This week’s Life Book lesson was way out of my comfort zone. The tutor was Wendy Brightbill and she demonstrated her process of creating an abstract work of art through layering of different media and finding the tipping point between working intuitively and pulling it all together with intention. Intuitive and abstract are both things I really struggle with. I am, after all, a control freak and more of an illustrator than anything else. But that is the point in following an art course that has such diverse teachers – it forces me to try new things and experiment a bit. My piece did not evolve well. I loved the first layer and then it just got uglier and messier and more incoherent rather than cohesive. The thing that finally killed it once and for all was that I was way too “blocky” when applying some acrylic paint. I tried some dribble to make it more organic again and then, rather inevitably for me, some spatter. All was in vain. Those chunks of colour were neither geometrically precise enough to be part of the intent of the piece nor random enough to work with the previous layers. My choices were to either scrap the whole thing and forget about it (since I had no time in which to start over) or to just keep trucking and at least produce a finished outcome. I decided on the latter so I grabbed my paint pens and started doodling. It was still an ugly mess of a piece but I did at least really enjoy the doodles. I was adding the doodles while making dinner which meant I didn’t have the time to overthink what I was doing which was actually quite liberating (if one ignores the stress of multi-tasking). That doodle layer was, therefore, enjoyable. I do like the colour palette and think that works and I may repurpose this painting as the cover of a completed art journal.
After five weeks, I finally managed to open my art journal and create a page. This was thanks to me actually being able to go along to my art journal meet up group for the first time in months. I decided to use the most recent Colour Me Positive art journal prompt as my jumping off point. The prompt was the theme of “new beginnings”. There are a lot of ways I could have chosen to interpret that prompt, from the personal to the more expansive and profound. I chose, however, to think about the regular beats of life, its cycles and rhythms, and the idea of each passing day being a new beginning came to mind. I decided to illustrate a winter sunrise. I was actually going to keep the page monochromatic, just shades of black and grey, but one of the other ladies at the meet up suggested I add just a splash of colour to the sun so I added some yellow and orange. I cannot decide if that was a positive step to take or not. I think maybe yellow would have looked nice against the greys but not so much the orange. But such experiments are precisely what an art journal is handy for.
This week’s Colour Me Positive theme was Kindness and the prompt was a quotation from the Dalai Lama: “Be kind wherever possible. It is always possible.” There was an additional, optional prompt to use stamping but I ignored that and focused on the quotation. Pushed for time this week, I kept things simple. Monochrome, ink, using a fountain pen rather than my dip pen so I could work on the page while watching a movie with my kids, and doodles with some simple typography for the quotation. Simple and easy – just like an act of kindness.
This week’s Life Book lesson was an “intuitive healing session” with Andrea Schroeder. It was all about meditation, being intuitive and being playful, not worrying about making mistakes or about striving for perfection. This process took me very much out of my comfort zone. As I always do when creating without having a vision of what I want to create, I felt rather lost. How I chose to approach the process was to make marks in my art journal while listening to the meditation video. I used a medium brush loaded with watercolour so that I would not have that much control over the marks I was making and I just doodled away while listening to the video. Once my page was filled with colourful doodles and the meditation had ended, I looked at the page and started a large doodle with India ink loaded on the brush again. What emerged was a female figure holding a bird in her hand. I have no idea where it came from or what it is about. It’s not my usual style but – having no vision of something I was aiming for to compare it to – I am reasonably happy with the page.
This week’s Documented Life Project prompt encouraged group members to create a page that somehow depicted our older selves dispensing advice to our younger selves. I decided to put a slightly different spin on the prompt, just a slight tangent.
Firstly, as I recently discovered, I don’t really like to use my art journal for the more emotive stuff. It’s escapism and stress-busting for me to work in my art journal rather than it function as a route to introspection and reflection. Secondly, I don’t really chime with the idea of giving my younger self advice. Even if such a thing were possible, I wouldn’t do it. For a start, I don’t give unsolicited advice plus there is nothing I really regret that I would steer myself away from. Sure there are many things in my life I wish had worked out differently but for the most part those are things over which I had no control anyway so nothing I did or didn’t do would have made one iota of difference to the outcome. I also feel happy with where I am in life and I have watched enough sci-fi movies to have contemplated the idea that I am where I am because of all the things I have been through, good and bad, and any small change might have had a ripple effect to land me somewhere else in a different set of circumstances. So, in short, no advice is being dispensed to my younger self.
What I did decide to do was write some words of encouragement to my younger self and I plumped for the vague “Life is full of possibilities”. I drew a simple version of myself aged about 5 in the centre of my page and then surrounded it with triangular doodles, making the words emerge in the negative space. Simple. That was a lot of doodling though. My hand was a bit achy by the time I completed the page.
This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to trace the outline of your hand. Way back in week 10 of the project – which I think was my second week of participating in the DLP – I had actually traced my hand (and stamped my finger prints) in response to the prompt to document words that describe me. Since I had used my left hand and used words that time, I decided to use my right hand and use pictures this time. My “me time” is severely curtailed right now because the Pict family is so incredibly busy with various commitments and projects so I kept it simple with just three colours of gel pen (black, red and green – to tie into the beginning of the festive season) and I sat and doodled while watching a movie with the Pictlings. It’s a bit smudgy and messy as a result but it is what it is.
So here is my traced hand for Week 49 of the DLP 2014 project:
For comparison, here is my hand from back in Week 10 (before I had started blogging about my creative hobbies):