Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “music”. I love music and as a family we listen to music a lot. I listen to music when I am doing household chores as a distraction from the boredom and monotony and I also listen to music when I am sitting at my art table creating. The struggle, therefore, was trying to condense such a wide ranging theme into an art journal page. Some weeks I want for inspiration and other weeks I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head that I simply cannot focus and determine which would be worth distilling into a visual page. I decided, therefore, that I would base my art journal page on the very next piece of music I heard. That so happened to be my two youngest sons singing ‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles.
‘Blackbird’ was the perfect selection because there was automatically an obvious and strong visual element for the page – the blackbird itself. I created a neutral, muted background by scraping paint across the page using an old hotel key card. Then I painted the black body of the bird. Then my week got massively busy and I did not add to the page for almost an entire week. Happily, on Sunday I had my monthly meet up with some other local art journallers. That then gave me a block of time on which to work on this page (and another) but it also meant I was limited to using portable art materials. The rest of the page, therefore, was created using Posca paint pens. I wish I had used a ruler to organise the text on the page. How many years now have I stated that I will work on my typography? Some day.
What a difference from one week to the next – last week was an art time famine and this week I have managed to squeeze in three different doses of art time. This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt to use colours outside your comfort zone. Since I had enjoyed the abstract lesson from Life Book so much this week and had found it so quick and easy, I decided to take a similar approach with my art journal page. I again chose to use my non-dominant hand and used a wooden skewer dipped in ink. I could tell just by glancing at my set of watercolours which colours I used least because they had barely been touched: green and orange. I decided to throw in some yellow for a third colour and to connect the green and orange. Not wanting to create another abstract and not knowing what else to draw, I settled on a self-portrait. I really enjoyed working in this way. It was quick, easy, and relaxing. I will be squirreling away this approach so I can use it again in future.
I was so happy when I viewed this week’s Life Book lesson because I knew I could actually get my response completed within the week and that, in turn, motivated me to find the free time required. The lesson was taken by Melissa Dinwiddie and her ethos was all about being playful and getting the creative juices flowing by working on quick, minimalist pieces. Further, the media used were ink and watercolour which are comfortably within my wheelhouse. The lesson still presented a challenge to me, however, in that I don’t find I have an instinct for abstraction generally. I, therefore, decided to work with my non-dominant hand in order to ensure that my mark making was loose. It was a whole lot of fun and very relaxing so in the end I created four pieces, each measuring 4.5 by 6 inches.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici and the idea was to work intuitively to paint a warrior figure, a trope of self-empowerment. In the past six to twelve months I have gradually come to understand and accept about myself that I just don’t get great outcomes when I work intuitively. The battle between my head and any gut feeling, between intellect and instinct I suppose, is just too great to be cooperative when I am in creative mode. Perhaps it goes hand in hand with my style being definitely more illustrative than painterly. I may continue to experiment with working intuitively when creating random backgrounds or attempting something more abstract but otherwise I have decided that I am going to largely opt out of working intuitively. I figure there is no point in pursuing something that just isn’t working for me given how sparse my free time for art is.
When it came to last week’s Life Book lesson, therefore, I decided to adopt the central themes and ideas of the tutorial without adopting the same approach as Bonnici demonstrated. For that reason, I chose to work with colours that instinctively appealed to me. I have been crushing on turquoise combined with red a lot lately so I decided those would be my dominant colours and I figured the blue skin tones might also be a nod to the woad of a Pictish warrior. She ended up a bit expressionless or at least set-jawed and stern but I am going to pretend that suits her as a strong warrior type rather than my inability to paint any sort of personality. One of my sons asked if I was inspired by the movie ‘Avatar’ and another labelled her an “angry smurf” both of which comparisons made me chortle. Not my best work but not my worst either and at least I am catching up on my weekly lessons after last week’s complete and utter lack of art time.
Last week I had ten minutes of art time. Ten. That’s all, folks. In a week that included an unplanned hospital visit, house guests, and a funeral on top of all my usual commitments, obligations, and time suckers, I was not only pushed for free time but also brimming over with stress. I felt like it might just save my sanity if I could find some way to dig out 20 minutes for art. That turned out to be ambitious and I got 10. Knowing I didn’t have time to do anything too involved, too messy, or too detailed, I turned to the Art Journal Adventure prompt and opened up my art journal to a blank page.
The prompt was to feature scallops on the page. Yum. Scallops. I don’t think I have eaten any since I left Scotland. Divine wee morsels that they are. When I thought of scallops as a shape rather than a food, I thought of the way child-like clouds are drawn and that gave me the inspiration for my page. With no time to draw or paint, I quickly cut out some scallop-fringed cloud shapes from old book pages and adhered them to the top of the page. I then added stripes of Neocolor II crayons and outlined the clouds with Stabilo All. Both of these activate with water so I sprayed liberal quantities of water on the page, then tipped up the art journal to let it all run and dribble and drip. And that was my 10 minutes all used up. I left it to dry overnight and was actually fairly satisfied with the result given the (lack of) time and effort invested in its creation. And it just goes to show me that a) I can put together an entire art journal page in very little time indeed if I keep things simple and work efficiently and b) even a little bit of art time can balance out a stressful week.
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.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use a hand on the page. Well pants! I used my hand shapes a few weeks ago in a different journal page. My challenge, therefore, was to come up with a quick, easy, simple idea that neither duplicated or echoed the page I had created before – or any other journal pages where I had used my hand as inspiration. Since the previous page had started with my hand shape and built up from there – using masses of colourful dots – I had the idea of doing the reverse and starting with the hand silhouette and peeling away a layer. Skeleton hand! I have a bit of a thing for (not anatomically correct) skeleton drawings at the moment so I was enthused by the idea.
I had to create a background for my page. Wanting a bit of a macabre feel for the skeleton hand, I opted for a red and green colour scheme, connotations of flesh, blood, putrefaction, and decay. Having so recently had such a sucky result from using my gelli plate, I decided to give it another whirl and see if I could get a better result. This time I used my miniature gelli-plate in the hopes it would provide me with a bit more control over the placement, slow me down a bit, and make me think. I used it to build up a patchwork of red and green rectangles. The red and green looked a bit bogging together but that was, after all, part of the point and the feel I was aiming for.
When it came to the hand, I drew around my own hand and filled it in with black acrylic paint. I used Dylusions paint as I find that black gives a really rich black, smooth, velvety finish which is ideal for drawing on top of. Once that was dry, it was just a case of using a white paint pen to draw in the bones. I had a quick glance at a photo of a skeletal hand but clearly did not make my drawing anatomically correct.