Tag Archives: The Crafter’s Workshop

Doing Art Therapy on Myself

Here is what happened to me Friday October 15:

I fell down the stairs and bent my foot the wrong way. I might have two broken toes, I realize it could have been a lot worse. The pain is way down today so my head is more clear and I can actually write something! I don’t have to spend 100% of my time off of my foot until I have a follow up appointment with an orthopedic doctor, but I will have to spend the majority of my time with it elevated, at least for awhile. Not sure for how long, but in the meantime I’m taking the opportunity to study my art therapy book and my horticultural therapy books to see if there is anything I can do to cope better with the fear and frustration of being temporarily unable to move around much. I’d also like to help my stressed out family cope with helping me with my injury while dealing with other severe recent losses. What can I learn while I study and try things out?

Having Some Fun With Negative Space

I started out by working on some collages I began during #virtualartparty number 4, an online session my husband and I hosted to help our friends and family do a little art and hopefully feel less lonely during the pandemic. I’ll write more about the collages later, but for now I want to write about the leftover cut away paper pieces I was dropping in the waste basket to be composted. The shapes were interesting, and reminded me of something. What was it? Why were these scraps interesting? Then I remembered this really cool architecture photo I had put on an Architecture Pinterest board. And some sketches I’d done for a ceramics class in the spring of 1990. Good memories of one of those times when I couldn’t stop the ideas from coming, and a pretty good percentage of them still seem exciting to me.

What I was noticing was the shapes made by the negative space – the parts I cut away – and how they reminded me of positive and negative shapes that I responded strongly to. I took the most interesting white paper scraps back out of the waste basket and glued them down on black paper. I scanned them into the computer to make these positive and negative images to see if they inspired me to make something with them.

Using Photoshop, I made selection outlines out of the white shapes, stroked them in black, and printed out the results as coloring pages so I can try to encourage myself and other people to enjoy the benefits of coloring and art making. There is enough going on to get people started – sometimes a blank page is intimidating if people don’t know what to draw or color – that’s a tip I learned long ago in Drawing 1. There is still room for individual creativity in these and other coloring pages I’ve made available for free download.

Download free coloring pages:

Negative space #1

Negative space #2

Abstract Art

The shapes that resulted from the paper cutting do somewhat resemble natural forms, but the overall design so far is abstract. Is abstract art good for therapeutic purposes?

I often encourage people to try making some abstract art in a project that is relatively low stakes such as an art journal page, because my reasoning has been that many untrained artists are afraid that they can’t draw and therefore are discouraged from making art that attempts to be representational. If I can show them how to make art from found papers and found objects, maybe that will help them become less inhibited and just have fun.

My favorite kind of art is abstract and if need be I can keep myself entertained with shapes, colors, textures and lines for hours if not days on end. Even if I think it’s fascinating and fun, abstract art is likely going to be a hard sell for most people. Those who appreciate abstract art the most are often art and design professionals or people very knowledgeable about art, such as patrons or collectors. The general population is mostly not that big of a fan and prefers recognizable nature-based images (Marcus and Sachs 15). We know from reactions to modern art and modern public sculpture how wide the gulf can be between the tastes of art and design professionals and the general public. If this sounds elitist, it’s not meant to be, it’s just a fact pointed out in a therapy book to help practitioners offer projects that are most helpful to the patient (Marcus and Sachs 15).

Abstract art isn’t necessarily therapeutic to people with certain conditions or states of mind. Experiments on physically or emotionally stressed patients revealed not only an affinity toward nature imagery but hostility to abstract art – even to the point of attacking the abstract pieces in some cases. The same artwork often prompted positive reactions from the staff, showing how the varying states of mind of individuals influenced how the artwork was perceived (Marcus and Sachs 30-31).

Practitioners intending to use art to facilitate health should keep the client’s needs in mind above their own personal tastes (Marcus and Sachs 15). Stress is detrimental to healing, both mentally and physically (Marcus and Sachs 25), so the last thing I would want to do is add to someone’s stress if I was trying to help them.

What could I add to my abstract background to make a project that is more soothing to the general public? My project is aimed at people who want to color but don’t necessarily want to draw. I have several stencils in my collection with botanical imagery that will appeal to the universal human need for nature-based imagery. I can use colors that are soothing and also found in nature. I chose blues and greens for this demo because hot colors might aggravate certain conditions and interfere with wellness (Winterbottom and Wagenfeld 182).

Art Journal Page

Here is an art journal page I made with one of my abstract printouts and a botanical themed stencil.

I got out a piece of cardstock that I use as a template for making pages that fit my art journal and I traced around the printout to remind me where the page edge will be. I chose a stencil by The Crafter’s Workshop, Mini Four Ferns, and outlined the fern designs in pencil.
I chose a blue gray pencil color to fill in the abstract shapes so that they would visually recede into the background behind the green ferns. Where the fern and abstract shapes overlapped, I overlaid neutral gray marker. I used green colored pencils and a green Sharpie paint marker to color in the rest of the ferns where they did not overlap the blue, and I outlined the ferns with a thin black Sharpie pen. It didn’t look quite finished so I drew some lines in pencil that are reminiscent of topographic maps. Then I was satisfied!

Works Cited

Marcus, Clare Cooper and Naomi A. Sachs. Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces. Wiley, 2014.

Winterbottom, Daniel and Amy Wagenfeld. Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces. Timber Press, 2015.

Art Journaling By Selectively Covering Text

Sometimes I find and save advertising materials printed on nice paper. I might like part of the imagery, or be attracted to the weight and feel of the paper, or both. It’s sometimes less intimidating to start an art journal page on paper that already has something on it than a blank piece of paper. In this article I’ll show you two ways to creatively alter found papers with text on them.

Tools and Materials
Assorted found papers and scrap papers
Clean scrap paper
Stencils
Markers and other drawing and coloring implements of choice
Painter’s tape or masking tape
Scissors
Glue stick
Burnishing tool

First, select a piece of paper with text on it, and a stencil. Tape the stencil in place over the text. Using the marking implement of your choice, outline the openings in the stencil only in the spots where there is text to cover.

This results in an interesting effect. The text turns into a texture rather than something you read, and the resulting graphic effect might suggest what to do next to finish the composition. You might decide to color in some or all of the outlines you just traced over the text.

In the example above, since I’ve used permanent black Sharpie markers, I can use almost any medium I want to add color if I want to.

There is no need to restrict yourself to using a black marker. My brother got off to a very good start on this page. He took advantage of the pale text to use colored Sharpie markers. If he wants to work on this page more it has a lot of potential.

I have a real weakness for amoeba shapes and any graphics that suggest mid-century modern imagery. I cut these blocks of text from a magazine because of the pretty shapes and colors backing some of the text.

The article I took these cutouts from was about work-life balance. There are some words in these paragraphs that would be good to have in my art journal, which I use as a self-care tool as well as for creative expression. I covered up the words I didn’t want to see with strips of scrap paper and left exposed the words I did want to see. When the glue was dry enough to handle, I trimmed the shapes. Toward the end, I got tired of gluing paper strips and for the last few lines I wanted to cover, I used a yellow opaque paint marker to finish off these pieces.

Some people compose prose or poetry this way, by removing words instead of writing them to make new compositions. In this sample I was mainly interested in making a visual statement, and I treated the words as random elements. But if you wanted to, you could make a carefully considered visual AND literary statement by selectively covering words.

Here is a two-page spread using both techniques from this article together. I think these two pages are almost complete. I’ll think about them for awhile before doing anything else to them, if I decide they need more.

It helps that these two found pages here were already strong graphically, which was part of the reason why I was attracted to them in the first place.

Every art journal page doesn’t have to be a masterpiece

I’m happy with how this two-page spread for my art journal turned out, even though it is kind of messy. Sometimes in the morning Tom will make the coffee before leaving for work and often he’ll leave a love note for me with good wishes for the day if I’m not awake yet. He uses paper left over from me printing out shipping labels for my online store. The leftovers just happen to be the size of my journal and planner pages. I punch holes in a lot of them and write on the other side when I want to take notes or record thoughts. Often either he or I will get coffee stains on the notes as you see here. Since I’m not starting with a pristine piece of high quality paper, there is no pressure on me to make a craft demo worthy effort every time I use these to make an art journal page. I did however greatly enjoy using stencils and stickers in the rough but satisfying example shown above to record a few thoughts about sharing morning coffee with my loved ones and having a healthy weekend.

In my last blog post, I wrote about the acronym G.R.A.P.E.S. and how the G stands for “Be gentle with yourself”. One way to do that is to take a little time to journal and let yourself off the hook if it doesn’t look like a brand ambassador did it. The activity itself is beneficial in many ways.

Stencils and stickers are real time savers when you want to slap something together without having to make a major art or design statement. I have a lot of supplies, but also I have a basic portable kit that includes some of my favorite stencils, a folio of colored pencils, gel pens, a few planner-friendly design tapes and some basic pencils and markers for writing and outlining. There are a few frequently used paper crafting tools in that kit like a burnisher, glue stick, hole punch, scissors, ruler and utility knife for cutting and sharpening pencils. I can get a lot done with that kit, and if I want to add more to the pages when I’m home, I have many more paper crafting supplies I can utilize.

The stencils I used in the two-page spread above are available in my online shop:

Mini Script Words

Mini Word Association

Mini Coffee Splotch

Mini Home Sweet

I have a couple of Pinterest boards full of more of my own examples along with samples, inspiration and tips from others on the topics of Art Journaling, Planners, Albums, Homemade Books and Scrapbooks. Enjoy!

Art Journaling

Planners, Journals, Albums, Scrapbooks and Handmade Books

Easter Card Tutorial

Easter card with rubber stamped and stenciled decoration
Easter card with rubber stamped and stenciled decoration

Here is a project that will help you use up some paper scraps!

Tools and Supplies
Scissors
Decorative paper scraps in pastel and spring colors
Pencil
Paper cutter
Corner rounder
Cardstock
Scoring tool
Folding tool
Masking tape (low-tack type is best)
Sponges
Stencils with interesting background textures
Rubber stamps, including small letter stamps
Rubber stamping ink – black and assorted colors
Heat tool (optional)
Clean scrap paper
Glue stick
Small hole punch
Eyelets
Eyelet setter
Hammer

Instructions

  1. Draw an egg shape 1 3/4″ tall on the back of decorative paper. If you have a die cut, punch or stencil that is around that size you can use that. Cut out egg. If you need inspiration for color schemes, scroll down to the bottom of this article for more samples.
  2. Cut some thin strips out of a contrasting paper and glue them on the front of the egg. Trim the stripes around the edge of the egg shape with scissors.
  3. Cut out a piece of paper 2 1/4 x 2 1/4″ for a background to the egg. Round the corners with a corner rounder. Stamp a textural stamp on part of of the square. In my sample I used a stamp from 7gypsies. Make sure the ink is dry, use a heat tool if necessary to speed it up. Glue the egg onto the square.
  4. Cut an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ inch piece from cardstock for the body of the card. Score down the middle and fold in half.
  5. On the front of the card, sponge some rubber stamping ink in complementary colors through some interesting background stencils. For my samples I used stencils from The Crafters Workshop. Hold the stencil and card in place with masking tape on your work surface if necessary while working.
  6. When ink is dry, stamp a textural rubber stamp along the top and bottom edges in a complementary color of your choice. In my sample I used a stamp from 7gypsies.
  7. Glue the square with the egg on it to the middle of the front of the card.
  8. Stamp two large brackets on either side of the square in black. I used stamps from the set “Memory Craft Helpers” from Carolyn’s Stamp Store.
  9. Cut two strips of paper 3/8″ x 4.25″. Using black ink stamp the word “Happy” in the center of one and “Easter” on the other. I used a stamp set with interchangeable letters to form the words. Randomly stamp a design in black here and there on one or both of the strips. For my samples I used a stamp from 7gypsies that looks like ledger paper. Glue the two strips in place above and below the square with the egg on it.
  10. Punch four holes in the ends of the paper strips and insert an complementary color eyelet in each. Set the eyelets.
  11. You’re done! If you want to make a matching envelope for the card, the free downloadable template “Square Envelope Template” will fit.

Easter cards in a variety of color schemes
Easter cards in a variety of color schemes

Filmstrip Challenge

Artwork after scanning and adding a digital layer that resembles filmstrips.
Artwork after scanning and adding a digital layer that resembles filmstrips.

I had so much fun participating in a sketch challenge recently that I decided to make an effort to enter more. RubberStampMadness magazine is currently running a Filmstrip Challenge which appealed to me. Above is my entry. There are still a few days left before the deadline if you want to get in on the fun – here are the entry guidelines.

Though I’ve been rubber stamping for well over 20 years, I haven’t done a whole lot of coloring in of rubber stamps. This project helped me to get some practice and was an opportunity to experiment with mixed media.

The first thing I did was to cut out a bunch of 2 x 2 inch and 2 x 3 inch pieces of scrap paper which would become the individual “frames” in the finished artwork. Then I stamped images on them in black waterproof ink.

The next step was to give each section it’s own background color with decorative chalks and old eyeshadow. To apply I used Q-tips, sponge tip makeup applicators and Fantastix by Tsukineko which are a great help in getting color into¬† tight areas around the edges of the stamped images.

Next I sprayed the paper pieces with workable spray fixative to hold the chalk in place, then I coated them with a thin layer of matte medium and let it dry. The workable fixative allowed me to brush on matte medium without the powders smearing and the purpose of the matte medium is twofold – it’s the glue I will use to attach the images and words I cut from magazines, and it keeps the markers I’ll apply later from smearing the black ink that I stamped.

The next step was to figure out words to put in the word and thought balloons I had stamped. It would be a lot of fun to tell a coherent, planned out story with this format but I couldn’t think of any ideas¬†for a story so I did what I often do, I relied on the random and let my subconscious guide me. Cutting out pictures from magazines has been a reliable way for me to tap into the subconscious part of my brain for decades. I picked up some discarded magazines that I hadn’t cut up yet and went through them looking for words that piqued my interest. Along the way I cut out appealing pictures – some I put aside to use in other projects and a few I used for this one. I grouped the words on my work surface into combinations that appealed to me and matched the words or groups of words with images. Some of the results make sense to me, some don’t and it’s likely the ones that mean something to me won’t mean the same thing to others and vice versa. That’s one of the fun things about art!

I then glued the cut-out images and words in place by brushing the backs of them with matte medium and smoothing them in place with an old credit card. One way to reduce the risk of wrinkling the paper is to coat both sides of the pieces with matte medium and let dry before wetting the backs again to apply. It’s extra work but it’s worth it for good results. You can speed up drying with a heat tool so your work session isn’t interrupted. (It sounds funny to say “work session” – this was play!)

If you prefer instead of gluing in cut-out words you can write words in the balloons or use word rubber stamps or stickers.

My next step was to take each section and highlight the stamped images with a little color here and there and add some texture to the backgrounds with stencils from The Crafter’s Workshop. I like the way some of the textures vaguely suggest the “dot gain” effect that you often see in comic books. My coloring implements for this project were Sharpie markers and Prismacolor pencils. Both will color just fine over the matte medium but if you want to use different media, do some tests on scrap paper first to see if the surface will accept the color. I could have made masks to protect the areas I did not want to stencil on but to save work I relied on my eye to tell me where to stop. I only went onto the white word areas on a couple of spots so I decided to touch up these areas later with acrylic paint to disguise my mistakes. If you decide to sponge ink through the stencils you will need to make masks.

I glued the individual “frame” pieces down on a piece of archival cardstock with Yes Glue. Then I got out a tiny paintbrush and touched up the white areas and I liked the way the bright white looked so I added white highlights here and there all over the artwork where I thought it needed it. I liked the effect, it added a little extra “pop”.

The next image shows what my artwork looked like before I scanned it and added digital enhancements.

Here is my artwork before I added any digital enhancements.
Here is my artwork before I added any digital enhancements.

Stamp credits:

Row 1, left to right: Unknown, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Unknown, All Night Media, Carolyn’s Stamp Store

Row 2: Viva LasVegasStamps, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Unknown

Row 3: Viva LasVegasStamps, Viva LasVegasStamps, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, 7gypsies

Row 4: Unknown, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Chronicle Books, All Night Media

Row 5: Viva LasVegaStamps, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Carolyn’s Stamp Store

After scanning in the image, I opened it up in Photoshop and added a layer for a faux filmstrip effect which I made from a couple of these free digistamps. I may print out this “filmstrip” layer on clear transparency film and mount it over the original artwork with brads or eyelets to display it.

A Road Trip Journal for Dad – Part 1

In June of this year I took a trip with my Dad to Toronto and New York City. I knew ahead of time that we would be traveling on Father’s Day, so I made a gift to present to him on the trip – a handmade journal for him to write in each day, which he did. The journal was designed so that after the trip we could add photos and ephemera and perhaps write more about our memories. I’m in the process of getting both of our photos printed so we can start working on it. I expect this will be a long term project and we will enjoy the time together that we spend on it and memories of the great trip we had. Below are photos of some of my favorite parts of the journal, as they looked before any content was added. In the future I’ll be sharing some our favorite layouts as we get them done.

Cover of journal
Here is the front cover of the journal. It’s decorated with a collage that is protected by a piece of acetate. The small word rubber stamps are from Carolyn’s Stamp Store.

Inside front cover and first page
Inside front cover and first page. The inside front cover has a pocket for holding ephemera. The large rubber stamp on the right is from 7gypsies.

Set of two interior pages
On the left I used a trimmed Project Life card, part of the collage I made and some decorative paper. The small rubber stamps on the right are from Carolyn’s Stamp Store.

Set of two interior pages
On the left I used two different stencils from Crafter’s Workshop and a stamp from 7gypsies.

Set of two interior pages
On the left I used a Project Life card, part of my collage and decorative paper. On the right are stamps from Carolyn’s Stamp Store.

Set of two interior pages
On the right I used a stencil from Crafter’s Workshop and some decorative papers.

Set of two interior pages
On the right in addition to decorative papers I used a sticker from Tim Holtz and a Project Life card.

Here are some links to products I used to make this journal:

Months of the Year Unmounted

Year Numbers 2 Unmounted

Evocative Words II

Set of Unmounted Stamps – Journaling and Planner Words

7gypsies Medium Binding Rings Antique Brass

Tim Holtz Idea-ology Long Fasteners

Mini Road Sign 6×6 Stencil

Mini Sketch Grid 6×6 Stencil

Mini Woodgrain 6×6 Stencil