My final Art Journal Adventure prompt for 2017 was “Endings and Beginnings”, obviously an apt subject for the turn of the year. This year there will be no page in my art journal that sets an inspirational, aspirational or encouraging word to focus on, no listing of goals, nothing like that. I have never been one for setting resolutions but I have previously fallen prey to setting myself goals. I am increasingly failing to achieve (m)any of the goals I set for myself. Apart from participating in and completing a set of drawings for Inktober, I achieved not a single one of my goals for 2017. Not. A. One. In fact, I still have a goal for 2016 that I did not complete in either that year or last year. So my sole goal for this year is to not set myself up for failure.
Therefore, my turn of the year art journal page is neither about reflecting on the year past or looking ahead to what 2018 might have in store for me. Instead, I chose to focus on the theme of beginnings and endings, of cycles of time, of opposites, of cusps, alpha and omega. This is what I came up with: two figures in a composition that has echoes of yin and yang without the required geometric precision. Once the figures were dry, I decided to unify them in some way and plumped for writing. I defaulted to my own handwriting, albeit a little higgledy-piggledy, for the phrase “Alpha & Omega” but I think my own handwriting works effectively enough in this piece.
The first of two Life Book lessons this week was taken by Donna Downey. The object of the lesson was to work in black and white. I often work with a limited palette including often just working in black and white. I decided, therefore, that I should apply a monochrome approach to a subject I have only ever tackled in colour before: zombie bunnies. Pretty much any excuse to draw my zombie bunnies, I will grab. I used India ink for this piece, diluting in order to create the different tones of grey. It is interesting to see how different the zombie bunnies look when not in vibrant colour. My oldest son declared that they looked creepier, more menacing. My 10 year old said it looked like they were auditioning for a Universal monster movie.
My 6 year old was home sick at the beginning of the week so he was arting alongside me. He decided to use watercolour to paint his own zombie characters, a zombie jungle scene apparently. I love the detail of the lion’s eyeball dangling out of the socket.
This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to incorporate a digitally altered photo or image into an art journal spread. The phrase prompt was “What Makes Your Heart Sing?” so that was my starting point for selecting a photo to work with. My answer to that question is that my husband and kids make my heart sing. As I have referenced my kids numerous times in my art journal, I decided to focus this challenge on my husband. I picked a recent photo of us that was taken when we visited the gardens of Wilton House during our trip to Britain in July.
I used Photoshop Elements to play around with the photo. I tried various edits but was not happy with any of the more creative, artistic ones. I prefer to keep my enjoyment of photography and my enjoyment of art separate so I tend to just use the more photographic tools in Photoshop rather than the artistic ones. Consequently, I also lack the skills and experience required to successfully digitally manipulate an image. Ultimately I settled on editing the photo by turning it from colour to black and white and to adjusting the levels to accentuate the contrast between areas of light and shade. It transpired that my printer was running low on black ink so the print out had some white streaks on it. I decided to go with a scrubby, grungy look for the page as a result of that flaw in the printing process.
I collaged some black and white papers onto the art journal page and dribbled ink down the entire page to construct a messy background. I then ripped around the photo and adhered it to the page. I then just spattered and doodled some more. Simple, quick and easy. Job done.
I am now all caught up with the Documented Life Project’s challenges. This week’s prompt (and how are we 36 weeks into the year already?) was simply Black and White. I appreciated that it was a completely open subject because it enabled me to take a more minimalist approach and catch up. I also often work in monochrome so the challenge was well within my comfort zone.
Immersed as I am in Greek Mythology at the moment, due to my Drawing a Day challenge, I somehow landed on the idea of drawing Danae with baby Perseus, set adrift in a wooden chest by Acrisius. I am fond of doodling and a doodle approach was perfect for this drawing because I could fill in a section or two and then put my pen down to go attend to something else and then return and doodle in a bit more. I, therefore, have no idea how long the drawing took me as I was doing it in bursts of a couple of minutes throughout yesterday afternoon. It is quite meditative to focus on creating pattern within shapes so I also had doses of decompression from the stress of dealing with boxes and finding new homes for stuff – such a lot of stuff – in our new house and struggling emotionally with a difficult anniversary. Interestingly, when I showed it to my kids, the youngest two did not see it as being Danae but instead interpreted it was representing me and their baby brother who was stillborn six years ago today. Perhaps sub-consciously that was what prompted me to pluck this subject matter from the ether. Drawing can definitely be therapeutic. My husband commented that he thinks this is the best of my Art Journal pages. He even used the word “stunning”. He’s biased, of course, but I will still take the praise.