Amanda Jolley

Reflection on pattern and abstraction of the subconscious

Joy Journal Project Assignment #12

You know what #12 means? A celebration of a year of Joy Journal Project is in order! I am suddenly hungry for cake. And never fear, for those of you that haven’t completed all the assignments, I will be leaving them on my sidebar for you to access.

Years ago, I checked out this book from the library:

The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery by Karen Michel

The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery by Karen Michel

I enjoyed it immensely, so much so that I am still using techniques and ideas from the book. It is also on my lengthy Amazon wish list to one day add to my personal library.

Inspired by the book, for today’s assignment we will be altering a photograph. The photo must be printed on real photo paper for optimal results. The photo I chose is a beautiful butterfly. My daughter took the photo at Powell Gardens several years ago during their annual butterfly event.

And I am going to cheat a bit for today’s demo. With finals next week, I have found my time to be at a premium. The background I will be using was created at our last Joy Journal Project gathering in April. I felt the page was interesting, but lacked a focal point. The altered photo makes a perfect focal point and completes the page for me.

Using techniques used in past assignments, please create a collage background that will be a lovely backdrop for your photo. You can create the background at any point, before, during or after the photo alteration is complete.

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To begin, I trimmed my photo so that it would fit nicely on my page.

Then I soaked the photo for a moment in water to soften the emulsion.


After retrieving from the water, pat the photo dry and using fine grit sandpaper, lightly sand the edges of the photo and any other areas you may want to add texture. Using an awl or similar pointy tool, scratch into the surface of the photo in any pattern you find pleasing. I wanted to accent the wings, so I made some lines around the body.


Continue to add pattern and texture as you see fit. When you are done, dip the photo back into the water to wash away the little emulsion goobers left on the photo. Pat dry with a paper towel.


Now to add color. Here I am using a wet paintbrush to pull pigment off my watersoluble crayon. I “painted” the tip of the crayon and the added the wash of color onto the photo. Other ways to add color include using felt-tip markers and fluid acrylic paint.


After adding a stain of color, I am blending it into the photo with a damp paper towel. This will get rid of any harsh lines that you may not want. I continued to play with this photo, scratching and painting, until I felt it was done.

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Then I decided to adhere it to the back of some old journal paper. I used gel medium to attach the photo, then also used the gel medium to glue the piece onto my journal page.


To make the photo and the already completed journal page more cohesive, I added more color with my watercolor crayons. Please feel free to use any tools and supplies when creating your own page. You should have an arsenal of techniques built up by now. Unleash them on your page.


The page seemed to speak to me about my spiritual journey this past year. To finish the page, I added two words.



What did your page speak to you? Did you find joy unfolding? Please share you experience.

You can either:

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