As in so many of Greek myths, Daphne’s is the story of a woman victimised by a man and ultimately punished by the patriarchy. Essentially poor Daphne was used by Eros to curse Apollo, one of Cupid’s arrows having created his obsessive infatuation with the naiad Daphne. An arrow fired at her ensured that she would always flee Apollo. Therefore, poor Daphne was basically stalked by Apollo, which effectively means she was being punished for no reason. In order to escape Apollo’s sexual violence, Daphne pleaded with her father, a river god, and his solution was to transform her into a laurel tree. Daphne, treated like an object by these male gods, was therefore rendered completely and utterly passive – so much so, in fact, the Apollo ended up possessing the laurel as his special tree. Ugh.
Anyway, still plodding on through the green section of my Rainbow Art Journal, I decided to illustrate Daphne’s tragic story. I wanted to communicate something of the violence of her situation and of her transformation while also suggesting something of the fact she was forced to become even more passive.
I just realised I had never written a blog post for this illustration in my Rainbow Art Journal. My entire county is, as of last Friday, under lockdown for at least the next two weeks because of the Covid 19 outbreak. My kids are, therefore, home from school and, as a teacher, I am obviously off work. I, therefore, thought I would return to working on this project and I found this page. Maybe I had considered it unfinished and was expecting to return to it. I am calling it done.
Anyway, this is a quick little ink and watercolour illustration I knocked out in response to the prompt “Relax” in the Art Journal Adventure group. I drew it a few days before Christmas so I was pretty much the opposite of relaxed. I thought about where my “happy place” is. I am not very good at getting into a zen headspace when doing yoga but, when I am in shavasana pose with my eyes closed, I often think about being in the woods, among the trees, smelling the leaves and moss. So I drew myself lying in a pile of leaves. You may spot a good few little insects among the leaves too.
This page in the green section of my Rainbow Art Journal was created in response to an Art Snacks challenge. I actually painted it all the way back in April 2018. At the time, thought I might add more to it but, given I did not, I am considering it done. All the green is ink used at different levels of dilution and the orange is a watercolour pencil. Green and orange are among my least used colours but I actually quite like the combination of the two here.
For the first page in the fully green section of my Rainbow Art Journal (as opposed to the transition page) I wanted to work entirely in green (excepting a little black ink). I, therefore, decided to draw one of my sprite figures. I have a fondness for moss so decided my illustration would depict a moss sprite. I also used it as an experiment in layering my green watercolour paints. For the body I used a wet-in-wet technique and as such achieved lots of blossoms and pigment blooms where the different greens puddled and met each other. For the hair, I allowed a layer to completely dry before I added the next layer of paint.
This is the final page in the yellow section of my Rainbow Art Journal. I reflected on what things I associate with yellow, the things my mind conjures up when I think of that colour, and one of the things I kept coming back to was warmth and of feeling cozy. This illustration seems appropriate for the transition from Autumn into Winter when my thoughts turn to hibernation and my habits become more hermit-like. For me, the apex of feeling cozy is about being indoors, all tucked up in a sweater or a blanket, and drinking a steaming hot mug of tea. That gave me both the idea for the illustration and the colour palette – yellow for warmth and light brown for milky tea. I often use neutrals with a brighter colour but the neutrals I use tend to be black, white, or grey, so this was a useful experiment in using brown in that capacity. I think that, in this particular instance, the yellow might be too bold and the brown too pale for the palette to cohere but I will continue to experiment with using brown as a neutral.
This illustration is another experiment in a yellow and green colour palette but this time using just ink and watercolour instead of mixed media. That combination of colours always makes me think of ‘Fern Hill’ by Dylan Thomas. It was one of my favourite poems to teach and I have fond memories of doing so. The colours of green and gold are used throughout the poem to signify different things about life’s changes and stages. That got me thinking about the transitional phase between childhood and adulthood so I chose to draw a tween girl. Lately I have been drawing ears too small but I think perhaps I over-corrected myself this time and gave this girl ears that are a wee bit too large – what were called “jug lugs” when I was wee. Maybe the proportions just add to the sense of tweenage awkwardness. Yes, let’s go with that.
PS I am participating in Drawlloween throughout October. You can find the illustrations I create in response to each day’s prompt over on my other blog or on Instagram.
This page is another example of me plagiarizing myself because I sketched this up from an ink and watercolour illustration I did just over three years ago. It is always interesting to see how I translate the same (or similar) drawing between mediums. This mixed media version was also an experiment in using a lemon yellow and lime green palette. I think the combination is as fresh as you would expect from citrus inspiration. I suspect it would have more zing to it if not dulled down with the flesh tones. I am finding that I really like to use text papers in my mixed media pieces. Maybe it is my love of books and reading but I also just like the sort of mark-making quality it contributes, all those shapes and forms.
Here’s a quick art journal illustration of a figure swimming. I was challenging myself to use a medium I have not used in ages and nothing but that medium so I opened up my bag of watercolour pencils and got to work. This was done super-quickly – definitely no more than 15 minutes – as a stress-buster. I was just promoted (yay!) and I have SO much to do before the beginning of the school year so I was in one of those flaps where my To Do list was so extensive that I could not properly focus on any one task in order to complete it and check it off the list. I decided to take a break at my art table and it did the trick: I was much more focused and efficient when I returned to my crazily long list. Anyway, the concept of relaxing gave me my subject because one of the things I find most relaxing to do is just float around in water. I used to love actually swimming lengths in the pool, never competitively, just for exercise and fun, but nowadays all I really want to do in the water is float around on my back and stare at the sky like a much less adorable otter.
I have never participated in official Art Therapy but I would definitely vouch for art being therapeutic. I personally use it for stress busting and to invest in myself by topping up my reserves by taking some time out of life’s flurry of activity and just doing something focused and creative. Therefore, while dealing with the aftermath of our basement flood, feeling completely frazzled, and being physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I knew that the best way in which I could recharge my batteries was to take some time out for art. It was just the tool for decompression that I needed.
I used a recent Art Journal Adventure prompt – Celestial – and cracked open my art journal and opened my box of watercolours and got stuck in. As those who follow my blog will know, I am interested in Greek Mythology so I decided to depict Nyx, the goddess of Night. In Classical art, she was depicted as having wings or riding in a chariot but I kept the shapes and forms simple and made her body a flowing shape, a sort of cloak of spreading darkness. By keeping the composition simple and letting wet paint run and flow, other than drying time, this whole illustration was done and dusted in no more than 20 minutes. It was, therefore, really took no time at all out of my hectic day but left me feeling recharged and ready to battle on.
One of my sons is obsessed with Greek Mythology – all of my kids were at one point – and that means that, thanks to osmosis, I have become a bit of a Greeky Mythology nerd myself. The mythological figures, especially the monsters, therefore often appear in my sketchbooks. A few years ago now, that theme was even the basis for a challenge I did to draw 40 drawings in 40 days. I have contemplated returning to that theme for a whole series of drawings – but without the time challenge – but that shall be for some future juncture. For now, I decided to draw Icarus in my Rainbow Art Journal.
I am currently working through the yellow section of my art journal and bold yellow suggested sunshine and sunshine suggested Icarus’ wings melting … This was my thought process. This was another page that had some little underlying texture as I had previously scraped leftover white acrylic over the page. You can spot the lumps and bumps. I kept the illustration simple and, therefore, kept the colour palette limited. I generally suck at drawing wings but I actually really like the way these turned out given that they are supposed to be a) manmade and b) broken. I tried using spray inks to create some visual texture between the sun disc and the falling figure but it seems that the inks don’t perform well on top of acrylic – hello, learning opportunity – but it adds a sort of glow around the sun so at least it did not ruin the illustration.