Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Sweethearts" Art Journal page (Inspired by Boardwalk Empire)

So I had mentioned that we just started watching Boardwalk Empire. And we are totally hooked. We are now on Season 3, and even though we are loving it, I have to admit that watching all the episodes in a row is kinda exhausting. We watch an episode every night before bed and I swear we both have had dreams involving aspects of the show. The characters are great. They perfectly walk the line between reality and caricature. There's also so much beautiful scenery, incredible costumes, sets, and decor. And at the same time there is no lack of insane violence and how shall I say??...."boobs galore"! 
But seriously, the show is currently etched into our brains.

Here are some Boardwalk Empire inspired things we've said throughout our days while working:

Jenny: "I wonder if there is a chihuahua out there named Nucky Thompson?"

Aaron: "I was on wikipedia and saw that in real life Arnold Rothstein dies in 1928. Do you think they'll take the show to 1928 so that we will see him die?" 

Jenny: "Seriously, Richard Harrow is an art journaler!?"

Aaron: "It makes sense that Richard Harrow is an art journaler...he's a tortured soul like the rest of us." 

Yes, Richard Harrow, the man with the hand painted lead mask covering half of his face. The result of a horrific war wound. And yes, we looked it up. The face plate is a perfectly accurate representation of what was worn by wounded WWI vets. So ok, Richard Harrow is the most likable cold blooded hit man that you'll ever come across. Because you know that he hates what he does, and you know that he'd do anything to help out the innocent and the meek. He's also a sentimentalist at heart and spends his free time pasting collages of happy family moments in his scrapbook. Yes, in 1920 this psycho killer was an art journaler.

I was thrilled to find pics of his pages on the HBO website. Which, believe it or not, were the inspiration behind our art journal page.

I'm also so incredibly in love with vintage photo booth photos. We've been collecting them for years, and we love the tinted versions. I thought it would be really fun to make our own! A little hand drawn couple, inspired by the show Boardwalk Empire...only without the murder, bootlegging, boobs, and corruption. 

So here we go with a little step by step of our page.
 Starting with a blank primed with Gesso page, we chose a stencil that had a very Deco era feel. 

Then we laid it on top of cardboard, taped it in place, and then we used Mister Huey's, which we sprayed in layers of colors, letting dry between each coat.

We used a blow dryer to speed up the drying time.

Now we've found that Mr. huey's over gesso "moves" when we apply washes, or gel medium or mod podge over it. We really don't mind it since it softens the lines a bit. But a trick to not blurring it too much is to try to not brush over an area too many times. We "sealed" it with gel medium, and when that was dry, we mixed a wash of water and acrylic paint, and gesso. We brushed the wash in select areas.

And then blotted it to soften it, and then we let it dry.

 We mixed black paint and water, and using a round brush we dipped into the black wash and then speckled the page with it. While that was drying we worked on our photo strip.

Aaron is master of cutesy retro faces. I did a rough sketch of what I was thinking and he totally knew exactly what I was going for. He sketched out a few "poses".

And then he gave the gal a beau. Kinda Richard Harrowesque.

Can you even handle the cuteness?? 

We love the feel of the tinted photo booth strips, so we added subtle color and shading. 

While the strip was drying we played around with layout and papers. We cut a "dummy" photo strip to stand in as a place holder while we were figuring out the layout.

When we found a layout that we liked we adhered some torn papers. Vintage wallpaper, sheet music, and stripes. Love the black mixed in.

We had this sweet little house photo envelope and thought it was perfect! Again, it reminded us of something from the show. The Commodore's mansion. An amazing house that becomes a place of ill repute. And this brass Sweetheart trinket seemed perfect. And this vintage black plastic photo slide frame fit perfectly.

We chose some key elements, like our roses cut from floral wallpaper. We adhered those and the house photo, some vintage envelopes with charming old timey handwriting and affixed stamps.

We then did an antiquing wash around the elements. Using a fine tip round brush dipped in water, we brushed the tip of a brown Gelato and then floated the wash around elements, and then blotted with a finger tip.

We then grabbed some chipboard hearts and painted them gold.

And added an antiquey wash using Gelatos to mimic the brass Sweetheart

We glued down the hearts, added more of our wash to areas. And then we added a
hand drawn scrollwork border with a sharpie fine tip marker. We designed the border to be in keeping with the era.

Then we added some stamps, and a saying. We knew we wanted to add more black to balance everything. And it adds a nice masculine touch.

I found this quote while searching for something fitting, and from the era. There were so many slang terms, and sayings from the 1920's but they were all too cartoony. We thought this classic phrase was perfect.  So we typed it up on a black background in PicMonkey, which we use for all of our day to day photo editing as well. Such an easy program to work with. I highly recommend it. 

So, that quote was then printed and we cut it to fit in the right spot. We really love the outcome of the page. It captured exactly what we were going for with Valentines Day looming...and our Boardwalk Empire addiction. And yes, our passion for the show is definitely enhanced by it's Jersey shore locale.
Hope you enjoyed our little step by step art journal page.

xo, Jenny...and Aaron

If you enjoyed this tutorial, you'd probably like our book! Get it here


  1. Love love love your page!!! Gorgeous!!!!

  2. Absolutely brilliant. Oh you two, you're so gosh darn talented

    1. awww geez, thank you very much! So sweet of you!! :) xo

  3. Hi jennie and Aaron, I adore your journal page, all the layers, the addition of the vintage house photo and the gorgeous photo booth painting.........just fabulous xxx

    Hugs from across the pond

    Kaz x

    1. Hi! Oh thank you so so much! So sweet of you! Thanks so much for popping in and for taking the time to leave such lovely words! :) xo

  4. This page is amazing! We're huge Boardwalk fans too, but unfortunately the next season will be the last. I knew it was coming, but still will hate to see it go.

    1. Oh thank you so much Cerri! Oh geez, we are all caught up and seriously cannot wait for the new season. Mega bummed it will be over, but I guess it is better to go out on top. The show is bananas!! So so good! And we love that we know of all the towns and areas brought up. Thanks for popping in!! We'll be in the Memphis area teaching May 1st!! xo

  5. There's just so much to love about this ... where to begin? Love Boardwalk Empire and we were also so amazed that Richard was an art journaler! LOVE the vintage photo strip you guys created and the background is to die for... I could go on and on! You two are an inspiration for sure!

    1. Hi Tina! Ohhh thank you so so much! You are very kind! Happy you liked the tutorial! :) And geeez yeah...Richard Harrow...heart breaking character. So strange that an assassin could melt our hearts. ha! Such a goood show!! Thanks for popping in!! :) xo

  6. I love this page! It's such a charming composition and what an interesting inspiration!

    1. Thanks so so much!! :) So much to love about that era!

  7. Very Boardwalk! Do you like the dress shop as much as I do? Like Jimmy and Richard but the little boy is a doll!! Richard when he works in his art journal always brings tears to my eyes how ge wants a normal family life. Happy Valentines to a very sweet as cotton candy couple! Love,Lori P.S Way too many boobs!!

    1. Hi Lori! Oh the dress shop is gorgeous! We are all caught up now, and cannot wait for the new/final season. Sad it will be over, but thankful we got to see it all! Ohhh Richard Harrow! Breaks my heart!! And yeah non stop boobage! And gore! ha! Thanks so much for popping in and for the sweet words!! :) xo

  8. This is so great! I love Boardwalk Empire and I'm a major Richard Harrow fan (sometimes called Harrowin Addicts!) and this page is the best! Thanks for sharing! ^__^ Happy Valentine's Day!

    1. Hi! Thank you very much! Oh geez Richard Harrow, he breaks my heart. Love that character! We are all caught up now...cannot wait for the new season! Thanks so much for popping in!! :) xo

  9. Very inspiring to me to see your pics of how you layer on the pretty papers and whatnot. Just scrumptious!

    1. Oh Thank you! Happy to share! Glad you enjoyed the tutorial! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment! :)

  10. Love this!!! I bought your book about a month ago and fell in love with your creations!!! Today I found your blog and I am so excited to be following you. Love the Vintage images you use and the Vintage wallpaper and the pastel colors you use. I am not an artist but love the mixed media. Thank you for the inspiration!!!


Thanks so much for reading! We absolutely love to hear from you please leave a comment if the mood strikes you, or if you have any questions for us about a recipe, project, art supply , paint color, etc. Don't panic if your comment doesn't appear right away...we moderate all comments to avoid getting tons of spam. Thanks again!!
xo Jenny & Aaron