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.
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.
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!
I am a movie enthusiast and that has been passed on to a couple of my kids. The Academy Awards, therefore, are a big deal event in our house. I know that some people throw Oscars parties and they get dressed up all glam and drink elegant cocktails while nibbling on pretty canapes. However, in our house, we get all comfy in our jammies, I make nachos, and we play Oscars Bingo while watching the ceremony. Last year I initiated another tradition which was to draw the nominees from the four acting categories. The results were very mixed and the likenesses were …. questionable but I had a lot of fun drawing them over the course of a few evenings so I decided I would do the same this year.
Last year, I attempted a sort of semi-blind-contour, mug shot approach. This year I decided to draw full length figures and to draw each actor in the role for which they were nominated. Again the results were mixed. I think it is fair to say that I have made zero progress in the field of portraiture since this time last year but it is also the fact that I have not tried to develop or hone my skills in this regard. I don’t think anyone is going to sue me because the way I have drawn their face makes it look as if they melted on a hot radiator. My kids had a fun idea. What if my illustrations were prophetic, like studying the innards of geese and sheep, and could predict who would win in each category? What if the best (or least worst) drawing on each page was auguring the winner?
First up are the best actress nominees. I have not seen a single one of the movies for which they are nominated – though I am eager to see them all – but on the basis of my drawings, poor Margot Robbie stands no chance. That really is an awful drawing as it looks absolutely nothing like her to the point of being insulting. My kids unanimously agreed that the best of the bunch is Sally Hawkins so let’s see if the prediction proves true on Sunday night.
Next up are the best actor nominees. This page was when I realised the flaw in my plan of drawing each actor in the role for which they were nominated because I had to draw latex Churchill instead of Gary Oldman. I think Timothee Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya are the best drawings on the page so, according to the prophecy, one of them ought to win. I shall plump for the latter since I have actually seen ‘Get Out’. I think that and ‘Coco’ might be the only nominated movies I have seen this year.
Of the best supporting actress nominees, the only one whose nominated performance I have seen is Mary J Blige and I actually didn’t much enjoy the movie, though she was pretty good. All of the women in this category had interesting faces that I enjoyed drawing. I think Alison Janney is the best drawing so let’s see if she takes home the golden baldie.
Lastly, the best supporting actors, looking a bit like a police station line-up since they all look a bit shifty the way I have drawn them. The likenesses are terrible but the best illustrations are probably those of Richard Jenkins or Christopher Plummer.
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.