Justified by the fact I was very burned out and running on empty, I spent most of Winter break in hibernation mode. I decided to participate in a manageable festive art challenge in order to force me to make time for art at least every couple of days. The one I opted for was Yuletide Witches created by Heather Mahler. The magical theme appealed to me.
The first prompt was “Ice Witch” and I think I started pretty strong with my illustration. She maybe looks a bit more like a pixie or some such than a witch but I was pleased with how the ice crown turned out.
The second prompt was “Ghost Witch” and I was disappointed by my efforts. I got carried away with all the shroud wrappings so the effect is much more mummy than witch and I am not happy with the face either. The good thing about an art challenge is there is always another prompt waiting and the opportunity for improvement.
I was much happier with my “Bow Witch”. She turned out much closer to the vision I had in my head. Since that prompt was for Christmas Day, I opted for traditional Christmas colours of red, green, and gold – not a combination I would usually use – and I think it is quite effective in this context.
The next prompt was “Reindeer Witch” and I decided to make her a bit more spooky. I used a photo reference for the reindeer skull but – true to form – I got the proportions all wrong. I think visually it still works well as a headpiece and overall I am pleased with how this drawing turned out.
The penultimate Yuletide Witch was a “Dried Fruit Witch” and I had actually been dreading that prompt because I had zero inspiration and no idea what I was going to draw when I put pencil to paper. Then I thought of all of those garlands of dried citrus fruit and how they could mirror chunky necklaces and that led me to think of cranberries as beads and that whole aesthetic of bold jewellery made me think of Endora from ‘Bewitched’ and gave me the vibe for the witch herself. And so the witch drawing I had most been dreading turned out to be the one I enjoyed drawing most.
The final witch was a “Wishing Star Witch” and I decided to challenge myself to create a sense of glowing – something I knew I would struggle with. I think I made some progress in that area with this illustration.
So those are my Yuletide Witches. I enjoyed working on them and having some quiet time at my art table every couple of days. They have photographed horribly because of the grey, dull light but the editing adjustments have them close enough to reality for sharing purposes.
I have been sick for over a week now. I am negative for all the big ticket items. I just have several lower level viruses combining into an overall debilitating grot. The doctor was befuddled by how I had fallen prey to so many bugs at once until he learned I was a preschool teacher. Apart from Covid – when I was asymptomatic – I have not been sick at all since 2019 so it is also fair to say that my immune system is weedy and pathetic and really has not rallied the defences at all. It’s an incredibly busy and demanding time of year so being sick right now is also a source of stress and frustration. Overall, I am feeling pretty miserable.
All of which preamble is to explain why I yet again turned to a Draw This In Your Style challenge for my art time. Free time is pretty paltry right now, as I am sure it is for most folks, so it was convenient for that reason as well as the fact that I am just feeling pretty cruddy. I opted for a challenge set by Inknes due to its very simple colour palette and because I liked the mythological and heraldic vibe to her original. I have found that I really like drawing weirdo wolves. I like drawing the body shapes and also all of the linework for the hair. I enjoyed working on this piece and it was a welcome distraction from feeling sorry for myself and my rubbish immune system.
‘Tis the season for me to have very little spare time. However, over the course of a few days, I managed to respond to a Draw This In Your Style challenge. The Ivy Foxes challenge was set by an artist who goes by Vossanova on Instagram and I thought it would be a fun experiment for me to try and draw them since their style is so distinctive and very different from my own and because animals aren’t a frequent subject of mine. I am not satisfied with the end result because there is such a massive gap between the image I had in my head and what appeared on paper – turns out I am not very adept at drawing foxes – but I found it very relaxing to draw all of that ivy – hence I got very carried away with it. I had fun drawing it and really that is the most important thing.
I found myself with enough time to tackle another Draw This In Your Style challenge and – since we are still in spooky season and Drawlloween – I thought I would tackle the challenge of drawing a teen vampire by an artist named Alexandra. I always find it fun to translate digital art into my analogue ink and watercolour and this one was no exception. I think my version looks more tween than teen because I drew fuller cheeks but otherwise I stuck pretty closely to the composition and colour palette.
I am back in the classroom and my own kids are back in school so I am immensely, overwhelmingly, exhaustingly busy. However, I am working hard at carving out time for art as a way to decompress and balance things out. I am currently beavering away through Drawlloween, the annual daily drawing challenge, and sharing my illustrations on my other blog. By some miracle, I found myself with extra time to draw this past weekend so – what with my creative brain being fried from the daily drawing – I thought I would have a crack at a Draw This In Your Style challenge. I selected a vampire created by Heather Mahler because it’s still spooky season. I have done two of her previous DTIYS challenges because her subject matter appeals to me, I like her colour choices and the way she utilises symmetry and asymmetry while her style and medium are very different from my own. I really enjoyed creating this drawing. It all came together with ease so was very relaxing to work on.
This illustration is another Draw This In Your Style challenge. As with the recent Mossy Witch, this one was also set by Heather Mahler. I am finding these challenges useful in reminding me what constitutes my own style and they are also a convenient way of making efficient use of small rations of art time as I don’t have to waste time coming up with subjects or compositions. The witchy, talon-like hands gave me a lot of difficulty so I, therefore, omitted the floating hands from the original artwork and instead extended the leaf elements to fill in the composition. I can actually see lots of flaws in this drawing but I had fun drawing it so I don’t particularly care. It is still the case that the journey is more important to me than the destination when it comes to art.
I have scores of Draw This In Your Style challenges saved over on Instagram. I find them useful when I have time for art but am short on inspiration. They are also useful for both reinforcing and honing the elements of illustration that make something identifiably my style.
One of the ones I have had saved for months was a witch with moss hued hair created by Heather Mahler. She has a very distinctive style and is also a digital artist so I thought it would be fun to give it a try in analogue. Working on this drawing, I realised how much more practice I need with drawing faces in profile. My skills in that regard have definitely atrophied over the several months in which I was not putting pen to paper. I never add tattoos to the figures I draw so it was fun to add all of those little glyph details to the drawing. This was a relaxing drawing to work on because I didn’t get stuck in my own head coming up with an idea or composition.
This blog has gone a little dormant generally. What with the pandemic and all, I just have not been up to enough in my life that generates blog fodder. This blog has, however, gone especially quiet when it comes to my art dabbling. That is not for the lack of art in my life, however. On the contrary, I have been drawing near daily since June. I have been sharing the results of a personal challenge (illustrations of vintage photos) and now Drawlloween drawings over on my blog that is dedicated to only art. Since all of my art time has been invested in those projects, art journaling has been placed so much on the back burner that it is stone cold. While I intend to take a break from daily drawing, I am going to return to art journaling in order to keep up with regular practice and stop those creative gears seizing up from rust.
Draw This in Your Style (DTIYS) challenges on Instagram seemed like a good way to get back into playing around and experimenting in my art journal. The subject matter and composition is all set for me so I just need to – like it says on the tin – draw it in my style. I thought I would have a crack at a recent art work by Behemot titled “Pale Girl and Very Suspicious Cat”, not least because the monochromatic palette appealed to me aesthetically and in terms of time management. I am pleased with my version of the Pale Girl. I think my illustration shares DNA with the original but is very clearly my style. It is a fun challenge to translate digital art into analogue so I am going to seek out a few more of those I think.
Along with the vast majority of people on the planet, I have found myself overwhelmed during the pandemic. Aside from the stress of trying to conduct life and parent and teach preschool in-person in this very peculiarly stressful context, I am one of the people whose schedule has become even more busy and intense. All of which preamble is to explain why my creative mojo disappeared.
Art has always been a stress-buster for me but, of course, it is one of life’s little ironies that it is normally when life is at its most demanding that I cannot find time for that therapeutic dose of art. It is also true that the longer time passes when I am not making time for art, the more my creative gears seize up and my creative mojo departs. Finding my way back to art and scraping the rust from those gears is always a slow process. I know from experience that I get creatively crippled if I try too much at once and it just leads to another setback. I, therefore, tend to start small and then build myself back up to a normal level of art time and degree of ambitiousness with a project.
My small start on this occasion involved using Post-It notes as my substrate. It started by accident. I drew doodles on them as “lunch notes” for my kids and stuck them to the fridge door so that they had a surprise. We are a family of movie fans and my two middle sons in particular are obsessive movie nerds. Consequently the drawings on the Post-It notes were inspired by movies we had watched. You might observe from the selection here that there is a particular penchant for the movies of Ingmar Bergman and for mid-century Soviet cinema.
This is Andrei Rublev from the film of the same name.
This one is a take on the Bluray cover of ‘The Ascent’, awkward foreshortening and all.
My 14 year old adores Liv Ullman so I had to draw her.
This duo are Death and Antonius Block from ‘The Seventh Seal’.
Finally this is Flyora from ‘Come and See’. That movie is absolutely one of the best I have ever seen but my goodness it is a hard watch.
I hope this selection illustrates the fact that this very simple activity actually succeeded in getting me back into regular drawing and started greasing those creative gears so that I could recover my atrophying art skills.
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