Every so often I come across a new-to-me technique that I like to incorporate into my artwork. Here are some of the tools, tops and techniques I tried out in the month of May:
1. Printing on acetate.
When I worked in a school, I often found boxes of things labeled "please take" filled with obsolete materials that were once very cutting edge, like acetate sheets - the kind teachers used to layer on projectors instead of writing on the chalkboard. I held onto boxes of these, turning them into planner pockets and dashboards, until I too stopped using them.
A few months ago, I was printing out some images and one of these sheets had slipped into the cardstock pile. The following day, I saw an artist showcase some of her printables on acetate, done at a copy store. Was it serendipity? A sneaky muse determined to have her inspiration put forth into our world? Whatever it was, I was thrilled at the prospect of creating my own clear elements to use on my layouts. After printing out several sheets, I decided to try copying a colouring page onto acetate. The result was a line drawing I could overlay on watercoloured paper as an instant 'coloured' page, or over writing to add a layer of privacy when I shared my art journal.
2. Shammy for stamp cleanup
On my last visit to a local art supply store, I saw the clerk use a squeaky cloth sprayed with water to remove excess ink from a clear stamp. Curious, I asked to try it out and noticed it was the consistency of a shammy - the kind my father would make us kids use to dry the car after we washed it (you know, back in the days when people washed their own cars - or got the neighbourhod kids to do it). I found an inexpensive version at the dollar store and have been using it ever since. Once it gets saturated, I think I'll invest in a better quality one from the automotive department at the store (less fraying). Still a better price point than the branded one at the craft store!
3. I found a paint pen at a craft store and although I really liked the way it could be used to make puffy lines that add some dimension to artwork, I wasn't keen on the colour selection and wanted to use the paint I already have in my toolkit. I found some containers with a relatively fine tip at an off-chain dollar store and added my own colours. It also works very well with masking fluid, which means I can incest in the bulk size container and stop ruining paint brushes when I use it. Best $1.50 I spent that month. Next I want to try mixing my own colours. To be continued...
4. Using tracing paper, rice paper, and tissue paper
I knew all that tissue paper I was hoarding would come in handy one day! Using it as a canvas is the most therapeutic form of art. I highly recommend it as a relaxation technique. That week, I saw no less than 4 others online using tissue paper. Ok, it may have been because we all watched our Patreon master do it (Hey Courtney!) and it instantly became a favourite. There is also something very satisfying about using your own creations in, well, more of your own creations. I had been using a half-empty pad of tracing paper from high school as onion paper to write letters, so I decided to use this too with paint- the crinkle factor is divine (paper lovers will understand this bizarre obsession with crinkly paper). The final paper type I used was japanese calligraphy paper, also called rice paper. I found a few packs of these at a secondhand store a day after i was searching for it online. Serendipity at work again? I like to think so!
5. Labels as mixed media canvas
About a year ago I started buying small blank labels and using alcohol-based markers to create a colour-coding system for my planner. Since then I have printed or stamped images on them and used the disjointed imagery in my art. I saw someone else layering paint over labels and tried it as well, adding different media, layer after layer. Sometimes this works great, other times the layers are too thick and stick together. I have since discovered that acrylic paint works well if layered on very thin, watercolours will interfere with the adhesive on the back of the labels, stencils work great when you dab them with stamping ink, and stamps are always a good idea.
I hope you have been inspired to try some of these techniques. I love experimenting with art, so feel free to message me or tag me in your posts and videos.
YT Video: https://youtu.be/I4oQFgKmdMg
There are a lot of quotes on social media reminding us not to compare our beginning or mid point with someone else's finish line. We are reminded to celebrate the small wins along the way. But what about the road blocks, the losses, the rejections? They are all stepping stones on our journey, and each one helps us move forward, or correct course along the way.
The developmental stage of any given project is anything but glamorous. It's a series of chats with potential clients, meetings with possible partners, and building relationships that will hopefully lead to collaborations. It's the cold-calls and the intro emails, the hours of research and the awkward networking. It's the unglamorous, uncelebrated backbone of achievement.
Tracking your efforts creates a visible timeline and a framework for your success. It is a repertoire of the steps that guide you and give you hope when you feel like you don't have anything to show. It is progress. Every step you take leads you closer to your goal, or helps you redefine your vision.
It's my hope for you that you populate your path with guideposts of your journey, and that you take a moment to be grateful for every tentative step, every fumble, and every leap you make.
Feel like trying it out? Get your copy here. You can fill in each starburst with the steps you take: sending something out for publication, each cold-call, every CV you send or interview request, every pastry you bake or artwork you make. Download this handy progress tracker and keep tabs on your efforts for the next little while. If you feel like sharing the journey, tag your pictures with #PCCtracker or mention @plancultivatecreate on Instagram and I'll cheer you on! Feeling ambitious? Print out a few to keep the momentum going, or use a different one for your various projects!
So go forth and track you efforts. You'll be glad you did, when you are in the thick of a project that is taking up your time and you feel like giving up. It will remind you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that the process is part of your progress.
P.S. What others are saying and doing to track their progress:
Sarah Von Bargen from YesAndYes.org wrote about tracking your efforts, not your accomplishments. She wisely reminds us that the only thing your can control is yourself, not others' responses, and gives some concrete examples that apply to a work scenario, but are adaptable to your particular situation.
Tiffany Han leads a course on getting 100 rejection letters. For every negative answer to a proposal, you get a gold star. It helps you see that you are doing the work, even if that means you are not getting the results you want in the moment. It makes it that much sweeter when you do. I have not taken the course, but have learned about it through interviews on podcasts and the introduction video to the course. I love the idea and think it too can be adapted to your personal situation. The most important part is to put your work - and yourself! - out there! I decided to send out some art and photography over the last year. One of my creations was published, while the others have earned me gold stars. I haven't yet reached 100, but I plan on filling up my tracker with them.
Lastly, there is a planner system developed by Angela Jia Kim, The Daily Action Planner that I was sent for review (you knew this was coming, can't talk tracking without talking planners!) that integrates tracking your efforts, the "seeds and weeds" that move you forward, and prompts you to celebrate your success(es) at the end of the week. Want a peek? You can watch the video review.
Have you read or seen any interesting posts about tracking your progress?
Share them below, I would love to add them to the list!
This year had been dubbed 'The Year of Use' in certain art circles, and I'm striving to do just that: Use up some forgotten supplies, or take a deep breath and let them go.
As I scavenged through my pens and markers, I noticed a few that were no longer in their prime; streaky marks, uneven lines, and so I decided to try to give them a second life. A little more rummaging brought forth some old fountain pen inks that were just waiting to be put to use. And so, I got out my handy multipurpose tool and set to work.
Here are the 3 simple steps to refill your markers:
Step 1: Take apart the marker, either from the front (near the tip) or by removing the back stopper, and pull out the sponge.
Step 2: Place the cartridge in the inkwell and let it soak up the ink. The sponge usually darkens as it pulls in the ink.
Step 3: Put the cartridge back in, and snap the casing back together. In just a few minutes, you can swatch the marker. I changed the colour of this marker, from grey to a mauve/blackcurrant colour.
I played around with mixing colours on the Frixion highlighters. I swatched these just moments after inserting the sponge cartridge back in. Once the ink has the chance to permeate the nib, after a few hours, the colour comes out solid. It's a fun way to give your supplies a second life, and even create new, unique colours.
I also tried refilling liquid ink pens with a mix of the different inks and the result has been a unique pen ink, and a few more pens saved from the landfill. I suppose the markers and pens can be refilled over and over, until the nibs start failing.
Want to watch a quick how-to tutorial?
I'm curious: Have you ever tried refilling a pen or a marker?
Do you have any tips to share about giving your supplies a second life?
on the journey to