Monday, May 15, 2017

Circles and Walls

In my last post I mentioned that I was taking a class by Tammy Garcia at Daisy Yellow Art that was introducing me to new products and techniques. I have loved painting with my fingers ever since I started painting circles (see post here and tutorial here). So when Tammy introduced her technique called The Wall, and she did it with her fingers, I was hooked! I thought I would share a few insights and tips on the pages I made from this technique. I didn't plan on doing this post so I didn't take pictures along the way. I also will not share many details of the actual Wall technique in order to not infringe on Tammy's class material.

This was my first attempt at The Wall technique:

I loved the grungy look that resulted from the technique, but I don't think I used enough paint on this one. In figuring out the differences between the heavy body acrylic paint I was introduced to in this class, and the craft acrylic paints I usually use, the opacity of the heavy body acrylic requires using it a bit more and in layers to achieve the look I want. I tend to like the text of my background paper to peak through the paint. I usually get this effect by painting the paper with gesso before I paint it with color. However, it was recommended in the class that for these techniques that we NOT use gesso. At some point, though, I will experiment with gesso and the heavy body acrylic paints.

The next session added circles on top of The Wall technique. Now, if you have followed me for a while then you know how much I like circles. They pop up often on  my art journal pages, often without any forethought or planning. So, I was all about this project!

As I played I decided to put my own twist on the project - also no big surprise for me! But I think that is the beauty of taking classes or using tutorials - we learn new techniques and then add our own unique styles to them, rather then making cookie cutter copies of the artist's original. In the class we are using an altered book art journal for our class projects. I decided to do this piece on a loose piece of paper. One of my favorite types of paper to use to make background pages for my art journals is index pages from older atlases.

There a few reasons why I like this particular paper:

  • It's large - anywhere from 9x12" up to 12x16".
  • It's heavyweight, especially those from the older books. The weight of the paper holds multiple layers of paint well. And I enjoy building on layers of paint to achieve the types of backgrounds I enjoy.
  • The text is tiny, like in a dictionary, but dictionary paper is usually fairly thin. Tiny text makes for a wonderful subtle background. 
  • The older books generally used a cream paper, which ages to a nice tan-ish patina, while newer atlases use a brighter white paper. I'm sure it doesn't really matter too much what color the background paper is since I cover most of it with paint, but in my mind I think that the whiter paper affects the paint color. I'll have to test that theory at some point. Besides, I just like the patina of aged things!

I played for a long time, layering the paint, until I achieved the look I wanted. Then I tore the finished Wall page into strips and glued them slightly out-of-line onto a page in my class art journal. Although it's subtle, I like the effect of the torn, out-of-line strips on the background. I then added my circles using my favorite types of vintage ephemera, and used both a black Stabilo-All pencil and a black Neo-Colors II watercolor crayon to get the shading around the circles. The finishing touch was spattering paint in black and white.

I was quite happy with the results, and for a change, I didn't add any words to this page. I think words would actually take away from it rather than enhance it.

I had enough of the Wall paper leftover to make a background page in my Traveler's Notebook.

As always, you can find packs of ephemera papers in my Etsy shop. I may even create packs of vintage index pages since I have SO many atlases! Give me your thoughts on that in the comments below.

Thank you to my friend, Diane Kundrat, for encouraging me to write about some of my techniques and tips on my blog. Diane lives in Arizona and we have been online friends for 5-6 years as a result of my blog. A few weeks ago we finally got to meet in person in Cleveland where we spent an afternoon art supply shopping together!


  1. WOW - thanks for the technique. I do love the results of your work. You are such an inspiration. I had no idea you were using the indexes of old atlases. I too have several, okay, many, and never knew what to do with the index pages. My initial attraction to them were the maps of course. I totally agree with your reasons. New idea! Yippee! Thank you and have a super day.

    1. Thanks Brenda! Since I make a lot of altered book journals I am always looking for ways to use the insides. I, too, bought them for the map pages but with experimentation comes wonderful inspiration! Enjoy! And thank you for visiting my blog. :)

  2. Love this! I liked reading about your reasoning behind your choices of materials. You explain your methods so clearly. I learned a lot today. Keep up the good work!

    1. I'm so glad you liked this post, Diane! I will continue to share my process and tips. Thanks for following along with me. :)

  3. I liked your tutorial a lot. Thanks. X

  4. WOW! You amaze me! So very cool! Hugs, Autumn

  5. I remembered when I followed your tutorial to make my first altered book while in HKC, Mary, and came back this afternoon to refresh myself on your fine processes. This year I'm writing "my story" along with art using old family photos, memorabilia, etc. This afternoon has been set aside to prep a bunch of those wonderful pages for the art using what you've described here and in her altered book tutorial. I have always loved the simplicity and beauty of your work. Thought of you yesterday when I made a little rolodex art cart with one of the birds you sent me as a gift with a pak I ordered from your etsy store. Thank you for always inspiring me, Mary, you are a blessing!

  6. Magical card so very lovely ;O) love watercolouring and torn paper your work is uniq ;O)
    i will follow you. please come to my blog if you like i make such things to..with stamp and so on..have a nice day ;O)