Above: Background painting over a spread in my current visual journal. I wanted a visual for today's post and I wanted to share this background with you. I've been prepainting backgrounds on spreads throughout my new journal, which uses Gutenberg for the text paper. If you click on the image to view an enlargement you'll see the slighty nubby texture of this laid paper. I love the way the layers of acrylic ink take to this paper. Read at the end of the post about this background. Then go make some background pages in your own journal and come and join us on Monday!
Monday, September 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. is the next meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective.
This meeting is free and open to anyone who is interested in keeping visual journals, regardless of any skill level. (We meet the third Monday of each month, with no meetings in May and December.)
I'm sure this film will inspire and delight the Collective members and lead to a lively discussion. In addition, we will be sharing work from the recent Minnesota State Fair and exchanging books in the on-going Altered Book Journal Round Robin.
Join us to learn how other Twin Cities artists embrace a variety of methods and approaches in their visual journals.
Instructions for the Painted Background Pictured Above
While Gutenberg from Hahnemühle isn't a watercolor paper, I find that the sheet takes my pen and watercolor sketches just great. (And I love the creamy oatmeal color, nubby texture, and fiber flecks that give this paper great character.) I pre-paint page spreads so that I have a background to work on when I arrive at that spread. (If you would like to see more of this please check my before and after journal selections on my website.)
If I am going to work in colored pencil or other dry media I can use watersoluble paint for a background. But because most of the time I like to sketch in pen and ink and then add watercolor or gouache washes I need to create a background that is waterproof. Acrylic inks and paints are good choices for this type of application. I recommend FW Acrylic Inks or Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints. You want to stay away from heavy-bodied acrylics because drawing over thick "plastic" paint films can be a challenge.
To create this background texture I opened my journal to the desired page spread. I inserted waste paper (I have a lot of photocopier paper to recycle but you can also use paper towels) behind each page to protect the pages before and after this spread.
I spritzed the spread with a light amount of water (I keep a spray bottle with water on-hand for this). Then I loaded a brush with Indigo FW Acrylic Ink (all product used in this example is FW Acrylic ink) and moved it over the page. (I was using a soft synthetic #10 round.) The water on the page will draw the paint around. While the paper was still wet I used a clean brush to stroke on Flame Orange.
Orange is the complement to blue and there is some neutralization going on, but the pigments used in these two colors from FW are only near complements so the yellows in the orange also create an interesting green. If you aren't sure how your colors will blend, test them on a scrap of paper first.
With a heat gun I dried the paper a little bit (not completely). Be sure when using the heat gun to move it constantly to avoid scorching your paper!
Next I spritzed the only slightly damp background with a light mist of clean water. This had the effect of pushing the pigment away from the new water drops and created a random splotchy pattern. Experiment with your paper to find the "wetness" time for the effect you want. If the paper is too wet the additional water is simply absorbed into the existing moisture and little if any pattern emerges and your color is weakened. Wait until the paper is too dry and you will not get this movement of pigment. (On some almost dried papers you can achieve dark patterning.)
I dried the paper with the heat gun and flicked Turquoise across the spread, rubbing the brush tip across my finger tip. Flicking the brush is also a cool way to add splashes of paint.
When the Turquoise (which is actually a light blue) dried I flicked Flame Orange across the page, using a toothbrush dipped in ink, and rubbed against my thumb. I then spritzed the page spread with water again.
Since the previous colors had been dried, this time only the Orange ink moved, creating dark halos around many of the Orange splatters. Another interesting effect was that the movement of the water and ink left yellow dots in some areas.
I then used the heat gun to dry the page spread.
I like to create backgrounds that are somewhat soft and receding, so that I can work on top of them. And because the acrylic ink is waterproof I can use wet media like gouache on this page spread, without worrying about picking up the underlying color. Of course I can also work in dry media with no problem.
Go paint some spreads in your journal. Don't sweat the final results. Remember these are backgrounds. You can paint and collage over them when you reach that spread. Just play a little.