This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was Time which was ironic because it took me the entire week to find the time to even sit down at my art table. I was, however, thinking about the prompt all week and had all sorts of ideas running around in my head. I initially thought of time travel and HG Wells. My 9 year old Steampunk fan was very keen on that idea but just the thought of drawing all sorts of cogs and gizmos made me feel stressed. After that, I had all sorts of different ideas. It was, however, a chat with a friend about our shared love of ‘Blackadder’ that led to what finally appeared on my journal page. The idea of taking a character and plonking them in different periods of history combined with my habit of drawing funny bunnies. I decided to limit myself to eight drawings and to European history so that it did not become a crazily big project. Once I had the idea and some time at my art table, I was able to whip through the illustrations really quickly as they are just ink and watercolour. I chose to depict a bunny as a neanderthal, Roman, Viking, in a Medieval costume complete with codpiece, as an Elizabethan with a large ruff, as a Regency dandy, as a Victorian gent, and as a World War One Tommy.
I go along to an art journaling group once a month where we all work in our art journals while chatting and relaxing. The coffee shop setting, however, is a little restrictive in terms of what sort of art dabbling can happen. I am limited to things that dry quickly and don’t make a mess. I, therefore, often resort to just drawing with pencils and pens. This page was the result of one such meet up. I had passed a deer as I drove to the coffee shop so I guess that was the germ of the idea that turned into a faun as I sketched on the page. I added the vine frame to fill more of the page.
This year I wanted to try working in an art journal dedicated to one theme. I have worked in themes before, of course, as with my Greek Mythology drawings and my altered book that was full of monsters. Even my first time participating in Inktober became thematic. The difference with those, however, was that I was utilising the same techniques and deploying the same media over and over. What I wanted to do was practice using a wide variety of media, combine them to revisit and practice the mixed media techniques I have been learning over the past few years, and challenge myself to create a coherent journal full of connected pages. I decided to work on a really loose theme which was colour. Easy peasy. I bought a new journal (I like the spiral bound Cansons for their flexibility) and worked out how I would divide it between all the colours of the rainbow plus a few additional colours and black and white. I do not have a timetable for working on this journal or a deadline for its completion. No pressure. I will work in it as and when time allows, maybe adding bits here and there while working on other projects as a good way to use up excess paint or bits of collage paper. I will share each page as it is completed.
I am starting with black. My first page was pretty simple because I grabbed the journal and worked on it while watching a movie with my kids one afternoon. I just tucked up on the sofa with my fountain pen and drew the figure and didn’t worry about perfect proportions or angles. It is an art journal so it is just for fun. I added the wash of ink later that evening just to eradicate more of the white paper. Simple. And relaxing because it was simple. Maybe this particular art journal will become a useful tool for decompression for me this year.
Last week’s Colour Me Positive prompt was “Possible”. I was so busy with the kids all week that I had a few days to let the concepts of possible and impossible rattle around in my head. Flicking through my art journal for inspiration, I had my epiphany when I saw my recent Cheshire Cat page. Since Wonderland is all about the impossible becoming possible, I decided to draw Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Once I finally had my idea it was fairly quick and easy to execute by breaking it down into three quick stages: drawing with a fountain pen, painting the rabbit hole with black ink, adding colour using watercolour. The sides of the page were looking glaringly blank and I toyed with the idea of painting them in but opted to use it as an excuse to practice writing with watercolour.
I missed so many Life Book and Let’s Face It lessons while I was on the road trip that there was just no way I was going to be able to catch up and get them all done – especially not with kids with me 24/7. I, therefore, plucked out two lessons I was going to tackle from those I missed. The first of these was a Life Book lesson with Jane Davenport. I decided on it because the use of watercolour meant that it should not be too time consuming.
It all went wrong from the first step because I used coloured pencil for the sketching. The idea was that this would loosen us up as we would not be able to erase and make things perfect. After two weeks of no drawing, my draughtsmanship skills were seriously lacking. I was aiming for a more teenage face but the face I drew ended up being a bizarre mixture of teenage features with toddler proportions. Ugh. No time for a do over so I thought I would plough on and see if I could improve it with the watercolour layer. Nope. A little bit of black ink to pull it all together brought some features more sharply into focus but it was still a hot pink mess. What I do like about my painting, however, is the colour palette. The violet, deep pink, cadmium red, and a little touch of cobalt blue are a pleasing combination to my eye at least.
The Let’s Face It course has left profiles behind and has moved on to depicting hands within portraits of faces. I found full profiles pretty challenging but I think I am going to find hands possibly even more difficult. It will be interesting to see if this section of the course helps me develop and improve my aptitude with drawing and painting hands – not hard since I tend to draw them either like Nosferatu claws or bunches of parsnips.
First up was a monochrome sketch of a face that incorporated a hand. Kara Bullock’s tutorial demonstrated using conte crayon. I do not own conte crayons so I pondered what other medium I might experiment with. I have been enjoying exploring the possibilities of the Stabilo All pencil in mixed media pieces so thought I would dabble with using it solo in this sketch.
I used the Stabilo All in the same way I would use a charcoal pencil or thin stick of willow charcoal and then, when activated with water, attempted to use it in the same way I would use ink. That methodology did not quite work out as I could not make the medium flow in the same way as I can with ink. As a first experiment, however, I think there is potential for the Stabilo All as a drawing tool. I like the fact, for instance, that even when activated some of the pencil like marks show through.
The less said about the drawing of the hand the better.
Incidentally, should you be interested, I am working on a challenge to create 100 illustrations of faces in ink and watercolour over on my art blog, Pict Ink.
This week’s Colour Me Positive theme is “Smile”. I instantly knew what I wanted to create in my art journal: a Cheshire Cat.
I have always found the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to be pretty sinister. Even when I was wee and had no wider context or understanding of its themes and motifs, I found it creepy. This was in large part down to the fact that my copy of the book had been my mother’s and had some pretty creepy illustrations accompanying the text. It was also somewhat foxed and smelled faintly of mildew. The things is though that what I really appreciate and enjoy about Wonderland is that it is both amusing and scary, ridiculous and terrifying, joyous and creepy. That teetering on an uncertain fulcrum, that tumultousness, that sense of trepidation, is actually what continues to engage me in the book and its themes – though I have not actually read cover to cover it in almost 20 years.
It is the Cheshire Cat who most clearly, to me anyway, represents that sense of pivoting between the zany, wacky fun side of Wonderland and its threatening, intimidating, dangerous underbelly. The Cat seems caring but can be cruel. He is wicked and wickedly fun. He’s a riddler and a trickster. He is chaos. He is an absolutely wonderful creation.
I wanted my illustration of the Cheshire Cat to embody his bright spirit and his darkness so I chose to paint him part way through once of his disappearing acts. I like the way the black makes the candy pink and turquoise paints pop. I think he looks mischievous and manic because of that tooth-filled grin and the wide eyes. I am rather pleased with that. My 10 year old declared this to be my best page in my current art journal. High praise indeed.