This last week, Gulfsprite (aka, Christy Sobolewski) posted a video on YouTube for the Art Geeks, detailing her go-to background technique. It's a question that's come up in the Art Geeks Facebook Group - what are your favorite background techniques? What technique do tend to do the most? And would you share your technique, for those that are new to art journaling?
I answer a resounding "Yes" to that last question! What I do is not super-original, but it's what I tend to do the most. It's actually very easy, and incorporates my favorite play items - namely, paint, spray inks and collage. It gives a very layered look, without spending hours on it. This type of background gives me plenty of room to either work on a portrait, or do a lot of writing.
So, here's where we start - my blank page:
I put masking tape down the center, to help protect the spine and give it some strength. As this is an altered book art journal, I tore out every other page, to give the book some room for my layered pages. I taped where a page had been torn out.
Next, I picked three colors of craft paint, and just painted swatches of color. I scrub the colors in with my brush, so that it feathers out at the edges. I use cheap craft paints, Martha Stewart paints, Golden paints - for me, it's not about the brand, it's about the color. I will say that I love how craft paints give a matte, chalky finish, and prefer them for my art journal (they're easier to write over, too - glossy paints are pen killers).
Now it's time for the spray inks. I have a variety of stencils, and am always looking at anything with holes in it as a possibility for spraying. This stencil is a piece of die-cut scrapbook paper (found in the specialty scrapbook paper section of Hobby Lobby). With paper stencils, it's important to lift them up right away after spraying - otherwise, they will become a part of your background, stuck forever.
First, I sprayed Tulip Fabric Paint Spray in White (it's wonderful! It's an opaque white and is a dream to work with), then immediately layered that with Dylusions Spray in Bubblegum Pink. I sprayed randomly, but focused the color in the blue and green areas (as the pink wouldn't show as well over the baby pink paint). Then I grabbed my Tulip Glitter Paint spray in Red and sprayed over the whole stencil.
I love how this came out! You can't see it in the picture, but it's very glittery. Now, it would be easy and quick to just stop right here. And sometimes, I will stop here, because I love the background as is. But I also love collage, so I decided to add some into the lower left-hand corner.
There's usually no rhyme or reason to what images I choose to use in my collages. I have several Zip-Loc Freezer bags, filled with scraps of papers, separated into categories that makes sense to me (neutrals, colors, images, etc.). I just grab my bags and start picking out papers. I also tend to collage in a square format. Squares and rectangles really appeal to me, and so that's how my collages are shaped.
I used Matte Gel Medium to glue down this collage, but I've also used Matte Medium, Collage Pauge, Decopauge, and Mod Podge (in Matte - the Glossy version will make your pages stick horribly). Basically, whatever's on sale (or whenever I have a coupon). There are blank areas on the collage that I'll probably use later as a journaling spot, and I can doodle and color around the images of the flower and the camera. The area on the right is ready for journaling or a portrait, which is what I've been practicing lately.
Sometimes, I will add paint over the collage - usually I will brayer over the whole page in a new color, or in white. The result is a cohesive page, with lots of layers peeking through. Other times, I'll get my stamps out, and stamp over a very neutral collage, as a focal image. It all depends on my mood.
Lastly, I've added a simple border on the bottom. I just like how a border contains a page. It's that square/rectangle thing again.
And that's it! This is my go-to way of doing backgrounds for my art journal. If you're new to art journaling, I hope this gives you some ideas for ways to use your fun art supplies.