It seems like eons since I last cracked open my Rainbow themed Art Journal and created anything in its pages. It’s definitely been a good few months. Thanks to a Snow Day, however, I found myself with an extra ration of free time so I decided to produce another piece in the orange section of my art journal – which is only the third section – I am really not making great progress with this project. As we all know, orange and blue are complementary colours so I decided to play around with that palette for this page. The subject is another one of my reworkings of one of my older illustrations in a different medium. I much prefer the proportions of the face in the ink and watercolour original but I like the strength of the colours in this piece. I do enjoy the asymmetrical composition too. I will be glad to see the back of the orange pages of this art journal, however. That should motivate me to keep working in it.
In addition to being a place for creative play and experimentation, I am aiming for my Rainbow Art Journal to be a record of what I can do with the various art materials and media I own. This page, therefore, is a record of how three of the Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers interact with each other. Consequently, I knew that I wanted to produce an illustration that was splotchy and liquidy and involved puddles and blossoms of pigment. I decided that flame would be the perfect subject for such an experiment in the orange section of the journal so I chose to draw a flame sprite. The page got very wrinkled from all the liquid media but I am happy with the final outcome. I think she is a pleasing wee character and I got some lovely interactions between the different watercolour markers.
This page is another example of me cannibalising my own work and seeing if I can regurgitate it in a different way or using a different media. The basis for this page is an ink and watercolour illustration I produced as part of a challenge to produce 100 faces. I decided to attempt reproducing the face but using mixed media. The orange background has photographed a little brighter than it actually is. In reality it is closer to an apricot hue, hence me titling this page “peaches and cream” for the contrast between that orange shade and the white disc that frames the head. I also kept the skin tones quite pale which means she could be said to have a peaches and cream complexion.
I had not done much in my Rainbow Art Journal since March so I decided to use some free time to start and finish a page in one sitting. I turned to a blank page in the orange sector, got out some orange drawing ink and some black India ink, a pot of water, and got to work. My intention had been to keep things loose because that is something I find to be challenging. I started out well and it is possible to detect the areas where I let the ink puddle and run and dribble. I struggle with abstraction because I don’t know how to balance the elements and create focus so I decided I would carve a figure out of the ink. Of course, inevitably, I ended up with a too tight illustration as a result. Fail! Ugh. Maybe I should just give up trying to work in a loose, uninhibited, less intentional way.
This art journal page was really an exploration of ways to create visual texture. My inspiration was a painting I did for Life Book last year because I like the visual imagery of flame and ash. I actually thought to take progress shots of this art journal page so I can show the different stages of its creation. I started with a really simple line drawing.
To create the background texture, I scraped some orange paint onto the page with an old hotel room card. I then used that same card to lift up some of the paint from the page so that it created some texture, sort of feathering and ripples. To create the texture on the torso, I painted it black and then layered some red paint over the top. Before the red paint had fully dried, I pressed down some damp paper onto the surface so that it lifted up some of the paint and created a visual texture that I hoped would be reminiscent of charring.
The final element of visual texture was my old friend spatter. I spattered some black and red paint to create the idea of ash and embers floating upwards from the flames.
I liked the effect of all of the techniques I used in this page. It might be a bit much that I used them all at once but maybe it works for my thematic purposes. I am definitely pleased that the finished page still resembles my initial sketch as that has not always been the case.
I have not been doing a great job of keeping up with Life Book lessons and, as such, my mixed media skills are getting a tad rusty. A quieter weekend than usual afforded me the opportunity to tackle the most recent lesson. I took the concept of that lesson and put my own spin on it. I have been doing a lot of drawing lately – for my extended Inktober and the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project – so the drawing that underpinned this piece was actually really strong. I am, therefore, frustrated that I completely lost the quality of that drawing as I layered media on top of it. It proves the point, however, that I have allowed that particular skill set to rust up. Still, as disappointing as the outcome is to me, I enjoyed spending a decent ration of time sitting at my art table this weekend.
This week there were two Life Book lessons. I only had time available to tackle one of them so I opted to respond to the lesson taken by Tamara Laporte which involved creating a mixed media portrait of Frida Kahlo. I am absolutely not a portraitist. I cannot capture people’s likenesses accurately at all. The idea of even attempting to portray someone as immediately recognisable as Frida Kahlo was pretty intimidating but that was precisely why I decided to dive in and give it a try: growth through challenge.
Frida Kahlo seems to be pretty zeitgeisty at the moment. I am seeing lots of homages and merchandise here and there. I confess I am not a massive fan of Kahlo’s art. I appreciate it and recognise its worth but it just doesn’t speak to me in the same way that the work of other artists does. I actually find her more inspirational as a person than I do as an artist. As such, I didn’t have an immediate idea of how to portray her. I flicked through some photographs of her and scribbled down some ideas and sketches – the hair style, the daring clothing that emphasised her female sexuality, the use of bold colours. All of those found their way into my finished piece. Laporte had incorporated a parrot into her portrait of Kahlo and I took that idea and turned it into a parrot wing. I had also thought I would add some big jungle leaf shapes into the background, a feature I noted in several of Kahlo’s self-portrait, but in the end I decided that it would all get a bit too busy and let it be.
I am not sure how I feel about this piece yet. I think I need to give it some time before I make a judgement about its successes and flaws. My husband, who has a minimal interest in the history of art, immediately recognised this as being a portrait of Frida Kahlo, however, so at least I must have somewhat met the challenge of painting a passable likeness.