“Style” Art Journal Page: Layer-by-Layer

"Style": Art Journal - Stage 1

Ever since my home office received a “refresh”, I’ve taken to doing more art because my workspace now also converts easily in to a studio (yep, no more laundry studio!). Oh, how I missed having a studio!

Just the other day, I was relishing the fact that a day hasn’t passed now without me doing some form of art-making. Even if it was just a mark on a page. A sketch here. A painted background there. So, I took a photo of the art journal page that I splashed watercolour paints on that morning and wrote:

“Love that I am getting to do some kind of art activity just before I get deep into work. Even for just 10-15 mins. Then, I add on to it during break times and have something to enjoy at the end of the day. Even if it's just an art journal page, a small painting, or a few fun marks from my handmade stamps and stencils.”

Later, during another work break, I did another layer using store-bought stencils and fluid acrylic paint. Took another snapshot to share.

Style - Art Journal Stage 2

I wasn’t really planning on doing a live-action step-by-step art tutorial or show-and-tell, so I left it at that and created:

  • Layer 3: Painted the face-to-face pages with the word “Style” using thinned black gouache paint with chipboard alphabets that I decided to use as stencils); then
  • Layer 4: Digital journalling using MS Word printed on regular paper, then cut with styled-edge scissors, and pasted on the page. I was actually planning on printing the digital journalling on tracing paper or transparency, but my printers wouldn’t cooperate. I ended up accidentally printing on paper, and decided to leave it at that and just use what I’ve got. Cut off the journalling in to two parts and decided to create a third page where I can feature most of the writing without covering the initial paint and stenciled design. For the additional third page, I recreated the background with the same watercolour splashes. And, I ended up using a different design from the same stencil that I have. Decided to use the stenciling as a frame. I then added the stencilled (& me) with black paint gouache as well.
  • Layer 5: Added store-bought stamps as frames and also to date the art  journal entry. By this stage, I wasn’t sure whether I should add more layers or not, so  I took a photo and posted so I can ask for some feedback.

Style - Art Journal Stages 3,4 & 5

In the end, I decided to add a sixth and final layer of metallic gold pencils to shade some parts of the stamped date and lines + add dots in the middle of the “style & me” lettering using metallic gold pen.

Then, I decided I needed a fourth page because there were a few things I wanted to write about the subject I was exploring. But, instead of recreating the rest of the design, I choose a pre-painted piece of paper with a similar colour scheme. I glued that in and decided to decorate it with this pretty black lace tape to tie things in a bit. I also added some dots around the edges as a frame, using the same metallic gold pen.

Ended up with a four-page spread for my art journal. The longest one I’ve created to date. And, I must say, I was very happy with the result:

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Considering how much trouble I’ve been giving myself about how I’m keeping my art journal, that’s saying something. I’ve been pretty harsh with my own work, especially when I see other art journallers who seem to be producing a lot of great looking pages.

That’s why I had to laugh when my sister said: “You make it look easy when you do that!”

I told her that that’s exactly what I think when I see other people doing great looking art. And, it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s easy when I’m doing my own stuff. It just gets easier, the more I do it. And, I guess that’s what it’s like, really.

In fact, that whole concept was the inspiration for the topic of these pages. I was thinking about what it really means to develop my own style in art-making. It seems very strange asking that question now. Especially since a few years ago, I’ve managed to define my own sense of style, even though I know I was still developing/evolving with my art-making.

But, having stopped art-making for a few years (as in, the real, regular art-making, not just a sketch or painting here and there), I feel like I’m having to redefine myself in this form. But, I think I’m okay with that. It’s that whole having the “beginner’s mind” thing. The picture of where this is all heading is unclear to me. However, just like working with mixed media, I’m sure the picture will appear as I build it all up again, layer by layer.

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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