Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was another guest blog post by my friend Jana. Her theme was “trash to treasure” and she had all sorts of ingenious ideas for using everyday objects destined for the recycling bin as tools for mixed media art. I ended up keeping my page pretty simple, with barely any layers, because I was short on time but I have squirreled away many of Jana’s ideas for future reference.
I started my page without having any idea of where it would go or what might emerge. I had a foodie magazine in the recycling bin so I rescued it and, selecting brightly coloured pages, ripped it into strips using a ruler. This meant the strips were more or less straight and of a uniform width. I adhered the strips to the page and coated the whole thing in matte medium so that I could work on top of it.
It stayed that way for almost the entire week, sitting on my art table waiting for me to have time to return to it. When I did sit down at the art table again, I decided to do some negative space painting and – since I like simplified female figures – that was what ended up emerging as I added the white acrylic. I seem to have a thing right now for puffy, cloud-like hair too but in this case I think it worked out well as the width of the hair balances out the width of the ballooning skirt.
Next time I sat down in my art space, I added the details using various media. The last thing I did was to stamp the words “reduce”, “reuse”, “recycle”, and ‘replenish” in the space around the figure as that seemed in the spirit of the page.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “wing it”. Finding time for art this week was a major challenge. We are all adjusting to a new routine. My four kids are in three different schools; the oldest has to catch a bus half an hour earlier than last year, which means pulling our morning routine half an hour earlier. It’s a chaotic transition period. I feel like I am either chasing my tail constantly or trying to catch myself up throughout the whole day. Exhaustion is the dominant theme of my life right now. We will keep tweaking things until we get the schedule running like a well oiled machine but, until then, my free time for art is severely curtailed.
Therefore, “winging it” is exactly what I did with this journal page. I decided to not put much thought or planning into it, to just use my art journal as a decompression tool and enjoy the process rather than focusing on the outcome. Winging it made me think of bird wings and feathers so that gave me my subject. To ensure that I didn’t get too fussy or tight with my drawing, I decided to “wing it” again: I dipped a chubby paint brush in black acrylic and drew the wing with my non-dominant hand. In retrospect, using my left hand maybe wasn’t the best idea. After filling in the negative space with black acrylic and letting the whole thing dry, it was time to add colour. I did so by just splashing some pigment rich watercolour paints into the feather shapes and letting it run all over the place.
It is just as well that I was not focused on the outcome because the outcome is pretty rubbish really. My ten year old tactfully told me it was “not the best”. I like the idea of a wing made of rainbow feathers and might return to that at some stage. This page, however, is what it is. I “winged it” for sure.
It’s been ages since I completed a page in my Rainbow Art Journal. I think perhaps I have over-stretched myself when it comes to art projects as I just never seem to get near this particular art journal. This particular page sat half-finished at ugly carbuncle stage for ages. I just wasn’t inspired to work on it when I did have extra free time because the page was a raging hot mess. However, a couple of days ago I forced myself to return to this page and complete it. I pushed through. It is never going to be my favourite page – it was really an experiment in combining red and purple – but it is a lot better than where it was headed so I at least feel like I have saved it. Best of all, now I feel like I have eradicated that page as a creative mental block.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was provided by my friend Jana. Jana has a way of creating wonderfully curated collages with mixed media elements and lots of visual texture. She produced one such piece as her exemplar for her guest blog post. I aspire to put together collages as wonderful as the ones Jana produces but I am not there yet. I don’t have a collection of ephemera to riffle through either, just random papers. I, therefore, decided to use Jana’s page as jumping-off inspiration rather than strictly adhering to the prompt.
I did technically start the page with a collage but it was just a case of roughly adhering some book page scraps to the journal page and then knocking the whole thing back with a layer of white acrylic. I loved the colour scheme in Jana’s collage so I too opted for a palette that was monochromatic and neutral with a pop of red. What I was really taken with was the use of stitching as a mark-making tool. I am not someone who has much skill or ability with fabric arts or textiles and my sewing skills are limited to hand-sewing and are very basic. I, therefore, would not normally think to add stitches to my art journal pages but that was precisely why I wanted to do so in response to this prompt. I really enjoyed it as a different way to add marks to the illustration and what it contributed in terms of a different visual texture.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to create a mosaic or patchwork design. I have had it in the back of my mind that I need to be making more frequent and better use of my small gelli plate press and I thought this prompt would be a great opportunity to use it.
I painted my art journal page black in the hopes that it would make subsequent layers of colour pop. I then used the small rectangular gelli plate to place oblongs of colour around the page, allow some to overlap. For the first layer, I used just whole blocks of colour. For the next layer of printing, however, I used stencils to create visual texture. Finally, I used ghost prints of leaf shaped masks hoping they would give the piece some focus, some place for the eyes to rest.
Once all the printing was dry, I picked up some black and white paint pens and outlined the leaf shapes and some marks reminiscent of stitching in order to create more of a patchwork feel to the page. The outcome is not great but I enjoyed the process and will definitely try to pick up that small gelli plate for often to create layered backgrounds in mixed media pieces.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to take inspiration from mythology, folk stories, and fairy tales. If you are thinking to yourself that the prompt seems right up my street that is because it is. Precisely so in fact. That is because I was asked by Bonnie and Barbara to be a guest artist this week. I was flattered and honoured to do so and, of course, that meant it was up to me to choose the prompt. You can find my post on the Joggles blog here and that outlines my process, illustrated with photos, in creating this art journal page.
I chose a selkie as the subject of my art journal page. Selkies are creatures from my country’s mythology (and that of Ireland) and I grew up hearing tales of seals that could transform into people, of stolen seal skins, and wives who fled back to the sea. I draw them quite often and have featured art work inspired by them twice on my blogs: once as a mixed media painting of a selkie in seal form and once in my altered book of monsters. I think this is my favourite of the mixed media selkies I have painted so far.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “water”. I do enjoy prompts that are as vague and open as that as it allows my mind to dance among many possibilities until I find the one that sparks with me. I decided to paint an illustration of a whale using watercolour. I love whales and often draw whales, even as doodles on pieces of scrap paper or the bottom of shopping lists. My challenge for this whale was to work really loosely (well, by my standards anyway) with the watercolour and to have the bare minimum of a guideline sketch. I sprinkled on some salt hoping to create a sort of barnacle effect. The white space was just too boring around the whale so I added some spatter. And that was when things really went wrong.
The alternative title to this blog post is ‘Arting with Cats’. My art table is set up in a corner of the kitchen that has large windows on two sides. It is flooded with light which makes it perfect as an art space but it means it also attracts the cats who, being cats, like to bask in the warmth of the sun and who share my interest in watching the birds visit the feeder outside the window. As such, the cats commandeered my art table. We reached a compromise whereby they now have just under half of the table – their cat bed indicating which is their territory – and I have the rest of it. I stick to my side of the bargain. Do they? Of course not. They are cats. Many is the time that they have padded across my art work or have knocked – deliberately! – boxes of pencils or paint sets off the table. When annoyed that I have not fed him earlier than usual, Satchi sits on my art table and picks up my paintbrushes in his mouth, one by one, and drops them onto the floor. On this occassion, I had just gotten up from the table to clean my brushes when Satchi plonked himself right in front of my art journal and swished his huge, fluffy tail right across the page. He thankfully did not manage to do much damage to the whale itself, as it was almost bone dry, but the spatter dots smeared and smudged. Ugh. Had it been anything other than my art journal, I would have been very annoyed and frustrated. However, my art journal is for experiments, some of which go wrong. This page, therefore, becomes another record of what goes wrong when one attempts arting with cats.