I was reading my feeds yesterday and saw that Kelly Kilmer wrote an interesting blog about creating a visual vocabulary, which is to say, coming up with colors and images that are representative of you, your emotions, and your life. I have also heard these reoccurring themes referred to as a motif. Whatever you want to call it, I realized that there are several tell tale signs in my own art.
(This image is clickable to my Flickr for closer views and materials list)
Colors- I am drawn to bright and vivid colors. I love lime green, hot pink, red, yellow and I consider bright aqua/turquoise to be “my” color. I find myself drawn to other artists’ works that use it. I am also drawn when the pages are mostly obscured with white paint or gesso. I just love the muted white wash effect.
Images- Birds! I love me some birds. I have 2 identical giant books filled with illustrations of birds. I also have tons of stamps and stencils with birds.
Another big one is butterflies. I have a couple of different paper punches and a die for my Big Shot that I use constantly. If I have a small scrap of paper, I generally just punch a few butterflies out of it since I know they’ll get used.
Landscape or home photos… I use magazine images a lot and the ones I’m most drawn to are the ones where everything is perfect and idealized. Those kinds of pictures speak to my happy place so I use them a lot.
Text and Dymo labels. (Holy crap, some really bad reviews of the labeler on that page… I’ve never had any problems with any of my Dymo products.) I love both and use them all the time. I have a pile of old foreign language texts that I rip pages from regularly. I like to punch shapes from them or just rip a strip off. I love the warm yellowed color of the pages and the way the illegible words are like a pattern.
Techniques- I love creating highly textured backgrounds for my art journal pages. Every page goes through several stages before I feel like they are done. I have a before and after page that I’ll write about in my next post.
I love writing with a bottle of black ink and a paint brush. It’s something I picked up from Samantha Kira and I love the way it looks.
Layering strips along the edges of pages. I usually don’t form entire borders around my pages the way that Teesha Moore does, but after rewatching her video series on her journaling process, I’m thinking of giving it a shot. Usually what I’ll do is make a border along the top or bottom or along the outside of one or both pages. I just like how it reigns in the chaos a little, I guess.
Sequin waste (punchinella) dots and other found stencils. A little more order in the midst of chaos. Structure can be good.
Supplies- I find myself reaching for paper punches and border punches regularly. It’s so much easier than cutting something by hand. Same thing with my dies. I don’t have many, but the ones I do own get a good workout.
Craft acrylics. I’ve heard amazing things about Golden brand paints, but for what I’m doing the cheap stuff is completely ok. And also, cheap. Which means money for other stuff.
Patterned papers. By which I don’t generally mean scrapbooking stuff. I have quite a lot of that and it’s fine, but I only buy the giant 180 sheet blocks of whatever is on hand when Hobby Lobby has a 50% off sale. Mostly what I mean are my other less obvious sources of paper. Rolls of wallpaper, contact paper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, sewing patterns, telephone book pages, the newspapers I picked up in China Town, book pages… really anything I can lay hands on while I’m going. I lean more towards paper with words or music than anything else though. Oh and quad paper. I have a passion for it.
I also love tape. I have a suitcase full of it. I don’t have any fancy washi tape yet, but I’ve managed to find a fairly respectable collection of colored masking tapes.
And, of course, we can’t forget the work horse of my journal pages, my date stamp. I use it all the time. Probably on something like 80+% of the things I make. Love that little critter.
I suppose that about covers it. I’d love hearing what others have found about their own visual vocabulary and reoccurring themes.