Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Watercolours in my Journaling Bible Part 1 - by Deborah Gregg

I do enjoy using watercolour paints, there's something really relaxing about dabbing, washing, dripping, flicking and moving the paint over the pages, sometimes drying the page between layers, and sometimes allowing the colours to blend together (trying to avoid accidentally mixing 'mud' brown). 

I thought I'd share a step-by-step for a few of my watercolour pages, perhaps over a series of blog posts over the coming few months.

The biggest challenge when using watercolour paints in my Bible is of course the extremely thin paper - almost the opposite to the heavy, thick, crinkle-resistant watercolour papers that would normally be used for these paints. So to help with this, I (usually) try to use the minimum amount of water necessary, and (usually) prepare the page first with a coat of clear gesso. I use Art Basics or Dina Wakely Clear Gesso (not much difference in my opinion, both are great). I first put a craft sheet (made from silicone) or an old piece of A4 scrap paper under the page. I use a cut up cheap kitchen sponge to apply the clear gesso in single strokes working from the centre out to the edges of the pages. Gently, gently, don't rush!

I also use a really useful heat tool to help dry gesso and paint in between layers. It's like a hairdryer but with very little air! A hairdryer works well too, on low speed, just watch that the page doesn't flap too much in the breeze or it might stick to itself! (yep - been there, done that).

I was blessed to receive a beautiful set of Japanese watercolour paints - Kuretake Gansai Tambi - as a birthday present a while back. The colours are rich and vibrant, and come with a few shimmery metallics too which are gorgeous. I also have a small pocket-box of 12 half-pan watercolours in my Bible Art Journaling 2Go bag that I can take out and about with me, I use these with waterbrushes - maybe I'll talk about them another time! 

The passage I've chosen is from Lamentations 3v21-26. This is a familiar passage that kept cropping up in different ways, I felt God was speaking to me recently and showing me something new I hadn't seen before. 

In Emily P Freeman's book 'Simply Tuesday', she talks about how we can often become so overwhelmed by our busy daily lives:
If I were a robot, I would need a re-boot. Let's start this girl over, she's overheating. I wonder if the Lord had that in mind when Jeremiah made his lamentation: "The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease; for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lam 3:22-23
I've felt challenged lately to try to make a little adjustments to my day to day routine, to hopefully make a big overall difference, and sleep is one of these areas. As a night-owl, I struggle with the concept of going to bed at a reasonable time, when I'm wide awake and enjoying the peace of a quiet evening. I am blessed that I do usually sleep well, but am definitely not a morning person. (Ask my husband!).

I may never become a natural morning person, but God has been showing me that change is possible, and a bit more balance would benefit me and my family! And my morning prayer time...
I've been encouraged to consider that sleep and rest is a good thing, a blessing and a gift. Sleep resets my soul, mind and body, and leads me into God's great faithfulness and new mercies for me every single morning.
So, to journal this passage in my Bible, I decided to use my lovely Kuretake watercolours to try to do some sunrise-coloured paint dabs. That's the best description I can come up with for the rough idea that was in my mind...! Which looked like this:

You can see that as the page was wet, it crinkled. I don't mind the crinkle at all, but it is a warning that the page is very weak and vulnerable and will rip easily at that stage. So I tried to dab excess water with an old rag as I went along, and was just painting very gently. Then I dried the page with my heat tool.

After deciding what words I wanted to use, I thought I'd use a Versafine inkpad and a small alphabet stamp set. 
Which is when I discovered two things: firstly that although the page was dry, the ink still bled really badly and the crisp outline of the stamps went all fuzzy after a couple of minutes!!! Uh Oh.

 The second thing I discovered was that my best friend Baby Wipe worked wonders - I am convinced this is because the page was prepped with clear gesso - the smudgy ink just wiped off! Yay!!!
As some of the background was now looking a bit sorry, I decided to go for a collage effect in order to still use the little stamps, and to re-direct the eye away from the dodgy background. I just used some cheap printer paper, stamped each word, and ripped them up.
They looked a bit too crisp, so I scrunched them up....
Then unfolded and brushed the edges with some raspberry pink Tim Holtz Distress Ink (you can use this technique with any ink pads, just allow them to dry)
I then stuck them down with Pritt Stick. I added a few quotes underneath to remind me of what God had been showing me recently.

I hope this blog post has helped encourage you to have a play with watercolours, mistakes can be worked around, or collaged over if you need to, just have a go! This process was really fun, a bit of a fiddle, but really helped me to join together some of the thoughts and quotes and verses that God has been speaking to me about lately. 

I wonder what He is speaking to you about?

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