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.
“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley”. Robert Burns might as well have been writing about my summer. We pulled off the travel plans but all my other schemes either went totally pear-shaped or just entirely withered on the vine. I do a sort of homeschooling, educating by stealth, summer project with my kids ever summer – have done since my oldest was a preschooler – but this summer the project had to be abandoned because pretty much everything else got derailed by so many stupid things plus my flipping awful oral pain. Anyway, in early June I had this whole vision that I would have so much art time – so very much art time – over the summer break. Ha! Yeah. Didn’t happen. In fact, I have probably spent less time on art this summer than in previous summers. Sigh.
For that reason, I desperately had to eke out whatever art time I could to make sure I don’t rust up to the point of my creative joints being totally seized up. I wanted to do something really loose. There was an Art Journal Adventure prompt from a couple of weeks ago about “doodling”. I thought that would be the perfect thing to do for some super-quick art time in my art journal. Determined to be loose and not fuss about perfection, I decided to draw with my non-dominant hand (which is my left) and – for a bit more challenge – using the blind contour technique. I opted for a self-portrait because I figured I would be familiar with the shapes, forms, and proportions of my own face so that the drawing didn’t get too abstract and crazy.
I used pencil just to avoid making a total mess while not looking at my page but I did not erase a single mark. What I did was go over those pencil marks with microns in three different sizes, just for a bit of variety and interest. Then I added watercolour and – to keep the challenges coming – I painted with my left hand. I am actually stunned by how well I painted with my non-dominant hand. Certainly I achieved keeping things looser than normal. For other people, this drawing probably is not remotely loose but, believe me, for me this is loose.
In addition to being a place for creative play and experimentation, I am aiming for my Rainbow Art Journal to be a record of what I can do with the various art materials and media I own. This page, therefore, is a record of how three of the Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers interact with each other. Consequently, I knew that I wanted to produce an illustration that was splotchy and liquidy and involved puddles and blossoms of pigment. I decided that flame would be the perfect subject for such an experiment in the orange section of the journal so I chose to draw a flame sprite. The page got very wrinkled from all the liquid media but I am happy with the final outcome. I think she is a pleasing wee character and I got some lovely interactions between the different watercolour markers.
The full title of this piece should be “The Fungus Fairy and the Unfortunate Phallus”. It is a cautionary tale about going straight to ink when drawing and not taking time to think things through.
The Art Journal Adventure prompt for last week was the letter “F”. Don’t enquire why I thought to draw a Fungus Fairy as a result because I actually don’t know why. Let’s call it a flash of inspiration. I know that I was feeling in the mood to draw something whimsical. In my early teens, I decided to draw my own versions of the classic Flower Fairies. I think I got about twenty illustrations done before I packed in the whole enterprise because I loved drawing but hated colouring in (I was using pencils). Maybe I should start over now that I actually enjoy adding colour to my illustrations. But I digress. Short on time (as always) I decided to commit to drawing straight away with pen. No pencil guidelines. No preliminary sketching. Just straight from my brain to my hand to the ink pen. The way I drew the Fungus Fairy a lot of the line work was over on the right hand side of the page so, to fill in a bit more of the left hand side, I came up with the bright idea of giving her a toadstool as a sort of magical wand. Yeah, I don’t know what on earth I was thinking either. In the very instant that I lifted pen from paper I realised that the fungus wand looked like a phallus. Great. So, yes, this is a cautionary tale about maybe taking some time to plan things out before committing ink to paper.
Since I returned from vacation, I have been mainly using my little gobbets of free time to participate in the #drawthisinyourstyle challenge on Instagram. I have been sharing my results there and on my other blog. Yesterday, however, I managed to find enough time to open the pages of my art journal. I chose to illustrate Ligeia, the eponymous character of the Edgar Allan Poe story. I am a Poe fan and have been visiting his houses but I have not really tried illustrating the stories since I was in High School. ‘Ligeia’ is a story involving death, duality, resurrection, possession – and an unreliable narrator. My Ligeia is probably a bit too vampy to be the emaciated, sickly, wasting Ligeia. She is probably a bit more Morticia Addams to be honest. I enjoyed working on this illustration, however, and that is the important thing.