Paint Brush Typography

Next up for my Life Book catch-up session was a bonus lesson by Joanne Sharpe.  Sharpe had taken one of the first ever Life Book lessons I did and I had enjoyed it immensely, especially the liberating message that my own handwriting was good enough for my art.  Since I still have not gotten around to developing my skills with typography, it was good to have that reinforced.  The focus of the lesson was on using either a paint brush or water brush with watercolour as a tool for writing and to write empowering or inspirational words and phrases on a full sized piece of paper and on smaller cards.

I did both projects and it was pleasingly quick to create them.  My Dad is a very skilled and experienced painter of vehicles including an ability to do sign-writing by hand.  Apparently I have not inherited his ability to write in straight lines or to achieve consistency because my text is very skew-wiff on the page.  Never mind.  I enjoyed the lesson and certainly feel more confident with writing with a paint brush than I did before.  I also think I have potential to develop my skills to achieve greater precision.

Week 33 - Paint Brush Writing

Week 33 - Word Cards

The Monstrous Mermaid or Embracing Mistakes

I learned quite a few things from this week’s Life Book lesson.

Firstly, it is a good idea not to stand my mug of boiling water and lemon next to my water jar as it is inevitable that a paint covered brush will end up in the drink.

Secondly, I need to curb the temptation of going off piste so much.  Eager to marry my own style to the techniques being taught, I am being too impulsive.  I need to find the time to follow the tutorials more closely, even emulating the tutor’s style, before embarking on a version in my own style.

Thirdly, that my promise to myself to embrace all of my mistakes as learning opportunities can feel quite challenging at times.

This week’s bonus lesson was led by Patti Ballard and the technique demonstrated was painting on top of collage with acrylic.  Ballard’s instructional video depicted her painting a ballerina on a tightrope and the phrase “Courage Dear Heart”.  Ballerinas are not really my thing.  In fact, the one really good pen and ink drawing I ever did of a ballerina I gave away to a friend.  The idea of painting one, therefore, didn’t really trigger any enthusiasm in me so I decided to paint a mermaid instead.  I have been planning to carve a mermaid lino block print for ages but cannot seem to settle on a design so in the mean time I thought I would use one for this lesson.

The collage step went well.  I used some papers and some of my gelli prints and it all looked quite harmonious.  And then it  came time to paint.

I am really quite inexperienced with acrylic paint.  I am comfortable with pencil, charcoal, ink and watercolour but I have not yet gotten the hang of acrylic.  I think the first mistake I made, therefore, was using paint that was too heavy bodied.  Something a little more fluid may have helped me a lot more with blending.  My second mistake was to go too dark with my colour palette.  I wanted to ensure that the painting stood out against the background papers but in retrospect I should have toned the colours down a lot more.

It was not long before the whole thing was just looking like a complete and utter mess.  I have read a few times that it is important to just keep going, plough on through the ugly stage and have confidence that it will all pull together.  So I powered on.  It got a little better but was still pretty ugly.  Adding lots of dots and circles in different shades of blue and white just made it a more highly patterned mess.  Oh dear.  The chance of it all pulling together into something cohesive and aesthetically pleasing was looking unlikely.

As I pondered the concatenation of errors in my painting, reflected on how I needed to turn this failure into a valuable learning opportunity, I decided that the phrase I should stamp onto my painting was “Go with the flow”.  That is the type of courage I need with this mixed media art course.  I need to do my own thing a bit less, conform a bit more, accept that I will stumble – sometimes badly – but keep on trying.  I need to stop being a self-critical control freak and need to just “go with the flow”.

So here, in all her monstrous glory, is my mermaid.

Week 4 - Acrylic on Collage - Courage

Art Feeds The Soul

If you have followed my explorations into art journaling and mixed media for long enough. you will know that one of the things I keep meaning to do – yet never seem to get around to – is to develop my typography skills, research and try new styles, make the writing in my art work more creative.  I have adopted a different style once or twice in this past year but generally I keep on defaulting to my own handwriting.  I was, therefore, very happy to learn that the lesson for week 3 of Life Book was all about typography as that meant an opportunity to practice a skill I had been keen to hone.

The lesson was taken by Joanne Sharpe, who is famed for her whimsical lettering.  I am obviously not going to summarise the lesson in this post because, of course, Life Book is a fee paying course and the lesson is Sharpe’s intellectual copyright.  However, the thrust of the lesson was that one should just use one’s own handwriting as the scaffolding for typography in mixed media art work.  So instead of feeling lazy for constantly defaulting to my own handwriting I should be embracing that.  It was like being given permission to stop berating myself over never getting to that To Do item on my lengthy list of art projects.

I followed the lesson closely for the most part.  I do not own any of the pens that were being recommended in the tutorial but my trusty old Faber-Castell Pitt Pens did the job.  I did not use the suggested doodles but instead did my own thing with a bunny and birds, some leaves and acorns.  I think I was pondering my Into The Woods art project which has gone dormant from lack of free time.  I have been using muted versions of jewel colours in my art work a lot lately – the same palette I used in my Advent twinchies – and I used them again in this piece.  I must push myself to use a completely different palette next time, however.  Maybe even use some colours I rarely use.

Week 3 - Typography - Use your own Handwriting

I am quite pleased with how this exercise turned out. Certainly it was liberating to actually be directed to use my own handwriting rather than thinking I was copping out.  Maybe my doodles could have been more sophisticated but then maybe the painting would have been less me.  Daft plump bunnies and geeky birds are me.

Numbering my Week – Art Journal Page

This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to use numbers related to your week.  As I am about to move house and have a lot going on, however, I did not have time in which to gather up the numbers from my week and then create a page around them in my art journal.  Instead I decided to just think of numbers pertaining to things that are going on in my life right now, whether confined to this week or not.  Short on time, I decided to create a straightforward background: handwritten numbers, coloured with cheap watercolour paint, to form a sort of patchwork.  Then I simply used black ink to write about the relevant numbers.  It’s all pretty self-explanatory.

This was another opportunity to improve my typography but, as you can see, it was an opportunity I didn’t take.  That is still just my own handwriting with the downstrokes gone back over to create some thickness.  Thankfully my handwriting is legible and fairly attractive but I really must find the time to work on different fonts.

I used to own a calligraphy pen.  I had it for years, since my early teens.  When we were packing up all of our belongings to relocate from Scotland to the US, it did not make the cut because I had not used it in almost two decades.  I have no idea why I thought sacrificing a single pen was going to make much difference to my shipping load but I guess I was just in the zone of being ruthless and using strict criteria to determine what was happening to each item in the house.  I had never gotten the hang of calligraphy.  The first thing I tried writing, back when I was 13, went wrong because of my poor spacing.  So instead of an encouraging motto to readers and writers, I ended up with a piece of vellum that stated that “the penis mightier than the sword”.  That pretty much set the tone for my aptitude with calligraphy.  Maybe I could have been making good use of that pen now had I kept it and kept trying.  But I didn’t.  So I just need to try and find the time to work on my penmanship and experiment with a writing style other than my own usual handwriting.

Week 34 - Numbers from your week - writing