This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “goddesses or monsters”. As long term readers of my blog will know, I love mythology and especially Greek mythology. I was, therefore, overwhelmed by the possibilities and suffered from a creatively crippling bout of indecision. In the end, however, I decided to whip up a quick ink and watercolour illustration of a Minotaur. The Minotaur is one of my favourite monsters and I had not drawn one for a while. This one echoes the body shape and proportions of one I painted in an altered book three years ago. I placed him on a grey background and used a more muted palette so suggest his labyrinth dwelling. I kept second guessing myself as I am usually a bit more bold with my use of colour. However, I am calling this illustration done.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use black and white with one colour. By coincidence, my Art Snacks box had just arrived and it contained a black fineline pen and a green alcohol marker. I, therefore, decided I could combine the challenges while giving myself the additional challenge of working on a narrow piece of paper. A childhood spent watching classic monster movies means I have a Pavlovian response to black and green. The combination always makes me think of Frankenstein’s Monster. I, therefore, set about drawing the Karloff version of the Creature in the narrow space of the paper. I was very happy with the ink illustration but then worried I would wreck it when adding the green. I have never been much good at “colouring in” plus I have never used an alcohol based marker before. I rubbed some of the marker on a piece of wax paper so that I could dilute it with water and brush it on as a light wash first. That then gave me the confidence to go in directly with the marker to create darker green areas. I am pretty pleased with how the illustration turned out. I had envisaged using it as a tip-in for my art journal but two of my kids want it as a bookmark so I guess that’s its destiny.
On Friday, I went to work wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella since a rainstorm was forecast for the weekend. However, while I was at work, snow started to fall. I left work in a blizzard. Thankfully my kids were already on an early dismissal (I cannot remember the last time they were in school for an entire five day week) so two were already home and two I picked up on my way home from work. Just as we walked through the door, hoping to get cosy, looking forward to a steaming cup of tea, the power cut out. And it stayed out. From 2pm on Friday until 1am on Sunday, we had no power whatsoever. No light and no heat is pretty miserable in Winter. We kept ourselves occupied with board games and reading by candlelight. However, my 21st Century kids started to miss screens and WiFi after a mere 12 hours and things were rapidly descending into ‘Lord of the Flies’ territory. Thankfully the power came back on before they started sharpening sticks.
Since I could not do laundry, cook complex meals, or run the vacuum around, I found an unexpected ration of time to spend on art. Sure, I could have dusted but you know how I like to sacrifice dusting so I can get in some art time. I decided to work on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was simply the letter W with an additional option to use shiny, shimmery or sparkly media. Perhaps it was because I had just illustrated a vampire on the previous page of my journal, but I was in a monster mood. That said, when am I never in a monster mood? For me, therefore, W was for Werewolf and I set about drawing one in ink as the sun slipped towards the horizon and the house became gloomy in the dwindling light. It seemed apt for the subject but drawing in the dark is hard on the eyes. I added the diluted ink and watercolour by candlelight while my fingers shook in the cold. Amazingly, despite the circumstances, the illustration turned out to be completely acceptable. I hope, however, to not be doing too much future art in the cold and dark. I am SO done with Winter!
I have been following the creative crafting of Helen at CrawCrafts Beasties for a while now. Helen is incredibly skilful in the way she creates her signature Beasties and their amazing accessories. I love to see the photographic portraits of her Beasties but I also love to read about her process and inspiration. The way she captures people’s ideas, personalities, and interests and incorporates them into their knitted and stitched counterparts is most impressive. Helen is also very clever and witty and is fond of a good pun.
Knowing my fondness for Helen’s Beasties, my husband and kids decided to gift me a Beastie of my very own for Christmas. As a monster fan and nerd, I had plentiful ideas for what I could commission Helen to create but I decided to be a little bit of an ego-maniac and commission her to make a mini-me. Helen did a magnificent job of identifying details that spoke to my hobbies, interests, and really capture the essence of me. You can read all about the creation of my Beastie on the Beastie Blog where you will also see the amazing details of wee monster me and her accessories. Knowing how talented Helen is, I had high expectations but she far exceeded them.
It is only January and I am already so over Winter. I like to be warm and cosy. I dislike shovelling. My kids have not and will not have a full week of school this month thanks to snow days, early dismissals, and late arrivals. While I love spending time with my kids, it has been pretty disruptive and we are a family who does better with routine. Winter is the price I pay for getting to enjoy the other seasons of the year. Alas, it is too early for me to even start searching out the first signs of Spring.
Anyway, thoughts of snow, ice, and winter chill inspired my most recent art journal page. Technically it is a response to the Art Journal Adventure prompt which was the letter A. I had already been thinking about creating an illustration of a Yeti so I am just labelling him as the Abominable Snowman to fulfil the prompt. I love monsters and mythology and cryptids so I always enjoy drawing them. This yeti is inspired by a painting I did in my altered book of monsters a couple of years ago. That painting was just the face but this time I drew the whole body.
It is creeping closer to the time of year when we can start watching all of our favourite Christmas movies again. I am very much looking forward to evenings tucked up on the sofa with my kids greeting these movies like old friends. ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘Muppet Christmas Carol’, ‘Elf’ and so many more movies will start to get us in the festive mood. One of my favourite Christmas movies, with a slightly different vibe is ‘Gremlins’. The mogwai and gremlin characters in that movie are a joy and I love all the B movie elements it parodies and celebrates. I was tempted to draw a sweet and pure little mogwai in my sketchbook but concluded it was more apt to stick with my monster theme and draw a gremlin, namely the leader of the gremlins, Stripe. Since I forego using reference photos, I realised too late that I had drawn Stripe standing rather too erect. In actuality, Stripe does not have the best posture and has more of a slump or hunched pose. Never mind. Let’s imagine that this is what a gremlin would look like after a visit to a chiropractor and some yoga.
Continuing to fill up my Inktober sketchbook, I decided that the next creature that had to feature was Frankenstein’s Monster. In addition to Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ being one of my favourite novels – and one I taught several times – James Whale’s ‘Frankenstein’ is my favourite of the Universal monster movies. I am, therefore, somewhat surprised at myself that the poor old Monster did not appear earlier in my series of Inktober drawings, especially since I did draw his Bride. My illustration is definitely influenced by Boris Karloff’s incarnation of the Monster. I am pretty pleased with how this turned out.