Vintage books are one of my love languages. I love the way they look lined on the shelf. The way they smell and how they feel in my hands. I especially love the old books that are tattered and falling apart. They make you slow down and gently open their pages. There is something amazing about the life each of these books have lived and all the owners and readers that have flipped through these pages before me.
It took me many years to have the courage the cut into an old book and to use the pages in my art practice. It still takes me a moment to make the first cut. In fact, I even stop to appreciate the book, the pages and to say a thank you for the use of its pages.
I especially love old illustrated books and old dictionaries. Dictionary pages are just plain beautiful!! I’m in the middle of filming my next class “Expressive Florals” so I created a bunch of samples for the class using Dictionary pages. I loved how they turned out so I made them into greeting cards. They are for sale in my shop if you are interested in picking up a set for yourself.
Gesso Your Paper
Adding a layer of gesso over your paper will prime your surface in preparation for your paint layers. You can use either clear or white gesso. Just know that white gesso will be more opaque and block out more of the background. If you want to see more of your vintage paper, then clear is the way to go.
Sketch Your Floral
You can skip this step if you prefer to freestyle your floral with your paint. I like to sketch a very light line to get the position correct. I then add a darker graphite pencil over it because I like the way the graphite mixes with the paint.
I begin with my mid-tone color and then build-up to the lightenest color. I save my darkest to be used between layers where I want to add depth and dimension.
Add Soft Charcoal
I like to add soft pastel to areas of the illustration to continue to add texture and depth to the piece. Then with a white pastel I fill in the background around the floral. I blend this out then with black pastel I’ll add dots and marks around the flower. I also like to add other marks with pastels where it feels right.