Monday, June 3, 2013

Creative Adventures Downunder - Part 6 (Final)

The final US tutor we were blessed to spend time with was the incredibly talented, perpetually positive and all around nice lady - Donna Downey. We had one class with Donna, over either two or three sessions depending upon which group you were with. The Pink group were the last ones to get down and dirty with Donna's unique "hands-on" style of teaching.
This was the class I was both most looking forward to and most nervous about. Unlike many scrappers and crafters, my own exploration of mixed media crafting and art journaling had, until this class, been little more than dipping a toe in the water, so to speak. I knew who Donna was, had seen some of her videos and tutorials and knew a little bit about her product range, but boy was this class an eye opener!
I was pre-warned from people in the other classes that it didn't matter where we sat as Donna was a move about the class room kind of teacher... a plus in my book. So with all my goodies on my desk I sat patiently waiting for all the fun to start.
The first thing we had to do was pick one of Donna's signature journals to create in. These have a fabric and canvas cover, hand sewn, with the hugest big button on the front and an elastic closure to hold it all together.
The signature inside (the pages to us newbies) were a mix of Bazzill cardstock cut to size inter-mixed with tags and envelopes. All of this is held together with a coordinating ribbon threaded through some grommets in the spine. I fell in love with these lime green dots the moment I saw them. (It helped it was the only one of its kind left in the box as well!)
Opened up, these are what all the pages looked like. The Bazzill cardstock is all pre-cut to 12" x 9", so when folded in half the album size is 6" wide and 9" tall.
The first two pages we created were to compare the results of Faber Castell Gelatos on backgrounds with and without gesso. We had to chose either a warm or cool colour palette and use 2 or 3 colours from that palette to experiment with how they blended differently on the background as well. We coloured the two pages with the various shades of gelatos, then spritzed with water and blended with our fingers... time to get dirty!!
This page didn't have any gesso on it. It really soaked up the gelatos and water mix so gave a more subtle and even blending of the different tones of colour. However in doing this I found that I had to be careful not to over blend the colours as then the paper itself seemed to separate and bits were coming off into the colour mixing which I then had to remove. Of course this may have been because it was the back side of the paper as well.
This page had been coasted with the gesso. This time the gelatos felt like they skimmed across the surface of the page rather than soaking into it. This meant they also maintained their individual colours more and didn't blend as well (or as subtly) as when used on the non-gessoed paper.
The second step was to compare the difference between gesso and non-gessoed backgrounds when painted with acrylic paint. Again we had to use 2 or 3 warm or cool paints and blend them together. The above is without gesso. I did noticed the paints looked a little flatter on the non-gessoed paper than on the background that was gessoed.
This is with the gesso on the background paper. Of all the exercises this was the one I didn't really get or see any difference. I'm not sure if it was because I just didn't get it, or because the acrylic paints I used were cheap craft quality and not a good quality artist acrylic paint.
This was the next page we did. Finger painting!! Such a revelation, it was like being a kid again!
This time was finger painting with acrylic paints. We had to pick either a warm or cold palette once again. This time I went with a cold palette using light blue, green and purple together with white. Using our fingers only (quite liberating I might add), we covered the entire background page. The emphasis this time was on blending the colours to create new colours and new tones as well as a texture though the technique.
Once this layer was dry we then drew a shape or image using a 6B charcoal pencil. From the cool coloured background I had painted I could see almost like a underwater scene, so this provided the inspiration for my image. I drew some (very) abstract coral. Around the coral images I then finger painted over the top using the same technique but this time using a warm palette.
The final step (to get to this stage) was to go over the drawn lines once the paint had dried, though instead of using the charcoal pencil again, I used Indian Ink. I still haven't decided if I am going to do any more to this page or not. Part of me is saying yes it needs more, but I also really love the colours just the way they are.
The next page we did we adhered a canvas heart onto one of the pages then coloured it one colour with acrylic paint (either light or dark) and the background another colour, the opposite of what we had used for the heart. If the heart was a dark colour, then the background was light. I of course did the other, which was the harder combination for the next step... typical!!
This exercise was about how to add depth and shading/shadowing to give a three dimensional look to an image/item. Over the top of the painted areas around the inside of the heart (and outside of the heart on the background) we added the Crayola Water Soluble Oil Pastels which we blended together with a spritzing of water.
I really like the way that the texture of the canvas and the background cardstock show through the colouring and shading. I still want to work on the shading a bit, but I'm sure this will continue to develop with time.
The next exercise was to adhere some mini tags to a page. The entire page was then covered in gesso. Once this was dry we then added some blobs of paint across the page before smearing them over the page using a palette knife to highlight the texture of the background.
We then had to adhere down some string to a page and cover this in gesso as well. To add even more texture, I tied small knots along the length of the string as well. I adhered the string on both a full page as well as one of the tags (half an envelope) between two pages.
We covered each page using the finger painting method used earlier on and then highlighted the texture of the string using a complementary colour (i.e. opposite it in the colour wheel). We also used the palette knife to add some scrapes of colour around the edge of the page.
The final step was to attempt to add some additional texture using an image transfer technique to copy the text from a page of text from a book. I used a matte gel that Donna hadn't tried before, so the unsure result was untested as to whether or not it would work. Donna explained two techniques, so I gave them both a go to see which would work best. One worked... the other didn't, though even the one that worked still needs some refining.
Here is a bit more of a close-up of the image transfer. There is still the look of the paper in the image hence the need to work on this technique a bit more but I still like the way it has come out.
The final technique we tried was to stamp using one of Donna's signature stamps using the gelatos. I' stamped my image onto the inside back canvas cover of my journal. I think the key is to be VERY generous with the colour on the stamp and spritz it with water, but then having done that, you can then stamp multiple images without having to refresh the colour.
This particular class was the one that I had to buy the most new products for and I think the class that had the longest bring to class list. I know for some this was an issue (there were one or two quite vocal about it), but these did tend to be the people who felt the least comfortable about the class content. I had no problem at all buying these products and I know I will continue to use them again and again... I already have used them again.
By the end of the class I think I could safely speculate that the people in the class were polarised into one of two extremes - they either totally loved the class and couldn't wait to try more mixed media creativity or they really didn't like it and intended to never try anything like this again. I'm the type of person who believes  don't knock something until you have tried it as you never know if you will like something or not until you have actually tried it. I can safely say that thanks to the terrific teaching of the lovely Donna Downey, I am definitely a convert and I will be trying more very soon!
I had to do the obligatory photo with Donna, but to be different I wanted to take a "Dirty Hands" picture even though our hands weren't that dirty as we had both cleaned them during the class (several times). 
Thank you so much for the wonderful class Donna!!


Gypsy said...

I think Donna Downey would have been my favourite too- but I'm not surprised that some people had issues. I hope they were at least gracious about it. What you did looks amazing that journal looks very cool.

ScrapFX said...

Thanks Gypsy and I agree. Art journaling and mixed media is not everyone's cup of tea, just the same as scrapbooking and card making are not equally liked by every paper crafter and so it should be.
Being a scrap book teacher, I really appreciated Donna's teaching style as much as the content of what she taught us. And sitting back and watching her perform (for lack of a better word) as certainly given me ideas on how I could be a better teacher as well. I guess it is all about how you view each and every opportunity offered to you as to what you can take out of it. Or maybe I'm still just a girlie swat who wanted to be teacher's favourite :-)