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

Rainbow Art Journal – Criss Cross

I love the combination of red and turquoise.  I love turquoise generally but there is just something about the combination of those two colours that really makes both sing, perhaps because it is an unexpected palette that works surprisingly well.  It’s a palette I have used quite a few times in my art work so when it came to the red pages in my Rainbow Art Journal I knew that turquoise would put in a guest appearance.  This piece turned out to be reminiscent of my Resting Acrobat from a few months ago.  I think that previous piece is more successful overall but the face is better in this piece since I managed to keep it closer to my original sketch and not let the proportions wander.

11b Criss Cross

Rainbow Art Journal – Little Red Riding Hood

My Rainbow Art Journal has segued out of its initial black stage into a red phase, as you may have observed.  I knew that somewhere in this section an interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood would appear because she and the wolf are characters who have cropped up time and time again in my art work over the years.  There is a definite connection in terms of palette and pattern between this new painting and a previous art journal page from 2015 but stylistically they are quite different.

I don’t know why I have always been drawn to Red Riding Hood as a fairytale because I was so wee when my moderate obsession started.  I do like wolves, love werewolves, and the psychological possibilities of the story of a girl journeying into the wilderness to confront and overcome a dangerous aspect of that wilderness.  With this art journal page, I wanted to depict the idea of the innocent girl and the bestial, primal wolf being interconnected, almost like a yin-yang balance.  That gave me the idea for the composition.  I actually thought to take some process shots as I worked on the double page spread over the course of a couple of weeks.  From the basic sketch, I then blocked in large areas of colour using acrylic paint.  I find that getting that one layer down really helps me as it creates a uniform surface on which to build additional layers and use a wider variety of media and it also immediately eliminates the white page so that I can more easily push some areas into the background while bringing other areas forward for emphasis.  It was then just a case of working away on the piece in little rations and gobbets of time, building up the tones and details.  I think of all of the Red Riding Hood pieces I have ever created, this is my favourite so far.

10a Red Riding Hood

10b Red Riding Hood

10c Red Riding Hood

10d Red Riding Hood

10e Red Riding Hood

Rainbow Art Journal – Snow White

Perhaps it was because the adjacent page was inspired by the fictional, dreamy world of Oz, or perhaps it was all the shiny red apples in the fruit bowl, but when I sat down at my art journal and looked at the blank page I decided that it should be a fairy tale and that tale should be Snow White.

I had fun experimenting with lots of different mixed media techniques on this journal page.  I collaged tissue paper, painted with gesso, and lifted paint to create texture.  I also forced myself to draw hands in a particular gesture.

9 Snow White

Rainbow Art Journal – Lady Death

Continuing with the monochrome black and white theme in my Rainbow themed art journal, I decided to challenge myself to work in white on top of black.  I did not have a subject in mind as I loaded the black acrylic on to the pages and actually cannot remember if anything in particular sparked the idea but I decided to draw an illustration of a female Death figure.  I opted against using pencil to sketch anything in so I worked directly in paint pen and gel pen to build up the figure, shape by shape, piece by piece.  The lack of pencil scaffolding meant that some of my proportions went skew-wiff (the arm on the right is too long) but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of working directly in pen and piecing all of the fragments together into one whole.  I did, however, completely use up my broader tipped paint pen so I really put the tools through a work out.  It took me a few sessions of drawing to complete it but it was a relaxing activity.

7a Lady Death

Rainbow Art Journal – Night and Day

I rarely ever work across two art journal pages.  The fact that I use a spiral bound journal does not lend itself to double spreads.  I thought, however, that I might attempt a sort of diptych, two pieces on two different pages but somehow visually linked.  I am glad I tried something new but the results didn’t leave me feeling I had accomplished much.  There is a strong visual connection between the two pages, which could be regarded as a success.  I introduced colour in order to differentiate between the two pages.  One of my kids suggested the idea of blue and yellow to represent night and day so I opted for those colours but otherwise did not pursue the idea of different lighting conditions.  I wanted to maintain the monochromatic theme and to connect the figures through use of silhouette.  Not being overly keen on the outcome of this pair of paintings, I kept circling back to these pages in my art journal, adding a tiny bit more here and there.  But I have now reached a point where I no longer feel inspired to tinker with the pages and want to call these pages done and set them by.  So done they are.

6a Night & Day

6b Night & Day

6c Night & Day

 

 

Cup of Tea

Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use a subtle colour palette.  I like limited colour palettes so I thought it would be fun to try one that was muted and subdued.  I had some free time on Saturday afternoon which was a cold and dull day, the sort of day when I drink copious mugs of hot tea, and that became my inspiration for the art journal page – a figure holding a cup of steaming tea and a background the same colour as milky black tea.  I worked on it in stages during the course of the afternoon and it was really pretty simple and straightforward.

5 Cup of Tea - subtle-muted palette