Saturday 28 July 2018

Summer Art Journal Week One

As you may have gathered from my previous post, I am joining in with the Slamseys Creative Summer Challenge over the coming weeks and compiling a kind of summer art journal. You can read about the details of the challenge here, if you're interested and feel like joining in.

It's a lovely idea to anchor precious summer moments, in whatever creative way you choose.

Having made my homemade blank journal last weekend, this week has been about crossing the Rubicon of the blank page. Always difficult to break onto that clean white space for the first time and there are some helpful hints to get you across the line, along with this week's prompts here.

The title of the first week of the challenge is 'Make a Mark' which is rather liberating. Sounds much more achievable than 'record your week in sketches' or 'paint your family', or 'sculpt your own head' or something! I mean how hard can it be just to make a mark on a page? Even so, I still found it quite difficult to get over the hurdle of using that first blank page, in my whole, new, blank book. I edged round it for a day or so, while I made feeble excuses to myself that I was deciding which of the various prompts I would go with, rather than simply procrastinating, out of fear of messing up.

I found the prompts very useful. They were prescriptive enough to get me started but not so prescriptive that they were confining, or restrictive.

The first week's prompts are:
everyday objects
five minutes

I did what I usually do with these kinds of choices, settle on one (apparently definitively and irrevocably) and then follow another. I thought I would use 'everyday objects' but promptly went with 'repeat'.

Some of the repeating appears in the themes and some in the actual, creative processes. I've filled rather too many pages in my book over the week, I fear, and must be more restrained, if the book is to last the rest of the summer.

Like a peek?

I began with a very simple homemade rubber stamp, into which I carved a single hydrangea petal shape. The hydrangeas we brought from our old home, in pots, have done fantastically this year and I love their showy pom-pom heads of pink, lavender and violet flowers.

They're not easy to paint though. So I thought that may be starting with individual petals might help. Printing a single petal onto the first page was easier than starting a whole hydrangea-head painting and by the time I had repeated the print, in various shades of printing ink, the page was full of hydrangea-petal confetti and the barrier of blank-white-page-neurosis breached!

I pursued the hydrangea theme and experimented a bit with grouping prints of petals, using the rubber stamp and actual petals, inked with printing ink, as well as cutting some out and collaging them together.

Bubble printing worked less well - may be I didn't add enough washing-up liquid to the mix but I found it hard to keep the bubbles bubbly, while moving the paper across to print from the frothy mix and it was rather difficult to control where the print went on the paper. The effect is very hydrangea-flower-head-like though.

Staying with the printing medium, I used up some of the surplus ink on my gelli plate to form backgrounds for repeat printing, over the top. Assorted leaves masquerading as trees.

I particularly like these ones with pale turquoise laburnum and buddleia leaves against a dark violet-blue background and added a moon to reinforce the night-sky impression.

But a big lime-tree leaf, silhouetted in indigo, on a sunset-coloured background has worked well too.

The yellow foreground on this was a bit virulent so I used sections of iris-leaves, inked up with green, to overprint as grass. Very evocative of this summer's long hot evenings and warm nights.

I then got it into my head that trying printing using a single image and repeatedly printing different sections, while masking off others, would be interesting. It was interesting but it was also quite tricky to do and of course, I forgot to remove the mask before printing, at one crucial point, resulting in a lot of dismayed and uncouth cursing, (fortunately, no one else was in earshot), but also the uplifting discovery that it is possible to re-mask and reprint subsequently, to correct errors. The paper masks are surprisingly robust and well-behaved. If you want to give this a go, don't forget to photocopy the master image you've drawn as many times as the colours you will be printing in, to enable you to cut each of the masks you need, without problem.

I need to fix up some kind of more professional registration to make sure the printed sections align correctly with the master image placed under the gelli plate. The small post-it notes I attached to the master image and the printing sheets came adrift in transit and have resulted in some of the printed sections being 'off'.  D has been tasked with making a shallow plywood tray with two, or may be three, sides to keep everything together in the printing process, which should solve this problem, I hope.

The masked image was inspired by yesterday's rare blood moon which sadly it was too cloudy to see properly, here in Oxfordshire.

Where next? I've been painting some watercolour paper sheets in various watercolour washes to repeat the stripy night-landscape idea, in collage form.

I may use the same master image for the collage as I used for the print, or I may draw another one. The original was a bit random.

The star effect is created by sprinkling coarse salt on the wet watercolour. The only everyday object I've used in the challenge all week!

E x


  1. Dear Mrs T
    That's a great start to your art journal - it was lovely to see what you produced and where your experiments led you. I look forward to following your journey this summer.
    Best wishes

    1. Thank you Ellie - I'm finding it a very engaging summer journey. E x

  2. I love all these, especially the hydrangeas and I'd forgotten all about bubble printing and using salt. I like the idea of using a single petal shape to recreate the idea of the flower head - another on my list to try.

    Have you seen Lucy Brydon's gelli prints? She uses gel pens to add details to her prints, which take them to a different level. I've tried it with limited success and have found the best way is to take a photo with my ipad and then use a paint program to add dots and details. At least I keep the original that way and can have several goes and getting it right.

    So interesting to see your different interpretations for the challenge.

    1. Thank you for the heads up on Lucy Brydon's gelli prints - they're gorgeous! I'll do some experimenting! It's a wonderful challenge- thank you again so much for it. E x

  3. You have left some beautiful marks in your new journal! Sadly I have no time whatsoever at the moment to participate in this challenge. I will participate by seeing your progress :-)

    I hope making a mark in your new journal was not overly traumatic. It is difficult to start using a new journal/notebook, I find it almost impossible and have a stack of notebooks that remain untouched. I sometimes resort to give one or two away, or I leave on casually sitting on the kitchen table, hoping one of the children will "spoil" it... x

    1. Thank you, Christina. I have to say I agree with you about untouched notebooks - I love them and hate them at the same time! E x

  4. I am so impressed with your creativity! Hydrangea petals, leaves, just lovely! can't wait to see the next set!

    1. Thank you, Kathy - it's proving a lovely focus for these summer weeks and taking my mind off various worries at the same time! E x


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.