Kraft, not craft! I love the 6×6 Dina Wakley Media heavy Kraft journals. It’s more like cardstock than paper so paint doesn’t bleed through and the substrate never warps. I’m still playing with creating basic backgrounds, exploring colour and pattern. I’ll go back and journal on the pages eventually but for now I’m enjoying pushing paint around.
Most of my art involves layers. Layers of collage, paint, mark making. Hiding things, revealing others, making some areas stand out. The layers are intuitive and unplanned, my hands working back and forth across the substrate.
I was talking to my friend Penny tonight, who is also an artist. She was talking about an aspect of her process that’s important to her. I commented that, when I’m cutting painted paper for collage, I might cut it multiple times, shaving a few millimeters extra off until it feels just right. The shapes are organic, so you’d think those few millimeters wouldn’t matter – but for me they’re crucial.
When I work in layers I’m happy to give up almost any layer, mark, colour if I need to. Nothing is so good it can’t be covered over. I can always paint another one, cut another one. There’s enormous creative freedom in being able to let go. Yesterday I shared online the layer online seen below and said I was going to start covering up most of it. A few people said “don’t”. Too late, it’s gone…
I’ll skip the details but Tony wasn’t great today. He was home for a bit while I was working from home, so I could attend a bunch of local meetings, but I ended up taking him back because he said he felt “absolutely dreadful”. The rest home staff said they’d call me if he got worse.
I felt we’d had far worse days at home but until now he’s been remarkably well in their care so think they got a surprise. As I said to one staff member, he was assessed as needing rest home care for good reason! He’s feeling and looking better now but hasn’t really eaten anything today.
It was an unsettling day, so after dinner I grabbed the new art journal I’ve started and made a bunch of backgrounds. The thing about creating backgrounds is there’s no real thought involved. I grab 3 sprays to lay down some colour, add more colour through a stencil or two, splashes or drips of water to activate the sprays and maybe some dark splatter. It’s about getting my hands busy and distracting my mind. I find it soothing – I believe art is good for the soul (but not so good for the colour of my hands!)
I often use low tack tape around the edges of Fabriano Mixed Media paper then tape it into quarters. I work across the four quadrants as though it’s one sheet, starting with pencil marks, collage, and paint.
If I work towards a finished image too quickly the work feels stiff and boring. That happened today so I grabbed some Dina Wakley acrylic gloss spray and put puddles onto the sheets of paper, moving it around with a brush or just tipping the sheet.
I lost my grip on the bottle and poured quite a lot of Tangerine onto one sheet. Eek! I tipped it around a bit, then used a paper towel to mop some up. I thought it was probably a goner, and would end up being cut into pieces for collage.
But there’s something magic about clean white edges; works that seem blah can suddenly look amazing. I pulled the tape of the 5 large sheets tonight and – go figure – the one with the Tangerine spill is stunning.
In the photos, the one with the mauve tape still in place is a truer colour, the second is done on my scanner which doesn’t capture colour well.
I decided to have a quick count of how many journals I’m using at the moment. It was more than I expected! I’ve got 10 journals on the go, but each one serves a specific purpose.
I’ve got a weekly diary journal. A small journal we’re recording Tony’s journey in. A 6×6 heavy Kraft journal I’m using to explore colour combinations; there’s something lovely happens to colours when you leave some Kraft showing.
A huge Dina Wakley journal that has 3 different types of paper – I bought that size by accident. A small Dylusions one I’m doing this year’s Creative Jump Start in; CJS2021 was in January and February but with Tony’s health I’m doing it slowly this year.
I’ve always got a basic Dylusions and Dina Wakley journal on the go because they are where I play just for the fun of it, but also where I “download my head”.
My art journals are somewhere to download the thoughts in my head without fear of judgement. The pages don’t have to make sense, be pretty or be “art”. They just have to feel right to me.
I use a very intuitive process in my journals, just as I do in my artworks. For me it’s as much about the doing, as the result … it’s more about process than anything else.
Tonight I’ve finished a small black Dylusions journal. I used lots of Dylusions Shimmer paint and Shimmer spray, shaped the page edges and cut peep holes, and generally had fun. I love the final result.
I was talking with my good friend Penny the other night about white space in our artwork. We often use similar colours and methods but our processes and end results are very different.
My art journals are about “downloading my head”l. Often colour and writing fills the page to overflowing – chaos and emotion in 2D. But my abstract landscape art is different; it’s generally my calm, peaceful view to the seen world. I don’t aim to record, but to respond.
Part of that response is a strong need for quiet space, usually white or maybe Titan Buff. I was working on 12 A4 mixed media and, when I sat back, realised I’d put too much colour on too quickly. Tomorrow I’ll look at them in the daylight. Some very strong darks might increase the sense of light, or they might need white paint added back.
On Sunday Penny and I “worked large” at Left Bank Art Gallery. I worked quite slowly for me, adding pencil, paint, and collage layer by layer – working across 8 panels at once. Next adding marks with NeoPastels, oil pastels and Inktense and finally a Posca for white splashes. Between each layer I sat and looked and thought … sometimes I work without stepping away at all, but not this time. I think the extra space around me encouraged a different way of working.
These are cellphone photos in changeable light so not totally representative but good enough for now. The photo without white edges is detail from the main work, which is 50x76cm on Fabriano Artistico paper, so will need flattening a bit.
I’ve always loved mark making; it’s generally how I add my strongest contrasts. I’m excited about these works, which use the colours of Hokitika Gorge but (to me anyway) have a feel of Mana Bay in Patea as a safe harbour.
Today’s artist at #cjs20 is Marieke Blokland; I hadn’t seen her work before and love it. Although much of her process is similar to mine, the results aren’t so I learned some new thngs and produced quite a different work to normal.
The first one I started had a background that was too dark so the text didn’t show at all. I started again and am happy with it. But, ugh, my fluro paints have gone off in their jars and they smell revolting!
I was away last weekend and didn’t work in my art journals, but did get plenty of art time to work on more Hokitika Gorge paintings. But I miss the freedom that comes with an art journal, where the process matters more than the outcome. I’m not sure I’ve ever documented my process for a layout like this, so will try to capture it.
Before I do though, this is another song by HIM, with Ville Valo singing. HIM disbanded a while back and Ville has moved on, but I still love their music. The lyrics, often quite dark, really speak to me. Villa reads a lot, including poetry and classics, and his writing frequently includes references to religion and Edgar Allan Poe’s works.
This layout was done in my small Dylusions journal, which means there’s no need to gesso the pages as they’re really strong and colours generally don’t bleed through.
Using ink blender foams I put down Dylusions paints in Polished jade, Lemon Zest and Vibrant turquoise. Using the same colours and the ink blenders, I stencilled using Dylusions Teardrops, Squares and Diamond in the Rough – I use each colour, and each stencil, in all three sections.
Once that was dry I used Distress Collage Medium to glue down the magazine cut-out, leaving a medium strip of gel medium around it. Next, I blend a shadow in once the gel is dry, using a walnut Pitt Big Brush Pen to outline the collage. The slickness of the gel means you can blend out the pen, which is India Ink, if you work quickly.
I write out my words – often song lyrics or my thoughts – and print double spaced. I insert a line at the top of the Word doc so I know how wide each line can be and adjust my font size to fit; for the small journal 10.5cm works well for me. I roughly cut out each line and use a foam blender and Black soot Distress Ink to ink the edges to take away the harshness of the white paper.
I put them aside and use Archival ink in black to stamp the title with Dylusions Dy’s alphabet stamp set and Stamper’s Anonymous Tim Holtz Tall Text stamps. While the lettering is drying I use Tombow glue to adhere the text strips; I’m not too fussy about lining them up, spacing etc. Once they’re down and the stamping ink is dry, I use a broad tip white Signo pigment ink pen to add highlights to the stamped letters.