Short story: being the kinesthetic learner that I am, I tend to doodle a lot. I picked out one of my favorites and (eventually) made this:
Longer story: I wanted to make this one large, but didn't have a suitable canvas. I wasn't exactly willing to shell out almost eighty bucks for a large, prestretched one, so I ended up at the damaged/discounted foam board section. I bought a large piece for three dollars, took it home, and doctored it up with black duct tape and some sewing notions (antique-looking rings). I taped up the sides as well (to hide the little dents). Then, I roughly sketched out my doodle on the taped board:
I made up a gallon of art paste and proceeded to papier mache thin "ropes" and twists of newspaper onto the board. They stand out about half an inch to an inch from the base surface of the board. This took FOREVER, and I ended up with about five layers of paper. All the paper kind of warped the board a bit as it was drying, so I helped it keep its shape with random dumbbells and weights on the edges and corners (just a sidenote in case someone is going to attempt to paint on foam board.) I also made a little heart-shaped "apple" for my tree. Then, the whole thing was painted over with white acrylic as a sort of primer.
I painted the spirals in black, then painted the whole thing without a plan. I used pieces from a Butterfly Watcher's Handbook that I had lying around to collage the background of the sky. The leaves and root system are just layers upon layers of paint; some were mixed with different mediums to increase the transparency of the paint. I poured some paint/liquid medium into the crevices in the "trunk" of the tree. These puddles proceeded to crack a bit; even though this wasn't intentional, I like the effect. Everything else is coated in gloss super heavy gel medium mixed with different shades of paint...it has some great 3D texture that pictures just didn't capture. I then covered the spirals in this silver-leaf fluid, which dries super quickly. Finally, I buffed the silver leaf until it had an antique-type luster (took forever, but I recommend it...it worked beautifully.)
This is a blurry picture, but it captures some of the colors really well:
The apple is covered in crimson paint mixed with acrylic medium gloss gel, which is further mixed with little glass beads for an interesting texture.
This is a closeup of some of the pieces of the book:
Now it's done and just needs to be sealed! Hooray!