I actually painted this illustration over a year ago as it was produced in response to an Art Snacks challenge. It was drawn in the yellow section of my Rainbow Art Journal – hence its relevance now. At the time I created it, I thought I might eventually circle back to it and add something to it but ultimately I have left it just as is, as a simple little ink and watercolour illustration. Sometimes, after all, less is more.
I have been doing a lot of illustrations lately, especially drawing people. I like to shake things up a bit so I was, therefore, looking for something creative to do in my art journal that did not involve illustration. This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was about cameras and photographs so that presented me with the spark of inspiration I needed. I thought I would create a sort of mixed media scrapbook page, a background for some photographs.
I had a page in my art journal where one of my cats had spilled ink (technically my fault for leaving the lid off the bottle for even an instant) so that became the basis of my background. I sploshed around a bit more ink, used some found ink to direct the puddles into specific forms (the circles and discs) and then left it to dry. The monochrome background seemed like it would be best for some monochrome photographs so – thinking vintage – I printed out some photos of my grandparents. It was then a case of positioning those on the page and, once I was happy with the placement, adding some washi tape and some little mark-making doodles. I probably went way over the top and made things too busy for a background. One of the washi tapes has cameras on it so that was an apt find in my stash.
I never knew my biological paternal grandfather (lower right) as he was killed at the end of the Second World War. That left my grandmother (lower left) as a war widow in her early 30s with three sons to raise. She supported them by working long hours in the local steamie while her mother, who also worked in the steamie, and a neighbour helped out with childcare. I admired her strength and fortitude. My Dad, incidentally, is the toddler in that photo. The photo at the top of the page is the wedding of my maternal grandparents. They were both a huge influence on who I am as a person. I inherited a lot of my interests and passion and feistiness from my Gran. My Granddad, meanwhile, was just one of the best human beings I ever knew and I feel blessed that I got to have him as my Granddad. He was full of laughter and fun, was always nurturing and encouraging and endlessly supportive. He is also responsible for my love of spicy food and my sweet tooth.
Some pages in my Rainbow Art Journal are blank slates; others are covered with bits of collage or scrapings of paint or handwritten notes or even the odd doodle. When I have leftover paint, I scrape or smear it onto a page in the appropriate colour sector of my journal and, when I have a collage scrap, I similarly paste it in. This was one such page that had such a messy start of leftovers. There was some textured gesso on the page and also a prominent wine label. I decided to turn that wine label into the basis of clothing for a female figure. The rest of the clothing element is made of washi tape. Initially, that female figure was youthful but I decided to challenge myself to draw an older face so I did a sort of “age progression” on the face until it looked right to me. I decided to lean into the texture of the gesso by adding more texture on the page, scraping thick paint onto the page, scraping into that paint as it was starting to dry.
I was all but housebound this weekend for various reasons: a rabble of teen boys celebrating my oldest turning 16 by spending 12 hours in our basement and devouring copious quantities of pizza; a backlog of household chores – not unrelated to the invasion of teen boys; and a day of near non-stop rain. Being on domestic lockdown, however, meant that I had time for arting. I decided to work in my art journal on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was something to do with fairytales. My mind immediately went to Red Riding Hood because I have some inexplicable compulsion about illustrating that story. That was precisely why, however, I decided to steer myself away from the first thing I thought of, to challenge myself to illustrate something I had not in a while. I, therefore, decided to draw Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I used ink and watercolour.
I appreciate that, in the story, the trio of bears actually discover Goldilocks when she is fast asleep in the comfiest bed but I am not a pedant – well, not about that at least. I, therefore, opted to draw them discovering the golden-tressed interloper as she is gobbling down the “just right” porridge in the best chair in the house – a chair she later breaks. You may be forming the impression that I view Goldilocks as the villain of the piece. Darn tooting I do. She commits breaking and entering, rummages among other people’s possessions, eats food that was not designated for her consumption, and breaks furniture. No wonder the bears growl angrily when they discover the little miscreant in their house.
This was the other art journal illustration I created at the coffee shop when I met up with my local art friends. Again, I was limited by whatever portable art materials I had in my travelling art kit, things that won’t make a mess or require a lot of drying time. I had not drawn zombie bunnies in quite some time so I thought it was time that they made a reappearance. I did the outlining with my trusty micron pens and filled in the colour with watercolour pencils. Although I am not a massive fan of watercolour pencils generally (because I am not very adept at using them) but they do come in handy for drawing on the go. I activated the pigment with my water pens. The process doesn’t replicate the look of actual watercolour but it does the job.
I started this art journal page on Earth Day (22 April) but did not make much headway beyond covering the page in fragments of map from an old atlas and painting a white area for the face and neck. I was able to return to the page this weekend when I met up with some local art friends at a coffee shop. The circumstances necessitate the use of non-messy, portable, quick-drying art supplies. I, therefore, completed the page using Neocolor II crayons and Inktense pencils. Because I started the page on Earth Day, this illustration is of a sort of Mother Earth figure. I like that the text and shapes of the maps can still be seen through the layers of colour. The beady eyed among you will be able to detect that I used mainly Scandinavia with a wee bit of the Caribbean. I wish I had made her face more expressive but drawing while chatting is a challenge. I was productive and managed to create another illustration during the meet up but I will blog about that page tomorrow.
The Art Journal Adventure prompt this week was “heart” but, of course, I did not go all sweet and whimsical with my take on that prompt. Rather than the typical “love” heart, I decided to create an illustration inspired by an anatomical heart. Don’t expect it to be medical-textbook-accurate, however, because realism isn’t my thing either. What I came up with was a female figure with an exposed heart. I used her hair as a sort of curtain being pulled back to reveal some abstracted ribs and that bright red heart. My first impulse was to show her peeling her skin back to reveal the internal organs so I am glad I came up with the more aesthetically pleasing option of the long, dark hair. I do enjoy working with a limited palette so I kept this illustration to just the monochrome and splashes of red.