January 2022 - Beauty and Grace - Emilia Tapiola

Hello, Art Daily Cafe friends, 

It’s January, the month of new beginnings, and it was my privilege to choose the theme for this month’s Art Daily Café. 

I wanted it to be about swans, as they symbolise so many beautiful things that are perfect reminders to start a new year. Swans are often associated with Apollo, who (as an artsy person, you well know) is the god of arts. Swans also remind us to accept ourselves as we are, to embrace that inner beauty and grace that shines in there somewhere, and to trust our instincts. For me, these are what art is all about.

There’s a story I want to share with you about the swan feathers you see in the project photos. They are the reason I picked up the January theme. Last autumn, I visited my favourite beach with my family, on a day that had been particularly difficult for me, as I had been diagnosed with yet another heart thingy. There were swan feathers everywhere on the beach and I must confess I shed a tear or two from sheer gratitude and joy. For me, swans are the most beautiful, meaningful, favourite thing in the whole wide world (followed by lilies of the valley and lighthouses), and swan feathers on one of the hardest days of my life… It was so full of meaning for me, to collect the white feathers and think that this too, shall pass. (Well, heart conditions don’t tend to pass, but you know. How I react to them, how I decide to deal with it, is another thing entirely.) Then I sat there, on the silent beach, thinking and reflecting, and suddenly, from nowhere, there were eleven (yes, correct, 11) swans gliding towards me. I sat there, barely daring to breathe. Four more appeared, but stayed further away, when these eleven swans swam right towards me, silently and gracefully. The whole family witnessed how the 11 swans halted before me in the water, faced me, and bowed their beautiful, graceful heads. And as silently as they had appeared, they glided away and disappeared again. This memory has carried me throughout the harsh autumn and winter, reminding me that hope is, indeed, the thing with feathers, as Emily Dickinson wrote.

As the project, I ended up creating covers for my Journal of Hope, which felt fitting to this concept. Here’s how I created it…

First, I cut a suitably sized chipboard piece and as I wanted the wonderful Grungy Frame to literally frame something, I also cut a hole into the cover, to get the text from the first page of my journal to be visible.

Next, I covered the whole thing with Finnabair tissue scraps and Soft Matte Gel, primed it twice with white Heavy Gesso, and then painted it with Impasto Snow White acrylic paint. With Laurels stencil and Modeling Paste I created some willowy background effect and attached my simple collage into place with Heavy Body Gel.

After adding some Mini Art Stones here and there, I primed everything with gesso once again. I know it is recommended to use waxes as the final touch, as they resist paint, so I counted on that one and applied Faded Denim, White Pearl, and Old Silver wax over the whole thing. Only then I paint the cover with a very diluted mixture of Impastos Pitch Black, Dark Chocolate, and Manor Blue, and wipe most paint off with a baby wipe. And it worked just the way I liked.  The waxes resisted most of the paint, and only the merest hint of colour was left in the cover.

This was what I wanted not only because of the Art Daily Café theme of purest white and softest of blue but also because these are the exact colours that are inside the whole art journal. There’s only a hint of gold inside, there, hence I added a tiny amount of Vintage Silk wax, to get a warm glow into the cover, and to get an understatedly elegant look, I added silver micro beads here and there, too, and sprinkled some white paint all over the cover. 

And the cover was ready!

Inspiring, graceful new year wishes,


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