“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder” E.B.White, Charlotte’s Web

Summer is vacation time, time to travel to your favorite places – a time to relax & rewind.   Sometimes we are so invested in seeing all of the landmark sites – museums, monuments, hiking or swimming – only to miss out on the little things.  Seldom do we plan out time to just do nothing.  On our way to exciting destinations, we might walk right by and miss out on the wonder – like the beautiful colored striations on a rock, or a plant we have never seen before.  All of these are part of the experience.  All of these are part of the wonder.  

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

Recently I flew to Florida to have a girl’s week with a friend. When traveling, I always bring my watercolors and sketchbook but this time I decided to also pack my printmaking supplies.  However, I limited my supplies – ie, no stencils or stamps – so I would be forced to look for ways to create masks and textures with things I found in nature.   I wanted to heighten the travel experience.  Here is how I did just that….

1- Take A Walk – Be Aware….

Whenever we take a walk we force ourselves to slow down and be aware.  So take a walk – a purposeful walk to experience awareness.  The temptation will be to go to the beach, take the kids to the aquarium, visit the museum, go on a tour, etc… instead.  Just like you schedule all of those activities before you ever leave the house, schedule a time for you to just wander and get lost.  Look forward to this time with anticipation, just like you would for a tour you have pre-booked.   It’s all about intention and and anticipation.

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

So now you are there, at the place you have dreamed of traveling to, so it is time to wander and get lost.  Be sure to pack a bag to collect things that catch your eye and record the imagery with your camera for future visual reference.  Be sure to look down, look up, and glance behind you from time to time.  We always tend to look straight in front of us and we can miss some amazing things that are right at our feet!  Look for unusual textures and interesting shapes – maybe things that are not like anything you have back home.  Ask yourself what is different about this new landscape?  And who knows!  If you are looking very intently, you just might see a mermaid, like me!  Magic is always there – we just need to be looking.

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

If you stop for a cup of coffee along your walk, take time to record your thoughts while they are still fresh.  When writing down your experience, go through the 5 senses – i.e, What did I smell?  How did it feel to the touch?  What did I hear?, etc…  This can be used if you plan to collage your prints into your journal later. 

And all of this heightens your awareness causing you to pause and breathe in beauty.

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

2 – Make Time To Print! – The Curse of FOMO….

I was born with FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – and I loathe the idea that I might be missing out on any excitement, any new discovery, any party and especially any fun! 

So I must fight against this idea and counter-act it, with this important spiritual philosophy  – I am going to see exactly what I am supposed to see”.  It frees me up to just enjoy the moment and not worry about what I might be missing. 

This task to take time to print might be difficult, because we want to spend every waking minute exploring new places and we may have others with us who do not share our love for all things creative. The temptation might be to simply store the bag with your magical objects in your luggage and say to yourself, “I will do this when I get home” and then head to the beach!  But don’t do it!  If you could stay behind the group and spend just 30 minutes doing 5 simple prints (like in the video), I promise you will not regret it.  I just set the alarm for an hour earlier, before anyone else was up and headed to the balcony of our condo for my own private quiet space.   Because it is easy to tell yourself, I will just do this when I get home – but the truth is, more than likely you will not.  So carve out just 30 minutes to 1 hour to print.  

Part of the fun and magic of this process is to experience this place you have traveled to in a new and creative way.  You will forever remember this place and this moment because you did this – I promise.

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

3 – What To Print On?  Be Creative With Your Surfaces….

In the video, I printed on just regular tissue paper in the giftwrapping section of any convenience store, pharmacy, etc…  I actually had to run out to the store to purchase some while I was on my trip because I forgot to pack any!  I like using tissue paper because I have a few choices of what I can do with the print later. I will talk about that in my next blog post.

If you are feeling really adventurous you could look around and find unusual things to print on – ie, napkins from a restaurant where you have dined, a local map, or a paper bag you picked up from shopping, etc… Be creative!

4 – What’s Next? – What To Do With Your Prints….

I never like having all of the blanks filled in for me – I love to leave room for originality and creativity.  So I will not tell you what to do with your prints – I want you to be creative after all!  However, I will attempt to inspire you and give you a few ideas on what you might like to do with them.  Look for my next Gel Press blog post and I will show you…

In the meantime…I hope you had a great summer and have fun wherever you may travel – I know I will!!

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

Here is the video!

Supplies

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

  • Gel Press 6×6 Plate
  • Golden Open Acrylics – various colors (or you can use whatever acrylics you have)
  • Print substrates = tissue paper & deli paper
  • Economy Brayer
  • Found Objects From Location
  • Pack a few small sheets of Freezer paper
  • Wax Paper – a few sheets are always handy to have
  • Paper Towels & Baby Wipes for clean up
  • A Clip Board to place your Gel Press Plate onto (optional – you could use whatever surface you have at hand and tape your freezer paper onto
  • A few pieces of masking taper or artist tape

1 ….set your work area up very carefully and have all your supplies nearby

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

– the next thing you will need to do is find a nice spot to set up your traveling studio – I used the balcony of our condo, but I did have to work around the wind (which almost blew my prints away!) – just be sure it is a place you feel comfortable in –

– messy, messy – this process can be messy so depending on what your creative process is (mine is always messy) make sure you take time to protect your area from crazy paint flinging!  I packed a few small sheets of freezer paper and a roll of wax paper to lay down, so I would not be getting paint anywhere.

– be sure you have plenty of paper towels and a place to lay your prints so they can dry (preferably away from wind!)

2…. it’s time to print!!

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

– use your brayer to spread on your paint – use lighter value, warmer colors to begin with – ie, yellows, reds, magentas, corals, oranges, irredescents – like gold, copper, or bronze.  I like to work with Golden Open Acrylics because it gives me more flexibility with my time.  This is especially helpful due to different climates and temperatures.  For example the wind at the beach dried my paint and prints very quickly so I was fortunate to have Open Acrylics.

– use your found objects to create textures & lines on the surface of the Gel Press plate.

– place your paper on the print and pull your first print – now take a new sheet and pull a “ghost print” which will also clean your surface.

– repeat this process 3 to 5 times – vary your colors

3…. once the first set of prints are dry it’s time to print again!

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

– use your brayer to spread on your paint – use darker value, cooler colors to begin with – ie, blues, greens, violets, and teals

– use some of your found objects to create mask shapes – i.e, leaves, blades of grasses, or anything that can be laid down almost flat on the surface of your Gel Press.

Travel Journal Nature Printing with Gel Press by Trish McKinney

Trish McKinney – click on the artist’s name for more information, including teaching schedule, social media links and other articles by this artist.
Trish McKinney - Working Artist for Gel Press

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