Last Friday night I took an art journaling class with the energetic and easy-to-like Dina Wakley. (Of course art journalers take classes–it’s how we explore. Most of us are life-long learners.) Dina is energetic, comforting, and it seemed perfectly natural to be encouraged to listen to the paint. Or, in the case of Dina’s class–listen to the gesso, paint, ink and oil pastels.
Dina’s joy is to see class participants heading in different directions with their own ideas. At one point, when a participant held up inked and paint-smeared hands, Dina said, “Happy Hands!” The class was light-hearted and fun, and for all the tips, techniques and information, there were no strict rules. As we began to loosen up and risk, Dina gave out a lot of tips and showed us pages from her own journals. Time flew and we worked fast so we wouldn’t get bogged in doubt.
The major idea is to layer colors and use cut-outs as both stencils and masks–in other words, use the piece we cut out (either a star or the outline of a woman) as a mask and apply ink or paint over the cut-out, then remove it to show the paint layer underneath. Or, as a stencil, using the cut out space from the page as a way to put down a layer of color.
Dina’s book samples are amazing. She uses big books with watercolor paper and fills them with great images, stuffed with color, ideas, and thoughts.
I enjoyed the freedom of trying techniques and moving fast. I’m generally a deliberate worker and I liked the idea that “it’s just paper” and the serendipity of working quickly and adding layers to adjust color or texture. The top layer on the piece at the left was made by stamping the wet stencil that I used to spray through on the first image, above.
Taking classes is an important step in developing skills no matter what level you are working on. Explore more, panic less.
–Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journal keeper who loves taking classes and teaching them.