Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Next Journal Layer: Creative Processes

The Next Journal Layer: Creative Processes

I love the feel of the pages when they are all glued and taped.  They are heavy and rich to the touch even before they are layered with paint, paper, fabric, etc.  By the way, toothpaste does not work to create texture as it does not dry.  Ewe!!!  What follows are suggestions or ideas to get your creative juices flowing this week. 

Texturing is a lot of fun and it really makes a difference in your art.  Texture can give excitement to your piece and make it less flat to the eye.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.


You can use a ready made stencil.  There is a wide selection of stencils available at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby for really inexpensive.  I have chosen to use a part of my chandelier stencil.  Lay it up against your page, then spread the modeling paste (or joint compound available at your local hardware store) over the top making sure to smooth it.   Use a Popsicle stick, putty knife, or anything else that is flat and can spread.  However, if you would like to add texture to the stenciled paste, do so now while the stencil is still in place and the paste is still wet.  Try sticking different textures into the paste or simply apply a sheet of paper towel over it, press lightly, and lift.

Now lift the stencil straight up to take it off your page.

You can also use chicken wire, a potato masher, lace, and doilies.  This list goes on and on.  Here is an example using wire mesh.

If you would prefer to make your own stencil, you can draw an image onto a thin piece of cardboard, or a clear plastic sheet protector, etc. and cut it out with a box cutter.  Shown here is a plastic sheet protector that has been put over a photocopy of a butterfly.  I simply cut out the shape and was able to use the plastic as my stencil.   Be careful!  Those things are sharp.  Always cut away from you.

You can also create texture by pressing things into the paste.  Here I pushed paper towel into the wet paste and pulled up.

Another great idea is after you put some paste on the page, draw an image, words, or design into it with the end of a brush or pencil.

You can pretty much push anything into the paste to get texture.  Here is what happens with corrugated cardboard.

This page is now ready for the next step.


Adding texture to your pages is not difficult.  You can attach textured items to your pages with either gel or Mod Podge.  Here is corrugated cardboard, and textured paper.  You can buy corrugated cardboard or take a piece of a cardboard box and tear off the top layer.

I brushed on some gel and added some yarn, cut circles out of decorative paper, and then added buttons.  What items do you have to add to your page to create texture from your home or from outside?  Cheese cloth, corduroy, nails, wire, mesh, dried flowers and leaves, feathers.  Just look around.  You’ll find lots to work with.  More than likely these items will not remain the same color in the next step.


Using paper as your second layer is easy and effective.  Simply tear up some decorative paper, colorful magazine pages, gift bags, paper bags, and/or tissue paper and adhere to your page using gel or Mod Podge.  I have also added watercolors to two ply paper towels, then separated them into single ply.  Remember to distribute colors and textures throughout your page so that it is balanced.  With the sample below the red is powerful.  I placed the red in a letter ‘C’ to keep the viewers eye in my piece.   Try a letter ‘S’ as well!  If you have time, it would be helpful for you to read about elements and principles of design.  Keeping these in mind while working, will help you to create more exciting and interesting pages.

The collage works the way it is, but I wanted to add some dimension as well, so I began to overlap some more papers on top of what I had already.  You will notice that there is still a letter ‘C’ going on by the use of ‘arrows’ leading the viewer’s eye throughout the collage and making the center the focal point.  It is like the focal point has been framed.  I was able to achieve dimension by overlapping and by not gluing the pieces of paper completely down.  This also allows for shadows.  Yum!  I’m thinking that the light rectangles will be used as a backdrop for words in my journal.

 This was done with tissue paper that a store put in my purchase bag, and water colored paper towels.

Also know that when things in our art are laid down or drawn on a diagonal, you create movement in your piece.  This also helps to make your art more exciting.


Choose some colors that you like and do some drag art.  REALLY IMPORTANT…YOU NEED TO WAIT IN BETWEEN LAYERS ON PAINT UNTIL THE PAINT IS DRY, OTHERWISE YOU COULD END UP WITH MUD.  Remember light colors come forward and dark colors recede. To begin, drip some acrylic paint on your page keeping in mind balancing of your colors.  With a piece of cardboard, or Popsicle stick, etc., starting at the top, pull the paint down the page.  Easy Peasy.  Make sure that you have newspaper underneath as you will be pulling excess paint off of your page.

You can use your page like this or you can keep going.  Once the paint was dry, I did some more drag art over top of the existing drag art.  You can use a blow dryer to speed up the drying between layers of paint.  First, I added two additional colors over top of the first colors.  Then I used a baby wipe to make the circles again while the paint was still wet.  I waited until the paint dried again, then I added two more colors.  While the third layer was still wet, I took a baby wipe and made the original circles again.  You can draw whatever you like.  You may like circles, squares, squiggles, Fleur De Lis’, birds, stripes, whatever.  This is your art, so do what you like!

You can see the variety of colors underneath.  It is pretty like this and I could have stopped here, but I was wondering what would happen if I added some black and white for effect. 

I liked this, but then I thought what about adding ink.  Adding ink and dipping it with alcohol would create even more texture.  It turned out beautifully.

I then saw some pretty acrylic colors and decided to see what dripping would look like on top of my page.   This is done by applying some paint to your page, tilting the page, and spraying the paint with water.  You can manipulate the direction of the paint by tilting and adjusting your page.  Looking good….but then I thought I really liked the original look with the circles, so…

I dragged more paint and, with the baby wipes, made more circles.

I could have stopped at any point.  But I wanted to take some risks and I am truly happy with this final look.  It looks rich with color, texture, and is ‘artsy’.  Very cool.  Have fun with acrylic.  The wonderful thing about acrylic paint is, at any point, I could paint a layer of white acrylic paint or gesso over it and start over again.  Layers of paint, in my opinion, is more interesting to look at then one single layer.  It’s a personal thing of course.

What a difference from when I began this page.  Anyone looking at these pages would probably not believe that they are, indeed, the same page.


Another simple but effective way to add texture to your pages is to draw an image or pattern, trace (bad word in art) over the picture with Elmer’s Glue or Aleene’s tacky glue, cover it with tinfoil, then finally paint over the top.

Start anywhere on your image, and press lightly on your bottle of glue.  When you trace your image with glue, make sure that your glue doesn’t gush out of our bottle, you keep a steady flow, and that your glue bead raises from your page about an 1/8th  to ¼ of an inch.  Watch the glue coming out of your bottle and move it constantly.  Once you have the glue down on your image, use an object like a toothpick to help you to spread and straighten your glue, and to get rid of any air bubbles.

Wrap the tinfoil completely around your page and tacking it on the back side with tape.  With your finger or a q-tip, softly rub along the lines of glue that you made.  This will ensure that you achieve an embossing (raised) effect.

Finally, with a soft cloth, lightly rub shoe polish or oil pastels over the image allowing the color to fall on the flat areas of your page.  The shoe polish dries and polishes up nicely.  It also doesn’t come off when you touch it.  The oil pastels do come off slightly just to let you know.  Great news is that the polish comes in a lot of different colors.  Now I’m thinking a huge canvas, big  detailed image, and lots of shoe polish colors.  Hmmmm?  The more details your image has, the more interesting it looks.  This is a simple example.  Can you imagine a image which has lots more detail.  It is so much potential.

Alcohol Inks

Using alcohol inks is a lot of fun and is a quick technique to get your pages started.  Paint some ink in sections on your pages, and drip some  ‘rubbing alcohol’ over the top WHILE THE INK IS STILL WET.  It’s fun to watch the spots show up.  You can achieve the same thing with watercolor as well (although the inks are more intense in color).  The beauty of this technique is that you just don’t know what you are going to get in the end.  The more the ink, the bigger the splotches.

Paint some ink in sections.

Drip some rubbing alcohol from a q-tip.

Continue to add sections of color and dripping rubbing alcohol on top.

Isn’t this cool?


I have always loved fabric, and I have sewn everything from clothing, to draperies, to accessories.  Love it.  So it’s no surprise to see me adding fabric to my suggested first layers.  This is a great way to get rid of scraps of fabric and old clothing.  There are tons of ideas for fabric, from landscapes, to figures, to flowers.  Every color you would need to create an image is available to you from stores like Jo Ann fabrics and Hobby Lobby.  You can also mix fabric, paints, and papers together.  Oh the fun you can have.

Here I have layered a piece of felt, a layer of fusable webbing (available at the same stores as fabric) the same size as the felt, and then tore fabric and layered them on top of the fusable webbing.    Your felt and your webbing should be the same size as your page.  Once you have the fabrics laid down and you’re happy with the look, iron the fabric.  The fusable web will adhere all three layers together.  You can, if you wish, do some embroidery stitching on top of this.  For instructions on how to embroider, just search the web.  There are several places which give you step by step instructions.

You can add acrylic, ink, or watercolor paint on top of the fabric if you wish to add more interest.  In my samples, I embroidered a little, painted a little, and used my sewing machine a little, but of course you could just do a simple running stitch if you don’t have a sewing machine.  Once you have your fabric the way you like it, you can either glue, staple, pin, or sew it into your journal, making it ready for the next step.

There are so many other possibilities including mixing any of these techniques together.  The important thing is to let go, have fun, and let the pages tell you what to do next.  I will be adding new ideas to this blog as time goes on so make sure that you check on me every once and awhile.

Next Monday, I will start adding a third layer to these pages and I will begin to include some prompts for you to start writing.  I am having so much fun and I hope that you are too.

I am so glad that we can share this time together.  Please send me some pics of your pages at so that I can put them up on my blog.  Believe it or not, we really do care about you.

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