Pinwheels always make me happy. There’s something about the way they dance with the breeze and shine in the sun — something so cheerful and unabashedly positive about them! There are plenty of plastic pinwheels to go around, so I thought wouldn’t it be fun to create them out of colorful paper? This was such a fun project to execute for Gelli Arts® and Michael’s.
I am sure if you look around your studio, you will find lots of gel pate printed papers waiting to be turned into pinwheels! I ended up distributing these to the kids on our street and got multiple requests on learning how to make them.
If you’ve already taken a gel plate printing class with me and have stacks of paper sitting around, this would be the perfect summertime activity to do with kids! If you’d like to learn how to make complex, unique and colorful patterned papers, consider taking one of my self-paced online courses.
I’ve been into making books lately for most of my projects but this time I decided to use Opaque White Craft Plastic as my substrate. It may look just like paper, but this craft plastic has distinct advantages over paper.
It is a film that is strong, smooth, waterproof surface, wipeable, and heat resistant, making it perfect for use with a wide range of mediums and techniques! I know I’m going to love exploring so many mixed media techniques in this new journal.
I’m not sure what this journal will be called but it is going to be home to all my one-minute practice portraits created on dictionary paper with water-soluble pencils and crayons.
These one-minute portraits allowed me to go easy on myself. They forced me to go fast, be nimble, not overthink the process and, above all, gave me permission to fail. Because, really, how perfect a face can one make in a minute? When I look at these faces by themselves I may not like them but when given the context of that one-minute time frame, I can say, “Heck, I did a pretty good job making a recognizable face!”
It’s not failure. It’s progress. And now, as part of this mixed media journal, these faces are taking on a new life, a new form, a new Avatar.
I hope you enjoy the creation of this first spread and I can’t wait to share how the rest of this journal will shape up.
I could say “I am bad at making faces” and never attempt to make any. Or I could say, “The faces I make don’t look like a portrait artist’s, but I can continue practicing and maybe, some day, they’ll look good enough to me.”
Well, I’m choosing to say the latter. Each of these were made in under a minute on dictionary paper.
Why under a minute? Because I am not trying to perfect the art of portraiture. I am merely trying to loosen myself up, get over my fear and not think while I am sketching and coloring. The one-minute deadline allows me to go easy on myself. It forces me to work fast and be nimble.
It gives me permission to fail. And be ok with it…because when I look at these faces given the context of that one-minute time frame, I can say, “Heck, I did a pretty good job making a recognizable face!”
It’s not failure. It’s progress.
I don’t like these faces. Far from it. But I own them with pride. Because progress, in my books, is the same as success 🙂
I try to embrace white space and paint “neatly” but when I am done, I almost always don’t like what I have created. And then I scribble and “mess it up” to feel more like me.
It’s almost like a visual representation of the life I am “expected” to lead and the one I’ve decided to make for myself.
It’s messy, it’s unappealing to most, it’s probably even sloppy…but it feels authentic to me. And isn’t that all that matters? How my art makes ME feel…I don’t do it to appease anyone. I definitely don’t do it to become like someone else.
My art is purely my way of being…it relieves me of my “living.” It’s a magical place where I can get lost and feel unencumbered.
When I make paintings like these in my watercolor journal, it’s never with the intent of sharing. But I share here to encourage you to make the art you WANT to make, not what you feel like you HAVE to make.
No one has to see what you’re creating…keep it a secret; try something out that you have always wanted to and “fail” at it. Do it because you want to. Because you need to. For you.
Not everything I touch is amazing but it doesn’t have to be. I make because I want to make. And that is enough.
The base and the top are both made from Grafix Dura-lar, a heat-resistant polyester film that is a mix of acetate and mylar. I love its translucency and durability for both gel plate printing and alcohol ink play.
The word “believe” is part of my affirmation words printed on copy paper using my home printer.
The base of the bookmark (with the deep pinks) is part of an alcohol ink painting. The top is a gel plate print in diffused colors made with pastels and acrylic paint. The die cut butterflies (Sizzix) are from the same alcohol ink painiting used to create the base of the bookmark. The die cut flower (Spellbinders) is also from scraps of an alcohol ink painting I had done for my nightlight project. And the “window” is part of the Sizzix framelits collection.
I’ve recently purchased a crop-a-dile so I can reinforce the punch holes but given that Dura-lar is non-tearable (is that a word?), I don’t fear any damage. The bookmark lays flat inside a book and is really lightweight.
I love how, when you look through, the flower almost appears to be floating 🥰
I hope this inspires you to watch Jennifer’s videos, use your scraps and create something beautiful today!
I’ll start by saying that I am not an acrylic artist, I don’t paint on canvases (usually) and I don’t know much about layering over wet paint. But I know that I love playing with colors, I enjoy experimenting and I am intrigued by mixing colors and mediums willy-nilly!
So, last morning when my kiddo suggested we do something new together, I asked if she’d like to paint on a canvas outside. We set up a table in our backyard with back-to-back easels, our paint supplies within arm’s reach and listened to the birds chirp as we got busy.
In under an hour, my canvas had gone from being plain white to a symphony of colors, textures and movement.
You can see in the video how organic my process is and how “random” my strokes are. The only thing I really decided before we set up was my color palette: transparent red, phthalo blue and cadmium yellow acrylic paints. Halfway through, I decided to use green and red acrylic ink drips which then got incorporated into the painting.
I didn’t have a vision when I started this painting. In fact, I had no idea it would end up becoming what it did. There is a lot of “in the moment” choices I make when painting…rarely giving them the luxury of thought. It’s more of what “feels” right — and I know many of you wonder how I determine that, especially since I don’t rely on color theory or refer to the color wheel. I just “know.”
But how? Well, here’s my simple answer. I think of what makes me happy, without judgment. I no longer have to silence that critic in my head that tells me I’m no artist…because I have decided that I am. I am an artist just as much as my seven-year-old is. I have given myself the permission to evaluate my art through the lens of an unencumbered child.
There is no rule of thirds to follow or tangential lines to avoid….I don’t ascribe to the dictat of never using paints straight out of the tube nor do I follow the rule of not poking the canvas with my brush. It’s just me, my brushes and my colors…and the freedom to use my tools wantonly.
My secret is: being in the moment, savoring the journey and having fun!
I hope that this painting gives you the freedom to paint for yourself, to feel the joy that comes from “random” selections and to relish the story as it unfolds. That blank canvas is your invitation to play — what are you waiting for?
I keep getting a lot of questions around what mixed media is and how scary it feels, so I thought I’ll share this video with you showing just how easily something can come together and be called “mixed media.”
Mixed media is essentially mixing two or more different mediums. When you work on the gel plate, for example, and use alcohol inks and acrylic paint, the print you pull will already be a mixed media piece. Similarly, if you’re a cardmaker and have used stamping inks and dies over a watercolor painting, you’ve created a mixed media piece. When you start adding collage fodder (die cut pieces, art marks, doodles, stenciled scraps, washi tape, fabric, ribbon etc.), the mixed media pieces become more complex.
You don’t need to make it too complicated. In fact, layering washi tape over printed paper and adding some cohesive stamp/stencil marks throughout is sometimes just enough. And that’s where the beauty of mixed media lies. You can really use things in your stash and create something that is so unique and so personal to you.
Simple doodles, stuck die cuts and simple script stamps can instantly make something ordinary come alive. What I love about mixed media is that it allows you to explore unchartered territories and follow your heart. There are no rules. I’m, honestly, making stuff up as I go along. And therein lies a freedom that I don’t find in any other kind of “arting.”
I hope this video and these words will help you feel inspired and encouraged. While we aren’t accepting any new explorers into the Let Loose with Mixed Media workshop, I do hope that posts like these will nudge you to try out something new and do it afraid.
Sometimes we get caught in the “what will I do with this?” or get too worried about things not being perfect for social media consumption. The making of this journal will advise you against overthinking.
You just need to look around, pick things out from your stash that you haven’t used in a while and commit 10 minutes to doing one page. Pour your heart out in it and walk away. It’s like instant therapy, trust me.
I recorded the above process video at 8 a.m., quickly stitched these patterned papers on my sewing machine, added the prints and the writings, hand-bound the pages together, recorded the show-and-tell video, took photos and post-processed them and shared the results at 10:30 a.m. across my social media channels. The actually creation time was less than an hour. But that’s for an ENTIRE journal. If you make just 10 minutes for your self, today, you could have a journal by the end of the week! How amazing is that?
These videos were created in March 2021, but I’m just getting around to sharing this evergreen bit of advice with you now. And do you know what is the best part about investing these 10 minutes in yourself every day? The zen it brings into your day spills over into other parts of your life. I find I’m happier or less grouchy, however my family wants to perceive it, and feel the spirit of giving more deeply throughout the day when I’ve had some time to myself to simply create.
Making time for art doesn’t have to take up your whole day…and you don’t have to do ALL of this in one sitting either. You do what brings YOU joy but I am here to help you keep it real and enjoy the process 🙂
The original stamp has a flamingo float in the pool. I modified that since I wanted another smaller ball in there creating a splash to go with the sentiment. For the big ball, I colored it first with pencils, then added Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film on top so I could adhere the glitter. I also fussy cut through the sections in the ball to create a frame.
Watch the video to see how this simple frame on the big ball gives it so much dimension. It’s interesting to see an idea come to fruition in this way especially since it didn’t start out being a mixed media piece. Gel plate prints, distress inks, colored pencils, collaging, glitter and sparkle…this card has it all!
This is only one of the many gorgeous stamps that are part of this new release. I hope you’ll give the others a look, too.
And if you’re here from the blog hop, you’ve arrived from Caly’s blog and you’re visiting Kassi next. Colorado Craft Company is hosting another giveaway! All you need to do, is leave a comment on each blog for a chance to win. The giveaway ends on July 2 at midnight Mountain Daylight Time. The winners will be announced on the Colorado Craft Company blog and email blast on Monday, July 5.
It’s no secret that I love rainbows. And you know how much I adore my gel plate. Functional art has always been close to my heart, so I figured I’d use my gel plate to create rainbow votives! It’s fun to bring my crazy ideas to fruition and especially cool when the process isn’t too involved.
I have been lighting candles in these every day and it’s really given the ambience in our living room a huge lift. I can also see these being used in our backyard in the summer. Have you ever tried making something like this with your gel plate? It works with frosted jars as well! And if you seal the paints with two coats of spray varnish, the colors will stay just as vibrant as the day you pulled the prints.
Many moons ago, I had done a more involved votive-painting project with alcohol inks. They used to be my best-selling home-decor item at craft fairs.
I hope this inspires you to make your own unique home decor project in summer. Let me know in the comments which look you prefer.