Typing With Wet Claws: Art Journal Therapy Edition

Hello, all. Skye here, for another Typing With Wet Claws. Anty is still battling her very bad cold, but she thinks she is getting the upper hand on it, at last. I will keep you all posted.

When Anty finds it difficult to concentrate on writing but still wants to be creative, she can spend time with her art notebooks (most people say art journals.) Even when Anty finds putting words or images on the page too much  for her brain, she can still put down backgrounds, which is what she spent some time doing this week.


This spread is only gesso and watercolor, but she still finds it very interesting. The page with different colors on it is leftover paint from other backgrounds brushed on top of gesso, and the page with only gray on it is gray watercolor painted over gesso into which she scratched lines into while it was still wet. I could have helped her with that. I have claws.

These pages are also backgrounds, or the starts of backgrounds. Anty does not have to know what is going to go on the page in the final version, but only concentrates on what feels right for what she is doing in the present. Sometimes, that means putting down a mask, to keep part of the page the original color while she puts other colors on top of it.


Cropping is hard when you have paws…

Anty has learned that, when an art page is not working, it is due to one of two things:

  1. Not enough layers
  2. Clean sweep

Either Anty has not added enough things to the page for it to look right, or she needs to start over, completely fresh, with a clear idea of what her focus should be. Maybe she wants to see what kind of mark a pen or brush can make, or what she can do with a particular color of paint.  As you can see in the picture above, she has ripped out a few pages in her time. Sometimes they cannot be saved, but, usually, they can, by turning into something else.

Any really really loves a calendar she had a few years back, from PaPaYa! Art, so she wanted to use it as an altered book and add in her own art. One of the first things she thought she would do would be put a coat of gesso over the calendar pages, to make a new background. That was a good idea. What was not a good idea was to do all of them at once, and “protect” the wet pages by putting scrap paper in between them.

Well. She knows, now, that she needs to use wax paper when she does that. Back then, she did not know. To make matters worse, the pages she used were very very very bright blue. They had things printed on them, and she thought it might be interesting, once she figured out that the pages were now adhered to the calendar pages, to see if she could treat it like a gel medium resist and gently rub away the blue paper, leaving the words, and incorporate that in the art. That was not what happened.

What happened was that the warm water that dissolved the blue paper also dissolved part of the page beneath it. Some pages had to be torn out altogether, but, since they were already total losses, then she could use them to experiment with other techniques. Which often turns into something else she really can use, like this:


The watercolor went over the parts of paper Anty could not rub off differently than it went over the parts of the page that were plain gesso, and even the part of the page that came off at the top could be interesting as a part of something else. Anty can use this page as part of a bigger page, or she can cut it down into smaller parts and use some or all of them as parts of several other pages or projects.

If you think this is where I remind Anty that this advice can carry over into writing as well, you are right. If a scene is not working out, either there are not enough layers, or it is time for a clean sweep. Go back to the idea at the heart of the scene and start over, with the heart of the idea in mind. Usually, one of those two things will do the trick, and she can fill the page with whatever it needs, then move on to the next.

My nursing duties call, so that is going to be about it for this week. Until next time, I remain very truly yours,

i1035 FW1.1

Until next week…

Skye O’Malley Hart-Bowling
(the kitty, not the book)


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