The Owl and the Pussycat

Last week’s Colour Me Positive prompt was on the theme of Courage.  While the theme and the supporting quotation failed to spark any creativity in me, the optional prompt to incorporate a boat did.  For some reason, an echo from childhood reading and singing perhaps, the first thing that popped into my head was Edward Lear’s poem ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’.  I drew around a side plate in pencil to provide me with a circular frame and then I drew the characters and their pea green boat in ink in a fountain pen.  I used watercolour pencils to add colour.  Simple.

24 - The Owl and the Pussycat

Open Every Door

This week’s Colour Me Positive theme was Opportunities.  I did not have a clear idea for my page but I knew I only had a brief chunk of time in which to work in my art journal this week so I just set about laying paint down on the page and seeing what emerged.  Somehow I feel better able to work intuitively in my art journal in a way that I just can’t with other, more focused art projects.  I am still getting to know the Dylusions paints so I thought it would be a good idea to play with those.  What I discovered was that, while the paints are wonderfully vibrant and bold, they don’t layer easily.  Unless applied really thickly, the previous layer shows through too much.  I also discovered that the white sucked up pigment from the previous layer.  I still really like how thickly textured they are and how strong the colour is but it is useful to know the limits of these paints.  Anyway, I just kept painting and printing and drawing and seeing what emerged which turned out to be a female face with a long trail of hair sweeping vertically up the page.  It still had nothing to do with opportunities, of course, so I decided to chuck a quotation on the page – lines from a short poem by Emily Dickinson – using a Posca paint pen.

23 - Open Every Door - Art Journal Page

Forward, Fox!

This week’s Colour Me Positive theme was “Forward”.  While it chimed neatly with my word for this year – Momentum – I chose to take a more illustrative route with my art journal page.  The idea of being at the beginning of a path formed in my head immediately and, simply because I am an obsessive fan of alliteration, I decided that the character who should be setting forward on the path should be a fox.

I am pleased with my wee fox character.  I can see him turning up again in my drawings.  Drawing all the stones in the path was just like doodling imperfect circles and was very meditative.  It’s a simple wee drawing but I like it.

22 - Forward Fox - Art Journal Page


This week’s Colour Me Positive theme was Abudance.  I seem to be on a kick of producing illustrations in my art journal, turning it more into a sketchbook.  This week was no different but I decided to use acrylic rather than ink and/or watercolour.  As soon as I read the word “abundance” I had an idea of fecundity and growth, maybe the goddess Demeter (Roman Ceres).  Having my visual in my head, I got to work in the journal.  I used Dylusions paints for the background.  I like how thick they are, bold, vibrant, and a little goes a long way.  I finger painted the background which was fun.  The figure was outlined with a Stabilo All pencil and filled in with acrylic.  The plants were drawn with a Posca paint pen.

21 - Abundance Art Journal Page

A Sense of Wonder

This week’s Colour Me Positive theme was all about Wonder.  The supporting quotation was one Plato attributed to Socrates: “Wisdom beings in Wonder”.  I really engage with that idea, that knowledge and wisdom emerges from the exploration, diligent learning, and experience that is driven by wonder, inquisitiveness and curiosity, the need to search for answers.  As a bookish nerd, that really speaks to me.  An additional prompt suggested adding bubbles to the page somewhere.

I was at my monthly art journalling meet up group on Sunday and decided to work on my prompt page.  I have no idea why the idea popped into my head but I do know I was feeling in an illustrative mood so I sketched out this little figure of a child floating in space, awed and amazed and in wonderment at the universe.  I hope the facial expression suggests wonder.  The helmet can be a nod to the bubble prompt.  As I was in a coffee shop and had my limited travel art supplies with me, this was drawn with micron pens and watercolour pencils which I activated with water once I was home.

Dare I say it myself but I think this is a pretty charming little illustration and I am really rather pleased with how it turned out.

20 - Wonder - Art Journal Page 1

20 - Wonder - Art Journal Page 2

Juggling all the Balls

This week’s Colour Me Positive theme was about Balance.  Balance was my focal word and life goal in 2015 so it was interesting to revisit the topic.  As I have mentioned before, I came to realise that I had allowed my life to become unbalanced, permitted myself to become frazzled, come to think of myself as constantly failing to meet muster, because I was attempting to juggle far too many balls.  By focusing on restoring a better balance into my life in 2015, I determined that I did not have to juggle all of the balls all of the time, did not have to keep them all in perpetual motion.  There are glass balls that are fragile and vulnerable and which I absolutely cannot allow to drop – nurturing my kids, for instance – and there are rubber balls that really don’t matter that much in the whole big scheme of things – dusting always comes to mind – and which I can allow to drop because they just bounce and come back anyway.

This little ink illustration, therefore, is a visual representation of that metaphor that I refer back to from time to time to keep me from getting overly frazzled again.  It is essentially little blobby me trying to balance a whole little universe of spheres but knowing it is OK if a few of them stop spinning and fall to the ground.

19 - Balance - Art Journal Page

A Portrait of Satchi and Peanut

The week 17 Colour Me Positive theme was Friendship and I decided to just work with the broad theme rather than the more focused prompts.  My inspiration was my two cats, Peanut and Satchi, because we Picts are all ever so relieved and glad and thrilled that they have formed a close bond with each other and are firm friends.  My kids have been asking me to create an art journal page inspired by our furry family  members so the time had come to do so.  Short on time, as ever, I did a quick ink illustration and coloured it with watercolour.  So here it is, my first portrait of Satchi and Peanut, our fluffy tripod cat and his accomplice, the one we call Peanutter or the Ginger Ninja with good reason.

17 - Friendship - Cats - Satchi and Peanut

Messy Inky Peacock

This week’s Colour Me Positive prompt was all about the beneficial elements of art.  The accompanying quotation was from Thomas Merton: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”.  The additional prompt was to use a bird somewhere on the art journal page.  That is one of those arts and crafts cliches that turns out to be so true: the impulse to lob a bird onto things is pretty compelling.

I was out with my art journalling MeetUp group this weekend and was wondering what to do in my art journal with my limited travel supplies.  The opposing page was last week’s challenge page and the colour scheme of it made me think of a peacock so I started to doodle a peacock onto my art journal page using a fountain pen filled with waterproof black ink.  Peacock.  Bird.  Bingo.

Once I got home, I decided to “paint” the peacock using my Dylusion spray inks.  As I have mentioned before, those inks and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the vibrant colours and the way I can manipulate the saturation of them but I hate that they are difficult to control and I really hate that they reactivate.  As such, I was inspired by Carrie Lynn Cordero to start using them like vibrant watercolours.  I snagged my set of Dylusion spray inks from a thrift store for absolute buttons so, as such, I don’t feel I need to be that precious about using them up.  My colouring of the peacock got messy.  This was partly because, as previously moaned about, I struggle to control this particular medium and always seem to make a mess with it and also partly because my cats decided that they would try to nibble my paint brushes and spill a water pot just as I was working on this page.  A messy, splodgy, inky peacock was the result.

16 - Art & Bird - Art Journal Page


The week 15 theme for Colour Me Positive was Happy.  The accompanying quotation was courtesy of Buddha: “There is no path to happiness; happiness is the path”.  What Buddha failed to mention is that the path sometimes has roadblocks of despair and sometimes you trip over rocks of stress or have to wade through the mud of life’s challenges.  Can you tell I am not a sunny optimist?  I may not be in possession of a sunny disposition but I am generally a happy person.  There are lots of things that make me happy from the big things – my husband and sons – to the little things – like birds singing outside my window – but I had absolutely zilch in the way of inspiration when I sat down with my art journal to work on my prompt page.

Faced with zip visual ideas about happiness, I decided to challenge myself to just do something abstract.  I just started playing around with ink, putting no thought into it whatsoever, just going with the flow.  A bit of stamping, doodling, and spattering later, I decided to stop and leave it alone.  I like the colours.  They make me happy.  That’s all I’ve got in response to this art journal page.  Not my best effort.  Going with the flow and doing something abstract maybe isn’t my thing.

15 - Happiness - Art Journal Page

Hold on to Hope

This week’s Colour Me Positive was on the theme of Hope.  My kids and I are all mythology nerds so, for that reason, when I read the word “hope” in isolation and free of context, I automatically think of Pandora, opening that box and unleashing all the nasties and leaving only hope inside.  It is not that long since I drew Pandora, however, so I did not repeat that subject but it definitely inspired me.  I focused in on the idea of managing to keep hold of hope, keep it safely enclosed within that box, and that phrase – holding on to hope – then informed the way the page evolved: a visual representation of holding on to hope even in dark times.

I wanted to have another attempt at the technique I used in my recent portrait for a Let’s Face It lesson, of painting over a background and carving out elements of the painting as negative shapes.  In doing so, I was also able to surround the figure in darkness.  The black paint carving out the blue shapes helps, I think, for the gold to be a more emphatic element in the page.  I like this negative space technique.  I think I am going to keep experimenting with it.

14 - Hold on to Hope - Art Journal Page