It seems like eons since I last cracked open my Rainbow themed Art Journal and created anything in its pages. It’s definitely been a good few months. Thanks to a Snow Day, however, I found myself with an extra ration of free time so I decided to produce another piece in the orange section of my art journal – which is only the third section – I am really not making great progress with this project. As we all know, orange and blue are complementary colours so I decided to play around with that palette for this page. The subject is another one of my reworkings of one of my older illustrations in a different medium. I much prefer the proportions of the face in the ink and watercolour original but I like the strength of the colours in this piece. I do enjoy the asymmetrical composition too. I will be glad to see the back of the orange pages of this art journal, however. That should motivate me to keep working in it.
I have been working on an illustration commission that is giving me lots of “crisis of confidence” anxiety that has led to lots of mental blocks. I, therefore, had to take a break and do something that was still arty but much looser, something that was not following a plan or a vision, just to be playful and make me feel less intense in my creativity. Time to tootle around in my art journal then. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt of “23” because it allowed me to be abstract and just produce 23 of something without it all having to generate an overall illustration or coherent image. Indeed, needing a break from illustration as I was, I didn’t use a pencil or a pen to create any sort of guidelines and just went straight in with a brush absolutely loaded with water and some paint. What I ended up with was a collection of 23 (if I counted correctly!) overlapping pebble shapes. They aren’t trying to communicate anything, they aren’t about anything, they are simply shapes on a page. This page was just the quick liberating exercise I needed to recharge my batteries and return to the illustration job.
I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve with this winter inspired art journal page. Unfortunately, as I was still recovering from illness and was very fatigued, my execution did not meet up with that vision. There are layers of patterned origami paper that I wanted to show through more, to suggest the patterns frost makes on surfaces. I was, however, too heavy handed with the paint and a lot of that pattern detail has been lost. I do, however, think that the figure I painted clearly personifies frost and ice and cold. I could have kept fussing with this page a bit but I was out of energy even more than I was out of time. Maybe I will return to it at some point when I feel better. Probably not. In the meantime, I will say that taking some time for creativity while I was flopped on a sofa was beneficial.
Well my determination to make and preserve time for art this year did not get off to a flying start in January. I have been solo parenting since the beginning of the year and then I came down with some gnarly virus that caused me to have a fever for three days. That illness, however, meant I had to take a couple of days off work to recover and recuperate when I was fit for nothing that could not be done on the sofa. I, therefore, put together something in my art journal. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt – Food – as my inspiration. I love cooking and eating so I decided to construct a simplified self-portrait which then combined with a Carmen Miranda type headdress composed of clippings of magazine photos of food. It’s a very simple page, quick and easy to put together, but it was good food for the soul to actually do something creative when I was feeling so gross.
Keeping my promise to myself to conserve art time, I created this art journal page in two 15 minute shifts over two days: the first used to collage the background and the second to add the paint layer. I painted the negative space so that the pig emerged in the collage layer while the background got knocked back a bit by using diluted acrylic. The pig is the subject of my first art journal page of the year because 2019 is the year of the pig according to the Chinese zodiac. I love pigs and love drawing them so any excuse to create a pig is all right by me.
*Edited to add* Many thanks to bcparkinson for pointing out my error. Oops! Can you tell I created this late at night? Oh dear. I’ll have to do the art version of white out and collage over the 8 and turn it into a 9. Lesson learned, people: best not to commit thinks to ink or paint when you are bone tired.
A fortnight into 2019 and I finally created my first illustrations of the new year. I received my Art Snacks box in the mail which prompted me to create something with the new materials it contained. The box included a sample of paper (the heaviest I have worked with in quite some time) that had very small dimensions, just a few inches square. That made embarking on an art project seem more accessible in the time I had available. This was my first time using Golden fluid acrylics. I focused on how they worked at different levels of dilution and was pretty impressed with how they worked with a lot of water. I think I actually managed them better when diluted than I did when using it at its regular opacity. I rather like that I achieved a watercolour-like effect with this paint and that’s probably how I will use it in future.
I am committed to more dedicated self-care this year and that includes preserving my art time instead of letting it get gobbled up my other things. Taking two weeks before even drawing a thing isn’t the best start but fingers crossed I can keep to a more regular schedule going forward.
Would you like to know how to completely undermine the benefits of a relaxing Caribbean cruise and transform quality family time into snarling conflict? Then do read on.
By mid-morning we had disembarked in Miami and bid farewell to my in-laws (who were travelling on to Mexico to visit family). We had a whole two days of driving ahead of us with an overnight stay in Savannah. With a bit of time to play with on the first day of travel, we had the option of either exploring Savannah (which I have not visited since 1998) or stopping off somewhere in Florida. As you will no doubt guess, I was rooting for Savannah. However, acknowledging it was going to be dark and everyone tired by the time we got there, I let Mr Pict have his choice: the Kennedy Space Center.
Mr Pict loves outer space stuff – he was an avid amatueur astronomer for a while – but it doesn’t do much for me. Physics and engineering generally don’t do much for me. However, I drag him around art galleries and cemeteries so it’s all about give and take. Convincing the kids that we should support Dad in having his day was a whole other thing though. Maybe it was a week of over-indulgence and burning the candle at both ends or of too much freedom. Maybe they were all just crabbit and at peak t(w)een griping. Whatever the cause of their resistance, they just were not having it. With the exception of the youngest, they made it clear they were begrudging every single minute of the time spent there. We have made this mistake before, pushing for just one more activity or experience on a vacation and then regretting it. We should have known better.
Having a sense of which way the wind was blowing, I advised Mr Pict to prioritise what things he really wanted to see. We, therefore, decided to start with the tour of actual NASA buildings and lined up for the bus. When I was last at the Space Center, almost exactly 20 years earlier, it essentially comprised just this tour, an IMAX theatre and some rockets. Now the Visitor Complex is so vast that the tour seems almost tacked on as a sideshow. The queue for the bus was constantly moving but it took ages for us to get to the head of the line. The bus tour took us past the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, the scale of which can only really be appreciated by seeing it in real life, but what I was most excited about was seeing a large alligator in the road’s meridian. We were deposited within a building that contained a launch command centre complete with a reenactment of the Apollo 8 launch. There was then a large exhibition hall containing various vehicles, including a lunar rover, a Saturn V rocket, some kind of landing module, and spacesuits.
Upon returning the visitor complex, Mr Pict decided that we should next go into the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. Our oldest son utilised the fact he was still feeling unwell to opt out so we found him a shady waiting area while they rest of us went in. The line was extremely long and very tedious. We were standing in line for 45 minutes just to enter a room where we had to stand and watch an audio-visual presentation before being herded into another room in which we had to stand and walk. This room at least contained an actual Atlantis Shuttle. We then discovered that the line for the Atlantis experience was going to be another 40 minutes with the experience itself lasting half an hour. Honestly, I was done standing and queuing but I also did not want to leave my oldest son alone any longer – plus I get queasy in simulators – so I declared I was just going to head for the exit. That was the cue for the other three boys to declare they were over it too. Even Mr Pict had to admit that the thought of joining yet another queue just for this one ruddy experience was a despairing one. He quit too.
Back in the sunshine, we had a look around and every exhibition area was in the same situation with crazily long lines and ridiculous wait times. The kids were very moody by this point. Making our next move wa s like handling a basket of cobras. Additionally, we knew we still had a few hours in the car before reaching Savannah and rest ahead of us. It was time to quit while we were less behind. The Space Center feels like it has expanded to be a Disney or Universal style attraction but without the mechanics to handle the crowd dynamics or to at least keep people entertained and motivated while they stand in lengthy lines. It was a bum note to end on after our cruise vacation. Emotional eating is not healthy but sometimes good food is the cure. Therefore, we found a barbecue joint in Titusville for our dinner pit stop. Happily some delicious food helped raise everyone’s spirits.