It feels like eons since I last had any art time. Given the fact I can complete an art journal page in under half an hour (often in 10 or 15 minute portions), my art journals really should not have been sitting closed for as long as they have. It is a testament to how incredibly over-scheduled that I have been that I have been unable to make any time. The start of the school year is always hectic as we all transition to new schedules. I am also seriously busy at work and at home we are still trying to deal with the chaos that followed in the wake of our basement flood and problem-solve our way to a solution. Juggling all of this stuff – and more besides – is seriously draining my free time and sucking up all of my available energy.
It was, therefore, a treat when I found myself with a sliver of time this weekend in which to work in my art journal. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt as my starting point. The prompt was “spirals” and it immediately put my in mind of the poster for ‘Vertigo’, one of my favourite movies of all time. The poster depicts two figures tumbling into a vortex of spirals. I drew my weird wee self-portrait as the figure among the spirals. I have a spirograph somewhere in the boxes of items we salvaged from the basement but there was no time to rake for it. I, therefore, drew some concentric circles instead of spirals. There are spirals in the eyes, however, which is pretty much an accurate representation of my life right now.
Fingers crossed that this art journal page is the break in my art drought. My intention is to participate in Drawlloween. I have participated in both Inktober and Drawlloween before and always enjoy it. This year the challenge will definitely be one of time management. I am going to be using the list of prompts provided by Mab Graves and I will be sharing my illustrations over on my Pict Ink blog and on Instagram. So I have one week left to try and get my schedule under control. Art is a good motivator.
I believe that turquoise is a colour that works with every other colour. I am, therefore, making a record of various turquoise colour palette combinations in my Rainbow Art Journal. This page, therefore, is a record of yellow and turquoise. I have been unable to get this illustration to photograph well. In reality, the skin tones are much warmer and the turquoise much more vibrant.
Here’s a quick art journal illustration of a figure swimming. I was challenging myself to use a medium I have not used in ages and nothing but that medium so I opened up my bag of watercolour pencils and got to work. This was done super-quickly – definitely no more than 15 minutes – as a stress-buster. I was just promoted (yay!) and I have SO much to do before the beginning of the school year so I was in one of those flaps where my To Do list was so extensive that I could not properly focus on any one task in order to complete it and check it off the list. I decided to take a break at my art table and it did the trick: I was much more focused and efficient when I returned to my crazily long list. Anyway, the concept of relaxing gave me my subject because one of the things I find most relaxing to do is just float around in water. I used to love actually swimming lengths in the pool, never competitively, just for exercise and fun, but nowadays all I really want to do in the water is float around on my back and stare at the sky like a much less adorable otter.
I grabbed 20 minutes with my art journal yesterday and created this illustration. I guess it is more a character design. I came up with the idea of a humanoid insect by combining this week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt – bugs – with the fact my middle two sons are into comic books and there are some truly bonkers characters to be found in those. So I decided to draw Beetle Woman. Quick ink drawing coloured with watercolour.
This art journal page is an exercise in repetition. I could have used tracing paper or some other technique in order to achieve near perfect consistency between the faces but I instead decided to really challenge myself to see if I could reproduce the same drawing three times. I am actually surprised by how successful I was. You can definitely detect the differences between the three faces but they are definitely close enough to read as identical triplets or clones. It was actually my illustration of clone children that influenced elements of this drawing, such as keeping things monochromatic and giving the figures really rigid hairstyles. I painted the columnar bodies with Daniel Smith’s Lunar Black watercolour because I really love it but am still getting to grips with how best to use it and achieve its beautiful granulation. Ultimately, my first layer achieved pretty good granulation but was too wishy-washy in terms of saturation, but the second layer intensified the saturation but the whole thing became a bit patchy and streaky. Evidently I need to keep experimenting with this paint.
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.
*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.*
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.