I find I am going long stretches at the moment between creating any art. Life is just getting in the way too much plus I am also still (!) a little wiped out by that post-viral fatigue thing. I am a happier, more balanced person when I have regular doses of art time so this is not a good state of affairs. All I have just about manage to keep up with is cracking open my art journal about once a week, usually on the weekend. I need to eke out a decent chunk of art time soon. I am getting artsy-antsy.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was Love/Hate since it was Valentines Week. I happen to loathe Valentine’s Day but I decided to go with the love them rather than the hate option. Let’s focus on the positive. My starting point was to adhere a Valentines theme paper napkin left over from my preschool class party onto the page to create the repeated pattern of love hearts. Then the page sat like that for days since I could not find the time. My original plan was to draw a figure on the page and do some sort of negative shape painting shebang and, if you look closely, you can still see the pencil marks since I could not erase them. I decided to be pragmatic about my available free time so I instead chose to paint a beetle so that it could be a Love Bug. It does not show up at all well in the photograph but I used pearlescent and metallic paints in order to suggest the shiny carapace of a beetle.
It is not a great art journal page by any measure but it isn’t one that makes me want to tear the page out of the book or gesso over it either. Fingers crossed that I can find a bit more time for art in the next week or so.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “2”. I almost immediately decided to draw the Grady twins from ‘The Shining’, which probably tells you something about the workings of my brain. ‘The Shining’ is one of my favourite horror movies because I love how open to interpretation it is, how unresolved it all remains, and how unsettling it is for those very reasons. Those are precisely the same reasons why my husband loathes the movie. The Grady twins are significant in the film in terms of contributing to the disturbing atmosphere and in terms of their symbolism. I drew Danny from ‘The Shining’ for Inktober 2016 but in some ways I am surprised that I have not drawn the Grady twins in many years. Maybe I should add a whole Shining series of illustrations to my ever-growing Art To Do list.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to include song lyrics or the title of a song in the art journal page. You may recall that I enjoy vague prompts that allow my imagination to wander off in all sorts of directions but with music I did not know where to start. We listen to a lot of music as a family and have very eclectic tastes. When doing chores, I have music playing so I can karaoke my way through the house and I also always play music when I am at my art table drawing or painting. I, therefore, could have chosen any number of songs as the inspiration for my page this week.
I thought about springboarding from the last piece of music I had listened to before reading the prompt. That was Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens which had massive potential as a subject for illustration (and, in fact, I had illustrated it when I was in High School) but I knew I did not have the free time available this week to take on something with that degree of detail. The last album I listened to in its entirety was Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ so I pondered that for a bit. Meanwhile I asked my kids for suggestions since they are always a great resource for inspiration. Elvis, Prince, The Beatles, The Beastie Boys, Elton John, The White Stripes and Frank Sinatra all featured in their suggestions but one idea immediately gave me a strong visual: Space Oddity. As soon as my 10 year old said it, I knew that was going to be the song I depicted on my journal page, perhaps because David Bowie was always so strongly and uniquely visual.
I kept my illustration simple partly out of choice – I do love just plain old pen and ink – and partly out of necessity – my old nemesis, time. It depicts David Bowie (I hope that is clear even though I am not a good portraitist) floating through space in spacesuit, untethered but calm. I obviously did not use any reference images in creating the spacesuit. It is definitely more ‘Lost in Space’ than NASA, that’s for sure. I swithered over including either the song title or the lyric “the stars look very different today” in the illustration but decided against it because a) my calligraphy is not the best and b) I could not work out the placement for the words in the composition. I hope the song reference is clear without the words.
Someone asked me recently if I ever return to past works and have another stab at them in order to apply sharpened skills or a more developed style. I do return time and again to certain subjects – zombies, Red Riding Hood, skeletal elements, mythology – but I don’t generally have another crack at a past artwork. I thought, however, that maybe it could be an interesting exercise to take a few works in a medium I am more comfortable with -namely ink and watercolour – and try depicting the exact same subject using mixed media. I decided to use some of my illustrations from my 100 Faces challenge.
First up for the experiment was my 85th drawing in the series, which I had titled “Confidence”. I chose it largely because I was working in the red section of my Rainbow Art Journal and I had remembered how much I liked the effect of the bold red ink pooling and puddling. I also chose it because it was an illustration I actually really liked in the series. I lost the more diagonal composition, which I definitely prefer, and I think the new version of the face looks more sullen and bored than confident. I am also not happy with that busy, blotchy background and may paint that out at some stage. However, as first experiments go, it is not such a failure that I will abandon the whole enterprise. Not just yet anyway.
I hate to waste paint so, if I find I have some paint left over from a project, I smear it into a page in my art journal where it stays as a potential first layer for some future creating. One such page of leftovers was the basis for this week’s art journal page. It was created in response to the Art Journal Adventure prompt for this week: the letter O. I like vague prompts because they give me the nudge to create while giving me the scope to really do whatever I want. You may have noticed that I like to illustrate skeletons. They are never anatomically correct and I cannot really put my finger on why I am so drawn to them as a subject but I just go with it. Do what you enjoy, right? I, therefore, ended up illustrating the skeleton of an ouroboros. The O had made me think of circles and hoops and infinity and that made me think of ouroboros, which handily begins with the letter O, and it instantly became a skeleton in my mind’s eye. An ouroboros – just in case you didn’t know – is a serpent consuming its own tale, an image found in many mythologies, symbolising eternity through the endless cycle of life and death.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “7”. It’s the type of prompt that allows a lot of scope for interpretation and creates a lot of possibilities. I was thinking continents, layers, or colours of the rainbow. I liked the idea of working with lots of vibrant colours as an antidote to all of these desaturated winter days so I decided to go with the rainbow idea. I divided my page up into seven strips and then the little figures with the curling hoods just emerged on the page. They are a little reminiscent of the Alpha and Omega figures I painted recently, though the echo wasn’t conscious. I filled the figures with watercolour, added the facial features, and that was it. Quick and easy.
It is only January and I am already so over Winter. I like to be warm and cosy. I dislike shovelling. My kids have not and will not have a full week of school this month thanks to snow days, early dismissals, and late arrivals. While I love spending time with my kids, it has been pretty disruptive and we are a family who does better with routine. Winter is the price I pay for getting to enjoy the other seasons of the year. Alas, it is too early for me to even start searching out the first signs of Spring.
Anyway, thoughts of snow, ice, and winter chill inspired my most recent art journal page. Technically it is a response to the Art Journal Adventure prompt which was the letter A. I had already been thinking about creating an illustration of a Yeti so I am just labelling him as the Abominable Snowman to fulfil the prompt. I love monsters and mythology and cryptids so I always enjoy drawing them. This yeti is inspired by a painting I did in my altered book of monsters a couple of years ago. That painting was just the face but this time I drew the whole body.