22 August 2014

Growth Happens . . .

New Oak Moon art journal spread
This abstract oak tree is the result of an art journaling exercise facilitated by Effy Wild's Moonshine 2014 course.  We are making art inspired by the seasons and cycles of the moon all year long. She provided the course content in June, but it took me a while to get started. And then it took me weeks to finish. This is the most intricate art journal spread I've ever undertaken, but I'm really pleased with my results.

While I was working on it, I never thought it would look cohesive. There are many layers to this page. The very first is a background layer of color painted onto the paper with Gelato pigments, giving the whole page a softer, nearly pastel feel.
New Oak Moon - detail
Effy's lesson recommended a collage layer next that would create a mosaic feel. I was skeptical about how mine would turn out, but there are enough greens and earth tones to off-set that energetic paint layer with Summer colors of oranges and reds.  Next came the tree, painted in acrylic and then detailed with "bark" lines of Black Pitt pen and Sakura metallic gold ink.  Then I drew in each oak leaf and filled them in with various gel inks. The metallic just jump off the page. Finally, I used a paint pen to make all of the green circles with the final touch of outlines around them in black ink.

I worked on this piece off and on between other projects over a period of three weeks. I had to practice drawing the tree a number of times to get a trunk and branches that I liked. I also had to teach myself to draw abstract oak leaves, so I filled an entire sketchbook page with them drawing slow at first and then speeding up. It was time-consuming to create all of tree's detail, but the detail is what brought together the living-tree shape.

I used to prefer to keep backgrounds very simple if the main focus of the piece was going to be an illustration (rather than pure abstract collage). But now I think that this tree would look very different on a plain background. The effect was worth the effort.

In the meantime, I have devised several ways to recycle my own art.

I shared a page of watercolor lines in my last blog post.  I have several of these pages of watercolor lines because I practiced the same blending exercise several times.  I took giant hole punches yesterday and punched out 2" inch and 1 3/4" inch circles from one of the practice pages. It's very likely that these circles will begin to appear in different collage pieces I create in the near future.

Collage circles punched out from a watercolor practice page.
Each circle has its own character. I like how some have more curvy lines than others. The colors (even in the page made with cheap watercolor paints from a classroom set) are cheery and take on a whole new appearance when they are liberated from the rectangular parent-page.

Finally, I had been debating what to do about the cover for my recently-begun art journal. The book is an 11 3/8" inch by 8 1/4" inch bound Dylusions journal book specifically made for mixed media creating. I love the size of it and the fact that the pages are bound to open completely flat, making painting and drawing easier.  The cover is just craft-paper brown, and it kept staring at me asking, "when are you going to cover me with art?" But I could not decide what to do.

I debated for days. Maybe I should just paint it a color so it's not blank. No, maybe I should collage it. Then it hit me, I had a favorite 4x6 index card piece of the full moon in July.
Brand new cover for my art journal.

I used the book cover as a frame for my index card art, by painting around it in acrylic and ink layers. I taped a starry-night washi tape border along the book's spine so that it matched the night sky theme. And I glued on mylar stars surrounding the picture and an arrow with my title and the date to remind me of when I created the hand-moon picture.

Now it is happily situated on the front cover of my journal so that I can look at it and let it inspire me all of the time.


  1. I love how your journal page turned out! Those oak leaves are great, a testimony to practice! And, I just love what happens when you take a small portion of a background like your circles cut from your watercolor experiments. That's one of the things I want to use Gelli printed backgrounds for.

  2. I love what you've been working on, and that oak tree spread especially. You know me and oak trees. Really glad to see you keeping up the art train :)

  3. I love this tree. Really beautiful, lively work, Maria!

    1. Thank you very much, Mael Brigde! As you can see, I've been working very hard on learning mixed media techniques and it's paying off. The Oak Tree is very sacred as you know. If you ever want an Oak Tree like this for the Daughters' newsletter or such, please let me know. BB