Art Journal Tribute to Christmas Decorations

ATT00001This weekend after the marvelous Thanksgiving feastS that we had (notice the plural), my beautiful, young bride informed me that it was time to get the Christmas decorations down from the attic.  I tried to tell her that I needed to work on my journal.  She said, “Fine.”  That’s bridespeak for, “Do it now if you ever want me to stop glaring at you.”

I have been watching a lot of Spraycaso’s videos on YouTube.  If you’ve never heard of him, I strongly suggest you head over their right now and watch some of his amazing work.  He is a spray paint artist.  More than just spraying paint, spray paint is his actual medium and he uses a multitude of techniques from scraping to brushing with a sea sponge to get painterly effects.  I was inspired to try this with this week’s entry into the art journal.

bluepaintAfter applying gesso to my pages I began with a stripe of blue paint.  Since I wasn’t really going to be using much of Spraycaso’s (and the late Bob Ross’) “wet-on-wet” technique, I had to wait for the paint to dry before I could go from step to step.  As the paint dried, I cut out masks for the next layer.

purplepaintWhen you do add second and third layers of spray paint without allowing them the full curing time, the reducing agent, or thinner re-wets the previous layer causing a mixing of colors.  With the blue stripe masked off, I added a layer of purple and a layer of pink.  These swirled together with the blue to give me an opalescent pink.

touchupAt a couple of different points along the way, I found it necessary to add a few touch up strokes.  I did this by spraying a puddle of paint onto a piece of scrap from the masks and using one of the La CheapAY brushes I buy that are fifteen for $1.  I keep a bunch of these around just for this purpose and other types of painting that I don’t want to use my good brushes on, like Mod Podge or Gel Medium for instance.

snowwhiteWhen I masked off the ornament, I sprayed all of both pages with gloss white.  I sprayed just enough that the blue was just a hint underneath for a reflective quality in the snow.  I will leave the mask over the ornament for the rest of the spray painting.  I suppose I could have done the reflective light bit and lifted an edge of the mask, but honestly it didn’t occur to me at the time.

snowmanFor the snowman, I used two masks.  The first was when I added the baby blue for the highlights on the snow.  This mask had a cut out to allow the blue to create crescents on him.  The second was just a solid mask to prevent any overspray from later effects.

nightskyA little wrinkled newspaper gives a landscaped appearance to the scene.  By not having the edges down flat, it gives a shadowed transition to the horizon.    The sky actually has three layers of color to it, baby blue along the snow, dark blue across the mid sky and then I went over the whole top with gloss black.  This gives the sky some swirl effects without a whole lot of effort.

twinklesA common outdoor decoration are the icicle lights that hang in strings from the edge of the roof.  I used a hole punch to cut an irregular pattern along the top edge of the mask.  Then, keeping the mask almost 1/4″ above the journal, I sprayed a quick, light misting of yellow as perpendicular as I could (I’m short).  Then I added a spot of opaque white to the center of each and used an old credit card to scratch in the the hanging wires.

starlightI use this spatter technique in most of my work to tie colors from one side to the other.  I simply tap a loaded, wet paint brush against another.  I like the way it breaks up the monotony in large patches of single colors.  Here, I’m using it as a way to create a starry sky, as well as ice flakes in the snow.  After, I painted a hat onto the snowman and added highlights to the various shiny objects throughout the piece, I sprayed the whole thing with a heavy layer of acrylic sealer.  Glossy paints have a tendency to get sticky once you close your journal.  So far, acrylic sealer has worked well to prevent that from happening to me.

This was a lot of fun and I picked up a lot of technique to use in other projects.  You can see the whole process in the video below or go to YouTube to watch.

Art Journal tribute to the Turkey

ATT00034Have you ever been so into the zone that you forgot to perform a major function of what you’re doing?  That question probably couldn’t be any more unclear.  Let me try it again.  I’ll start by saying I forgot to take pictures.  I made this art journal entry with the full intent on sharing the process with you here, but I flat forgot to take pictures.  Even my video camera cut out on some of the best parts.  I didn’t notice because I was in the zone.  Has something like that ever happened to you?

This week I did a tribute to the turkey.    I started by creating the background with acrylic sprays, watercolor crayon, and spray paint.  I went to a local farm and got some really nice pictures of turkeys to model for the painting, but ended up using a photo provided by my grandmother circa. 1970.  I sketched the bird in my 9×14 sketchbook and then cut him out and pasted him into the journal.  I gessoed over him and painted him with acrylic poster paints and spray paint.

The other large turkey you see there is Girl2!  I traced her hands on some gessoed newspaper and let her do a watercolor resist to color her feathers.  Then I took a photo of her and pasted it in the middle.  I pasted the pictures of the other birds from the farm and added the text “The Turkey, a noble and tasty bird.”  (Sorry to all of my Vegan friends out there.)

Here is the video:

Art Journal My Treasures

treasures1This was one of those pieces that I thought was really going to just be a learning experience.  I had an idea of different things that I wanted to do, and no idea how to go about it.  I can’t tell you how many times along the way I second guessed myself.  Countless times I thought, “There’s no way this will work out.”  But you know what?  That’s what art journals are for.  They are a place where you can lay out your ideas right or wrong.  If it works, GREAT!  If not, you spent a couple hours learning a few things.  You still win.

Photo0222It started with me recording Puff The Magic Dragon.  Girl2 and my lovely wife were singing along.  It was one of those moments you knew you just never would want to forget.  I thought that a dragon would be the perfect thing to guard my treasured memories.  I knew that I would want an envelope to place the memories in so I treated and folded some paper.  I added a snap so that nothing could fall out.

Photo0221I also knew that the dragon would have to breathe fire.  Without the fire, it’s not a dragon, it’s just a big lizard or whatever.  So when I made the flap for the envelope, I also made a flap up top to “animate” the dragon.  Flap down shows the dragon peacefully eyeing a crab on the beach, and flap up shows the dragon breathing fire at the oncoming pirates!

I cut most of these pieces out of  newspaper that I spray painted and treated to “collage” in my journal.  I have a severe aversion to using anyone else’s creations in my work, so much to the point that I don’t even want to use letters and stamps that can be bought just for this.  So if I can make it I will.  If I can’t, I will go find it and take the picture myself.  Others do it differently and that’s great.  This is just what works best for me.

Anyway, here is the video for your enjoyment!

Art Journal for Veteran's Day

morethanwarHello Peoples!  Another week has passed here at The Artistic Biker, and I have uploaded another video on YouTube!  I REALLY enjoy making those videos almost as much as I like making the art journals.  This week, as you can see, I did a very “Americentric” tribute to veteran’s for the upcoming Veteran’s Day holiday.

Snapshot(0)I always start out by spreading gesso on the pages.  Not only does it prep the paper so that the watercolors and acrylics don’t destroy it, I LOVE the texture and the leathery feel it gives the paper.  I use a LOT of gesso on this and just about everything else I work with now.

Snapshot(1)Then I use my watercolor crayons to lay in the hues and overall lighting effects I want for the piece.  With the transparent acrylics I use, this saves a lot of shading at the other end of the piece.  By putting these colors down first, I can build layers on top of them and not have to worry about where the lighting is going to fall.

Photo0189I drove through the neighborhoods looking to take some reference photos.  I found several flags, but incredibly I chose a day that the wind was not blowing in Oklahoma.  I’m sure that is one of the signs of the Apocalypse.  Ultimately, I selected this shot for the “furling” it has.

Photo0182I also cruised over to the local recruiting office to get some photos of our service men and women in uniform.  I still feel a deep sense of pride when I greet the people serving our country today.  It brings back so many very emotional memories of when I served.  There is an aura of professionalism around most of them that you just can’t fake.  I got a few great pictures and chose the one on the right of this young man saluting the flag.

Snapshot(2)Using my reference photo, I sketched the flag onto the journal page with a blue watercolor pencil.  The pencil washes away with the acrylics and helps to add a shadow to the bottom of each seam of the flag.

Snapshot(3)I put the reference photo away and begin laying in the colors.  I won’t look back at the photo from here on out.  Photo realism is cool, but not really what I look for in my art.  By the time I get to this point, it’s all about how it makes me feel.

Snapshot(5)I printed the photo of the soldier on a transparency sheet and tried to do a gel medium transfer.  I’m pretty sure I used the wrong type of gel medium because it didn’t work out the way they demonstrate it in all the youtube videos out there.  However, it did transfer a NICE silhouette of the soldier’s salute.  I darkened the whole thing and then went back in with some highlights.  I left the back edge of the soldier transparent as it looks as though the colors of the flag are reflected light on his uniform.  Sometimes, the mistakes give you better results than perfect technique ever could.

Finally, I went around the edges with black acrylic paint and did a spatter effect with red, white, and blue paints.  If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here, or e-mail them to me and I will be happy to answer what I can.  So, without any further ado, here is this week’s WIP video:

Art Journal Self Portrait

iammanyOoh, I’m really diggin’ the youtube thing!  It makes me feel like Bob Ross.  Happy little trees and birds shaped like m’s and w’s dot my hillsides.  I don’t have enough hair to pull off that “fro” look though.    Anyway, this week I decided to do a self portrait in my art journal and I filmed it so I could take you along for the ride.