Friday, September 20, 2013

The Process of "Scraps"

On Wednesday's post, Krissy commented:
I love these scrap pages, too, and I want to start a scraps journal to play in. Can you help me with the procedures of how to make these pages? Do you gesso the pages first and then collage scraps of paper on before you apply all the paint and doodling?


I began with a handmade journal made partly with 140lb cold press watercolor paper and partly with Gelli plate prints on cardstock.  This gives me a white surface to work with or pre-painted pages if I'm feeling sort of stymied by the blank page.  (Thick, good quality paper is really important.)

I scrape on layer after layer of acrylic craft paint with a palette knife without gessoing first.  The palette knife creates thin, grungy layers that dry fast.  Occasionally, I will glue down a piece of collage material first but looking back at my pages, I see that I've only done this maybe 5% of the time.  Mostly, I just start in with the paint layers and keep going until I get a blend of colors and marks that I like.  This is an extremely forgiving process; don't like a layer?  Just keep going and your "oops" will disappear.  All the paint layers end up creating thick, almost leathery (and very durable) pages so there's no need to gesso first (if your paper is thick and sturdy to begin with.)  Also, somewhere in between the layers, I'll add strips of washi tape.  Sometimes I cover those pieces of tape completely with more paint but usually, I try to leave just a bit poking through to the surface.

Next, I typically work back and forth between stencilling and mark-making.  Again if something happens that I dislike, I can come in again with paint and palette knife to fix the page.  Don't have a palette knife?  Old credit cards work too.

Once I achieve a background that I like, I sort through my scraps box and pick some pieces of paper to collage.  I may add some more tape and even a little more scraped paint to tie things together.

At this point, sometimes I choose to leave things alone and move forward, especially if the page already feels busy.  However, I have been finishing most of the pages off with sumi ink flower sketches that I sometimes color with gouache, pencils, and paint markers (only because I want to practice this skill set and not because I think the pages really need to be "finished.")  This mostly a wordless journal but every once in a while I add a phrase clipped from a magazine.

The most important things to remember about this "Scraps" journal are the following:
1) I work a little bit here and there, not in marathon sessions.  These pages represent the sum total of many moments stolen from many days.

2) I just use whatever materials & tools are within reach.  (Just get started!)

3) I don't date anything.  For me, dating pages anchors them in a specific time and adds a formality I am trying to avoid.  This journal is just a playground, open for business whenever I wish.

4) I don't work in a linear fashion.  I just open up to a set of pages and start!  Again, I am trying to promote randomness and spontaneity.

5) The pages DO NOT have to have a finishing focal point!  Maybe you just want to use up scraps of paper cluttering the studio or maybe you want to swatch some new colors of paint or play with a tool...in order to get the most out of this type of journal, it has to be all about the process!

6) Don't feel that you have to work in "steps."  Try to aim for fluid movement back and forth between techniques and materials.  Think of this as a freestyle art dance where you can repeat steps and/or make up new ones as you go along.  Just keep dancing as long as the page calls to you...


Adapt this process to your own needs and desires.  Don't have a bound journal waiting in the wings?  Work on loose pages and bind them later (or not).  Don't want to paint?  Then collage more...it is your playground so make of it what you will!

9 comments:

Emie58 said...

It's fun to hear you talk through your process... letting go without worrying abut the outcome is something I need to work on... Embrace the Process!

KrissyB said...

You are awesome, Michelle! I'm so happy I came across your blog just recently. When I turned on my computer this morning and read today's post, I couldn't believe my eyes. Thank you SO much for explaining your scraps journal process. I agree with you -- it's like a free-style art dance!

scrapwordsmom said...

Super pretty bright pages!! Love!!!!

Tammy N said...

Such bright happy pages. Love the scrappy flower theme. Thanks for sharing your process. You have put a lot of time and effort into these great journal pages.

Connie Rose said...

Great work, as always. And thanks for the tips! Have a wonderful weekend.

mf Ragons said...

Very interesting post, thank you! Your pages are so beautiful. zouzou

healinghaven said...

love the way you allow things to flow - and your outcomes. Thanks for sharing.

Tracy said...

These are fabulous! So colourful. Thanks for talking us through your process :)

Nina Fenner said...

These pages are amazing, love them. Reading this has made me realise that although I was completely inspired by your scraps book to make one myself I've gone away and done it completely differently, which is great! I'm so pleased with it I've just done a flip through of it (my first) It's not finished yet, and it's nothing like as colourful as yours, but it's all mine and I'm very happy with it. Thanks for being so inspiring.
http://ninafenner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/my-scraps-book-in-progress.html

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