Saturday, August 11, 2012

Art Geeks - My Favorite Background Technique

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.


Betsi said...

Very cool! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm a stencil junkie too, and I only have one that's repurposed scrapbook "paper"... in that case it's actually diecut vinyl I found on clearance. I will have to start paying more attention and keep an eye out for the paper stuff, I always assumed it wouldn't hold up to spraying. And I have GOT to get me some of that Tulip white spray! That's amazing. I was actually wondering if the stencil had been added digitally before I read the description, it is so crisp and bold. I never even thought about a white spray, that's so simple and yet so genius. :)

I'm so glad you shared this; it was the same YouTube video that made me join the Art Geeks group a few days ago, and you've inspired me to actually take the plunge and show my own techniques... I'll have to work something up this weekend and try and post to my blog, Eccentric Spirit.


Kristina W said...

Thank you so much for commenting, Betsi! Yes, yes, yes!! Please post your technique! Can't wait to see it!