Rainbow Art Journal – Red Column Woman

Someone asked me recently if I ever return to past works and have another stab at them in order to apply sharpened skills or a more developed style.  I do return time and again to certain subjects – zombies, Red Riding Hood, skeletal elements, mythology – but I don’t generally have another crack at a past artwork.  I thought, however, that maybe it could be an interesting exercise to take a few works in a medium I am more comfortable with -namely ink and watercolour – and try depicting the exact same subject using mixed media.  I decided to use some of my illustrations from my 100 Faces challenge.

First up for the experiment was my 85th drawing in the series, which I had titled “Confidence”.  I chose it largely because I was working in the red section of my Rainbow Art Journal and I had remembered how much I liked the effect of the bold red ink pooling and puddling.  I also chose it because it was an illustration I actually really liked in the series.  I lost the more diagonal composition, which I definitely prefer, and I think the new version of the face looks more sullen and bored than confident.  I am also not happy with that busy, blotchy background and may paint that out at some stage.  However, as first experiments go, it is not such a failure that I will abandon the whole enterprise.  Not just yet anyway.

17 Red Column Woman

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Rainbow Art Journal – Masque of the Red Death

Since visiting two of Edgar Allan Poe’s former houses recently, I wanted to include something Poe-inspired in my Rainbow Art Journal.  So, still focusing on the red section, I decided to create a page inspired by the story ‘The Masque of the Red Death’.  I enjoy working with a limited colour palette and that was true of this page which is restricted to just red, black, and white.  You may have noted that I also return fairly regularly to the subject of skulls and skeletons.  I don’t think I am generally a macabre person; I just find that sort of thing fascinating.  I am fairly pleased with how this page turned out.  It was a struggle to maintain the proportions across the two pages and ultimately I failed to do so but I think the illustration still works.  Just.  I use spiral bound journals for convenience but they definitely hinder my ability with double page spreads, that’s for sure.  Still, I like the finished pages enough that I may use them as inspiration for a proper painting at some stage.

16a Masque of the Red Death

16b Masque of the Red Death

Rainbow Art Journal – Visions of Lobster and Berries

It has been months since I completed a page in my Rainbow Art Journal but the winter break afforded me the opportunity to sit at my art table while my kids played video games or otherwise kept themselves occupied.  This particular page has been progressing for a good couple of months now as I just kept adding on layers of collage and then of paint.

The background is a photo (by Yan Gao) from a National Geographic magazine depicting an aerial view of a town in Tibet.  I thought the pattern of red roofs might prove to be an interesting background to a page in the red section of my Rainbow Art Journal.  I then glued down a random face cut from a magazine, some raspberries, red butterfly wings and a lobster just to add to the red theme.  Apart from ensuring the face was central, it was all placed in a pretty haphazard way.  It then sat at that stage for many weeks until I could return to it and practice painting over collage.

15a Visions of Lobster and Berries

It is interesting to me that the face ended up so flat.  Having started with a photograph of a face as my scaffolding, one would assume that the face painted on top of it would be similar.  I suspect I layered the paint too thickly and lost all sense of there even having been a face below.  The wings and berries became a sort of headdress or headband and the lobster became a sort of outsized brooch I suppose – unless we choose to imagine that the woman is being attacked by a lobster.  I painted the lobster a more vivid red, however, so he’d have to be an undead zombie lobster attacking the figure.

15b Visions of Lobster and Berries

Not a very successful page by any measure then but I am glad to have finally completed this page after the journal being untouched and the page having been in stasis for so long.  Onward and hopefully upward.

Outward from the Centre

Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “outward from the centre”.  I initially had a much more complex and time consuming idea in mind but it took me over a week to even get the chance to open my art journal so I decided to ditch that idea and produce a simple illustration in ink and watercolour instead.  I drew a figure – somewhat inspired by Lady Rainicorn from ‘Adventure Time’ – by taking the prompt literally and starting at the centre and working my way outwards in a spiral.  Then it was simply a case of filling in the figure with watercolour and drawing in the details using black ink.

43 - Outwards from the Centre

Lilac Dusk

I have had an exhausting week, physically and mentally.  Being crazily busy is my norm but this week has been beyond the norm.  I almost fell asleep on the sofa one afternoon.  Whenever everyday life gets a bit overwhelming, I know I have to try and scratch out some art time as a way to find balance and decompress.  That is why I decided to tackle this week’s Life Book lesson.  This week’s lesson was taken by Annie Hamman.  I have viewed and responded to a few art lessons taken by Hamman by this stage in my exploration of mixed media and I decided some time ago that her style of painting, her technique, was not something that was going to work for me.  I want to hone and develop my own style of art, after all, so pushing myself to try a mode of painting that prevents me from achieving that goal makes no sense.  I, therefore, pick and choose elements from the lesson that I can utilise for pushing my own creativity while ignoring the aspects like layering paint with a palette knife.

When I thought of a figure who was serene and peaceful, I thought of one whose arms were crossed because she was not busy doing something.  Hands at rest.  In my busy week, idle hands would definitely be a luxury.  The female figure I painted ended up looking a bit huffy because of the pose but that doesn’t matter to me because I know what made me choose that position for the hands.  I tried to keep the colour palette light and pale to suggest calm.  The finished piece makes me think of my Twilight Garden painting from last year.  I take that as a good sign that I am developing my own style – or at least one of many of my styles.

38 - Lilac Dusk

While my art time is limited, I am still beavering away with my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook project, approaching the half-way mark.  You can see what I am up to on my other blog and on Instagram.

Reduce; Reuse; Recycle; Replenish – Art Journal Page

Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was another guest blog post by my friend Jana.  Her theme was “trash to treasure” and she had all sorts of ingenious ideas for using everyday objects destined for the recycling bin as tools for mixed media art.  I ended up keeping my page pretty simple, with barely any layers, because I was short on time but I have squirreled away many of Jana’s ideas for future reference.

I started my page without having any idea of where it would go or what might emerge.  I had a foodie magazine in the recycling bin so I rescued it and, selecting brightly coloured pages, ripped it into strips using a ruler.  This meant the strips were more or less straight and of a uniform width.  I adhered the strips to the page and coated the whole thing in matte medium so that I could work on top of it.

37a Recycle-Reuse-Repurpose-Replenish

It stayed that way for almost the entire week, sitting on my art table waiting for me to have time to return to it.  When I did sit down at the art table again, I decided to do some negative space painting and – since I like simplified female figures – that was what ended up emerging as I added the white acrylic.  I seem to have a thing right now for puffy, cloud-like hair too but in this case I think it worked out well as the width of the hair balances out the width of the ballooning skirt.

37b Recycle-Reuse-Repurpose-Replenish

Next time I sat down in my art space, I added the details using various media.  The last thing I did was to stamp the words “reduce”, “reuse”, “recycle”, and ‘replenish” in the space around the figure as that seemed in the spirit of the page.

37c Recycle-Reuse-Repurpose-Replenish.jpg

Protective Pod

Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Connie Solera.  It was a bit too “art as therapy” for my personal taste but I was inspired by the imagery of the painting Solera demonstrated and decided to create my own twist on the idea, moulding the lesson to fit my own style.  There are many layers in this mixed media painting, more layers than I typically work with, but I enjoyed switching between the chaotic looseness of the background and the more tight illustration of the female figure curled up inside a pod shape in the centre, even if it probably makes the piece visually unbalanced.

36 - Protective Pod