Art Journal Evolution – Watercolor Stamping

I love experimental play, and today I’m sharing the journey with you as I explore stamping with watercolors. I hope it inspires you to do a little experimenting of your own today!

(click here if you can’t view the video)

Art Journaling 101 – Background Techniques

Art Journaling 101 - a FREE e-course designed to gently introduce beginners to the basics of art journaling so you can find your way with more ease and less fearThis article is part of my FREE e-course Art Journaling 101 – which has been designed to gently introduce beginners to the basics of art journaling so you can find your way with more ease and less fear. If you’re curious about art journaling or overwhelmed with how to begin, sign up for the full free course HERE.

Today I want to share with you a couple of my favorite background techniques for art journaling. They’re all super simple and fun to do. When you find yourself stuck and not knowing where to begin you can always start prepping your pages with these and many other background techniques!

This first technique can be applied in so many ways. Gel medium acts as a resist, so you can stencil, stamp, and paint with it on your surface, then go over it with a wash of paint to reveal the resist. Here, I stenciled on some circles using gloss gel medium and a hand cut stencil that I made.

The gel medium is clear, so it’s a bit hard to see where and how well you’re working, you kinda have to watch it at an angle. Once dry, paint over it with watercolors or slightly watered down acrylics. If the paint is sticking to your gel medium, you can lightly dab it with a paper towel and it should come right up. On this page, I used a lot of water with acrylics, then lifted the book to let it drip. So fun!

You may remember this next technique from grade school. Wash your page with 1-3 colors of watercolor, sprinkle with some table salt, and then watch the magic happen! If you aren’t using watercolor paper, you may want to put a base coat of Absorbent Ground like I did, so that the watercolor flows better on your page. Absorbent Ground helps the paper act more like watercolor paper, making it easier to spread wet mediums.

One of the easiest and fastest ways to create a background is to simply squirt some paint onto your page then move it around with an old credit card or key card. With this technique your paint will dry super quick, you waste little to no paint, and it creates a neat printmaking effect! Scrape the paint up and down, then scrape side to side, letting the colors mix slightly.

When dry, you can add another layer of color like I did here with the black.

One of my absolute favorite ways to add dimension, texture, and interest is to first collage some paper onto the page. You can use just about anything such as old dictionary pages, pages from a phone book, scrapbook papers, magazine clippings, and more. Here, I ripped up pieces of an old dictionary and glued them down with soft gel medium. Once it was dry, I painted over it with watered down blue acrylic paint. I dabbed the page with a paper towel here and there to create a mottled effect, then once it was dry I painted another layer in the same way with purple.

This last technique is super fun, but it takes a long time to do. Squirt a generous amount of gesso onto your page (I like to use Liquitex Basics Gesso), then spread it around with an old credit card or key card.

You want a nice thick layer, almost like spreading spackle. You’ll get a nice texture just by spreading it around, but to take it further you can draw into it with the back of a paint brush, stamp in it (a thick, deep etched stamp works best), scratch it, and more to add texture. With my page, I wrote the word “love” with the back of a paint brush, and stamped into it with a circle stamp.

Then comes the hard part… letting it dry! With such a thick layer, you’ll probably have to leave it out overnight to dry. It will take hours! Once its finally dry, add a wash of color. Here, I used red and orange acrylic paint thinned with water. Before the paint dries, wipe off some of the excess paint with a paper towel. You’ll see how the recessed areas stay darker, and the raised areas get lighter showing off your beautiful texture! With mine, I added a little more paint around the edges to finish it off nicely.

Playing around with different techniques will usually lead to a “happy mistake” or two. Below is an image of one of my happy mistakes trying to do the gel medium resist technique. I put a layer of gold on the page first, then stenciled some small circles with the gel medium. I then did a wash of blue over the top… but the gold paint must not have been dry enough because my blue wash started to turn an ugly green color and got the page all messy. So, I sprayed it with water and rubbed with a paper towel. This lifted most of the paint off the paper, even the gold layer underneath. But, it left the gold circles in tact because they were protected by the gel medium!

Many weeks ago I discovered another way to create texture on the page using gesso. I had just finished prepping my page with a layer of gesso, when I accidentally turned the page. Of course, with the gesso being still wet, the pages stuck together. I was horrified! But after peeling the pages apart, I got excited to see such a neat texture form from the pages pulling apart.

There are infinite amounts of techniques and ways to start adding color and texture to your page. Heck, you don’t even have to start with color and texture… maybe you want to work on a white background! Just play around, experiment, and keep an open mind as you follow your heart. Sometimes, a technique you learn online or in a book will never work out for you, but perhaps you will stumble upon a “happy mistake” of your own! 

Bonus Tip: Having a separate journal like I do for experimenting and practicing techniques is a fun way to collect everything you’ve learned and discovered.

Now get out your paints and go play!

Mini Paint Chip Notebook Tutorial

While searching the paint isles for the perfect color to paint our daughters’ bedroom, I was just overwhelmed with giddiness looking at all the different colors! I took quite a few paint chip samples home to show the girls, and decided to create mini notebooks with the leftovers.

Mini Paint Chip Notebook Tutorial
I’ll show you how to create these cute notebooks using a SIMPLE three hole pamphlete bookbinding stitch. These particular mini books are created with 5″ x 3 1/4″ paint chips, but you can use this bookbinding technique with any sized book!  

What you’ll need:
*Cover for your notebook (I used 5″ x 3 1/4″ paint chip samples, or you can cut a magazine cover, cardstock, or anything else with a little weight to it.)
*Text weight paper
*Cutting mat, exacto knife, and ruler
*Awl (great to have one, but optional)
*Large needle
*Thread (I used DMC stitchery floss) 
*Embellishments (optional of course)

Step 1: Cut your text weight paper to size using a paper cutter, or your ruler and exacto knife on a cutting mat. Your paper should be about 1/8″ smaller than your cover, so in my case I cut the paper to 4 7/8″ x 3 1/8″. Fold each paper in half matching the short ends, making what we call a “folio”. (You can also fold your cover at this time too.) I used about 10 sheets per notebook (10 folios), which equals 40 pages to write on (counting both sides of each page). 

Step 2: Stack your ten folios inside each other to create a “signature”. When stacking multiple folios, the edges stick out towards the center, so I decided to clean mine up a bit by trimming the open edge. This is an optional step, its all up to you and your style. (Obviously you would hold the ruler straighter than I have here in the photo! lol) 

Step 3: Time to poke your holes! You can use an awl, or a large needle. I’m not exactly sure what the tool that I am holding is called… its like an awl, but without the fancy handle. I purchased it as a cheaper option many years ago. Inside your signature, poke a hole in the very center, through all ten folios. Then, poke two more holes, one to the left and one the right of your center hole, for a total of three holes. (If you’re using a proper awl, it may be easier and/or faster to poke all the holes with the cover on.)  

Step 4: Take the inside folio out of your signature, and center it inside your cover. Use it as a guide to poke your holes in the cover. When you’re finished, put the folio back on the inside of your signature, then place the whole signature inside your cover.

Step 5: Next, its time to pick out your thread! You can use just about any type of thread or cording, as long as its not too thick (so it won’t fit in your needle or holes) or its not too thin (to wear out or break as you use the book). “Professional” bookbinders like to use a waxed linen thread made especially for bookbinding. But since this is a mini book just for fun, I decided to use DMC stitchery floss (and also because I had a whole tin full!). Cut a piece about 12-15″.

Step 6: Thread your needle with your thread, and push your needle into the center hole on the outside of your book. Leave a 3″ “tail” hanging out of the center hole. Then, push your needle through the bottom hole going from the inside of your book to the outside, as shown in the photo below. 

Step 7: Next, bring your needle through the top hole (from outside to inside), and then exit again through the center hole, as shown in the photo below.  

Step 8: You should now have both your ends coming out of your center hole. Pull on them a little to be sure your stitching is tight. Arrange them on either side of the thread that is running from top to bottom, and tie your ends together in a tight knot. Trim your ends, or leave them long to add beads or other embellishments later.


Step 9: Now for the fun part! Gather some supplies, and get creative decorating your little books. My favorite thing to do is rip out pieces from an art book like Cloth Paper Scissors. They’re chock full of inspiration, colors, and textures!  

For my blue notebook, I layered a ripped magazine image, a ticket that says “giggle”, some designer tape by Bella BLVD, and two mini staples. (I just LOVE mini staples! he he) For my pink book, I was inspired by the paint color name, which is “Watermelon Smoothie”. I just couldn’t get “watermelon” out of my mind! (Which is why I went with green thread!) I doodled some “seeds” on the cover, then glued down a ripped piece of pattern paper, then added some black buttons. I wanted to add some small black beads to my threads, but unfortunately my bead collection is still packed away somewhere in our basement. :( But I was lucky to find a little green leaf hanging out on the floor in the kids’ room. (You never know what you’ll find on their floor! lol) So I poked a hole in that with my needle and threaded it onto my DMC floss.

I just love how they came out! I’ll be keeping one in my purse, and one in the diaper bag to jot down notes where ever I go. :)


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Feel free to pin on Pinterest (just be sure to click on the blog title link first) or share this tutorial with your friends. :) And if you decide to make some of your own, don’t forget to show me! Post a link to your photo in the comments section, or you can also share photos on my facebook page. Have fun!!

PS I found some great resources you might be interested in…
50 Fun Things to do with Paint Chip Samples 
Paint Chips – Are You Stealing? 

Busy Mom VS Daily Grind – Day 10 + Thumbprint Magnets Tutorial

New here and wondering what’s going on? Busy Mom VS Daily Grind is all about making the dedication to do something every day that will help you live a happier, more fulfilling life. I have committed to document my journey of developing the habits of living moment by moment, being grateful, and bringing self expression + creativity into every day. Read more about the challenge HERE.

The girls and I did a little craft today! We made these cute little keepsake thumbprint magnets to give Daddy on Father’s Day. I thought you’d enjoy a tutorial so you can make these with your own kids. The magnets would be great as gifts for moms and grandparents too! You could also make them into thumbtacks (OH he he! Thumbprint thumbtacks! LOL).

You’ll need some oven-bake clay, a toothpick, baking sheet, tinfoil, craft or acrylic paint, a rag, E-6000 glue, and some magnets (I used 1/2″ neodymium magnets that I purchased off Etsy).

Step 1: Let your kid(s) knead the clay until its soft and smooth. Make sure they have clean hands, or you’ll bake little fuzzies and gunk into the clay! lol

Step 2: Line a baking sheet with foil, then roll the clay into 1″ balls. 

Step 3: Gently squish the clay to make round disks. 

Step 4: Help your child gently press their thumb into the clay. Try not to let them wiggle too much so you get a clean impression!

My oldest wanted to create a few of her own designs too! ;0)

Step 5: Next, use a toothpick to carefully write their name and age around the thumbprint. It can get a little tricky (especially with the letter ‘e’), so go slow.

Step 6: Bake the clay according to the directions. I had to bake mine for 15 minutes at 275F.

Step 7: When they are completely cooled, use your finger to press some paint into the name. 

Step 8: Use a slightly damp cloth to gently rub off the excess paint.

To color the thumbprint, add paint with your finger, then with a clean finger, gently swipe the excess paint away. The markings in the thumbprint are not deep enough to hold paint if you rub it with a rag. 

Step 9: Lastly, glue magnets to the back using the super-duper-awesome E-6000 glue.

Let it dry for a few hours before attempting to use the magnets. The neodymium magnets are SUPER strong; if you stick them to the fridge before the glue is completely dry, you might just rip the clay from the magnet when trying to take it off the fridge! lol  

I’m sure any family member would love to get a keepsake like this from their beloved little ones! Aren’t they cute!?

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! We sure had fun making them! 

Don’t forget to share it with your friends. :)  

Busy Mom VS Daily Grind – Day 3 + Scrappy Tags Tutorial

New here and wondering what’s going on? Busy Mom VS Daily Grind is all about making the dedication to do something every day that will help you live a happier, more fulfilling life. I have committed to document my journey of developing the habits of living moment by moment, being grateful, and bringing self expression + creativity into every day. Read more about the challenge HERE.

Perhaps I spoke too soon yesterday. No nap for baby today. :( I tried to put her down, and was able to start my creative project, but didn’t get very far. Luckily it was a simple project, and I was able to finish up after bedtime. I do love how these came out, but they aren’t as wondrous as in my imagination. I am so out of practice! 

I know a lot of you could easily see how these are made, but I thought perhaps you’d enjoy a step by step anyway!

Step 1: Gather a bunch of manilla shipping tags and crumple them up. Wrinkles are fun! :)

Even kids love crumpling the tags! See how hard she’s concentrating? he he

Step 2: Mix up a batch of walnut ink. I don’t usually measure, but you mix about 1/2tsp walnut crystals with 1/2 cup warm water. I like to store mine in a baby food jar. Then paint it onto your tags! Don’t forget the back. ;0)

I like to paint the strings too. Although, I think they changed the type of string they use… these ones don’t seem to be accepting the ink very well. (I totally propped  up the brush with my knee to take this photo! lol)

I know some gals like to bake them in the oven, or put them in the sun, or even microwave them to dry. But I let mine just air dry. 

Step 3: Cut up or tear some lace and other fabrics, then layer and arrange them how you like on the tags.

Step 4: The silky fabric was too wrinkly and didn’t want to stay down, so I sprayed it with a little spray adhesive to glue it down. There may be a better glue to use, but this is what I had on hand. But you definitely don’t want to use anything that dries hard, because you’ll be putting it through your sewing machine. 

Step 5: Stitch away with your sewing machine! I SOOOO wish my machine did free motion sewing, but (sigh) it doesn’t. So I tried to make it look a little like free motion by going back and forth a bunch of times, being really sloppy. Love the messy look! I even left some strings dangling. 

Some of the little loose pieces of fabric prevented me from using the back-stitch, so I had to keep turning the tag around in order to hold the fabrics in place with my fingers while I sewed. 

TaDah! Now you can use them in your art journal, or display them in a frame, or I dunno… what the heck to you use tags for anyway? I just love making them and looking at them! lol

 As for my gratitude for the day… not much to report. Everyone was cranky today and we had a lot of running around to do. But I did enjoy some BIG, SLOBBERY kisses from the mini one! he he And it was super cute that Josephine wanted to help crumple the tags. 

I had a real tough time trying not to multi task though, since the baby didn’t nap. I wanted to get back to my project so bad! But I was good and resisted the urge. You don’t realize how how often your mind is wandering around, until you try and spend the whole day living in the moment! It’s hard!

Anywho, I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. See you tomorrow! :)