Art Journal: Heart Work

I am so glad summer is here! Time to get out of the classroom and into my paints!

Today’s post is a throwback to an art journal page that received a lot of positive feedback on my Instagram and that I wrote about here. Here’s a process post so you can get an idea of how I work, and so I can think through some new ideas for the summer! Enjoy!

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All of my art journal work happens in my Canson XL Mixed Media Pad which I covered some time ago with this great “Shine” paper.  For this project I turned to a fresh page and covered it with matte Modge Podge.

Then, I wrinkled up some tissue paper that I had received as wrapping paper on a purchase from my favorite Etsy store, By The Well 4 God.

[The shop owner, Lori, always wraps things in great patterned paper, which means I’m always saving pieces for future project!]

I quickly stuck the crumpled tissue paper to the page. Once the tissue paper was spread across the page, I added a bit more Modge Podge with my fingers to make sure it was secure.

I typically work on several pages at once, but this one was pretty wet already so I set it aside to dry, then I used scissors to trim the edges to fit the page when it was ready. What to do next??

I knew I wanted to add some color, and Distress Ink, one of my very first art supplies, is still my go-to for color. I held my journal up at an angle over a towel and swiped a section at the top near the spiral with each of the mini Distress Ink pads. Then I sprayed the ink with my water mist bottle and watched the colors run down the page. [Very satisfying I must add.] I continued to swipe and spray until I had the color saturation I desired and then gently set the journal down to dry again.

 

 

I knew I was not finished, but I was a bit stuck with what I wanted to do next. So once again I set it aside until I was inspired by some hearts I was working on for my cardmaking. I got out some computer paper and cut out some hearts of various sizes using the templates I already had lying around. I arranged the hearts on top of the page until I settled on three with a layout I liked. I wanted to make sure each color was represented in the design.

Then I used my black Pitt Big Brush pen to trace the outline of the hearts onto the colored tissue paper. I applied a thick coating of white gesso over the entire page, except the hearts, using my fingers to get into all the creases and crevices the tissue paper had created. Here’s a close up of the gesso around one of the hearts:

The last stage of the project was to decide on a background color that wouldn’t compete with the hearts. I was inspired by DianaColors to try gray. I mixed together the gray acrylic paint I had with a little bit of white and applied it over the gesso with my fingers and a makeup sponge.

I really liked the concrete-like texture the makeup sponge gave me, so I dabbed on more white in a few areas while the gray was still sticky. I also used the edge of a paint card to drag a few lines in the paint to bring out a little of the color beneath the gray. I smeared on just a little black paint on the edges as well.

For the finishing touches, once the page was dry, I outlined the hearts again with my black brush pen to help them pop (and correct my aggressive painting!).  I added a few pieces of Tim Holtz Small Talk that spoke to how I was feeling (for more, see my previous post).

This was a great project to get messy with. I had a lot of fun painting over several days. I think I am going to see what else I can do with Lori’s tissue paper this summer. Maybe canvas next???

Messy Heart Work

“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life,” (Ps. 139:23-24, MSG)


Quite fitting that I’m currently making a mess with gesso crafting hearts. My heart is full of confessing today after 24 hours of physical pain and this morning’s Lent devotional. Lent is for turning, repenting, and part of that is confessing to God the way things are. So the truth of the matter is I’m stubborn and full of doubt.

After the difficult pregnancy that ended in life and death in 2013, I reached a new place in surrendering to God. I experienced His grace and love in a new way and journeyed into new levels of trust…except with my body. I didn’t surrender my physical pain. That was mine. And for two full years I lived with chronic, hidden pain in my leg and back. It was my crutch, my curse, my last and most intimate physical connection to son I had taken on all I could for.

It was in studying His Word and truly listening to His voice last year that I moved from fear and pain into freedom.  And if you’ve been following along I started exercising last year in trusting Him to strengthen my body that had become weakened by pain and the ways I’d over compensated on one side to protect the other. My workouts were going well until growing hurts made it clear I needed physical therapy.

I made progress last fall and saw improvements, but we had much work still to do. And then my insurance company stopped covering the therapy, saying I was “well enough.” Fast forward to a new calendar year this January and a new doctor, and I’ve been back in with a new PT who has been amazing. In two visits I felt better than I’d felt in years, and we’ve been working hard every week to maintain the alignment of my hips and strengthen my core and my leg.

So when I found myself barely able to walk on a sweet date with my honey last night, I was stunned. Not this old pain, it can’t be! But there it was, back with a vengeance.  I was able to sit and dine with my love, but by the end of the night he was helping me into bed, giving me medicine, and praying over me. As my heart cried out for healing, all the lies came rushing back–you deserve this pain, you’ll always be broken, you’re just not good enough. By the time I drifted into a tearful sleep, doubt was winning.

Although it took some convincing, I mostly listened to hubby today and spent the day resting and waiting for my physical therapy appointment. I went in discouraged and limping, from physical pain and spiritual wrestling. I came out feeling better, but it is not until now that I’m back in my space, my war room/creative room and getting my hands messy that I get back to center. That I’m reminded again for the need to repent, to turn, to confess as a way to clean up the messy place of my heart and clear the path back into joy. It is here that I can see my failure to worship in the midst of the pain. My stubbornness. My doubt. It is here that once again I find surrender and healing.

The faith journey is just this, a journey.  Not a quick remedy or an easy fix. But there is much joy in moving forward and pressing on. In knowing you don’t stay in trouble spots as long as you did before. In turning more quickly back to the center, the God of the universe, my God, our Lord and King. So be encouraged in the midst of your pain, your doubts, your fears.  Turn. Confess. Worship. He is with us, ready to guide us on the road to eternal life.