“Be Fearless”

fearless-1The layout that took over.

I have officially graduated to my second art journal. I picked up a canvas notebook and a multi-media sketchbook at Michaels the other day and a new Moleskine from Barnes & Noble (why Michaels doesn’t carry Moleskine, I have no clue. Or at least the one I go to doesn’t have them.) I was sorely tempted to go back to working in the familiar setting of a Moleskine but decided ultimately to push myself and try working in a new journal with different paper stock and a spiral binding.

This Canson journal has 138-lb stock in it, whereas the Moleskine had 111-lb paper. The canvas notebook is just that – it’s canvas. And at first I was thinking I’d go hog-wild and do chunky mixed media in the canvas notebook, but I’m thinking more and more that I’ll reserve it for actual watercolor or other medium paintings, but not so much mixed media with layers and layers of scraps and ephemera on it.

New art journals.
New journal joy! The Cottonwood Arts canvas notebook and the Canson mixed media notebook were found at Michaels. The Moleskine was found at Barnes & Noble.

I’ll have to do a separate entry on my findings with the changes in the Moleskine sketchbooks. I’m actually feeling a little let down by their new paper stock. But perhaps I should actually do more mixed media work in it before I hop on a huge soapbox about it.

And, coming up, I’ll provide some more pictures of my first-completed art journal along with a YouTube video flip through.

A single page in the Canson journal is actually a bit larger than a full spread in the Moleskine notebook. I’m on the fence if I’ll do any double-page layouts in the Canson. I feel the spiral binding may pose a challenge there with any continuity in a spread between two pages. Time will tell, however! I just may get a wild bug in me and go for it.

On to the layout. As I mentioned before, this was the first page in a brand new art journal. I opened up to the first page and was greeted with stark-white scariness on stock completely different than what I’d been using in the past. Oh no! I had a moment of panic staring into that white void… The pressure! First page of a new journal! What if it’s not perfect? What if I screw it up? I had completely forgotten this is an art journal, which means its for my own enjoyment and experimenting and nothing should ever go in there with the expectation of perfection.

After that moment of fear passed I just knew I had to jump in without thinking any further. The page would tell me what it wants when I began working on it. Just trust the process. I fell into my familiar first step of gessoing the paper and then pulled out a bunch of acrylics in colors that were appealing to me. And thus began the layout that took over.


This empty Puffs Basic tissue box would work great in my layout!

It started innocently enough with smears of pretty colors all over the page. I then had just finished up a box of tissues that would have ended up in the recycling bin, but its color was a perfect fit for the colors on my new page so I tore a side of the tissue box out, distressed it and adhered it to the page along with a couple scraps of paper. At this time the words “be fearless” started to whisper in my head and I decided this layout should reflect and hold that sentiment.

So what’s a fearless act? painting a huge back tree over the top of those pretty colors.

Adding little balls of tissue to the layout. Puffs was really coming in handy today.

It couldn’t just end with the tree, either. That tree needed more than just black branches. It’s a fearless layout, not a Halloween layout. I got creative and took a piece of tissue and tore little pieces and bunched them up and adhered them to the page using Golden Soft Gel (Matte.) I put them all over the branches to simulate flowers. I took my Dylusions spray ink in Lemon Zest and unscrewed the cap and used the plastic straw attached to the spray cap to apply a burst of yellow to the little flowers.

I decided the big black tree was still a bit too overpowering for the layout so I added some beautiful white Zentangles all up the trunk and into the branches with my Gelly Roll white pen. For those familiar with my work, you can see I’m a big fan of swirly designs and this one may be a new favorite of mine.

From there on, it really was all about adding interest to the page. I drew a large mandala behind the tree with a purple Yoobi gel pen as a sort of mock sun or moon. I wanted to draw the Zentangles on the trunk out into the rest of the layout so using that same purple Yoobi gel pen I drew the swirly Zentangles all over the rest of the page where they seemed to fit. I wanted to repeat the circular pattern of the mandala behind the tree on the page somewhere else so added a smaller one in the upper right corner.


I decided the tree needed more than just the yellow buds so I glued down little turquoise beads one-by-one all over the tree to represent buds or leaves. The yellow in the flowers felt a little too bright so I used the same method with the Dylusions ink to add the pinkish-red centers to the flowers.

Down in the grass at the bottom of the page, I sketched in some silhouettes of little flowers for added interest and made finer blades of grass with my Sharpie pen. I then dotted more mock flower buds in pink all over the tree and brought them down to the grass below.

fearless-3I was finally ready to add the “Be Fearless” sentiment, which I drew on the page with my Bic Mark-it permanent marker in black. The black ink alone got lost on the page so I highlighted the sentiment by outlining it with my Uni-ball Signo white pen

Little details everywhere, from the intricate Zentangles to little flowers, blades of grass and pink petals.

All in all, by the time this layout was finished, I was actually getting to a point of feeling resentful with it! Funny stuff. It just has a lot of small intricate details all over it that took time to complete, so my patience was getting tested.

In looking at it today after having slept and rested, I’m pleased with the layout, however. Last night I wanted to chuck it through a window. Amazing how a good night’s rest changes one’s perspective.

Hope you enjoyed the layout. Please leave a comment, like or share the page! Thank you!

List of materials:

Carson Mixed Media sketchbook
Liquitex Clear Gesso
Golden Soft Gel (Matte)
Artist’s Loft Acrylic paints
Ranger Dylusions Ink Spray
FW Pearlescent liquid acrylic in Sun-Up Blue
Tim Holtz Distress Ink
Bic Mark-It permanent marker
Sharpie Pen
Yoobi gel pen
Gelly Roll pen
Uni-Ball Signo pen
Turquoise beads
Elmer’s CraftBond tacky glue

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