Teaching my students the importance of play when it comes to understanding the heart of an artist is one of the most important lessons I can send forth. So many times they want to capture the realism of an object to help their minds reinforce the “I am now an artist” mindset, but I nudge them in the direction of learning they are an artist because they can create, especially when they play as they create. Realism, if their heart wants to take them there, will come.
Art journals give the creatives in the world a playground to let their true spirits soar! Modeling this, especially for the young, shows them they have their very own space to explore, learn, make messes, and find what makes their hearts buzz with excitement. Today, during Free Sketchbook practice, I modeled taking a page with random marks and turning into a raw, whimsical piece having to do with friendship, diversity, and connection. It was also a great lesson to show that ‘mistake’ pages can be redeemed with great value.
Use crayons, oil pastels, and graphite to make random marks on the page.
Alternate your marks using text, lines, and colors. Using fluid acrylics, start adding thin glazes of color wherever your heart leads you.
Once your page has the first layers of colors and marks, give your inner child permission to find the little beings present in your artwork. Googley eyes, big heads, crowns, or sweet lips are all elements that can enhance your these figures. Don’t over think them by trying to make them look “right” just let them look like they had a romp of a good time on the playground. If it helps, use your non-dominant hand to draw them.
Once your figures are drawn, use your background to layer, mark, and glaze using blocks or chunks of color. If your figure’s heads are light, make the background darker so they will come forward and vice versa. Use lines and patterns to add juicy tidbits, and pay attention to contrast as you play.
Up Close Image of the page
My finished page below shows my version of two best fine friends hanging out. It brings to me memories of how eclectically odd we each may be, but when we find the friend who loves us for our weirdness and has a little bit of weirdness too, we know they are meant for us and us for them. A little part of me knows that type of friendship is very rare in life, so this page, for me, celebrates the knowing of that.
Art journaling is all about play. There are a million or so ways one can work within the pages of an art journal, but the most important one is simply to begin. Leave rules and expectations outside the book and dive in.
Tips for Fine Artists
If you are already an artist who is working on building a body of work and achieving a looser look in your mixed media pieces this style of journaling is the PERFECT place to try some new color palettes, marking techniques, and strategies before you land on your canvas. If you look in the up close images, you can see I have glazed at least 3 different layers to achieve some of these colors. I fell in LOVE with the striped contrast and the glazing effect on the bottom of the page so I will use those again in some larger pieces.
Using water soluble graphite is a great way to add contrast and value changes in your mark making. The black bleeds which gives a subtle greying effect to a black bleed. Deliciously yummy.