Rainbow Art Journal – Among the Leaves

I just realised I had never written a blog post for this illustration in my Rainbow Art Journal.  My entire county is, as of last Friday, under lockdown for at least the next two weeks because of the Covid 19 outbreak.  My kids are, therefore, home from school and, as a teacher, I am obviously off work.  I, therefore, thought I would return to working on this project and I found this page.  Maybe I had considered it unfinished and was expecting to return to it.  I am calling it done.

Anyway, this is a quick little ink and watercolour illustration I knocked out in response to the prompt “Relax” in the Art Journal Adventure group.  I drew it a few days before Christmas so I was pretty much the opposite of relaxed.  I thought about where my “happy place” is.  I am not very good at getting into a zen headspace when doing yoga but, when I am in shavasana pose with my eyes closed, I often think about being in the woods, among the trees, smelling the leaves and moss.  So I drew myself lying in a pile of leaves.  You may spot a good few little insects among the leaves too.

52 - Among the Leaves

Printed Patchwork

Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to create a mosaic or patchwork design.  I have had it in the back of my mind that I need to be making more frequent and better use of my small gelli plate press and I thought this prompt would be a great opportunity to use it.

I painted my art journal page black in the hopes that it would make subsequent layers of colour pop. I then used the small rectangular gelli plate to place oblongs of colour around the page, allow some to overlap.  For the first layer, I used just whole blocks of colour.  For the next layer of printing, however, I used stencils to create visual texture.  Finally, I used ghost prints of leaf shaped masks hoping they would give the piece some focus, some place for the eyes to rest.

34a Patchwork - Gelli Prints

Once all the printing was dry, I picked up some black and white paint pens and outlined the leaf shapes and some marks reminiscent of stitching in order to create more of a patchwork feel to the page.  The outcome is not great but I enjoyed the process and will definitely try to pick up that small gelli plate for often to create layered backgrounds in mixed media pieces.

34b Patchwork - Gelli Prints

Autumn Wreath

Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte and was all about Autumn.  Autumn (or Fall as it is called here) is my favourite season.  I like the quality of light, the colours of the trees, the justification for getting into my pyjamas earlier in the evening and snuggling on the sofa under a warm blanket, the holidays, and the cosy foods.  I was, therefore, eager to carve out some time to work on this particular lesson.  I had actually been working with Autumn leaves all week at preschool, getting my little students to make collages with them, make Fall leaf prints, and play in piles of actual leaves outdoors so it felt entirely appropriate to spend my evenings at the end of the week painting Autumn foliage, albeit whimsical, stylised leaves and plants rather than anything even approaching botanical realism.

Week 46 - Autumn Wreath

Autumn Leaf Fairy

This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to incorporate leaves onto the page.  As much as I love seeing all the Autumn leaves transforming into myriad colours, glowing and glistering, burnished by the sun, I was not feeling inspired by this week’s challenge.  I really can’t explain why.  I had a few ideas but nothing that really got my creative pulse going.

I have been thinking recently about trying to progress with my plan of incorporating mixed media art techniques into my more regular, illustrative style of art and, therefore, determined to try that in response to this week’s challenge.  I was pondering the fact that, as a child, I had a trilogy of Flower Fairy books by Cicely Mary Barker whose illustrations I used to pore over.  I resolved, therefore, to draw my own fairy in my Art Journal.  As I have mentioned before, I have a large oak tree in the garden of my new home so I drew an Oak Fairy complete with an acorn hat.  I coloured her with watercolour and outlined with black ink.  I washed bright yellow over the background of the page and decided to use a leaf stencil for added interest and to further contribute to the week’s leaf theme.  I still need my learner plates when it comes to stencilling because I did not blot the paint adequately, leading to rather blotching leaf images.  Lesson learned and yet another art journalling mistake chalked up to educational experience.  I finished the page with a quotation from Albert Camus: “Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower”.  I keep resolving to improve my typography, learn some new styles of handwriting, but somehow I keep defaulting to my own everyday handwriting.  Usually I do so because I am pressed for time but this week it was because I had already messed the page up with my sloppy leaf background so I was not really motivated to go to much effort with the lettering.

My Oak Fairy was for DLP week 44 so there are now a mere 8 weeks left in this particular challenge – and alarmingly just 8 weeks until the end of 2014.  Although I am going to use my blog Pict Ink for my art work, I will continue to share my DLP pages in this blog.

Week 44 - Leaves

Monoprinting with Nature

It has emerged that my two youngest sons love to print.  As eager as they are to try block printing, at 5 and 7 they are too young to handle the tools plus those materials are expensive.  We have, however, been experimenting together with the gelli plate and making oodles of monoprints.  I love this because I thoroughly enjoy creating with them.  I like to think that I will inspire them to continue being creative throughout their lives, that they will derive pleasure and satisfaction and a sense of calm from the act of creating something, anything, as I do.  I also love creating with them because, frankly, it gives me a much-needed opportunity to do something creative myself.  Especially during this lengthy school break, time for myself is in very short supply so working with them, all taking turns, affords me the chance to invest in myself with a little bit of art.  Finally, I also love creating with them because they inspire me: they don’t worry about end results, technical hitches or over-think things; they just get stuck in and have a go.  I need to be more like that.  Definitely.

Recently, the three of us decided to get the gelli plate out and make some more monoprints and the two boys hit upon the idea of using leaves from the garden as masks.  I remembered seeing a post on Debbie Osborn’s blog where she used plant materials to create charming monoprints so I knew their idea was feasible.  Out into the garden we went, gathering our materials.  Despite it having been their idea, the boys soon gave up on using plants and used stencils and their fingers to create their prints instead.  I, however, persevered.  Initially, my prints were truly mediocre as I forgot entirely that the leaves would act as complete masks and leave white paper beneath and that, therefore, a bit of layering was required.  Ultimately, I think my post successful prints were actually the ghost prints made when I used paper to pull the marks that were left behind on the plate by the initial print.  None of my results were stellar but experimentation is part of the learning process and I certainly enjoyed myself.

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Taking Out The Trash

The title of this blog entry is not about me donning spandex to fight injustice superhero like nor is it about vigilante justice – as much as there are some companies and organisations who are driving me spare right now.  No, nothing as exciting or creative as that.  This blog is literally about taking out the trash.

Trash collection is quite different here in the Pennsylvanian town we have landed up in compared to in the remote, rural community we left in Scotland.  In Scotland, regular household waste was picked up weekly and paper recycling was picked up fortnightly.  We had to take responsibility for all other recycling so our back garden contained three different boxes – for metal, plastic and glass – which we had to transport to the dump every time they filled up.  We are not eco-warriors by any stretch but we are eco-conscious so we did not object to the hassle or effort involved but I am pretty confident that more people there would have recycled had there been kerb side collection of such materials.  Here, not only does the township collect all of the recycling but it can all be put in one bin.  No sorting of materials required.  It is also collected weekly.  I cannot be bothered to track down the evidence but I would guess that more households recycle here as a result.

Another difference is that the whole bin collection process is automated.  Back in Scotland, the bin men would walk alongside the lorry to hoik the bins onto the back of the lorry and have them flip their contents inside the lorry.  Here, a solo driver scoots the lorry alongside the kerb and a mechanical arm comes out to grab the bin, toss its contents inside, and then deposit the bin back on the roadside.  I have no preference because, frankly, I don’t really care how my rubbish is collected as long as it is.  I am merely noting the difference.

The third thing is that here, in the appropriate season at least, the township comes to collect leaves.  This is a great thing because our back garden is absolutely littered with leaves.  Every three weeks we can gather them up into a large pile on the roadside and then a truck visits with a man operating a giant vacuum that sucks all the leaves up.  My 4 year old finds it quite fascinating.

One area of rubbish collection is definitely better in Scotland, however, is access to dumps and recycling centres.  In Scotland we could take any surplus rubbish, recycling, old electrical items and such like to the town dump where it would then be processed.  Here we appear not to have any access.  As a result, since we just moved here and have had to buy new things, we have a load of flattened cardboard boxes stored in the basement which we are gradually getting rid of by shoving them in the recycling bin so long as it is not already full.  It’s weird that they don’t seem to permit householders to dispose of that stuff in any direct way.  Apparently we can contact the township if we have any bulky items to dispose of – old furniture, for instance – and they come and collect it but I can’t help thinking they have missed an efficiency trick there by not just allowing people to go along and deposit their own waste.