The next page in the blue section of my Rainbow Art Journal was an almost blank slate. Apart from some small scrapings of leftover blue paint, all it contained was a wine label containing the word “Wonderful”. That label became my starting point for constructing a column comprising odds and ends of washi tape. The column then became the herma-esque body form for a female figure. Having painted the background a solid blue, I decided her hairstyle should take the shape of a simplified cloud. I think she has emerged with a bit of a silent screen actress look.
This is a quick illustration I created with the contents of this month’s Art Snacks box. I received a very chunky black alcohol marker which presented me with quite the challenge. I am definitely a fan of fine line pens and have accumulated quite a collection of them. I am not very adept at using anything with a broad tip – nor am I very capable with alcohol markers for that matter. My solution was to draw a chubby little character with the marker. I don’t know why I thought to give him branches or antlers sprouting from his head but that choice led me to leave negative forms on his belly in the shape of leaves. Now white gel pens are something I love. Every single one of my pencil cases contains at least one Uni-ball white gel pen. I perhaps went a little over the top with the white pen details but I do like the effect on the antlers in particular.
This next page in the blue section of my Rainbow Art Journal was actually created back in February. It was made with the contents of that month’s Art Snacks box. I received blue and green products so I decided to produce an illustration of an Air Sprite. The blue of her clothing is an acrylic ink and the colour of her hair was actually produced by diluting the pigment from a metallic green marker. That same marker has a nib that produces dots of varying sizes depending on the pressure placed on it. As you can see, I had a lot of fun creating those dots.
Having just committed to getting back into the swing of making regular time for art and sharpening my skills again, I quickly lapsed because of a nigh impossible schedule. I literally had to make a spreadsheet titled “Schedule Hell” in order to navigate all of the many schedule clash problems I had to resolve. Essentially I need to be able to clone myself or develop teleportation. Since I suck at STEM, I just get to be burned out from the stress of having to be in multiple places at once.
Anyway, this is the page I managed to complete in my Rainbow Art Journal because the blue background was ready and waiting for me. This background is the result of painting leftover acrylic from other projects onto the page in a haphazard way. Since I enjoy drawing inaccurate skeletons, I decided to attempt a whale. The proportions are actually wackier than even I intended but that’s OK.
I feel like I have been working on my Rainbow Art Journal for an eternity. I definitely work on this project in fits and starts with long periods of neglect. Deciding it was time I got those mixed media muscles working again, I cracked open my Rainbow Art Journal and play around with some acrylic – a medium I have not used in months.
I am still malingering in the blue section of the Art Journal. I don’t think I am even half way through the pages yet but finally getting to the end of the blue section will, I suspect, feel like movement*. Blue often makes me think of sea and sky so that is what inspired this illustration of a lighthouse. It did not take me long to recognise the extent to which my painting skills have atrophied due to an extended period of not practicing. The results are ugly. It’s a very rough and patchy page and my lines are very wonky and wobbly, even by my own standards. It was tempting to give everything an additional coat of paint and start over but a) I did not have the time available and b) I figured it would be a place marker in my Art Journal, demarcating where I returned to the project and started over, and therefore provide a measure of the progress I can make from this point forward.
*A check of my blog reveals that I embarked on the blue section in September of last year. Even more staggering is the fact that I started the whole Rainbow Art Journal in January of 2017. I really am tortoising my way through this project!
This small illustration was created using the contents of my April Art Snacks box. There was a mechanical pencil, a black pen with a very fine point, a green alcohol marker, and a brown brush pen. I did not get along well with the brush pen at all – possibly user error – until I decided to use it as watercolour by squeezing some pigment out onto a palette and then picking it up with a wet brush. Once I did that, I really liked the way I could layer warm brown tones.
My Inner Critic is loud and brutal so I often only see the flaws in my art work. However, I actually really like this illustration and I am very happy with it.
This was what I created with the contents of my March Art Snacks box. I am not a fan of coloured pencils. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation as I don’t know whether I am bad at using them because I don’t like them or whether my ineptitude with them has led me to dislike them. Despite the fact the pencil leads were buttery smooth, I still could not achieve a neat finish. I am as scribbly with the pencils now as I was when I was a wee girl. Still, sometimes it is as useful to be reminded of what media you don’t enjoy as which you do like to use. The squiggles in the background did not start out as purposeful mark making. The nib of the black marker was very flexible – the type that would lend itself to calligraphy – and I let it slip when I was attempting a straight line. I just had to lean into it and channel my inner Bob Ross and allow squiggles to be a feature in the background. Once I had added background squiggles, it seemed necessary to balance those out with blobs made with the paint pen.
In addition to my Post-It note drawings, the other art I have been trying to keep up with is the monthly challenge of creating an illustration using only the contents of that month’s Art Snacks box. Each box arriving in my mailbox was a useful prod to get me to set aside some time for art. It helped that most of the products in recent boxes have been portable so I have been able to create art on the go.
This was what I created with the contents of my January box. I really liked the grey fine liners. As you know, I use black ink pens a lot but I was glad to have grey pens to add to my case of drawing pens. The green has not photographed well but it is actually metallic with a pleasing shimmer. I didn’t find that ochre colour appealing at first glance and never would have chosen that colour in a store but, once I used it, I actually found I really quite liked it. Green and orange are both colours I overlook when I am drawing so it is sometimes useful to have a nudge to create with those neglected colours.
Along with the vast majority of people on the planet, I have found myself overwhelmed during the pandemic. Aside from the stress of trying to conduct life and parent and teach preschool in-person in this very peculiarly stressful context, I am one of the people whose schedule has become even more busy and intense. All of which preamble is to explain why my creative mojo disappeared.
Art has always been a stress-buster for me but, of course, it is one of life’s little ironies that it is normally when life is at its most demanding that I cannot find time for that therapeutic dose of art. It is also true that the longer time passes when I am not making time for art, the more my creative gears seize up and my creative mojo departs. Finding my way back to art and scraping the rust from those gears is always a slow process. I know from experience that I get creatively crippled if I try too much at once and it just leads to another setback. I, therefore, tend to start small and then build myself back up to a normal level of art time and degree of ambitiousness with a project.
My small start on this occasion involved using Post-It notes as my substrate. It started by accident. I drew doodles on them as “lunch notes” for my kids and stuck them to the fridge door so that they had a surprise. We are a family of movie fans and my two middle sons in particular are obsessive movie nerds. Consequently the drawings on the Post-It notes were inspired by movies we had watched. You might observe from the selection here that there is a particular penchant for the movies of Ingmar Bergman and for mid-century Soviet cinema.
This is Andrei Rublev from the film of the same name.
This one is a take on the Bluray cover of ‘The Ascent’, awkward foreshortening and all.
My 14 year old adores Liv Ullman so I had to draw her.
This duo are Death and Antonius Block from ‘The Seventh Seal’.
Finally this is Flyora from ‘Come and See’. That movie is absolutely one of the best I have ever seen but my goodness it is a hard watch.
I hope this selection illustrates the fact that this very simple activity actually succeeded in getting me back into regular drawing and started greasing those creative gears so that I could recover my atrophying art skills.
I have accidentally established a tradition in my Rainbow Art Journal whereby each colour section contains an illustration of some kind of sprite-like creature. For the blue section, I was thinking of water. I drew a figure who is drenched in water (or, as I would say in Scots, “drookit”), her body morphing into a puddle on the floor, her hair dripping across her face.