Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Anatomy of a Page: Part 2 of 3

Well, here we are, back to a journal page in-the-making, and at the fourth step in the process. I don't really count the steps as I progress but I'd estimate that each page takes on about 10 to 12 layers and/or elements during the transformation from blank paper to completed page. Sometimes, I start with an image and create a background environment to suit that image but in the case of these stenciled journal pages, I generally work "blind," playing first, pondering later. At this point, I seem to have a nicely integrated background but I decide to stencil in some swirly lines using a light-colored Staz-On ink (Vibrant Violet.) This color is just dark enough to show up but not so dark as to suddenly become a focal point. Imagine if I had stenciled the swirls in black! The ink is also transparent so it shows the texture underneath, much as if I had used a light-colored spray paint.
Next, I start to finally think about composition and theme. I dig out a piece of handmade paper that echoes the colors I've already laid down and glue that down to the lefthand side of the page. To avoid that "stuck on" look, I go back in with the sequin scrim and paint colors I used earlier and once again, blend the edges into one another. I also decide that I need to start mixing up the values (the page is all one value at this point) and that I need to add some hard-edged texture to counter all the softness going on. Using Staz-On permanent ink again, I stamp a mesh pattern in a couple of places.

You want to have a nice balance of the darkest darks and lightest lights in your piece to be most appealing to the eye. Flat, one-value pages are boring pages because the eye doesn't know where to land; it'll just keep circling around, looking for something to focus on. If you notice your page leaning too heavily in one direction or another, too dark or too light, keep adding the value you're missing until you get a pleasant balance. Trust yourself; you'll know when to stop.

Now I add in a Heidi Swapp mask of some flowers and using purple paint and a makeup sponge, add this image to the lefthand side of the page. When stenciling with acrylic paint, don't glob (technical term) the paint on the sponge or stencil brush. Use very sheer, thin layers and extend your stenciling past the margins of the mask or stencil. In a way, you are trying to mimic the blow-out you might get when using spray paint.
At this point, I am changing my focus from the background to the imagery. The flowers are bold enough in contrast to the background to be considered a focal point and their rank as a focal point (primary, secondary etc) will change based on the images I add next.


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