Is that the distant sound of Gustav Klimt spinning in his grave?
When I saw the Art Journal Adventure prompt of “Silence is Golden”, a nudge to use metallics, I immediately thought that a Klimt homage was in order. He is one of my favourite artists because of the way he combines influences like psychology and mythology, blending the contemporary with the classical, juxtaposing the human form with bold areas of shape and pattern. He’s a pretty inspirational artist and I like to dip into aspects of his style with my own illustrations from time to time.
I like the effect of metallic paints but I do find them tricky to work with. I had to build up several thinner layers of bronze and gold before it looked smooth and not brushstroke-patchy. The sheen of the metallic paint also makes it a bit tricky to get subsequent layers to behave well on top of the base layer. I let the layer where I was building up the larger shapes of pattern get a bit sloppy as a result. Klimt would not have approved, I’m sure. I could have been more meticulous by taking my time but that didn’t happen. Often in my art journal I start with a head and face and work outwards from there but this time the head and face were blanks until I had played around with all the patterns, though I had pencilled in the lozenge shape of the hair in advance as a frame to the face.
We had a snow day with last week so – with no school for the kids and no work for me – I had much greater flexibility in my schedule. I, therefore, took a bit of time to work in my art journal. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt as inspiration. The prompt was “circus” which was going to be a challenge for me. I have explained it in detail in a previous blog post so I won’t rehash it all here but I have a serious phobia of clowns that is related to a milder phobia of circuses – one that is deep-seated enough that I have never taken my kids to a circus. I can, however, deal with acrobatic acts outside the context of a circus. I think, for instance, that I would enjoy seeing Cirque du Soleil. I like drawing figures inside circles for some reason so I drew some circles on the page as a starting point. I then pulled up a few images of acrobats in google and combined a few influences to come up with the pose. I associate circuses with bold, bright, primary colours so that gave me my palette. I think the finished illustration suggests circus enough to fulfil the brief of the prompt while not triggering my phobias.
Tonight is the 91st Academy Awards ceremony. As I have stated before, as a movie nerd, the Oscars are like my Superbowl. For the past couple of years, I have illustrated the nominees in the acting categories in my Art Journal. I usually don’t attempt to draw real life people so it serves as a useful annual reminder that I am absolutely, most definitely, not a portraitist. Capturing people’s likenesses apparently eludes me. Still, it’s a fun exercise and a good way to record the evening’s entertainment in my journal.
In 2017, I did a sort of blind contour mugshots sort of thing. That was fun but you really would not have been able to identify any of the people I had drawn. Last year, I decided to draw each actor in full figure and in character. This was a regretful decision. This year, therefore, I went back to just heads and revisited the kind-of-mugshot idea but without using blind contour as my starting point. This resulted in better quality drawings but definitely not much in the way of improvement when it comes to likenesses. A few of these people are ones I have drawn before and yet I still cannot get their faces right. Just as well I prefer drawing faces from my imagination instead then!
Apologies, incidentally, for the awful shadows on these photos. Aside from the gloomy winter light, I have no access right now to the spot where I usually photograph my artwork.
I don’t have a dog in this fight since I have seen literally zero of the movies for which these performances have been recognised. While we go as a family to the cinema to see the odd blockbuster or animated movie, Mr Pict and I have to wait for movies to appear on the small screen before we can view them. I have no punditry to offer, therefore, and no predictions to make except that I guarantee all these people will look so much better – and more human – on the night than they appear in my drawings.
I met up with my local art journal group a few weeks ago and decided to work in my Rainbow Art Journal. This page had been started before I went along, just a first quick, scrubby layer of acrylic paint. I could then build up the figure using more portable media. I was a bit distracted during the meeting and not really in a creative head space and consequently that lack of focus and mojo is evident on the page. I wanted to concentrate on drawing a more interesting pose but I think I ended up frittering over the angles of the figure’s limbs so much that I neglected the face. All the proportions of the face went wonky. Sigh. I was tempted to gesso and paint over this page but I decided to let it stay as it was – at least for now. Since I don’t use my art journal for personal reflection, I thought I should at least let it exist as a faithful record of my art experiments, the failures as well as the successes.
My February Art Snacks box not only prompted me to grab some extra art time on our recent Snow Day but also forced me to use a medium I would never normally reach for: chalk pastels. I last used chalk pastels for an art lesson almost three years ago and, prior to that, I had not used them for probably two decades. I, therefore, have no skill with them whatsoever let alone anything approaching talent. However, the whole point of challenging myself to use the contents of my Art Snacks box is to force me out of my comfort zone and try things that nudge me out of any comfortable creative rut I might be in. This entire illustration was created with just nothing beyond what was in the box – a bookmark sized sample of tan paper, a mechanical pencil, a putty rubber (mouldable eraser), a white ink pen, and a set of Rembrandt chalk pastels, all in yellow hues. My use of the pastels is very basic and simple, just used to fill in blocks of colour. I must say I was impressed with how they lay down pigment on the paper, definitely not as crumbly as my ancient set of pastels for sure. However, I still don’t think pastels are my thing.
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.