Organizing Supplies for Mixed Media Art on the Road

I recently returned from a mission trip to Mexico where one of the projects was to teach mixed media art to Christian educators. My congregation donated a variety of art supplies, and the team organized them in the hotel room prior to the teaching sessions. I'm not generally a neatsy-tidy person but when it comes to art supplies, they are nearly as user-friendly if they are not sorted and labeled for easy access. After we taught the workshops we had the participants find the correct tubs and sort/put away the various art supplies. The sorting lesson was probably as important as the art itself.
To label the tubs, we simply used washi tape (what we had available) to tape 3x5 index cards to the containers. If you mark directly on the tubs/lids then that tub is "committed" to the particular media and it looks messy when you shift supplies around as your art interests change.
I created a scaled down version of this for the travel art supplies I use when teaching art locally as part of the ministry of my church. It makes it a lot easier to have the "travel" materials designated; packed; always ready. That way you don't have to pack/unpack; pack/unpack every time you take the mixed media art show on the road.
Travel art for mixed media (locally) on the road.

Wine Corks and Stamped Flowers

I brought my usual mixed media collection of art supplies to Mexico for a week of mission followed by a week of R&R. During the mission week I taught a workshop on the integration of mixed media art with thoughtful reflection (AKA Artsy Theology). I decided to leave my stencils and stamps for the group there to continue using as there are super limited art supply options in Los Cabos, Mexico. During my second week-when I actually had time to do my own art journaling-I had to improvise with materials since I had left most of them for the mission church to use. It was a creative challenge to improvise for an alternative tool or material after I'd reach for a favorite tool only to remember I didn't have it after all.

These beautiful yellow flowers edged the pool at the resort where we stayed for our week of R&R. After looking at them for several days I couldn't resist adding them to my art journal, so I made a stamp out of a wine cork (I'd given all my stamps away) and used watercolors to "ink" the stamp (I'd given away my acrylics and stamp pads). The combination made a lovely, soft rendering of this beautiful flower.
One end of the cork is a small circle for the center of the flower.

One end of the cork is the petal shape.

Inspiring Reading on Mixed Media and Artsy Theology

While I was on mission in Mexico I brought a short stack of books for inspiring reading on the intersection of art theory, theology, and techniques for mixed media. Stay tuned for how the ideas in these books intersect through practical use in expressing ones thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, and faith...through mixed media art journaling.

Going Global

I'm going global on Thursday on a mission trip to the barrios of Los Cabos, Mexico with limited access to internet or the outside world. Skimming over journals from previous mission trips is a great reminder of the experience, lessons learned, friendships formed, and the experience overall. I will miss blogging for two weeks, but I will return full of fresh ideas and new artsy theology.

Group Dump Sheet Reflection & Communion Trumps All

I've shared the process and reflection for doing a "dump sheet self portrait" to help deal with life's hurts, habits, and hang-ups. This group version takes the same concept but applies it to relationships in a group dynamic. Choose a relationship and/or particular event with various key players involved. The people and setting will be the point of reflection...thinking on thinking of the people, place, relationship, and/or event. Next choose colors to represent each person. There are no rules; simply choose whatever color(s) you associate with each person in your designated group and size the pieces so that all will fit on your journal page. Then quickly write with a lead or colored pencil and "dump" out your feelings for each participate. Draw a head and shoulders for each person and cut out along the outer lines; glue in your journal. Add facial features and hair as desired. The point isn't to make these faces look like the people they represent; rather to by symbolic of each person. Feel free to be totally radical with the colors you select for the paper and the hair and facial features. Decorate the journal page before you adhere your group portraits. Title the theme of your reflection base on what is at the heart of what you are thinking about.
In my example "law vs. relationship" was the root issue.  So this became the "background title" which ultimately was nearly completely covered with the rest of the collaged elements. I toned down the stamped background with diluted white gesso. While I was doing the dump sheet writing on each person in the group I realized that what was at the heart of my role was (and is) communion in the fullest sense of the word. Communion through relationship and through the sacrament and significance of the Lord's Supper. I embellished this significance with stamped images from a block print.

I chose translucent papers as I wanted the background to to bleed into the people 

I used a custom stamp "communion" to provide a simple title with another block print on top of the collage for emphasis.

Simple Shapes: bar soap on black gesso with colored pencils

My favorite flower from the years we lived on Cape Cod.
A simple way to capture the essence of a memory is to use the edge of a bar of soap to draw the bold shape onto black paper (or black gesso coated on a journal page) of something symbolic of a person, place, or event. Cover the entire page with colored pencils, and better quality pencils will generate the boldest colors upon completion of the technique. After the page is completely colored over, you will rinse off the soap under running water. If you are using a single piece of black art paper this is easy-peasy. If you are doing this in your art journal on black gessoed pages is it a little trickier because you need to protect the rest of the book. Fold wax paper on the pages immediately before and after and insert a paper towel for good measure. Get the tap running and quickly run the artwork back-and-forth under the running water. DO NOT rub the art or more of the pencil will wash away.
A favorite flowering bush (hydrangea); this has not been rinsed.
 Remove the protective inserts and barely blot the wet page with paper towels. Use a hair drier to completely dry the art.
My mother once said when she visited us that "the only thing you can see is trees." When I visited Cape Cod after having been away for several years I realized that she was exactly right! This simple image captures the view of trees on Route 3 from Logan Airport down to the Cape...tail lights and trees all the way. Nothing else!

Notice the protective pages added before rinsing in tap water.

This needs to be done very quickly to avoid spoiling other pages.

The rinsed page.