Nyx

I have never participated in official Art Therapy but I would definitely vouch for art being therapeutic.  I personally use it for stress busting and to invest in myself by topping up my reserves by taking some time out of life’s flurry of activity and just doing something focused and creative.  Therefore, while dealing with the aftermath of our basement flood, feeling completely frazzled, and being physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I knew that the best way in which I could recharge my batteries was to take some time out for art.  It was just the tool for decompression that I needed.

I used a recent Art Journal Adventure prompt – Celestial – and cracked open my art journal and opened my box of watercolours and got stuck in.  As those who follow my blog will know, I am interested in Greek Mythology so I decided to depict Nyx, the goddess of Night.  In Classical art, she was depicted as having wings or riding in a chariot but I kept the shapes and forms simple and made her body a flowing shape, a sort of cloak of spreading darkness.  By keeping the composition simple and letting wet paint run and flow, other than drying time, this whole illustration was done and dusted in no more than 20 minutes.  It was, therefore, really took no time at all out of my hectic day but left me feeling recharged and ready to battle on.

22 - Nyx - Goddess of Night - Art Journal Page

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Rainbow Art Journal – Icarus

One of my sons is obsessed with Greek Mythology – all of my kids were at one point – and that means that, thanks to osmosis, I have become a bit of a Greeky Mythology nerd myself.  The mythological figures, especially the monsters, therefore often appear in my sketchbooks.  A few years ago now, that theme was even the basis for a challenge I did to draw 40 drawings in 40 days.  I have contemplated returning to that theme for a whole series of drawings – but without the time challenge – but that shall be for some future juncture.  For now, I decided to draw Icarus in my Rainbow Art Journal.

I am currently working through the yellow section of my art journal and bold yellow suggested sunshine and sunshine suggested Icarus’ wings melting … This was my thought process.  This was another page that had some little underlying texture as I had previously scraped leftover white acrylic over the page.  You can spot the lumps and bumps.  I kept the illustration simple and, therefore, kept the colour palette limited.  I generally suck at drawing wings but I actually really like the way these turned out given that they are supposed to be a) manmade and b) broken.  I tried using spray inks to create some visual texture between the sun disc and the falling figure but it seems that the inks don’t perform well on top of acrylic – hello, learning opportunity – but it adds a sort of glow around the sun so at least it did not ruin the illustration.

39 - Icarus

Minotaur

This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “goddesses or monsters”.  As long term readers of my blog will know, I love mythology and especially Greek mythology.  I was, therefore, overwhelmed by the possibilities and suffered from a creatively crippling bout of indecision.  In the end, however, I decided to whip up a quick ink and watercolour illustration of a Minotaur.  The Minotaur is one of my favourite monsters and I had not drawn one for a while.  This one echoes the body shape and proportions of one I painted in an altered book three years ago.  I placed him on a grey background and used a more muted palette so suggest his labyrinth dwelling.  I kept second guessing myself as I am usually a bit more bold with my use of colour.  However, I am calling this illustration done.

21 - Minotaur

Iris – Mixed Media Mythology

The next lesson I undertook in Mixed Media Mythology was taken by Jeanette Montero.  The subject was Iris, goddess of the rainbow and messenger of Zeus.

As ever, I drifted quite far from the exemplar, taking ideas from the lesson and making them my own.  This time the elements I took from the tutorial were colourful spatter on a black background and incorporating the oenochoe jug.

Iris

I wanted to give my figure’s body a gentle curve to echo the curve of a rainbow.  I also had the idea of letting her lower body fade out rather like the ends of a rainbow fade out.  I am not convinced that latter decision has worked well in the composition, however.  I like the spectrum dots behind the figure but am not wholly convinced that they read as wings.

Gaia – Mixed Media Mythology

I won my place on the Mixed Media Mythology course through Julia Osterc and her Loving Road blog.  It was her lesson on Gaia that I tackled next.  In Greek Mythology, Gaia was one of the first gods, was the creator of Earth, and Mother of the gods and Titans among others.

Osterc’s approach to depicting Gaia was very intuitive, fluid, and organic.  That is not an approach that ever particularly rewards me.  I, therefore, took a different approach to constructing the painting.  I did, however, borrow three particular ideas from Osterc’s exemplar: the idea of Gaia as maternal or even grandmotherly, incorporating maps, and using collage elements as finishing details.

I have not drawn an elderly person for over two years so I really liked the idea of tackling the face of an older woman.  That then became the focus of my painting, getting that right. I clearly need some practice in this area but overall I am satisfied with what emerged.  I think she looks like a kindly granny.  I used a map from an old atlas as the clothing for Gaia, and I used an image of the globe from a postage stamp to become a pendant, forging that connection between her and Earth.  I used shades of green and blue for the same reason.

Gaia

Halcyone – Mixed Media Mythology

The next lesson I tackled in the Mixed Media Mythology course was another by Lucy Brydon.  This time the subject was Halcyone (or Alcyone) whose tale in Greek Mythology is one of hubris, punishment, loss, grief, and metamorphosis.  It is from her that the phrase “Halcyon Days” derives and she is also associated with kingfishers.

The lesson involved creating a splodgy, inky background.  I really enjoyed creating it though it possibly ended up being a bit too vivid and bold in comparison to the figure.  As the instruction was to draw a female profile and incorporate a kingfisher, my mind flitted to the Phoenix Woman painting I produced a short while ago and I decided to go with a similar composition.  I also borrowed from it the idea of making the kingfisher a type of headdress rather than attempting to paint a separate bird.  It helped me avoid having to paint a realistic bird but I also thought it might work thematically in terms of Halcyone’s transformation.

Halcyone

Eirene – Mixed Media Mythology

As I mentioned previously, in addition to taking the year long Life Book and Let’s Face It art courses, I was also lucky enough to win a spot on a course titled Mixed Media Mythology.  Happily this course is much briefer and is self-paced so I can fit it around my other art commitments which, in turn, have to fit around life.  The subjects of the lessons are goddesses from a variety of cultures.  As suggested by my 40 Drawings of Greek Mythology challenge and many of the monsters in my altered book project, I LOVE mythology so this course was very much my cup of tea.

The first lesson I chose to tackle was based on the Greek goddess Eirene.  The lesson was taken by Lucy Brydon and I must say it was a joy to watch video instructions delivered in a Scottish accent.  Brydon likes to incorporate monoprinting with the gelli plate into her paintings so it was great to see that in action.  I have used gelli plate prints in my mixed media work but as a collage element.  This time the printing was done as a layer of the painting.  I really loved the effect and can see me using that again in future.  I also learned a lot from Brydon’s approach to painting hair.

I actually used a recent ink drawing as the inspiration for this painting.  I wanted to challenge myself to meld my style of drawing with mixed media painting, experiment and see how it turned out.  As Eirene was the goddess of peace, my intention had been to incorporate a dove into the painting.  However, I chickened (or doved?) out of it when the time came, too concerned I would paint a goofy looking pigeon and thereby wreck the whole piece.  I, therefore, indicated the idea of peace through using pale, harmonious colours and some olive branches in her hair.

1 Eirene 1

1 Eirene 2

I like how the painting turned out except that the facial proportions went a bit Modigliani on me.  I have thought so before but I definitely need to get an easel so that my perspective in relation to the paper is more accurate.  My standing easel did not survive emigration.  I am considering a table top easel because of the way I work, in fits and starts, as that would allow me to leave it set up longer.