I actually painted this illustration over a year ago as it was produced in response to an Art Snacks challenge. It was drawn in the yellow section of my Rainbow Art Journal – hence its relevance now. At the time I created it, I thought I might eventually circle back to it and add something to it but ultimately I have left it just as is, as a simple little ink and watercolour illustration. Sometimes, after all, less is more.
Using all of the media in my Art Snacks box was very much a challenge this month. There were two gelatos in colours labelled cherry and pistachio. I don’t have much success with red and green colour palettes and I have even less success with using gelatos. I know people who absolutely love gelatos and achieve a great deal of success with them. I meanwhile only seem able to achieve scribbly, scratchy, puddly messes. The box also contained an acrylic spray and sprays are again something I have no aptitude with. I tend to make an absolute mess with those. I was feeling very daunted about embarking on an illustration using these materials.
I received a peach hued marker in the box so I knew I would draw a human figure. I was using the three narrow paper samples provided so that format suggested the composition to me. I was actually surprised with how successfully I managed to create flesh tones using the beige base of the paper and the peach marker as I usually make a streaky mess with markers. And then it all went wrong.
I smooshed some gelato onto the paper and activated it water and moved the pigment around. However, no matter what I did, my initial scribbles remained visible and the pigment settled unevenly so it all ended up looking rather patchy. Evidently I need much more practice with using gelatos. And then I added the spray and made even more mess and really stuffed up the illustration. I drew on some branches dipped in the ink actually using the spray pump tube as my mark-making tool. When I tried to use it as a spray, however, I didn’t achieve fine mist but instead got large puddles and ugly drips. Such a mess. Time to step away and call this piece done. You can’t win them all.
I have been doing a lot of illustrations lately, especially drawing people. I like to shake things up a bit so I was, therefore, looking for something creative to do in my art journal that did not involve illustration. This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was about cameras and photographs so that presented me with the spark of inspiration I needed. I thought I would create a sort of mixed media scrapbook page, a background for some photographs.
I had a page in my art journal where one of my cats had spilled ink (technically my fault for leaving the lid off the bottle for even an instant) so that became the basis of my background. I sploshed around a bit more ink, used some found ink to direct the puddles into specific forms (the circles and discs) and then left it to dry. The monochrome background seemed like it would be best for some monochrome photographs so – thinking vintage – I printed out some photos of my grandparents. It was then a case of positioning those on the page and, once I was happy with the placement, adding some washi tape and some little mark-making doodles. I probably went way over the top and made things too busy for a background. One of the washi tapes has cameras on it so that was an apt find in my stash.
I never knew my biological paternal grandfather (lower right) as he was killed at the end of the Second World War. That left my grandmother (lower left) as a war widow in her early 30s with three sons to raise. She supported them by working long hours in the local steamie while her mother, who also worked in the steamie, and a neighbour helped out with childcare. I admired her strength and fortitude. My Dad, incidentally, is the toddler in that photo. The photo at the top of the page is the wedding of my maternal grandparents. They were both a huge influence on who I am as a person. I inherited a lot of my interests and passion and feistiness from my Gran. My Granddad, meanwhile, was just one of the best human beings I ever knew and I feel blessed that I got to have him as my Granddad. He was full of laughter and fun, was always nurturing and encouraging and endlessly supportive. He is also responsible for my love of spicy food and my sweet tooth.
This was a page that I had gradually filled with scraps of yellow hued collage – including scraps of origami paper, images from cookery magazines, photographs from National Geographic. I sketched in a figure over the top of the collage and then painted the negative spaces in a lemon acrylic so that the background became covered in bubble shapes that revealed the collage layer beneath. When it comes to the figure, I was plagiarizing myself again since I copied her from an ink and watercolour drawing from over two years ago. I prefer that original version but it is fun to translate an illustration into a different medium and see what differences emerge.
Some pages in my Rainbow Art Journal are blank slates; others are covered with bits of collage or scrapings of paint or handwritten notes or even the odd doodle. When I have leftover paint, I scrape or smear it onto a page in the appropriate colour sector of my journal and, when I have a collage scrap, I similarly paste it in. This was one such page that had such a messy start of leftovers. There was some textured gesso on the page and also a prominent wine label. I decided to turn that wine label into the basis of clothing for a female figure. The rest of the clothing element is made of washi tape. Initially, that female figure was youthful but I decided to challenge myself to draw an older face so I did a sort of “age progression” on the face until it looked right to me. I decided to lean into the texture of the gesso by adding more texture on the page, scraping thick paint onto the page, scraping into that paint as it was starting to dry.
I started this art journal page on Earth Day (22 April) but did not make much headway beyond covering the page in fragments of map from an old atlas and painting a white area for the face and neck. I was able to return to the page this weekend when I met up with some local art friends at a coffee shop. The circumstances necessitate the use of non-messy, portable, quick-drying art supplies. I, therefore, completed the page using Neocolor II crayons and Inktense pencils. Because I started the page on Earth Day, this illustration is of a sort of Mother Earth figure. I like that the text and shapes of the maps can still be seen through the layers of colour. The beady eyed among you will be able to detect that I used mainly Scandinavia with a wee bit of the Caribbean. I wish I had made her face more expressive but drawing while chatting is a challenge. I was productive and managed to create another illustration during the meet up but I will blog about that page tomorrow.
The Art Journal Adventure prompt this week was “heart” but, of course, I did not go all sweet and whimsical with my take on that prompt. Rather than the typical “love” heart, I decided to create an illustration inspired by an anatomical heart. Don’t expect it to be medical-textbook-accurate, however, because realism isn’t my thing either. What I came up with was a female figure with an exposed heart. I used her hair as a sort of curtain being pulled back to reveal some abstracted ribs and that bright red heart. My first impulse was to show her peeling her skin back to reveal the internal organs so I am glad I came up with the more aesthetically pleasing option of the long, dark hair. I do enjoy working with a limited palette so I kept this illustration to just the monochrome and splashes of red.