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.
This painting was an experiment in layers. I started with different colors and very textured brush strokes. Then layer upon layer was added until I achieved the color I wanted. I used mostly acrylic paint, but I did use oil paint to tone the second to last layer. The final layer was about smoothing things out which I did with a soft brush.
I created this on canvas paper and may offer the original for sale at some point, but until then Art Prints are available in my Etsy Shop.
A couple years ago I did the 365 Daily Journal Challenge and I loved it.
I chose to use the Moleskine 18 Month Daily Planner in SoftCover. It offered pre-dated pages and all I had to fill was one page each day. I figured it would give me just enough space to write without feeling overwhelming and intimidating.
After I completed the year I switched to a regular lined journal, but I found that without the daily pages I would let days slip by and then weeks and then months. I tried again last year but my journal turned into more of a daily planner/to-do list instead of a journal.
So this year I was determined to get my Moleskine and return to my daily journaling challenge. However, I waited until the last minute and couldn’t get a hold of the journal I was hoping to use and I knew a regular journal wouldn’t give me the discipline I needed…so I decided to design one myself.
Welcome to my 365 Daily Journal. I decided to leave the date line blank so it would be possible for anyone to start their 365-day challenge at any point in the year. Starting on January 1st isn’t necessary.
I am in love with this book. It’s 5.25″ x 8″ and just under 1″ thick. It’s soft-cover with a matte finish and features one of my graphic art girls on the cover. I’ve had family and friends request a few other cover styles so those are currently in the works. Once they are live I will let you all know. In the meantime, you can buy yours on Amazon.
Water-soluble graphite is a type of graphite that is soluble in water, which just means it can be dissolved. Now, regular old graphite can also be “spread” with water a bit, but the water-soluble graphite will actually dissolve and become ink-like when it’s wet. It can be moved and spread over a surface, much like watercolor paint. You can control how thick (dark) and thin (light) the wash becomes by how much water you add.
Water-soluble graphite comes in different grades of hardness the same way graphite pencils do. There are a couple different companies that make water-soluble graphite, but the one I enjoy the most is the Lyra Graphit-Kreide Water-Soluble Graphite Crayons.
My top tips for using water-soluble graphite:
Sketch with a light hand as these don’t erase well
Graphite can be layered to built up color
Once dried you can lift color with an eraser or with a wet brush the same way watercolor is removed
Graphite tends to dry flatter than watercolor
You can add additional layers when it’s still wet or once the previous layers dry. If you add graphite to a wet surface the area will be darker and the marks don’t blend out as much
Color a blank page and then add tons of water to make an easy background wash
Save your shards if you sharpen the crayons, these can create an liquid ink when added to water
Spray water to create great looking splatters (creating graphite blooms like watercolor)
Graphite can be blended with a blending stump
Dries down like a gritty graphite
Best when used with watercolor paper, canvas paper or mixed media paper (or add gesso to your page first)
How do other mediums react when layered on top of water-soluble graphite? Well, let me know you…
I created a flower and filled it with a graphite wash and let it dry. I then used a different medium in each petal and leaf to test how each would react to the graphite wash.
The Inktense, Watercolor, and Watercolor Pencils had the most reaction since I was adding water on top of the graphite, which when rewetted reactivated. If used with a light hand and be careful not to overwork, these mediums can be used well with the water-soluble graphite. Of all the ones I tried, I think my favorite had to be the soft pastels and pastels pencils. I think they played the nicest with the water-soluble graphite. The acrylic paint worked well also, but the graphite seemed to get lost beneath it.
After collecting vintage papers, newspapers, magazines, photographs, etc. for so many years I’ve decided it’s time to share these special papers so I’ve gathered and created ephemera packs of vintage paper. Visit my Etsy Shop to buy your own pack.
When I became frustrated that I couldn’t find a planner that worked for me I set out to create one. I’m a list maker and like the accomplished feeling when checking off a to-do item, so having a place to make a giant list was a must. But I also know that my lists can get a bit ambitious, so I added a place to note my top three priorities for the day.