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 had oral surgery just over a week ago – annoyingly two days before I took my Oath of Citizenship – and unfortunately experienced some complications which have prolonged my recovery process and caused an exceptional degree of pain. I am trying to be stoic but it has been really pretty miserable. I am very much looking forward to being pain free and being able to eat foods that are not liquid. Consequently, I have not been able to do much or accomplish much but I did think that some time spent pootling around at my art table would be restorative.
Not having much capacity for creative mojo in my current state, I decided to use a couple of Art Journal Adventure prompts to create an art journal page. I chose one involving altering an existing image and one that was the letter Q. I used a page out of a fashion catalogue as my starting point. The previous owner of our house must have been a big catalogue shopper as we still get loads of them in the mail, addressed to the occupant of the house, most of which I plop straight into the recycling bin but some I keep as collage fodder. I filled the gaps around the selected image with more scraps of catalogue page and some washi tape. Then it was time to add paint and start altering the image.
I decided that Q was be for Queen and from there I decided to make the figure a Queen Bee. Given the context of my physical condition, I kept things super simple. Just a layer of paint, enough to alter the image and suggest the bee idea. I had some washi tape with gold hexagons on it which was perfect for this project since the gold tied into the crown and the hexagons suggested honeycomb. And that was that. Quick. Simple. Done. And a welcome distraction from my agonising jaw.
This is the second completed page in my “rainbow art journal”. Right now, of course, it isn’t very colourful since I decided to start with absence of colour in the form of black. This page was inspired by my friend Krisje over at her blog, Art is my Favorite Color. She recently blogged about an art journal page where she painted over collage which reminded me that I have not attempted that sort of approach – using a collaged figure as scaffolding – in ages. I, therefore, decided that would be the technique used on this page and I actually remembered to take progress photos. First I laid down a pretty random collage comprising the interior of a security envelope, washi tape, text pages, a figure clipped from a magazine advert, and the labels from a bottle of wine I had consumed that week.
What became evident fairly quickly was that the collage elements became all but lost beneath the black paint, even when it was thinly applied. I just went with it and made a mental note to revisit this technique when using a lighter colour of paint. Perhaps because of the nature of the material, the Honey Beast wine labels were the one collage element that really came through the collage. I was glad because I loved that honey bee design and that then provided me with a theme for my art journal page. I picked out the bee design a bit more by filling it with white gel pen. This was definitely the “ugly stage”.
Once the base layer of acrylic paint was dry, I used other media to layer, refine, and add detail. An art friend had passed me a collection of little stamps on an insect theme and among them was a bee. I stamped this throughout the hair of the figure to tie her to the honey bee and then I used white Posca paint pen to give her bee-like wings. While the technique was not wholly successful, it was fun to do something I had not done in a while and useful to learn that painting over collage does not work so well with very dark colours. That is what my art journal is all about after all – experimentation through fun.