Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was Halloween. I had received my October Art Snacks box but had not attempted the challenge of using all of the items to create art. Since one of the things in my box was a jar of orange ink, it seemed like the subject of Halloween might be a good way to kill two art birds with one stone. I was initially going to go much darker and creepier with my Halloween art work but – perhaps since I was drawing while watching ‘Frankenweenie’ with my kids – my creative mojo led me to draw a band of cute monsters trick or treating. This was my first time using brush pens. It took a while to get the hang of how to hold them to create different strokes and widths but it was fun trying something new, which is the point of receiving a box of art goodies each month.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “Triangles”. I did not think I was going to find any available art time for my art journal this week. I have been using all of my little rations of art time for keeping up with my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook and participating in Inktober. However, today I was on a field trip with my preschool class and that meant I managed to get home an hour earlier than usual. I, therefore, sat down with a hot mug of tea and decided to play in my art journal. This week’s prompt allowed me to keep things simple. I just opened up a box of watercolours (ones that belong to my children actually as they happened to be to hand) and started doodling triangles using a medium sized brush. The triangles are very imprecise as a result but, hey, it’s not a geometry lesson and these aren’t architectural or engineering plans so who cares.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was the last in the series provided by my friend Jana. Her prompt was “changing seasons” but her tutorial also focused on demonstrating eco-dyeing. I was inspired by both. Unfortunately, it was one of those overwhelming weeks – a pretty stressful one actually – where I had very little time for art. I, therefore, recognised that my ability to dye papers within that week was going to be pretty limited. I have wanted to try eco-dyeing since I saw a blog post by Claudia McGill all about making parcels of materials that would leech colour into paper over time. Jana demonstrated a sped-up process that produced similar results. I am definitely going to give it a go. I just need to have a chunk of time in which to gather my materials. So, in the mean time, I resorted to dyeing book pages – some of which were already a little foxed – using tea, coffee, and steeped onion skins.
I had a page in my art journal that I did not know what to do with. It was the reverse of the page that I had handstitched so it was full of ugly, messy knots and stitches. I decided it could form the basis of a textural background for this page. I scraped gesso across the page roughly so as to somewhat embed and fix the thread of the stitches and I kept the gesso rough and splotchy so as to add more literal and visual texture. I then scraped across some light brown paint to create a neutral tone in the background, especially given that the “changing seasons” prompt was making me think of the colours of Autumn – and man am I looking forward to Autumn. Thinking of the glow of Autumn light, I scraped some bronze paint across the page and spattered gold paint at the top and bottom. All that remained was to decide how to incorporate the eco-dyed paper into the page. I decided upon circular, hoop shapes because I was thinking about the cyclical nature of the seasons. I cut some in different sizes from the dyed papers and adhered them to the page. Part of me thinks the page needs something more but I was out of time and out of ideas so, therefore, for now at least I consider this art journal page done.
I am participating in Inktober again this year and my theme is Harry Potter. This year I am going to share my daily drawings over on my other blog, Pict Ink, and on Instagram. Visit or follow along on either of those if you want to see what I create during this challenge. Thanks!
I am participating in Inktober this year. Inktober is an annual challenge, founded by Jake Parker, to create something with ink every day of October. Last year was my first year and I really enjoyed drawing every day, even though some days it was hard even to find 20 minutes in which to put pen to paper*. While I will be drawing daily, I may not get the time to blog every day. There may be some catch up posts required. I will be aiming to post to my Instagram account daily though so you can follow along with my progress there if you like. I like to work small for Inktober as it makes the whole thing seem more manageable. I, therefore, picked up a set of small Fabriano EcoQua blank notebooks. It was a bit of a gamble but I have found that the paper is fountain pen…
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The great thing about spending time with small kids is that they come up with all sorts of ideas for activities that we, as grown ups, probably would not have thought of. Last weekend, our youngest son, aged 8, mentioned that he would like to make cola from scratch. Other than lemonade, I don’t believe I have ever made a soft drink from scratch. Making cola would definitely be an interesting challenge.
Mr Pict decided to take the lead on this project since I was so busy. He googled and found a recipe, he took the littlest Pictling to the store to gather the ingredients, and then they set to making it. The mixture of citrus zest and juice and spices smelled wonderful as they cooked. It made me think of mulled wine on winter nights but I admit to cynicism about whether it would end up tasting remotely like cola.
Once the syrup was made, it was added to a glass and topped up with seltzer water. Our youngest son obviously got to be the first to taste it. He sipped and declared it was delicious. It actually was really tasty. It did not taste like cola in the way that Coke or Pepsi taste like cola but it did remind me of those glass bottles of old-fashioned cola you can find in places that also sell drinks like dandelion and burdock or sarsaparilla. The older brothers also approved. The experiment was a success.
A couple of weekends ago, Mr Pict decided we needing to do something fun and different and spontaneously got tickets for a rodeo. Mr Pict had been to a rodeo before, when travelling in either Wyoming or Montana, but it was a first experience for the kids and me. I am always up for trying new things but the kids were not sold on the idea, not even the horse daft 10 year old. It has been grotesquely humid and stinking hot here in Pennsylvania lately so Mr Pict had opted for the evening rodeo. Partly the kids were aggrieved that we were having to go out for the evening instead of them playing video games or watching a movie but I was glad that we had because it was still pretty steamy out even as darkness fell. For me, the only downside to the evening show was that I didn’t have enough light to take decent photos.
We started our jaunt outside the arena where there was lots of food, drink, and paraphernalia to buy. My youngest son had to be dissuaded from buying a cowboy hat. The boys love fairground food so they leaped at the opportunity to gorge on funnel cake and my 11 year old bought himself a massive pickle on a stick. What is it about sticks that makes the food more festive? I cannot say that I can even guess the answer.
We entered the arena and found a spot on the bleachers that gave us a decent view of the performance area. Having never been to a rodeo, I had no notion of what to expect or how things worked. I decided to treat the whole experience like an anthropological study since I knew I was going to be set apart from the action rather than being properly engaged in it. The atmosphere reminded me a lot of the Redneck Festival we had found ourselves at three years ago. I never even began to figure out how the events were scored. Clearly an element of it was to do with time, how long each rider could stay on the horse or the bull, but otherwise it was all entirely obscure to me.
The first event was the one I always associate with rodeos: folks wearing cowboy gear riding on horses that are desperately trying to throw them off. Not a single rider lasted for very long. Each one was “blink and you miss it” fast. I couldn’t really follow what was going on in any great detail. To my mind, most impressive were the chaps who were stationed on horses ready to get into the fray and rescue riders and lasso horses. They had real skill. The next event involved riding on bulls. Bulls that were annoyed. Completely crazy. Why do people do this for sport? Again, no rider lasted very long. It was over even quicker than the horse riding. One bull fell on top of a rider, which made everyone in the audience gasp, but the bull got to its feet and the rider limped off as if it was just another day at the office. Seriously, why do people do this for fun? While the bucking horses and bulls were ridden by all male riders, there was an event that was all women. That involved riding horses at high speed around barrels in a specific order. Obviously the quickest horse and rider were the winners. If you can imagine a horse doing a skidding handbrake turn, then that was what was happening as the horses pivoted around the barrels. The angle of the horse to the ground was pretty shallow. It was pretty impressive.
There were “entertainments” between the events. One of these was a Mexican cowboy who performed with a lasso while standing on a horse. I don’t really understand how to make a lasso work at all so I couldn’t detect what was extra fancy or tricky about the things he was doing. Folks in the crowd who did appear to understand, however, appeared to think his lasso jiggery-pokery was a bit special. Then there was a clown who performed for the crowd within the arena. There were clowns everywhere at the arena; it was teeming with them. I have a lifelong clown phobia thanks to a dreadful early experience at a circus. These clowns appeared to be members of the organisation holding the rodeo and fundraising for charity. Despite their good deeds and honourable actions, they just made my flesh crawl. My oldest son told me that rodeos are well known for having clowns and I should have expected it. I hadn’t. It was a shock. Anyway, the clown doing the entertaining, however, was simply dreadful. His patter was stilted and lame and from a bygone era, not one I am nostalgic for either. My sons were aghast at the misogyny and xenophobia of the jokes. At one point during a singing skit, my 10 year old had his head in his hands just willing it to end.
I think we all felt that the rodeo was an interesting experience and that we were glad we went in order to have that experience. However, none of us are likely to be eager to repeat the experience. It just wasn’t us. At least now we can all say, “This isn’t my first rodeo”. That’s something.
I have had an exhausting week, physically and mentally. Being crazily busy is my norm but this week has been beyond the norm. I almost fell asleep on the sofa one afternoon. Whenever everyday life gets a bit overwhelming, I know I have to try and scratch out some art time as a way to find balance and decompress. That is why I decided to tackle this week’s Life Book lesson. This week’s lesson was taken by Annie Hamman. I have viewed and responded to a few art lessons taken by Hamman by this stage in my exploration of mixed media and I decided some time ago that her style of painting, her technique, was not something that was going to work for me. I want to hone and develop my own style of art, after all, so pushing myself to try a mode of painting that prevents me from achieving that goal makes no sense. I, therefore, pick and choose elements from the lesson that I can utilise for pushing my own creativity while ignoring the aspects like layering paint with a palette knife.
When I thought of a figure who was serene and peaceful, I thought of one whose arms were crossed because she was not busy doing something. Hands at rest. In my busy week, idle hands would definitely be a luxury. The female figure I painted ended up looking a bit huffy because of the pose but that doesn’t matter to me because I know what made me choose that position for the hands. I tried to keep the colour palette light and pale to suggest calm. The finished piece makes me think of my Twilight Garden painting from last year. I take that as a good sign that I am developing my own style – or at least one of many of my styles.