Colourful Hands – Art Journal Page

As a family, we Picts are usually in rude health.  We rarely get sick and until this year one of my sons had never had a day off school ever.  This Winter, however, has been a relentless battle against germs.  While Mr Pict and I have escaped the various plagues, our four boys have been felled by one thing after another.  My preschool students have also been dropping like flies.  The whole community apparently needs to be disinfected.  This week, my youngest son came down with a vomiting bug for the second time in six weeks.  The only slight silver lining to having to take time off work for nurse duties is that, between looking after the little chap and bleaching and boil washing, I could grab some time to play around in my art journal.

This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to transform the edges of the page by shaping them.  I was glad of this prompt as it represented a nudge to try something new.  I usually operate pretty strictly within the boundaries of the page, neither extending it with a tip-in or subtracting from it by removing areas.  I sat at my art table, struggling for inspiration, and saw the shape of my hands on the blank page.  I decided that my hands should be the shape I created.  I simply drew around my hands and cut out the shape.  I painted both sides of the hands with black acrylic.  Once that was dry, I used my Dylusions paints to add dots all over the hand shapes.  I like those paints for the vivid colours and for the thick texture so they worked perfectly for this particular job.  Now I just need to figure out what, if anything, to do with the reverse side of the hands.

8a Hands - Shaped Page

8b Hands - Shaped Page.jpg

History of Art #14 – Seurat

I was really pleased to reach Seurat in our History of Art project because his approach to art work is so different from what we had studied before and I thought it would be refreshing for the kids to see how possible it is to reinvent within the art world.  We looked at Seurat’s paintings, especially Bathers at Asnieres and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, both as whole paintings and as details so that they could better appreciate the way in which Seurat had constructed the images.  We discussed his use of chromoluminarism and pointillism to build up colours and shades, getting the eye of the viewer to do the blending instead of blending on the palette or the paper.  The boys were very impressed with the cleverness of it all.

I have to tell you that I absolutely loved teaching my kids about Seurat because they were so enthused about his very different style and because I actually got them all to use paint.  They have been so resistant to the use of paint – especially my 9 year old – but for this lesson they all used paint.  100% success rate.  Everyone worked small – including me – so as not to have everyone run out of patience with creating dots.

My 9 year old chose to create a rainbow within a circular shape so that he could explore the idea of overlapping colours to create shades or to blend areas.  We both agreed it was reminiscent of the eye tests ophthalmologists do to detect colour blindness.

14 - Seurat - O

My 6 year old chose to work in shades of grey to depict an olive spoon we own.  He became frustrated at one point as his dots were in such close proximity that they had formed a solid shape of paint on the handle but I suggested he use another shade to dot on top of that area once that first layer was dry and that satisfied him.

14 - Seurat - AR

Having created a penguin for his aboriginal dot painting, my 12 year old decided this study in dots should be Minecraft.  He couldn’t possibly do something other than Minecraft and penguins, of course.  His painting, therefore, is of a Creeper.

14 - Seurat - AB

We learned this week that my parents’ elderly chihuahua had died.  My kids were all very sad but my dog mad 8 year old was particularly devastated.  He, therefore, decided his pointillist painting would be a portrait of the chihuahua in tribute to her memory.

14 - Seurat - E

I undertook a still life study of a stainless steel teapot and milk jug – though I turned the jug into a mug – and tried to use the dots to replicate the actual values of light and shade reflected in the surface of the objects.  I am not sure I quite achieved that but I am pretty happy with the outcome regardless.  My intention had been to create a background for the still life objects but I ran out of patience with the dots.  I never thought I would say it – because I love using dots so much in my art work – but I was all dotted out.  Especially working on the scale he did and with the degree of precision he did, Seurat clearly had a greater well of zen than I possess.

14 - Seurat - Laura

Head on over to my other blog if you would like to see my Seurat inspired Crazy Critter.

Going Polka Dotty

This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to use polka dots.  Remember how I felt about neon?  Well I feel much the same way about polka dots.  I think 1980s ra-ra and puffball skirts killed polka dots for me.  I also have an odd visual tic when it comes to dots in that they go blurry or vibrate making it difficult for my eyes to focus on them.  That’s one of the reasons why I found it too challenging to learn to read music fluently and why I read the spots on dice through pattern rather than the dots themselves.  Polka dots are not my friend.

As I am still embroiled in my drawing a day challenge and also had lots of chores to plough through, I decided to take what I thought would be a quick and easy path to making a polka dot page in my art journal.  I decided to create a circle filled gelli plate background which I intended to then collage over with a circles cut from a second, complementary gelli plate.  Well, despite sticking to three paint colours – turquoise, lime and hot pink – which looked good together in the bottle, all I managed to make in layering up my prints was mud.  It looked like melted ice cream.  In the worst way.  One gelli print was so ugly, I decided to not waste any more time and paint trying to rescue it.  I plumped for using the other print, however, on the basis that I was running short on time.  Setting myself up for more disaster, in other words.  I cut down the print to page size, thus chopping off the most offensively ugly part of the print.  Then I used various discarded household objects – an empty sticky tape roll, the end of a pencil, a wine cork, a pencil top eraser – and used those to stamp on top of the gelli print using black, white, the lime and the pink.  My last effort with it was to stick down a piece of dotty washi tape along the edge where I had cut down the print because it was slightly too narrow for my art journal page.  Certainly printing with the various circles helped punch back some of the worst effects of the pastel mud I had created but still there is no denying that my response to this week’s challenge is not cutting the mustard.

I am, therefore, chalking up this week to a learning experience.  I have learned that polka dots are probably still not my thing but I actually quite like the effect of the circles stamped from all those found objects.  I have learned that colours that look lovely together in their bottles don’t necessarily look lovely when layered into a print.  I enjoyed having a break from the focused, controlled style of drawing I have been doing for my Greek Mythology challenge by doing something that was just “go with the flow” and an experiment without a vision of the outcome but I have learned that maybe a little more thought is required than the pretty much zero thought I invested if such a freestyle approach is going to ever be successful.

I feel as if I am taking two steps forward and one step back with this year’s foray into art journalling and mixed media but that’s still progress I suppose.

Here’s a photo of my polka dot disaster.  In real life it is much brighter and more vivid but for some reason the camera on my phone has made it go more insipid just to rub the salt in.

Week 41 - Polka Dots