It was a morning for some simple art. Art just for fun, relaxation and self-soothing. So, I thought that small watercolour gradient panels with really simple drawings on them and metallic and pearlescent paint highlights would be perfect.
For the first time ever I managed to create smooth colour gradients with watercolour. The secret, for me, was using a mix of water and gum arabic to wet the paper before applying the colour. Of course, working on such small pieces of watercolour paper helped. Still, it’s a personal achievement!
Once the panels were all done, itseemed a good idea to mount the little panels on some 4″ x 4″ blank cards. So I did just that and added a few more cards to my stash.
Stress and self-care
I had a really poor night’s sleep after the stress of my trip out to the pharmacy yesterday. I woke around 2:30am with a splitting headache and found it hard to get back to sleep. When I did, my alarm went off and woke me with quite a jolt.
I’d set my alarm last night as Wednesday is my delivery day with Able & Cole, and I like to get the deliver in and stored asap.
Once the delivery had come, around 6:30am. I had breakfast and then went back to bed to sleep.
I’m feeling a bit more centred and content now, but I’m still exhausted. So, today will be a quiet, self-care kind of day for me. I’ll be doing my best not to give in to the temptation to take a nap this afternoon so that I can sleep myself our properly tonight.
I needed a quiet morning, again, today. So, I thought I’d dig out my Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft watercolour pencils and try some stuff with them.
I wanted to use them to draw a flower, or two, and then use water to create a watercolour effect. The result you can see on the left-hand side card. I’ve left loads of white space on this card, which is unusual for me. I couldn’t resist, however, adding some gold dots around the flowers. The colour of the petals was so delicate that I used a 2H 3mm pencil to outline them and the leaves. Just for info, the piece of watercolour paper measures 4″ x 4″.
For the other cards, I just wanted to work with the pencils to create gradients and abstract patterns in colour. I drew on the little panels using a 0.25 Copic Multiliner SP pen and added some lines and details with metallic gold watercolour. These cards are approx 3″ x 4″ in size.
Watercolor pencils are nice to use when it comes to drawing in colour with them, then activiating the colour with water. They really glow on 100% cotton rag paper (bottom right) compared to the other cellulose papers.
Cute and whimsical cards, some very detailed, one not quite so. But a nice way to spend my morning.
Self-care time, again.
There’s a situation going on around me that is draining my emotions greatly at this time. I’m doing my best to not become overly emotionally involved in it, but it’s difficult when it’s to do with people you care about.
It all has a knock on effect with me. I’m anxious, tired verging on exhausted, really grumpy, irritable, and lacking patience at this time. I’m also not able to concentrate too well. These are all behaviours I could do without in dealing with this situation. Yet I’m exhausted by it.
I have been meditating, making sure I take time to do self-calming and self-soothing activities, such as my morning art, Though I have work to do for contracts, I need to take a day away from everything, if I can.
I know there are lessons for me to learn about myself in how I’m reacting ot the situation, stuff from my past that wasn’t processed during my EMDR therapy. If I can work out what it is, I can work through it myself now. Organising EMDR therapy isn’t possible at this time, with lockdown still very much in operation and me being very nervous of going out into the world as well.
So, I’m going to make time today to drink tea, meditate, journal and try to get to the bottom of my own issues and start doing what I can to work through them and heal the past traumas that are causing my reactions at this time.
I think I’ll also take time to crochet (I started a mosaic blanket earlier this week) and watch films or crafting shows on the TV. Eat healthily – I have a yearning for brussel sprouts, of all things! And take time away from social media and news. I may even pick up my flute and play it, for the first time in months and months.
Today’s image is a collection of watercolors and drawings I’ve done over the past couple of days.
There’s a coordinating card and envelope (mail art), along with some small panels of watercolouring (approx 1.5″ x 1.5″, so a bit bigger than inchies). I’ve also included my foxglove experiments, which I did this morning.
Sometimes, black pen looks too harsh against the delicate but vibrant watercolours, so for the poppies, I tried pencil instead. I’m really not at all sure about them.
The foxgloves are symptomatic of how I feel today – out of shape, wobbly, ill-defined with harsh edges. I woke with a stinker of a headache again, definitely stress/anxiety/worry induced, as well as a lack of sleep last night. It will pass. In the meantime, I’m watching The Clone Wars on Disney+.
I don’t know if I’ll be doing any art for a few hours; my head and emotions are all bent out of shape at the moment. I’m dissatisfied with all the above; I know that’s me being so frustrated at the moment and it stops me seeing my art for how it really is. When I’m like this, I know that drawing will frustrate me, and the fact I’m not drawing will frustrate me more, especially as I have deadlines looming. However, I logically know that if I try to do things now, I’ll just prolong the feeling of frustration and I’ll end up having to do much more in the long run than if I’m kind with myself until the headache goes and my mood lifts.
The weird thing, however, is that I can sense that touchstone of contentment inside me. It’s very confusing; on one hand my emotions are really unsettled, yet there’s contentment within. My EMDR therapist mentioned that it’s a peculiarly Western view that you can only experience one feeling at a time when I mentioned this kind of thing to her. So I know it’s possible to be both discontent and content at the same time – discontent with some parts of life yet still have an inner contentedness.
So, I wander off now to sit with these paradoxical feelings, to try to relax and let the headache ease off enough that I can sleep off the extreme tiredness it will leave me with.
Two fairly quick, small projects this morning – small botanical cards. Simple, cute, whimsical, darling. Little treasures.
These were fun to make, relatively quick too. They’d be darling little cards to receive in the post or in person. They’d also work nicely as an addition to a journal – a place to journal or keep little memory making bits and bobs in the envelope too.
Each card is 3″ x 4″ in size and the panels are approx 3.5″ x 2″ in size. I made the envelopes to fit and decorated them with one of the motifs from the designs on each card. I did a tiny bit of hand lettering on one of them too.
Over the past day or so, I’ve done some work on my journal and have pages 4 to 7 mostly complete. I’ve included lots of pockets to slip paper or artwork or other surprises into. I’ve also used some artwork I created as ephemera and embellishments.
Page 4 – top left.
This page has three pockets. One made by adhering two pages together, with a thumb notch punched out. Another is made from a sheet of tracing paper. The third is behind one of my signature entangled drawings; it’s a fairly secret pocket, unless I add something that peeks out from it.
I coloured the reverse of the drawing with Distress Inks as I didn’t know how they’d react with the pen drawing. Then, I adhered the tracing paper to some old book paper, and then adhered this to the tracing paper pocket, applying glue along three sides to create the pocket.
Once the glue was dry, I added some zentangle style patterns to the tissue paper pocket, just for fun. I used one of the Chameleon Fineliner pens to do this, using a colour that went well with the colours I’d used to ink the paper.
Page 5 – bottom left.
Page 5 is a little bit bigger than half the width of a page. I folded up the bottom of the page and adhered it along the edges to make a tuck-in. I punched out the thumb notch with a circle paper punch.
I decorated the tuck in with flower art at that I created myself. I also added some zentangle style patterns in between the flowers. I used Chameleon Fineliner pens, this time using a red and orange to get a gradient.
Page 6 – top right.
Again, a page that is a little more than half the width.
The drawing was done in gold ink on tracing paper. I used Distress Oxide inks to colour the reverse of the tracing paper before adhering it to some old book paper. The text and diagrams on the book page shows through faintly, as it does with the drawing on page 5.
Page 7 – bottom right.
This page just has a flower painting I created along with old book paper that have been collaged onto the journal page.
You can see the thumb notch on the edge of the page, showing I created a pocket by adhering two pages in the journal together.
None of the pages are fully completed. I’d like to add quotes or meaningful words or phrases. Some pages have gaps where I can add ephemera or pockets and so on. There’s certainly many spaces on the pages where I can draw patterns and designs.
I’m going to let the pages rest for a while as I turn my attention to other things today.
I’ve been feeling a bit ‘off’ or ‘meh’ in the last couple or so days. I’m finding it hard to settle to work of any kind. That I’ve been able to focus on getting some little bits and bobs done for the journal shows I’m feeling a bit more focused than of late.
This morning, I woke early-ish and thought I’d spend a little time on my journal.
On page 2 I’ve added one of my silhouette irises backed onto some pearlescent card that i coloured with Chameleon Color Top marker pens. I’ll be adding a quote beside the flower, when I find the perfect quote to go there!
Above the flower you can see a little tag with a semi-circular bottom that has a little pocket in it. The tag will flip up so I can hide some journaling or quote or something pretty and surprising behind it.
On both pages you can see paperclips that have inchies embellishing them. This is a fab way for me to use my inchies in a practical way.
Finally, you can see three mini paintings – two floral, one abstract – that I can use in future pages.
Unusually for me I started by painting the basic shapes of flowers and leaves. Then, I added stems and details using various colours of fineliner pens as well as a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen. I added some sparkly dot details with Sakura Stardust and Uniball Signo glitter gel pens.
For the abstract pattern, I painted arcs on the watercolour paper and when they were dried I added curved lines using a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen and a gold glitter Uniball Signo pen.
I’m not at all sure how I’ll use these, other than the colours of the three cards go really well together so they’ll help me with the colour scheme for another pair of pages further on in the journal, as well as making other ephemera and so on for it.
I do like relatively straight edges, neatly regimented bits and bobs in my journal. I’m not one for lace and frills and frothy additions. It’s not completely clean and simple; I do like old book paper that’s been torn. It’s like I need to control shapes and positions and arrange things ‘just so’, neat and tidy like. That may very well be my way with journal creation, which is in juxtaposition with those I see on youtube.
Being confident with something new, like making my own journal, is something that takes time, perseverance and patience – the patience mostly being with myself until I gain enough confidence.
It’s also the confidence that doing something different to others is perfectly fine.
I was missing in action yesterday. I was unsettled, dissatisfied with anything I tried to do, and needing a lot of sleep it seems. I kept away from the ‘puter and social media. So, no art was done (other than a couple of templates for Entangled Gardens) and no blog post was written (nor any other social media).
One lesson I have learned from my time in counselling/therapy was the importance of knowing when to exercise self-care. I try my best to do this, though sometimes it’s difficult as I know there are expectations and pressures I place on myself.
However, I have learned that if I try to push myself to do things when I’m just not in the right place to do them, I just get more and more frustrated and fed up. If I give myself the time and space to do what I need to do to take care of my emotional and mental health, when I settle down to work, the work flows more easily and I’m more satisfied with what I create.
Although I did draw two templates yesterday, I started three or four others and just threw them as I really wasn’t at all happy with them, and they really were nonredeemable.
Once those two were complete, I felt better about my deadline for the book, a bit more settled in myself. However, any other artistic things I tried I was just frustrated with. So, a complete break away was needed. So, it was crochet while binge watching American Gods on Amazon Prime Video.
I don’t know if I’m feeling any better today as far as art goes, I do know I need breakfast before I consider doing any!
On waking this morning, I wanted to work on the cover of my journal.
Yesterday evening, I managed to get a coat of gesso on to the cover and painted edge closest to the wire binding with gold. In hindsight, that may not have been the best idea.
I knew I wanted to use my silhouette iris drawing on the cover. Irises are my favourite flowers. Also, my aim for my journal is to use my own art as much as possible.
So, I printed out an arrangement of three irises, tore them out and coloured the paper with Distress Inks.
For the background, I used a piece of Claire Fontaine mixed media paper. I coloured it with Distress Inks – Old Paper, Tea Dye, a touch of Iced Spruce and a dusting of Vintage Photo around the edges and here and there on the main sheet.
This I adhered to the cover. I’d cut it narrower than the cover so that I didn’t have to butt it up against the wire binding. That’s why I wanted a gold border there.
Anyway, I decided to put some old book paper behind the irises. I added some ink to the edges of this paper too. I then glued them in place, along with the flowers.
I drew a border around this page with a copper-coloured Sakura Metallic gelly roll pen. Then, I used a gold glitter Uniball Signo pen to fill the background with tiny spirals.
I wanted to add the definition of ‘journal’ to the front cover. So, I did the typography in Affinity Publisher and printed it. After tearing the meaning out, I used Old Paper and Tea Dye Distress Inks to colour the paper, followed by Vintage Photo to ink the edge.
I then glued this to an old book page, tore that out and edged the paper with ink once again.
Before adhering the page to the cover, edged the paper with Ground Espresso Distress Ink as I didn’t think the edge was dark enough. I also coloured the edge of the journal cover with the same ink to hide the white.
An application of Distress Micro-glaze to seal the page and I could stick it to the cover.
I love the subtle sparkle of the spiral pattern on the cover. The micro-glaze picked up some of the fine glitter. It also makes the cover sheet feel very smooth.
I’m not happy with the gold edge to the journal, but I will, no doubt, find a way to make it look much better. Otherwise, I’m quite happy with the cover. I think it needs something else there, but I’ll work out what that is in the fullness of time.
The first three pages.
Page 1 I’ve shown before, and it’s now complete (apart from me adding journaling to the envelopes and other spaces.)
On page 2, I’ve added an experiment I did with Tombow Dual Brush Pens and a blender pen to draw designs on paper. I have some ATC cards coloured in the same blues/purples as the background of this page, so I’ll be finding a way to display them on the page when I’ve finished them.
Page 3 is a tiered series of simple pockets. I made them by tearing the paper of each page and layering them to create the pockets. The inserts are pieces of Claire Fontaine Mixed media paper that have been coloured in the same colours of Distress Inks as the pockets have been. I used Distress Oxide Inks for the pockets.
I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with the third page, yet. It will come to me, I’m sure!
I thought that I’d use Adobe Spark to make a short video rather than posting a montage of photos. I uploaded it to my channel on youtube so I could share it via social media more easily.
Adobe Spark is straightforward to use, and it does have a free option, though I pay about £10 per month for it. It makes creating simple content for social media really easy.
How am I feeling
I’m feeling much better today. The headache and light-headed/dizzy/drowsy feelings were with me for the whole day, including upset tummy and digestive system. I had weird pains in my right eye too. I slept a lot during the day, and just took it easy when I was awake. I wanted to crochet in the evening but found it hard to do even something familiar to me.
My digestive system is still uncomfortable and not quite right today, and I’m now beginning to feel rather tired. Like I’ve already done too much today. So, I’m going to be taking it easy for the rest of the day.
I woke this morning with the desire to make a little box to store ephemera in. So I did.
I used a video from PootlesPaperCraft to help me make the box, which is 4″ square with a depth of 2″, so sizeable enough for some of my smaller ephemera such as inchies and little shrink plastic charms (you can just see them peeking out from under the envelopes to the left of the photo).
I used plain, white card for the box base, which I coloured with Tea Dye, Rusty Hinge and Vintage Photo Distress Inks. For the top, I used a piece of Tim Holtz card from my stash that I’ve had for a number of years. This I grunged up with Vintage Photo and Rusty Hinge Distress Inks.
Once I made the box up, I used Aged Mahogany to distress the edges of the box.
I coloured a square piece of white card with Aged Mahogany and Rusty Hinge Distress Inks and then used a light brown pen to draw a zentangle design on it. This panel was layered on a piece of the same Tim Holtz card I used to make the lid, and then I adhered it to the box.
The box really needed a label to identify it’s contents. Now, I could’ve printed the label out, but I thought this would be an opportunity to practice my hand lettering, which I did.
Then, I aged the label with Aged Mahogany Distress Ink, applied lightly over the face and a bit darker around the edges. Next, I layered the label on another piece of the Tim Holtz paper. Before adhering the label to the box lid, I edged the panel with some Rich Gold Starlights paint from Imagination Crafts.
It’s been a long time since I made any boxes, but they really are easy enough to do. I need to make a longer, thinner box to store tags and other bits and bobs in, once I work out the size I need to make.
Yesterday I got lost in finishing the first page in my new A5 journal. I’ve put together three photos that show how the page looks as the tags are folded in and as each is opened out.
Every image, pattern, coloured paper, inchie, panel, envelope and tag have been made by myself. Drawing and colouring my own bits of ephemera and the pattern on the page background tool quite a bit of time, but it’s my own work.
I could’ve chosen to use paper from old books, commercially produced designer series paper or digital downloads. Those would’ve saved a lot of time, for sure. The end result would have been my own way of using them. However, I got a lot of pleasure, contentment, peace and calm from creating my own.
I made a note along the edge of the page showing which Distress Oxide inks I’d used to colour the page so that I could use the same for the other elements. Well, mostly the same Distress Ink colours; I did vary them in other places. However, this resulted in a coherent feel to this page – it feels like everything there belongs there!
I also noted on the background what pens I’d used to add the zentangle-style pattern. I then used Distress Inks and a brush and water to bring out that pattern.
Yes, I realise I could’ve used stamps, embossing ink and embossing powder to do something similar. I didn’t want to. I wanted my own, personal touch to this.
I really like how little pretties are hidden behind the tags and only get fully revealed as they are opened. The same is true for the items tucked in the pockets on the backs of the tags. I will replace the pieces of paper with journaling paper or other things as time goes on.
I may very well add danglies to the tops of the tags, possibly little tabs on their sides to help open them.
I’m quietly pleased with this page. It is very much “Angela” in style and feel. I’m feeling a bit more confident about this now, and I’m sure that I will really develop my own style as I go forward.
I really got a a sense of satisfaction and pleasure from creating every little element for this page. When I had it finished (mostly) I knew I’d worked out just how I want to create art journals going forward.
What I do need to remind myself, however, is that I can add to them when I want to – they’re not a full time project. What I could do is combine journaling with them, especially if I include elements that are specifically for journaling.
I do have some other bits and bobs to try making for the journal – little booklets, decorated paper-clips, tabbed cards to fit in pockets (or tabbed booklets, maybe). I certainly want to add quotes, notes, memories and more. And I think I need to work on my hand lettering to do such things as well.
I do plan to build up a library of digital designs I can use for inchies, twinchies, tea-cards, ATCs, panels, quotes, and more. Also, blank ‘templates’ for them, maybe.
Perhaps I should scan the backgrounds in before I add to them so I can use them in my digital art too. I shall think about that going forward. For this page, I really wasn’t sure if my idea of adding the pattern would work. I was pleased it did, I really am. I’m sure to do similar things with the following pages, and now I know what I do like, I can always replicate the background on this particular page, and the notes of which Distress Oxide Inks I used will help me in doing this for sure.
For the rest of today, however, I will be mostly doing other art rather than working on my art journal. I do have some coloring book projects that need some serious attention for starters.
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.