Monday, November 20, 2017

Gwen's Gems - Winter Art Journaling with Lots of Layers!

Hi all! It's Gwen, back with this month's edition of Gwen's Gems! I can't believe we're already halfway through November, but the holidays are right around the corner and winter is well on its way here in the northern hemisphere. With that in mind, I wanted to do something seasonal in my art journal so I pulled out my some stencils, collage papers, paints, and a few other supplies and got to work.

Here's how the page came out in my journal:

Ready to see how it all came together?

I opened to a blank page in my journal and started by adhering four large sections of collage paper using matte medium. (These collage papers were made organically over time as I cleaned off my brushes, stencils, and stamps on deli and copy paper.) You can see on the bottom left where I'd wiped white paint off of my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil as part of the process of making the paper.

I finished up the background by adding a few scraps of various papers, including some deli paper that I'd painted and then stenciled with Michelle Ward's Fade Horizontal stencil.

Next, I pulled out the 9x12 from the Into the Woods StencilClub collection by Suzi Dennis and stenciled that onto the background using VanDyke Brown and Titan Buff acrylic paint.

To add some contrast and definition, I outlined the area with a black Stabilo All pencil and teased out a bit of the color with a water brush. From there, I wanted to bring the trees even more into the foreground, so I used gold acrylic paint and some acrylic glazing medium and just used my finger to apply it around the edges of the stenciled design.

At that point I happened to glance over and see a few jars of gold foil, and since I fall firmly in the "more is more" camp, I got out the foiling adhesive and added some onto the tree trunks and branches. (You need to let the adhesive dry until it's clear, then it's ready for the leaf.)

I added my gold leaf and then used a rough sponge to buff it and remove the excess. Needless to say, this made me very happy!

Next it was time to add the bird from my Christmas Cardinal and Holly stencil (which can obviously be used for more than just Christmas!) I started by stenciling it with Claret Staz-On ink on a piece of Italian book paper.

Then I used oil pastels in several shades of red, pink, and gray to add color and highlights to my bird.

I really like the way that you can see the text through the oil pastels! I tore around the design and then used matte medium to adhere it onto my background. Of course, I also wanted to add some foliage to my branches, so I stenciled some holly along the bottom using gold embossing paste.

Once the embossing paste was dry, I took out some jars of stained glass paints by Pebeo and used them to fill in the leaves and berries on the holly.

Next I used the Past Present Future stencil by Seth Apter along with Archival Inks to add some texture and pattern into the background.

Time for a few finishing details... I took out various rust and patina pastes, as well as a black powder by Prima, and used them to integrate the gold foil and add lots of texture and visual interest to the trees - I really love how this worked!

I wanted to add a unifying element as well as the suggestion of snow, so I used my Fineliner bottles filled with Diarylide Yellow and Titanium White (both mixed with airbrush medium) to add splattered dots to the page.

Time for the finishing touch... a few scribbly journaled words (which do say something!) written with gold acrylic paint using a Fineliner tip.

With that, I decided that I probably had enough layers... lol... and that it was finished. I'm now wishing that I'd done it on a panel instead of my journal, but since I was experimenting with some new ideas, that seemed like a good place to start, and I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Here are a few close-ups so you can see some of the details:

I hope you enjoyed today's project as much as I enjoyed making it, and maybe even picked up a few ideas to try with your stencils!

Until next time, Happy Stenciling!


  1. Absolutely Exquisite Gwen!!
    Yes, this would be beautiful on a panel, but absolutely would be gorgeous printed as Christmas cards as well!!
    Jackie ")

    1. Thanks so much Jackie! I may have to create it using all my own design elements so I can print some up :D

  2. So glad I have your Christmas Cardinal and Holly stencil because it is so versatile! LOVE your journal page, just beautiful!

    1. Thanks so much Sandee! I can't wait to see what you do with the stencil :)

  3. Wow!!! Can you teach me how to be you for a day ❤ Just lovely!

  4. Gwen, this page is so beautiful! I love the cardinal!

    1. Thanks so much Catherine! I love the cardinal too... always reminds me of winters at home in Virginia :D

  5. This looks wonderful! I love all the layers and colors. I keep telling myself that someday I am going to try some mixed media-but that day has yet to come. You are an inspiration and you make it look so easy!

  6. I love the way this piece glows. I am especially drawn to how fluffy the bird looks, like it is puffed up and keeping warm while the snow swirls around. So many intriguing techniques to try from this tutorial. It is amazing to read this and see the choices you made as you went. You've got me thinking.

    1. Thanks so much Lynda! This was a fun one to do... can't wait to see what comes from your thinking! :D


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