Reduce; Reuse; Recycle; Replenish – Art Journal Page

Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was another guest blog post by my friend Jana.  Her theme was “trash to treasure” and she had all sorts of ingenious ideas for using everyday objects destined for the recycling bin as tools for mixed media art.  I ended up keeping my page pretty simple, with barely any layers, because I was short on time but I have squirreled away many of Jana’s ideas for future reference.

I started my page without having any idea of where it would go or what might emerge.  I had a foodie magazine in the recycling bin so I rescued it and, selecting brightly coloured pages, ripped it into strips using a ruler.  This meant the strips were more or less straight and of a uniform width.  I adhered the strips to the page and coated the whole thing in matte medium so that I could work on top of it.

37a Recycle-Reuse-Repurpose-Replenish

It stayed that way for almost the entire week, sitting on my art table waiting for me to have time to return to it.  When I did sit down at the art table again, I decided to do some negative space painting and – since I like simplified female figures – that was what ended up emerging as I added the white acrylic.  I seem to have a thing right now for puffy, cloud-like hair too but in this case I think it worked out well as the width of the hair balances out the width of the ballooning skirt.

37b Recycle-Reuse-Repurpose-Replenish

Next time I sat down in my art space, I added the details using various media.  The last thing I did was to stamp the words “reduce”, “reuse”, “recycle”, and ‘replenish” in the space around the figure as that seemed in the spirit of the page.

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Protective Pod

Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Connie Solera.  It was a bit too “art as therapy” for my personal taste but I was inspired by the imagery of the painting Solera demonstrated and decided to create my own twist on the idea, moulding the lesson to fit my own style.  There are many layers in this mixed media painting, more layers than I typically work with, but I enjoyed switching between the chaotic looseness of the background and the more tight illustration of the female figure curled up inside a pod shape in the centre, even if it probably makes the piece visually unbalanced.

36 - Protective Pod

Rainbow Wing

Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “wing it”.  Finding time for art this week was a major challenge.  We are all adjusting to a new routine.  My four kids are in three different schools; the oldest has to catch a bus half an hour earlier than last year, which means pulling our morning routine half an hour earlier.    It’s a chaotic transition period.  I feel like I am either chasing my tail constantly or trying to catch myself up throughout the whole day.  Exhaustion is the dominant theme of my life right now.  We will keep tweaking things until we get the schedule running like a well oiled machine but, until then, my free time for art is severely curtailed.

Therefore, “winging it” is exactly what I did with this journal page.  I decided to not put much thought or planning into it, to just use my art journal as a decompression tool and enjoy the process rather than focusing on the outcome.  Winging it made me think of bird wings and feathers so that gave me my subject.  To ensure that I didn’t get too fussy or tight with my drawing, I decided to “wing it” again: I dipped a chubby paint brush in black acrylic and drew the wing with my non-dominant hand.  In retrospect, using my left hand maybe wasn’t the best idea.  After filling in the negative space with black acrylic and letting the whole thing dry, it was time to add colour.  I did so by just splashing some pigment rich watercolour paints into the feather shapes and letting it run all over the place.

It is just as well that I was not focused on the outcome because the outcome is pretty rubbish really.  My ten year old tactfully told me it was “not the best”.  I like the idea of a wing made of rainbow feathers and might return to that at some stage.  This page, however, is what it is.  I “winged it” for sure.

36 Rainbow Wing

Rainbow Art Journal – Puff Sleeves

It’s been ages since I completed a page in my Rainbow Art Journal.  I think perhaps I have over-stretched myself when it comes to art projects as I just never seem to get near this particular art journal.  This particular page sat half-finished at ugly carbuncle stage for ages.  I just wasn’t inspired to work on it when I did have extra free time because the page was a raging hot mess.  However, a couple of days ago I forced myself to return to this page and complete it.  I pushed through.  It is never going to be my favourite page – it was really an experiment in combining red and purple – but it is a lot better than where it was headed so I at least feel like I have saved it.  Best of all, now I feel like I have eradicated that page as a creative mental block.

 

14 Red-Purple-Gold

 

Peach and Apple Picking

We have had such a momentously busy summer as a family that we were tempted to just let Labor Day weekend be a sludgy three day break of chilling and preparing for returning to school and work.  Obviously Mr Pict has worked throughout the summer months but the kids and I have been footloose and fancy free for the most part which means big adjustments and transitions.  So the plan was just to stay home, sort things out on the home front, prepare for the school year, and relax.  However, we could not let Summer depart without one last trip to bid it farewell.

We, therefore, decided to go fruit picking.  It is peach season here.  I adore peaches and scoff loads of them every season.  We have, therefore, established a new tradition since emigrating which involves going peach picking each year and then making all manner of peach desserts – in addition to eating them fresh.  Honeycrisp apples were also in season at the orchard.  I had to have some.  I had never had a honeycrisp apple before we moved to the US.  Indeed, a quick google tells me that it is a variety that was developed in Minnesota and has only been available for public consumption since 1991 so it is a fairly new variety.  I love them.  I was always someone who ate green apples as I like my apples to be a little tart and definitely firm.  I rarely ever ate red apples because I hate the floury, powdery texture that so many of them possess.  Honeycrisps are like the best of both worlds – firm and the right balance between tart and sweet.  So juicy too.  Yum.  But also very expensive when bought in grocery stores.  They are so expensive, in fact, that I rarely ever treat myself to honeycrisp apples as I cannot justify the chunk of our food budget.  My in-laws actually gifted me a box of honeycrisp apples for Christmas last year.  At the orchard, however, the apples were a fifth of the per pound price it would cost me in the store.  Yes!

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So we picked peaches and honeycrisp apples until we had full pails of each.  It was the perfect way to round of the summer – picking fresh fruit and baking cosy desserts.

The Education Learning Curve

Today my children all return to school.  This year, I have two left in Elementary – one of them in his last year there – and one in Middle School and one in High School.  With four boys in three different schools its going to feel like a second job for me to keep on top of their schedules, deadlines, requirements, and commitments.

Every new year of having my kids in American schools has brought with it new challenges for me as a parent.  Between technology developing too rapidly for my grey matter, the generation gap, and a vocabulary gap because of being British, it can be difficult for me to understand what a homework assignment even requires the kids to do.  I do a lot of googling and watching demonstrations of methodologies on YouTube.  This year, however, with one kid in High School, I feel like I am in for an even steeper learning curve than ever before.

My oldest and I attended a High School induction day a couple of weeks ago and that revealed to me how out of my depth I was.  I went all the way through High School, an undergraduate degree, and a postgraduate degree, and I then taught High School.  I am, therefore, well versed in education and the transition between primary, secondary, and tertiary education.  In Britain.  When it comes to how all of this functions in America, I have next to nothing.  And I had better learn quickly because the years are rapidly flying past.

The talks that were delivered at the induction event involved a huge amount of assumed knowledge.  Acronyms were being bandied around with no allowance for anyone, like me, who had only a scant idea of what they stood for, what concepts they represented, or how they pieced together into something coherent.  What I think I grasped, however, is that there is a through-line from the beginning of High School to its conclusion that will determine prospects for tertiary education.  Yikes.  I thought I had a couple of years to figure this stuff out.  Apparently not.  So I need to hit the books myself now and get on top of such things as GPAs, SATs, ACTs, credits, dual enrollment, AP courses, and all of those other things I am clueless about.

This new experience, this new area of life I need to research, is another stark reminder that my adult life and experience was all but reset to zero when I emigrated.  Whole areas of my knowledge were voided and made irrelevant and – even after nearly four years of living in America – I am still a stranger in a strange land trying to fill those gaps in knowledge with new learning.  I am an old dog so new tricks are hard but I will work hard to understand what I need to know.

Stitches

This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was provided by my friend Jana.  Jana has a way of creating wonderfully curated collages with mixed media elements and lots of visual texture.  She produced one such piece as her exemplar for her guest blog post.  I aspire to put together collages as wonderful as the ones Jana produces but I am not there yet.  I don’t have a collection of ephemera to riffle through either, just random papers.  I, therefore, decided to use Jana’s page as jumping-off inspiration rather than strictly adhering to the prompt.

I did technically start the page with a collage but it was just a case of roughly adhering some book page scraps to the journal page and then knocking the whole thing back with a layer of white acrylic.  I loved the colour scheme in Jana’s collage so I too opted for a palette that was monochromatic and neutral with a pop of red.  What I was really taken with was the use of stitching as a mark-making tool.  I am not someone who has much skill or ability with fabric arts or textiles and my sewing skills are limited to hand-sewing and are very basic.  I, therefore, would not normally think to add stitches to my art journal pages but that was precisely why I wanted to do so in response to this prompt.  I really enjoyed it as a different way to add marks to the illustration and what it contributed in terms of a different visual texture.

35c Stitches

35d Stitches