Paint Chip Doodles

Every Summer I undertake a project with my four sons.  The idea is that it keeps them busy and stimulated for a period each day, it might involve trying something new or learning something, it provides some structure and routine to each day of the (exceedingly long) summer break, and it gives us a focused activity to do together each day.

In previous years, the projects have very much had an educational focus.  For example, we did ancient civilizations a few years ago; the 50 states of America; Knights, Kings and Castles; and last year we studied History of Art.  This year, however, I am trying a slightly different approach.  This year, the spread of ages of the kids – the youngest being 7 and the oldest 13 – made it a challenge to settle on a subject that would be accessible to everyone.  So for this year I am experimenting with a less educational approach and making it more about sampling fun activities.  As such, I created a whole list of possibilities and printed them out on paper, folded, and popped them in a box so that we can do a “pot luck” each day.

First up then was an activity inspired by the wonderful Claudia McGill.  On one of her blogs, Claudia had shared some illustrations she had done using paint chips cards as her creative scaffolding.  I squirreled that idea away for future use and decided it was perfect for the pot luck.

I had collected up an assortment of paint chip cards last time I was in a DIY store so the boys were able to select colours that caught their eye or else look at the names of the paint shades and make a selection that way.  We drew on them with black biro for ease of use.  The only “rule” was that the name of the paint had to inspire the doodle.

Here is what my 13 year old came up with.  The pink strip is dishy coral, sweety pink, and prettiest pink; the red strip is magnificent red, show stopper, candy heart, and robust red; the pale green strip is heather green, pottery glaze, and misted mint; and the yellow strip is lime blast, alchemist, game changer, and ginger wasabi.

Paint Chip Doodles AB

My 7 year old wanted to work with all natural, neutral colours.  The dark brown strip is back in the saddle, brevity brown, woodsy hollow, and relaxed vibe (so relaxed that the wee figure is in fact deceased); the beige strip is tawny owl, linwood sands, and paper kraft; the red-brown strip is fireweed, burnt scarlet, farm stand apple, and coralbelle; and the grey strip is saxon grey, stone eagle, and icicle.

Paint Chip Doodles AR

My 9 year old doodled on these three paint chip cards: the green one is admiral bronze, pampas grass, rainforest floor, and olivine crystal; the peach hued one is coral odyssey (that’s Odysseus between his foes), indulgent peach, and coral perfection; the purple one is impulsive purple, opulent purple, allium blooms, and elusive violet.

Paint Chip Doodles ET

My 10 year old’s selection was a blue strip containing sweet lavender, celestial skies, and melodious; the brown strip containing fireweed, burnt scarlet, farm stand apple, and coralbelle; the yellow strip featuring lime blast, alchemist, game changer, and ginger wasabi; and the red strip of magnificent red, show stopper, candy heart, and robust red.

Paint Chip Doodles OA

Here are the doodles I produced:the blue strip containing sweet lavender, celestial skies, and melodious; the pink strip is dishy coral, sweety pink, and prettiest pink; the lilac strip is thistle, furtive mauve, and plumsicle; and the yellow strip features yellow & mellow, morning mimosa, and vanilla chai.

Paint Chip Doodles LR

It was a super quick, super thrifty, and super fun activity.  The kids all really enjoyed it so I can add this to my “rainy day” list of activities.  They plan to use their paint chip strips as bookmarks which I think is a great idea.

Doodle Heart Woman

The week 18 prompts for Colour Me Positive were focused on the theme of Healing.  If you have visited my blog often enough, you will know that I tend to bypass any of the art therapy or meditative elements of lessons in the online courses I participate in.  That does not mean, however, that I do not believe in the healing or otherwise transformative power of art or other forms of creativity; it just isn’t for me, isn’t what inspires me.  That said, I definitely find art to be calming and to provide useful decompression and I function better in weeks when I have a reasonable chunk of time for art.

One of the additional or sub-prompts was to use a heart or hearts so I chose to focus on that.  Hearts find their way into my art work quite frequently either as features or as doodles.  They have a pleasing and familiar shape.  I decided to make a heart a focal point on my page.  I drew a figure in ink and filled her body and hair with doodles as I wanted to keep the page largely monochrome.  The one splash of colour was the bright red ink to colour in the heart.  The whole thing was pretty quick and easy to do as I was able to fill in all the doodles while watching a movie with my kids.  I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.

18 - Heart - Doodle

Messy Inky Peacock

This week’s Colour Me Positive prompt was all about the beneficial elements of art.  The accompanying quotation was from Thomas Merton: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”.  The additional prompt was to use a bird somewhere on the art journal page.  That is one of those arts and crafts cliches that turns out to be so true: the impulse to lob a bird onto things is pretty compelling.

I was out with my art journalling MeetUp group this weekend and was wondering what to do in my art journal with my limited travel supplies.  The opposing page was last week’s challenge page and the colour scheme of it made me think of a peacock so I started to doodle a peacock onto my art journal page using a fountain pen filled with waterproof black ink.  Peacock.  Bird.  Bingo.

Once I got home, I decided to “paint” the peacock using my Dylusion spray inks.  As I have mentioned before, those inks and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the vibrant colours and the way I can manipulate the saturation of them but I hate that they are difficult to control and I really hate that they reactivate.  As such, I was inspired by Carrie Lynn Cordero to start using them like vibrant watercolours.  I snagged my set of Dylusion spray inks from a thrift store for absolute buttons so, as such, I don’t feel I need to be that precious about using them up.  My colouring of the peacock got messy.  This was partly because, as previously moaned about, I struggle to control this particular medium and always seem to make a mess with it and also partly because my cats decided that they would try to nibble my paint brushes and spill a water pot just as I was working on this page.  A messy, splodgy, inky peacock was the result.

16 - Art & Bird - Art Journal Page

Intuitive Stencilling

Those of you who have followed my mixed media efforts for long enough will know that I am kack-handed when it comes to stencilling.  I really cannot seem to get the knack of it.  If I get the pigment strong enough, there is usually blobbing around the shapes; if I keep the shapes crisper, it is usually at the expense of strong pigment.  Therefore, when I saw that this week’s Life Book lesson revolved around stencils, I knew I was in for a challenge and hopefully some progress.

This week’s lesson was taken by Lynzee Lynx and the thrust of the lesson was to use stencils we created ourselves and to use them in a layered mixed media piece.  We were encouraged to create stencils of any shapes that came to mind.  I used OHP acetates and cut one that was like a series of striped pebbles, one that was like some curvy arrowheads and one that was a trio of lozenge shapes.  The tutor used her stencils with spray paint but, having none, I sponged acrylic through the stencil shapes instead.  Oddly enough, I actually got the best results I have ever had from stencilling with good coverage and pretty crisp edges.  I wonder if it is because the shapes were larger.

We were to use the stencils intuitively and employ that same instinct to creating the background for the stencils and then layering on top of the stencil shapes.  Working instinctively never comes easily to me.  However, this time, with four kids under my feet and near constant interruptions, I did not have the luxury of time to get stuck inside my head.  Since necessity compelled me to work in a rush, I had to just reach for materials and quickly do something with them without over-analysing or planning.  Of course, I did lots of dribbling and spatter because that is something I really enjoy doing.

Interestingly, there were bits of this piece that I thought were a hideous mess at one stage.  The big cobalt blue blob was a mistake I made when distracted, dribbling the paint in one spot for far too long.  In the end, however, that pool of cobalt spattered with turquoise is one of my favourite elements in the piece.  Likewise, unlike the other spatter, I added the turquoise spatter after I had laid down the black stencilling and I worried it would look like the after-thought it was.  However, I really like the effect of the turquoise on the black.  I am not sure how I feel about the piece overall, however.  I think it lacks cohesion.  I think perhaps I ought to have stencilled the pebble shapes in black rather than gold as they draw the eye too much and the other gold elements in the page – dots created with various implements – do not successfully balance it out.  I did the doodling while watching a movie with my kids and I think in this case the not thinking about it led me to over-doodle, though I am happy with the variety of shapes I chose.

So the lessons learned this week are that I do better when stencilling larger shapes, that I need to find the right balance between working instinctively but not making a mess of things by not thinking enough, and that I need to trust that things I think are a disaster might just work out in the end.

Week 25 - 1 - Layering with own Stencils

Week 25 - 2 - Layering with own Stencils

Week 25 - 3 - Layering with own Stencils

*Apologies for the wonky angles in the first photo*

Statue of Liberty Art Journal Page

The Documented Life Project’s theme continued to be doodles and this week’s prompts were to make a custom element and “Ride the energy of your own unique spirit”, attributed to Gabrielle Roth who I have never heard of I’m afraid.  I do try to conform to the parameters of the prompts, to create a direct response to at least one of them, but this week I did go off piste a bit.  Between my trip to New York City, Mr Pict being away in California and the kids being on Spring break, I just had to get cracking with a page regardless of not having had an idea emerge from reading the prompts.

I decided to ignore the quotation and, since I have somewhat exhausted my repertoire of doodles, I decided to interpret the idea of custom doodling a bit differently.  I decided that custom doodling could be interpreted as very quick sketching as the mark making involved is somewhat akin to doodling.  Since I had just returned from my trip to New York City where I saw the Statue of Liberty, I decided that Liberty would be the subject of my page.  I could not sketch in the field, of course, but I did the next best thing which was to give myself a very short period of time in which to sketch out a study of Liberty from my photographs.

I started by getting some colour down onto my page which I did with two colours of Dylusions ink sprays.  I then put down some very rough pencil lines just to help my placement of elements on the page.  Then I got my India ink and dip pen out and gave myself just a couple of minutes to sketch Liberty’s head and hand clasping the torch.  I then added some watercolour pencil for shading around the face and fingers.  I am quite pleased with how the page turned out.

Week 13 - Doodle & Energy of Spirit

The Girl with Doodles in her Hair

The Documented Life Project continues to have doodling as its over-arching theme and this week participants were encouraged to use doodling as a focal point.  The associated quotation was “Coming into Focus”. I, therefore, decided to make my whole art journal page be about the doodles.  Rather than doodles being one element among many, the whole drawing would be a mass of doodles.  Last week, I took a similar approach but in a colourful way; this week I decided to stick with monochrome.  I personally much prefer to doodle in monochrome as it helps me concentrate on creating pattern with line and shape instead of being distracted by colour and hue.

I am still intent on practicing human faces so I determined to draw a figure and to doodle in her hair and clothing.  As I have written before, I don’t zen tangle.  I am not zen or precise enough.  I do, however, find that undertaking this type of doodling is very calming.  Something about the focus required is soothing to my mind which is always otherwise racing around, planning and mentally checking off multiple lists.  So that is how I fulfilled the focus part of the prompt.  It was not about a visual focal point for me but was more about how I benefit from working in such a focused way.

This past weekend, I had my monthly art journalling MeetUp group, which is held at a coffee shop, and I took my 7 year old with me since he is getting into art journalling now too.  This drawing, therefore, was created using my travel art kit.  Instead of using India ink and a dip pen, therefore, this was done using a black gel pen.  I smudged the arm a bit, which was annoying, but otherwise the gel pen was a decent enough substitute for the ink.

Week 12 - Doodles & Focus

Doodles, a Border and a Bunny

This week’s prompt from the Documented Life Project continued the theme of doodling.  The specific challenge prompt was Borders and the journal prompt was a Madonna lyric,  “Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind.”  I love doodling.  I don’t have the patience or precision for zentangle but I like filling spaces with doodle shapes and adding dots and dashes here and there in my art work.  I don’t, however, tend to use borders, especially not decorative ones, in my art work so that for me was the challenge.

Since it was Mr Pict’s birthday, time was understandably tight so I decided to keep it simple.  As I often do for some peculiar reason, I defaulted to drawing a funny bunny.  I framed it within a border which I doodled in black to keep it monochrome.  I then doodled the negative space created with a spectrum of coloured pens.  The positive shape of the bunny then emerged from the negative shapes within the drawing, if that even makes any semblance of sense.

Week 11 - Borders & Doodles

PS  If you want to see a new horde of my zombie bunnies, they have just invaded my art blog.

Feather – Art Journal Page

This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was all about feathers.  The prompt suggested that group members either draw, paint, doodle or sketch a feather or even add a real feather.  I was actually contemplating adding a real feather if I could find one in the garden because we have beautiful blue jays, red cardinals, woodpeckers, tufted titmouses, various finches and even the odd hummingbird visiting our feeders.  I thought if one of those shed a feather in my garden, I would incorporate it as I have not yet art journalled with something three-dimensional.  However, it turns out that possession of any of those feathers would be illegal.  In order to protect a whole long list of North American birds, the law states that you cannot possess any of their feathers no matter how innocently you came by them.  So back to two-dimensions.

I full admit I spent very little time on this week’s prompt.  I hurriedly drew a pencil outline of a feather, coloured it with watercolour and then sat and doodled the details while watching TV with my kids in the evening.  It probably took me twenty minutes in total.

2014-09-16 11.32.04

I have actually had a few people quiz me lately about how on earth I find the time to do anything arty.  As much as I would love it if I owned Hermoine’s Time Turner, the truth is that I just make the time.  I feel better about everything if I can eke out a little bit of time to do something for myself, something creative, something focused and, as such, I carve out the time.  It helps, of course, that as of the beginning of this month I have all four of my kids in school on roughly the same schedule but I am still very busy all day long.  What I do is take chunks of time to devote to my art.  A mid-morning break with a cup of tea might have me sitting and sketching in pencil.  Later in the afternoon, I might sit down with a glass of water and fill the pencil drawing with colour.  Then, in the evening, instead of watching TV, I will spend some quiet time working in ink, adding detail to the earlier drawing or working on one of my more elaborate projects.  I multi-task my way through my art projects and I carve out time that could be spent doing something else.  The chores still get done and the kids still get cared for.  I just don’t watch a lot of telly and I draw when I am on brief breaks between chores.

However, I am going to admit that recently I have taken on way too many creative projects: I have the DLP on the go for the weekly art journal prompt to keep me practising with mixed media; I have joined in with an art swap organised in another mixed media group I belong to; I have my 40 Drawings in 40 Days challenge on the go; and meanwhile I am still sketching out ideas for lino block prints and have an ever-lengthening list of large ink drawings I want to find time to embark upon.  The casualty this week was the DLP feather page.  As much as it might have been fun to do something much more elaborate and, frankly, something much more mixed media, this simple feather drawing is my offering this week.

Black & White

I am now all caught up with the Documented Life Project’s challenges.  This week’s prompt (and how are we 36 weeks into the year already?) was simply Black and White.  I appreciated that it was a completely open subject because it enabled me to take a more minimalist approach and catch up.  I also often work in monochrome so the challenge was well within my comfort zone.

Immersed as I am in Greek Mythology at the moment, due to my Drawing a Day challenge, I somehow landed on the idea of drawing Danae with baby Perseus, set adrift in a wooden chest by Acrisius.  I am fond of doodling and a doodle approach was perfect for this drawing because I could fill in a section or two and then put my pen down to go attend to something else and then return and doodle in a bit more.  I, therefore, have no idea how long the drawing took me as I was doing it in bursts of a couple of minutes throughout yesterday afternoon.  It is quite meditative to focus on creating pattern within shapes so I also had doses of decompression from the stress of dealing with boxes and finding new homes for stuff – such a lot of stuff – in our new house and struggling emotionally with a difficult anniversary.  Interestingly, when I showed it to my kids, the youngest two did not see it as being Danae but instead interpreted it was representing me and their baby brother who was stillborn six years ago today.  Perhaps sub-consciously that was what prompted me to pluck this subject matter from the ether.  Drawing can definitely be therapeutic.  My husband commented that he thinks this is the best of my Art Journal pages.  He even used the word “stunning”.  He’s biased, of course, but I will still take the praise.

Week 36 - Black and White