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What can you do when you have no idea where an art journal page is going?  Enjoy the adventure! When this page was started, there was no hint of where it was going.  Who would have guessed a caterpillar with a mohawk and more than one O.O.P.S.would lead to the end result!

This page is brought to you by O.O.P.S.- because it was one big O.O.P.S. after another.  The caterpillar’s blue mohawk was not exactly intentional but it led to the pink.

The orange was an O.O.P.S. choice of color but that led to me seeing the heart shape instead of a green carrot. You see, an O.O.P.S. isn’t a mistake, it’s an Outstanding Opportunity Presenting Suddenly.

Outlining the heart with big oil pastels shifted the entire look of the art journal page in a direction I wasn’t expecting at all. 

The oil pastels are creamy and smooth but that is a challenge for pens.  It is hard on pens to write over oil pastels and it can ruin them.  So what could I do?  Write next to the oil pastel and avoid writing ON the oil pastel. 

It was a good plan, but not so careful execution.  That’s why the pen struggled to give a solid white line.  

What are the best supplies to use for art journaling? The ones within arm’s reach.  That’s why I used the PanPastels.  Just a touch of color that added a softness to the page.

What supplies do you have out and ready to use?  Bet those would be great in your art journal!

O.O.P.S. again! I thought a little oil pastel here would be wonderful. As soon as I did it, nope.  Knew instantly it was not “right”.  But since I said O.O.P.S., I knew it wasn’t a mistake or an end of the world event.  It was an opportunity.

That O.O.P.S. led me to get more white on the page, which I hadn’t even been thinking about.  To write on top of oil pastels you need something that writes but isn’t a pen – like a fineliner filled with ink.  

This is my go-to way to write on things that you can’t write on and you can see more about it in this video. 

I often get asked how I seal my art journal pages.  Usually, I don’t.  That’s a personal preference so if you feel more comfortable sealing yours- go for it!

Next time you’re art journaling and you have no idea where your page is going, enjoy the ride! You might be surprised where it takes you!

Here are the supplies used. Some of these links are affiliate links which means I get a small percentage. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps keep the free tutorials coming!

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What Can Distress Oxide Spray Do?

What can Distress Oxide Spray do?  That was my question as I opened the box and took these out for a spin.  What you’re seeing in the video is my very first time playing with the Tim Holtz Distress Oxide Sprays. 

There are 3 things that really stood out to me: 

  • Absorbent and non-absorbent surfaces give you wonderfully different results-  beading vs. resisting vs. absorbing
  • How much Distress Oxide Spray you use impacts the opacity-and it can be very opaque
  • It starts out bright and shiny then dries to a chalky finish 

There’s lots in this video, including if it bleeds through paint and tips for how to shake it and more!

Make the cardboard journal you saw in the video in the free workshop – Permission to Play

How you shake these is important so that it doesn’t clog. Shake it side to side, like you’re ringing the bell for the butler.  Every time I shake it, I think of Downton Abbey. Dang, I miss that show!

You’ll need to shake it frequently as you’re playing because the ingredients separate relatively quickly. The good news is that it only takes a quick shake to mix it back up.

A happy surprise was how the type resisted the spray.  But when I tried it with a different piece of book text, it didn’t resist.  The paper you use makes a difference.  

The newer smoother paper seemed to be better for the letters resisting the spray.  Older or more absorbent papers did not do the resist thing.  

I was using generous amounts and the papers were soaking wet.  Took them forever to dry, or at least that is how it felt.  

When I turned the papers over the back side looked very different from the front.  Thanks to the miracle of photoshop, what you see below is the same paper, the front has the dusty chalky look and the back has a very vibrant look.  

How much you use makes a difference.  When it was all dry, the areas that had a lot more spray were so opaque that you could not see the type.  

Since this is an opaque spray, it is great for building up layers in an art journal.  This videos for how to build this journal are in my free workshop, Permission to Play– you can get signed up here. In this workshop, you’ll also get specific ways to let yourself play.  

Notice how the spray behaved differently on the areas that had paint on them and the areas that didn’t. Some of this was absorbent, the paper and cardboard and some wasn’t, the painted areas. The surface you’re using changes the look of the spray.  


These papers had a layer of paint on them, from cleaning off a brayer while gel printing.  Since there was paint on it, that meant the paper was no longer very absorbent, so the Distress Oxide Spray behaved differently on it.  

You can see a little of the beading on the upper right and lower left.  But let’s push that to an extreme.


This paper was a coated cardstock, so it was not very absorbent at all.  That meant it beaded up with the generous amount I sprayed on there. 

Be sure to watch in the video where I have a fast forward of this drying- you’ll see how it goes from glossy to the chalky dry.

With sprays, the big question is will it reactivate, or smear if wet stuff is added on top.  The good news, the white paint stayed white when brushed on, so it didn’t reactivate.  

But as you can see, it did bleed through the white as it dried.  

On the bottle, the manufacturer, Ranger Ink recommends that you clean the spray nozzle after each use.  

Now that I’ve had one play session with these sprays, I’m excited to see what else I can do with them.  If you don’t want to miss it, get signed up for my weekly newsletter and you’ll get both creative encouragement and know when I post another Distress Oxide Spray tutorial!


This gel print becoming an art journal page had a few unexpected adventures. The little paint brushes, the book that may not have been the wisest choice to use for found poetry, and the impatience about paint drying. Okay, the impatience part that wasn’t unexpected lol!

Here’s the gel print that started today’s play.  You can see how it was made in this video using my Speckles and Spots stencil and acrylic gouache on the gel plate.

I’m using little brushes to start, not because it was a wise decision but because I have a zillion of them now thanks to O.O.P.S. when I placed an order.

Now, it felt like a mistake but it wasn’t.  It was an O.O.P.S., an Outstanding Opportunity PResenting Suddenly.  An opportunity for me to try using brushes I normally wouldn’t.

And by the way, I don’t know if you know this, but little brushes don’t hold as much paint as a big brush. Shocker, right?  Guess what else I learned about little brushes- they dry out faster since they have a lot less paint on them. 

Next, it was found poetry time.  The book I grabbed may not have been the best choice or I should say the easiest choice. Television Simplified was like a textbook or technical manual.

As I tried to find words on the page I selected, I began to wonder if I’d ever find words that resonated with me in there.  Oh, how I wished at this point that I had grabbed the trashy novel instead. 

This could have been a mistake, but instead, it was just an O.O.P.S. because in the end, I found just the right words, even in that book!

The circles called for a more layers- perhaps my way of releasing the stress of finding words in that text! 

You can write on acrylic gouache with a pen but the trick is the paint actually has to be dry. And you have to be willing to wait for it to dry.

The white pen wrote easily on the purple because it was actually fully dry.  

What words did I find in that very challenging book?  

it’s all starting

the traces add up

the process becomes possible

A several points, it felt impossible- I wondered if I was ever going to find any words on that page that resonated.

But that’s how play works some days, when you think it just won’t come together, that it just won’t happen, it surprises you. 

Here are the supplies used. Some of these links are affiliate links which means I get a small percentage. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps keep the free tutorials coming!

The itty bitty brushes were size 2 round brushes from Jerry’s Artarma