Another Journey – Mixed Media Collage

Yesterday, when we arrived home after lots of errands, I felt like I needed to create another collage in my daily series.

The problem was, I was tired and cranky, and in perfectionist mode as I worked.

I think it turned out pretty well, despite how much I got in my own way.

Another Journey collage - 5 Nov 2022

I knew I wanted something that was a segue connecting to yesterday’s collage, the Journey one. So, I used another 1853 dictionary page.

This one focused on the word “Expedition,” which I’d planned to use – as a bold, text word from a travel brochure – but abandoned that bit of paper part-way through this process.

Nevertheless, that word is the entry below the word “Journey” on the right page of this two-page art journaling collage.

Over that page is the Hogwarts train from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. That’s among our favorite attractions at that park… though we didn’t go there nearly as often as we visited Walt Disney World.

Next to that is a bit of shell – mother-of-pearl – from a recent stroll along nearby Fortunes Rocks Beach (Kennebunkport, Maine).

The feather on the facing page is also from there, also creating continuity with the previous collage in this series.

The stairway is about travel but – more importantly – internal transformation… rising above where we’ve been in the past. And, again, I highlighted that with another “Journey” word at the top of that stairway.

Finally the vintage-looking bits came from a few resources.

I intend to review all of those resources, separately… as soon as I have time. (Something I say often, but don’t always follow-through with. Oops.)

I like this collage. It’s about travel – time and space – as well as rising above… finding where our next adventures will take us.

What’s on Your Desktop?

When I sit down (or work at my standing desk), I like all of my supplies tidy and well-organized.

If I have to interrupt my creative flow to search for a particular brush, or paint, or adhesive, or collage element, it can take far too long to get back “in flow.”

Here’s what’s on my desk as I gather inspiration for my next collage.

Details of Aisling's collage supplies on her workdesk
My collage supplies, by the numbers.

1) A container of bits of paper, often leftovers from previous collages. I’ve saved them because I love the colors or subjects of those images. They’re too wonderful to throw away; I’m likely to use those bits in later collages.

2) Currently, those are pieces of a failed mixed-media painting. I’d created it on canvas. Then, about halfway through the work, I realized I didn’t like it. It was the wrong background and the wrong scale for my torn-paper art.

So, I’d cut up the canvas and now the pieces are sitting in front of me, in case there’s a way to use them – whole or further cut/torn – in a future work.

3) Vintage paper and stickers that look like vintage paper elements. In my current art journal, I’m phasing from art that’s very vintage, to partially vintage, and – eventually – all contemporary elements.

Well, maybe. I’m not sure… yet. This kind of art evolves. I don’t start with a clear vision of what I’m creating.

4) Sponge brushes for applying adhesive to my collage elements. I look for sponge brushes with a lot of support inside the sponge part. I use those same brushes for painting, too, and I’m scrupulous about washing them to get at least four or five days’ work out of them.

5) A very damp, folded paper towel. Every time I pick up a collage element that has adhesive on it, my fingers get sticky. The damp paper towel makes it easy to keep my fingers clean as I place each element in the artwork.

6) Yes pasteYes! Paste, which replaced the gel painting medium I used for this work in the 1990s and early 2000s. (Thanks to Nancy Hansen Connolly and Milan Merhar for recommending Yes!)

This paste is easy to work with, rarely causes the paper to buckle, is repositionable, and easy to clean up.

It actually holds somewhat heavy (non-paper) items on my mixed-media works, too. (For example, the feather in my art journaling page of 5 Nov 2022.)

Yes! Paste has made collage and mixed media art so much easier for me!

7) I’m currently working with a series of 30-page blank journals. They’re designed as travel journals, but – for me – they’re perfect for daily collages. And, at a price of around US$1.25 per journal, I’m comfortable being impulsive with them; if one turns out badly, it’s not as if I’ve ruined a fancy, leather-bound journal.

8) A Speedball Deluxe Soft Rubber Brayer, used with wax paper, to smooth the elements as I paste them in place. My brayer has a 3.5″ wide roller, and it’s just the right size for my torn-paper collages.

9) Miscellaneous papers:

  • Torn-paper elements – words and illustrations – selected ahead of time because they sort of “sing” to me. Sometimes I use them. Sometimes I don’t.
  • Junk mail, to go under the collage elements as I smear Yes! Paste on the back of them with a sponge brush. I keep turning and folding each page of those sale flyers and mailers, to get the most from them before putting them into the recycling bin.
  • Wax paper, to go on top of the collage element but under the brayer, so the element is smooth on the paper (and well-adhered) without making a mess.
  • A few extra magazines and tourist brochures/booklets, for images and words to use as I work.  (Tip: Tourist booklets often have the best, most upbeat words for this kind of work. I keep a huge bag of them by my desk, and pick up more every time we’re near a tourist visitors’ center.)

So, that’s what I work with. It’s how I’ve created my collages for over 20 years, and it’s a system that’s worked well for me.  You can see more of my collages from the past year or so, at my Eibhlin.com website.

(My real name is Eibhlin, pronounced “Eileen.” I’d adopted the “Aisling D’Art” pen name in the 1990s, when few women were online, and it seemed prudent to protect my privacy. Then, when the Aisling name became associated with the art journaling movement, I kept using it.)

The Journey – Mixed Media Collage

Earlier this week, I decided it’s time to resume daily collages. That’s when I created this collage:

Small Journal - first collage

The next day, trying to work on another mixed media collage, I realized that the art/studio side of my home office was a mess.

Okay, maybe not a total mess, but I needed to create order and space to then create my art “in flow.”

That led to rearranging everything in my home office.

Three times. Over two days. (It had to be “just so.”)

Today, I decided it’s time to resume this project. Get back in the habit of daily collages. (And yes, it really is a habit. In some ways, an effortless one, but – right now – it’s essential to carve out time and mental space for it.)

Here’s what resulted:

This started with the word “play.” It’s on the page from an 1853 dictionary, on the right side of this two-page spread.

Note: The dictionary was coverless and in rough shape when I found it at a flea market. Giving that book’s pages fresh life in art seemed right.

Next, I took the word “Plan” and pasted it just above the dictionary entry for “play.” Meaning: I need to plan to play. Not “planning” in an excruciating, controlled way, but just create an opening in my daily schedule… for play.

After that, there’s the torn image of a set of chairs at a table. I wanted the image split, like someone had pushed back from the table. Making a different choice.

So, the word “escape” made sense, as well.

The photo is my own, taken at a pond in Maine. Over it, the feather came from a walk along Fortunes Rocks Beach, near Kennebunkport, Maine.

The finishing elements were the blossom and the word “Journey,” which inspired the title of this piece.


Materials used in this mixed media collage (Links will take you to Amazon.)

  • One of 21 notebooks in a travel journaling set.
  • A page from an 1853 dictionary.
  • Bits of paper – photos and words – mostly from travel and tourism brochures & booklets.
  • A feather found nearby, at Fortunes Rocks Beach (Maine).
  • Yes! paste, used in all of my recent collages.

My New Favorite Art Desk – Review

As an artist with a bazillion projects “in progress,” a worktable like this is a game-changer. I may get one for my kitchen and another for my home office. It’s that good.

KEY POINTS

  • + Surface is lightly textured, just enough so nothing sticks to it. Great for art projects!
  • + Height is adjustable from close to the floor to above my shoulders (at 5′ 7″).
  • – Challenging to assemble, but directions are nice and clear… just intricate (but worth the time).
  • + Useful in the kitchen, office, studio, garage, and probably more.

Amazon link: Adjustable Height Desk/Table (sponsored)

Divider

Here’s my review:

Wow, this desk is exceptionally nice!

It’s solidly made with high-quality parts. It weighs over 60 pounds.

It’s also large. Larger than my past desks. Since I’ll use this for working on art journals and collages, that extra space is glorious. I can spread out ALL of my art supplies, so they’re within easy reach, and I never feel crowded.

Likewise, the surface of the desk – slightly textured so it holds items nicely – is very even, despite the fact that it comes in two pieces. Those two pieces fit together flawlessly, and don’t splay, even when I lean on the desk to reach something at the far corner of it.

The surface is easy to wipe clean, too. Absolutely perfect!

My husband spent an hour assembling this desk. The instructions are well illustrated, and outlined with step-by-step directions. Work slowly and logically and you’ll be fine.

Tip: When connecting the long, horizontal rod that’s central to the motorized height adjuster, insert the hex-shaped end of the rod (at the non-motor end), first. Then, turn that rod gently so the other end meshes with its counterpart next to the motor.

The infinitely variable height of the desk surface is impressive. At its highest point, it’s almost shoulder height, and I’m 5’7″.

At its lowest, it might be ideal as a desk for children. In-between, I think this desk is what many of us have been looking for. It can be the “perfect height” – or at least close to it – whether you use this desk in your office, workshop, or studio.

I wish I’d found this years ago. I’d have spent far less time hunched over a too-short desk, and – at the other end of the spectrum – I wouldn’t have had to find the right assortment of chair cushions when a desk was too tall.

For me, this is a “Goldilocks” desk. Not too tall, not too short… just right! 🙂

Find it here at Amazon: Adjustable height desk/table (And yes, if you see my review there… I know that’s not a great look for me. I’ll probably make another video when I have more time.)

Petallush Pencils… Wow!

Five starsI’ve never seen anything like these pencils. Really.

In the graphic below, I used just ONE pencil to color everything. (Okay, I colored the yellow stars with a brush marker, but that’s the ONLY other coloring tool I used.)

Petallush pencils review

It’s not a mechanical pencil with lots of leads in it. It’s an actual, hard-lead pencil… but the lead in it is multi-colored.

As I’m writing this, the set is just $7.99 for 12 pencils. However, all the pencils seem to be identical. And each has the same kind of multi-colored lead.

To get the different colors, you just turn the pencil slightly as you’re coloring.

Yes, that’s it.

I’m astonished and kind of delighted. I can carry just ONE pencil with me – and a pencil sharpener – and use it for sketching and art journaling in lots of different colors.

Tips for the best results

  • Keep sharpening the pencil to get the maximum range of colors as you’re coloring. (The set comes with a little pencil sharpener, but I used my trusty Xacto brand sharpener… the inexpensive manual kind.)
  • Turn the pencil very slowly to get the colors you want. It may take some practice to see just where your chosen color needs to be, in relation to the paper you’re coloring on.

I’m definitely in love with this pencil set. But do I really need 12 of them…? I think this one will last me a very long time.

I may go outside when kids are coming home from school, and hand out most of the other 11 pencils in this set.

Click here for the Petallush Colored Pencil Set at Amazon.

Also, if you’d like to color the same stars-and-swirls coloring page I created, click the little image of it, immediately below, for the printable (b&w) PDF.

Rainbow colors divider

Here’s the official Amazon link. Clicking it should take you to the Petallush pencils page.

120 Colored Pencils by Kalour – Review

This week, I tested a set of 120 colored pencils, sent to me by Kalour (via Amazon).

My initial impression was, “Wow! That’s a LOT of pencils in one small container.”

I almost expected them to be skinny, tiny pencils.

They weren’t. They’re full-sized, and come pre-sharpened.

The range of colors is impressive. Warm colors, cool colors, brights, muted tones, lights, darks… everything.

The leads are firm but not super-hard like some cheap brands. I’d rank these in the middle: somewhat hard but soft enough to give good coverage and blend well.

Kalour penciles reviewI tested them by coloring pages from two of my own coloring books.

First, one from my coloring book, Relaxing Country Scenes (a Rose Meadows book):

Garden scene from Relaxing Country Scenes coloring book

Then, one from one of my hippie-style coloring books:

Hippie swirls colored with colored pencils

As you can see, these colors are vivid and – even though I was coloring in front of the TV (watching the U.S. season finale of “Big Brother” 2022) – the pages turned out pretty well.

While I love-love-love Prismacolor’s soft leads, this Kalour set – especially for the price – is the perfect addition to my collection of coloring pencils.

Oh, I won’t keep storing them in the round, tube-style container. They’re a little difficult to manage in such a small space. Instead, I’ll put them in a clear plastic box or two or three. (After all, there are 120 full-sized pencils in this set, and I’ll probably group them by color.)

I’m giving this set four stars. It’s a good, high-quality set for a remarkably low price, especially for 120 pencils. Recommended!

Click here to see these pencils at Amazon.com.

Dreaming a Story – Torn-Paper Collage

It started with the word “Dreaming,” a mixed teal rectangle, an aerial view of a New England town, and a woman’s pensive expression… mostly her eyes. This was my first collage (of three) today.

Next, I found the words “A Story” and then “worth telling, worth finding.”

I feel as if each has an important story – and probably many of them – worth telling. And, in old journals and blog posts, many of more stories are worth finding.

They’re the patchwork of our lives, in a way.

In this collage, I worked with color and some imagery, such as the sailboat. In a way, it reminded me of the boats that take us to Neverland, in Disney’s Peter Pan attraction. But it’s also a reference to lazy sailing days, as well as yacht races and salt spray, with the wind in your sails.

At the lower left, it seemed important to keep the church visible. Spiritual anchors are important in life, and a church can be so very… well, inspiring, calming, and insightful.

To balance the collage, I drew some gold lines with a metallic marker.

And yes, I did reposition some of the images, so you may see a few lichen-like lines, here and there.

Materials: torn magazine pages, Yes paste, Sunshilor metallic gold marker, on 9″ x 12″ acid-free lightweight card stock.


Some related articles you may enjoy:

Torn-Paper Collages – How-to video (a 2010 video – some info outdated)

Adding Collage Layers in Your Artists Journals


You can see more of my art, and my best collages at my Eibhlin.com website.

(My real name is Eibhlin, pronounced “Eileen.” I’d adopted the “Aisling D’Art” pen name in the 1990s, when few women were online, and it seemed prudent to protect my privacy. Then, when the Aisling name became associated with the art journaling movement, I kept using it.)

 

When We’re Ready – Torn Paper Collage

Color, unity, and contrast… those were the elements that attracted me as I created this torn-paper collage. It was my second collage of the day.

Shades of blue – especially leaning towards teal – have always been my color “comfort zone.” And, as someone with auburn hair, I’ve always liked the contrast. Blue and orange/brown, opposite on the color wheel, can bring out the best of each other.

I chose a simple, almost minimalist composition. Many of my collages are far more complex.

The figure represents strength, even as she stands alone and in toe shoes (ballet).

I feel as if she’s poised, surveying what’s in front of her, preparing for her next powerful step forward. It’s that time that many of us experience. Not quite hibernation or as subdued as we may appear, but simply regrouping, internally.

Then – when we’re ready – we emerge. At that point, it’s our game.

And that’s her story in this collage.

Materials: torn magazine pages and Yes paste on 9″ x 12″ acid-free lightweight card stock.

Some related articles you may enjoy:

Torn-Paper Collages – How-to video (a 2010 video – some info outdated)

Adding Collage Layers in Your Artists Journals


You can see more of my art, and my best collages at my Eibhlin.com website.

(My real name is Eibhlin, pronounced “Eileen.” I’d adopted the “Aisling D’Art” pen name in the 1990s, when few women were online, and it seemed prudent to protect my privacy. Then, when the Aisling name became associated with the art journaling movement, I kept using it.)

We Are / Enough – Torn Paper Collage

When I saw the magazine photo of the woman walking away, and she was in a fairly empty landscape, it spoke to me about the role of women… and gender issues, in general. The sometimes-solitude of labels and compartmentalization, whether it’s by appearance, gender, age, race, accent, or whatever.

From there, I built out this collage with images that are somber and restrained. They reflect the tidy, muted ideals some aspired to in past generations: There. Decorative. Perhaps useful. Seen-but-not-heard.

I added a brighter, more colorful sky that keeps her moving forward. Things are improving, if just a little at a time.

The text images can be viewed two ways. That’s deliberate.

It could be “We Are Enough.”

Or, it could be “We Are,” and, as an afterthought, “Enough.” (As in: we shouldn’t have to be, do, or say any more than “we are.”)

This was my third collage of the day, and it may be the most cryptic of the three… even to me.

Materials: Torn magazine images and Yes paste on 9″ x 12″ acid-free card stock.


Some related articles you may enjoy:

Torn-Paper Collages – How-to video (a 2010 video – some info outdated)

Adding Collage Layers in Your Artists Journals


You can see more of my art, and my best collages at my Eibhlin.com website.

(My real name is Eibhlin, pronounced “Eileen.” I’d adopted the “Aisling D’Art” pen name in the 1990s, when few women were online, and it seemed prudent to protect my privacy. Then, when the Aisling name became associated with the art journaling movement, I kept using it.)

She’s Back – Torn Paper Collage

Sometimes, plans go awry. This collage… Well, it was intended as an 8″ x 10″ work, so the support I started with was 8.5″ x 11″.

But, as I kept working, it grew.

The collage elements include images leftover from a piece I worked on, yesterday.

She's Back - torn-paper collage

The woman at the top of the art is Sharon Stone. Her comment about roles for women – that they’re aren’t any between ages 40 and 60 – resonated with me. Ageism continues to thrive, as do labels, especially for women. That 40-to-60 age can be especially troublesome.

(I see the recent raves about how great/young Selma Hayek looks in a swimsuit, at age 53, and wonder, “Yes, she looks great, but are we defining ‘beauty’ as ‘looks like she’s 30’? and why is her age part of the headline? Why not say ‘Selma Hayek Has Style’ and leave it at that?”)

So, the “you’re READY” phrase and “She’s back” are about rebellion against compartmentalization – by age, race, gender, and so on.

The elevator buttons reference rising up.

The image of the woman at the lower left is deliberately torn, as all of us try to navigate a challenging time. Right now (January 2021), I think so many people are confused and somewhat overwhelmed, compartmentalizing is even easier. It’s a way to put people into categories instead of finding time to understand them as individuals.

What’s resulting is a fractured society, defined by labels that can separate us.

And then there’s how the collage spilled off the lower edge of the support. In a way, that’s part of the artistic message, as well. It was unintended, but… well, many of us are “playing it by ear” right now. If the results aren’t tidy, at least they’re authentic.

Materials: torn images from magazines, Yes paste, and a poster board support.

The photo shows my worktable, with cotton swabs for applying small bits of adhesive, my Speedball brayer for smoothing each piece as its applied, the collage (on a kitchen cutting board I like for collage work), and my reading glasses for seeing details.


Some related articles you may enjoy:

Torn-Paper Collages – How-to video (a 2010 video – some info outdated)

Adding Collage Layers in Your Artists Journals


You can see more of my best collages at my Eibhlin.com website.

(My real name is Eibhlin, pronounced “Eileen.” I’d adopted the “Aisling D’Art” pen name in the 1990s, when few women were online, and it seemed prudent to protect my privacy. Then, when the Aisling name became associated with the art journaling movement, I kept using it.)