Monday, January 10, 2011

Studio Snaps: Unveiling the Process

"Studio Snaps" is a brand-new feature here at LCP that gives you a peek into my creative process.  The concept is simple:  As I work on a journal background from start to finish, I snap photos at each twist and turn.  I will be documenting unplanned projects; there will be many moments where I will change my idea and/or technique if I feel the page needs to be "corrected" or "improved."  This is not a tutorial per se but hopefully, you'll be able to glean some tips & tricks along the way. 

Note: This type of post is long and photo-heavy.  Even though I have edited every picture for size, dial-up users will probably not be able to load this material.

Step 1: Paint the journal pages solid colors using craft acrylics.  I'll be working on the red page.

Step 2:  Using white charcoal pencil, trace around jar & bottle lids in a variety of sizes.  Remember: Odd-numbered groupings, overlaps & asymmetrical layouts are most pleasing to the eye.

Step 3:  Choose your paint colors.  I use craft acrylics in my journals & use many different brands but Americana is my very favorite.

Step 4: Paint circles & let dry.

Here are the circles completely painted.  I'm not fond of that heavy blue spot at the lower right; I'm going to try & minimize its visual impact as I move forward.

Step 5:  Using paint remaining on palette, load up a makeup sponge with a thin layer of color.  Try not to mix the colors on the sponge as they will mix in the next step.

Step 6:  Choose a simple stencil & sponge paint through design just onto the painted circles.  Don't worry if a tiny bit gets outside the circles.

Step 7: Oops! I feel like the circles are hovering so I choose a red paint that is a couple shades darker than the red background.  I use the same stencil to add some tone-on-tone pattern.
This grounds the design.

Step 8: Using a small round brush, paint contrasting circles around & within the painted spots. 

Here's how the background looks at this point.  I like it but I feel like I need to link those circles to make a more united painting.  Sometimes a layer of smaller, repetitive pattern will accomplish that goal without overwhelming the primary images.  So I forge ahead.

Step 9:  I attempt to sponge some off-white paint through a plastic canvas shape but it just leaves behind some unattractive globs.  A quick swipe with a baby wipe removes the offending marks.  Hmmm...

Step 9 Redux:  Using a Fabric Paint Cannon, I spray white paint through the plastic canvas.  The results are not entirely comparable to real spray paint but far less toxic.

Step 10:  The white pattern came out thicker & more intrusive than I like so I repaint a couple circles to bring them forward again.  This is the essence of push-pull painting.

Here's where the background stands at this point.  I certainly could've stopped here (and probably should have) but something about it feels "wrong."  I'm caught up in the painting process and rather than stopping for a break & then reevaluating my reaction to the page, I decide to take the page in another direction.

Note to Self: Breathe!

Step 11:  Using simple leaf stencil & fine-point permanent pen, trace pattern several times without overlapping the shapes.  I position the stencil over areas of color & pattern that I like.

Step 12:  Paint around the traced shapes.  This is called negative painting.  The leaves are the positive space & the area around the leaves is the negative space.  I use a red similiar to the background but I could've chosen a darker color & the leaf shapes would've popped forward more.

Step 13:  Once the paint is dry, use an Indigo Inktense pencil to trace around the leaf shapes.  Activate and blend out the pencil with a wet brush.

Step 14:  Once again, I feel like the shapes are floating on the page so I unite them with some off-white paint splattered from a toothbrush.

Step 15:  I sponge that same off-white paint onto the edge of a scrap of cardboard & scrape some lines along the edges of the page to create a soft frame.  Whew!  I finally feel like the background is finished!

Here's the completed journal page.  Typically, if my background is busy or complex, I keep the journaling very simple.  I believe that authentic art journaling is about the sum total of process & product.  All the time I spent creating the background is just as important (maybe more so) as what I actually end up saying on the page.


Anonymous said...

So glad your back and sooo prolific! Wonderful pages my friend!

roc said...

very nice journal page.

Terri Kahrs said...

Bravo, Michelle!!!! Awesome tutorial!!! Love all of the pics and your detailed explanations. Fabulous page! Hugs, Terri xoxoxox

Dina said...

Fun to see your process...lovely work!

Lotus said...

I love to watch an artist's process! Thank you for sharing the steps you take to make your awesome pages!

sharon said...

A M A Z I N I G ! ! !
Thanks so much for sharing!!

Scatter said...

I'm so glad I signed up for the Art Journal Group. I'm gonna learn so much from you all!!

Anonymous said...

process photos are so wonderful! It's all play, work with what happens, there are no mistakes. Love it.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

As a newbie to your blog I'm blown away. Fascinating to see your thinking develop. Thank you for letting me peer over your shoulder!

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