Rainbow Art Journal – Skeleton Whale

Having just committed to getting back into the swing of making regular time for art and sharpening my skills again, I quickly lapsed because of a nigh impossible schedule. I literally had to make a spreadsheet titled “Schedule Hell” in order to navigate all of the many schedule clash problems I had to resolve. Essentially I need to be able to clone myself or develop teleportation. Since I suck at STEM, I just get to be burned out from the stress of having to be in multiple places at once.

Anyway, this is the page I managed to complete in my Rainbow Art Journal because the blue background was ready and waiting for me. This background is the result of painting leftover acrylic from other projects onto the page in a haphazard way. Since I enjoy drawing inaccurate skeletons, I decided to attempt a whale. The proportions are actually wackier than even I intended but that’s OK.

61 - Skeleton Whale

Rainbow Art Journal – Lighthouse

I feel like I have been working on my Rainbow Art Journal for an eternity. I definitely work on this project in fits and starts with long periods of neglect. Deciding it was time I got those mixed media muscles working again, I cracked open my Rainbow Art Journal and play around with some acrylic – a medium I have not used in months.

I am still malingering in the blue section of the Art Journal. I don’t think I am even half way through the pages yet but finally getting to the end of the blue section will, I suspect, feel like movement*. Blue often makes me think of sea and sky so that is what inspired this illustration of a lighthouse. It did not take me long to recognise the extent to which my painting skills have atrophied due to an extended period of not practicing. The results are ugly. It’s a very rough and patchy page and my lines are very wonky and wobbly, even by my own standards. It was tempting to give everything an additional coat of paint and start over but a) I did not have the time available and b) I figured it would be a place marker in my Art Journal, demarcating where I returned to the project and started over, and therefore provide a measure of the progress I can make from this point forward.

60 - Lighthouse

*A check of my blog reveals that I embarked on the blue section in September of last year. Even more staggering is the fact that I started the whole Rainbow Art Journal in January of 2017. I really am tortoising my way through this project!

New Growth

This small illustration was created using the contents of my April Art Snacks box. There was a mechanical pencil, a black pen with a very fine point, a green alcohol marker, and a brown brush pen. I did not get along well with the brush pen at all – possibly user error – until I decided to use it as watercolour by squeezing some pigment out onto a palette and then picking it up with a wet brush. Once I did that, I really liked the way I could layer warm brown tones.

My Inner Critic is loud and brutal so I often only see the flaws in my art work. However, I actually really like this illustration and I am very happy with it.

Art Snacks - April 2021 - 2

Squiggles and Blobs

This was what I created with the contents of my March Art Snacks box. I am not a fan of coloured pencils. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation as I don’t know whether I am bad at using them because I don’t like them or whether my ineptitude with them has led me to dislike them. Despite the fact the pencil leads were buttery smooth, I still could not achieve a neat finish. I am as scribbly with the pencils now as I was when I was a wee girl. Still, sometimes it is as useful to be reminded of what media you don’t enjoy as which you do like to use. The squiggles in the background did not start out as purposeful mark making. The nib of the black marker was very flexible – the type that would lend itself to calligraphy – and I let it slip when I was attempting a straight line. I just had to lean into it and channel my inner Bob Ross and allow squiggles to be a feature in the background. Once I had added background squiggles, it seemed necessary to balance those out with blobs made with the paint pen.

Art Snacks - March 2021 -2

Green and Ochre

In addition to my Post-It note drawings, the other art I have been trying to keep up with is the monthly challenge of creating an illustration using only the contents of that month’s Art Snacks box. Each box arriving in my mailbox was a useful prod to get me to set aside some time for art. It helped that most of the products in recent boxes have been portable so I have been able to create art on the go.

This was what I created with the contents of my January box. I really liked the grey fine liners. As you know, I use black ink pens a lot but I was glad to have grey pens to add to my case of drawing pens. The green has not photographed well but it is actually metallic with a pleasing shimmer. I didn’t find that ochre colour appealing at first glance and never would have chosen that colour in a store but, once I used it, I actually found I really quite liked it. Green and orange are both colours I overlook when I am drawing so it is sometimes useful to have a nudge to create with those neglected colours.

Art Snacks - January 2021 - 2

Post-It Art

Along with the vast majority of people on the planet, I have found myself overwhelmed during the pandemic. Aside from the stress of trying to conduct life and parent and teach preschool in-person in this very peculiarly stressful context, I am one of the people whose schedule has become even more busy and intense. All of which preamble is to explain why my creative mojo disappeared.

Art has always been a stress-buster for me but, of course, it is one of life’s little ironies that it is normally when life is at its most demanding that I cannot find time for that therapeutic dose of art. It is also true that the longer time passes when I am not making time for art, the more my creative gears seize up and my creative mojo departs. Finding my way back to art and scraping the rust from those gears is always a slow process. I know from experience that I get creatively crippled if I try too much at once and it just leads to another setback. I, therefore, tend to start small and then build myself back up to a normal level of art time and degree of ambitiousness with a project.

My small start on this occasion involved using Post-It notes as my substrate. It started by accident. I drew doodles on them as “lunch notes” for my kids and stuck them to the fridge door so that they had a surprise. We are a family of movie fans and my two middle sons in particular are obsessive movie nerds. Consequently the drawings on the Post-It notes were inspired by movies we had watched. You might observe from the selection here that there is a particular penchant for the movies of Ingmar Bergman and for mid-century Soviet cinema.

This is Andrei Rublev from the film of the same name.

PostIt - Andrei Rublev

This one is a take on the Bluray cover of ‘The Ascent’, awkward foreshortening and all.

PostIt - Sotnikov

My 14 year old adores Liv Ullman so I had to draw her.

PostIt - Liv Ullman - Hour of the Wolf

This duo are Death and Antonius Block from ‘The Seventh Seal’.

PostIt - Death
PostIt - Antonius Block

Finally this is Flyora from ‘Come and See’. That movie is absolutely one of the best I have ever seen but my goodness it is a hard watch.

PostIt - Flyora

I hope this selection illustrates the fact that this very simple activity actually succeeded in getting me back into regular drawing and started greasing those creative gears so that I could recover my atrophying art skills.

Rainbow Art Journal – Waterlogged

I have accidentally established a tradition in my Rainbow Art Journal whereby each colour section contains an illustration of some kind of sprite-like creature.  For the blue section, I was thinking of water.  I drew a figure who is drenched in water (or, as I would say in Scots, “drookit”), her body morphing into a puddle on the floor, her hair dripping across her face.

59 - Waterlogged

Rainbow Art Journal – Graphite Girls

Another completed page in the blue section of my Rainbow Art Journal.  This one was easy to finish up because I actually drew the original in March of 2020 – which feels like years ago now – in response to an Art Snacks challenge.  I had drawn it in the blue section of the art journal thinking the media I had received were, well, much more blue than they turned out to be.  They were far too green and it was annoying me that I had misjudged the colours and stuffed up the colour theme in the sketchbook.  I had, therefore, walked away from it for a while – which turned out to be a long while – to come up with a solution.  I was so annoyed with myself initially that I considered covering up the whole thing and starting over with essentially a new substrate but I loved that graphite watercolour and the way it had dried in puddles far too much to cover that up.  My solution in the end was a quick and easy one so I could call this page “done” and move on: I simply layered some blue ink washes over some of the most green areas of the illustration to knock them back.  It is definitely a blue-green piece but that’s acceptable to me.

58 - Graphite Girls - Final

Rainbow Art Journal – Capuchon

This is the other page in my Rainbow Art Journal that I completed over Winter break.  The page was covered in all sorts of collaged odds and ends.  Essentially any scrap of blue leftover from another project, any blue postage stamp, any interesting labels ended up adhered to this page.  One prominent label was from a wine bottle and the name of it – Capuchon – gave me the idea for the illustration.  I made the hat wonky because that asymmetry is something I enjoy and the side benefit of the floppy brim was that I only had to draw one eye.  No challenge of creating two matching eyes.

57 Capuchon

Rainbow Art Journal – Selfie in Blue Gouache

Over Winter break, I have picked up my Rainbow Art Journal again.  I am determined to get it finished this year.  It has been one of those projects I have dipped in and out of for far too long.  It’s time to wrap it up.

This page is my first attempt at properly using gouache.  I was gifted a set of gouache paints for my birthday in November and I finally found time to start experimenting with them.  I am a natural born pessimist and not given to self-confidence but I daftly thought I would take to gouache.  I assumed it would be close enough to watercolour that I would have a sense for how to work it and apply it.  Spoiler alert: I was wrong.  The gouache does not react to water in the same way that watercolour paint does.  Being thicker, it was harder for me to dilute it in a way that was pleasing.  I got lots of ugly streaks.  It was also harder for me to work with the brush.  I am used to being able to gently encourage watercolour and ink into edges and shapes but I had to be more forceful with the gouache.

I kept my first experiment simple, a silly little doodle of a selfie, because my focus was on the application of the paint rather than the outcome of a finished illustration.  As first experiments go, it is not a disaster but nor is it as proficient as I hoped it would be.  That’s OK though.  That’s what my art journals are for.

56 Selfie in Blue Gouache