This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “goddesses or monsters”. As long term readers of my blog will know, I love mythology and especially Greek mythology. I was, therefore, overwhelmed by the possibilities and suffered from a creatively crippling bout of indecision. In the end, however, I decided to whip up a quick ink and watercolour illustration of a Minotaur. The Minotaur is one of my favourite monsters and I had not drawn one for a while. This one echoes the body shape and proportions of one I painted in an altered book three years ago. I placed him on a grey background and used a more muted palette so suggest his labyrinth dwelling. I kept second guessing myself as I am usually a bit more bold with my use of colour. However, I am calling this illustration done.
We had a busy Memorial weekend as the youngest Pict turned 10. Double digits is a milestone birthday in our family so it was a big deal. For his birthday celebrations, we took a day trip to the Poconos and ate lots of scrumptious food and delicious treats. I still cannot believe we no longer have a child in single digits. It really is a cliche but they truly do grow so quickly.
Anyway, the three day weekend meant that we had a good dollop of quality family time and also had time to just chill and relax. I, of course, used my solo free time for art and did some art journaling. This particular illustration was a response to an Art Journal Adventure prompt inspired by blueberries or the colour blue. Followers of my blogs will know that I am a tad obsessed with zombies so that is what I decided to draw. I actually recently drew a whole horde of blue zombie bunnies and my last submission to the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project was a series on zombies but those were mainly heads. It had been a while since I drew an entire zombie figure. I don’t really know where the pose came from except that I knew I wanted lots of sharp angles from bent limbs and hunched shoulders. Ultimately he ended up looking like he was on his haunches ready to spring into action which seems appropriately predatory.
I was all but housebound this weekend for various reasons: a rabble of teen boys celebrating my oldest turning 16 by spending 12 hours in our basement and devouring copious quantities of pizza; a backlog of household chores – not unrelated to the invasion of teen boys; and a day of near non-stop rain. Being on domestic lockdown, however, meant that I had time for arting. I decided to work in my art journal on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was something to do with fairytales. My mind immediately went to Red Riding Hood because I have some inexplicable compulsion about illustrating that story. That was precisely why, however, I decided to steer myself away from the first thing I thought of, to challenge myself to illustrate something I had not in a while. I, therefore, decided to draw Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I used ink and watercolour.
I appreciate that, in the story, the trio of bears actually discover Goldilocks when she is fast asleep in the comfiest bed but I am not a pedant – well, not about that at least. I, therefore, opted to draw them discovering the golden-tressed interloper as she is gobbling down the “just right” porridge in the best chair in the house – a chair she later breaks. You may be forming the impression that I view Goldilocks as the villain of the piece. Darn tooting I do. She commits breaking and entering, rummages among other people’s possessions, eats food that was not designated for her consumption, and breaks furniture. No wonder the bears growl angrily when they discover the little miscreant in their house.
This was the other art journal illustration I created at the coffee shop when I met up with my local art friends. Again, I was limited by whatever portable art materials I had in my travelling art kit, things that won’t make a mess or require a lot of drying time. I had not drawn zombie bunnies in quite some time so I thought it was time that they made a reappearance. I did the outlining with my trusty micron pens and filled in the colour with watercolour pencils. Although I am not a massive fan of watercolour pencils generally (because I am not very adept at using them) but they do come in handy for drawing on the go. I activated the pigment with my water pens. The process doesn’t replicate the look of actual watercolour but it does the job.
I actually managed to complete an art lesson this week. I worked on this in stages while cooking dinner over several evenings so I am glad it was a project that allowed me to break it down to that extent. The phased stages mean that I for once thought to take some process photos. The lesson was for Let’s Face It and was taken by Angela Kennedy. The idea was to paint a trio of female figures interlinking or interlocking in some way, subtly different but cohering through use of the media. I used ink and watercolour only because that was what I had easily to hand and those are the media I work most quickly with. Instead of adding detail to the figures’ clothing, I sprinkled salt on to create some interest. I think that also helps maintain focus on the faces. I have two sisters (and a bundle of brothers) but I don’t know that this trio are three sisters together. Maybe three witches ready for Halloween.
It is often most fun to do something creative with the kids when nobody is aiming for realism or a likeness to something and where perfection is not necessary. That way nobody sets themselves up for stress or disappointment or dissatisfaction. That is one of the reasons why the sock monsters worked so well as opposed to some other sort of sewing project. Creating collages with magazine clippings was, therefore, the perfect activity to keep everyone happy and content with what they were producing.
We started by painting some watercolour paper with acrylic paint so that we had a bright background. Then it was simply a case of flicking through magazines and cutting out images, shapes, patterns or bits of text that caught our eye and sparked our imaginations. The idea was to construct a ludicrious, ridiculous image by doing a sort of “Frankenstein” on the images and placing them together in a funny, haphazard way. For ease of use, we adhered all of the magazine clippings using glue sticks.
My 13 year old did the one with the red background. I love that he used a roast chicken as a body for his weird creation. My 7 year old did the one on the orange background. It makes me chuckle. I love the detail of the tiny knife and fork in each hand and using the cat’s mouth was a stroke of comedy genius. My 9 year old worked on the green background. He wanted to create an action scene. I like the giant fists on the little Lego man. My 10 year old worked on the yellow background and like his little brother he chose to create an action scene. I like the way the main figure is composed out of Lego parts but ones that are out of proportion with each other. I worked on the blue background and made a little character. I used a paint pen to outline and tie the image together. Cheap and easy but so much fun.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was a mash-up between Tamara Laporte and Jane Davenport. While I potentially had the option to work in collaboration with someone else, the reality was that none of my kids were up for the commitment required. My option then was to work on creating two figures and getting them to cohere. The other component of the lesson, however, was to both draw and paint in watercolour in a really loose and uninhibited way. I found, however, that as soon as I started working on a composition involving two figures I went too tight. I, therefore, gave up on that whole idea and concentrated on one figure and that allowed me to actually focus on the technique.
I drew directly onto the paper with ink, no sketching out in pencil first, not even mapping out proportions or angles, just straight on there with ink. I am reasonably confident doing that with some subjects but I felt a little intimidated about doing it for this piece. I do, however, really like the energy of the sketchy lines that resulted from my scribbling and hesitation. I then applied watercolour to the drawing keeping the paint really very liquidy and allowing it to pool and dribble all over the place. I used a number 12 brush because I knew that a larger brush would force me to stay looser.
While I don’t think the finished piece is much cop, I am pleased with the outcome in terms of not allowing myself to be overly inhibited by sketching right away in pen or by working with really sloppy paint. Basically I was able to embrace the loss of control.