Very LONG post...Viewer Discretion is advised ...LOLHi all. A few people requested that I do a tutorial on the process I am using to create the backgrounds for my altered book about Ed using Rick St. Dennis' cat images. The easiest way to do that would be a video but since I haven't learned how to do that yet (it's on the list), I did step-out photos instead. Grab a beverage and a snack...there are tons of photos because there are lots of quick layers. Above is the finished page which follows the theme of the other pages. You can see them here and here.
I began with a child's board book which I sanded and then coated with gesso. On this one I did two coats because the pictures were very bright and pigment dense. You can still see some of them peeking through but I like that because it's a head start on layering. I use washi tape down the center and go over the top and under it with gesso. It strengthens the bend and covers any cracking of the gesso.
Next I added colour. On this particular book, I decided to use Neocolor II watercolor crayons activated with water. I scribbled it on with few gaps because I wanted strong bright colours and lots of pigment (not watercoloury). You can see the three blues that I chose above the book (light, medium, dark).
I dried the layer with a heat gun and applied a second layer of crayon which I again activated with water in a brush. I kept the darkest colour on the outside, medium toward the center and lightest in the center. This photo was taken before I added the water to spread the the second coat. It will still be somewhat streaky after this but I like the texture that adds.
Next I added some tone on tone stamping with Cornflower Blue Archival ink and a TH text stamp, rolling the unmounted stamp onto the page. I don't use a block because I don't want any perfect impressions ... just background noise to break up the blue...another layer.
To add more variation in tones of blue as well as smooth some areas out, I added Blueberry Gelato around the edges and in a few places in the centers...usually 3 or 5 places plus the edges. I spread this with a dry finger to keep the colour more intense. Had I used a wet finger it would have blended out more. I wanted the contrast.
Here I am adding white embossing paste through TH's Burlap stencil using a palette knife. You can see below where I added it randomly, breaking the odd number rule :) This takes a little while to dry depending on how thick you layer it.
I always like my mixed media pieces to have a frame so I usually take a black Big brush pen and line the very edges. Then I come around the pages a second time angling the marker so that it shows on the face. I also make sure that I come onto the pages a little more in some spots to get the messy look I like. At this point the background is starting to develop into something interesting but we're not there yet.
Time for a little more background stamping, this time with Jet Black Archival ink and a bubbles stamp from Joggles. The black because it is darker than the background adds a stronger layer and pushes everything else back. Good contrast and it keeps the eye on the page instead of drifting off. In this photo you can also really see where I added the darker blue gelato earlier.
The background has a lot of texture and pattern here and there but it's time to tie it together which I have done with both white and black gesso rings. I use bottle lids or anything round and load them up with gesso which has been spritzed with a little water. This makes it create a more complete circle. I also give it a slight twist when I have placed the lid on the background. You can see by this photo that I have added the images, Bootsie and Fred, who are balancing on top of prescription bottle images (cuz Ed is Medi-cat-Ed).
Black and white circles in two sizes are done, Now it's time to add some torn paper. I could have used book paper or designer paper but I always keep a pile of atc size white cardstock papers on my desk to mop up over spray when I am using spray inks. The greeny-blue papers come from one of those mopper-uppers. Sometimes I punch them, die cut, stamp, or, in this case, just tear them. They break up the background and add...you guessed it ...another layer. I like the torn white against the deeper background. I outlined these bits with Big Brush pens in coordinating colours so the overlaps would show and they would contrast better with the background. These give the eye a place to rest from the busy background.
Almost there...are you still with me? Trust me...it takes way longer to photograph and write about it than to actually do it. This is where I look at the composition and see what details are missing. I added the letters using stickers. I had placed the torn papers with an eye to adding the letters on top so they would show up better. Once I added the Medi letters, it needed something to draw attention to that because my eye went to the word cat first because of the greater contrast. I added the faux prescription number on white cardstock under the word to attract the eye there first. The little clusters of pills added some fun detail and a pop of darker blue plus they tied the two pages together through repetition. To anchor the outside edges, create a diagonal sight line that takes the eye through the spread, and also better frame it, I added some black cardstock circles to the opposite corners. The last thing I did was use a black marker to make the doodled border.
And that's my process for these pages. I change it up but always do multiple layers of media to get the depth and layered look I like. It's a very intuitive process and I rarely have any kind of plan.Thanks for joining me today. I hope you found this helpful or interesting...or something. Ed and I are glad you hung in.
Life is good; so is art.