Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “2”. I almost immediately decided to draw the Grady twins from ‘The Shining’, which probably tells you something about the workings of my brain. ‘The Shining’ is one of my favourite horror movies because I love how open to interpretation it is, how unresolved it all remains, and how unsettling it is for those very reasons. Those are precisely the same reasons why my husband loathes the movie. The Grady twins are significant in the film in terms of contributing to the disturbing atmosphere and in terms of their symbolism. I drew Danny from ‘The Shining’ for Inktober 2016 but in some ways I am surprised that I have not drawn the Grady twins in many years. Maybe I should add a whole Shining series of illustrations to my ever-growing Art To Do list.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to include song lyrics or the title of a song in the art journal page. You may recall that I enjoy vague prompts that allow my imagination to wander off in all sorts of directions but with music I did not know where to start. We listen to a lot of music as a family and have very eclectic tastes. When doing chores, I have music playing so I can karaoke my way through the house and I also always play music when I am at my art table drawing or painting. I, therefore, could have chosen any number of songs as the inspiration for my page this week.
I thought about springboarding from the last piece of music I had listened to before reading the prompt. That was Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens which had massive potential as a subject for illustration (and, in fact, I had illustrated it when I was in High School) but I knew I did not have the free time available this week to take on something with that degree of detail. The last album I listened to in its entirety was Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ so I pondered that for a bit. Meanwhile I asked my kids for suggestions since they are always a great resource for inspiration. Elvis, Prince, The Beatles, The Beastie Boys, Elton John, The White Stripes and Frank Sinatra all featured in their suggestions but one idea immediately gave me a strong visual: Space Oddity. As soon as my 10 year old said it, I knew that was going to be the song I depicted on my journal page, perhaps because David Bowie was always so strongly and uniquely visual.
I kept my illustration simple partly out of choice – I do love just plain old pen and ink – and partly out of necessity – my old nemesis, time. It depicts David Bowie (I hope that is clear even though I am not a good portraitist) floating through space in spacesuit, untethered but calm. I obviously did not use any reference images in creating the spacesuit. It is definitely more ‘Lost in Space’ than NASA, that’s for sure. I swithered over including either the song title or the lyric “the stars look very different today” in the illustration but decided against it because a) my calligraphy is not the best and b) I could not work out the placement for the words in the composition. I hope the song reference is clear without the words.
I hate to waste paint so, if I find I have some paint left over from a project, I smear it into a page in my art journal where it stays as a potential first layer for some future creating. One such page of leftovers was the basis for this week’s art journal page. It was created in response to the Art Journal Adventure prompt for this week: the letter O. I like vague prompts because they give me the nudge to create while giving me the scope to really do whatever I want. You may have noticed that I like to illustrate skeletons. They are never anatomically correct and I cannot really put my finger on why I am so drawn to them as a subject but I just go with it. Do what you enjoy, right? I, therefore, ended up illustrating the skeleton of an ouroboros. The O had made me think of circles and hoops and infinity and that made me think of ouroboros, which handily begins with the letter O, and it instantly became a skeleton in my mind’s eye. An ouroboros – just in case you didn’t know – is a serpent consuming its own tale, an image found in many mythologies, symbolising eternity through the endless cycle of life and death.
It is only January and I am already so over Winter. I like to be warm and cosy. I dislike shovelling. My kids have not and will not have a full week of school this month thanks to snow days, early dismissals, and late arrivals. While I love spending time with my kids, it has been pretty disruptive and we are a family who does better with routine. Winter is the price I pay for getting to enjoy the other seasons of the year. Alas, it is too early for me to even start searching out the first signs of Spring.
Anyway, thoughts of snow, ice, and winter chill inspired my most recent art journal page. Technically it is a response to the Art Journal Adventure prompt which was the letter A. I had already been thinking about creating an illustration of a Yeti so I am just labelling him as the Abominable Snowman to fulfil the prompt. I love monsters and mythology and cryptids so I always enjoy drawing them. This yeti is inspired by a painting I did in my altered book of monsters a couple of years ago. That painting was just the face but this time I drew the whole body.
Having spent such little time at my art table this past month, I decided to participate in the challenge of using the materials from my December Art Snacks subscription box to create something. Between working in a preschool and doing festive stuff with my own kids, I have been up to my eyeballs in cutesy, whimsical, adorable winter arts and crafts. I, therefore, decided that I needed an antidote and looked to one of my default art subjects for inspiration: zombies.
The box included a pad of Grumbacher mixed media paper and its narrow format gave me the idea of drawing a zombie squeezing through a narrow shape. I had not used a Krink paint marker before so I watered its acrylic down and used it to fill in the entire illustration. The Bruynzeel coloured pencils added more shading and detail to the zombie and then I used the green Pentel Slicci gel pen to create a frame around the drawing. The box also included a Caran d’Ache gold marker but I will use that in other future projects. It just didn’t strike me as right for a zombie. I have missed drawing zombies. I need to draw more of them.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was provided by my friend Jana. Jana has a way of creating wonderfully curated collages with mixed media elements and lots of visual texture. She produced one such piece as her exemplar for her guest blog post. I aspire to put together collages as wonderful as the ones Jana produces but I am not there yet. I don’t have a collection of ephemera to riffle through either, just random papers. I, therefore, decided to use Jana’s page as jumping-off inspiration rather than strictly adhering to the prompt.
I did technically start the page with a collage but it was just a case of roughly adhering some book page scraps to the journal page and then knocking the whole thing back with a layer of white acrylic. I loved the colour scheme in Jana’s collage so I too opted for a palette that was monochromatic and neutral with a pop of red. What I was really taken with was the use of stitching as a mark-making tool. I am not someone who has much skill or ability with fabric arts or textiles and my sewing skills are limited to hand-sewing and are very basic. I, therefore, would not normally think to add stitches to my art journal pages but that was precisely why I wanted to do so in response to this prompt. I really enjoyed it as a different way to add marks to the illustration and what it contributed in terms of a different visual texture.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to take inspiration from mythology, folk stories, and fairy tales. If you are thinking to yourself that the prompt seems right up my street that is because it is. Precisely so in fact. That is because I was asked by Bonnie and Barbara to be a guest artist this week. I was flattered and honoured to do so and, of course, that meant it was up to me to choose the prompt. You can find my post on the Joggles blog here and that outlines my process, illustrated with photos, in creating this art journal page.
I chose a selkie as the subject of my art journal page. Selkies are creatures from my country’s mythology (and that of Ireland) and I grew up hearing tales of seals that could transform into people, of stolen seal skins, and wives who fled back to the sea. I draw them quite often and have featured art work inspired by them twice on my blogs: once as a mixed media painting of a selkie in seal form and once in my altered book of monsters. I think this is my favourite of the mixed media selkies I have painted so far.