Symbols & Shapes of First Love Letters

The pink "Gelato" looks like lipstick as the top layer here.
I put together this mixed media journal entry of a mixture of dating memorabilia and first love letters (1978): from my boyfriend (now spouse) to me; and me to him. The mish-mash tells (me) the story of our first dates and first love. What was most interesting to me was that we each wrote to the other while we were living in the same building (military barracks): Mike was on the 3rd floor and I was on the 2nd. Even now I remember what a thrill it was to go to my mail box and see an envelope from this sweet guy! The first letter postmarked Aug. 3, 1978 is just shy of a month after our first date. We were clearly in love! It is a great thing to find and (re)read 36 years later! I topped it off with the M+H and hearts/graffiti using a "Gelato" by Faber-Castell (kind of like a soft oil pastel) which gave it the lipstick feeling of the 70s. Also, my husband had recently texted me a photo of M+H with hearts that was written in chalk on the sidewalk at the park where he walks during lunch. The simple mark on the journal page tied the past with the present.
I cleaned off the excess acrylic paint from a brayer from another art project on this page. It added interesting character.

Private Moments: Love Letters & Reflection

What great joy to re-read old love letters and then to think reflectively about what these early letters meant and mean in our married life TODAY. After reading through the letters I collaged bits & pieces onto a journal page; added a photo of each of us from that time-frame, and then began to think about what all this was saying/meaning. I chose the symbols of the sunflower (the official state flower of my childhood home/Kansas) and the movement of the wave (to represent Southern California and my beloved's childhood home). I'm sure there's probably another layer that could be added on top of this...for now, this is what I'm thinking and feeling.

Sunflower and waves: KS meets So Cal.

Stenciling: Kansas Girl Loves So Ca Boy

The letters and two old photographs.
The finished page.

Gelli Art Printing for Ministry and Mission

We took the Gelli Art gel printing plate on the road to a local shelter for teens-at-risk where we created miniature masterpieces. It was a bit chaotic with 15 teens; three plates, limited table space, and two adults supervising, but SUPER FUN and MUCH JOY!
 First: the participants used tempura paint and big foam stamps to put symbols on a piece of watercolor paper card stock that could later be folded and used as a notecard. Then they used liquid acrylic on the gel plate to create a mono print on top of the stamped image. Some opted to use the excess paint to press a "ghost" image on a second piece of paper. The project also was an opportunity to write cards for homebound/older adults. Some of the kids wrote simple notes on one side of the card and then did a mono print on the "front" of the paper. It was an easy and fun way to get the kids involved in pastoral care at a baseline level.
The green is a stamped image of an elephant with the mono print on top.

Tempura paint on the card was step #1; then the mono print.

Simple card on the inside with a Gelli Art mono print on the other side.

The process is so takes explaining because it just doesn't seem like it should be so easy!

One of our teens helps an international student who joined the art project afternoon.

Anything but a Paintbrush

We did a fun project at a shelter for teens-at-risk: anything but a paintbrush. The project materials list included watercolors, a 6"x8" piece of watercolor notecard paper, various widths of masking tape, and whatever oddball material could be used to apply watercolor paint that was NOT a paintbrush. Some of the applicators included: cotton swab, torn piece of corrugated cardboard, bubble wrap, tissue paper, sponges of assorted sizes, shapes & materials, bits of cloth, and wine corks.Optional: colored pencils to outline around the masked areas.

The project included the following steps: 
1.       Use masking tape to create a simple design on a piece of watercolor paper. It could be strips of tape in various sizes in whatever configuration or tape could be shaped to form a person’s name.
2.       Use assorted materials—anything but a paintbrush—to apply watercolor paint over the entire surface. Apply 2-3 colors using various materials.
3.       Dry.
4.       Edge around the taped areas with colored pencils if desired.
5.       Remove the tape.
6.       Jazz up the white/clean areas as desired after the tape is removed.

Gelli Art mono prints for background prep

Basic texture; press screen onto acrylic on gel plate.
Starting a new journal is the perfect opportunity (excuse) to fiddle around with Gelli Arts gel mono printing for background prep. The mono printing gel plate works great for pressing individual sheets of art paper, but I'm really wanting it to work likewise by printing directly onto a page in an altered book journal. So I experimented with how direct printing onto the altered book page might become possible.

The gel plate is face down on the altered book page. It "smushes" the texture.

Peel back plate, re-position and press again.

Gelli Art with liquid acrylic ready to spread with a roller.

Place stencil onto Gelli Art and gently roll over to "press" impression.

To reduce weight and lesson "smushed" impression a single page is pressed onto plate.

Pull the print back; it is cleaner then placing the gel face down but not as clean as printing on individual papers.

Use the extra paint on the gel plate by pressing gently onto the opposite page.

The edges won't be clean if there is too much paint...example here.

Use flower stencils similarly; here I used my 6"x6" Gelli Art gel plate.

Printing on the journal page isn't as effective as separate paper because it's difficult to fully smooth out air bubbles.

Continue to press the plate around the edges until all the paint is gone.

Use the leftover paint on the flower stencil to press more images on the page.

Making Backgrounds with Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate

This is a new, trendy, and fun way to make backgrounds for journals by doing "mono prints" on the Gelli Arts gel printing plate (I bought mine online through Blick art materials; the 6"x6" cost $17.99 and the 8"x10" cost $26.99 plus S&H). Scroll down to see the variety of backgrounds from this innovative tool.
Use 2-3 colors of acrylic paint; spread with brayer (roller); press with stamp/stencil.

Gently smooth paper over prepared plate.

The R side is 1st run; L side is "ghost" 2nd press.

Roll the brayer (roller) on a journal page to clean roller; use up excess paint.

All sorts of things work to imprint an image on the gel plate.

Press gently to create an impression.

Liquid acrylic works better than tube (here) which is dries quickly & also makes a darker print.

The L side is the 1st press; the R the 2nd or "ghost" press.

L side is first press; R is "ghost" or 2nd press on the same gel without adding additional paint.

This imprint is made from a septic cover/part available from Home Depot. [Basic plumbing materials make art!!]

Another septic part is the imprint + a screen for latex paint.

Imprint from a drawing aid to make circles.

The Gelli plate product.

Two colors of liquid acrylic blended on the gel plate.

Two colors of liquid acrylic; L side is 1st press & R side is 2nd or "ghost" press.

2nd press or "ghost" with the leftover acrylic.

First press with the original fully loaded printing plate. 4-5 shades of blue acrylic blended.

Tube acrylic (thicker; dries MUCH faster) with embossing tool imprint (butterfly) and Catalyst paint spreader tool (top).

Closeup of the butterfly embossing tool imprint.

Closeup of the Catalyst rubber "painting" tool which is really a scraper.

Mesh imprint from rug-making/punch form.

A collection of the stencil and imprinting tools used in the samples shown. 

ABC stencil used for the impression.