Mother’s Day was the excuse I needed to step away from the laundry, leave the vacuum unplugged, ignore the fact the basement playroom looks like it has been ransacked by raccoons, and instead spend some time at my art table. My monthly Art Snacks box had arrived the previous week so I thought I would have an experiment with the supplies within it and participate in the challenge to create some art using only those resources. Given I had a highlighter yellow paint pen and a bold orange chubby Pitt pen, the colour scheme shouted 1980s at me. I, therefore, knew I was going to end up creating an illustration with an ’80s vibe. What emerged as I sketched was a pig sporting various 1980s fashions. I actually did not wear any of these types of clothes in the ’80s because a) I have never been fashionable b) I think I was still wearing 1970s hand-me-downs when neon and ra-ra skirts were in style and c) I was a non-conformist as a child. I did have a pair of legwarmers that I wore when roller skating so I guess I dipped my toes into this style, though my legwarmers were grey. But I digress. My pig looks confident and ready to throw some shapes on the dance floor.
On Sunday a very rare event occurred: I found myself at home alone for over an hour. I decided that this was such a blue moon alignment of schedules that I was entirely justified in spending the whole time on myself. Of course, inevitably I pottered around and frittered away time for a bit but I did settle down at my art table, open up my art journal, and set to work. For the first time in a very long time, I completed an art journal page, from beginning to end, in one setting. I used the drying time of the first layer for a cup of tea.
I decided to work on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was the letter G. As I have mentioned before, I like vague prompts because they are so open-ended but I appreciate having a prompt as a nudge to just get on with something, anything. I was in a spooky, monster making sort of mood so I decided that G would be for Ghost. I wanted my ghost to be appearing out of the gloom so I started by making the page dark and gradually pulled in lighter layers while narrowing the focus until I was using white for the highlights on the ghostly figure. The proportions, especially of the arms, are terrible but who cares really. It’s only an art journal page and, besides which, she’s a ghost. Perfection isn’t an option when you are the wailing, moaning, unsettled undead.
Ultimately the outcome on the page is irrelevant. What really matters is that, after a long period of meagre rations of art time, I got to spend a whole feast of time playing around with art materials and getting messy.
This was the second of the art journal pages I created while at my monthly art journaling group. I created it in response to two Art Journal Adventure prompts – bird and the letter I. I am being a bit cheeky with the letter I since I decided it is covered by my use of indigo. What inspired the illustration, however, was the song ‘Wings of a Dove’ by Madness. I have been on a bit of a musical nostalgia kick recently, introducing my sons to more of the music I was into when I was their ages and younger. For that reason, I had been listening to the track shortly before heading out to the meet up and, with the lyrics still in my mind’s ear, I decided to come up with an illustration. It’s drawn with Inktense pencils with a little bit of micron pen for the vine patterns on the clothing. I find my Inktense pencils are ideal for portable art because they can be easily activated with a water brush, are fixed when dry, and dry pretty quickly.
Hello! I am still here. I have not disappeared or abandoned my blogs. I have simply been wall-to-wall busy doing things that are not worth blogging about even if I had had time for writing a blog post. I am stuck at the coal face of life right now and it is all a bit crazy and stressful. Nothing major, nothing dramatic, just the type of stress level that accumulates from a zillion little things piling up. Some of these things might be blog worthy once they are completed but most of it is just run-of-the-mill boring stuff. Anyway, that explains my absence.
Needless to say, with everything I am juggling, I have had little time for art. When I have had a gobbet of free time, I confess that I have been devoting it to family history. This is because I had my DNA tested at the end of 2017 which has put me in contact with lots of other extended family members, including others like me who are very into family history, and we have been exchanging information. I have also found, however, that my creative mojo has been lacking lately – I assume because my stress levels are elevated and my brain just cannot relax and focus enough. This past weekend, however, I decided to force myself to sit down with my art journal for 20 minutes in order to stop my creative joints seizing up and going entirely rusty.
The result of this speedy art session is an illustration of half a dozen narwhals. Why? Why not? Partly I was inspired by two Art Journal Adventure prompts – N and 6 – and partly it was just that I have not drawn narwhals for a while. It is just a simple ink line drawing filled in with some watercolour and scattered with salt. Quick. Simple. Done. Hopefully it will get me out of my art-free rut and back into the swing of creating more regularly again.
Have I mentioned (more than a zillion times?) that I am over Winter and yearning for Spring? A couple of weeks ago, I saw a rabbit bound across my yard and I thought that was a sure sign. Turns out that bunny was just a dimwit who needed to stay in his burrow a bit longer. I also noted that our daffodils were sprouting out of the dirt. That was another hopeful sign. Then the shoots got buried under a foot of snow. Spring has to be soon though. It has to.
My latest art journal page was, therefore, inspired by thoughts of Spring. The Art Journal Adventure prompt was S which fitted perfectly with my intention of creating a Spring themed art journal page. The idea is a personification of Spring waking from a slumber and starting to bloom. I must confess that this was a far better idea in my head than translated on the page. I had to work in a whole load of small rations of time which certainly did not help in terms of cohesion and the fact that I rushed through some of the elements is very visible. I like the idea, however, and might return to it when I have more time to accomplish a better execution. I will state that my art work is perfectly straight – it is my iphone photography that is squint.
On Friday, I went to work wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella since a rainstorm was forecast for the weekend. However, while I was at work, snow started to fall. I left work in a blizzard. Thankfully my kids were already on an early dismissal (I cannot remember the last time they were in school for an entire five day week) so two were already home and two I picked up on my way home from work. Just as we walked through the door, hoping to get cosy, looking forward to a steaming cup of tea, the power cut out. And it stayed out. From 2pm on Friday until 1am on Sunday, we had no power whatsoever. No light and no heat is pretty miserable in Winter. We kept ourselves occupied with board games and reading by candlelight. However, my 21st Century kids started to miss screens and WiFi after a mere 12 hours and things were rapidly descending into ‘Lord of the Flies’ territory. Thankfully the power came back on before they started sharpening sticks.
Since I could not do laundry, cook complex meals, or run the vacuum around, I found an unexpected ration of time to spend on art. Sure, I could have dusted but you know how I like to sacrifice dusting so I can get in some art time. I decided to work on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was simply the letter W with an additional option to use shiny, shimmery or sparkly media. Perhaps it was because I had just illustrated a vampire on the previous page of my journal, but I was in a monster mood. That said, when am I never in a monster mood? For me, therefore, W was for Werewolf and I set about drawing one in ink as the sun slipped towards the horizon and the house became gloomy in the dwindling light. It seemed apt for the subject but drawing in the dark is hard on the eyes. I added the diluted ink and watercolour by candlelight while my fingers shook in the cold. Amazingly, despite the circumstances, the illustration turned out to be completely acceptable. I hope, however, to not be doing too much future art in the cold and dark. I am SO done with Winter!
We are almost at the end of this week and yet I have only just completed a page for last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt. Of course, participating each week is not compulsory and there are no deadlines and I can even skip weeks. I am part of this group simply because a weekly prompt reminds me to at least try to find the time to play around in my art journal. For that reason, however, I really notice when I don’t get around to responding to a week’s prompt. It means I have not even managed to find some little slivers of time, a ration in my week, in which to crack open my art journal and splash some media around. It is a sure fire sign that my life has been too over-scheduled and too hectic when I don’t even find the time to dash off a quick 15 or 20 minute piece of art on a journal page. Ironically, it is when I am most stressed and over-stretched that I need art most as a means to slow down and decompress. Funny how that works.
The prompt I have been trying to find time for is the letter D. I ended up with D standing for Dracula. The Dracula who emerged on my page definitely has the look of Count Orlok of ‘Nosferatu’ rather than Bela Lugosi’s more suave vampire. I actually have a tendency to draw Orlok over Dracula when it comes to vampires, despite my love for the classic Universal monster movies. It was Orlok who appeared in my 2016 Inktober sketchbook and in my altered book of monsters. Maybe I should challenge myself to depict the dapper Dracula next time I am in the mood to draw a vampire. I am not entirely happy with this journal page as far as the art goes – my vampire looks a bit too much like a house elf – but I am happy I finally managed to get some art time.