Let the Page Surprise You

Spending time in my art journal continues to be one of the highlights of my week.  I reserve time every Friday for art journaling, and I work hard to mark off To-Do list items so that I can art journal guilt-free! This past Friday, the weather was dreary, but the coffee was warm, so after I dropped off my boys at preschool I settled in for some uninterrupted journaling time.  I didn’t have a plan off the bat, so I headed over to my Pinterest page to check out some inspiring images that would give me a jumping off point —> Follow me on Pinterest!

I found a super cool image of an elephant that gave me just enough inspiration to get going.  I began by pulling out some Tim Holtz collage papers.  I ripped them into smaller pieces and crumbled up the pieces to add some texture.  Afterwards, I used clear gesso to lay the collage pieces down on the pages, putting gesso both underneath and on top of each piece.  Currently I am using Liquitex clear gesso, but I am looking for another recommendation.  The grittiness of the Liquitex gesso really bugs me and doesn’t seem to grab onto paper pieces like I wish it would.  Let me know if you have another recommendation!

The crumbled paper did not end up keeping the texture I was hoping for, so I chose a Tim Holtz stencil and white texture paste.  The triangles in this stencil picked up the same angular design that I planned on using in the elephant, so it tied in well.

I considered drawing the elephant free hand and even tried using tracing paper to copy the image into my art journal.  In the end, I opted to print it out and gesso it in over top the collage papers.  After I had all the main elements in place, I pulled out three shades of mini Distress inks and my ink blending tool.  Working in a gentle motion, I added layers of “Vintage Photo”, “Seedless Preserves”, and “Weathered Wood” Distress ink over the top of the white texture paste.  In hindsight, I should have done the inking before I placed the elephant on the page, but I simply masked it off when I wanted to add shading around it.

It has been quite a long time since I’ve used my Distress Markers, so I decided they would work perfectly for adding color to the elephant.  After shading in the angular shapes, I sprayed the elephant with water to activate the Distress Ink and give the piece a more weathered look.

As I looked at my page, it felt a little busy and I wanted to add some more definition to certain areas on the page.  I chose a mandala masking stencil and “Gathered Twig” Distress ink to add a cohesive image in several areas.  I love the detail this layer added, without completely covering up the original collage papers.

Considering the positioning of the elephant, I felt the page was begging for some movement or action.  Why not have an elephant spraying purple water?!?  I chose an array of paints, and starting with a deep purple, added a spray of color coming from the elephant.  As I laid down heavy body gold and copper acrylics, I decided to also bring the heavy body acrylics back onto the elephant, adding detail and dimension.


The final step for this layout was to grab a few phrases from Tim Holtz’s Chit-Chat sticker book.  I chose phrases that referred to the whimsical and unimaginable, because what else would a purple elephant be highlighting?


I feel like this page was more of a departure for me, and it was so fun.  Working with layer upon layer of mixed media in my art journal is only enticing me to dive in deeper!

Do you have any favorite mixed media artists?  Any recommendations for some I should check out on social media?  Leave me some suggestions in the comments below!

Keep it creative,

-The Scrappy Wife


Published by Elisa

I'm a mom of 3 who loves all things creative! My current passion is bible journaling, a creative outlet that has really shaped my faith journey. I'm also excited about diving into some memory-keeping projects and dabbling in a bit of art journaling.

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