I’ve frequently seen these beautifully decorated art journals on Pinterest. Usually, the artist has used polymer clay. While I intend to do some experimentation with polymer clay, I haven’t quite gotten there yet. However, I found a plain black sketch book on clearance, so I bought it with the intent of making it beautiful with paint. After all, who wants an art journal that has a boring cover? That’s not very inspiring, is it.
The first thing I did with my shiny black sketchbook was to give it 4-5 coats of gesso. Once that was done, I was ready to draw my design. On one side, I drew hibiscus flowers (a favorite of mine), and on the other side, I used some stencils to draw a bunch of different shapes. (I wasn’t in the mood to free-hand and keep erasing until I got it right.)
My design sketched out on the gesso-covered cover.
As you can see, my hibiscus drawing isn’t quite perfect. Seeing the way the final cover photographed, I wish I’d used white paint to cover some of the sketch lines that went through the middle of the flower petals. While my final product looks good to my naked eye, the extra light from the camera really brings out the flaws, as you will see shortly.
Next, I started painting. I wanted the sketchbook to have “bling,” so I chose to do one side in flat paint to be covered with glitter later (the flowers), and I did the other side in metallic paints (the shapes). I had a hard time finding the right color for the background on the metallic side. I tried to blend some metallics together to get metallic green because I didn’t have any. That didn’t work out so well, so I wound up choosing metallic blue.
In progress photo of the covers. You can see I’ve started painting over the blah green with blue (metallic side). I had barely started the flower side at this point.
Once I had both sides painted the way I wanted (including adding the glitter on the flower side), I painted both covers with Mod Podge Hard Coat, which is intended for furniture. I figure if it can protect your designs on furniture, then it surely can protect these sketchbook covers from getting banged up.
Here’s the final product:
The glitter side with the hibiscus flowers. As I noted above, the photographs show a few of the pencil lines through the paint. I was using layers of craft paint–I could probably have avoided this with using the thicker artist paint I have, but then I would have needed to mix a lighter color to get a layered effect.
The metallic side. I noticed while editing the pictures that there are a few white edges between paint colors. Oops! Oh, well. I think it’s fine for what I’m using it for.