I decided to tackle an Art Journal Adventure prompt in my art time. The prompt I chose from the ones I have skipped was the letter J combined with “something that shows half”. Frequent readers of my blog will know how my mind works and understand why I immediately settled upon illustrating Jekyll and Hyde. I interpreted “half” was being about duality but also chose to represent it literally by splitting my illustration in half and making one side more Jekyll and one side more Hyde. I think I just about got what was in my head onto paper.
On Sunday a very rare event occurred: I found myself at home alone for over an hour. I decided that this was such a blue moon alignment of schedules that I was entirely justified in spending the whole time on myself. Of course, inevitably I pottered around and frittered away time for a bit but I did settle down at my art table, open up my art journal, and set to work. For the first time in a very long time, I completed an art journal page, from beginning to end, in one setting. I used the drying time of the first layer for a cup of tea.
I decided to work on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was the letter G. As I have mentioned before, I like vague prompts because they are so open-ended but I appreciate having a prompt as a nudge to just get on with something, anything. I was in a spooky, monster making sort of mood so I decided that G would be for Ghost. I wanted my ghost to be appearing out of the gloom so I started by making the page dark and gradually pulled in lighter layers while narrowing the focus until I was using white for the highlights on the ghostly figure. The proportions, especially of the arms, are terrible but who cares really. It’s only an art journal page and, besides which, she’s a ghost. Perfection isn’t an option when you are the wailing, moaning, unsettled undead.
Ultimately the outcome on the page is irrelevant. What really matters is that, after a long period of meagre rations of art time, I got to spend a whole feast of time playing around with art materials and getting messy.
This was the second of the art journal pages I created while at my monthly art journaling group. I created it in response to two Art Journal Adventure prompts – bird and the letter I. I am being a bit cheeky with the letter I since I decided it is covered by my use of indigo. What inspired the illustration, however, was the song ‘Wings of a Dove’ by Madness. I have been on a bit of a musical nostalgia kick recently, introducing my sons to more of the music I was into when I was their ages and younger. For that reason, I had been listening to the track shortly before heading out to the meet up and, with the lyrics still in my mind’s ear, I decided to come up with an illustration. It’s drawn with Inktense pencils with a little bit of micron pen for the vine patterns on the clothing. I find my Inktense pencils are ideal for portable art because they can be easily activated with a water brush, are fixed when dry, and dry pretty quickly.
Have I mentioned (more than a zillion times?) that I am over Winter and yearning for Spring? A couple of weeks ago, I saw a rabbit bound across my yard and I thought that was a sure sign. Turns out that bunny was just a dimwit who needed to stay in his burrow a bit longer. I also noted that our daffodils were sprouting out of the dirt. That was another hopeful sign. Then the shoots got buried under a foot of snow. Spring has to be soon though. It has to.
My latest art journal page was, therefore, inspired by thoughts of Spring. The Art Journal Adventure prompt was S which fitted perfectly with my intention of creating a Spring themed art journal page. The idea is a personification of Spring waking from a slumber and starting to bloom. I must confess that this was a far better idea in my head than translated on the page. I had to work in a whole load of small rations of time which certainly did not help in terms of cohesion and the fact that I rushed through some of the elements is very visible. I like the idea, however, and might return to it when I have more time to accomplish a better execution. I will state that my art work is perfectly straight – it is my iphone photography that is squint.
Maybe it was because I recently collaged a lobster into an art journal page or maybe it is my fondness for all things monstrous, but the next subject in my Rainbow Art Journal turned out to be a Lobster Girl. It’s the page where I am transitioning between red and orange so I guess that combination of colours sparked my imagination and set it off in that direction. Whatever the inspiration, when I put pencil to paper, this was the illustration that emerged.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.