The Muse of Spatter

Frequent readers of this blog will know that I really do enjoy a bit of spatter in my art work so I was very happy to learn that spatter was the basis of this week’s Life Book lesson.  The lesson was taken by Mandy Van Goeije and was about starting loose and abstract and then finding some form within that abstraction to turn into an illustration, generating text to support that illustration, and layering watercolour and other media on top of a splattery, puddly watercolour background.

I decided to use the primary colours for my spatter because it was what was demonstrated in the tutorial and because I recognised that it was a palette that I don’t often use.  I often add spatter at some stage in my art work but it was a twist on things to actually use the spatter as the starting point.  I am not someone who tends to get creatively blocked because of having a blank page but I imagine this is a good way to get past that problem.

16a Muse of Spatter

Once I had the spattery layer, I had to look for shapes and forms within it that suggested the starting point for an illustration.  It is human nature to see facial features in inanimate objects (a quick google told me it is called “pareidolia”) and it is something I certainly do.  When looking at my spattery layer, however, the form I saw emerge was a human figure – a tilted head surrounded by red hair and, in the negative space – upraised arms and hands.  I think my brain determining I would see a human figure is probably an extension of the same phenomenon that has people seeing faces.  When coming up with the story element of my art work and the text, I decided my figure should be the Muse of Spatter and wrote “The Muse of Spatter dances wherever she pleases and creates from chaos” as I felt that basically encapsulated the theme of the lesson and what I created as a result of it.

16b Muse of Spatter

Girl with Antlers

Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Annie Hamman.  I really love Hamman’s paintings and enjoy watching her process but it is a style and methodology I can never get to work for me as I am neither painterly or loose enough in the way I handle paint.  I have, therefore, really enjoyed the previous Annie Hamman lessons I have worked on but I always end up with something much more rigid and controlled than the anticipated outcome.  This lesson was no exception.

I enjoyed all of the techniques deployed in the lesson, such as painting over collage and painting negative space, but I was neither intuitive or loose enough in my mark making.  That’s OK though.  That way of creating just isn’t me.  What was disappointing was that my choice to use blue for underpainting and layering up the shadows of the face didn’t dissipate enough in subsequent layers and the flesh tones ended up sallow and sickly looking as a result.  (Incidentally, the phone photo makes the colours much paler than they are in real life because the light levels have just been so dreary here lately.)  I am, however, happy with the negative painting around the antlers, the pushing back of and forward from the collage layer, and the gold of the halo.  I think this is another one of those lessons I will attempt again, perhaps in my art journal, as I liked the approach and have hopefully learned something from the underpainting oops.

13 Girl with Antlers

Galaxy Girl

My response to this week’s Life Book lesson is an example of my commitment to share my art work from that course whether I like the outcome or not.  The lesson was taken by Susana Tavares and was about illustrating with watercolour and adding finishing details with pen.  It was a lesson that should have been comfortably within my wheelhouse but somehow I still went wrong.  I started with the face and struggled to render decent flesh tones.  I think I went too heavy with the ochre for the shadows, I didn’t maintain enough white paper for highlights, and I didn’t get the pinks looking rosy enough.  The hair was completed using a wet in wet technique and I definitely overdid it as it all feathered and bloomed more than I intended.  Straying from the exemplar in the tutorial, I decided the hair could be like the night sky, and I decided to string the planets from our solar system around her neck like a beaded necklace.  It was not a well thought through execution of the concept.  I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was completely over-scheduled and exhausted this week.  For me, art is a useful counterpoint to a stressful week but that does not mean the product is always as worthwhile as the act of creation itself.

12 Galaxy Girl

Pearl Girl

Last week’s Life Book lesson was one I really struggled with.  I had never taken a lesson with Lindsay Weirich so it was great to see a different approach to art demonstrated.  The lesson involved using pearly paint and gouache.  I have a little of the former but none of the latter so I improvised and used other media.  Stenciling was involved and I suck at stencilling but I decided to force myself to not skip that stage.  It started well enough with a pleasing blend of blue, pink, and yellow pearl paint; but then it entered an ugly phase and – when I tried to rescue it –  into an even uglier phase until it looked like sparkling sewage.  It took layer after layer of paint and more time and effort than I actually had available to try and eliminate the glittery poop stage and haul it screaming and kicking back into something half decent.  Then, frankly, I was all out of time and all out of willingness to invest in this one piece.  Time to stop flogging the dead horse and move on to new and less poopy pastures.

11a Pearl Girl

Rainbow Art Journal – The Girl with Words in her Hair

Thanks to a weekend that for once was not crammed with activities or commitments, I found time to work in my colour themed art journal.  I am still in the black/monochrome pages and this time I wanted to play around with using the black and white of printed text.  Readers who follow both my blogs might recognise the model for this page as being a drawing – titled Aubrey because of Aubrey Beardsley – from my series of 100 Faces.  I thought it would be interesting to see if I could recreate a face I had illustrated in ink and watercolour using acrylic paint and collage.  There is definitely more precision in the ink drawn version but I am not displeased with the way this mixed media piece turned out.  I do like the hair made of book pages so that was a worthwhile experiment.

5 Girl with Words in her Hair

Negative and Positive Figure

Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Donna Downey.  It was all about being playful with colours and mark making, and layering with paints and shapes, to create a colourful and abstract piece.  I managed to keep my control freakery in check and let my inner child go wild with colour but I maybe got a bit carried away and the result was a tad messy.  I also struggle with creating abstract art because I get too stuck in my head and end up with strong visual ideas that lend themselves to more representational or figurative art.  That was precisely what happened with this piece too.  I, therefore, just went with it and produced a more whimsical female figure whose form contains the shapes of a whale’s tail, leaves, and a heart while the space around her head contains two birds.  I always enjoy painting negative spaces so that the background becomes the positive image so that was the element of this lesson that really appealed to me and made me feel relaxed.

Week 50 - Colourful Abstractions

Red Headed Girl

It may have taken me a week to view and then work through the final lesson of the Let’s Face It course but I got it done and, therefore, despite having skipped a few lessons, have completed the course.  I feel a mixture of accomplishment and relief.  I feel relief because trying to stay on top of all my art commitments while solo parenting and working has become a bit of a source of pressure, another thing to cram into my already bulging schedule.  But mostly I feel like I have achieved something by undertaking and completing this course over the past 12 months.  When I compare the faces I was painting in January with those I am painting now, I definitely think there has been an improvement in my ability to construct faces – still a lot of progress to be made but definite steps in the right direction.  I have also learned a few more techniques and approaches with painting and mixed media to keep experimenting with and developing.

This then is my response to the final lesson of the course.  I thought I would share a few progress shots since I actually remembered to take some for once.  I can see that the eyes started off slightly different sizes, a flaw that was magnified as I added each new layer so that finally the eyes have ended up pretty wonky.  Otherwise, however, I am fairly happy with this painting so I get to end on a positive note.

Week 49 - Final Lesson 1

Week 49 - Final Lesson 2

Week 49 - Final Lesson 3