Two more new (to me) art journal techniques

Last week I started the second round of my Mixed Media Workshop. Artist John Arbuckle, our fearless leader and teacher par excellence, welcomed us to "Level 2." Wow -- we didn't even realize we'd graduated from Level 1! Or even that it was "Level 1."

John had prepared a new signature of pages for our art journals. In this session, he would show us how to make our own stencil silhouettes and photo transfers. 

Backgrounds first

To prep the backgrounds, we applied white gesso to 2 spreads and dried them using hair dryers (sorry about blowing your fuses, John). For the first spread, we chose a color and slathered cheap acrylic paint across the pages. The falling leaves and approaching holiday led me to choose orange. 
When the paint dried, we poured a little white gesso on deli paper and then rolled a brayer in the paint. To remove some of the paint, we rolled the wet brayer on a dry section of the deli paper. Then we applied the gesso to the painted spread. The patches of white desaturated the color a little and gave the background a distressed look.

For the second spread, we did something completely different. We grabbed some magazine pages and ephemera without too much thought. We tore them into rectangles of various sizes and glued them to the spread using matte medium. John calls this background a "quilt," for obvious reasons.
Silhouette stencil

John had already culled photos that would make good silhouettes, shots of a full body in an expressive pose. We chose our favorite, cut it out, and glued it to plain white paper (fairly thick) with matte medium. Once it dried, we carefully cut around the photo using an Xacto knife. We had to make a continuous line with the knife since we'd be using both the stencil and the mask (the photo itself).

Here's mine.

Sassy, isn't she? And zaftig, like yours truly. She ended up on my orange pages, both mask and stencil. Those tiny pieces held to the paper with blue tape are the spaces in between her legs and under her arm.

I added a few other marks as well, along with tissue paper, pieces of a Chinese calendar and cocktail napkins. Here's what my final spread looked like.

Photo transfer

This was the second transfer technique John has shown us. (The first used clear packing tape). John had found old photos online and printed them out using a Laser printer (this technique won't work with inkjet prints). I chose an especially fetching young lady. 

First we slathered white paint on the spots where the transfers would end up. We put the printouts, face down, on the paint while it was still wet, and then rubbed the back to hurry along the transfer. Once the paint was completely dry, we spritzed the back of the photo with water and carefully rubbed off the paper. Voila! The image had transferred to the white paint on the page.

I added more color using spray ink and black lines using paint and the edge of a credit card.


  1. Fabulous spreads Claudia, I love your layering and collaging, you have it in the tip of your fingers :-)

    1. Thank you, Ruth! I'm happy with the second collage, too. What do they say, "Let your fingers do the art-ing!"

  2. You did really great with all the techniques. I love the results. You definitely have an artist backbone. :-) Glad you had fun!

  3. These look wonderful, Claudia! It's always fun to try new things and move out of our comfort zones. We learn so much when we take the chance.


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