Masking Tape and Sponge Painting

Use masking tape to mask a pattern of squares or rectangles and sponge paint each block differently.
Coat an altered book double-spread with white gesso and create a pattern with masking tape.
Have fun with wet and dry sponge painting in the different blocks.

Carefully remove the masking tape once the watercolors are dry. Voila! Ready for whatever the next journal art layer(s).

Exposed words will set the theme for the additional layers of art and reflection.

Travel Light

 Prepping some background pages before a road trip means you can travel light with your art supplies. I painted white gesso on several pages in an altered book art journal and then did some fast prep with acrylic glazes and watercolors around exposed words and/or glued on words...something to spark reflecting thinking and creative art once I added some washi tape for easy pizzazz and rubber stamping on some pages. I'm on the road. I packed a small selection of colored pencils, travel-sized watercolors, and a variety of styles and widths of markers and pens. All the complicated and messy materials are staying home.

Abstract Art Reflection on Advent

 In preparation for Christmas, I've begun fiddling with ideas in my art journal which could be used for art with kids, teens, and adults during the season of Advent. I gave myself a challenge to "paint Advent" without using least to primarily paint and not use words! I began with exposed words "Our entire existence is swollen with God's unconditional love" as the basis for the artistic interpretation and added a layer of "Peace on earth" with rubber stamping across the pages which had been covered with white gesso. The traditional color of Advent is purple (though blue is coming into vogue), so I used various shades of purple to create an abstract expression of the four weeks of preparation for the birth of the Christ child. I've been looking at the "completed" pages for a week now; I keep resisting topping it off with a series of words. For now it is complete; time may change that!

VBS 'Dump Sheet'

Doing a "dump sheet" in your art journal is a quick way to jot down key moments you want to remember about a particular event or activity. Here I used four colors of pilot markers to write down the positive points of our week-long vacation Bible school. The journal page is in an altered book which was layered with white gesso and then spritzed with the fabric sprays we had used in one of the VBS activities. The simple layout also includes the group photo from VBS and my name badge. I used the block print from the t-shirts we had made at VBS to imprint the theme design with orange acrylic paint across the center of the journal page. The stacked journaling words describe the experiences of the week. Every time I flip through my journal it will be a reminder of the love and joy and fun and community of this this special week.

Prayer Flag Illustrates Prayers of the Congregation

 This simple project is made by using an old sheet cut into rectangles and Pentel Fabric Fun Pastel Dye Sticks and/or fabric stencils and stamps with specialty fabric ink pads. The completed piece is ironed to "set" the colors.
 The children at summer VBS made prayer flags to illustrate the various local and global missions that the church participates in. The individual flags are made from a white sheet that had been cut into rectangles with pinking shears and then the pieces ironed smooth.

 An adult prepared the flags with the words of the various missions using foam letters and fabric ink. During the teaching time, the leader talked about the ways this particular church serves the local and global community. For example, teens and adults volunteer at Connections, a shelter for teens at risk; the pastor helps with two new church developments (Filipino-Austin and Bastrop); a mission team goes to the barrios in Los Cabos, Mexico to work with women and children and the Cabo Kids mission; the church sponsors a child in Ethiopia through Compassion International, and the church supports local food banks.

He Came He Died He Rose He Ascended He's Coming Back

The Jesus Way VBS Banner

Tempura paint ready to imprint hands on the muslin banner.

 The completed banner has the hand prints of the children who attended summer VBS. The children chose their favorite color and then leaned over on the banner to imprint their hands. It was a super way to involve the children from tots to teens. The pain is tempura so totally washable. We had the banner prepped with the theme (Witness the Jesus Way) and the symbols. The imprint of the hands represents BEING the witness of Jesus through the actions of our actions/lives-symbolized by the and prints.

Block Imprint(ed) Tee Shirts

 Use craft foam to cut out designs, glue on wood blocks, and make "custom" block printing images for t-shirts. We used the theme "He came; He died; He rose; He ascended; He's coming back" theme to make custom shirts for our VBS with the theme: Witness the Jesus Way. We had everyone BYO their own shirt in whatever style they chose. They selected three complementary colors of fabric paint and "spritzed" their shirt front and back. The fabric paint dries fairly quickly, particularly in the Texas HOT summer heat. TIP: Make your own fabric sprays by mixing 1/3 acrylic paint to 2/3 water in a small (hairspray) bottle OR refill the fabric spray bottles using the same paint-to-water ratio. After the spritzed paint dries use already prepared block prints to imprint the five symbols. Have teens or adults help the smaller children do the block imprint.  TIP: do a prototype ahead of time so the design concept is readily available for everyone to see. Also, begin your design by positioning the middle element and imprinting it first in the center; otherwise you might misjudge the amount of space and run out of room on either side. To avoid this, begin in the center and work your way out.
 Use a paintbrush to "load" the stamp with acrylic paint. Position the imprint slightly below the neckline so it is "above" the chest. Press the block with a firm hand that doesn't wiggle/move the stamp once it is placed on the fabric. The same homemade block stamps can be customized for virtually any "chunky" design that doesn't require a lot of detail.
Begin in the center and work out.

The completed imprint.

June: Sew In Love

 The catalyst for this art page was dragging my sewing machine out of storage so I could sew two simple seams for a summer VBS project. As long as the sewing machine was finally set up & threaded, I figured I might as well see what happens when you sew fabric to a journal page. This altered book journal was originally about the twelve month cycle of a particular garden. I left "June" as the single exposed word when I went through and randomly painted various pages with white or black gesso. Because I always think of June as "our month" since is our wedding anniversary I figured the artwork would ultimately have something to do with love and marriage. I kept flipping past these two blank pages until one day I had a super short time to experiment with sewing in a journal, and these blank black gesso pages jumped out. I spritzed fabric paint on the right side, and I sewed fabric on the left page with strips sitting in a pile I uncovered that I had cut for quilting 9+ years ago. Then I layered cut pieces of fancy handmade paper cut in the shape of a heart and topped it with H + M cut out of thin silk ribbon.

The back side of the page shows the purple thread (I thought it was black when I put the bobbin in the sewing machine) and the pattern of the stitching on the "front" side of the page. As you can see I used straight edge and zig-zag stitch and inadvertently created interested texture to begin another journal page.

Texture tools

A slow cruise up and down the aisles of your favorite (super-sized) hardware store is an excellent way to find "art" tools to create texture.

The selection here includes items from hardware, septic & plumbing, fencing, ventilation, and door/ framing. Each item has multiple possibilities to use for stenciling, imprinting, texturing, and dragging the paint/medium across the journal page. Much experimentation and JOY is awaiting.