What happens is we each create papers, letter-size, decorated both sides with paint, stamps, ink, stencils or collage, and this time we are doing two sets of 20 each. We send them to her before her deadline and she parcels them out to all of us; we each get 40 pretty papers to either bind for a journal or whatever. Some I have saved for large collage projects.
In any case, it has been a couple of years since we did this -- or at least since I participated. (I don't always check all my group messages.) I decided now would be a good time to jump in, and set about preparing to make my papers. I had some 80 lb paper and of course lots and lots of paint and stencils. Or so I thought.
The first thing that happened was I couldn't find the paper. I have reorganized my studio several times in the past several years, and have been working with wood, and clay, and canvases. (I do spend an inordinate amount of time looking for things, it seems.) So I ordered another ream online. It's way more than I'll ever need and of course I'll find my other paper later. I will give it to my granddaughters for drawing.
I set aside the time to begin; I looked for appropriate spray bottles, watercolor which doesn't clog the spray bottles, and got ready to paint.
I somehow didn't remember what to do.
Anything I sketched, or sprayed didn't really look like what I have done in the past, and I wouldn't want to send to anyone. What on earth was I to do?
I know! I've always been good at monkey-see-monkey-do, so I went to the file of papers I had received two years ago that are still pretty and unused, and it finally jogged my memory. (I guess this is another sign of old age. Seems there's a new sign every day.) Okay. So what I want to do, I said, is paint one color, and make a design of some sort in another color. A pattern.
I began to paint, and using watercolor on a paper that is not watercolor paper can be a really sloppy experience. The paper was curling, taking forever to dry so that I could do the second side, and stencils were not working at all. No shapes at all, just dribbles.
Gesso. I forgot about that. I use that all the time on canvases, so I had plenty on hand. I started over, gessoing both sides of the first 20 pieces of paper. And eureka, the paint began to behave. Even using gesso and the bigger brush got me started thinking better about what I would like to do.
This has been really a surprising experience for me -- I, who have created art journal after art journal in the past four years, had very little memory of how it is done. I have made many other things since then, and this process just somehow got pushed into a deep crack of my memory department.
I have two more weeks to finish, and let's all hope it goes smoothly from now on.
On another note, I found a big container of all my previously created art journals that has been stored outside, with ten inches of water in it! The container's lid had blown off before the last rain, and nobody had noticed. Devastating. I thought they'll never dry, the pages will glue to themselves, and we'll have no history of my better days. I set them out to dry in the sun, and every now and then I go and turn a few more pages. We are not expecting rain for a few days.
The pages are not going to stick together after all, which I feared. And why not?