The full title of this piece should be “The Fungus Fairy and the Unfortunate Phallus”. It is a cautionary tale about going straight to ink when drawing and not taking time to think things through.
The Art Journal Adventure prompt for last week was the letter “F”. Don’t enquire why I thought to draw a Fungus Fairy as a result because I actually don’t know why. Let’s call it a flash of inspiration. I know that I was feeling in the mood to draw something whimsical. In my early teens, I decided to draw my own versions of the classic Flower Fairies. I think I got about twenty illustrations done before I packed in the whole enterprise because I loved drawing but hated colouring in (I was using pencils). Maybe I should start over now that I actually enjoy adding colour to my illustrations. But I digress. Short on time (as always) I decided to commit to drawing straight away with pen. No pencil guidelines. No preliminary sketching. Just straight from my brain to my hand to the ink pen. The way I drew the Fungus Fairy a lot of the line work was over on the right hand side of the page so, to fill in a bit more of the left hand side, I came up with the bright idea of giving her a toadstool as a sort of magical wand. Yeah, I don’t know what on earth I was thinking either. In the very instant that I lifted pen from paper I realised that the fungus wand looked like a phallus. Great. So, yes, this is a cautionary tale about maybe taking some time to plan things out before committing ink to paper.
It’s Week 48 on the Life Book course and what a busy week it is. I cannot believe it is Week 48 already. Where on earth has this year gone? It has absolutely whipped by. Aside from everything we have done and accomplished in Pict family life, I have crammed a lot of art into this year. That makes me happy. As this year draws to a close (because – seriously – it is week 48 already!) I am already making plans for the arty bit of my life for next year. I am signed up to do Life Book 2016 and I just learned a few days ago from the lovely Julia Osterc of Loving Road that I have won a place on a Mixed Media Mythology course. How cool is that? I am also considering signing up for another course called Let’s Face It. Meanwhile, I still have my Altered Book of Monsters project on the go and I will probably embark on another 100 Artworks Challenge having completed my Crazy Critters. Hmmmm. That’s quite a lot now that I am looking at it all listed. It’s good to have goals and challenges though, right?
So with the prospect of a busy year of art ahead, this week was a busy week for art. I was playing catch up with Life Book and Week 48 had three elements to it. First up was a lesson with Donna Downey about using what she calls a “smush book”. I have been using one for a few months now but I call it my sidekick journal. It is a small journal in which I smear my unused paint and other media so that they don’t go to waste. I then use that journal for quick wee sketches when I am out and about, such as when I am sitting outside my 8 year old’s guitar lesson. Downey demonstrated using the random smears in her “smush book” through painting in the negative space. Her resulting image was about muses. I used the excess paint from my Autumn Fairy to create a more harmonious random page. I must have still been in a fairy frame of mind as that was the muse figure I carved out when I began painting in the negative space. I like using negative spaces so this was a fun technique and one I am sure I will use again in my “sidekick journal”.
The other two bonus lessons this week were from Lynzee Lynx and Tamara Laporte. Tamara’s lesson was an introduction to gelli plate printing. I don’t get my gelli plate out too often but when I do I really enjoy it and produce print after print after print which I can use as backgrounds in journal pages or as collage papers. I didn’t get my gelli plate out for this Life Book lesson but instead dipped into my file of collage materials and selected a gelli print. It was one I had just filed away, a ghost print from the fish journal page I had just created. I decided to use this gelli print as the background for Lynx’s lesson, thus combining the two, saving me time and helping me catch up a bit with my art projects. Lynx’s lesson was about playfully fusing words to create new, fun words that can be used in art journalling and other creative projects. I am familiar with portmanteau words because my husband and oldest son deploy them all the time, much to their amusement. As I happened to be drinking a mug of tea while I was thinking about art, I decided to fuse the words “Art” and “Tea”, two simple things that make me happy. My definition of “ArTea” is “Tea in which a paint brush has been dunked mistaking the cup for the adjacent jar of water”. That is something I have done several times. I am pretty sure most arty tea drinkers have done the same.
And now I am all caught up in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Week 47 of Life Book was all about the importance of creative play and was led by Chris Zydel. The lesson was not a tutorial but rather an encouraging talk and, therefore, the outcome was totally free-form. Frequent readers of my blog will know that I struggle with intuitive painting as I work better when I have a vision, something to work towards. However, over the course of Life Book so far, I have learned the importance of getting out of my head a bit and just messing around with the materials and seeing what happens. I am not there yet but I am on the path towards finding the right balance between intuitive and intentional that works for me.
I started by just laying down some colour in different layers. I use my kitchen table as my art space and that corner of the kitchen has a dual aspect window. Looking out on the Autumn leaves tumbling from the trees, I found myself reaching for the Autumnal colours of yellow, orange, red and brown. I scraped paint with an old hotel card, dribbled paint, stencilled and finger painted. After a while, I began to see a shape form in one area that could be a simplified torso shape. That triggered the idea for a figure of some sort to be the focal point in my painting. I decided to add some gold paint in a circle. I didn’t like how central the circle was, however, so I pulled it into a tilting oval. That was what gave me an epiphany: the gold oval could be the wing of an Autumn Fairy.
So playing around and being intuitive got me to that juncture and then I worked more intentionally. I sharpened up the shapes that were the scaffolding of my idea and began the process of painting a figure. I kept my painting more illustrative and childish, like a picture book illustration, as befitted the subject matter. I used Neocolor II, Inktense pencils and Posca paint pens to refine everything and add the details. For all that my stencilling is still spectacularly terrible, I am quite pleased with how this piece turned out and feel like I am a step closer to striking that balance between intuitive and intentional. My chosen word, right at the beginning of Life Book, was “balance”. I am pleased I am finding it in different areas of my life.
This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to incorporate leaves onto the page. As much as I love seeing all the Autumn leaves transforming into myriad colours, glowing and glistering, burnished by the sun, I was not feeling inspired by this week’s challenge. I really can’t explain why. I had a few ideas but nothing that really got my creative pulse going.
I have been thinking recently about trying to progress with my plan of incorporating mixed media art techniques into my more regular, illustrative style of art and, therefore, determined to try that in response to this week’s challenge. I was pondering the fact that, as a child, I had a trilogy of Flower Fairy books by Cicely Mary Barker whose illustrations I used to pore over. I resolved, therefore, to draw my own fairy in my Art Journal. As I have mentioned before, I have a large oak tree in the garden of my new home so I drew an Oak Fairy complete with an acorn hat. I coloured her with watercolour and outlined with black ink. I washed bright yellow over the background of the page and decided to use a leaf stencil for added interest and to further contribute to the week’s leaf theme. I still need my learner plates when it comes to stencilling because I did not blot the paint adequately, leading to rather blotching leaf images. Lesson learned and yet another art journalling mistake chalked up to educational experience. I finished the page with a quotation from Albert Camus: “Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower”. I keep resolving to improve my typography, learn some new styles of handwriting, but somehow I keep defaulting to my own everyday handwriting. Usually I do so because I am pressed for time but this week it was because I had already messed the page up with my sloppy leaf background so I was not really motivated to go to much effort with the lettering.
My Oak Fairy was for DLP week 44 so there are now a mere 8 weeks left in this particular challenge – and alarmingly just 8 weeks until the end of 2014. Although I am going to use my blog Pict Ink for my art work, I will continue to share my DLP pages in this blog.