Central focal image – Tim Holtz’s Ephemera. Various designer series papers as the mats for the focal image. Overall artwork size approx 7″ x 8″ (18cm x 21cm) Distress Ink to colour papers and mats. Mossy green Staedtler Triplus fineliner. Black 03 Unipin pen. Mossy green and black Carbothello pastel pencils.
This one I am happy with. For cartouches/frames I prefer to work in borders rather than a rambling series of patterns and motifs. This seems to satisfy my love of symmetry/balance, yet still allows the use of organic patterns. I really did breathe a sigh of relief when I completed this one.
I am considering adding either colour or metallic ink to the seeds in the outermost border, possibly some shadow within each triangular motif as I realised I forgot to do that.
I did start work on another similar project. I’m really not happy with the penwork. So, I’m going to remove the central motif and mount it on a new piece of paper on which I can draw the borders/frame/cartouche. Not everything has been lost in this case.
Over the past two or so days, I’ve not been feeling quite right. I’ve spent a lot of time cwtched up in bed, and about the only art I’ve felt like doing is small projects that I don’t feel overwhelmed by.
I saw the idea of zentangle cartouches on the Zentangle YouTube channel a little while back and wanted to give them a go. I’d done one a little while ago where I’d used some vintage rose ephemera from a set of Tim Holtz’s Field Notes ephemera on a piece of natural coloured mixed media paper. I wasn’t at all sure with what I’d ended up with. However, I did want to revisit this idea once again.
So, I decided to explore the idea of cartouches once again. This time, I used smaller pieces of creamy Fabriano Medioevalis paper, which comes sized to 3.3″ x 5.2″ (85mm x 132mm), with lovely rough edges. This is really soft paper, the surface is easily damaged by using a tortillon too roughly.
I added the focal points, again from the Field Notes ephemera by Tim Holtz, along with some little quotes. The quotes are from the sets of ‘chit chat’ stickers, again by Tim Holtz. These items are in my stash from the days I messed around with mixed media, before I realised it really wasn’t quite for me. I admire what people can do with mixed media, but I just never seem to have found my way with it in a way that I’m happy with. I’m much happier wielding a pen (on paper or digitally) with love and a creative heart, than getting rather messy and frustrated with mixed media.
My Reflections on these Cartouches
Anyways, I’ve had mixed results with these experiments in cartouches. My favourite is ‘trust your crazy ideas’, closely followed by ‘be you, bravely’, then ‘treasure. ‘stay curious’ and ‘don’t forget to fly’ are very close to these in how much I like them.
‘trust your crazy ideas’ just seems to have colours and patterns that work harmoniously both with each other and with the mushrooms. Perhaps I got a little close to the motif with the pen work, something for me to consider with future projects of this ilk.
‘trust your crazy ideas and ‘be you, bravely’ are both designs that have a small number of different patterns on them.
‘treasure’ is similar in that respect, but it feels unbalanced. I think I need to consider where I put the central motif; more centrally may work in my favour. ‘stay curious’ is a much more balanced design than ‘treasure’, because I consciously decided to mirror the patterns used, even though the motif was not placed centrally.
‘don’t forget to fly’ is just not a coherent design at all. I like the borders and the seed pods around the motif, but then it all goes weird.
However, I’m really not at all pleased with ‘live gently upon this earth’. It’s incoherent, too many colours, and the words and motif are just not balanced at all. I would’ve been better with not adding the words to this one in the first place.
Actually. It may be that I don’t add the words until the design is finished, at the bottom as a kind of plaque or border, or floating over an area of the cartouche with a border around them, or just not use them at all. I need to experiment with these.
My own ephemera designs?
I also know I’m quite capable, I think, of drawing my own ‘epehemera’ to add as focal points. However, as I tend to draw at a much bigger scale, I’d either need to scan my drawing in, or draw digitally, and reduce the scale before printing them out. At this time, I have a laser printer, which is great for printing documents and so on but not so much for artwork. It changes the surface properties of the paper used. Also, I can’t use specialist art paper with the printer. If I’m going to go down this route of arty expression I think I need to consider changing this printer for an inkjet printer again, especially one that has waterproof, or at least water resistant, ink.
What to do with my artwork?
My home is increasingly becoming filled with my artwork. Most of it I have digital versions of them – either scans or photographs. I do need to decide what to do with my artwork as I really do need to let it go to new homes. Any suggestions, drop me a comment!
Also, I have a problem with putting a price on my artwork, if I were to sell it. I have absolutely no idea of what it’s value could be to other people, or even if anyone would want to purchase it. Again, any suggestions, drop me a comment! Any help or advice would be much appreciated.
Last weekend, I made a small sketchbook that would hold approx 4″ x 4″ pieces of paper that was held together by book binding rings. I thought this would be a good idea as I like to work on small pieces of paper.
Then, last night I tried taking some prints from alcohol ink designs on A5 paper. I really didn’t want to cut them up to fit into the smaller custom sketchbook. I also didn’t want to use the metal binding rings again.
I woke this morning with the idea to use a disc binding system to create a custom sketchbook-come-art-journal.
I have been using an A5 Arteza mixed-media sketchbook for this, but it has rapidly become very, very wedge-shaped. I also realised that I want something where I can add a variety of sizes and types of paper, as well as move them around to suit my needs. A disc bound system seems to be the best way for me to do this.
I’ve yet to work out a way to make a hard cover for the sketchbook. For now, I made each cover from two sheets of A4 pearlescent card glued together. They’ll be sturdy enough until I work out how to reinforce them in some way.
I decided to place the disc binding on the landscape edge, just for a bit of a change, no other reason. I’ll be able to take the paper out of the binding to work on. This actually suits me just fine as the spines of sketchbooks really irk me when I work in them, be they sewn or spiral bound.
What I also like about the disc binding system compared to the book binding ring is that the holes in the paper are much closer to the edge. It’ll be much easier to leave a ‘margin’ on the paper.
Of course, there’ll be plenty of times when I’ll work in a commercially produced sketchbook still, especially as I’ve now rediscovered the joy of using one again. However, the ability to colour paper, use different kinds of paper and sizes of paper really appeals to me as a variation on the sketchbook theme.
The different sizes of papers also add a bit of intrigue to the sketchbook. There are glimpses of other designs and backgrounds further on that add to curiosity.
I can choose to add notes either to the back of the work or on sheets of dot-grid or squared paper I’ve added.
Nor am I precluded from adding journaling elements such as envelopes and pages with pockets, for instance.
The top page is an abstract drawing I completed this morning. The colour and pattern on the paper (a piece of ClaireFontaine Paint-On mixed media paper) was added by taking a print from alcohol inks on Yupo paper.
I spent some time yesterday evening experimenting with alcohol inks on Yupo paper (a synthetic paper). Once I was happy with what I’d made, I added some Alcohol Lift-Ink and used a brayer to spread it over the design. Quickly, I placed a sheet of mixed-media paper on top and allowed the alcohol inks to be transferred. If you’d like to know more about this technique, pop over to the Lavinia Stamps YouTube channel; they have lots of videos showing how this is done.
The inks lose their vibrance and become more muted when this is done, but it means it’s much easier to draw on the design without wrecking pens in the process.
I used Pitt Artist Pens by Faber-Castell to draw the abstract design on the paper. Once I was happy with the design, I added some metallic/pearlescent paints in shades of orange and yellow to some of the white/pale circles in the design. Sadly, the photograph hasn’t picked this up.
I decided to not to cover the whole paper with the drawn design. I wanted to leave some areas of the background as they were.
I really enjoy working like this – creating a colourful, textured background which I then use as inspiration for the line-work. It is, for me, a very meditative process. Of course, patterns and forms appear that I can then use in future artwork.
Of course, I could choose to intensify the colours in select places using any variety of media. Today, I have chosen to leave this as it is. I may scan it in and try this out digitally at another time.
Digital or Traditional Art?
Both! For me anyway. I do love working in both ways, and using them in concert too.
I love the portability and smaller scale of paper and pen/pencil, as well as using other traditional art and craft media.
I also love creating art digitally, sometimes using backgrounds I’ve created using traditional media or pen and ink drawings.
Each has their pros and cons. Each allows me to do things that the other can’t.
One thing I do know, however, is it takes time to become skillful in each and also to find your own artistic voice (or voices) for each medium used.
Which I use at any given time depends on the style of art I need to do, what kind of ‘finish’ I want with it, and also what my arty heart and soul requires at the time to be content and happy.
No matter which I use, I’m constantly trying new things out, or revisiting old techniques with fresh eyes and ideas. Of course, changing media and methods also freshens up my art and recharges my motivation when it’s in ebb rather than flow.
Stress, motivation and inspiration
This week has been dominated by stress from venturing forth from my home for the first time since March. When I’m anxious/stressed it can be incredibly difficult to settle to anything. Also, I can easily feel overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks. Activities that usually soothe me can irritate me. My ability to focus on anything approaches a vanishing point rather rapidly.
Working in a sketchbook has helped; there is then no pressure to create a finished piece of work, or even to finish any sketch or artwork. It’s just about doing and enjoying and exploring. I let go of my expectations of artistic success and replace them with expectations of finding some peace and contentment in the whirl of emotions I experience at times like this.
I find it hard to be motivated to create, and even more difficult to find inspiration. I tend to slip back into old, familiar and self-comforting styles of creating art.
Hence this style of abstract art.
Even when I do slip into a familiar style, the art produced may be familiar, but it’s moved along, altered either subtly or more noticeably showing the progress I’m making artistically. It also reflects the current variations in the particular fugue that my artistic voice wants to sing to satisfy it. My artistic voice, song, doesn’t have one tune, it has many, plenty of which are yet to be discovered.
I’ve spent several hours exploring and trying ideas out in the realms of both digital and abstract art, and this is the result.
I’m really not at all sure about it in any shape or form. I think I was influenced by watching a few YouTube videos about mixed media and abstract art.
It’s been an “interesting” time, as well as a frustrating time in some ways. I also have a bit issue with choice of colours.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve calmed down an awful lot from the stresses of the last week or so. I actually slept for nearly 12 hours last night, which happens once all the adrenaline/cortisol have left my body. It’s nice to be back to my ‘normal’ state of contentment.
I’ve become a bit obsessed with making art journal bits and bobs over the last couple of days. This morning has been no exception, other than the more I do and watch, the more ideas that come to me.
Yesterday, I created some blank, printable, templates for inchies, twinches and tea cards. I printed them out on plain paper so I could draw in them. I also made a list of themes I could tackle for them too.
I spent an hour or two filling in a sheet of inches with various designs. Then, I printed them on plain paper and also vellum for calligraphy. The vellum has a rough texture, interesting colours and subtle patterns in them. I have a laser printer, so wasn’t sure if it would print on the vellum; it did, however the print does come off if I’m a bit rough with it.
Nevertheless, I coloured some of the inches with Distress Inks and then adhered them to some 1″ tiles of thick chipboard card. I edged them with tresure gold wax from Imagination Crafts. Then, I gently applied a thin layer of Ranger’s gloss multi-media medium, to see if it would seal the laser printing; it did! It also brought out the colours of the Distress Inks.
These are simple enough to make. There are plenty of tutorials online for them. I made them from ordinary printer paper, then coloured them with Distress Inks.
Next, I added some dot embellishments using a small ball tool with Imagination Crafts’ Starlights metallic paint in rich gold. This is a beautiful, glittery, shiny paint that leaves some dimension when applied this way.
Finally, I adhered the inchies I’d made, along with some vintage book paper, to the envelopes.
I’m not sure if these envelopes are finished. I do want to use them to store either journaling notes in, or little pieces of art or mementos in them.
I haven’t been at all sure about tags and using them. However, I thought I’d see what I could do with them after yesterday’s mucking about with a tri-fold tag that turned into one single tag.
I wanted to make some templates for cutting the corners at the top of the tags, so I did that, using various widths of paper and slopes to remove the top corners.
I then realised I needed something to store them in, so I made an envelope for them.
The envelope has a more rectangular top flap and a plain front, perfect for embellishments.
Something occurred to me this morning while watching someone make tags using background paper. I thought that I could use my colouring sheets and entangled designs as my own background paper. So, I thought I’d try to use some.
I found some old designs on my computer and printed a couple of them both as the black line originals and with a grey line.
I made a tag and cut out a piece of one of the designs. I coloured the design with Distress Inks and used them to subtly colour the tag.
I didn’t like the way the neatly cut out background pattern looked when I placed it on the tag. So, I tore the edges. I still wasn’t happy, so I tried tearing it into strips. That looked better, but I still wasn’t happy with it, but I stuck the pieces down.
I used a gold glitter gel pen to add lines and patterns between the torn pieces, which created some pattern and interest.
Finally, I added a distress ink coloured belly band along with a word, “creativity” to the tag. For now, I tucked one of the seed packets behind the belly band.
The background drawing may be just too busy, detailed, and varied to work well. I need to bear this in mind going forward.
I am keeping notes of how I make tags, pockets, and other bits and bobs in an A5 dot grid notebook, along with ideas for other things to do or try. It’s turning out to be rather useful as a reference.
I’m struggling with accepting that what I’m creating for my art journal is “good enough”, “attractive enough”, “pretty”. It’s not like others I’ve seen, which is part of my problem.
I seem to like, mostly, neat edges, borders on work, very organised, neat, and carefully, geometrically arranged elements in my designs. I know I want to use my own artwork to create a journal, but I’m not sure it’s going to be successful in any kind of way. I have no idea if I’m on a wild goose chase.
I know I enjoy making these bits and bobs, I just don’t know if the overall end products actually work, so I’m doubting myself. I’m not sure I like what I’m creating. I mean, I really like individual elements such as the inchies and little panels on the envelopes. It’s when I start to actually combine them or put them into a journal that it all seems to go more than a bit skew-iffy.
I’m at that uncomfortable place I often find myself in when I’m creating a mandala or drawing or digital painting; partway through I want to give up as I think that what I’m creating is awful and not working. With the mandalas, drawings and digital art, I’ve learned to work through that point and, mostly, to complete the work. I’ve learned by experience and perseverance that I can produce art I’m happy with.
I’m not at all sure of that with this art journal type stuff. I’m not sure at all if I can find my own creative ‘voice’ with this, or whether I have to accept that as much as I’d like it to be one of my ‘things’ it’s not meant to be and that I can continue to watch and admire others for what they create.
Maybe, I’ll end up making digital elements for journals for others to use in their creations. Maybe, I’ll find that collections of inchies are my thing (along with twinchies and tea cards and other little designs).
For now, I’ll take a bit of a break from it all, and come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.
I woke at around 4:30am again today and couldn’t get back to sleep. So, I got up, made tea, and did some work on my art journal / sketchbook.
Making Distressed Paper
I spent a good two or three hours making the papers you can see to the left. I used the following:
printer and layout paper, cut to A6 in size (UK size)
Distress Oxide Inks
5″ x 7 ” Gelli plate
small Brayer roller
water in a spray bottle
pieces of cut and dry foam
metallic inks and paints
For some of the pieces, I brayered the Distress Oxides onto a Gelli plate and then pulled the print onto a piece of paper. For others, I used the Brayer to apply the ink to the paper. I also used the black side of a piece of cut and dry foam to apply ink to some of the papers.
I sprayed the papers with water to activiate the Distress Oxide, and used the heat tool to dry them. After doing this, I crumpled up a lot of the papers and then used the brayer to flatten them out. Both of these techniques resulted in textured paper. So, I used the cut and dry foam and some Distress Oxide ink to lightly brush the paper to help to accentuate that texture.
Finally I used cut and dry foam to brush metallic paint or ink over the paper to add some shimmer and shine. I used some textured cut and dry foam to add patterns too.
I now have quite a stash of very distressed papers to use in my art journal in the future.
Both the printer paper and the layout paper are much thinner than I would usually use for such a task. The light spritz of water on each, however, created a lovely, bumpy texture. They were also easy to crumple up, adding that kind of leathery texture.
The subtle shine that the gold metallic ink gave is rather lovely, though I do like the bright, shiny gold of some paint I found in my stash.
I can see me using these papers for collage, for making pockets/envelopes and other bits and bobs for a journal, and no doubt for other things I’ve not yet thought of.
Storing my custom papers.
I realised the papers I’ve made over the past couple of weeks have been piling up and I really needed to do something that would let me find them easily. So, the quickest and easiest solution was to use A4 poly-pockets and a ring binder, both of which I had to hand! That certainly has let me have a tidier desk, and I’ll be able to find the papers easily too.
Art journal pages.
I also finished up the two pages shown to the right. I attached inchies, to fill in some gaps.
I used simple paper hinges to attach the ATC cards on page seen in the bottom image. If I ever wish to remove them to swap/share/gift, then I can remove them easily. That simple solution has relieved my anxiety about adhering them permanently into the sketchbook!
I’ve also folded some squared paper, used distress inks to colour the edges and folds, and put them in the vellum pockets I’d made earlier, all ready for me to journal on. Unusually for me, I made use of some washi tape to embellish the pockets.
I’ve also noticed that I’m very ‘regimented’ about how I put things in my art journal. I much prefer carefully cut paper to torn edges most of the time. Everything needs to be arranged ‘just so’ with me. Just as it is with my line-art – precise and neat. I suppose it’s another example of me expressing my personality through my art.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m exhausted. I’m practically falling asleep as I type this; that’s what happens when I wake up at stupid o’clock once again. I’m now officially overtired! I may try to get back to sleep soon; I do have work I need to do today!
As far as me being under the weather goes…
Well, I still have a sensitive digestive system and I feel nauseous from time to time. I did wake with a bit of a headache today, but that could just be lack of sleep, as is the tiredness I feel. I have eaten and my tummy doesn’t seem to be objecting as it has done. This all makes me hopeful that I’m almost over this bout illness. I was really quite grumpy about it yesterday, and I’m entirely sure I’m not grumpy today!
Other than that, emotionally I’m doing just fine. The sunshine helps with my mood for sure, as did being able to hear the bird song as the world was slowly waking up this morning.
Background – Distress Oxide inks and water spray on Daler-Rowney mixed media paper.
Flowers and background foliage – digital art using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I had a lovely time creating this artwork. Flowers are something I love and find in my art an awful lot. It took a few iterations to get the drawing of the flowers and leaves as I wanted them. A lot more iterations were needed to get the colour and texture of the flowers and leaves so that I was happy with them.
I wanted a bit more interest in the background, so I drew a leafy, simple mandala that was coloured with shades of green. I then replicated it, resized it, and applied different layer effects to each copy of the mandala.
As I was doing this, it was reminding me of the mixed media work I did a few years ago, particularly using stencils to add interest to a background.
Digital mixed-media … without the mess! I’ve said it before – I’m averse to creating a mess!
Anyway, this has been an interesting experiment in the realms of digital art and my brain is now ticking over with ideas for the future. All I have to do is make a note of them!
My morning warm up art session today was this little bit of hand lettering. I had a completely different idea in mind when I started this off but, as often happens, the creative energy flowed in a different direction.
I had wanted to do a monogram, perhaps with a dangle or maybe one set into a pattern border as a drop capital to a quote.
As I worked on first the pencil outline of the A, and then inking it in using fine and extra fine fountain pens filled with black ink, the lines that flowed out dictated the form of the letter rather than me consciously trying to force it into what I thought I wanted to create.
I think I’ve over patterned the inner space of the monogram, or not used the right kind of patterns there. However, it’ll do.
I wanted to use some birdwing copper FW Pearlescent ink from Daler-Rowney to add metallic highlights with a dip pen. I soon found out that dip pens and parchment paper that has been coloured with black ink don’t work well together. So, I ended up with the copper highlights at the bottom of the letters that fade up naturally. Adding dots of metallic colour to the monogram was easier on the unworked parchment. Over the black ink dots it wasn’t so easy. I’m also not sure that the ‘string of beads’ in the monogram actually works but I know it’s missing something. I need some time to reflect on this. As I do about adding any more copper highlights to it. I may yet decide to add some dangles to the word.
On the whole, I’m quite happy with how this turned out. I could add ‘You are’ in small letters above the letters. Either way, I think this would make a lovely notecard. I also think it could be used in a bujo, planner, journal, scrapbook or as framed art. I think I need to review the card making and mixed media techniques I once knew and have sidelined to focus on other aspects of art and adapt them to my current needs/ideas.