This post originally appeared on this blog in May of 2011. My process is slightly different these days, but my thinking is very similar. If you're interested in getting some help on your journey to honing in on what you like and don't like and your personal style, consider joining my Design Boot Camp class this Spring. :)
For me, one of the complex and really interesting things about art journaling is that it isn't really easy to explain how to stop art journaling to another person. I can get you started and talk about supplies and teach you loads of techniques, but how do you know when to stop? How do you know when that page is finished and you should move on? I get asked this question all the time when I'm teaching art journaling. And the answer is, "When you're satisfied with it." But what does that mean?
I thought I'd take you step-by-step through my process with an art journal page and we could chat about the many possible stopping points and then whether or not I stopped too soon or too late! I'm really looking forward to your comments on this one!
But it feels like something is missing. So I went on.
And maybe another art journaler would have stopped, but I like an overstuffed page. So I decided to saturate one of the Prima paper flowers with spray ink and stamp with it.
At first I just stamped across the top of the right page. Then I continued down. Then I continued left. Then I continued down even more. Each of those points was a possible stopping point. And this is too. What do you think? Is it done?
Not for me, not yet. That lower left corner needed something. I played with a few things that were sitting on my desk and finally decided that whatever it was, it had to be blue (to pull in the color from those droplets on the right side). Well after monkeying around with stuff I decided to just splash some watercolor paint on there!
Some watercolor across the top and a drip that goes right through the photos. The drip acts like an arrow that goes straight down through the images. So, what do you think? Is it time to stop? I felt it was and went to bed.
But when I woke up in the morning I decided that it wasn't.
So I grabbed an oversized foam stamp from Prima and used two shades of blue acrylic paint to stamp the flowers across the bottom of the page. I think it's now at that critical point where adding anything else will just start to junk it up. So I'm going to stop.
Although...I could see putting a circle around the photos...oh! And a doodle! And...well, you see the stopping problem. But in the end, I decided that this was it. Done.
Check out the details:
But let's talk about the stopping issue. How do you know when you're satisfied? A gut instinct can take a while to develop, so sometimes it's good to have some sign posts to hang onto. In my opinion it's directly linked to your personal style. You have to know what you like in order to know when to stop. Here are a few key points for me and my style (you may have a very different list):
- I need to hit "the big three." For me, that's texture, focal image, and text. I'm not going to say always, but almost always my art journal pages have those three things.
- There must be black. It's an absolute truth. I cannot do anything without using some black. For me, black brings out the brightness of the other colors. Even when I try to do pages with no black, I cannot finish the page without at least a sprinkling of black somewhere.
- I need to create a sense of movement. I like artwork that is off-kilter and that pulls towards one side. I like things that go off the page. I like asymmetry. I've looked back at the process of the page and it's clear to me that I couldn't stop at the "clean" phase because it was too calm and centered. I need motion in my art journal! I think that's why I like splats so much! They create visual action, you know?
- I like lushness. Now that's a hard term to define. It's kind of a I-know-it-when-I-see-it kind of thing. But I like that rich, layered, full, fat, wet, yummy, overstuffed visual lushness. And when I keep going and going on a page, this is usually the thing that I'm seeking! I want lushness! I do a lot of layering to get this lushness. I like the depth that layers bring. And I like blending colors and mixing opaque and transparent supplies. The pages that my fingers keep itching to go back into are the ones that may look pretty, but they don't have a lot of layers.
I encourage you to think about your list. Look at your pinterest boards or your inspiration file or your favorite pages and decide what it is that you like. Make a list of personal musts and don't stop playing with your page until everything on your list is checked off! After a while, it becomes gut (an artist's eye). But even instinctual things (like a child learning to walk) need to be practiced!
Thanks for stopping by!