Sand Castle Journal Page

Now that it’s summer, wouldn’t it be great to build a sand castle? Don’t want to get gritty? Build a castle in your journal instead, with ink and a stencil. Use it as a background, or work it into a dramatic foreground image. This one is almost 3 feet wide, but you’ll see that you can use the same idea on a variety of journal pages, from small to medium to big.

I purchased a chipboard “book”–one that had a number of  chipboard pages–shaped like a sand castle. Instead of

stencils of castles decorate a journal page.

attaching the pages with binder rings, I coated the pages with gesso to protect them. I then put three pieces high on the page, covered the rest of the page with a blank piece of paper to protect it, and sprayed ink on the page, using the book pages as a stencil.

To create spray ink, I used Adirondack re-inkers, bottles of concentrated ink used to refill stamp pads. This brand is from Ranger, the company most people associate with Tim Holtz. I used two drops of denim and one drop of eggplant in a Mini-Mister,  added 10 drops of water, and sprayed across the top. You can mix re-inker colors quite nicely. (These aren’t alcohol inks). If you do this, use distilled water to dilute so the mini-mister doesn’t clog. You can also use the ink you create in dip pens and brush calligraphy. I load technical drawing pens with the ink, too.

After waiting about a minute for the ink to dry, I carefully picked up the first layer and rearranged a second layer, using some of the pages I used before as well as some new ones. This time I sprayed the left side with the color pesto and the right side with mushroom. For the final layer I sprayed mushroom mixed with ginger and one drop of butterscotch. You can see the piece with two towers and the gate on the right repeated again on the far left. Repositioning the pieces makes the piece more interesting without looking repetitive.  What please me was the places of most coverage are white, which

Close up of a page showing the definition of color and white space.

will let me write on the page and make the most of the white space as well.

The really great part is that I can continue to create different backgrounds on different journals. The gesso can always be reapplied if I want to start over and create a sandcastle book. I could also paint a solid, very dark blue background, then trace around the edge of the chipboard in white china marker (grease pencil)  and create mid-dark  first line (with Payne’s Gary) and a medium-dark second line of castle images (Payne’s mixed in with a tiny bit of white) and put in yellow windows, to create a somber collage background. If you are fussy about the ring-holes showing, you can cover them with tape. I plan on turning them into windows–round on top, flat on the bottom, when I work on the page.

You can use any interesting stencil to do this. I love the castle because there is a lot of potential to write about vacations, or travel, or dreams, or even sandcastle ideas–ones that you use quickly and that are washed away over time.

Leave a comment if you have ideas about using this or other stencils in your art journal.

Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler, who works at the intersection of words and images. She teaches one-sentence journaling, journaling for perfectionists and raw-art journaling, which includes found poetry.