I have not worked in my art journal for weeks. This time of year is just busy to a crazily hectic degree. I decided to grab some little pockets of time over the past few days to produce an illustration in my art journal. I decided to work on an Art Journal Adventure prompt that I had missed. Last week’s prompt was “clown”. That was never going to happen given that I am a massive coulrophobe so I pondered the broader prompt, which was circus. My clown phobia is actually tied up in a milder phobia of circuses. However, I have an interest in the history of sideshows and “freaks” so that was the avenue my creative imagination wandered down. I have illustrated the Pig-Faced Lady of Manchester Square before in my art journal and this time I intended to draw another favourite “freak”, Lionel the Dog-Faced Boy. However, I was so short on art time that I decided to produce a much simpler and more whimsical illustration. I, therefore, chose to depict a version of the Fiji Mermaid. This was a curiosity exhibited by PT Barnum as the mummified remains of a mermaid when it was actually the head and torso of a monkey stitched onto the tail of a fish. This is just a simple ink drawing coloured with a very loose wash of watercolour.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “outward from the centre”. I initially had a much more complex and time consuming idea in mind but it took me over a week to even get the chance to open my art journal so I decided to ditch that idea and produce a simple illustration in ink and watercolour instead. I drew a figure – somewhat inspired by Lady Rainicorn from ‘Adventure Time’ – by taking the prompt literally and starting at the centre and working my way outwards in a spiral. Then it was simply a case of filling in the figure with watercolour and drawing in the details using black ink.
I recently registered to participate in the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project. This will be my first time of participating it and I am eager to embark on a new challenge. My sketchbook has arrived so now I just need to get drawing. I will be blogging about my drawings as I complete each page but will be doing so over on my art blog, Pict Ink. I will also be sharing the completed illustrations on Instagram. Yes, I finally set up an Instagram account. I am excited to have a totally new art challenge and hope you will hop over to my other blog to follow along.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to incorporate a mandala or something similar. I am no good at mandalas. I have tried them a few times but I just don’t have the patience or precision required. I like to draw things that are wonky, asymmetrical, that involve dribble and spatter. That’s my kind of thing. The mathematical precision and repetition of mandala are just not me. My workaround, therefore, was to think of something I could use that would create a repeated pattern for me. My eyes landed on my small alphabet stamps and I had my flash of inspiration. Stamping letters in concentric rings should have been simple enough but even that “cheat” defeated me because I did not line up the stamps with enough accuracy to create sharp rings.
I was going to keep the page black and white and let it sit like that for a while. I worried that it was a bit too boring, however, so I spritzed the page with yellow spray ink and spattered on some orange and red watercolour. It turns out that I much prefer the monochrome version.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was the word “wonder”. I created an art journal page last year that was on the same theme which put me into a bit of creative stasis as I was blocked between having that image in my head and the desire to do something totally different. In the end, I asked my kids for ideas. They looked at me like I had wool for brains. Wonder Woman obviously. Duh. I decided to please my little comic book nerds by attempting an illustration of Wonder Woman. I didn’t want to even attempt copying comic book art so I drew Wonder Woman from my mind’s eye. Happily my sons agreed that I had depicted her costume correctly. Or at least close enough for them to give it a pass. Her proportions are very wacky, not least that massive head, but I kind of like her nevertheless.
An Art Journal Adventure prompt that I missed while on vacation was “Mystery”. I liked how vague that prompt was as it let my creative imagination wander around all sorts of possibilities. Since I was on vacation with no art supplies, I also had time to mull it over. By the time I sat down at my table to create something in my art journal, I had decided that my response would be on the subject of “red herrings”, those distracting clues in many a mystery novel or movie. I decided to make the metaphor literal and illustrate a can full of red herring. Of course, my fish do not resemble herring and are just the product of my imagination but I think the allusion is clear.
This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Tracy Verdugo and involved creating a self-portrait. Verdugo actually demonstrated three different approaches to painting a loose self-portrait and each looked interesting and like something I would like to try (though maybe not using my own face over and over). She also based her paintings on selfies she had edited using various apps. I don’t have any photo editing apps on my phone and did not have time to download and experiment with them so I just used an unedited selfie as the basis of my painting.
I did start out very loose, using ink to block in certain shapes and areas before dropping very liquid watercolour into the painting, but somewhere along the line things ended up getting very illustrative and tight again. No matter what I do, I always seem to get “locked in” when painting even when I am trying my hardest to stay loose – such as, for instance, using large brushes as I did with his piece. It is also not a strong likeness and I guess that is OK because I am not a portraitist but it is still a bit ridiculous that I don’t know my own face well enough to capture it more accurately. In this self-portrait, I think what particularly went wrong is that I reduced the area of my forehead (which is so big I call it a fivehead) and I slimmed down my cheeks. Maybe I was subconsciously flattering myself.