Friday, June 3, 2016

Canvas and Kraft Paper Art Journal Tutorial

Canvas and Kraft Paper Art Journal
by Martice Smith II

Hi everyone! Martice here, sharing a fun way of making your own traveling art journal. Through various stenciling techniques, I will walk you through my process on creating a journal full of texture and bold imagery.

This travel journal will be like a best friend during your outdoor adventures. Show off your art with pride while you’re on the go! Let's pLaY!

Supplies to gather:

Bicycle Cruiser Stencil by Pippin Schupbach
Map Stencil by Mary C. Nasser

Canvas (8 ½” x 21 ½”)
6 sheets of Watercolor paper (7 ½” x 22”)
3 sheets of Kraft paper (7 ½” x 22”)

Variety of acrylic paint colors
Large stamp
Paper towel or baby wipes
Container of water
Spray varnish
Optional: sewing machine
Waxed linen thread (for stitching by hand)

STEP 1 // Prime the canvas with gesso. Paint on warm colors.
Paint both sides of the canvas with a wide brush. The colors I used are Peach Silk, Dragon Fruit and Saffron Yellow (DecoArt). Allow the canvas to dry.

(Something to keep in mind: thicker applications of gesso and/or acrylics will take much longer to dry. If you prefer your journal cover to have more stability, add a few drops of textile medium to your paints.)

STEP 2 // Brush on cool colors.
Here, I’ve stenciled across the canvas with the Map stencil using Soft Jade and Ultramarine Blue. The design of this stencil is very bold with dense, intersecting lines. I’ve used this to my advantage by creating a directional line that keeps your eyes moving throughout the composition.

Wipe through stencils with partially dry baby wipe. (Yes, this makes a HUGE difference! If the wipe is too wet, the liquid seeps under the stencil and gives you a smudged image. If you want a crisp, clear image, make sure your wipe is partially dry.)

TIP: Use a sponge or brush pouncher to see which stenciling effect you like best. (I’ve used them both! Can you tell which tool I used and where?)

STEP 3 // Incorporate stamping
Unconventional tools are my fave! I have this really cool circle “stamp” (aka the bottom of a pastry container) that I use during my gelli printing sessions.

Apply some red paint onto a section of the stamp with a sponge pouncer.

TIP: Make some of your stenciling and stamping extend off the edge of the canvas. This will keep things anchored and not looking as though they are floating on the surface.

STEP 4 // Add bicycle stencil
Move the stencil around the composition to find the best spot.

Black paint felt too strong of a color to use so I decided to use dark gray. This color is perfect - bold but not overpowering and the variety of contrast (warm+cool+one dark color) makes a big impact.

Repeat the stenciling three times, on different areas on the canvas. Oooo! Rhythm and repetition game is strong!

Next, I outlined the bicycle with Translucent White. Then, I diluted the paint with water. Not clean water but my paintbrush water. My paintbrush water has turned into a creamy, pastel red color (from step 1) which is perfect for glazing over the white..

I dip my brush into the water and spread it on the white areas.

Now, the bike appears to be pushed forward, away from the background of intersecting lines.

Here is a full view of the canvas piece. On the left side, I flipped the stencil and repeated STEP 2.

Seal both sides of the canvas with spray varnish and let it dry.

STEP 5 // Prepare and stencil the inside pages.

Fold watercolor and kraft papers in half.

Nest two watercolor sheets into one kraft paper signature. (Each signature will have two sheets.) Repeat for the other two signatures.

Using the Scribble Scratch Handwriting stencil, paint a section of each kraft paper signature with a sponge pouncer.

STEP 6 // Stitch it all together!
Optional: Fold the canvas edges under ¼ inch and glue them down with fabric glue.
(Doing this will keep the raw edges from unraveling and fraying while the journal is being handled.)

Find the center of your canvas piece by folding it in half.

Place your signatures along the fold. (Hold everything in place with binder clips, if you need to.)

Sew along the folded line. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can punch holes and sew the signatures with a needle and waxed linen thread.

TIP: The pamphlet stitch is a very simple and easy technique to learn. It’s my go-to binding technique for making quick art journals!

Other ideas to try:
  • Topstitch your art journal cover with a complementary thread color.

  • Write poems or encouraging notes to yourself on each signature inside your art journal.

  • Made a latch style closure out of strips of velcro.

  • Going on a nature walk? Bring a large crayon to make rubbings from various plant leaves and surface textures.

Thank you for visiting us today! I hope you enjoy making your very own canvas and kraft paper art journal and filling it with your amazing art!


  1. I love these thinking-outside-the-box ideas for using stencils! Many thanks!

    1. You're welcome, Cecilia! Yes! There's an endless amount of creative inspiration for using stencils. I love me some StencilGirl!

    2. You're welcome, Cecilia! Yes! There's an endless amount of creative inspiration for using stencils. I love me some StencilGirl!

  2. What pretty, summery art! Love all the details in your tutorial. I want to make this!

  3. Thanks for the great idea and tutorial!

  4. It was an excellent tip in making a Canvas and Kraft paper art journal. Sharing this kind of tips would surely help many people to learn some advance method of making a wonderful Kraft.


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