Hi everyone, this is Gwen Lafleur and I’m excited to join you this week to share a project using this week’s prompt, “What place have you been that has left the longest impression on you?”, with the theme of personal growth. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to do a lot of traveling. However, up until about eight years ago, I’d never been anywhere where I saw real hardship or anything that really impacted my own life. Since then I’ve seen several places that have left a huge impression on me so it was hard to choose a specific one, but for this challenge I’m using the first time when I was in South Africa in 2007 and I had the opportunity to visit Soweto.
For this inspiration, I knew right away that I really wanted to use a photo on my journal spread. There’s one that I took while I was there that’s burned into my memory-a photo of a woman standing in the doorway of her home as we walked away after we’d visited with her inside. I can still see the inside of her little shanty…a room about the size of my current art studio (which is small by my standards), with no running water, no electricity, and only one bed for five people living there. They were some of the lucky ones who had a floor instead of just dirt. Many of the residents in these shanty towns were refugees from other countries and they came because these living conditions were better than what they’d escaped. Soweto was also one of the better shanty towns that I saw on that trip, sadly enough. It was a sobering visit that introduced a lot of humility, reflection and gratitude into my life. I still offer regular prayers of thanks for living in a home with clean running water, electricity and all the other luxuries that I used to take for granted.
With my inspiration set, I printed out the photo on a sheet of copy paper so that I could use it for a gel transfer- More on that later! I pulled out my large Dylusion journal and gesso’d the pages and then just randomly squirted out some paints and spread them across the background. (Photo featured below)
Once the background was dry, I used my Ornamental Embroidery Stencil with some black heavy body paint and stenciled it randomly around the pages. I like to be sure to stencil off the edge here and there it creates better tension across the spread. Once those were dried, I used some fluorescent magenta paint and my fingers to add color to the stenciled images. From there, I embellished with fine line applicators and more paint. (Photo featured below)
After that layer was dry, I added a coating of a “dirty glaze’- this particular one has a teal base, mixed with Micaecous Iron Oxide, Interference Gold and polymer medium (you can also use a glazing medium.) I applied a layer of glaze and wiped it back with a baby wipe here and there, but left most of it on and let it dry. I used this to bring a bit of grittiness and tamp down some of the brighter colors so that it would fit better with my theme. Next, I took some ephemera and collaged it in three places on the page to make a visual triangle around where I was going to put my picture, distressing the papers with archival ink as I went. (Photo featured below)
The next step is gel transfer. Don’t be intimidated-it’s actually pretty easy! First, I used some gesso to cover the area where I was going to place my photo-I didn’t want too much of the background to show through the transfer. Next, I applied a coat of Golden Soft Gel (glossy) directly on the printed photo (here’s a hint-if you’re transferring anything with writing, or want to make sure the transfer comes out the right way, reverse your image before you print it because it will be backwards once it’s transferred.) Golden recommends 1/32″ to 1/16″ coating for a transfer-if you make it too thick it could craze. Then I just put it photo/gel side down onto the prepared spot and smoothed it out so there were no wrinkles.
Next, you wait! I waited about an hour to an hour and a half, but the air in Utah is extremely dry, so depending on where you live it might take longer. You want to let it dry pretty well, then you break out the water sprayer (normally you’d soak off the back, but since this was adhered directly into my book, I had to improvise) I spritzed it in a small area at a time- enough for it to be wet, but not enough to soak through the pages and ruin everything. I just rub my fingers firmly across the back, and it will pull up the paper leaving the transferred image behind- it rolls up into little balls that you brush off. If you get too rough, it will pull up part of the transfer too, so just be careful! (I sometimes did it on purpose for the look of it.) (Photo featured below)
With my photo transfer complete, I just went through adding details to the page. I started by taking a hand-carved stamp and some archival ink and adding a bit of a pattern on top of the collaged areas. Then I took out some Jacquard orange gold shimmery paint and added a little more into the stenciled area- I wanted to tie in more of the color from the photo. Then I took a mix of fluid acrylic and airbrush medium (I do about 50/50) in a Fine Liner bottle and added some trademark dots. (Photo featured below)
Now for some finishing touches- I took out my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil and some off-white ink and randomly added some very light pattern around the page. This created a unifying element on the spread and brightens it up a bit. I used alphabet stamps and Archival ink and added a title on my photo, then went through with a blending tool and some gold ink and added a bit of gold here and there on the spread. I used a blending tool with black ink around the edged of the page (I like to frame things for a finished look) and then edged the pages with gold Pen Touch marker. Finally, I went back to my Dina Wakley paint in Penny with a fine line applicator and added some scribbly asemic writing coming out from the photo and anchoring it to the collage clusters. (Photo featured below)
I added journaling and voila- it’s finished! (photo featured below)
I like how the distressing, dirty glaze, and the faded and cloudy nature of the gel transferred photo all tie into the feel of this memory and what it means to me. The motifs that I selected have a slightly African vibe (well enough to tie into the theme) and I selected ephemera that went with it as well. I’m so glad that I was able to put this memory into my art journal. It’s raw and powerful thing, and is the perfect way for me to express how my experience in this place still influences my life, even almost eight years later.
Here you can see the journaling that I added… I probably could have filled the whole spread with it, but decided to just keep it to the essentials and let the art journal spread do some of the talking. (photo featured below)
So that’s the place I’ve visited that had the longest impression on me, and I can’t wait to see what places and impressions everyone else documents this week!
Thank you so much for letting me join you for this challenge, it’s been lots of fun! Gwen
-Large Dylusions Art Journal
-One photo printed on copy paper (I have an archival printer, but laser, ink jet or a photocopy will also work.)
-Liquitex Professional Gesso (I also use Golden or Dina Wakley Media)
-Deli Paper (to protect the book while I’m working)
-Fluid Acyrlic Paints (DecoArt Media, Golden)
- Payne’s Gray, Titanium White, Teal, Pthalo Turquoise
Heavy Body Accrylic Paints
- Golden Carbon Black, Fluorescent Magenta
- Dina Wakley Media: Penny with Fine Liner tip
Stencil Girl Stencils
- Ornamental Embroidery, Ornamental Floral Screen (both by Gwen LaFleur)
Fine Liner Bottles For detail accents
- Mix half fluid acrylic ( I used Dialyride Yellow and Pyrrole Orange) and half airbrush medium
Jacquard Metallic Paint in yellow gold
Golden Matte Medium
My own acrylic “dirty glaze”
- Mix about a quart sized blob of teal fluid acrylics with a slightly smaller blob of Micaceous Iron Oxide fluid acrylic. Then about half that size of Interference Gold fluid acrylics. Then I add polymer medium (you could also use glazing medium)- about 7 times as much medium as paint, and shake it until it’s all mixed up.
Golden Soft Gel (Glossy)
Archival Ink pads in Sepia and Jet Black with Ranger mini blending tools
Vintage Cream stamp pad from Papertrey Ink
Hand-carved rubber stamp
Paper ephemera for collage
Paint brushes ( I like Dian Wakley Media brushes for stenciling, softer bristled flat brushes for painting backgrounds and applying mediums.)
Tim Holtz/ Ranger water sprayer
Alphabet stamps (my set is an old acrylic set from American Crafts)
Pens: Pen-Touch Gold for the edges, Pental Identi-Pen for the journaling