Documenting your Creative Process with an Art Journal

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There is nothing more frustrating to have created a wonderful mixed media painting or when you have mixed paints to create new, wonderful colors, and then not being about to repeat the process or outcome because you can’t remember what you did in the first place. That’s where an Art Journal or visual diary can make all the difference. By jotting down a few key steps and materials you used in your artwork, in creative journal, you will have a reference when you are looking for ideas or wanting to replicate a certain technique.

Have an art journal at hand to note down colours and materials used

Tips for using your Art Journal

Here Michelle shows you her art journal and the kind of things she documents.

Here is the final mixed media painting Ocean that Michelle was creating while documenting the process steps and the acrylic paints used.

tip in swap spread with "Ocean" as the theme

When you compare the initial sketch at the top of the page in the art journal, shown above, with the finished piece, you can see the sketch is only a rough outline of how the final piece turns out. That’s fine. The art journal is to simply document any thoughts and ideas that you have at the start. then you can show the layers, as you have added them. Note that paints or mediums you have used.

When selecting a book to use as an art journal, consider the different types of mediums you are most likely to use and choose one with paper that matches. Here I’ve used a visual journal, which is great for sketching and adding little samples of paints and adhesives. Some inks and too much paint will run through the pages, so keep the paints fairly dry.

I tend to use both sides of the pages but will always start an important piece of work on a new page. That way I have a nice clean sheet, without any lumps of bumps underneath the paper. Then I can use the backs of pages for straight sketched or to develop and document ideas for future projects.

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Don’t Forget the Embellishments!


This article is written by Laura Shelton

Hello all! It is wonderful to be back here writing articles for Mixed Media Arts again! Hope you have been being super creative, and I really hope that this new articles gives you some new inspiration to make a lot more neat things! Today I am going to talk about embellishments. We all love them, buy them, and even stockpile them. At least I was, and spending way more money than I wanted on them!



Embellishments can run into quite a bit of money, at least mine did, until I made a decision – I decided that any embellishments I wanted, I was going to make myself…no small undertaking, and needless to say, my embellishments fell off a bit, lol! That was, until I just made up my mind, and really got serious about it… Now I would rather have my own, handmade embellishments than anyone elses!


The first embellishments were a bit primitive as you can guess, but as I went I picked my battles, and then things started coming together. Above is an extra large journal page using modeling paste for the lighter sections of the piece. Below you will see an album that I made, where I utilized what I call a “bead tail” coming off of the back of the album, and attached with a handmade bead I made recently


Toward the front, you can see that the closure is made of a vintage bead earring attached to a pendant jewelry finding…on the other side of the album, for the second part of the closure, I have another handmade bead mounted, and it is all held together with a reddish/purple leather cord. The closure alone really dressed up the album a lot!


Other embellishments I have made are more suited for your art journal. There are many, many times that I will use an ATC (Artist Trading Card) embellishment for an embellishment to dress up an art journal page or maybe a mixed median art piece I am working on. These are some of my really old ATC examples, and they have been used at some time for an embellishment.


There are so many things you can make from paper and paint.


What I also enjoy is making embellishments out of beads and old jewelry findings! I have a ton of old beads and fittings from all of the broken necklaces, bracelets and earrings down through the years. I am so glad that I held onto all of them because they are perfect for making your own unique embellishments! Some that I make regularly are what I call my “bead tails”.

These are basically just strings of glass beads, faux pearls, and other stones that I thread onto a heavy string, and then place a charm at the bottom of the string. These end up being the decorative touch that I add at the back spine of my prayer and scripture books that I make, as well as any other type of book, album or anything that is made that way.

A perfect example is the bead tail at the back of above album. These bead tails seem to add so much to a project! I wouldn’t know how to finish out the albums without adding them! Seriously though-embellishments can make or break a project, at least in my mind. Even if you just string a few beads together and maybe add a little fancier clasp to your project, you will be amazed at the difference just a little addition can make!


This is Hester, the Court Jester –  she is just one of several art pieces I have made. I can write about them next time!

Laura Shelton

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Storing your Gelli Arts & Gel Press Prints


When you get into creating your own background papers with monoprinting, whether you are using a homemade gelatine plate,  a GelliArts plate or a Gel Press one, once you get started, the prints start flowing!

Before you know it you have  H-U-G-E pile of gel prints!

Storing your gel press monoprinting gelli arts gel press gel prints

When it comes time to use your some of your beautiful papers, it gets frustrating when you have to shuffle through a large pile of printed paper and deli papers. Here Michelle talks about her approach to sorting and storing her gel prints, as inspired by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.


I hope you find this simple concept easy to adapt to your own gel prints storage. It can even be adapted to all of your scrapbooking and ephemera papers. You can always create more categories to sort but remember that if you make your system too complicated then, you’ll be less likely to use it, so keep it simple when you are getting started with sorting and storing your gel prins. You can improve on your storage system once you have a simple system that works for you.

If you are looking for ideas on using your lovely printed papers, see What to do with your Gel Plate Prints for inspiration. Having your own, unique gel prints allows you to create simple pieces that will always have a personal touch, because the printed papers are originals.

Happy creating,

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Mixed Media Art Tools


This article is written by Michelle Brown

Here in the Mixed Media Art community, we like to encourage people who are just starting out in mixed media to get their hands dirty as quickly as possible; to do this we don’t suggest long lists of tools, materials and supplies. We prefer to start with the least amount of stuff and only buy what we really need. We also don’t need expensive tools to get us going – there is NOTHING worse than spending lots of money on supplies and then not wanting to use them in case we “ruin” or “waste” them. We know – we have all been there! And worse than worse (is that the correct expression?) is not using supplies due to not wanting to waste them, only to find out (months later) that our supplies have dried up or been stored incorrectly and they are useless anyway! On the agony!

So enough of the delay and hesitation – the best way to learn and improve our mixed media art skills is by playing and practising and actually MAKING ART! Who would have thought? 😉


Here Michelle runs through a basic list of tools needed to get you started in many types of mixed media projects.


Creating Layers Online Tutorial

Making Memories foam stamps (Apparently this stamp set is now discontinued – sorry!)

Impasto Medium

We would love to hear what you think! Do YOU have any thoughts on what you would like us to show you?

Leave a comment below!

Happy creating.



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