Nyx

I have never participated in official Art Therapy but I would definitely vouch for art being therapeutic.  I personally use it for stress busting and to invest in myself by topping up my reserves by taking some time out of life’s flurry of activity and just doing something focused and creative.  Therefore, while dealing with the aftermath of our basement flood, feeling completely frazzled, and being physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I knew that the best way in which I could recharge my batteries was to take some time out for art.  It was just the tool for decompression that I needed.

I used a recent Art Journal Adventure prompt – Celestial – and cracked open my art journal and opened my box of watercolours and got stuck in.  As those who follow my blog will know, I am interested in Greek Mythology so I decided to depict Nyx, the goddess of Night.  In Classical art, she was depicted as having wings or riding in a chariot but I kept the shapes and forms simple and made her body a flowing shape, a sort of cloak of spreading darkness.  By keeping the composition simple and letting wet paint run and flow, other than drying time, this whole illustration was done and dusted in no more than 20 minutes.  It was, therefore, really took no time at all out of my hectic day but left me feeling recharged and ready to battle on.

22 - Nyx - Goddess of Night - Art Journal Page

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Pink Fairy Armadillo

Summer break has not gotten off to the best start in terms of the weather here in PA.  We have had deluges of rain for several days on the trot and thunderstorms in the evening.  No exaggeration, my street looked like a creek at one point on Wednesday.  I did not emigrate from the rainy west coast of Scotland to America for this weather, no siree. * The only upside to this ridiculous level of precipitation is that largely being confined indoors means more time for art – and cooking and baking, which I don’t blog about.

This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was the letter “A” so really broad scope to do whatever I wanted really.  Maybe it is the preschool teacher in me but “A” immediately made me think, in this order, “Apple, alligator, aardvark, armadillo” and that was as far as I needed to go in my mental dictionary because I determined “armadillo” was it.  And not just any armadillo, oh no, but a pink fairy armadillo.  My 12 year old did not believe me that those are a real creature so I forced him to google.  I literally would not let him leave the room until he had googled and I had proved that pink fairy armadillos are indeed a real life thing.  What pink fairy armadillos do not have in real life is fairy wings, or wings of any kind, but I wanted to add them just to accentuate the pink and magical quality of these wee critters.  It is an awful lot of pink on one page but, on such a grey and miserable day, lashings of bold pink were welcome.  It was also fun to do a more whimsical and childish illustration again.

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*And I cursed myself by writing this blog post.  As I was drafting it, we were walloped by another ferocious rainstorm and our basement flooded.  We used our basement for storage (since our house has no attic) and as a playroom for the kids.  We have lost a great number of possessions and only time will tell what the damage is – and what the related expense is to remedy it.  I can only assume that the sump pump was overwhelmed and failed.  I still feel like I jinxed myself.*

Rainbow Art Journal – Icarus

One of my sons is obsessed with Greek Mythology – all of my kids were at one point – and that means that, thanks to osmosis, I have become a bit of a Greeky Mythology nerd myself.  The mythological figures, especially the monsters, therefore often appear in my sketchbooks.  A few years ago now, that theme was even the basis for a challenge I did to draw 40 drawings in 40 days.  I have contemplated returning to that theme for a whole series of drawings – but without the time challenge – but that shall be for some future juncture.  For now, I decided to draw Icarus in my Rainbow Art Journal.

I am currently working through the yellow section of my art journal and bold yellow suggested sunshine and sunshine suggested Icarus’ wings melting … This was my thought process.  This was another page that had some little underlying texture as I had previously scraped leftover white acrylic over the page.  You can spot the lumps and bumps.  I kept the illustration simple and, therefore, kept the colour palette limited.  I generally suck at drawing wings but I actually really like the way these turned out given that they are supposed to be a) manmade and b) broken.  I tried using spray inks to create some visual texture between the sun disc and the falling figure but it seems that the inks don’t perform well on top of acrylic – hello, learning opportunity – but it adds a sort of glow around the sun so at least it did not ruin the illustration.

39 - Icarus

Hot Pink and Sunshine

My June Art Snacks box presented me with a challenging colour palette.  Along with the neutral mechanical pencil and the fine tip black gel pen, I had two water based pens in bright yellow and a grey-mauve, and a juicy fine tip brush pen in hot pink.  I could see how I could just about turn the grey-mauve into a neutral and make it work with either the yellow or the pink but making all three work in some coherent way definitely presented me with a challenge.  I also found that grey-mauve watercolour pen tricky to work with.  Even though the yellow was the exact same brand, its pigment behaved much differently.  That grey-mauve, however, didn’t blend well and I was left with a hard line wherever I had drawn with it.  I found the saturation of its pigment very variable too.  I do like that colour, however, so I will persevere and continue to experiment with it.  There must be a way to get it to cooperate and behave in the same way the yellow did.  I very much like the hot pink brush pen, however.  It was super juicy and activated really well when I added water and a little goes a long way.  I probably should have had the pink dominate the illustration since it was easier to work with.  I had not intended to give the female figure a turban.  I had originally sketched in that shape to be hair but I decided I needed a bit more yellow in the illustration to make the colours balance out a bit more so a turban it became.  There is something about the combination of colours and the style of the figure that makes me think of the 1980s and the New Romantic pop bands of my youth.

Art Snacks - June 2019 2

Reading World War II Weekend

Followers of this blog will know that both Mr Pict and I have a keen interest in history.  Mr Pict, however, is really into military history which is not really my bag unless it intersects with family history or social history.  My husband is very much an American Civil War nerd but his next favourite period of military history is the Second World War.  He was, therefore, really keen to go along to an event in Reading that focused on that particular conflict and, since I like to go on jaunts and have new experiences, I decided to accompany him and our youngest son.

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It’s a massive event.  It takes place over a whole weekend, though we only went for a day, and covers a huge area.  We were absolutely staggered by the number of people who were in attendance.  There were umpteen parking lots to accommodate all of the visitors’ cars and multiple school buses taxiing people from those lots to the actual airfield that was hosting the event.  That place absorbed a heck of a lot of people without it ever feeling ridiculously crowded – though there were exceedingly long lines for portaloos – and I was impressed with how organised the staff were at keeping people flowing.

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Given it was being accommodated at an airfield, the event was especially focused on the airshow element and there were vintage planes galore.  I know nothing about planes and even less than that about vintage planes but Mr Pict was excited.  We had a gander at a lot of planes that were being exhibited at ground level, watched a reenactment of a dog fight, and watched planes doing aerial stunts.  The highlight of my husband’s day was seeing a Mitsubishi Zero, which apparently was the fastest propellor plane (if I was paying attention to what I was told).

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The other thing there were a lot of were reenactors.  For obvious reasons, the majority of people chose to depict American military personnel but there were also some Brits, a smattering of Poles, some Japanese pilots, a smattering of Russians, and a surprising number of Germans.  I observed that the latter had by far the most immaculate uniforms and best posture.  The reenactors were really into the details too and I enjoyed looking at all of the vignettes they had created in their camps and the still lifes of vintage objects they had curated.  I guess I like those little human details and the creativity because, goodness knows, the vehicles, weapons, and military paraphernalia don’t do it for me.

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There was a fun Home Front section housed in one of the hangars.  Part had been turned into a movie theatre that was showing old newsreels and cartoons.  We didn’t catch any of those but we did sit in some shade to take in one of the radio show performances which happened to be a couple of singers.  There was also the recreation of a 1940s American sitting room, a group who were putting women’s hair up into “victory rolls”, and a candy store.  From the latter, we bought a fresh lemon that had a lemon candy straw poked into it.  It was deliciously refreshing.

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We watched a reenactment of a skirmish between the Germans and the Allies in a French village.  I was amused by the incongruity of a bunch of blokes in German military uniforms standing around and chatting in front of a fleet of yellow school buses.  When they got going, however, the action was very well choreographed and the volume of the artillery noise was pretty arresting.  I could feel the vibrations in my sternum.  The smoke and noise and crowds was a bit too much sensory overload for our ten year old so we skedaddled from there to the flea market section where a bit of retail therapy (even in the form of “window shopping”) got him recalibrated.

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We somehow managed to spend four hours there despite the fact we were getting toasted by the blazing sunshine and the fact that 2/3 of us were not that engrossed by the subject.  I thought the whole event was very polished and there was clearly a lot to do and engage with if World War II history is your thing so it was definitely worth doing.  It was an enjoyable day out and I was glad I tagged along.  I don’t have a need to repeat the experience but I can definitely envisage my husband making a return visit.

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Rainbow Art Journal – Sunshine

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, one of the ways in which I use  my Rainbow Art Journal is as a record of art supplies I own and the way they behave on the paper I use for art journaling (Canson Mixed Media).  This illustration, therefore, was created using the two shades of yellow in my set of Dr Ph Martin Hydrus watercolours – hansa yellow and gamboge.  My intention was to be much looser in my creation of a figure on the page but I guess I couldn’t suppress my control freakery enough so the illustration ended up pretty tight regardless.  She is one of those sprite type characters I have drawn before and I decided she could represent sunshine.  I added a circle in the background using a yellow watercolour pencil and then I filled the rest of the background with spatter.  It’s a very imperfect drawing but I had fun creating her and process is much more important to me than outcome when art journaling.

38 - Sunshine

Minotaur

This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “goddesses or monsters”.  As long term readers of my blog will know, I love mythology and especially Greek mythology.  I was, therefore, overwhelmed by the possibilities and suffered from a creatively crippling bout of indecision.  In the end, however, I decided to whip up a quick ink and watercolour illustration of a Minotaur.  The Minotaur is one of my favourite monsters and I had not drawn one for a while.  This one echoes the body shape and proportions of one I painted in an altered book three years ago.  I placed him on a grey background and used a more muted palette so suggest his labyrinth dwelling.  I kept second guessing myself as I am usually a bit more bold with my use of colour.  However, I am calling this illustration done.

21 - Minotaur