Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “Time”. Time is a major stressor for me because I am perpetually over-scheduled, often needing to be in two places at once, and because I am a control freak who is neurotically punctual. The conflict between those pragmatic and psychological states generates a whole load of mental exhaustion. And that is precisely why I thought of the White Rabbit. His being late has him strung out and fizzing with frenetic energy, so needing to propel himself that he is almost paralysed by how overwhelmed he is. I can relate.
I went whimsical for this illustration. I used old book pages as my substrate since the White Rabbit is, of course, a book character. The brown hue of the paper then inspired the colour palette. I think he looks pretty cute and surprisingly relaxed and cheery for someone who is running so late for a very important date.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use black. I know a lot of artists who avoid black, including some who think black should never form part of an artist’s palette, but I am not one of them. You may have noted that I use black a lot. In fact, I have no doubt that black and grey probably feature more in my artwork than any other colours (and, yes, I know black isn’t technically a colour but whatever). I like to use it along with a pop of colour. It’s kind of one of my jams. I am quite comfortable working in monochrome. It may be partly laziness and partly down to limitations of time but I like working with a very limited palette. All of which is to say that for me to use black was not much of a challenge really. My challenge, therefore, was to create visual interest and texture while only using black and grey. I used the Ecoline liquid watercolour used in my previous art journal page for the background. Once I added the black, I realised what a warm grey it is but I opted to use it because I liked the way it pooled to create blossoms and blooms for a bit of soft visual texture. To create the visual texture on the figure’s clothing, I did the old sprinkle salt onto wet watercolour trick. I went entirely overboard with the salt, however, as I was rushing to get out the door to my youngest son’s Open House night at school. Better than ingesting that quantity of salt I suppose but it was definitely too much. No time to even attempt to rectify my action, of course, so I let it be. It definitely resulted in visual texture, that’s for sure.
The materials that arrived in my March Art Snacks box happened to be grey and orange so I thought I would use them to create another page in the orange section of my Rainbow Art Journal. I love working with grey because it goes with everything and I like the way it works with the orange in this illustration. I am still playing around with these female figures with the disconnected arms so I drew another one. Previous versions have had very angular torsos, I think because I was initially inspired by classical herma. This time, I decided to try the idea of the floating forearms along with a more twisted torso shape. I don’t know whether this whole detached limb thing is aesthetically pleasing or successful but I am enjoying being liberated from proportions so I will probably experiment with it for a wee while longer.
Is that the distant sound of Gustav Klimt spinning in his grave?
When I saw the Art Journal Adventure prompt of “Silence is Golden”, a nudge to use metallics, I immediately thought that a Klimt homage was in order. He is one of my favourite artists because of the way he combines influences like psychology and mythology, blending the contemporary with the classical, juxtaposing the human form with bold areas of shape and pattern. He’s a pretty inspirational artist and I like to dip into aspects of his style with my own illustrations from time to time.
I like the effect of metallic paints but I do find them tricky to work with. I had to build up several thinner layers of bronze and gold before it looked smooth and not brushstroke-patchy. The sheen of the metallic paint also makes it a bit tricky to get subsequent layers to behave well on top of the base layer. I let the layer where I was building up the larger shapes of pattern get a bit sloppy as a result. Klimt would not have approved, I’m sure. I could have been more meticulous by taking my time but that didn’t happen. Often in my art journal I start with a head and face and work outwards from there but this time the head and face were blanks until I had played around with all the patterns, though I had pencilled in the lozenge shape of the hair in advance as a frame to the face.
We had a snow day with last week so – with no school for the kids and no work for me – I had much greater flexibility in my schedule. I, therefore, took a bit of time to work in my art journal. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt as inspiration. The prompt was “circus” which was going to be a challenge for me. I have explained it in detail in a previous blog post so I won’t rehash it all here but I have a serious phobia of clowns that is related to a milder phobia of circuses – one that is deep-seated enough that I have never taken my kids to a circus. I can, however, deal with acrobatic acts outside the context of a circus. I think, for instance, that I would enjoy seeing Cirque du Soleil. I like drawing figures inside circles for some reason so I drew some circles on the page as a starting point. I then pulled up a few images of acrobats in google and combined a few influences to come up with the pose. I associate circuses with bold, bright, primary colours so that gave me my palette. I think the finished illustration suggests circus enough to fulfil the brief of the prompt while not triggering my phobias.
Tonight is the 91st Academy Awards ceremony. As I have stated before, as a movie nerd, the Oscars are like my Superbowl. For the past couple of years, I have illustrated the nominees in the acting categories in my Art Journal. I usually don’t attempt to draw real life people so it serves as a useful annual reminder that I am absolutely, most definitely, not a portraitist. Capturing people’s likenesses apparently eludes me. Still, it’s a fun exercise and a good way to record the evening’s entertainment in my journal.
In 2017, I did a sort of blind contour mugshots sort of thing. That was fun but you really would not have been able to identify any of the people I had drawn. Last year, I decided to draw each actor in full figure and in character. This was a regretful decision. This year, therefore, I went back to just heads and revisited the kind-of-mugshot idea but without using blind contour as my starting point. This resulted in better quality drawings but definitely not much in the way of improvement when it comes to likenesses. A few of these people are ones I have drawn before and yet I still cannot get their faces right. Just as well I prefer drawing faces from my imagination instead then!
Apologies, incidentally, for the awful shadows on these photos. Aside from the gloomy winter light, I have no access right now to the spot where I usually photograph my artwork.
I don’t have a dog in this fight since I have seen literally zero of the movies for which these performances have been recognised. While we go as a family to the cinema to see the odd blockbuster or animated movie, Mr Pict and I have to wait for movies to appear on the small screen before we can view them. I have no punditry to offer, therefore, and no predictions to make except that I guarantee all these people will look so much better – and more human – on the night than they appear in my drawings.
I met up with my local art journal group a few weeks ago and decided to work in my Rainbow Art Journal. This page had been started before I went along, just a first quick, scrubby layer of acrylic paint. I could then build up the figure using more portable media. I was a bit distracted during the meeting and not really in a creative head space and consequently that lack of focus and mojo is evident on the page. I wanted to concentrate on drawing a more interesting pose but I think I ended up frittering over the angles of the figure’s limbs so much that I neglected the face. All the proportions of the face went wonky. Sigh. I was tempted to gesso and paint over this page but I decided to let it stay as it was – at least for now. Since I don’t use my art journal for personal reflection, I thought I should at least let it exist as a faithful record of my art experiments, the failures as well as the successes.