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Life Goes On

11x14" art journal page, fluid acrylics, gesso, stamps, stencils

I'd like to alter the stenciled words/letters a bit and add some bits to this page still. But I like the purple background.

Jeniffer of JoyfulArts Studio interviewed me as part of her series on 21 Secrets teachers!

Wandering Window Displays in Sydney by Pia Jane Bijkerk. Wow.


Layer Testing with Stencils

 playing with textures on drawing paper

swirls of fiber paste applied using a stencil and brush <-- coolest part

white gesso paisley applied using a stencil and brush

golden fluid acrylic small blue butterfly applied with stencil and brush

oil pastel large paisley applied with stencil and brush

mustard yellow alcohol ink swirl stencil applied with stencil and brush

pale yellow golden fluid acrylic butterflies applied with a mister filled with water and 1 drop of paint and stencil

lime green golden fluid acrylic alphabet letters applied with a mister filled with water and 1 drops of yellow and 1 drop of turquoise paint and stencil

purple neocolor butterfly applied with neocolor and stencil

random white-out correction tape

after all of that

painted lightly with brush and various thinned blue golden fluid acrylics to highlight textures and see what happened... the fiber paste was the ultimate coolest, the neocolor butterfly dissolved, the misted stencils and correction tape were covered; echoes of the painted butterfly, the alcohol inks and gessoed paisley showed through faintly.

It's all about layers!


Play Time!

When I was in Pennsylvania, I finally got to check out Artist & Craftsman Supply. This is a wickedly wonderful collection of art materials tucked in every nook and corner of the store. Things I'd only seen in the Blick catalog were there to see and touch and ask about! So while my friend Sheila gabbed with the owners I grabbed a bit of this and that.

I don't know if you can imagine the wonderfulness.

Maybe it's better that I only had 1/2 hour; otherwise I would have over-analyzed what colors to buy. Next trip, I might try some of the handmade papers....

I settled on 2 new #8 rounds, some W&N tubed watercolors {I use half pans now, so I'm curious to see how different these will be}, Faber Castel Pitt Pastel pencils {first I'd heard of these}, a handful of Caran d'Ache Neocolor IIs {they looked so shiny and new}, LYRA aquarelle crayons {new to me} and a few gellyrolls. Can you dig this gellyroll display shot I took with my phone? Looking at my color choices in the LYRA and Neocolors, it looks like I picked the same colors, must be what I'm "drawn" to.

HEADS UP: I'm testing a new comment system called DISQUS for the next few days. Please give it a shot and see how it works and whether you like it! You don't have to do anything special but this will allow more interaction in our comments and discussions. Let me know what you think or if you've tried it. 

{DISQUS Update: Although Squarespace is the most super-awesome blogging platform, the interaction with DISQUS is clunky. When I put in the code for the new comment structure (which I ADORE), all of my old comments were no longer visible on the site. I could see them from the comment management thingie, but it was as if there had been no comments in 3 years. Next, comments are managed from the DISQUS site, rather than from SQ, which is OK but different. The absolutely coolest thing was the ability to respond via email and have the response post to the comment section of that blog post. I like the tiered comment boxes - where I could respond to a person directly after their comment and start a potential discussion. So while I love the DISQUS platform, right now it doesn't play super sweet enough with SQ to switch. If SQ adds code to make it work better, I'll switch. Right now I'm pushing for SQ to simply add embedded comments and that will solve things. So I've hand copy-pasted the comments received today into a comment box below. Sorry for the confusion and THANK YOU 100% for being my beta testers. I love Squarespace, these guys + gals rock at customer support and when they release code for new functionality, it works.


Aquas on Canvas {a test}

11x14" canvas {blick, gesso prepped}, fiber paste, golden tubed acrylics, fluid acrylics

Such interesting questions come through my Contact Me page! This week, Debu, an artist from India, asked me about the characteristics of Golden fiber paste. Those of you doing the 21 Secrets art journaling workshop know that we use fiber paste in the Urban Layer Cake workshop to create some funky textures with acrylic paint. Debu asked how Golden Fiber Paste might work with acrylics on canvas, as he did not have access to sample quantities and would be ordering the art materials for his project.

I was curious to see what would happen... it might flake off the canvas, but it works so lovely on watercolor paper. The only way to find out... an experiment!

So I grabbed a canvas from my stash {using Blick Studio Canvas which is cotton canvas, pre-primed for acrylic painting} and painted it with fiber paste using a plastic gift card, using the edge to keep it fairly smooth. Then I mixed some Golden tubed acrylics with fiber paste in a plastic cup and used a big brush to paint the canvas. The brush adds more texture. I kept adding more color to the fiber paste - paint mixture, getting in an aqua mood as I painted. 

Ultra super cool results.

When in doubt, experiment!

I get so many questions, but few leading to experiments! When you ask a question, I really make an effort to help you with your art and creative queries. It take time to respond and really give your situation a lot of thought. What is hard and deflating and makes me question my dedication to this blog is that only about 1/10 people respond with a note or a thank you. Maybe my go into a black hole or thin air or a time warp and maybe land in a disco in the 1970s.

I really and truly want to know that you received my response, to know whether it helped, and what you tried. That helps me respond to other people's questions and gives me ideas for experiments and art supply tests. And to know when I'm on the wrong track!

Debu was most appreciative and I look forward to seeing what he creates with fiber paste!

Next steps - after the business of life continues - is to add collage and ephemera and more paint and stamps and... well you never really know! I'm going to treat this as an art journal page.


Altered Book: Wicked Black

✮✮✮  from november 2009 ✮✮✮

above, very wet paint (check out the paint bokeh)


20x12" art journal spread from altered book project "tekenfilm"

Here's how to create this art journal background with black gesso:


  • A piece of watercolor or bristol paper or an old hardback book
  • Black gesso (i.e. store brand)
  • Fluid acrylic paint (i.e. Golden Fluid Acrylics)
  • Paint brush or chopstick
  • Old credit card


1. Paint most of the page with any color of fluid acrylic paint. I used turquoise. Neatness irrelevant.

2. Let the acrylic paint dry completely, so that touching it makes no mark, to ensure the next layer doesn't blend with the first.

3. Paint the page with black gesso, a decent layer, smoothing with a credit card.

4. Let the gesso sit for up to 5 minutes.

5. Drip one color of fluid acrylic paint randomly on the page. I used magenta.

6. With the back of a paint brush or a chopstick, draw swirls, twirls, symbols, zig-zags and doodles, even tiny secret messages, in the paint.

7. When you like the look, leave the page open and allow it to fully dry overnight.

8. Wow! A wickedly mysterious art journal background.


The Art [in] Travel

Before you can decide what to take, you have to decide what type of art you want to do. Before you decide what type of art you want to do, you have to see what is feasible on this particular trip - how much time will we have - where will we work (plane, hotel, relative's house?), how much space we want to take in our suitcases.

To prepare for our trip to Pennsylvania, the kids and I spent a good bit of time deciding and gathering up what art materials and books we'll take. While I sharpened colored pencils, the girls searched for drawing journals that a sharpie wouldn't bleed through, analyzed the pros and cons of various notebooks, discovered long-forgotten projects, and selected a just-right assortment of colored pencils.

Art Materials + Books for a Week on the Road:

My older daughter (11):

  • 20 colored pencils
  • 6 neon gellyrolls [see All About Gellyrolls for review/details]
  • 1 - 9x12" strathmore drawing journal
  • 1 - 9x12" lined writing notebook
  • 24 ultra-thin sharpies
  • handful of papermate flair markers
  • 1 - mini-pencil sharpener
  • 1 - kid scissors

My younger daughter (9):

  • 2 - 3x5" mini-composition journals
  • 1 - 5x8" lined writing journal
  • 12 colored pencils
  • 2 papermate ball-point pens

Tammy's art materials:

  • 1 - 5x8" sketch moleskine journal for notes and drawing
  • 1 - 5x8" watercolor moleskine, half full, for drawing
  • 2 - travel sets of W&N watercolor half pans
  • 1 - pentel aqua brush
  • 1 - mini paintbrush
  • 3 - extra super fine black pitt pens (I lose pens)
  • 15 - sakura gellyrolls

Read about the art materials we took on our 3 week, 4 country european adventure.