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



Minimalist Abstracts

I was so happy when I viewed this week’s Life Book lesson because I knew I could actually get my response completed within the week and that, in turn, motivated me to find the free time required.  The lesson was taken by Melissa Dinwiddie and her ethos was all about being playful and getting the creative juices flowing by working on quick, minimalist pieces.  Further, the media used were ink and watercolour which are comfortably within my wheelhouse.  The lesson still presented a challenge to me, however, in that I don’t find I have an instinct for abstraction generally.  I, therefore, decided to work with my non-dominant hand in order to ensure that my mark making was loose.  It was a whole lot of fun and very relaxing so in the end I created four pieces, each measuring 4.5 by 6 inches.

19 Ink and Watercolour Abstract 1

19 Ink and Watercolour Abstract 2

19 Ink and Watercolour Abstract 3

19 Ink and Watercolour Abstract 4


Ashes and Gold

For the first time in at least a year, I managed to not only watch a Life Book lesson on the day the email arrived but also managed to complete the lesson.  All while having four kids and two cats at home.  And having spent time with the kids and on chores.  Woah!  I feel a bit like Wonder Woman.

It did help that Mary Beth Shaw‘s lesson was delightfully straight forward and quick.  It was reminiscent of that therapy exercise where you write out a letter to someone or write out your thoughts and feelings freely on a piece of paper and then burn it.  I decided to get my kids involved and, as an aside, teach them about charcoal manufacturing since we were mark making with burnt paper and wood.  My art work this week, therefore, is really a collaborative effort between my kids and I since I allowed them to help me burn my paper and drag burning paper and wooden skewers across it.  I think I may have created some little pyromaniacs by accident.

Fire raising complete – and two large holes in my paper later – I decided to dribble some gold paint and spatter some black ink onto my paper.  I liked the idea of the gold echoing the bright flames of the fire and also contrasting its warm sheen against the dark smudginess of the burned areas.  The theme of this month’s Life Book lessons is Shadow and Light so my art work conformed to that theme rather nicely too.

Week 29 - Ashes and Gold

Meditative Mark-Making

This week’s Life Book lesson was an “intuitive healing session” with Andrea Schroeder.  It was all about meditation, being intuitive and being playful, not worrying about making mistakes or about striving for perfection.  This process took me very much out of my comfort zone.  As I always do when creating without having a vision of what I want to create, I felt rather lost.  How I chose to approach the process was to make marks in my art journal while listening to the meditation video.  I used a medium brush loaded with watercolour so that I would not have that much control over the marks I was making and I just doodled away while listening to the video.  Once my page was filled with colourful doodles and the meditation had ended, I looked at the page and started a large doodle with India ink loaded on the brush again.  What emerged was a female figure holding a bird in her hand.  I have no idea where it came from or what it is about.  It’s not my usual style but – having no vision of something I was aiming for to compare it to – I am reasonably happy with the page.

Week 37 - Meditative Mark Making

Abstract Mark-Making

This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Jenny Doh, an artist whose instinctive, loose, free style is a polar opposite of my usual approach to art.  During these past twenty weeks of taking Life Book lessons, I have come to recognise that I am definitely much more of an illustrator than any other type of artist and my style definitely leans towards the intentional and controlled.  However, I am definitely learning to loosen up a little and am letting elements of unintentional and uncontrolled art find their way into the works that I produce.  That represents a real step forward for me and is an area of growth I want to continue to nurture even if my dominant impulse is to be intentional and controlled.

The focus of this week’s lesson was playful mark-making using different tools.  Since I own neither fluid acrylics or acrylic ink, I had to improvise a little and just water down acrylic paint to an inky consistency.  The colours lost some of their vibrancy as a result.  Doh explained that once we were satisfied with all the unintentional elements within our paintings, we could look to see if any forms or shapes seemed to emerge from what was on the paper.  That could then be refined into something representational.  That was a big area of temptation for me because it would have permitted me to impose some structure and order on what I had produced, provide it with some sort of focal point.  However, I decided to keep the whole piece completely abstract so did not even look for suggestions of anything lest I give into temptation.  I also decided to ask my 9 year old to determine which way around the finished painting should be and interestingly he chose the complete opposite of what I would have probably gone for because I immediately saw the drips as having to be top down.

Week 20 - Abstract Mark-Making

I really enjoyed the freedom of mark-making in this way and like the results.  While I may never be an abstract artist, I definitely think there is potential for me to build these abstract mark-making elements into my art work.