Using Gelli Prints to Collage a Peacock

It has been a few weeks since I created a completed art page in one of my journals so I set aside some time today to see if I could make something. The internet is a great source of inspiration and facebook in particular has a number of special interest groups dedicated to art journaling. You can be sure I have joined a couple of those groups, each with a different approach to prompts to get your mind into gear for creating. One group, Mission Inspiration, has a monthly ‘mission’ listing 10 different prompts in a sequence to follow and interpret as you see fit. I’ve done a few in the past and they have been challenging and I end up trying things I wouldn’t normally be drawn to.  Since it is still November I decided that this would be a good place to start. The ‘mission’ in my very brief style is as follows –

  1. Cover with paper lattice
  2. Thin coat Gesso
  3. Make marks with warm colours
  4. Collage nature elements
  5. Add book text
  6. Add mica
  7. Doodle
  8. Add focal image
  9. Words, quotes
  10. Drips

So lets begin.



Firstly, I have a few self imposed rules. One is that I don’t begin the mission on a blank page. I’m on my own mission to complete at least one art journal book before the end of the year.  So, what can I tell you about this page? It’s in a re-purposed embroidery book with glossy pages primed with gesso. I at one time smeared some left over dye ink all over the page and then later used it as a test page for some cheap glass paints. Now it’s time for a make over.



With 10 instructions to get through I usually do them in groups of two but I liked the play of pattern and colour on the first so it got it’s own photo opportunity. If I wasn’t intent on getting the other parts done I may have left this as is but since there are no attachments to the work I will let it go. I cut gelli prints into long strips and glued them down into a lattice pattern.



I knew the white layer was going to be too washed out for me so I scribbled on some blue water soluble crayon before applying the gesso. I pulled some of the colour back in by wiping away some of the gesso through a stencil. I like the colour and the patterns but this is a challenge on the eyes to look at.



So I go and make it worse! I applied my warm tonal colours which didn’t help. I cut leave shapes out of another gelliprint and collaged them in. Making a few ugly layers is part of the whole process so I’m not too worried at this stage. But I secretly hope something will make sense soon.



I cut more shapes from an old recipe book and adhere them in. It didn’t make it better, it didn’t make it worse. What I did next took it straight into the horrible realm. The requirement was to add some sparkle and I chose a walnut ink spray with mica powders in it and poured it on. A little bit too much! Everything went brown. I wiped and rubbed away as much as I could and was left with what you see in the photo above. I’m now more than half way through this and I’ve got no idea how to turn this around into something I might like.



This was part 7 only, which was to add doodles. I really needed to get some light back into this so I’ve gone for bright white for the doodling part. I’m not feeling really optimistic about my progress so far so I wanted to do something quick and loose. And I have also let go of any expectation that I’m going to come up with something interesting. My only objective during this part was to experiment with the white ink which I’ve never used and learn how it flows, dries and feels to work with. I drew the doodles on with the pipette from my bottle of white ink. I found it hard to control for consistent lines, it dried to a lovely opaque bright white and it feels very runny when wet.



From the outset the nature elements gave me an idea for leaves and trees which then gave me an idea about birds. I didn’t dwell too much on it, ie no expectation to make a bird in a tree. As I looked at the ‘leaf’ mess I had created I wondered if I could get a bird to live in it. I think not. Then all of a sudden I saw a peacock tail. Not a pretty peacock tail, but that didn’t matter. I visualized his body and set to work cutting out shapes from the gelli print stash. It’s at this point that something magical and mysterious happens. An oddly shaped off cut looks just like a wing. Glue it down! The elipses on another print are saying ‘tail feather eyes’. Cut and glue! Green scales look like the tail base. ‘Pick me’! It’s like the peacock is chasing me to get him on the page ASAP.  This is what he looked like after the frenzied collaging session.



And here he is finished, emerging from the shadows of the page. I then step back and look at that and say, WOW! What just happened? There are lots of peacocks strutting around my yard and I keep telling myself one day I’d like to make one in my art book. Today is that day.



I wrote words about what I was feeling as I made this page into his wings and his tail feathers. The Colour Me Positive facebook group quote for this week was ‘To get all you can from life, put all you can into it. Live with enthusiasm’.  I finished it all off with some splatters of a yellow gold mica spray. Not sure if it was necessary but it was part of the recipe so it got included. As for the first mica inclusion that created an awful mess a few steps back, it turns out that it was a good thing. I like those extra dark patches in his tail now.

Art makes me happy. Trust the mess.

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2 thoughts on “When Peacocks Strut Out Through the Gelli-prints

  1. I so need to do something like this over my break. Thank you for the inspiration

    Posted on November 24, 2016 at 1:12 am
  2. Wow!

    Posted on November 24, 2016 at 7:47 pm