Cheesecloth and Acrylic

2 for 1 background with cheesecloth painted over and removed to create the illusion of texture (white gesso background) and then repurposed and painted over with acrylic medium (black gesso background) to create actual texture and a new look. Cheesecloth step #1 idea from "Acrylic Revolution" by Nancy Reyner
Place cheesecloth on page; paint with acrylic glazes that have been thinned slightly. Allow to dry 10-15 minutes; remove cheesecloth while paint is slightly tacky. I thought it would be fun to repurpose the painted cheesecloth onto another journal which had been prepped with black gesso. I painted a thick coat of acrylic medium and "glued down" the cheesecloth. [Protect the other pages with sheets of wax paper.]Force dry with a hair dryer and then trim the edges. Two backgrounds from one technique.

Drum Circle

 Mixed media illustration of my experience participating for the first time in a drum circle with 12 female pastors who were taking a workshop "Women, Voice, and Preaching" at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The session was about finding one's voice and included reflecting on how voice might be silenced. It was loud, creative, fun, empowering, and healing as we pounded on the drums and shared our experiences in women, voice, and preaching. I whited out two pages with "healing" left as the exposed word. I traced around the bottom of an acrylic glaze bottle to position the circles that represent the twelve women plus the three mini circles for the percussion drums (top left). Then layers of transparent watercolors in brown and gold tones in a circular motion. I used opaque watercolors to outline the circles for the drums and then glued 12 different types of art papers to represent the unique voices of each woman and each drum.

Post-Workshop Reflection

 Two weeks after taking a 3-day workshop in Women, Voice, and Preaching I finally slowed down long enough to really think about what I had learned and what goals I wanted to set for myself as a result of the preaching refresher course. The bottom layer is a collaged collection of various materials from the course including name badge, parking permit, course overview, and a portion from a bumper sticker from a field trip to a drum studio. The top layer is the reflection: what I personally want to do during
 the coming months. In particular, I want to take (more) time in my sermon prep process because it is something that often goes to the back burner in the craziness of being organizing pastor of a new church with zero staff support. I also want to investigate the possibility of new style(s). The question marks represent the openness to the end result of the key theme: EXPERIMENT. I put a date in the bottom right corner and set a goal for intentional experimenting in a variety of areas (written in white pencil) over the course of the summer. Result: TBA. Meantime...let the experimenting begin!

The Power of Preaching

 Cover a journal page with black gesso; allow to dry (or force dry) and write on the gesso using the edge of a white bar of soap (left) and then color over the entire page using colored pencils (Prismacolor work the best). I had taken a workshop on preaching where the professor asked participants to name what we liked about the actual action of preaching. In other words: why preach? I created this reflection piece which names my experience of preaching (below).
 Cover the entire piece with colored pencils-coloring over/across the soap lines. Generally this technique is done on black art paper and NOT in a journal because the final step is to put the paper under running water and rinse off the soap, which, of course, can damage other pages in a bound journal. Because I have damaged pages in journals rinsing the book directly under the tap, I thought it might work to take damp paper towel and gently remove the soap. It became evident that it was NOT the same! It rubbed off the pencil (below). I stopped wiping as soon I realized the damage I had been doing.
 I remarked the soap on the same lines I had previously drawn, reworked with the same color pencils, and put the reworked pages under the kitchen sink so the tap water rinsed off the soap. It takes a lot of paper towels to mop up the pages in front and behind, but it is one of my favorite art techniques and worth the mess/risk.

Prayers for Life, Marriage and Kids

Prayers for the life, marriage and children of a couple whose marriage hit a point of crisis: looking for a better way, you can do it, and (hidden under the broken heart) FEAR NOT!

 I had no specific plans when I set out to spend an evening making messes with my art supplies. I simply wanted to experiment with techniques, materials, and colors. I layered bright colors of acrylic onto black gesso using various Catalyst series rubber paint applicators. I force dried each layer with a hair dryer. During the painting process I had been reflecting on my prayers for newlyweds who were at a point of crisis in their marriage. Unintentionally, the art became a prayer for their marriage. The vertical black letter on the left was made with a stencil and black marker and represents the "alphabet" of possibilities. "LIFE, MARRIAGE, KIDS" are my specific prayers for this marriage and I stenciled the letters with white gesso.
 I have a small box which has random cut-out words and phrases. I dug through this box and selected phrases to add to my prayer. I added a photograph of the couple which I cut in the shape of a heart and then sliced the heart apart to represent the brokenness of their marriage. The heart stamp (made from a wine cork) dipped in acrylic paint sealed the prayer with love.

Artful Prayer

I prepare backgrounds randomly in my altered book journals when I have the time and inclination and art materials readily accessible. Then, as events in life unfold I look for one of the previously prepared backgrounds and exposed words which appropriate for the reflection. I was attending a seminar in Arlington, TX when the deadly tornado ripped through Oklahoma on May 20, 2013. We paused for intentional prayer for the victims, the families, first responders, and the search and rescue process. My mind and heart remained distracted from the colloquy lectures with thoughts and prayers for Oklahoma. Instead of taking notes of the speaker presenting about the significance of language in the Minor Prophets (final 12 chapters in the Old Testament), I created an artful prayer for Oklahoma.
 I used stacked journaling (writing on writing) for my prayers which took the shape of a funnel cloud. I made three passes of a doodle edge (continuous line around the parameter of the page) to signify the flatted houses, hospital, businesses, and schools. The exposed words ["I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted"] correlated with the death and loss of the Oklahoma twister. The background had been made from white gesso topped with acrylic glaze and a background stamp with orange ink.

I used pencils and markers and chose browns, rusts, and orange because they remind me of the earth tones in this state.

Bats Keep Austin Weird

The city's proud slogan "Keep Austin Weird" is the perfect conversation partner for a theological reflection on a "sunset cruise" to see the 750,000 bats fly out from underneath the Congress Street Bridge in downtown Austin. The $10 cruise lasts an hour and includes trivia commentary on the bat population by the tour guide plus a spectacular view of the city skyline AND the bats flying out from underneath the bridge at sunset. The excursion was part of the Women, Voice, and Preaching workshop hosted by Education Beyond the Walls at Austin Seminary. 100% recommended!
Altered book art which combines two perspectives from reference photographs taking during the sunset bat tour. I began by using black gesso to paint two pages in the journal, leaving the exposed words "capturing the light." Next, I painted layers of Golden acrylic glaze in mauve and metallic copper light using diagonal brush strokes. I used black Prismacolor 05 fine line markers for the city skyline and bridge, a silver metallic pen for the clouds, and stamped letters for the words.
Swarms of bats leaving from under the bridge.
Free viewing from the bridge.
A pink metallic pen creates the three rings of faint pink clouds that were visible in the camera (but not to the naked eye).
Mop brush dabbed in black gesso recreates the swarms of bats.