Monday, January 12, 2009

creating colorful journal pages

a few of you have e-mailed me recently asking how i create backgrounds for my journal pages, so today i decided to do a quick lesson. the technique is simple: just smear inkpads on paper, and BANG! instant color. this was a happy accident that happened one day when i was playing around with collage, saw a few lonely inkpads, and wondered, "hmmm.... what if..."

and WOW. i was hooked, for lots of reasons: it is a perfect way to get vivid color on thin journal pages that would buckle or tear under the weight of paint. it is instant gratification for impatient people like me. it doesn't cost much - all you need is paper and an inkpad or two. and best of all, it erases blank page fear. the random patterns and shapes from the inking often spark new ideas themselves.

so, to get started, pick your journal or paper, then your inks. you can use pre-inked pads:



or ink your own. my favorites are these stinky and 'highly flammable' letraset inks. just the thing to have in a household with children. i also like the winsor & newton inks but i think that's just because they look like little shining jewels in the glass pyramid bottles.



nearly dry inkpads are the best for creating even color and cloudy effects. to protect your work surface, put another sheet of paper under your page, or even better, use a sheet of vintage something instead of a blank page. the color overflow will build up in really cool layers on the sheet and then you can use it for collage material. another happy accident i discovered while inking pages.



wetter inkpads add texture, patterns, and shapes. try rubbing an inkpad in circles, pulling it from top to bottom like a comb, dabbing it like a sponge, drawing lines with the edges, and rolling it from side to side to get funky effects.

to avoid overkill with the color, press lightly with the wet inkpads and use sparingly until you know how intense the color will be. you can always add another layer. every inkpad behaves differently; you'll figure out the cool quirks of each one along the way. all part of the fun.



try different combinations of color, shading, and blending. green/yellow go well together, as do yellow/orange and red/pink.







masking fluid creates interesting effects, too - i experimented with it last week. at first i wanted to do lettering with it, but found that masking fluid dries and gums up quickly. so precise lettering was out, but it worked great for adding more depth and variety to the background. give it a try. slap on some masking fluid in random patterns. (be sure to wash your brush immediately, or use yucky old brushes that you don't mind throwing away.) when it is completely dry, which doesn't take long, ink the page and then remove the masking fluid. you can either leave the space white or fill it in with another ink color.





keep goofing around with the inks and before you know it you will have a bunch of pages to use for doodling, lettering, collage, writing, and so on.





a few more tips:

*if archival quality is important to you, stay away from the dye inks. while they are the easiest to work with (they dry quickly and are great for color layering), after a while they fade in direct sunlight. pigment inks take longer to dry but they last longer. if you keep your pages in a closed book, though, the dye pads should work fine for you.

*if you are meticulous about keeping your inkpads clean for stamping, you may want to purchase a separate set just for this purpose, because the colors will indeed mix and taint the surface of the other inkpads.

*inky fingers are a guarantee, so if you want to protect your manicure, gloves are a good idea. i always forget this part so my hands are colorful nightmares.

*check out ricë's video with the inkpad in action. she shows you how to do this in bound journals, and how to wedge color in the inside binding area. and she makes funny commentary through the whole thing, as she always does.

if you play around with the ink technique and are willing to share photos of your experiments, let me know and i'll link back to them in a future post. happy inking! :)

36 comments:

peggy said...

WOW!! This is so great! Thank you for sharing all of this fantastic info. I also love the Winsor & Newton bottles. I've lined them up on sunny shelves just to admire them. Now maybe I'll put them to use!

Ricë said...

thanks for showing this--so cool! we watched Darling Darlene of Stamp Francisco demo stamping this weekend, and she has a set of pads and, for each one, a little stencil brush. it would work for this: ink the brush and swirl onto the pages, rather than using the ink pad itself. not as messy, with more control, i think. so you could use the inkpad-to-paper for one layer and then the brush-to-paper for another. . . .

soulbrush said...

now i am all fired up, i always take some cottonwool and just smear a colour over a page, and it's yukky! thanks so much, i will show this to my art teacher tomorrow and see whether she knows where i can get these pads....i saw the video too, what an inspirational person she is and i love her hair and tattoos!

Mo said...

what a great demo! thanks for sharing all those tips. wish i'd seen this 2 months ago when some friends and i were inking 40 blank pages for a retirement memory book, lol

joanne said...

this is so incredibly awesome ... thank you for sharing this technique for backgrounds ... i was looking for stamp pads this weekend and all the stores were in very short supply so i will have to expand my search some more now that i have your tutorial in hand...i love love love your backgrounds and you are so wonderful to share :)

i love masking fluid...it took me a while to get used to it but i love using it with watercolors and can't wait to try this out with the stamp pad ink technique...

Lynn Fisher said...

Thank you for that...such bright vibrant colors...I'll have to give it try! (will the FW inks work basically the same way..or can you only get that effect with pads...here I am with none!)
-Lynn

jess gonacha said...

what a genius you are!! thank you for sharing your technique-- i just assumed it was paint behind your drawings- I love knowing more about your process now!

please sir said...

That is amazing! I wondered the same thing. Thank you for sharing this information - I know it can be hard to reveal your art techniques, but worthwhile too!

Christy said...

What a great tutorial. You can add "teaching" to the list of things you're great at.

Kelly C. said...

fabulous post, amy! i love your technique and the bursts of brightness that result!
happy monday!
k

Mixed Media Martyr said...

Great to all the different effects you achieved! Thanks for sharing!!

Annie Pazoo said...

Thanks, Aimee! I was wondering about this very thing!

Ces said...

Oh Aimee, you outdo yourself with every posted project. You are simply amazing. I can imagine the fun you have. These are absolutely delicious.

FruensWerk said...

Cool girl...I was thinking about this the other day...How you worked...
Did you hear me all the way to Artsyville??? Hahaha...super super nicenice girl...

cindy : quaint said...

oh wow! thank you for the wonderful tutorial, aimee! even if i could do it, i still wouldn't have anything witty or clever to put on top like you do. i love your photos, too.

Bella Sinclair said...

Fantastic! You are so generous in your creativity. I must go and buy stock in stamp pads now, I think.

This morning, with my crazy half-asleep vision, I could have sworn the name of the stamp pad in your photo was Dry Bread. And I was thinking, "Huh? Kinda cool name."

Oh, and totally randomly: popcorn all over the highway? THAT, I would have paid to see!

Tita Moma said...

Great tutorial! You create the most beautiful papers with your ink pad technique!

Krissy said...

awesome aimee!! I would have never guessed that it was ink... I always thought watercolor :) What a fun tutorial.

painted fish studio said...

what a great tutorial! i never would have guessed your backgrounds were anything but watercolor. fabulous discovery!

Nina Crittenden said...

Oh, Aimee! Thanks for sharing this with us! Your technique is so awesome, and it is cool to see how you do it!

Nicola said...

Thanks for unlocking your secret! This tutorial really adds another dimension to viewing your amazing (and beautifully clever) pieces!

aimee said...

WOW!! thanks all for stopping by and for your feedback - i'm glad krissy said something about watercolor, because that's something i totally forgot to mention here...sometimes i DO use watercolors with the inks. i'll write more about that in the next post.

Katrina said...

ink pads? i had no idea. i love your hand-lettering. so lovely!

Dawn said...

Hmmm...now I have to go and buy some inkpads? :) Thanks so much for this tutorial, Aimee...VERY informative!

Alexandra Hedberg said...

How great that you share your process!

I just get my coloursfull inks to dru out,because I don't use them... Too many materials, you know.

Kelly said...

yeah! yeah! yeah! did I say, yeah!!! I've been hoping you'd do a little tute for us. :-)

●• Tiny Red said...

i love the colorful images to accompany artsygirl's tutorial. well done! :)

peggy gatto said...

Boy did I get some great ideas!
Thank you!!!

Zari said...

thanks a lot for sharing this info...i've just seen your work and i was wondering how you did your backgrounds...and i found the answer right away!

Stacey D. said...

Thanks for this...in a former creative life - I was into rubber stamps and still have A LOT of ink pads that I hated to throw away. I may just have to try this.

jane said...

oh this is great. thanks for all the tips! besos!

Tara.Tamara said...

This was a great idea!! i always wondered how you did it...Thank you so much for sharing...i did one too for my blog
http://climbingthelatter.blogspot.com/2010/11/colour-your-world.html

Charlotte said...

This technique is so awesome I can't wait to try it! I found you via daisy yellow's blog via Art Every Day Month - yay! What a find!

gypsy said...

Aimee, I played with stamping inks from my kids' stamp box - after all, they were already multi-colored. My fingers wound up wildly inked, messier than any acrylic painting adventure! Super fun. http://daisyyellow.squarespace.com/vividlife/an-inked-mess.html

Liette alias Pixelle said...

oh super idea...I will try it for sure...thanks a lot...it is so nice...

littleblackkitty said...

I was wondering the same thing but didn't want to ask--I'm glad someone else did tho ;-) I never would have guessed ink pads. I used to do the same thing but never got such even color. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing!