I think the thing I enjoy most about art journaling is the lack of pressure. This art is for absolutely nobody but me, it is not outcome focused so the merits of the completed page don’t matter, I can feel free to experiment and mess around with materials and see what emerges, and as such I can step out of my head a bit and just let my hands and eyes do their thing. This latter aspect is so important in my life and might be the thing I miss most when I don’t have time for arting. I spend a lot of time in my head, the cogs in my brain constantly whirring, thoughts in constant motion, and combined with my control freak, overly organised ways, it can all get a bit mentally fatiguing. Sitting down at my art table with a mug of tea and the birds chirping outside the window is, therefore, super relaxing and recharging.
All of which preamble is to explain how this somewhat bonkers image appeared in my art journal and why I really like it even though it is pretty random. Over the course of a few days, I took a breather at my art table and added to this page in gradual increments until I felt like it was done and needed no more messing with. What I ended up with was a sort of bunny girl with a bit of a matryoshka shape going on. I have no idea what it means or what it might say about my psyche but it most definitely got me to step outside my busy head space for a bit. And very refreshing that was too.
PS You might recognise the paper from my recent tea cup collage. It turns out that failing to tidy art materials away helps with creative spontaneity.
Mother’s Day was the excuse I needed to step away from the laundry, leave the vacuum unplugged, ignore the fact the basement playroom looks like it has been ransacked by raccoons, and instead spend some time at my art table. My monthly Art Snacks box had arrived the previous week so I thought I would have an experiment with the supplies within it and participate in the challenge to create some art using only those resources. Given I had a highlighter yellow paint pen and a bold orange chubby Pitt pen, the colour scheme shouted 1980s at me. I, therefore, knew I was going to end up creating an illustration with an ’80s vibe. What emerged as I sketched was a pig sporting various 1980s fashions. I actually did not wear any of these types of clothes in the ’80s because a) I have never been fashionable b) I think I was still wearing 1970s hand-me-downs when neon and ra-ra skirts were in style and c) I was a non-conformist as a child. I did have a pair of legwarmers that I wore when roller skating so I guess I dipped my toes into this style, though my legwarmers were grey. But I digress. My pig looks confident and ready to throw some shapes on the dance floor.
On Sunday a very rare event occurred: I found myself at home alone for over an hour. I decided that this was such a blue moon alignment of schedules that I was entirely justified in spending the whole time on myself. Of course, inevitably I pottered around and frittered away time for a bit but I did settle down at my art table, open up my art journal, and set to work. For the first time in a very long time, I completed an art journal page, from beginning to end, in one setting. I used the drying time of the first layer for a cup of tea.
I decided to work on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was the letter G. As I have mentioned before, I like vague prompts because they are so open-ended but I appreciate having a prompt as a nudge to just get on with something, anything. I was in a spooky, monster making sort of mood so I decided that G would be for Ghost. I wanted my ghost to be appearing out of the gloom so I started by making the page dark and gradually pulled in lighter layers while narrowing the focus until I was using white for the highlights on the ghostly figure. The proportions, especially of the arms, are terrible but who cares really. It’s only an art journal page and, besides which, she’s a ghost. Perfection isn’t an option when you are the wailing, moaning, unsettled undead.
Ultimately the outcome on the page is irrelevant. What really matters is that, after a long period of meagre rations of art time, I got to spend a whole feast of time playing around with art materials and getting messy.
This was the second of the art journal pages I created while at my monthly art journaling group. I created it in response to two Art Journal Adventure prompts – bird and the letter I. I am being a bit cheeky with the letter I since I decided it is covered by my use of indigo. What inspired the illustration, however, was the song ‘Wings of a Dove’ by Madness. I have been on a bit of a musical nostalgia kick recently, introducing my sons to more of the music I was into when I was their ages and younger. For that reason, I had been listening to the track shortly before heading out to the meet up and, with the lyrics still in my mind’s ear, I decided to come up with an illustration. It’s drawn with Inktense pencils with a little bit of micron pen for the vine patterns on the clothing. I find my Inktense pencils are ideal for portable art because they can be easily activated with a water brush, are fixed when dry, and dry pretty quickly.
I attended my monthly meet up with some other local art journalers on Sunday which meant I finally got some much-needed art time. I managed to complete two pages in my art journal. The first was a simple collage on top of a Neocolor background. My prompt was borrowed from Art Journal Adventure – the letter T. T automatically makes me think of tea so the page became a celebration of my love of tea. I made a template to keep the teacups uniform and then it was just a case of layering them into a stack. I usually don’t drink this many cups of tea in a day. My average is probably three cups. However, there have definitely been times in my life when I have consumed this many cups of tea, possibly more, such as when I was writing my thesis. Making and drinking tea was a useful distraction. It’s a simple, easy composition but creating it greased the creative wheels and made me feel I was back in the swing of things again.
Hello! I am still here. I have not disappeared or abandoned my blogs. I have simply been wall-to-wall busy doing things that are not worth blogging about even if I had had time for writing a blog post. I am stuck at the coal face of life right now and it is all a bit crazy and stressful. Nothing major, nothing dramatic, just the type of stress level that accumulates from a zillion little things piling up. Some of these things might be blog worthy once they are completed but most of it is just run-of-the-mill boring stuff. Anyway, that explains my absence.
Needless to say, with everything I am juggling, I have had little time for art. When I have had a gobbet of free time, I confess that I have been devoting it to family history. This is because I had my DNA tested at the end of 2017 which has put me in contact with lots of other extended family members, including others like me who are very into family history, and we have been exchanging information. I have also found, however, that my creative mojo has been lacking lately – I assume because my stress levels are elevated and my brain just cannot relax and focus enough. This past weekend, however, I decided to force myself to sit down with my art journal for 20 minutes in order to stop my creative joints seizing up and going entirely rusty.
The result of this speedy art session is an illustration of half a dozen narwhals. Why? Why not? Partly I was inspired by two Art Journal Adventure prompts – N and 6 – and partly it was just that I have not drawn narwhals for a while. It is just a simple ink line drawing filled in with some watercolour and scattered with salt. Quick. Simple. Done. Hopefully it will get me out of my art-free rut and back into the swing of creating more regularly again.
My third son was gifted a session at Go Ape for his 11th birthday. My oldest son had done Go Ape back in Britain for his tenth birthday but this was a first experience for the other boys. The three older boys were eligible to do the full course under the supervision of Mr Pict and their grandfather. My youngest son, being too wee for the full course, had a ticket to spend an hour on a junior course which my mother-in-law and I could supervise from ground level.
It was just as well I could supervise from the ground as I don’t think I could have managed even the junior course without my fear of heights causing me to go into a panic. The staff at Go Ape were fantastic. They were competent, of course, but they were also great with their encouragement and praise and creating challenge. My youngest son – who is completely fearless – got the hang of the course pretty quickly so they encouraged him to try and beat his own personal record, then to do one of the routes backwards, and to try different types of jump on the zipline. He had a whale of a time and absolutely loved it.
Once our time was up with the junior course, we headed into the woods to track down the others and see how they were getting on. We had seen them getting fitted into their harnesses and being trained and at that time they were all smiles and excitement. We wondered if, almost two hours in, they were flagging or finding it was getting too challenging. We met up with them just as they were doing the fourth stretch of the course. They were definitely feeling challenged but were still enjoying the experience. It made me queasy seeing how high up they were. Shortly after we met up with them, they had a choice to make as to whether to take a difficult route over to a platform or an extreme route. My oldest son wanted to do the extreme route which meant his father had to take a deep breath and accompany him. They had to move between a series of short scramble nets which were dangling in the canopy of the trees. It was pretty terrifying to watch even from ground level. Meanwhile, our birthday boy was having an attack of nerves as he found the combination of height, wobbly platforms, and wind to be overwhelming. It took him a while to collect himself but, with some advice and encouragement from a member of staff on the ground, he took a first step and then another and then in no time he was across to the next platform. That experience, however, meant that once he was back on the ground, he decided he was staying there. He was done. So were his 12 year old brother and grandfather. My oldest son decided he wanted to complete the course in its entirety, however, which meant one final set of challenges. Since he had to be accompanied by an adult, that meant his father had to complete it too. This included what my husband declared was the scariest part of the course: a just-too-long drop off of a platform to swing across onto a net. Once they ziplined back across the lake, they too were done.
Every member of Team Pict had challenged themselves and felt a sense of accomplishment. Just maybe even my mother-in-law and I get to include ourselves in that since we overcame our anxiety enough to spectate and offer encouragement. Everyone was hungry after hours spent in low temperatures in the woods, especially those who had been burning calories swinging here and there, so it was time to eat. The birthday boy wanted to have pizza for dinner so we headed to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and had some delicious food. Once we were home, he had his special birthday dessert, a platter of cannolis, one of his favourite things.