I love painting cactus and was eager to do this prompt, but I wanted to do something that didn’t scream ‘cactus’! ArtTower’s beautifully lighted reference photo fit the bill perfectly.
The Cappuccino book has lovely colored paper that creates a subtle glow when surrounded by darker colors (you can find my review here). I knew it would be perfect to capture the look I wanted. Even though it is more of a sketchbook and doesn’t have paper formulated for watercolor, it holds up to watercolor well.
If you use a lot of water, the paper dimples and gets that crunchy sound when you turn the page (I love that sound!) but flattens nicely. You notice the dimpling on the back of the page but not so much on the front. If you don’t use much water, the paper only dimples a little bit.
And the paper works beautifully with almost any medium!
In 2014, I joined a free year-long journal prompt group, Journal52, run by Chelle Stein. This was the art journal page that I did for the prompt of ‘Building Character’. She looks like a character, doesn’t she?
Since I turned this into a tutorial, I thought this would be a good post for Sunday’s ‘older art’ because it might inspire some of you to some Sunday art journaling!
It was difficult to scan or get a photo that shows the girl in her 3D glory. I took this close-up but I still couldn’t get her toes to show well.
1. I tore up strips of toilet paper and put them in a plastic bag with PVA glue (Elmer’s or any white glue would work) to make *toilet paper mache. I kneaded the bag until the toilet paper was thoroughly mixed and broken down, then set the bag aside while I worked on other parts of the project.
2. I laid down yellow acrylic paint and then dotted orange paint all over with **Montana Markers.
3. I stamped the words for the prompt onto scrapbook paper, cut them out in irregular blocks and glued them down the page. I also cut out three pieces, one for the front of the skirt, and two for the sides.
4. The swirls were made with a hot glue gun, making sure I left a space where the girl would go. I also outlined the scrapbook paper blocks with the glue gun.
5 The page was covered thoroughly with a metallic magenta paint. Then, while still wet I then used a baby-wipe to remove the paint from the swirls, and lifted it partially here and there to let some of the yellow and orange show through.
6. I repeated step 3 with Ultramarine Violet, this time removing most of it, so it mostly darkened the areaas around the swirls. Any dark violet acrylic would work for this.
7. I repeated step 4 with Ultramarine Blue.
8. The girl was outlined on the page, and I glued the scrapbook pieces in place for her skirt.
9. I painted her skin with Titanium Buff and shaded it with Transparent Red Oxide. I also used the Red Oxide to color her hair, and dotted on her freckles.
10. I cut pieces of **paper drywall adhesive tape for her hair, and the lace on her skirt.
11. Using a toothpick, I picked up some of the toilet paper mache and worked it into a lump for the girl’s nose. I repeated this for her lips, her knuckles and her big toes.
12. After 15 minutes or so, I painted titanium buff over the mache, shading it with Transparent Red Oxide.
13. I let everything dry overnight, then went in with a Pigma Micron to darken the eyelashes and shade around her face.
14. I cut out pieces of the scrapbook paper (blue) for her eyes and glued them on, outlining with the Micron (which is highly water-resistant, water-proof once thoroughly dry).
15. I didn’t like the blue eyes, so I painted over them with the red oxide.
16. To seal the page I painted everything with transparent gesso, so the hot glue swirls and acrylic paint wouldn’t stick the pages together.
*If you google ‘toilet paper mache recipes’, you’ll find lots of instructions online. Mainly it’s toilet paper torn up, and glue (Elmer’s will do) mixed in a bowl or plastic bag until it’s a pulp. You add more toilet paper or more glue until you get a pulp that’s spreadable but not liquid.
**Montana Markers are another great tool, especially with ones with the 15mm tip. Essentially, they’re just plastic tubes resembling marker pens, filled with acrylic paint. They are a little spendy, but you can also buy them empty, and fill them up with cheaper acrylic paint to save some money. They’re cleaner than brushes or foam tools and you can cover a large area very quickly. Like Copic Markers, they are refillable and you can replace the tip, so the major expense for each color is one time. If you don’t already have any paints or brushes, these might be cheaper in the long run, unless you are buying the very cheapest of paints and brushes.
**I love this drywall tape. If you can find a roll, snap it up because it is so handy. You can peel away the backing and stick it to a page for texture. You can cut shapes. It tears easily. You can glue down the backing too, getting double duty. You can use it as a stencil. You find this in hardware stores (I buy mine at Lowes) Be sure you get the paper kind with holes. It also comes in a solid paper roll, and there are plastic mesh. The plastic mesh is pretty good as well, but not as easy to use as the paper.