This page is another example of me plagiarizing myself because I sketched this up from an ink and watercolour illustration I did just over three years ago. It is always interesting to see how I translate the same (or similar) drawing between mediums. This mixed media version was also an experiment in using a lemon yellow and lime green palette. I think the combination is as fresh as you would expect from citrus inspiration. I suspect it would have more zing to it if not dulled down with the flesh tones. I am finding that I really like to use text papers in my mixed media pieces. Maybe it is my love of books and reading but I also just like the sort of mark-making quality it contributes, all those shapes and forms.
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.
This will be my third year of participating in the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project. I signed up immediately and really could have got cracking with filling its pages as soon as I had completed the previous (zombie themed) sketchbook in December. However, I have been procrastinating or so very many months. Partly this was because I was percolating and contemplating several possibilities for my chosen theme and subject but mostly it was because I was crippled once more by that loud inner critic of mine insisting my doodlings are not good enough to be on the shelves of the Art Library – which is ridiculous since two of my sketchbooks are already there. So I gave myself a stern talking to and a wee bit of a pep talk, arrived at a final decision regarding my subject matter, drafted a plan for each page, and I am making a start.
I have opted to work under the umbrella theme “Scenes from a Story” and my subject will be fairytale characters. I will be drawing in my usual style with line work in black ink but this year i have rebound my sketchbook to include Canson Mixed Media paper so that I can add a splash of colour to each illustration using liquid media. I will be sharing my progress over on my more specific art blog and also on Instagram.
I have never participated in official Art Therapy but I would definitely vouch for art being therapeutic. I personally use it for stress busting and to invest in myself by topping up my reserves by taking some time out of life’s flurry of activity and just doing something focused and creative. Therefore, while dealing with the aftermath of our basement flood, feeling completely frazzled, and being physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I knew that the best way in which I could recharge my batteries was to take some time out for art. It was just the tool for decompression that I needed.
I used a recent Art Journal Adventure prompt – Celestial – and cracked open my art journal and opened my box of watercolours and got stuck in. As those who follow my blog will know, I am interested in Greek Mythology so I decided to depict Nyx, the goddess of Night. In Classical art, she was depicted as having wings or riding in a chariot but I kept the shapes and forms simple and made her body a flowing shape, a sort of cloak of spreading darkness. By keeping the composition simple and letting wet paint run and flow, other than drying time, this whole illustration was done and dusted in no more than 20 minutes. It was, therefore, really took no time at all out of my hectic day but left me feeling recharged and ready to battle on.
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.*