Don't Forget to Fly Art Journal Tutorial

Since I haven't posted any tutorials for awhile, I thought I'd create one for you. So while I was in the studio over the weekend, I decided I'd make it an art journal tutorial--since I was going to be creating a new spread anyway and using some new fun supplies to boot. Who doesn't Love (with a capital 'L') new art supplies, right?! And all the more artsy fun to use them in my art journal.

Sooooooooo--this is the 'Don't Forget to Fly' art journal spread that I created, along with the fabulous new (and not-so-new) art supplies that I used in the process.

Don't Forget to Fly

Artsy Materials: Faber-Castell Gelatos (Snow Cone and Kiwi colors), Prima Finnabair Elementals 'Bubbles' Stencil, Prima Finnabiar 'Don't Forget to Fly' Cling Stamps, Tim Holtz Distress Ink (Faded Jeans color), Stayz-On Ink (Black), Faber-Castell Pitt Pen (Black), Uni-Ball Signo UM-153 Gel Pen (White), white acrylic paint, Liquitex Gesso (White), Liquitex Matte Medium (Fluid), and Tissue Paper (not shown). Oh, and I'm also using a Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media journal; it is hard-bound and has 90lb paper pages that are deliciously smooth and perfect for the mixed media journaling that I love to do [and makes me feel like a real artist when I use it, ahem].

I will preface this all by saying that I had no real plan for this art journal spread when I began--other than that I was going to use my new cling stamps, and some Gelatos. Most of the time when I'm art journaling, I like to fly by the seat of my pants...which seems appropriate for the theme of this spread anyway. :)

Artsy Deets...OK, let's get this art show on the road!

1.  Gesso the pages. I almost always gesso my pages if I'm doing mixed media. If I were doing watercolor or just simple drawing, I'd leave them as is. But I wanted the pages to be ready for whatever I might do here, so I gesso'd [that's right, I just used 'gesso' as a verb--I'm crazy like that]. And that's what you see here in the photo--two primed pages, ready for anything. I also used my heat gun to speed up the drying process on the pages. What can I say? Patience is not one of my strong suits.

Gesso'd Page

2.  Crumple up the Tissue Paper and adhere to the pages with Matte Medium. I decided I wanted TEXTURE on these pages. And I love to use tissue paper to add texture! So, in the next few pics that's what you see--the crumpling process, and the adhering process. And again, I sped up the drying process with the heat gun.

Tissue Paper pages
 Add Matte Medium to the pages.
Matte Medium pages
Add tissue and then add Matte Medium over it.
This ensures the tissue is well-adhered to the page.
Matte Medium Smooth pages
3. Gesso the tissue-covered pages. Since I knew I'd be using Gelatos, I wanted a good, non-porous surface to work on with the Gelatos. So I gesso'd over the tissue-covered pages to make them ready for the Gelatos...and for whatever else I might do or add to the pages later on. Check out that texture, people! It looks cool, and it feels cool too, and it's so easy to do.

Textured Pages

4. After you finish admiring your texture, it's time for Gelatos! I had no idea what colors I'd be using at this point. I have many Gelatos and I love them all equally (we don't want any of them to feel left out, after all). But something drew me to the Snow Cone blue color, so that's what a grabbed from my stash and then I just scribbled it around the edges of the page. Again--I had no plan here. I just decided on the spot where I'd add the color. And after adding the Snow Cone, I grabbed another color--Kiwi--and added it too.

My Gelatos
 Snow Cone blue added.

Kiwi green added.
Kiwi Gelato

5. Ponder the colors. Then blend. Once I had those two colors down, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next. And what do you do when you're not sure? That's right: you ponder. So I did that for a bit and then I decided to blend the colors with a spritz of water and my finger. BUT....I didn't like it. So, I grabbed a baby wipe and blended with that instead.

Baby Wiped Pages
(Dang, that's perty, I thought.) So I blended it all on both pages. And I was so into what I was doing I totally forgot to take a pic of the finished blending. I'm not used to stopping to take photos during my art journal time, so I got a bit distracted. :) But you'll see in the next pic how it looked as I began the next step.

6. Use the Stencil to create circles of Negative Space. I loved my blended Gelato colors, but I wanted to do something before I started doing any stamping. So since I had a new stencil I hadn't tried yet, and I still had a baby wipe in my hand, I decided I'd use the stencil to create some negative space. All I did was use the baby wipe and wipe away color in some circles through the stencil while the Gelatos were still not dry. Gelatos are permanent when dry, but before then you can really play with them, wipe them off, etc. So that's what I did here.

Wipe away color.
Stencil Negative Space
 Now you have Negative Space circles.
Negative Space Circles

7. Use some Gelatos to add a darker color around the circles. I used the Snow Cone Gelato for this. I just scirbbled a bit on my non-stick painting mat. Got a thin liner paintbrush wet with water and wet the Gelato color a bit. Then I took the brush and just sort of outlined the circles in a subtle way, to help them pop a bit more.

Paint Circles

8. Stamping time! Next I grabbed my stamps and had a ball. I did the fairy lady stamp first, then added the circles and butterflies.

Stamped Pages

Fairy Lady

9. Scrape some paint with a credit card. Before I moved on to add some details to the pages, I felt like I needed to see a bit of white here and there. So I grabbed an old credit card and some white acrylic paint and scraped the paint on here and there. I just held the card at and angle and scraped it to hit the high spots of tissue paper.

Scraped Paint

If you look close, you can see it.
Scraped Paint Result

10. Add details and embellishments. I used my Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen and my Uni-Ball Signo white gel pen to add details. You won't see them all in the next photo...again, I got so focused on what I was doing that I missed another photo opp. But you'll see them at the end.


11. Add more cirlces using Distress Ink and the Stencil. As I stood back and looked at the journal spread, it just didn't feel finished to me. I liked it, but I thought it needed something more. So I grabbed the stencil and the Faded Jeans Distress Ink and added circles all around the pages. 

Blue Circles

12. Don't Foret to Fly...the happy ending! After the circles were on I was happy. But I did add some thinned out gesso to a few of the stamped circles here and there for some contrast. And then I knew it was time to call this journal spread complete.

Don't Forget to Fly

Final thoughts on this journal spread...

I made mistakes along the way. The fairy lady, for example. When I first stamped her I accidentally moved and the image was blurred. Urgh! But i didn't fret. I simply gesso'd over her, let it dry, added the Gelato colors again, and then re-stamped her. Mistakes happen in art. Sometimes you can fix them, and sometimes you just have to find a way to love them for what they are. I have never re-done an art journal page. To me, however the page ends up when it's finished is how it is meant to be. An art journal is just like a regular writing journal, in my mind. I'd never re-do a page my writing journal--so why would I re-do a page in my art journal? Even though I can look at this journal spread and see a few little "mistakes" that I don't totally like, it's finished and I love it just the way it is.

You have to learn to love your art, flaws and all. An art journal especially is not meant to be perfect, so perfection should never be your goal. Nor should you compare your art (or art journal) to the art of anyone else. Your art journal should always be, first and foremost, your means of creative self-expression. And as such, it can never be wrong. It's Y-O-U!  

Love it.

Love yourself.

And Don't Forget to Fly!