mind for a while now, but have been afraid to use. Trust me. I know.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Step #11 - Types of Paper: Newspaper

Yes, you read it right - I use newspaper ALL the time in my art journal. It resembles book paper if used in the right way in an art journal. So, if you can't bear to ruin a book for the pages, then this is a very good substitute. When underneath many or even just a few layers, it looks almost identical to book paper. Plus, newspaper is very common in everyday life. If you don't receive a newspaper, a lot of times cities have free weekly newspapers. They are much smaller but are just about perfect for crafting needs - I can normally stretch the entire newspaper until the next week when a new one arrives. A lot of ladies that I know use newspaper only use the regular wording. They don't even try to use the photographs, which, as a matter of fact, are very nice to use in collage portions of an art journal page or spread. Another section of the newspaper that is my very favorite to use is the Here and Now pages. I love how the words are separated into little blocks of wording - it creates quite a nice pattern when a large piece is used. Almost like a grid. Speaking of grids, lines and grids are very attractive in any type of art. Art journaling or otherwise. A lot of times you really can't tell if it's book paper or newspaper unless you get up close and try to determine which it is. Which people mostly don't do. And plus, even if they did, why would it matter? It looks good both ways and sometimes I even use both materials in the same page or spread. They look slightly different when they are placed side by side, adding variation. Though slight, such variation adds amazing variety to a page. And plus, newspaper is cheap - even if you don't feel like setting up for the free paper, a lot of times your friends and family do receive the daily paper are more than willing to get rid of a few of their old papers. The news in them is since old, and, since you're using them for crafting and a lot of the words will be covered up, it doesn't matter what the words say. So I encourage you to go out and get a newspaper today. Whether it be a free one, a paid for one, or one that somebody gives you - go find one. And use it. Do it. Trust me. I know.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Step #10 - Types of Paper: Book Paper

In an art journal, many different types of paper can be used in the collage portion in addition to paint. In my journals, I always use a lot of techniques, and, on almost every page or spread, I collage. At least one layer. I use all different types of paper to do this - book paper, music paper, wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, ledger paper, notebook paper, tissue paper, the inside of business envelopes - all of them add fun interest in the page, even though they may or may not be covered with paint and more layers. In today's post, I'm going to discuss book paper. Book paper is one of my absolute favorite things to use in my art journals. It gives it a nice vintage look and is so fun to cover up with translucent layers, so that the words are just barely visible beneath the surface. It gives a beautiful, almost ghostly effect, but it is simply amazing to look out. There is no way to fully explain it - you must do it yourself to see and to understand the beauty. Whether using it in strips - torn or cut cleanly or punching into shapes, especially circles. The way that the circles of words look when placed into a page through collage is especially calling - it draws you in, explains what the page may or may not look like, and adds interest. Using different shapes in the collage portion of a page also adds interest. I get into the habit of almost always using strips of different paper in almost the the same places almost every time. All because I made one page with that arrangement and it looked good. In fact it was, and as a matter of fact, still is, my favorite page. But don't get caught in that trap. That's all it is. A trap. Of doing the same thing. Using the same design. The same colors. The same mindset. Change your mindset. It works. Trust me. I know.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Step #9: Your Inner Critic

A gentle whisper at first. Very quiet. Very soothing. Even though what it says is harsh and false, it makes you feel good. The words are not encouraging in the least - yet you tend to propel towards them. The voices that say you can't create. That you aren't creative. That you aren't good enough. And even though these words are whispered quietly, they are also thought with a tone of harshness. But then there is something else. You know it's there, but you can't quite figure out what it is. This is also your inner critic. Just a much kinder, softer and more comforting version of it. They are one in the same, but different. But if you can find a way to combine the two critics, what is left is really quite powerful and deliberate. Instead of encouraging and discouraging thoughts all mixed together in a jumbled mess, what you have now is actually a composed and complimentary whole. For example, a phrase that such a composed critic might utter often might be "That doesn't look good, but if you did this..." As you can see, the first part is the more discouraging critic and the second is the comforting one. But together they form a whole. The simplest phrases that this type of critic can be extremely helpful in anything that you do in the large, vast, world of art. For example, if one of the things that you hear often is that something might look better elsewhere, this can be very helpful. But it can also cause you to fall. In the way you think. In the way that you carry yourself. In everything you do. But if you are cautious, everything will work out. I promise. Trust me. I know.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Step #8: Breaking Your Boundaries

Personal boundaries are probably one of the hardest things that you'll ever have to overcome in the process of freeing yourself. When you start doing anything creative, what automatically happens is that you set boundaries onto yourself that you caution yourself not to cross. And when you get too close then your thoughts and your mind start to yell out cautions... threaten even. But I recommend that you ignore those little naggings and keep on going - they are just holding you back from your future in art. If they are even slightly threatening, don't worry - they are just empty threats. This is your mind trying to stop you from getting embarrassed. Since when can you learn anything without being proven wrong at times? We wouldn't know the entire scientific world as we do if there weren't a couple of people being proven wrong. Even the greatest scientists of all time made major mistakes that unfortunately reduced the advance of science greatly for years. But they also made major discoveries that advanced science greatly. So as you can see, even in science, people make mistakes. But they also make discoveries. It is the very same way in art. Exactly. If you decide to experiment with something in your creative endeavors, whether it be transfers; packing tape, gel medium, mod podge, or create your own method; if you want to try using a new kind of paint, craft paint, student grade, and artist grade, to see the difference; or anything else in the entire creative world that will advance your skills. Anything that you didn't think you could do before, you can magically do now. And all you needed to do was break those boundaries. They were holding you back. They weren't supporting you in the least. All they were doing were telling you what you couldn't do. They weren't thinking about the times when you didn't listen and things worked out fine. Better than that, you might decide that your very favorite art journal pages are created when you ignore the boundaries in your life. Break out of the holds that are taking advantage of your weakness and faults. And take control.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Step #7: You are in Control

You are in control. In control of your life. Of your mind. Why not your art too? By saying that, for a fact, you are in control of your art, you are releasing a certain part of yourself. It tells you that you can do what you want instead of what others want you to do. Because it is your art journal. Because you can. It is your mind. Your body. Your hands that are creating. You control them, so you also control your art. Make sense? I believe that control is one of your most important things to have as an artist. You can do what you want to do. And that is fact. Make it do what you want it to. And let yourself know that is true. It's necessary for your mind, soul, and body to know that you are in control and there is nothing they can do about it. You have control of your brain and your brain controls your hands and the rest of your body. When you have control over your mind and your soul, then the control of your body comes naturally. Make your hands move to the places you want to and use what you want them to. Make your pages do what you want them to. Be in control. Think back to before you started trying to gain control. How exactly did you feel about starting out on an endeavor that big - gaining control of your mind and of your motions? Were you scared? Worried? Excited? Impatient? Make an art journal page in your journal about gaining control. I'm serious. That's what your art journal is for. Experimenting. Cataloguing your emotions. Your feelings. Your understanding about a certain project. When you get these special feelings under your roof and within your grasp, then you start to gain more control. Not only of your body and of your though process, but of the way your art looks as well. Trust me. I know. You can gain control. You can. I know it. If I can do it, then trust me, anybody can! I've experimented with styles and thought processes for a while before I gained full control. You might take a while too, or you might only take a day. It's sort of a personal process. The time that passes in between could also be an interesting aspect to let free on a page as well. So take control of yourself. Of your life. Of your world. Of your art.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Step #6: Delving into the Depths

Inside of each of us is a creative person. A creative soul. I'm sure of it. But so many of us are convinced that we're not 'creative' or we can't make 'anything.' That is just not true. The reason that people say these things is because they try one time and then give up. Because it didn't turn out perfect. On their first try. I'm not the best at drawing and sketching realistic things. But I still practice. Because I know. Know what? Well, I know that I'll get better. I can't tell you how much better my drawings have gotten since I started practicing. It really works, let me tell you. You may have noticed the title of this post; Delving into the Depths. If I could give posts a sub-title, I would. But I guess you could say the sub-title is 'Finding your Creative Self'. You need to dig, dive, and overall delve into the depths of yourself to find your creative self. To let it free. It's being smothered. By you. By your emotions. That is what is holding you back. When you let yourself go and just play, your creative flame sparks a little. And you start to feel it a bit. You get more ideas. The more you let yourself lose to be creative, you are releasing a little of the cloth that is covering your creative fire. The sparks and the little flames are there at first, but once you give yourself permission, and you urge, blow and plea that little flame into maturity, the little spark, the little flame; they become one and start a big, roaring fire. And that fire that is burning inside of you is your passion to create. Like I said. There's a passion inside of everyone. You just need to pry it out. And you might not be able to feel it at first. Don't worry. That's normal. But after a while you feel something else. A burning desire and need to create. A desire to be creative. And when you let it free; you explore with papers, paints, stamps, inks, crayons, markers, pencils, and whatever else you desire you use in your creative endeavors, then you are feeding that fire. You are giving it what it wants. What it likes. What it needs. What it needs to survive. And if you smother that creative flame again, then you'll have to go through the long and painful struggle of uncovering it once again. So don't let it get that way. Don't make it necessary to delve and find your creative fire once again. Just keep feeding the fire it's creative pleasures and keep it burning. It's a much less painful way to keep your fire burning, and it's not that hard. Even just a few solitary minutes of peace and playtime all to yourself a day will keep your fire alive. So go do it. Find your creative self and keep it burning.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Step #5: Seeing Beauty

Today I'd like to talk about seeing beauty. A sort of continuation of yesterday's post. But not. Basically once you get into the habit of it, you can see beauty even in ugly things. Take for instance the page I shared yesterday. I didn't like it. Yet I still went to the trouble of continuing on with it. I could have just covered it up with white paint and started again. But I did see potential in it - something that you will find to be very true once you just start. Explore different techniques and colors to cover up things that you don't like. Practice making it look like it's meant to be there and not just a cover-up. Even though that might sound a little hard at first, you'll get the hang of it. Now take a look at the above picture. I promise that it is the same page as yesterday. I know that it looks really different, but that's the point. I saw the beauty in the page. I added hot pink and orange and that changed the entire look. I stamped with bubble wrap using paint. Collage underneath the layers of paint just barely show through. And that gives the page interest. I stamped with both ink and paint. Hand carved stamps give it a very unique style. The chipboard letters spelling out the word 'magic' add dimension. I also stamped with commercial brand stamps. As you can see, I added a ton of layers on top of the initial paint layer shown in the last post. The collage is made of paper, ephemera and bits and pieces of everything in between. So today I challenge you to go ahead and look for the beauty in certain supposedly 'ugly' pages. It doesn't have to be hard if you don't make it. It's only as hard as you make it. Any and every page has a certain inner beauty to it. You just need to find it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Step #4: The 'Ugly' Stage

In every art journal page there is a stage where I hate it. It's fact. Then I add more layers and I start to see the beauty that is hidden there - beneath the surface. The more stuff you add, that ugliness that you saw at first is entirely covered up and you don't have to think about it. Just do it. If you absolutely hate it and nothing you do can change that, then simply take some white paint and cover the whole thing up. Start again. With an entirely new, fresh start. But first, if you would, try to rescue it. The picture above is a page that I'm not crazy about. At all. I don't really like it. But tomorrow the picture will be changed. It'll be the same page. But changed. I'm going to add bits and pieces to this. And change it. I'm going to get it out of this 'ugly' stage. And I see the beauty in this page. I really do. I just don't like it now. I'll give it a total makeover and you can too. I believe in you. Now you need to believe in me. Just don't get frustrated. That will ruin your emotions and make working in your art journal a chore instead of a getaway place to have fun. Tomorrow's post will actually be about seeing beauty in 'ugly' pages, so that should inspire you also. Adding layers on top of the parts that you hate, then you are covering up those and adding gorgeous pieces that you are in love with. When you use things and colors that you love, then you begin to love the page itself. So use things you love, and you might not hate a page. But I do challenge you to do something different. Think outside the box. Don't let yourself fall into the rhythm of simply using your favorite colors and elements. That will make all of your pages look the same and you don't want that. I'd like you to try using some colors you don't like for a change. The page above is pink and yellow. I don't like pink. At all. And yellow certainly isn't my favorite color. But with everything I add. The other colors I'll add on top of this and the pieces of ephemera will change that. Now that just might sound funny to your inner voice. Your inner critic. Your inner artist. Yes, I said it. Your inner artist. You are an artist. And there's nothing you can say that's going to change my mind. Now you just need to make up your own mind. You are an artist. And you need to know it. It is fact. Now decide to believe it. It might not be easy. It might be one of the hardest struggles you've ever had with your inner self. But in the long run it will help you. It will change your life for the better. So I challenge you today to take a page that you don't like and change it, add to it, or alter it until you like it. That's your goal for today. Now go do it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Step #3: Layer Upon Layer

Layers. They aren't something to be afraid of. They add so much to anything you create, making your time worthwhile in and of themselves. Seriously though. If you don't have much time to work on being creative, then I suggest working in layers. Why? Well, with layers, you get instant gratification. One layer in my art journals often times don't take longer than a couple of minutes. But they change the look. Entirely. If your page was entirely blue and you add a layer of red or orange - the page becomes very different in a matter of seconds. And those seconds are the time it takes you to spread some paint. Simple. It really is. Believe me. I know. A layer a day keeps the doctor away in my book. Two is always better than one. And even more if you can find the time. That works well. Really well. Most of my layers include paint and stamps as you know already. But if you're a sketcher, a doodler, or a drawer [I'm not sure that's a word] then use this suggestion. Layers are better. I think so. If you like to draw, then try layering drawings and doodles on top of each other along with sketches, and decorative words. I've done this several times before and it always turns out well. It doesn't take much effort either. So, what are my layers made up of? Well, I normally start with some inking. And some paint. Then I start stamping. One of my more recent art journaling endeavors is hand carved stamps that I create using some cheap erasers and a craft knife. Very simple, but it makes your piece of art that much more unique. After the first layer of stamping I add more paint. Then some collage elements. A lot of times I use papers; lined filler paper, dictionary paper, book paper, scrapbook paper, music note paper, phone book paper, zendoodles I've drawn with a sharpie, and my favorite that I've just started experimenting with is tissue paper. Tissue paper comes in a million different shades. It's beautiful. It comes in patterns. Themes. It's thin. Translucent. Simply gorgeous. Also in the collage layer is several different pieces of ephemera. I use lots of different things in my art journal, but, to put it simply, ephemera pieces are things that have meaning to you. Your life. Art journaling explains it. Layers. They're easy to do. Fun to do. Healing even. The more layers you put on, the more beautiful your page becomes. Sometimes the page may be ugly to you. That's ok. Trust me. I know. Add more layers. Cover up the ugly. Add new, beautiful layers. And believe me. You're your own worst critic. If you feel comfortable doing so, post some pages online. Like I'm doing now. There are people out there. They know. They remember how they felt about their first few pages. And then they tell you good yours are. Let me tell you, there are tons of times that people have said they hated their first pages. They attached photos. I looked. And then I told them how good they really are. So don't worry. I have another assignment for you today. Take one of the pages that you did. The ones from yesterday, or from the day before. And add layers. Just do it. Trust me. I know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Step #2: Making Time

Time. It seems like there's not much of it nowadays. With the days getting even shorter come autumn and shorter still when winter comes around, all of our valuable time seems to disintegrate. But if you truly want to create... to use your mind to it's full potential and to use it as therapy, you'll make time. Trust me. I know these things. In only a few minutes a day you can make progress on a page. I say progress because my pages use lots of layers. On each page I probably use around 15 - 20 layers. Layers of everything from collage to stamps to paint. And everything that could possibly fit in between. But if you are one of those people who like to draw in their art journals, then you could finish a page in a day. I have made this promise to myself - my pages are not complete until I'm absolutely in love with the page. So I add layers. Lots of them. Until the page is exactly the way I want it. For real. Maybe your decision will be different. Maybe you'll decide you don't care if you don't like it. Maybe you want to teach yourself that everything doesn't have to be perfect - a type of inner healing. That everything doesn't have to be perfect. Maybe. It's your choice, not mine. It's your art journal. Your life. Make time. Learn that when something is important; that form of healing needs to be let lose. You know that voice is there. The little opinion when you see something particularly appealing to your eye. It says you could make something. Something like that. Something even better. But your feelings. Your opinions. Your voice. The creative fire inside of you is smothered. And you don't even know it. You've learned to ignore it. Change is possible. Believe me. I know. When you finally take out the art supplies and let yourself play. Just do it. It's not hard. Put paint on a page. Add something else to make it your own. If you feel like it, draw an element. If you don't feel like it, don't. Try to understand that playing in an art journal can be a form of healing. Like therapy. It soothes your soul. And gets you into a different state of mind that allows ideas to flow. If you don't have any ideas, slap some glue on the back of some ephemera and press it down. Ideas will come. When you let them. Please let them. So many people say they're not creative. But let me tell you something. Something very special. You are. You are creative. You can do what you never even dreamed possible. If only you'll let lose a little. Let go of that feeling of hopelessness. You know the one. The one that tries to discourage everything you do. Your every move. Judging you. Making you feel bad about making time for yourself. Don't let that happen. So make a few minutes. If only 5 a day or a couple of hours. Just create daily. It's important. Believe me. It's a form of healing. In fact, it's healing your soul.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Step #1: The Empty Journal

A fresh start. A new beginning. The story of a lifetime. All of this between the covers of a book. The blank pages stare at you menacingly. You stare back. No ideas come to you so you walk away. This repeats. Again and again. I challenge you to make something different. Make a mark in your journal. On a random page draw a doodle, paint a background, collage a few elements on - do something to make this page your own. Create a page background in your own way. When I start a page, I normally start out with a layer of acrylic paint. Any color you like. In any shade you prefer. Add more shades. More colors. Wipe some colors away with a baby wipe. Then add layers of stamping. Any color. Any pattern. Anything goes in an art journal. Add collage elements. Photographs, cutouts from magazines, quotes, phrases, words, tickets, ephemera of any kind - I add them with Mod Podge, but you could use anything you like as an adhesive. Add more paint on top of the Mod Podge, along with more stamping, collage images, glimmer mist, glitter and anything else you can think of. Stamp with ink. Stamp with acrylic paint. Use clear, rubber, and foam stamps. Carve your own stamps out of anything you can think of. Wood, foam, rubber blocks, and erasers all make excellent stamps. Carve with whatever you like. Whether it be a special carving tool or as simple as a craft knife, homemade stamps add the perfect touch to any art journal page. You don't have to wonder if anyone else has another like it. It's a fact that they don't. Personalizing your journal in such a way is fun and inexpensive. To finish off a page like this, add a quote, a title, a definition - anything that is special and meaningful to you. In my own pages, the most common thing for me to do is add phrases and quotes from my favorite animated series, Johnny Test or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This personalizes the page as well because this quote is meaningful to you - it made you laugh, gave you a smile, or helped you through your day. Recording such a thing is important. When you flip through your journal, you'll have a book of laughs and smiles. So I challenge you today. Make an art journal page. Make it your own. And most importantly. Have fun.