I was so tardy with last week’s Documented Life Challenge that I had no sooner finished it than I had the prompt for this week. My challenge page last week was a creative muddle because I rushed and did not put enough (or any) thought into what I was doing before I embarked on shoving things together on the page. Lesson learned, this week I gave myself enough time (half an hour) and waited until I had enough inspiration to form a vision of what my finished page might look like. Only then did I start creating.
This week’s prompt was to incorporate a fortune from a fortune cookie. We don’t eat a lot of takeaway generally and when we do we almost never order Chinese food. It’s not that we don’t like Chinese cuisine, because we really do, but Chinese takeaway is so often claggy and heavy and disappointing that we always choose a different option. Usually Mexican or pizza. I also don’t like fortune cookies. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I did not have any fortunes in my small stash of ephemera. Another challenge group member, however, suggested using an online fortune cookie generator so I used that. I confess that the first fortune I received was something so mundane that I immediately hit the button to try again. The second attempt was much better: “Now is the time to try something new”.
When I think of Chinese food, I think of red and gold colours. I think that is probably because it was the decor in my local Chinese restaurant when I was little as much as it is about those being traditional Chinese colours. I also understand that in Chinese culture red is symbolic of good luck and joy and gold signifies wealth so those colours seemed apt for a challenge thatrevolved around “fortune”. I began, therefore, by rummaging through my stash of gelli plate prints to find one that was red in hue and found one that was red and orange. That became the base of my page. I wrote the fortune out on a piece of white paper. It’s still just a neat, controlled version of my own handwriting – I really must take the time to teach myself typography and learn some fonts. After that, I just raked around among my bits and bobs pulling out anything that was red or gold. I had the packaging from an oolong teabag and some postage stamps so I glued those down. Since the fortune was about new things it is probably fortuitous that I picked out some British stamps and some American ones since that could represent my change in location and starting over in line with the fortune’s theme. However, there was no such grand design involved: I just picked them out because of the colour. I may also have committed treason by gluing the Queen’s head upside down on the page. To tie all the disparate elements together, I globbed on some circles of red tempera paint using the end of a wine cork and scraped and blobbed on some gold tempera paint using both ends of an old pencil. Finally, I stamped two gold butterflies onto the page. Again, I could claim that the butterflies communicate with the theme of change implied in the fortune due to the metamorphosis of the butterfly but actually I did it simply because it is one of the few stamps I own and because there was already a butterfly shape on the gelli print.
In contrast with last week’s effort, I was pretty pleased with how this challenge page turned out. The elements harmonised with each other and tied into the theme and I do like how what the translucency of the low quality tempera paints can add to a page to tie elements together without concealing them.
So what are the new things I should be trying? Well this past year, emigrating to a new country, has been about non-stop new experiences. Thinking more creatively, however, I am trying new skills and techniques and materials since I embarked on art journalling. I am also working on some ideas for my first venture into lino block printing in more than one colour, so that’s something new. I am also seriously considering – once we are all settled, the kids are all in school and I have established a decent routine that gives me some free time – setting up an Etsy store as a means of selling my art which will definitely be a new venture. But the immediate “new” on my horizon is another change of house, another house move.