A Halloweeny Art Journal Transfer Tutorial: And How to Move Beyond Your Perceived Mistakes

I took half of my Girl Scout troop to Salem, Mass last weekend and now I am  inspired to do great Halloweenish things in my latest hand-stitched art journal.  I captured some wonderfully creepy pictures while there, with the idea of incorporating them on a page or two via an ink jet transparency transfer.  I had done several transfers before and they are quite fun.  Transparency transfers seem the easiest for art journals.  They are relatively painless, if you do them correctly… Below are my wonderfully creepy pics:





The next one is my fave.  A woman painted these cute baby dolls, sewed adorable clothing for them, and sold them in cute little boxes.  Oh how I do love this type of contradiction!



I began my page spread rather blindly, as I usually do, and covered most of it with torn paper bits from an old Thesaurus.  I used Matte Gel by Liquitex to adhere.  This is a common go-to way of establishing a first layer.  And I just love layers…  Just avoid covering the crease.



I then, for some reason, painted it a see-through peachy skin tone. (I was developing a plan but this would soon change).  I had no peachy skin tone paint so I mixed gesso and fluid matte medium together along with a drop of red acrylic ink and a drop of orange acrylic ink, all pictured below.  Voila, SEE-THROUGH PEACHY SKIN TONE!



Next came my big mistake.  I photocopied my 3 awesomely scary photos on the wrong type of plastic transparency (it was actually translucent plastic, I should have known). I cut out what I wanted and adhered them, ink side down, to my page with the wrong type of gel medium (It was a matte gel, I should have known).   Two strikes unbeknownst to me until I “removed” the plastic pieces.  The plastic was stuck to the page, firmly.  The page tore and only bits of the transfer remained.  I was bummed, I will not pretend otherwise. Not one to be easily defeated, I embraced the mistake and made it work.  I moved on, determined to fix the mess, and began “mending” the tears (and tears) with pink and yellow neon paint.



The picture below really shows the shoddy transfer.



Now for the much more correct transfer method… I photocopied my 3 photos using my ink jet printer onto a sheet of acetate transparency plastic.  You know, the kind for overhead projectors.  The ink takes a looooooooong time to dry on the plastic, so be patient.  And while it’s drying, resist the urge to touch and rub the upper left hand corner, Jason. (Sophie told me it was you after I blamed her).



Next, I cut out the pieces I wanted to transfer.  I laid down a nice bed of self-leveling clear gel (glossy finish) on the page where I planned on sticking my images.  Normally I would have used Gloss Gel Medium but I had lent it out last week.  (Avoid matte finish gels as I think they have the tendency to turn out a little less clear and/or not separate from the plastic as easily).



I carefully placed my first image, INK SIDE DOWN, onto the bed of just-applied gel.  I gently and quickly pushed from the center out to remove trapped air bubbles.  The printer ink very quickly turns back to a liquid, so be very gentle when pressing on your image.  I repeated this for the other images.



I also brushed away some of the inky gel that seeped out from under the edge of the devil baby picture.

Now comes the part I’m not very good at.  You really should let the whole thing dry over night.  Just leave it alone, go watch TV or read a book or something.  I simply couldn’t resist, and a few hours later I started peeling away the plastic pieces.  And of course, it wasn’t completely dry, and the image didn’t completely separate from the plastic sheet and I was left with holes here and there.  I really didn’t mind all that much though.  The holes lent themselves to the overall Halloween look.



I see air bubbles too, but I really do love my creepy devil vampire baby.  I then did my usual thing and sort of intuitively arted up my page spread.  I used black India ink, neon acrylic paint, paper from a funny Dick and Jane parody book, and a little bit of pen and colored pencil.



I like what I ended up with;  it’s playful, colorful, and oh-so Halloween!



The Fugit Hora line on the tombstone came out backwards.  Not a big deal.  I was informed that Fugit Hora means time flies.  And boy does it.  I have an eighth grader.  I’m almost 40.  The weeks zoom by.  The logical conclusion to this is that pretty soon, before we know it, we will all be dead.  Happy Halloween everyone!!!



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The Tipping Point: Upon the Cusp of Greatness (Art Journaling Greatness, That Is!)

Odin is pure happiness


Do you ever feel like you’re on the brink of something great?  Like you’re about to arrive at a destination that, in order to reach, has taken maybe years of hard work, perseverance, and dedication?  Sometimes on this journey, you didn’t even know you were heading in this direction, but now, upon the cusp of being there, you realize it was meant to be all along…  This is why you’re here.  This is your greatness.

You cant choose your inlaws


Sounds silly but I now know that I’m an art journaler.  It’s finally here.  I really think I’ve arrived.  And I love it.  I NOW KNOW HOW TO ART JOURNAL!!!



You see, I’ve been practicing this craft for a while; making grotesque mistakes, not giving up, finding my way…  I’ve been a victim of terribly sticky pages.  I’ve used far too much acrylic paint for any art journal to exist closed in a seasonally humid climate.  I’ve made stupid page layouts, combined awful colors, written dumb things…  It’s all a part of the journey, right?  It’s all a learning process, right?

Tree of life


Right!!!  I fell madly in love with this idea, this “art journaling” a while back, maybe even six or seven years ago.  I drooled over the books, the magazines, the blog posts on this new-age art subject… I had to try it.  I just had to. It became like my blessed virgin Mary, if you will.  Something always there, always powerful, always out of reach.  All knowing, all mighty, all perfect. Looking down upon me, maybe in pity, maybe in love.  Always trying to prove myself worthy in her perfect shadow…

Connies plight


Art journaling is really anything and everything.  It’s messy, it’s neat.  It’s beautiful, it’s ugly.  It’s dark, it’s light.  It’s planned and unplanned. On and on forever.  On my art journal journey, I’ve gained fantastic knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.  I’ve learned to really limit the acrylic paint, to embrace the humble black Gelato stick, and to really push the value difference on each and every page.  I love the imperfect, the messy, the illegible.  I love pink, and orange…

Buckle Up


Well, it’s finally here.  I’m worthy now.  I totally “get” it: I can do it… And I can only get better from here.  The heavens have parted, the light shines down on me.  I have arrived.

Jason and his telescope


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Watercolor Paint Nights in Downtown Brunswick, Maine

Join me once a month for a night of color, watercolor that is…  I’ve listed my first Watercolor Paint Night, happening on Thursday October 6th from 6-8pm.  I call this painting “Island Storm” and you can paint your very own version for only $25.00!  I will even supply the materials!  Of course, if you happen to have a set of watercolors or your favorite cold press watercolor paper, feel free to bring either (or both) along.



I’ll provide tea or coffee, but there’s no reason this can’t be a BYOB event!  Space is limited, so reserve a spot soon!!


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Rubber Stamp Carving Added, Water-Media Art Journaling Doesn’t Stick, and Kirby Aurora has a Candid Photoshoot!



I was recently asked to offer Rubber Stamp Carving, one of my all time favorite workshops!  Sooooo, here it is:  Monday August 15th from 1pm to 3pm.  Only $20 and you can carve as many stamps as time permits.  All materials are provided!  It’s super quick and easy.  My favorite rubber is Soft Kut brand; it carves like cold butter and stays flexible so that it doesn’t crack or chip apart.




I’ve also decided that starting in late September, I am going to offer a regular watercolor paint night at The Painted Dog, about every three weeks or so.  This will be a two hour event where everyone follows along and paints one scene start to finish.  It will be a simple composition, different each time, and maybe a bit more involved than the above painting.  Stay tuned for more info.

I’m also very determined to make great discoveries in water media art journaling.  By this I mean, using a majority of water-soluble media on my pages.  You see,  I’ve been known to art journal a bit here and there and have sadly realized that when using acrylic paint, even the extra matte finish stuff, my pages end up sticking together.  This unfortunate event is mostly noticeable around now (summer) when the humidity is HIGH.  I know there are methods to help ease this pain, but I’m shifting gears and moving towards a more sustainable art journaling future… Water soluble media doesn’t stick!

Here are a couple water-media based page-spreads that I’m quite fond of:







Thus being said, I’m offering an all day, glorious book-arts workshop on Sunday, September 18th, from 9am-3pm.  We will build a fantastic book and we will art journal inside this beauty, mixed water-media style.  The workshop is $75 and students must bring their own paper for the book.  I suggest a pad of 140lb. cold press water color paper.




We will use a record sleeve for the cover, denim for the spine, and we will complete a cross stitch binding.  I’ll bring a bunch of record sleeves from which students can choose a perfectly imperfect cover for their book…




Laslty, I’m enamored with the latest addition to our family.  This sweet little gal made her debut here about two weeks ago and has already doubled in size!  She’s quite gorgeous if you ask me, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to do a pet journal all about her… A small one…




I mean, just look at her scales.  She has scale eyelashes!  And look at that little nose hole.  Is that not the sweetest nose hole you’ve ever seen???




She has a really nice beard…




And then there are her adorable, melt-your-heart, peach-colored ear holes.  I wanted to name her Peaches.  But alas, she is my son’s pet, and he got to name her.  She is Kirby Aurora.  Which is beautiful and perfect.  (AND she sucks up crickets like a vacuum!)




Even her poops are cute, still…






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Adding SERIOUS texture to your Art Journals: A Composimold Tutorial

I’m thoroughly hooked on this awesome Composimold product and have been pouring it all over things around my house.  But before I start in on this easy and very cool tutorial, I need to share a bit of back story…

You see, I while ago I bought this amazing black rubber bag.  That’s right, all rubber.  It was bag-love at first sight.  I happened to see it hanging amidst a sea of unworthy purses at Marden’s in Scarborough.  It was tough and thick, and made in Canada.  All of this and it was only 20 dollars!!! I mean, right????  The purse reminded be of a distant cousin to the Croc sandal.  But better, much better.



I think what I love most about this purse, besides it’s high-end quality and originality, is that it is hilarious. The bag is almost sooo heinous, it kind of does a 180 degree shift towards unsurpassed glory.  It is the purse of super heroes. Or heroines.

I soon encountered one large problem with my amazing find… After bringing it home I learned quickly that my significant other couldn’t stand it.  He immediately and completely detested it.  Like nothing else I’ve ever worn, sported, or carried.  It disgusted him thoroughly.

One of the things that I love about Jason is that he cares very little about fashion or current trends.  He doesn’t really pay attention to that sort of thing.  Except in the case of this bag, which made his skin crawl.  I kept telling him, “But look!  It was made in Canada!  It’s really high quality.”  It didn’t matter.  Nothing mattered.

Bag detail


I used the bag as my main purse throughout the winter months, always downplaying Jason’s protests about it.  When he would tell me he was going to burn it, run over it with the van, or throw it off a bridge,  I would just chuckle, and remind him playfully about the coat he used to wear that I couldn’t stand.



Eventually I decided it was time to stop using the bag.  Jason’s protests became more frequent and desperate.  I realized that the bag was hurting him more than it was benefiting me.  I loved him, so I compromised. Because when you love one another, you make compromises.  So I switched purses and retired the bag.  But I wasn’t going down without a fight.  Or without a wonderful reminder of this rubber beauty.  That is where Composimold came into play…

First, I lightly greased one side of the bag with a little olive oil.   I then heated the mold making material in the microwave, following instructions, until it became a hot liquid.  I poured it on the greased side of the bag, repeating the process once in order to develop a thick “skin.”



Above shows melted molding making material dripping over the edge of the bag onto parchment paper below.  Once cooled, I was able to easily peel of the skin and trim off the solidified drips and uneven edges.  Leaving me with this fantastic skin-like mold, just perfect for an art journal page… Here it is below sitting in an aluminum pan.



I then spread out a bunch of Golden Crackle Paste on an art journal page already in progress.  I used a pallet knife and spread it to about the thickness of a cake frosting… Maybe a little thinner than cake frosting…

Spreading on crackle paste


I then pushed my skin gently into the crackle paste.  I massaged it from the center out, to get rid of any air bubbles.  I managed to get the Made In Canada part in there (just barely).

Skin pushed into crackle paste


After letting the paste solidify for a couple hours, I was able to gently peel back the skin, revealing an amazing sight.  The cast of my glorious bag.

skin removed after a few hours


After a day of drying, the crackle paste did it’s thing and crackled.  A bunch of lovely delicate crackles that wanted desperately to fall right of the journal page.  I sealed them well with a mixture of Golden Fluid Matte Medium added to a bit of water.  I really pushed the matte medium mixture down in the cracks to help adhere them to the page.  I repeated this again for added insurance.  Then I painted the entire  mold casting teal and gave it a black topcoat.  This art journal page is a memorial of sorts to all the misunderstood purses everywhere.  You are worthy of carrying around a bunch of crap.  Lest we forget.Art journal page


Here’s a bit of insanely awesome detail:



Here’s another journal page I did in the same way.

Locked page


And a glorious detail of the lock:

Locked detail


And here are several other mold “skins” that I made recently:

A variety of skins


So I cannot stop pouring Composimold all over the non-pourous surfaces in my home.  The stuff is so crazy-easy to use.  And you can re-use it too.  When your done with the mold, just melt it back down in the microwave and use it again.  It’s absolutely fantastic stuff…



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