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.