Miraculously, I managed to complete this week’s Life Book lesson before the weekend. It was one of Tamara Laporte’s lessons on illustrations and whimsical characters, in this case an animal character. I had to improvise with the media used and opted for watercolour and collage. I went a bit too crazy with the background but I think I just about get away with it. My chosen animal was a pig simply because I really like pigs. It isn’t totemic, some sort of spirit animal, but just because I think pigs are smart and adorable. I added wings for an additional touch of whimsy.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Annie Hamman. I really love Hamman’s paintings and enjoy watching her process but it is a style and methodology I can never get to work for me as I am neither painterly or loose enough in the way I handle paint. I have, therefore, really enjoyed the previous Annie Hamman lessons I have worked on but I always end up with something much more rigid and controlled than the anticipated outcome. This lesson was no exception.
I enjoyed all of the techniques deployed in the lesson, such as painting over collage and painting negative space, but I was neither intuitive or loose enough in my mark making. That’s OK though. That way of creating just isn’t me. What was disappointing was that my choice to use blue for underpainting and layering up the shadows of the face didn’t dissipate enough in subsequent layers and the flesh tones ended up sallow and sickly looking as a result. (Incidentally, the phone photo makes the colours much paler than they are in real life because the light levels have just been so dreary here lately.) I am, however, happy with the negative painting around the antlers, the pushing back of and forward from the collage layer, and the gold of the halo. I think this is another one of those lessons I will attempt again, perhaps in my art journal, as I liked the approach and have hopefully learned something from the underpainting oops.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to incorporate a silhouette as part of the art journal page. Some weeks I read a prompt and have no ideas and some weeks I read a prompt and am overwhelmed by too many ideas at once. This was an example of the latter. There were so many ways I could have taken the idea of a silhouette.
I had a page already underway in my art journal that was going nowhere in particular but where I had plonked a wine label slap bad in the middle. I had actually intended to glue the wine label into my rainbow themed art journal but I guess I was rushing and it was late at night so it ended up in my regular art journal. There were also some scraps of text paper already adhered to the page, leftovers from some other project. I decided that should be the background of my silhouette page. But then I realised that the wine label would likely end up completely covered up. That was when I decided I would create a reverse silhouette with the surrounding area being black and the chosen shape emerging in negative rather than positive.
Something you may not know about me is that I love sharks (and whales). It has been a lifelong thing. I would actually dearly love to dive with sharks but its the claustrophobia of scuba gear underwater that deters me. Despite the fact – or maybe because – I doodle sharks frequently, a shark has only put in one solitary, rogue shark appearance in my art journal. It was a messy collage of torn paper that resulted in a rather dorky looking shark. After adding a light paint layer over the collage, therefore, it was just a case of quickly drawing out a shark silhouette shape and then painting black into the negative space. Quick and easy.
For this week’s Life Book lesson, the tutor was Effy Wild. The visual elements of the lesson were connected to some introspection but I mostly choose to gloss over the more art therapy aspects of Life Book and just focus on the art. I also did not have time to view the video demonstrations so I relied on the accompanying PDF to provide me with an understanding of the steps involved. As always, my finished outcome looks little like that of the tutor but I utilised techniques and approaches that she demonstrated. I think the finished treeis reminiscent enough of a plump baobab tree that I wish I had thought of the resemblance sooner in the process and made it completely like a baobob. It was at its core an exercise in patchwork collage and negative space. I used bronze paint over the collage layer for the tree trunk and gold for the leaves so that it would glint in the light and because I look for any excuse to use metallic paints. The tutor’s version incorporated text. I wasn’t feeling that way inclined but do feel my piece lacks a focal point. I just need to ruminate on it for a bit and return to it once I have an appropriate epiphany.
Thanks to a weekend that for once was not crammed with activities or commitments, I found time to work in my colour themed art journal. I am still in the black/monochrome pages and this time I wanted to play around with using the black and white of printed text. Readers who follow both my blogs might recognise the model for this page as being a drawing – titled Aubrey because of Aubrey Beardsley – from my series of 100 Faces. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could recreate a face I had illustrated in ink and watercolour using acrylic paint and collage. There is definitely more precision in the ink drawn version but I am not displeased with the way this mixed media piece turned out. I do like the hair made of book pages so that was a worthwhile experiment.
My schedule was utterly slammed this week. Every space on the wall calendar was crammed with appointments and commitments and things that needed to be done. I thought there was not the remotest chance I was going to get to even view this week’s Life Book lessons let alone sit down and do something creative. However, two things happened this week that utterly jiggered my schedule and caused a great deal of hassle – one of my kids was off school sick for two days and then we had a snow day – but which actually meant I had more time stuck at home. More time at home meant I could actually get stuck into the lesson and art time was probably just what I needed to take the edge off the stress of a totally bonkers week.
The lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte. Tam always provides wonderfully in-depth videos for her lessons but there was no way I was going to find time to both view the videos and then still have time to create. I, therefore, read the accompanying PDF, modified the lesson by eliminating certain stages, and got stuck in. The crux of the lesson was a self-portrait scaffolded on an image transfer. I have never had much success with image transfers but I thought that was precisely why I should have another crack at it. The outcome was not ideal – I think I spread the gel medium too thinly in places – but is definitely the best I have produced so far so represents progress.
I then proceeded to paint on top of the image transfer and this was where I diverged from the lesson. I did not have time for layer upon layer of media so I limited myself to acrylic paint, Neocolor II crayons, and Inktense pencils and blocked in areas of colour and built up the detail of my face.
The idea of the painting was to include personal, symbolic elements and text alongside the self-portrait. It is not really my thing to be that personal and emotional with my art work. Art is definitely therapeutic to me but only in terms of the act of creating. I don’t need it to be a form of processing and expressing my thoughts and feelings and I am also too intensely private. I decided, however, that the self-portrait did need some finishing touches so I added some collage elements in the form of butterflies and leaves formed from text pages. All of those things could be interpreted as things that are important to me as a person – words and learning, growth, and change.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use a “door” somewhere on the page. I did not have an immediate idea so I consulted my youngest sons, aged 9 and 7, and they had a veritable cornucopia of ideas, some of which were just super-amazing. Unfortunately their ideas called for materials I did not have and – more critically – time I did not possess. I have added their ideas to my long list of creative possibilities for another time but I still had to come up with an idea. Then I remembered the copies of an architecture magazine the multi-talented Claudia McGill had kindly passed on to me and I decided to flick through those looking for images of doors as inspiration. When I found the photo of the red doors I knew I had found my image. I decided it would be the focal point of a grungy sort of collage page. I added the streaks of acrylic (a little too liberally and heavy handedly) to draw attention to the door image and then spattered more of the turquoise paint to create a little more visual cohesion. Finally, I stamped a quotation from John Barrymore on the page: “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open”. I rather like that idea of happiness seeking one out and joy appearing when not anticipated.