Have I mentioned (more than a zillion times?) that I am over Winter and yearning for Spring? A couple of weeks ago, I saw a rabbit bound across my yard and I thought that was a sure sign. Turns out that bunny was just a dimwit who needed to stay in his burrow a bit longer. I also noted that our daffodils were sprouting out of the dirt. That was another hopeful sign. Then the shoots got buried under a foot of snow. Spring has to be soon though. It has to.
My latest art journal page was, therefore, inspired by thoughts of Spring. The Art Journal Adventure prompt was S which fitted perfectly with my intention of creating a Spring themed art journal page. The idea is a personification of Spring waking from a slumber and starting to bloom. I must confess that this was a far better idea in my head than translated on the page. I had to work in a whole load of small rations of time which certainly did not help in terms of cohesion and the fact that I rushed through some of the elements is very visible. I like the idea, however, and might return to it when I have more time to accomplish a better execution. I will state that my art work is perfectly straight – it is my iphone photography that is squint.
On Friday, I went to work wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella since a rainstorm was forecast for the weekend. However, while I was at work, snow started to fall. I left work in a blizzard. Thankfully my kids were already on an early dismissal (I cannot remember the last time they were in school for an entire five day week) so two were already home and two I picked up on my way home from work. Just as we walked through the door, hoping to get cosy, looking forward to a steaming cup of tea, the power cut out. And it stayed out. From 2pm on Friday until 1am on Sunday, we had no power whatsoever. No light and no heat is pretty miserable in Winter. We kept ourselves occupied with board games and reading by candlelight. However, my 21st Century kids started to miss screens and WiFi after a mere 12 hours and things were rapidly descending into ‘Lord of the Flies’ territory. Thankfully the power came back on before they started sharpening sticks.
Since I could not do laundry, cook complex meals, or run the vacuum around, I found an unexpected ration of time to spend on art. Sure, I could have dusted but you know how I like to sacrifice dusting so I can get in some art time. I decided to work on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was simply the letter W with an additional option to use shiny, shimmery or sparkly media. Perhaps it was because I had just illustrated a vampire on the previous page of my journal, but I was in a monster mood. That said, when am I never in a monster mood? For me, therefore, W was for Werewolf and I set about drawing one in ink as the sun slipped towards the horizon and the house became gloomy in the dwindling light. It seemed apt for the subject but drawing in the dark is hard on the eyes. I added the diluted ink and watercolour by candlelight while my fingers shook in the cold. Amazingly, despite the circumstances, the illustration turned out to be completely acceptable. I hope, however, to not be doing too much future art in the cold and dark. I am SO done with Winter!
We are almost at the end of this week and yet I have only just completed a page for last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt. Of course, participating each week is not compulsory and there are no deadlines and I can even skip weeks. I am part of this group simply because a weekly prompt reminds me to at least try to find the time to play around in my art journal. For that reason, however, I really notice when I don’t get around to responding to a week’s prompt. It means I have not even managed to find some little slivers of time, a ration in my week, in which to crack open my art journal and splash some media around. It is a sure fire sign that my life has been too over-scheduled and too hectic when I don’t even find the time to dash off a quick 15 or 20 minute piece of art on a journal page. Ironically, it is when I am most stressed and over-stretched that I need art most as a means to slow down and decompress. Funny how that works.
The prompt I have been trying to find time for is the letter D. I ended up with D standing for Dracula. The Dracula who emerged on my page definitely has the look of Count Orlok of ‘Nosferatu’ rather than Bela Lugosi’s more suave vampire. I actually have a tendency to draw Orlok over Dracula when it comes to vampires, despite my love for the classic Universal monster movies. It was Orlok who appeared in my 2016 Inktober sketchbook and in my altered book of monsters. Maybe I should challenge myself to depict the dapper Dracula next time I am in the mood to draw a vampire. I am not entirely happy with this journal page as far as the art goes – my vampire looks a bit too much like a house elf – but I am happy I finally managed to get some art time.
I find I am going long stretches at the moment between creating any art. Life is just getting in the way too much plus I am also still (!) a little wiped out by that post-viral fatigue thing. I am a happier, more balanced person when I have regular doses of art time so this is not a good state of affairs. All I have just about manage to keep up with is cracking open my art journal about once a week, usually on the weekend. I need to eke out a decent chunk of art time soon. I am getting artsy-antsy.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was Love/Hate since it was Valentines Week. I happen to loathe Valentine’s Day but I decided to go with the love them rather than the hate option. Let’s focus on the positive. My starting point was to adhere a Valentines theme paper napkin left over from my preschool class party onto the page to create the repeated pattern of love hearts. Then the page sat like that for days since I could not find the time. My original plan was to draw a figure on the page and do some sort of negative shape painting shebang and, if you look closely, you can still see the pencil marks since I could not erase them. I decided to be pragmatic about my available free time so I instead chose to paint a beetle so that it could be a Love Bug. It does not show up at all well in the photograph but I used pearlescent and metallic paints in order to suggest the shiny carapace of a beetle.
It is not a great art journal page by any measure but it isn’t one that makes me want to tear the page out of the book or gesso over it either. Fingers crossed that I can find a bit more time for art in the next week or so.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “2”. I almost immediately decided to draw the Grady twins from ‘The Shining’, which probably tells you something about the workings of my brain. ‘The Shining’ is one of my favourite horror movies because I love how open to interpretation it is, how unresolved it all remains, and how unsettling it is for those very reasons. Those are precisely the same reasons why my husband loathes the movie. The Grady twins are significant in the film in terms of contributing to the disturbing atmosphere and in terms of their symbolism. I drew Danny from ‘The Shining’ for Inktober 2016 but in some ways I am surprised that I have not drawn the Grady twins in many years. Maybe I should add a whole Shining series of illustrations to my ever-growing Art To Do list.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to include song lyrics or the title of a song in the art journal page. You may recall that I enjoy vague prompts that allow my imagination to wander off in all sorts of directions but with music I did not know where to start. We listen to a lot of music as a family and have very eclectic tastes. When doing chores, I have music playing so I can karaoke my way through the house and I also always play music when I am at my art table drawing or painting. I, therefore, could have chosen any number of songs as the inspiration for my page this week.
I thought about springboarding from the last piece of music I had listened to before reading the prompt. That was Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens which had massive potential as a subject for illustration (and, in fact, I had illustrated it when I was in High School) but I knew I did not have the free time available this week to take on something with that degree of detail. The last album I listened to in its entirety was Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ so I pondered that for a bit. Meanwhile I asked my kids for suggestions since they are always a great resource for inspiration. Elvis, Prince, The Beatles, The Beastie Boys, Elton John, The White Stripes and Frank Sinatra all featured in their suggestions but one idea immediately gave me a strong visual: Space Oddity. As soon as my 10 year old said it, I knew that was going to be the song I depicted on my journal page, perhaps because David Bowie was always so strongly and uniquely visual.
I kept my illustration simple partly out of choice – I do love just plain old pen and ink – and partly out of necessity – my old nemesis, time. It depicts David Bowie (I hope that is clear even though I am not a good portraitist) floating through space in spacesuit, untethered but calm. I obviously did not use any reference images in creating the spacesuit. It is definitely more ‘Lost in Space’ than NASA, that’s for sure. I swithered over including either the song title or the lyric “the stars look very different today” in the illustration but decided against it because a) my calligraphy is not the best and b) I could not work out the placement for the words in the composition. I hope the song reference is clear without the words.
I hate to waste paint so, if I find I have some paint left over from a project, I smear it into a page in my art journal where it stays as a potential first layer for some future creating. One such page of leftovers was the basis for this week’s art journal page. It was created in response to the Art Journal Adventure prompt for this week: the letter O. I like vague prompts because they give me the nudge to create while giving me the scope to really do whatever I want. You may have noticed that I like to illustrate skeletons. They are never anatomically correct and I cannot really put my finger on why I am so drawn to them as a subject but I just go with it. Do what you enjoy, right? I, therefore, ended up illustrating the skeleton of an ouroboros. The O had made me think of circles and hoops and infinity and that made me think of ouroboros, which handily begins with the letter O, and it instantly became a skeleton in my mind’s eye. An ouroboros – just in case you didn’t know – is a serpent consuming its own tale, an image found in many mythologies, symbolising eternity through the endless cycle of life and death.