Colourful Chameleon – Art Journal Page

This week’s Documented Life Project challenge prompt was to use three colours you never use.  “Never” was a bit demanding.  I only buy things I intend to use so there is nothing I own that I never use.  I, therefore, modified the challenge to be three colours I rarely use.  Then I modified it further because I used five.

When I was at school in the 1980s there was a period where wearing dayglo, fluorescent, neon colours was popular.  It was not a style I liked.  I distinctly remember standing in a group of kids one day and being aware that I was wearing navy blue trousers and a bottle green Fair Isle sweater while all around me were girls clad in eye-poppingly bright colours.  I especially remember the fad for wearing mismatched neon socks, so one foot would be yellow and one pink.  Strangely, that is something my 7 year old started doing with his dayglo socks too.  I subtly discouraged it.  I don’t need to be reminded of the ’80s.  The same girls who liked to wear dayglo also listened to Wham a lot.  Meanwhile I was listening to The Smiths.  Clearly, for as long as I can recall, dayglo colours have not been “me”.  However, only a month or so ago, I bought some neon craft acrylics on sale because I knew my kids would love using them on the gelli plate when we are messing around monoprinting.  Lo, they did indeed love the neon paints.  I, therefore, decided to use the neon paint palette to respond to this week’s challenge.

Although I never do the planner element of the project, I do whenever possible try to create a page that somehow connects to something I have been doing that week so that I am still “documenting my life”.  Having just visited Philadelphia Zoo for the first time, I determined that would be the subject for my page.  I toyed with the idea of painting my favourite animals but I knew that was going to lead me down the path of my usual drawing style and I was adamant that I should try something different for a change or at least something I rarely do. Pondering the bright colours I was going to use, inspiration struck me: a chameleon.  Chameleon’s are known for their colourful skins so it made sense to paint one for this week’s challenge.  I had to, therefore, ignore the fact that of all the many and varied critters we encountered at the zoo, chameleons were not among them.  So I was documenting something I had not actually seen.  Never mind.  Creative license.

I wanted to be at least a wee bit mixed media about the challenge so I started with constructing a branch for the chameleon which was collaged from the zoo map.  I ensured the words “Philadelphia Zoo” were prominent.  I then freehand drew the outline of the chameleon onto the page – which had a layer of gesso – and painted it using three of the bright paints: neon pink, orange and yellow.  I wanted to add a bit more detail to the page, however, so I decided to stencil on some circular patterns, to provide texture, using the green and blue neon paints.  That is when my page went horribly wrong.  I had neither the time or the patience – but mainly not the time – to wait for the paint to be fully dry and so when I started to use the stencil it all became a bit blobby and I lost the crispness of the circles.  Oops.  Once I had actually let everything fully dry, I outlined the chameleon using a black sharpie.

Definitely not my best effort.  My kids love the page, however, so that makes me happy.

Week 40 -  3 colours you never use


7 thoughts on “Colourful Chameleon – Art Journal Page

    • Thank you. I’m certainly enjoying trying new things, stretching myself and learning along the way – including from my mistakes. My oldest son thinks the chameleon is one of my best pages so that’s sweet.

  1. LOVE! That was indeed a hard challenge to fulfil. I really like the way you approached it too. Using neon colours was quite inspirational, given your dislike of them! I remember the time when neon was fashionable. As a punk rocker I think we started with it at the end of the ’70’s but only because of an X-Ray Spex song “The Day The World Turned Dayglo”! (not sure if this link will work, but here’s the song

    • I had completely forgotten that song. My kids immediately asked, “What on earth is that music?” I think I rather railed against anything that was popular or ubiquitous but it was also the case that the music and fashions of the ’80s were just genuinely not my style. I have to admit that, despite the fact the memory of those dayglo outfits makes me judder, I actually quite enjoyed working with dayglo paint.

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