Monday, September 21, 2015

Journal Making

Yes, the last thing I need is another journal, and yet making them is so darn much FUN...I can't stop! I learned this technique for a cover from "Roses on the Table Journal Journey" and it's one I will use often as it yields a great looking journal in a short time. In just a couple of days, this journal went from start to finish. Filling the pages will take much longer, but that's irrelevant. It's all about the fun of book-binding.

After covering the cardboard cover with paper from a brown bag, I added design with stencils and molding paste. I settled a special word into the molding paste.

Watered down gesso comes next.

I used aqua and burnt sienna acrylic paint to give the journal an aged/verdigris look, then followed it up with a dry brush application of vanilla acrylic.

When the signatures and cover were ready, with holes punched, it was time to bind the book. Right now my favorite method is the long stitch but I hope to learn more techniques to vary the look of my journals.

I just love the way a hand bound journal feels in my hand...and the process of book-binding is great fun.

© Nancy Lefko

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Beginner's Luck

I've been playing along with The Documented Life Project - The Journal since the beginning of the year. The theme for September is "Journaling with Photos." This week's challenge is "Photo Transfer," and the journal prompt is "From Here to There."

I'll admit that when I saw the challenge I had an internal "ugh" feeling. I have always wanted to practice transfers; I even bought a book all about transfers, but never did anything more than the packing tape technique (which I never really liked anyway.)

Having read up on different transfer techniques many times over, I was under the impression that I needed a laser or toner copy to expect any success at all with the gel medium transfer technique. Given that all I can make are ink jet prints, I never tried. But with this transfer challenge staring me in the face, I decided to give it a shot anyway.

I coated the journal paper (140 lb. watercolor) with soft gel medium, then coated the image with the same. I applied the image to the journal page and burnished quite well with a bone folder. I let this dry overnight and this morning, with low expectations, removed the paper layer with wet fingertips. Well, I guess there really is such a thing as beginner's luck because the transfer came out pretty well. Not half-bad. It has the fuzzy nature I expected from a transfer, which given the vintage photo, I really do like. I believe I've just found a new way to enhance my art journaling.

© Nancy Lefko

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Groove: A Review

I was recently contacted by a representative of Momenta and asked if I might review the new GROOVE tool by ArtC. Always interested in new artful goodies, I quickly agreed. My Groove tool arrived along with an assortment of mixed media embellishments to use in future projects: tags, twine, stencils, etc. The box states that this tool is "for mixed-media exploration," so what better place for exploration, I thought, than my art journal.

I covered a journal page with vintage papers and gave them a coat of gel medium as I usually do before adding acrylic paint.

The GROOVE tool comes with four inter-changeable heads: brush, pad, fine gauge sandpaper and coarse grade. They are very easy to change; a simple push on/pull off. The GROOVE tool runs on 2 AA batteries (not included) and is operated with a simple slide switch: low, high, off.

I began with the brush tool and light blue acrylic paint. Wanting to cover the entire background with the paint, I found the brush needed to be re-loaded often and therefore the 9" x 12" area was more efficiently covered simply by using a foam brush.

After drying, I snapped on the pad tip to use with ink and the stencils provided by ArtC. I used a water-soluble ink, knowing that with only one pad tip I would need to be washing it out for frequent use with different color inks.

I used the GROOVE tool on the high setting and turned it on to load the ink. It gave good coverage through the stencils when I applied some pressure. At times it felt as if it were slightly "fighting" me as I moved it over the stencil, but nothing that interfered with the end result. I did find that as I was unable to see the back-side of the spinning pad, there were times when I went off the stencil and had ink where I didn't want it to be.

I found the ink tip handy for applying ink to the edge of a tag. Easy to do when held to the tag at a 45 degree angle.

Back to the brush tip, I used the GROOVE tool on low with acrylic paint and found that it worked quite nicely with stencils.

It worked best for me without a heavy application of paint. The heavier the paint application and the more intricate the stencil, the more likelihood of brush-unders.

When I backed off on the amount of paint, I had less of an issue with brush-unders. Again, using on the low setting worked best in this case. I think that with this spinning tool, adhesive backed stencils are really a must.

I tried both sanding tips and started with the fine grit against a card stock tag. It didn't seem to remove that much from the edge so I switched to the coarse tip , and on the high setting, it did rough up the card stock. I can see the convenience of having a sanding tool at the ready; I often sand the edges of Scrabble tiles to distress, and the GROOVE tool will be quite handy.

Once the card stock was distressed with the sanding tip, it received the ink with the pad tip that much more readily.

The brush and pad tips cleaned up easily with soap and water. The brush tip actually sat for quite a while, with dried paint, and still cleaned up with no trouble at all. I used the pad tip for more than one color before cleaning; it performed well and cleaned up with minimal staining.

My finished journal page represents what can be accomplished with paint, ink and this helpful tool. The GROOVE tool is easy to use, making it something that could easily be used by children and might especially appeal to young boys who love gadgets!

Overall, the GROOVE is a handy tool that's fun and easy to use. The brush and pad tips clean up easily, provided you use water-soluble ink and paint. The sanding tips give you easy access to sanding material without the nuisance of heading to the basement or garage for a piece of sandpaper; this feature also saves on the elbow grease usually necessary for sanding.

Although the GROOVE tool may not be a necessity in your creative arsenal, it does make the process fun and in some cases easier.

© Nancy Lefko

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lobster Art from Start to Finish

I don't often create art expressly for my own home, but inspiration struck and I just went with it!

I have long wanted a piece for our screen porch that reminds me of my favorite family vacation spot, so Mr. Lobster was born.

It's often fun...for me, and MAYBE for see how a piece evolves over time. Here goes...

The 13" x 16" canvas actually began as a floral still life I'd purchased at a thrift store. I never hung the painting and eventually no longer wanted to, so a little gesso and some ephemera collage and I was on my way to a new piece of original art.

Using inspiration from my art journal, I sketched the lobster onto the collaged background.

Using acrylics, I filled in the background.

Using mark-makers...bubble wrap and corrugated cardboard...I added design elements to the background.

A dry brush application of antique white acrylic adds a little interest.

Using gouache, I filled in the lobster.

The lobster was outlined with a black Stabilo pencil; letters were added using stencils, filled in with gouache paint and outlined with charcoal pencil.

The deep edges of the canvas were painted in a black & white checkerboard pattern...

...and finally Mr. Lobster took up residence on our screen porch...a perfect reminder of a very happy place.

© Nancy Lefko

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Spring Art Journal from Start to Finish

Creating an art journal following Pam Carriker's journal-making directions from "Art at the Speed of Life," has proven to be quite the enjoyable undertaking. So enjoyable that I made it a year-long project, creating a journal for each season.

When the first warm and sunny day of Spring arrived, I headed outside with my gathered supplies and added color and design elements to sheets of 90 lb. watercolor paper, then turned those sheets of paper into a journal with a simple pamphlet stitch.

As the trees leafed out and the world outside my window grew greener every day, I didn't have far to go for inspiration.

With the arrival of the warm weather, my thoughts often shift to the spring fashions and the bright colors of the season.

Spring also means the return of the animals and the opportunity for all of us to venture out into the great outdoors again. I celebrated all that Spring has to offer with each journal page.

As the weather warms up, the children's minds begin to drift outside the classroom to the wonders of the upcoming summer vacation.

Really, everything about the season is rejuvenating!

And before long, we are all too ready for summer and all that it has in store.

It has been a most rewarding journaling that I'll continue in some fashion as I create many more 6 x 6 art journals.

© Nancy Lefko