Starting an Art Journal with Charlene McNally

For the month of June, I was enrolled in a four-part series of art journaling classes at Castle in the Air.  The classes were taught by Charlene McNally, the same lady who taught the Paper Wonderland tunnel book class I took in April.

For the first two sessions, we focused our attention on making our actual art journal.  We first made the cover, which was made out of a type of cloth, that, for the life of me, I cannot remember the name.  It was some kind of sturdy cloth that Charlene had us paint and decorate.  Since I am a sucker for warm colors, I painted mine a warm brown with red droplets made from a stencil.

Hand painted and decorated cloth cover of art journal

Hand painted and decorated cloth cover of art journal

The brown streaks/lines you see were also created using a stencil.  I decided to coat my cover with an oilcloth finish, using Martha Stewart’s fabric-to-fabric oilcloth finish decoupage medium.

Martha Stewart fabric-to-fabric oilcloth finish decoupage medium

Martha Stewart fabric-to-fabric oilcloth finish decoupage medium

For the inside of my cover, I continued the brown theme, but added some streaks and dabs of yellow.

Hand painted inside of cover

Hand painted inside of cover

For the pages inside, we created five signatures out of thick water color paper.  Each signature consists of four folios.  A folio is basically a piece of paper folded in half to create two pages.  We hand bound the signatures to our covers, using a long stitch binding.

Hand stitched center of signature

Hand stitched center of signature

5 signatures of art journal bound to cover

5 signatures of art journal bound to cover

Long stitch binding on art journal

Long stitch binding on art journal

Hand bound art journal

We had a choice of closures we could create for our journals.  I opted for a simple velcro closure for quick and easy access.  The other students all opted for fancier, button and ribbon closures.

Velcro closure for art journal

Velcro closure for art journal

Charlene gave each student a small handmade envelope to adhere to the inside front cover of our journal.  We each used it to hold a “If found, please return to…” card, in case we ever lose our journal.

Inside front cover of art journal with envelope

Inside front cover of art journal with envelope

I lined my envelope and created my please return card out of Graphic 45 Come Away with Me papercrafting paper.

Graphic 45 paper used to line envelope

Graphic 45 paper used to line envelope

Graphic 45 paper used to create return card

Graphic 45 paper used to create return card

Return card and envelope

Return card and envelope

After we had bound our journals, Charlene showed us some techniques to decorate a few of our inside pages.  We started with the first page that would serve as kind of a title page for our journal.  From Charlene’s stash of ephemera, we each chose an image we wanted to showcase.  I chose this art deco French travel postcard:

Art deco postcard of Nice, France

Art deco postcard of Nice, France

Charlene then had us choose ephemera that had similar colors as our focal image.  We cut the ephemera into strips of various lengths.  Then using the colors of our ephemera and images as our guide, we painted our journal pages in similar colors.  After the paint had dried, we each glued down the strips we had cut out earlier to create a border around our page.

Edge of title page decorated with coordinating colors

Edge of title page decorated with coordinating colors

We added other decorative touches, including more ephemera along the border and our focal images.  The French postcard I had originally planned on using turned out to be too large for my title page, so I ended up using another image that fortunately had a similar color scheme.

Central image on title page of art journal

Central image for title page of art journal

Given the childlike nature of this image, I decided to use some stickers from my Graphic 45 Mother Goose paper collection.  It just so happened that the stickers had a similar color scheme to the colors already on my journal page.

Edge of title page decorated with Mother Goose scrapbook stickers

Edge of title page decorated with Mother Goose scrapbook stickers

To finish we added titles to our journal pages with rubber stamps.  Charlene came up with the title for my journal.  Given the childlike theme of my front page, it was very appropriate.

Inside title page of art journal

Inside title page of art journal

Inside front cover and title page of art journal

For our last session, Charlene taught us one way to create a background for our pages.  We started by tearing out random bits and pieces of thin, delicate, printed paper and gluing them down onto a two-page spread in our journal.  We also added bits of washi tape.  We then brushed on some gesso to our pages to mute the print on the bits of paper.  Then using paint on a dry brush and some distressed ink, we dabbed on different colors and quickly worked them in with moist baby wipes.

Background page of painted, torn pieces of paper

Background page of painted, torn pieces of paper

Charlene then showed us how to use stencils and molding paste to create a textured surface onto our pages.  To finish we added some color to the stenciled surfaces.

Molding paste stenciled design on corner of page

Molding paste stenciled design on corner of page

Molding paste stenciled design on edge of page

Molding paste stenciled design on edge of page

Background of double page spread

Background of double page spread

I had a lot of fun in this class, and I left feeling like I had more techniques in my arsenal to continue on my art journaling journey.  Charlene is planning on holding a series of drop-in classes at her home studio once a month to help us continue working on our journals.  I am really looking forward to this, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

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About Serena Y Lee

Serena worked in the biotech industry for 18 years before leaving to pursue her life purpose – to live in freedom with creativity and simplicity. Her love for baking, creativity, and story-telling compelled her to start blogging to share her ideas with a wider audience.

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