There are 20 pages you are supposed to fill with five steps, each step uses 2 "medias" and you have 15 minutes for each step. (5-10-15-20)
1) put down color using paint/ink/any manner of getting color on paper (background)
2) put down visual texture (strips of paper from magazines, junk mail, any paper) (still background - which means DON'T CHOOSE PICTURE OR TEXT YOU WANT SHOWING FROM THE FINISHED PAGE. Any text and pictures are to be just "background noise" at this phase.)
3) put down pattern with stamps and stencils (or any other way) (still background)
4) put down images/words (the FOCAL POINT, this is the main attraction)
5) pen work using any kind of pens, pencils, ink, fine tip applicators etc. (finishing touches)
then there's time for free play, when you finish the pages the way you want them - if you want to. You already have an "art journal" :-D
One of the original points was to choose ONLY 2 MEDIUMS for each step, so that you would have used only 10 mediums in the finished work - so, for example, acrylic paints and sprays for the color; magazine scraps and book text for the texture; stamps and stencils for the pattern; magazine scraps and printouts for the focal image and soft pencil and white paint pen for the pen work. In practice it got a bit too boring to be using only 10 things for this, so that part of the challenge has been forgotten.
It takes 1 1/4 hours of main work plus the time it takes for preparations and the time it takes for drying paint and glue etc., which means that at the end of the day you will have a finished art journal.
So, the thing here is to keep in unpretentious, which means that you are to use cheap things no-one will cry over if "it gets spoiled" or doesn't turn as you expected it to turn.
If you can't find a composition book or staple bound notebook with cheap paper in, there is something like this in every country. Here in Sweden it's called "skolhäfte" and in Finland it's "vihko". Try school supplies. If you really can't find an equivalent to this in your country, take some cheap paper - or printer paper - and sew or staple 20 pages together. Or go find a travel brochure or something with 20+ pages. (Preferably stapled, not glued.)
The point is that it's supposed to be cheap paper, junk mail would be perfect, or newsprint, something that doesn't cost much and doesn't hurt if you have to throw it away and start from beginning. This is important, you need to feel like you are SUPPOSED TO WRECK THE JOURNAL.
Prepare it. If you need to glue the pages together or if you want to slap gesso on the pages or white paint, do that, and let it dry.
If you use a journal, it would be good if you prepared the back of each page by gluing or taping on some waxed paper or plastic so that the pages won't stuck together, because that is a very big annoyance.
If you use loose papers, it would be good to get one of those clothes' drying carousel hanger thingies. Just see there's 20+ clips on it. Start hanging your pages from the innermost circle and go round, to minimize the risk of wet pages touching each other. Just remember to protect what ever is under it so that the eventual drips won't stain something that shouldn't be stained.
Or you could try clearing space from the table or floor for 20 pages to dry...
There are different possibilities for papers to dry. Think out the one you are going to use before you need it.
It's good to have plenty of space. The more rushed you are, the more space you use and the wider your movements are. Things will fall and disappear and mix up and cause chaos.
Have only what you WILL use on the work area. Don't store things you MIGHT need or things you plan to use IN THE NEXT STEP.
Clean the area after each step
Prepare the tools and media you are going to use.
See that the nozzles of sprays are clean and working
See that you can open all the bottles, tubes and jar, that your watercolors are moistened, your colors are mixed - and plenty of it, more than you think you'll use - and some jars to store the prepared paints if you for some reason won't use it after all ;-) (This applies only if you need to mix colors.)
See that the paint brushes are clean and not dried into a clump. See that your foam brush is ready and soft. See that your brayer is clean and dry.
Have several water jars prepared for the brushes so that you can just throw the brush into a jar without needing to use dirty water - dirty water is a good way of getting mud
Tape some paper towels on the table so that you can clean your brayer quickly without needing to fumble with the paper towels.
It would be a good thing to have some water on a tray and a foam sponge in it for the cleaning of the brushes and other things you used.
It is also good to throw your stencils on the water tray after use, so that they won't clog or dry fast to something. Don't leave your wet stencils on or between papers!
Now, if you use paper stencils, you can't - obviously - throw them in water. You will need a non-stick surface ready for them to dry when used, and plenty of space so that they won't stick together.
Have plenty of scrap paper prepared for cleaning of the brushes and brayer and extra paint, and a place you can throw these papers to dry without needing to waste the valuable space for these papers. When it comes to these papers, it doesn't matter if they stick to each other, that's just texture ;-) So you can just throw them into a box under the table to dry. A stack of newspapers is good for this.
It would be nice if you could have a sous-chef who can clean your tools so that you can concentrate on finishing the steps :-D
Some advice and notes about the different steps
This is how Shannon herself chose to put paint on paper.
Note that she does it in steps and quickly -
she manages to go the book through 3-4 times before the time is up.
Ways to put on color:
- Pick some 4-6 of your favorite colors or color combinations
- quick ways: sprays, brayer/scraper and monoprinting
take a practice round where you time yourself to see what possible problems you will meet and what additional things you need.
IMPORTANT: IF YOU DON'T WANT MUD, DON'T USE CONTRAST COLORS!
Red and green gives you mud. So does purple and yellow; and blue and orange. And it goes with the "close enough" colors. Theoretically yellow and blue gives you green, but if it's purplish blue and orangeish yellow, you'll get mud. Greenish mud, sure, but mud nevertheless.
If you like the color combination of contrasting colors - which I do - use these colors in different steps!
So - the first round; use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, like red, orange and yellow; yellow, green and blue; green, blue, purple...
Don't overmix the color on the paper. Put it on, swipe twice, no more, move on. If the color puddles, let it.
Go over the edges.If you use loose leafs, this is not a problem, as you have covered the table beforehand, if you use a book, this is not a problem, as you have prepared the backs of the pages so that they won't stick. Getting "wrong" color on pages doesn't matter, it just adds more interest, but your work will look better if it's not just a blob of paint in the middle of the pages.
You can also add color by dripping, splattering, spraying, spattering, sprinkling, speckling and sponging and what not.
White and black are not colors. Use them to add visual texture; in the next step.
VISUAL TEXTURE - COLLAGE:
collage - pattern paper, magazine print, book pages, painted paper
Use different qualities of paper, like magazine papers, tissue paper, napkins, book pages etc. Embossed or in some other way textured paper is great.
Because this is collage, you can't produce mud, so you can use any colors you like.
Or that's the theory, at least... just remember that the fewer colors you use, the more calm impression the page gives. Also, you can always paint over everything during the finishing touches ;-)
If you want to create a "sophisticated" impression, use the same colors you used to put color on the page, just in different shades and tones.
Using contrast colors gives the page energy and tension.
Use black and white, or something very dark and something very light.
Tear up the paper beforehand. If you have a specific color plan in your mind, sort the pieces according to which pages you want them on. Yes, it's OK to do that, the spontaneity comes to play when it comes to sticking the pieces on paper. Don't think, just glue.
Use a glue stick and don't bother sticking them properly in place. You are to use the 15 minutes to assign a spot for the paper pieces. It's not against the rules to go back and stick the papers properly in place with what ever media you like after the 15 minutes are gone. That's how Shannon herself does it :-D
You could also use spray glue and just throw your pieces on the page :-D
First, just stick something on every page. Grab, stick, move on.
The next round you can compose a little. But just a little. YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD AFTER THE 15 MINUTES ARE GONE!
A good rule of hand is: 1 big piece and 3 smaller pieces.
Also, "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue". In this case "borrowed" means someone else's idea and "blue" your favorite color :-D
(Or perhaps something shiny. A bit of gold adds a lot of interest and visual texture ;-))
Use something opaque and something transparent
something textured and something smooth
something thin and something thick
something hard and something soft
something ripped and something cut
something sharp and something curvy
Some ideas you can "borrow":
- lace, paper lace, paper doilies
- postage stamps
- paper napkins
- pattern paper
- metal foil
- hole punch scraps
- origami paper
- old handwritten letters
- thin strips from magazines and newspapers
- stickers (the shapes, not the picture ones - though those might be interesting as well). You can also dye, paint or decorate the stickers. The binder hole protectors looks pretty interesting as stickers. Label sheets become also interesting stamps when painted.
- junkmail; ripped into pieces or strips, or cut into strips
- gift wrap
- stamps and stencils
the purpose with this is to create PATTERN so use background stencils and stamps, or if you use a single shape, repeat it several times
Choose a contrasting shade of the colors on the page, that is a clearly darker or lighter shade of the same color; or use black and white.
Finish with circles, made with a cap or lid from a small bottle. Use white, or black if the page is very light. Or, if the contrast is too big for you, use a darker and lighter shade of the colors on your page, like very dark plum and icy blue.
You could also use your favorite shape, if you are not that into circles :-D Squares, stars and triangles work as well.
images and words
What is a focal image? Mike Deacon explains it beautifully:
He also has some other interesting points about the color and composition and finishing, that might be helpful
Basically, the focal point is the first thing you notice on the page when you see it.
Think about paintings and images you like. How would you describe them? A lady smelling roses? Sunset? Whimsical birds? That is your focal image.
Don't use small images. The focal image should be at least 1/8 of the page, and everything else is to be smaller or less noticeable.
You can use words as focal image, but then the words should take at least 1/4 of the page, preferably at least 1/2
Things that will not work:- scrolls and swirls and other such things that look like background.
- be careful with flowers. Try to remember that this is the focal image, which means that you are putting down the subject of your "painting". So a group of flowers that looks like it belongs to a background is not good. A striking single rose works great as the focal image.
Cut your images and words the way you want to use them beforehand.
If you choose to make "ransom note lettering", you can glue the words on tissue paper and then rip the tissue paper around the letters; when you glue that down, it is almost invisible.
You can also glue them on colored or patterned paper and then cut the quote out, to add interest.
The purpose is to get the focal point tacked down, so use a glue stick, and don't bother about if it is well fastened or not. You can go back and secure the images after the time is over.
Some ideas about finding the focal point:
You can either start with an interesting image and find words to support it, or interesting words and find images to support them.
1) get 20 boxes. folders or a booklet with 20 pages, where you can store your focal ideas
2) Find 4 images in the following 5 themes each, so that you'll have 20 images in the end. Of course, if you can find more from one theme, that's great!
The images can be found from magazines, books, coloring books, internet (printables), calenders, junkmail, napkins, scrapbook paper, your own artwork, drawings, collaged pieces (You can make all kinds of things like the magazine paperdolls, like collage houses, animals, trees...) etc.
a) your favorites
What is/are your favorite flowers? Animals? Seasons? Do you prefer forests or beaches? Mythical creature?
Find images of these. Have, for example, a mermaid page and a tiger page.
what is your favorite historical era? Find paintings or photos from that era
Which is your favorite country, city, travel goal?
Find pictures from that country or famous landmarks, like, for example, Eiffel tower
Pick 4 of your favorite colors, and find an image of that color. You can also find an image that illustrates your favorite season and use that as the theme for the page, or your favorite holiday. It is easier to create a page around a theme, like Halloween page or Autumn page.
e) collage dolls
Make 4 collage dolls from magazine images and printout, the Zettiology style.
You can also use real paperdolls or cutouts from vintage magazines, or pinups, which ever rocks your boat.
You don't have favorites? Come on, don't fight so much! If you don't want to travel and have no favorites among the places on earth, choose another theme for this. Like God and religion, or books and fairytales, or your favorite hobby or recipes, cooking and food items. Your favorite art movements and styles and artists. Your favorite music. Your pets, or kids. Your garden. Your favorite art tools and medias.
If you REALLY can't find any themes to find images from, just take any 20 images from the closest magazine, newspaper, junkmail, anything with pictures.
a) write down your favorite quotes and sayings. If you don't feel comfortable to write it yourself, find a nice quote and print it.
b) flip some magazines and cut out every quote, saying and word that pleases you.
c) song lyrics and poems
- the purpose with this is to lift up the focal image and make the picture more coherent.
- start by shading the edges of the pages. This gives the pages a finished look. Pick a color from the page.
- use a pencil or charcoal or very soft pen or crayon or something like that to go around the focal image and soften it by rubbing. Choose a color that contrasts to the background, either a "real" color or black or white. (or very dark or very light, if black and white is too big a contrast to your taste.)
- learn some simple doodling. Some polka dots, looping, zig-zag lines, scallops, circles and stripes add a lot to the page.
- you can draw the focal image, if it is a photo. Just follow the lines with a marker. Give the people and animals make-up. Make the eyewhites whiter. Change eye color.
- create a frame to the page, either with color or lines.