Autumn Glow

I have not been doing a great job of keeping up with Life Book lessons and, as such, my mixed media skills are getting a tad rusty.  A quieter weekend than usual afforded me the opportunity to tackle the most recent lesson.  I took the concept of that lesson and put my own spin on it.  I have been doing a lot of drawing lately – for my extended Inktober and the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project – so the drawing that underpinned this piece was actually really strong.  I am, therefore, frustrated that I completely lost the quality of that drawing as I layered media on top of it.  It proves the point, however, that I have allowed that particular skill set to rust up.  Still, as disappointing as the outcome is to me, I enjoyed spending a decent ration of time sitting at my art table this weekend.

45a - Autumn Glow

45b - Autumn Glow

 

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Blue Abstract

I have not found time to tackle a Life Book lesson in a good few weeks now.  I decided, therefore, to break my drought with a lesson by Wendy Brightbill that involved creating an abstract piece using liquid media and mark making.  I am happy that I took time out of my massively busy life to work on this lesson as I did enjoy the process.  I have been heavily involved in illustrations for months now, including my contribution to the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project and Inktober, so it was a nice break and pretty liberating to do something completely different, just sploshing watercolour around without a great deal of thought.  I have to state, however, that I don’t especially like the finished outcome.  Hate is too strong a word but it really is not a piece I want to look at again.  This piece was definitely about the journey rather than the destination.

43 - Watercolour Abstract

 

Lilac Dusk

I have had an exhausting week, physically and mentally.  Being crazily busy is my norm but this week has been beyond the norm.  I almost fell asleep on the sofa one afternoon.  Whenever everyday life gets a bit overwhelming, I know I have to try and scratch out some art time as a way to find balance and decompress.  That is why I decided to tackle this week’s Life Book lesson.  This week’s lesson was taken by Annie Hamman.  I have viewed and responded to a few art lessons taken by Hamman by this stage in my exploration of mixed media and I decided some time ago that her style of painting, her technique, was not something that was going to work for me.  I want to hone and develop my own style of art, after all, so pushing myself to try a mode of painting that prevents me from achieving that goal makes no sense.  I, therefore, pick and choose elements from the lesson that I can utilise for pushing my own creativity while ignoring the aspects like layering paint with a palette knife.

When I thought of a figure who was serene and peaceful, I thought of one whose arms were crossed because she was not busy doing something.  Hands at rest.  In my busy week, idle hands would definitely be a luxury.  The female figure I painted ended up looking a bit huffy because of the pose but that doesn’t matter to me because I know what made me choose that position for the hands.  I tried to keep the colour palette light and pale to suggest calm.  The finished piece makes me think of my Twilight Garden painting from last year.  I take that as a good sign that I am developing my own style – or at least one of many of my styles.

38 - Lilac Dusk

While my art time is limited, I am still beavering away with my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook project, approaching the half-way mark.  You can see what I am up to on my other blog and on Instagram.

Protective Pod

Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Connie Solera.  It was a bit too “art as therapy” for my personal taste but I was inspired by the imagery of the painting Solera demonstrated and decided to create my own twist on the idea, moulding the lesson to fit my own style.  There are many layers in this mixed media painting, more layers than I typically work with, but I enjoyed switching between the chaotic looseness of the background and the more tight illustration of the female figure curled up inside a pod shape in the centre, even if it probably makes the piece visually unbalanced.

36 - Protective Pod

Frida Kahlo Portrait

This week there were two Life Book lessons.  I only had time available to tackle one of them so I opted to respond to the lesson taken by Tamara Laporte which involved creating a mixed media portrait of Frida Kahlo.  I am absolutely not a portraitist.  I cannot capture people’s likenesses accurately at all.  The idea of even attempting to portray someone as immediately recognisable as Frida Kahlo was pretty intimidating but that was precisely why I decided to dive in and give it a try: growth through challenge.

Frida Kahlo seems to be pretty zeitgeisty at the moment.  I am seeing lots of homages and merchandise here and there.  I confess I am not a massive fan of Kahlo’s art.  I appreciate it and recognise its worth but it just doesn’t speak to me in the same way that the work of other artists does.  I actually find her more inspirational as a person than I do as an artist.  As such, I didn’t have an immediate idea of how to portray her.  I flicked through some photographs of her and scribbled down some ideas and sketches – the hair style, the daring clothing that emphasised her female sexuality, the use of bold colours.  All of those found their way into my finished piece.  Laporte had incorporated a parrot into her portrait of Kahlo and I took that idea and turned it into a parrot wing.  I had also thought I would add some big jungle leaf shapes into the background, a feature I noted in several of Kahlo’s self-portrait, but in the end I decided that it would all get a bit too busy and let it be.

35 - Frida Kahlo

I am not sure how I feel about this piece yet.  I think I need to give it some time before I make a judgement about its successes and flaws.  My husband, who has a minimal interest in the history of art, immediately recognised this as being a portrait of Frida Kahlo, however, so at least I must have somewhat met the challenge of painting a passable likeness.

 

Abstract Layers

As someone who is really into illustration, I very much struggle with creating abstract art.  That was precisely why I pushed myself to actually do this week’s Life Book lesson, which was taken by Jodi Ohl.  I find that I now enjoy the process of working in an abstract method, of layering and mark-making, of using colour and texture rather than shape and form.  However, because I have no real feel or instinct for it, I never know when I am “done” with a piece.  My impulse is to add some sort of representational element to provide the piece with a focal point but often, when I have done so, I regret it because it doesn’t cohere.  I worked on this piece gradually over the course of three days, adding bits and pieces whenever time was available to do so.  Each time I returned to my art table to work on it, I had a sense that it needed more and had an idea of what to add – some dribble here, a few marks there – but then I reached a point where I didn’t know what to add.  Did that mean it was complete?  Or did it simply mean that my well of inspiration had run dry for this piece?  Or was I just fed up of working on this piece and wanting to move on to something new?  Any or all of the above?  I decided this piece was done.  Maybe I will circle back to it at some point and add something; probably I won’t.

32 - Abstract Layers

Dark and Light

Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Andrea Gomoll and was all about painting a figure who was caught between an area of darkness and an area of light.  The medium was primarily watercolour, which I always enjoy working with.  I decided to place my figure in the centre of the paper with her hair flowing upwards to create a clear dividing line between the dark area and the light area.  I enjoyed letting the paint in those background areas bleed into one another and create blooms.  I built the flesh tones up gradually, using a neutral palette first and then layering the stronger colours on top, dividing the face between the cool blues of the dark side and the warm yellows and pinks of the light side.  I possibly should have gone more dramatic with the shading and lighting on the face.  I grounded the piece by painting black into the torso area of the figure and then tried to make the background and the figure cohere by adding spatter in white and black watercolour.

31 Dark and Light