Friday was all about Poetry so I’m trying a Saturday Six – art journal edition.

I am a very impatient art person. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me because I’m impatient about everything. I also have an obsessive personality which means when I’m learning something new like this I need to dive into the deep end, totally immerse myself in all sorts of knowledge, and then begin. I’ve been watching tons of YouTube videos.

1. The prep. All the early stuff I read said to Gesso the pages of the art journal before doing anything. I did that on a few pages and I have to say I hate it. Okay, maybe hate is strong but I don’t like it. I really don’t like the way it feels. I know it’s supposed to strengthen the page and absorb the water but what I see happening is that paper disappears and I realize that the reason I am drawn to collage is because it is all about the paper. And the appeal of an art journal for someone who doesn’t draw is again, about playing with paper via collage. I will try a few more pages with Gesso but so far, not a fan. But on YouTube there was a video of this person who did their page with no Gesso and instead just built up the page with a layer of paper and then painted over it. Aha! I thought I had landed on the perfect path for me. It was a great way to use up parts of the magazine I was going to throw away. I loved doing the paper base layer but then when it came time to paint over it, guess what? The texture of paper changed again. Well duh! I don’t know what I was thinking, that I could do all these things to paper and it would still feel like paper. So I can see me using both, Gesso when I want a plain background in a hurry and the paper buildup when I want words or whatever is on the paper to show up through the paint or when I am going to apply a thick layer of paint anyway.  I am a very textured oriented person. VERY. So I am really having a hard time with the way the paper changes textures by putting Gesso or paint on it. A really hard time.

2. The paper. In the collage class we have access to some of the most beautiful decorative and handmade papers but those don’t work for the base of the art journal. Since I knew I was going to experiment with the various materials and backgrounds I’ve been using mostly journals I had on hand. I had some sketchbooks (not that I sketched but because I liked the way they felt) and some normal journals with thin pages (I’ve been Gessoning over them)  but I bought two watercolor journals for specific projects and can already see the appeal of those thick pages. Last night I learned about the difference between hot press and cold press pages and realized all I have is cold press. Now I’m on the search for a hot press watercolor book that is spiral bound. (For those, like me, that didn’t know the difference, hot press is smoother paper and cold press is more textured.)

3. Adhesives. Who knew there were so many things to think about with glue?I have three jars of Modge Podge that I don’t think will ever be used because of a fear of tackiness and there’s no way I am sealing every page. Perhaps I’ll find some other 3D object to decoupage that I won’t mind sealing. I bought a couple different kinds of matte medium to try, Golden and Liqutex. I also have a stack of glue sticks from projects I do with kids in the classroom. I tried the glue sticks on the vision board and it probably would have worked okay if I had worked differently, maybe on a small scale. I really like the Golden matte medium and the verdict is still out on the Liqutex since I haven’t tried it yet. One thing for sure, whatever I use, I am going to go through a lot of it. Wow! And I mean a LOT! 3. Tools. Brushes and sponges. Ugh. I hate when the hairs of the brush come loose in the paint or the matte medium. I imagine the expensive brushes don’t do that but I can’t rationalize expensive brushes at this stage of the game.

4. Paint. I bought lots of different art supplies so I could play around with the various things and see what I liked best. I figured backgrounds would be a good place to practice and see what I like best. I have acrylics, watercolors in a box, watercolor pencils and water soluble oil pastels. I love painting with acrylic because it feels like painting. I like the way the brush glides through the creamy paint. But I discovered that straight acrylics dry fast. Like two brush strokes and you’re done, which doesn’t work for backgrounds. Love doing an acrylic wash. I like coloring a page with the water soluble oil pastels but I don’t like the way it looks when I add water. I do like these for adding a touch of color on top of something else. I prefer rubbing this color in rather than adding water. I haven’t done a lot with watercolor pencils yet because I’m working on backgrounds and they aren’t the best way to color a large surface but the little I have played with, I like. I don’t have regular watercolor crayons, just the oil ones, so I don’t know what they would be like but perhaps better? I have only played a little with the watercolors in the box and due to operator error. I have now watched a few more videos on watercolors and feel like I can try again.

5. Design. So many writers tell me they think in pictures, they see their story play out in front of them as if watching a play. I’ve never seen pictures in my stories. I’ve never “watched” my story unfold. I hear voices. Only voices. So this whole “picture” thing has me stymied. How hard could it be to make a background for a page? How badly could you screw up putting a few colors down and smooshing them around? A lot, apparently. I don’t have an eye for this sort of thing. I gorged myself on visiting websites of people who shared photos of their art journals. I oohed and ahhed and then went over and, well, painted a lot of crappy backgrounds. But that’s okay. My new friend Gesso can fix all that. But seriously, I didn’t think it would be that hard to do a background for a page but after doing 12 of them I hate them all. Yes, all! The only think I could think of was covering it all up again with more collage. I think the next ones will be just solid color washes, nothing fancy.

6. The journal. Oddly enough, I am not thinking of doing this journals for actual writing. I do a lot of actual writing else (like on this blog) and I know that the texture of painted or Gessoed pages would feel like fingernails on the chalkboard to me. I think for journals that I plan to write more than a line or two in I will have to stick with water color pages that will feel like real paper when I write in them. But I hope to make art a part of my life and to use it to explore myself and the world around me.