Tutorial: Painting Abstract Faces

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius
and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous
than absolutely boring.”
Marilyn Monroe

In this tutorial, we will draw, or rather paint, a delightfully imperfect face.

First, a disclaimer. This is such a cool technique that I wanted to share it with you guys -- even though it is vintage Daisy Yellow content in terms of video/sound quality! Originally filmed in 2012 as part of my early workshop called The Museum of Simple Things, where we painted wild journal pages in an altered book. In the future I'd love to recreate this with better tech {my workshop videos have come a long way!!!} but I hope this sparks some ideas for those Golden High Flow acrylics in your stash. 

I hope you'll give this a try - as you can see, my results are always good for a laugh - and let me know what you think! Share your work in the Daisy Yellow FB group!

You'll need the following materials:

  • Black marker and an index card or small journal for sketch practice.
  • A book or pages torn from a book, painted in any abstract fashion with acrylic paint. Be sure that it is nice and dry before painting the face on the page.
  • Golden High Flow Acrylic Paint, 2-3 colors including one dark color such as black, payne's gray or sepia,  for the facial details.
  • Paper towels.
  • Optional: Golden Airbrush Medium. If you don't have this on hand, use a gentle spritz with water instead for comparable results. 
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Before you paint a face with acrylics, practice drawing faces to get familiar with the muscle movements needed to make a face. 

On your index card, draw 20 quick faces. Drawing quick faces is a great way to prepare to paint faces in your journal because you will want to get comfortable with the movements you ned to make a face. It's a really super simple face. Draw enough faces so that it starts to feel repetitive! Love that muscle memory!

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Here's a fun idea for this page!

Write a list to surround the painted face. In this altered hardback, I painted the background orange and red {aka vermillion} and then painted a girl in black, white and green. When her face was dry, I wrote a list of songs using a white marker with a reference to girls or girls' names in the title! You can always use the content of your imagery as a self-prompt! 

The process is described in the video!

a) Before you start, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. You will need to work quickly to draw the girl. If you linger, the paint will puddle and pool. The sketch practice gets you in the mood and then you can "draw" with the paint bottle closed, then finally with the paint bottle open! If you mess up, and get a puddle, you know what to do! Start again! It will take some practice! 

b) Open the nozzle of the darkest color of High Flow acrylics just enough so that paint flows out. Draw the nose and eyes. Simple outlines, simple arm movements. 

c) Draw wavy hair or curly hair in a few different colors of paint. It's OK if they intermingle. 

d) Add the rest of the details with the dark color you used for the eyes and nose.

e) Optional --> Add a gentle spritz of thinned Airbrush Medium or water mixed with a few drops of High Flow or Fluid acrylic paint. That simply gives the page some more color.



You can start this technique on a background of dry acrylic paint and after you paint the girl's face you can add more color if desired, collage elements, a list, etc. 

12+ Ways to Get Words on Art Journal Pages

We create these deliciously decadent, chaotic, busy, layered pages with paper and paint and all of the goodies and we want to bring it all together with a snappy quote from Ray Bradbury, maybe some David Bowie lyrics or free form poetry!

How on earth do artists get words and thoughts onto the most challenging surfaces and art journal pages? This is a question echoed by art journalists around the globe!

But what if your paper is overflowing with grungy stripes or high contrast flowers or it's just super intensely dark! What to do!?!?

A ginormous list of ideas for getting words on the most difficult of art journal pages.

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How do you write on acrylic art journal backgrounds? 

1) White gel pen*

My go-to tool for getting words on challenging, dark, patterned, textured or otherwise challenging art journal or mixed media pages is to write them with a white gel pen. Here's a video to show you two of my favs. I wrote the Tolstoy quotation with a Sanford Uni-Ball Gel UM-153 gel pen and the Eagles lyrics with a Sakura Gelly Roll. Oh! And here's my Guide to Gelly Rolls, to get a feel for all of the different types. 

2) Alphabet stamps & hand-carved stamps

There is something so magically meditative and methodical about writing your thoughts, words, lyrics, etc. letter-by-letter with alphabet stamps/number stamps. Results are always playful because the letters never quite line up! You can also make your own letters, symbols, icons, motifs, doodles and words by carving the shapes into pencil erasers or linocutting material with an x-acto knife or lino-cutting tools. Here's a stamp carving tutorial.

The Prism Page from the Daisy Yellow Novel Approach Workshop. Lettering in Uniball pen. 

The Prism Page from the Daisy Yellow Novel Approach Workshop. Lettering in Uniball pen. 

3) Dark gel pen & PITT pen*

My top two pens for writing on acrylic paint? The Uniball UM-153, which is a metal-nibbed gel pen and the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens which is a fiber-nibbed marker with permanent india ink.  In the PITT pen range, the M nib & brush nib & big brush nibs all provide thick lines. Consider dark gray, black, navy & sepia for light backgrounds. Lighter colors won't show up on dark backgrounds; they are not opaque. 

4) Neon or Metallic pen*

Sakura Gelly Rolls are quite handy for both dark and light backgrounds. For dark backgrounds {including black gesso and black acrylics}, try neon moonlight, metallic silver and gold. For light backgrounds, try the medium nib, moonlight and darker metallic versions. 

5) Dip pen & India ink

Draw your words with a dip pen nib with india ink, i.e.  Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay White ink or J. Herbin inks. Here's a quick review of Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay inks

You can see the video for this page here. 

You can see the video for this page here. 

6) Acrylic paint

This is one of the best ways to get words on a page which isn't completely dry. You can paint words onto the background {directly on collage, directly on acrylic paint, etc.} with fluid acrylic paint or Golden High Flow acrylic paint. Use a small brush or a dip pen! Write words with a small brush or dip pen with fluid acrylic paint or

7) White correction tape

Roll out the tape and write directly on the surface of the tape! 

8) Paper & index cards

Write your thoughts or words on loose paper and adhere or staple to your journal page. You can glue a swatch of lined paper or part of an index card as a target for future journaling. 

9) Stencil

Use an alphabet or number stencil with ink, pencil or acrylic paint. 

10) Found Words

Cut words from magazines and glue to your page. 

11) Block-Out Poetry

Start with a page from a magazine or book and basically block-out the stuff that you don't want to read. You can do this with acrylic paint or markers. The inverse, if you will. Of course Austin Kleon is an ace at creating block-out poetry with magic markers. 

12) Found Poetry

Go on a word treasure hunt for interesting phrases and words. One of the best things about art journaling is the ability to incorporate random words and images and not need to make any sense whatsoever! You can transform the content with a series of phrases that combined make a sort of free verse. Make it flow or make it ridiculous, your call! You certainly *can* utilize the principles of graphic design in your work, or you can play and just go with the flow. 

13) Washi tape & staples

Attach your grocery lists, your bucket lists, your book store notes, your action items, your checklists to your journal page with washi tape or staples.

14) Paint markers

Sharpie water-based Poster Paint Markers work extremely well even on the most challenging uneven, rough surfaces.

15) Rapidograph technical pen*

Fill your rapidograph with india ink or Golden high flow acrylics and off you go. There's a bit of a learning curve, so do some research before jumping in.

16) An ordinary #2 pencil or charcoal pencil

Sometimes when nothing else works, a pencil does the trick!

*Before you write on your pages with a pen or marker, you'll want to ensure that the page is truly dry.

While a thin layer of acrylic paint dries quickly, paper with layers upon layers {paint & collage} can take hours to days {if not weeks} to dry through and through. Definitely not minutes! When the paint starts to dry, a film forms on the surface, and it seems like it is dry but inside the paint is actually not dry. The moisture gets absorbed into the paper as well. 

The good news is that you can use a brush dipped in acrylic paint or opaque ink to paint words on a background that is dry-to-the-touch, but not dry deep down. If you try to write with a pen/marker on the surface and the paint below is still wet, the pen can get some of that gunk into the tip or it will smush down into the paint below the thin dry surface. The surface that "seems" to be dry. The surface that you see and touch. The surface that destroys your amazing pen!

PS.  I'm not a scientist but I have played + experimented + painted with acrylics for many years and I'll paint on anything, including paper, cardboard, books, index cards, canvas and wood! Here is the precise algebraic formula for drying time!

Ⓓ = 𝓛^3×[1.5÷(2-ℍ)+1/℉+℗(♫÷Ͽ)]
Ⓓ=Drying time
𝓛=Layers of paint
℉= Temperature in Fahrenheit
♫ = Time signature of background music
℗ = Elapsed level of patience
Ͽ = Daylight Savings Time adjustment factor

Groovy Grunge Workshop Peek #2 {and a sale!!!}

Groovy Grunge Workshop Peek #2 {and a sale!!!}

OK my friends. If you have been waiting, thinking, considering, contemplating, wondering what on earth a Daisy Yellow workshop would be like, if you have been curious about what art journaling is all about, wanting to spread your painterly wings, get into your journal and make sense of the chaos of life, this is your chance.

Yippee. Lucky you! I've extended access through the end of 2019, a full extra year!!!!

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