The Art Journal Adventure prompt this week was “heart” but, of course, I did not go all sweet and whimsical with my take on that prompt. Rather than the typical “love” heart, I decided to create an illustration inspired by an anatomical heart. Don’t expect it to be medical-textbook-accurate, however, because realism isn’t my thing either. What I came up with was a female figure with an exposed heart. I used her hair as a sort of curtain being pulled back to reveal some abstracted ribs and that bright red heart. My first impulse was to show her peeling her skin back to reveal the internal organs so I am glad I came up with the more aesthetically pleasing option of the long, dark hair. I do enjoy working with a limited palette so I kept this illustration to just the monochrome and splashes of red.
My youngest son had major oral surgery yesterday so he was off school and I was off work. While he was snuggled up on the sofa recovering from the anesthesia, I sat with him and worked in my art journal. I had to keep things quick and simple as a result of the context. Inspired by this week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt of “birds and blossoms”, I bashed out this rapid illustration of myself in bird form. The scaffolding is my go-to doodle self-portrait that I just tweak and adapt as required. So, for instance, this time I gave myself very round glasses to be more bird-eye-like and obviously I replaced arms and feet with wings and talons. My son asked if I was drawing myself as a wise owl or a harpy. And that, folks, probably tells you as much as you ever need to know about my parenting modes.
On Friday – thanks to another dose of snow because this Winter is apparently never going to end – the school district gifted my kids with a delayed arrival and an early dismissal. Yes, you read that correctly. Both ends of the day were curtailed meaning they were in school for a whopping two hours and twenty minutes. My four kids attend three different schools, each of which operates on a different schedule. This staggering meant that my youngest had not long since gone to school before my oldest arrived home again. Meanwhile, I still had to go to work on my regular schedule but with extra Dr Seuss party fun thrown into the mix which meant I was dressed as the Cat in the Hat all day. I got some very peculiar looks and a few chuckles from the other parents at pick up time at my youngest’s school. So, yes, Friday was a bit of a stressful day and that meant that, when I got home that afternoon, I decided to sit at my art table to decompress – and fortunately my late afternoon schedule was flexible since all my kids were home by that point.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “Flame”. Fire and ashes have been recurring themes in my art journal. This time I thought about a figure representing a matchstick. I used orange and yellow ink for the background, letting the ink do its thing in wet paper to create random forms and puddles of pigment and hopefully suggest flames. My Daniel Smith Lunar Black was the perfect paint for the torso of the figure since the way it granulates and separates was so reminiscent of a struck, burned out match.
Tonight is the 91st Academy Awards ceremony. As I have stated before, as a movie nerd, the Oscars are like my Superbowl. For the past couple of years, I have illustrated the nominees in the acting categories in my Art Journal. I usually don’t attempt to draw real life people so it serves as a useful annual reminder that I am absolutely, most definitely, not a portraitist. Capturing people’s likenesses apparently eludes me. Still, it’s a fun exercise and a good way to record the evening’s entertainment in my journal.
In 2017, I did a sort of blind contour mugshots sort of thing. That was fun but you really would not have been able to identify any of the people I had drawn. Last year, I decided to draw each actor in full figure and in character. This was a regretful decision. This year, therefore, I went back to just heads and revisited the kind-of-mugshot idea but without using blind contour as my starting point. This resulted in better quality drawings but definitely not much in the way of improvement when it comes to likenesses. A few of these people are ones I have drawn before and yet I still cannot get their faces right. Just as well I prefer drawing faces from my imagination instead then!
Apologies, incidentally, for the awful shadows on these photos. Aside from the gloomy winter light, I have no access right now to the spot where I usually photograph my artwork.
I don’t have a dog in this fight since I have seen literally zero of the movies for which these performances have been recognised. While we go as a family to the cinema to see the odd blockbuster or animated movie, Mr Pict and I have to wait for movies to appear on the small screen before we can view them. I have no punditry to offer, therefore, and no predictions to make except that I guarantee all these people will look so much better – and more human – on the night than they appear in my drawings.
My kids and I are Harry Potter fans so, finding time to work in my art journal this weekend, I decided to illustrate wee me at Hogwarts School. I am pretty sure I would have hated boarding school had I attended but I think I could have been persuaded to enrol in Hogwarts, even though the students appear to be in perpetual danger. It’s just a quick ink and watercolour illustration of wee me in my Hufflepuff uniform practicing the Expecto Patronum charm. My patronus is a seal so that is what is emerging from my wand.
One of the interesting side effects of the way in which I create art these days – always short on time, often in multiple stages, often while multi-tasking – is that it has become clear what my automatic go-to art supplies are. The fact that I almost always reach for ink and watercolour tells me that that is my creative “home”. I, therefore, think that I should focus my skills development on those media. However, I still intend to dabble in other media because I don’t like being hemmed in or stuck in a creative rut. However, it is probably good to know that ink and watercolour are my comfort zone.
I grabbed some time this weekend to play in my art journal. I used last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was the letter V. I never really need much prodding to illustrate mythology and monsters so as soon as I saw V I thought Vampire. I resisted my automatic impulse, which was to draw Nosferatu (my favourite vampire) yet again and to instead try something different so I decided to draw a glamorous, fin de siecle lady vampire. I not only kept things simple with just ink and watercolour but I also simplified things by using just black and red. I like that combination and notice it crops up a lot in my ink work.
In my Art Snacks box this month, among the items I received were phthalo green watercolour paint and a red watercolour pencil. I was utterly stumped for a couple of days because the colour combination was just so horribly Christmassy. All I could think of was Christmas trees and magical elves. Aside from the fact it is only September, it is also utterly sweltering here. It is so hot here that my kids were sent home early on their second and third days of the school year. Am was, therefore, definitely and absolutely not feeling the Christmas vibe. I then remembered that I had a bunch of Art Journal Adventure prompts I hadn’t used and one of those was P. P for Poppies. Poppies are red and their stems and leaves are green. I had an idea! But, as long term readers will know, I do not do botanical illustrations. I suck big time at drawing flowers. Not my thing at all. My solution was an obvious one because it’s a subject I resort to all the time in my art journal: throw a female figure in there.
I went way too heavy with my first layer of phthalo green watercolour which meant the subsequent layers just got darker and darker. The clothed portion of the figure is way too dark and opaque. I dislike it. Also, that arm is way too long. She would have orangutan proportioned arms if that arm was straighter. I think, however, that I just about get away with it. Maybe. I chose to stylise the poppies because I knew I would never be able to pull off more realistic poppies. I quite like those. So I feel rather meh about this art journal page but I am glad I did the Art Snacks box challenge because it was the shove I needed in a hectic, busy, difficult week to eke out some much-needed art time. The value of that can never be underestimated.