Week 1: Beginnings

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This week's prompt: Beginnings

It being the beginning of the year, I figured that beginnings would be a good topic for the week. 

How do you feel about starting a new project, a new year, a new phase in life? Is it exciting or problematic (or both)?

Whether or not to write in the journal:

Whether or not to write in your journal is a personal decision. Some folks do a ton of writing along with the art, some little or none. I tend to do relatively little writing -- instead I use the time I'm spending in the journal to think things over. Sometimes I do write, and often when I do the words are buried under layers of art. I know it's there, but the words themselves are obscured or reduced to texture.


I'm planning on doing a couple of videos a week, one or two quickies talking about a technique or two and a longer one while I work on my journal. If there are any requests for specific topics/techniques to cover, please let me know. I'm behind schedule right now -- I had planned to have all of this week's videos done by yesterday, but then I came down with some kind of respiratory plague. I seem to have my voice back now and am on the mend (and thankfully due to my current much-better health insurance I've been on a controller inhaler for my asthma for several months - which is probably the reason why this is the first respiratory virus I've had in years that didn't almost immediately turn into severe bronchitis or pneumonia.)

For today I have a quick video about adhesives and gesso, and tomorrow I plan to shoot a longer video. Some caveats about this video: I've mostly only used this camera for still photos before, and the video aspect is definitely a learning experience for me. This video is kind of plagued by the autofocus going crazy, especially later in the video. I eventually turned the autofocus off, and tonight I plan to play around with getting a decent manual focus set before starting. In case the autofocus is making anyone dizzy, I have a written summary that I'll post below.

More tomorrow! 😄 


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And here's a quick summary of the video:

Adhesives (clockwise from the left in the photo below):

Clockwise from the left:

Mod Podge: I've had bad experiences with using Mod Podge in a book. Even the matte version is a lot stickier than a gel or fluid matte medium, and I've had pages tear where I used it. I'd recommend avoiding it for this type of project.

Golden gel medium: I've used a few of Golden's gel mediums. I currently have their soft gel medium in gloss (bought by accident, is a disaster in a book due to pages sticking) and matte, which I like a lot. I've used their regular gel medium before, which is a step heavier. It's a bit more paste-like, and I found it sometimes got a little cloudy. It's very possible that I was using too much of it, but I find the soft gel easier to use.

Liquitex fluid matte medium: I love this stuff. I use it more than the soft gel medium because I find it easier and faster to apply. It can wrinkle the paper a bit more, though.

Glue sticks: Great for papers that aren't too heavy, especially if you want to write on the paper easily. It's a lot less likely to wrinkle the paper. But it's not good for very thin papers (like tissue paper or napkins) since you rub it on rather than brushing it and it can lead to tearing.

Tape runner: If you need to stick down something small without gluing it to yourself in the process, this stuff is great. If you use a lot of it, you can get a big tape gun version of this stuff, which is refillable. The ones I have are disposable and don't have any kind of recycling code on them, which I'm not thrilled with. (I bought a 3-pack a while back but probably won't buy more, at least not this brand, due to not being able to recycle it.)

Gesso: I've only used cheap gesso. Previously, I was using the Artist's Loft brand that Michael's sells (in the US, probably also in Canada). I discovered this week that my old, mostly empty tub of Artist's Loft gesso had gotten mildewy (eew) and picked up a brand I wasn't familiar with previously (Art Alternatives). After the video was done and the pages I added gesso to dried, I realized that I like this stuff a lot better than the Artist's Loft version - it dried smoother with very little brush texture (despite my using the same old, ragged glue brush I usually use with gesso.) I also showed in the video two pages where I used white acrylic paint instead of gesso (after discovering the old tub had gone rogue on me) and it covered less well, but good enough.

I've seen terrible reviews of the Artist's Loft gesso from folks who tried using it on canvas and had an awful experience, but I've always had a decent enough experience using it on watercolor paper.


Edited by daisywreath
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I spent Sunday and Monday having an Asthma Adventure 😛 but saw the doctor yesterday and am much better now, and I finished learning how to cut bits of video together and speed up the boring parts and a bunch of other things. I also learned where not to place the microphone - unfortunately I'm a bit muffled, and you can hear the highway outside more than I would've liked. (There's also a bird chirping happily for a minute or two somewhere along the way, which was a happy surprise that I didn't notice at the time.)

Anyway! The video is uploading to Youtube now and will take a while to generate the HD version after it's uploaded, so I'll pop back in later tonight or tomorrow before work if possible and post it here. I made my journal spread for the week and went into it basically thinking "okay, I want a spiral" and just kind of wandered around from there.

Stuff I messed around with in the video:

  • Water-soluble pencil & pastel
  • Applying a thin layer of paint over another layer
  • Stamping with plastic canvas for texture
  • Rubber stamping (which I later hid because I wasn't thrilled with how things were turning out after this and an unfortunate color choice in the next step)
  • Sponging layers of paint
  • Collaging with torn bits of tissue paper (which hid the part I didn't like)
  • Recovering from unfortunate decisions

It is definitely not the best thing I've ever done, but I'm reasonably happy. I ended up doing some writing around the nautilus-shell-esque thing in the middle of the page.

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In the (still-uploading!) video, at one point I was talking about working in layers and being afraid of continuing working when what you're doing seems unfinished but you're afraid of messing it up if you keep on. For me there's usually a point where I think "oh, if I cover that up I'll be really sorry" or "wow, I wish I hadn't done that", and sure, sometimes I don't love the final result, but more often than not it comes out all right in the end.

I mentioned one piece I worked on a year or two ago where I had a big freak-out halfway through and said I'd dig up the photos and post them. I wish I had taken a photo of the truly awful in-between stage where I was sure I'd ruined everything.  The first photo is shortly before the point where I almost stopped working on it (after finishing the stems/branches that weren't painted in in the photo) because I was okay with it and was worried about losing the background and the coloration in the leaves. I kept on and had some trouble where the background turned all blah and sad and smeary-looking and I wasn't happy about what was happening in the leaves, but after tampering with it a little more it got to a place where I was happy I hadn't stopped earlier, and I loved the end result.

Relevant link: Carolyn Dube's thoughts on the OOPS




Edited by daisywreath
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So many posts in a row! The video finally processed. A couple of oops moments in the video - I initially was removing the audio from the sped-up segments but forgot to later (thankfully the audio isn't super loud in those segments) and one brief segment is upside-down. 

Another thing I mentioned in the video that I would post is a tutorial from the Gelli Arts blog on making this cool rays-of-sun effect with fan-folded paper on a gel plate.


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@Kuchylm I love this - thank you for posting it! I've actually been re-watching Daria lately and that quote so completely resonated with me. I didn't manage to end up in an actual career as opposed to a for-now job until I was past 40, and I'm so glad of that because I really like my job and there's no way I would have been where I am now if I'd picked something at random when I was too young to have any idea what I wanted out of life.

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@daisywreath DARIA! So great and has stood the test of time with the lessons and snark! I don't know what my career has in store but it's SO different from what I wanted in my teens! 

I had a friend over for a crafternoon while I did this page and she was like "what are you doing?" I replied, "I don't know, dabbling in paint. Not letting myself think? Having fun just using some paints and sponges and playing."

Thanks for being the art journal guru!

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