I feel like I have been working on my Rainbow Art Journal for an eternity. I definitely work on this project in fits and starts with long periods of neglect. Deciding it was time I got those mixed media muscles working again, I cracked open my Rainbow Art Journal and play around with some acrylic – a medium I have not used in months.
I am still malingering in the blue section of the Art Journal. I don’t think I am even half way through the pages yet but finally getting to the end of the blue section will, I suspect, feel like movement*. Blue often makes me think of sea and sky so that is what inspired this illustration of a lighthouse. It did not take me long to recognise the extent to which my painting skills have atrophied due to an extended period of not practicing. The results are ugly. It’s a very rough and patchy page and my lines are very wonky and wobbly, even by my own standards. It was tempting to give everything an additional coat of paint and start over but a) I did not have the time available and b) I figured it would be a place marker in my Art Journal, demarcating where I returned to the project and started over, and therefore provide a measure of the progress I can make from this point forward.
*A check of my blog reveals that I embarked on the blue section in September of last year. Even more staggering is the fact that I started the whole Rainbow Art Journal in January of 2017. I really am tortoising my way through this project!
This was what I created with the contents of my March Art Snacks box. I am not a fan of coloured pencils. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation as I don’t know whether I am bad at using them because I don’t like them or whether my ineptitude with them has led me to dislike them. Despite the fact the pencil leads were buttery smooth, I still could not achieve a neat finish. I am as scribbly with the pencils now as I was when I was a wee girl. Still, sometimes it is as useful to be reminded of what media you don’t enjoy as which you do like to use. The squiggles in the background did not start out as purposeful mark making. The nib of the black marker was very flexible – the type that would lend itself to calligraphy – and I let it slip when I was attempting a straight line. I just had to lean into it and channel my inner Bob Ross and allow squiggles to be a feature in the background. Once I had added background squiggles, it seemed necessary to balance those out with blobs made with the paint pen.
This is the other page in my Rainbow Art Journal that I completed over Winter break. The page was covered in all sorts of collaged odds and ends. Essentially any scrap of blue leftover from another project, any blue postage stamp, any interesting labels ended up adhered to this page. One prominent label was from a wine bottle and the name of it – Capuchon – gave me the idea for the illustration. I made the hat wonky because that asymmetry is something I enjoy and the side benefit of the floppy brim was that I only had to draw one eye. No challenge of creating two matching eyes.
I had a bit of a cruddy day yesterday. We’ve had some flooding to deal with (a lot) lately and the day started with lashing rain yet again, I consequently changed my plan for the day which is something I always find unsettling and disappointing, and then I spent hours problem solving another unexpected problem that cropped up. It was all small beer in the greater scheme of things and certainly all piffling in the context of a global pandemic. On the other hand, living in the midst of a pandemic is also mentally and emotionally fatiguing so maybe that is why smaller problems are getting to me more.
The point of this preamble is that two things that do the best job at calming me down when I am a powder keg of stress and anxiety: art and horror movies. So I settled down with a cup of tea in front of ‘Shadow of a Doubt’, one of my favourite Hitchcock movies (and not strictly a horror), and decided to draw Alfred Hitchcock using the supplies from this month’s Art Snacks box. I thought the combination of black ink, the sepia ink pencil, and the crimson paint suited the subject.
All of my art time lately has been funneled towards my Star Wars challenge. It is always good to have a break from things, however, so I opened up my art journal and decided to create something using the supplies from my July Art Snacks box. I received two Kurteake watercolour pans in a dark grey with hints of indigo and a sort of citrus chartreuse and a Daniel Smith watercolour stick in vermilion so I basically had a slight twist on the three primary colours. The lime-yellow-chartreuse immediately made me think of a raincoat I had when I was very wee and then I thought about how the grey-blue was reminiscent of heavy rain clouds on a stormy day. That, therefore, gave me the theme for my illustration.
Incidentally, I painted this while I was on a lengthy phone call – having done the drawing earlier – so how is that for multitasking in order to ensure I still got my art time?
I actually completed this page in my Rainbow Art Journal ages ago. I started drafting this blog post, must have been interrupted, saved it to drafts, and then my brain did a combination of forgetting about it and misremembering by thinking I had actually published the post. My mixed media art journals have been very neglected lately while I have been focused on my Star Wars illustration challenge so finding this blog post is a useful reminder to me to crack open the supplies and get experimenting again.
I wanted to experiment with green and pink but I honestly have no idea what was in my head when I sketched out the subject matter. I guess I do have female figures with herma type torsos and skeletal elements in my “go to” list of art motifs so it is not completely out of left field. The exposed rib cage then made me think of the exposed veins of skeletal leaves and so I had my idea for the whole composition. I took this photo when the light was dull and flat which is making the pink photograph as being a little too purple but in reality it is a sort of bubblegum pink.
This illustration is what I came up with using just the contents of my May Art Snacks box. There were brush markers, a coloured pencil, an India ink marker, and a copic fineliner. I appreciated that all of the items were portable art supplies (when combined with a water brush) because I was able to knock this drawing out while supervising my youngest doing his distance learning lessons for the day. I have been doing the drawing part of my Star Wars illustrations while supervising the boys’ education each morning (and then painting them in the afternoons) so I took a break and knocked this out instead. Messing about with the shapes in the cloak was a welcome distraction from 5th Grade algebra.
This page was another one where I had lobbed down scrapings of leftover paint and scraps of collage material. As with the majority of the pages in the green section of my Rainbow Art Journal, my brain wandered to plants. Because I was thinking about all of the weird bits of rejected odds and sods that made up the substrate of the page, I thought about weeds and that idea that weeds are just plants growing where someone doesn’t want them. The plant doesn’t know it’s a weed; the plant thinks it is a flower with as much merit as the one a human is caring for in a garden. So then I thought about the fortitude of weeds and their feisty attitude. I pretty much started identifying with weeds. So that was the theme and idea for this journal page.
I used a negative space painting approach to pick out the shape of a weed growing across the page. I then stamped “survive” and “thrive” on to some green paint chip cards I had. Unfortunately, I was distracted when gluing them onto the page and transposed the words. Oops. It didn’t bother me enough to either remove them or cover them up, however. Anyway, survival and being determined to thrive no matter what seem like good messages for these pandemic times we find ourselves in.
This page was one of those messy pages crammed full of pieces of collage, odds and ends of washi tape, and surplus gesso and paint. It was, therefore, very textured and incredibly visually busy. It has been in my Rainbow Art Journal for months waiting for me to finish it. I focused on on the wine label that reads “seaglass” and used that as my colour palette inspiration. I used to collect sea glass as a child. I had different jars for the different colours. I found some really cool pieces. I have a vase filled with sea glass from Scotland in my home now. I collected it when I went back home to Fife in 2015 so it’s a visual reminder to my childhood.
I struggled to pull this page together partly because the lumpy, scratchy texture made it hard to work with and partly because I was so sick of looking at this unfinished page for so long. The page was just annoying me and I wanted to get it finished so that I could move on and forget about it.
PS There is a weird colour caste in my photo of this piece, a sort of pinkish glow. When I try to adjust it, it just throws the greens and aquas out too much. The background colour is white gesso so that should give you some indication of the actual colours.
Today marks 21 days since our lockdown started. Life has been transformed pretty rapidly. As a preschool teacher, I am now unemployed for the foreseeable future; we’ve had to create a home office space in our bedroom for my husband – who is thankfully still able to work; and the four boys are now having to adjust to distance learning. Overseeing four kids who are using technology to learn is a massive challenge for me. While the older three boys have lots of experience with using chromebooks for learning, my youngest son (aged 10) has not had that degree of exposure. It is, therefore, a steep learning curve for both him and for me. I am not finding any of the processes to be intuitive and it seems every teacher and every subject area is intent on using a different mode. Thank goodness my oldest son is a bit of a computer whizz and can step in to problem solve and guide his little brother through all the technological hurdles. I did not anticipate transitioning to distance learning being a smooth process but it is proving to be a more stressful experience than I predicted.
After a particularly snaggy and challenging morning, therefore, I was feeling particularly frazzled. It was critical that I find a way to decompress before I combusted. Last month, I received a bonus box from Art Snacks containing Tombow products. I had not done anything with it because I am not remotely skilled at using alcohol markers. However, I decided that I would delve into the box and try to produce an illustration using just its contents. An art challenge is, after all, much more preferable to me than a technological one. This is the illustration I produced. I am happy to report that I did not combust today. Not yet anyway.