2021 Topic 5: Find Your Vibe
Well, grab your hats, you are in for an absolute doozy of a blog post.
Jenny has clung to elements that push her buttons: architecture, stitching, gel plate printing and book making. Taking time to enjoy the proccess, consider the elements, and how to pull them together, it is clear she has thoroughly loved making this book to represent the architechture and her memories of venice.
Jenny has an eye for those incredible finishing touches - keys for a wrought iron balcony look kind of clunky initially, but the delicacy when a white pen adds some light-catching highlights, and watery shade pushes back into the shadows creates incredible depth. But her starting point of making a worn, vintage paper gives an impression of an old book, whihc is contrasted with bright pops of vibrant, modern colour. Grab a cuppa and immerse yourself in this post!
Hi everyone, it's Jenny Marples (Pushing The Right Buttons) with you today, and I'd like to share with you a handmade book that holds five mixed media double-page spreads, They feature images from the new Hot Picks stamp sets which have been used to enhance drawings of architectural structures seen in Venice.
For this topic Leandra has given us the challenge of expressing our unique, individual creative styles in the pieces we make. This is something which many people struggle to identify given that we usually develop our initial skills by replicating the techniques demonstrated of those we admire. If those creative 'heroes' come from an eclectic and varied mix of styles then it often means our own projects can end up equally varied so how do you know ultimately what your style is?
Having thought about this for several years I've come to the conclusion that actually you don't need to have a 'style' or unique 'voice'; the most important thing is that you enjoy the process of creating and end up feeling pleased with what you make. So for these pages I've gone with what I love, namely architecture, gel plate printing, collage, stitching and layering, all within the covers of a handmade book.
In taking you through the stages of creating these pages I hope to share with you some tips for what helps me to overcome some of the 'roadblocks' that inevitably crop up along the way, starting with that dreaded 'blank page'.
Knowing where to start puts many people off so I suggest taking large pieces of card/paper that can withstand getting wet (we are talking A3, A2 or even A1 size) and covering them with random smears of white gesso and one of the palest Fresco Finish Paints with a brayer or spatula (for this one I went with Cloud 9 but you could also use Snowflake, Chalk or even one of the slightly darker neutral shades). Add stencilling, again in random patches, using Grunge Paste and a PaperArtsy stencil of your choice (the one used here is Sara Naumann's PS219).
When dry I cover the whole lot with very weak solution of tea to add colour to the unpainted areas and give it all a more vintage look but this is step can be skipped if you'd like it to remain brighter.
I tore off some pieces of the tissue and stuck them around the arch shape with matte gel medium before drawing over the pencil lines with a permanent black pen, adding more detail as I went.
After drying the card/paper you can chop it up into smaller, more manageable pieces and you have a starting point for a project. Look at where there are spaces and where the stencilling is to help work out where to fit the focal point of your design; I planned out a few sketches using some of my personal photos for reference and drew in the outline of a doorway (based on the entrance to the Scola Spagnola Synagogue in Venice) between the stencilled dots using a regular pencil.
To add colour without panicking about messing things up I've taken to applying paint onto a small gel plate and pulling prints with wet strength tissue which can then be layered onto your background when you decide where you want them. You can end up with full blocks of colour on some pieces of the tissue and patches on others as the printing session progresses and layers build up. Save all these pieces of tissue in your stash and you always have bits for backgrounds or something to stamp on. You can see from the photo below I used a combination of Seaglass, Aquamarine, Haystack, Caramel, Peachy Keen, Blush and Scottish Salmon Fresco Finish Paints.
At this point I used a couple of the stamps from Hot Picks sets HP2101 and HP2102; whilst they have a science theme they can also be used to add detailed patterns over and behind other non-scientific images. Again if you feel nervous about this step try 'auditioning' the stamped images by applying them first to a piece of clear packaging and holding them over your project to see if they work.
On the second page below you'll see how I used part of the stamp to create an intricate balcony for the window by masking off the bottom with some copier paper - so much easier than drawing lots of fiddly bits of wrought iron!
Back to the doorway and I added some simple shading to the image with a black Stabillo All Aquarellable Pencil, pulling out some of the colour with a water brush. The same was done over the stamping at the top and bottom of the pages.
On the window below you'll see how colour was applied to the centre over the shading; since the stamping, drawing and shading were done with permanent ink/pen/pencil it meant I could then apply a layer of watercolour paint over the top without moving any of the layers below. You may also spot that an advantage of having started on an uneven base is that the paint looks lighter in some areas and darker in others due to the resist effect created by the gesso and paint underneath.
To complete each page spread I drew in a base line along the bottom, drew over the top of the main lines with a white gel pen to lessen their harshness, added some hand stitching and scraps of lace and stamped in a few phrases using the beautifully hand-scripted words from a number of Kay Carley's stamp sets.
You can see in the close ups of the first double-page spread how the completed pages have been layered onto assorted, neutral coloured scraps of paper and fabric. The pages were then added onto a hinged spine inside a book cover made using the Eileen Hull Designs Pocket Notebook Sizzix Scoreboards Die.
The second layout is based on a photo of part of the Doge's Palace in St Marks Square. The clocks at the top come from the Hot Picks stamp set HP2102 and the script between the arches is from HP2103.
If you don't feel entirely confident drawing arches freehand try creating templates from folded pieces of paper that can be drawn around. You can also mask off the outer parts of the arches by tracing over them onto more transparent packaging, cutting out the arch areas and using this over your drawing when stamping the script.
The window in the layout below is based on an amalgam of various windows in Venice. Originally it had a flat cornice at the top but this looked more French than Italian so a bit of artistic licence was applied.
The keys and tools from Hot Picks stamp set HP2101 look even more effective as that metalwork balcony when the white pen is used to highlight parts of them. And you can use a brickwork stencil as a guide when adding in the corner of a building to your layout, remembering that most of the buildings in Venice are crumbling in places so accuracy is discouraged!
With the centre of the archway being so open it is easier to see here how the various layers of paint and gesso have interact to create that uneven, worn look with very little effort. You could try adding dilute Infusions over the base to achieve a similar look.
To add some detailing above the arches I used one of the larger circular image from Hot Picks stamp set HP2102. When applying ink to the surface of a stamp where you just need one of the images you can use washi tape or masking tape over the ones you don't want seen, removing it before applying the inked part of the stamp to the surface.
Hopefully this post has given you a few tips, tricks and techniques to try when making your own pieces. Try looking to use your stamps outside their original context by adding them under and/or over your own drawings, and with an idea for creating neutral backgrounds hopefully you won't need to be faced with that fear of the 'blank page'.
Thanks so much for stopping by,