I'm here today for Gwen Lafleur's Artist Tribe to share with you a touch of spring straight from the pages of my art journal. This one was inspired by the practice of forcing flowering branches to bloom early indoors. It combines my love of tea bags and my long time obsession with Blue Willow ginger jars and Flow Blue plates with two of my favorites stencils from Gwen's newly released Spring 2018 collection by StencilGirl.
In springtime, stems of dogwood, quince, and spicebush in beautiful Chinese cobalt blue glazed porcelain delight me with their colorful and aromatic blooms. In my opinion, fooling branches to flower in the late winter is an excellent way to expose yourself to a good bout of spring fever. (And who wouldn't mind catching that?) The appearance of the blossoms on my living room mantle signal the end of winter while exclaiming the promise of warm spring sunshine with green grass and flip flops tagging right behind it.
When I first saw Gwen's newly released Spring 2018 stencils, I was immediately drawn to the design of the Chinese Garden Plumb Blossom stencil. It was just one those stencils that I'd been yearning to use in my art journal for a long time without even knowing it. But once I saw it, I knew that it was destined to become a favorite of mine. It simply spoke to me and I would have been a fool had I not listened.
My art journal page actually began as a new stencil “workout” on a kraft paper page in my Dina Wakely Mixed Media Journal. I was just fooling around, trying to get a feel for the design and what it could do. I wasn't expecting that it would actually turn into a page that I loved. Unfortunately, that means that I didn't take any pictures of how the background was developed. But I can tell you that it started out much like the picture below; with the Chinese Garden Plumb Blossom stencil stenciled on the page with ink and then colored with Copic Markers. Afterwards, I'd pushed the stenciling backwards on the page with Golden Ultramarine Blue acrylic paint, (my new favorite) leaving some areas of the kraft paper exposed.
I used a pencil to draw a vase onto a piece of deli paper and then I glued the vase onto a tea bag with Golden's Soft Gel Gloss. (See my tutorial, What to do with those soggy tea bags stashed in your purse, for instructions on how to prep the tea bags.)
In this case I coated the back of the tea bag with the medium Before placing it on top of the drawing. Although I should have probably used a fixative on the drawing before doing this, I got lucky with just a little smudging. I sandwiched the tea bag between sheets of deli paper and then placed it under some heavy books to dry and flatten over night. The next morning I cut away the excess deli-paper, leaving me with just the tea bag to work with.
I used an extremely light yellow Copic Marker, (Y000, Pale Lemon) to brighten the vase. I found an element from Gwen's What Could I do if I Wasn't Afraid to Try stencil that was perfect for the vase's motif and stenciled it on with blue ink. Then I pounced on top of the image again with some white ink to add a few highlights.
I adhered the tea bag to the page with more Soft Gel. Then I used a Catalyst Blade to squeeze out all of the air bubbles and any excess gel, (a hotel key or old credit card would also work for this). I brought the flowers back up to the forefront of the composition by recoloring them with acrylic paint, Pitt Pens, and Copic Markers.
Then I collaged onto the page a coveted piece of book binding from my stash and made a few scribbles in the background for interest. For some reason, old book bindings always make my toes tingle....
I had originally Planned for the page to be done at this point. But I decided to push it just a little farther to add another layer of dimension. I've been using mat board as a substrate in my print making class and wanted to experiment using it in my art journal. I started by tracing the stencil design onto the mat boards with a pencil.
Then I loosely penciled over the design to create a sketchy, hand drawn look.
I colored in the design with Pitt Pens and Copic Markers.
And then I freed the flowers from the mat board with my X-ACTO Knife, (you'll need a really sharp knife for this; the secret is too change the blade frequently) and adhered it to the page with Soft Gel.
And finally, I went back and added details and outlining to the page with a fine tip, black, Pitt Pen.
I'm absolutely in love with this page and hope that I've inspired you to gather up your own branches of Spring to add to your art journal. There’s so much inspiration in Gwen's newest stencil designs. I'll be back for the Artist tribe to share some more with you in the coming weeks.
Hugs until next time, Jill