Art Journal Tutorial: Back to Basics Series: “If Nothing Changed “


Techniques Used :

  • using black as a background color
  • using DIY stamps made with fun foam- roller or regular
  • picking a focal point
  • altering magazine pictures to collage on your page
  • picking colors that work together-complementary colors
  • edging the page
  • adding shadow with charcoal pencil
  • splattering

Materials Needed

I am making every effort to limit the materials needed to items you can buy at your local dollar store, thrift store, Walmart.  Supplies will stay mostly the same for each project. Use what you have. I am limiting myself to them as well.

  • Mod Podge Matte
  • gesso- Walmart brand- does not have to be expensive artist grade
  • assorted sizes paintbrushes
  • re-purposed children’s book- see first post for selection and preparation or purchased journal with heavier paper ( mixed media preferred)
  • dollar store or other brand craft acrylic paint – 3 bright colors , black and white (pick colors that go with your magazine picture chosen)
  • Magazine pictures of butterflies, flowers etc. ( coordinate with colors chosen)
  • makeup sponges
  • homemade stamps made from fun foam, cardboard /lint roller
  • charcoal pencil
  • baby wipes
  • paper towel
  • meat tray or plastic lid for paint palette
  • black permanent marker/liner pen/gel pens
  • old credit card/gift card/hotel key card
  • heat tool or hair dryer

*if you have a higher quality item, you can definitely use them. For instance  Liquitex Basic Acrylic Paint or Liquitex Modeling Paste, or watercolor pencils/crayons.  Often I will discuss options on the accompanying video.

Click on this link if you want to make some stamps like those used on this page.



  1. Gesso page using paintbrush or with credit card.  Dry with heat tool/hair dryer .
  2. Paint entire background black with black acrylic paint. You may need to spray a bit of water to help spread paint, especially if you are using more expensive paint.
  3. Select 3 brighter colors that you feel will show up on the black background. If you have neon colors, they may work well. I chose lime green, red and teal. I used my lint roller that I had stuck torn pieces of fun foam onto. You can make one similar to this without a roller. Cut 2 pieces of cardboard and glue together. Make it the size of your sheet of fun foam. Glue a layer of fun foam on top of the cardboard. Now rip pieces of fun foam into random shapes and glue them onto the fun foam.
  4. I discovered that the easiest way to apply the paint onto the fun foam was by painting it on with a paint brush. I dried the paint after each color. Be prepared for the color to get a bit duller ( due to black background). I put lime green first, then red. When I went to choose the third color I noticed that the lime and red kind of made orange/red. When I looked at the color wheel I noticed that teal or blue-green was the complement of that shade , so I chose that color.                                                                                                        Color Wheel Complementary Colors lie opposite each other on the color wheel. These colors always go well with each other. Some of the most popular color schemes are based on color complements. If stuck on what color to make a background or focal point, check out the color wheel.
  5. I had planned on putting butterflies on this page. You could do the same or pick any magazine picture you have that will go with the page. I wanted to stay in the same complement color scheme, so I chose butterflies that were red-orange. If you started with a picture, pick colors that go with the picture.
  6. You do not have to use the magazine pictures as they are in the magazine. The partial flower on the right side was attached to the picture on the left. I cut it out and placed it on the other side in order to bring the color to both sides. Balance the whole page. The butterfly on the left was from a different page.                                                                                             Butterfly

7.  After using Mod Podge to adhere the butterfly and flowers. I searched PInterest for butterfly quotes. This is a great source of inspirational quotes. I have a board in Pinterest where I collect them.

8.  I printed out the quote and cut it into chunks. I have found that if you cut them into single words, the page gets too busy. I outlined each chunk with my Micron permanent black pen. I used sketchy lines. I did this, as I had noticed many purchased sentiment stamps have that and I liked the effect.

9.   I tried out several arrangements. I put the word butterflies on the second page to lead your eyes to the second page. I used Mod Podge to adhere the words down.

10.  Dip make up sponge in a little bit of teal acrylic paint. Dab off on palette. Rub around edge of page. I chose teal as with the pictures I felt I had enough red/orange.

11 .  Outline the words and pictures with my  charcoal pencil, and then smudging it with my finger.  You can use watercolor /inktense pencil for this, but instead of rubbing it you will activate it with water.                                                                                                                                      Butterfly

12.  Put a small amount of white acrylic paint on palette. Spray a small amount of water and mix paint . Dip small paintbrush in paint and tap the handle of the brush with another paintbrush to cause spatters. You may want to try this out on blank paper before doing it on your page, just to get a feel for the technique.

13.  Apply layer of mod podge over all the page to ensure that it all has same finish.

NOTE: If at any time you get paint where you don’t want it, because your bottom layer is acrylic you can use a baby wipe and clean it up if you do so before it’s dry. Acrylic paint is permanent when dry. Many of the sprays, watercolors, gelatos etc are not permanent and will re-activate if you wet them. Using acrylics makes things much easier.

I created a Facebook group so we can come together to share what we’ve all created and develop creationships that support our individual creative journeys. Come join the group and join the conversation. The group is called…

All Things Mixed Media: CreativeKady

Click this link to watch the accompanying video.

This is the third article in a series. Missed the second article click here.


2 thoughts on “Art Journal Tutorial: Back to Basics Series: “If Nothing Changed “

  1. jmccumbers

    I’m really loving your Back to Basics series. I appreciate that you have typed out the exact steps to make your page. Sometimes I’m not able to take the time to watch a video. Pus I tend to learn better seeing it in type! I also appreciate that you are keeping your supplies simple. I hope you keep it up. 🙂


    1. creativekady Post author

      That is my plan, both keeping it up and to keep it to minimal supplies. I will be doing some with homemade Wilton sprays in upcoming articles so you may want to view my video on how to make those. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope to see you join the Facebook group All Things Mixed Media: CreativeKady



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