Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was another guest blog post by my friend Jana. Her theme was “trash to treasure” and she had all sorts of ingenious ideas for using everyday objects destined for the recycling bin as tools for mixed media art. I ended up keeping my page pretty simple, with barely any layers, because I was short on time but I have squirreled away many of Jana’s ideas for future reference.
I started my page without having any idea of where it would go or what might emerge. I had a foodie magazine in the recycling bin so I rescued it and, selecting brightly coloured pages, ripped it into strips using a ruler. This meant the strips were more or less straight and of a uniform width. I adhered the strips to the page and coated the whole thing in matte medium so that I could work on top of it.
It stayed that way for almost the entire week, sitting on my art table waiting for me to have time to return to it. When I did sit down at the art table again, I decided to do some negative space painting and – since I like simplified female figures – that was what ended up emerging as I added the white acrylic. I seem to have a thing right now for puffy, cloud-like hair too but in this case I think it worked out well as the width of the hair balances out the width of the ballooning skirt.
Next time I sat down in my art space, I added the details using various media. The last thing I did was to stamp the words “reduce”, “reuse”, “recycle”, and ‘replenish” in the space around the figure as that seemed in the spirit of the page.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Annie Hamman. I really love Hamman’s paintings and enjoy watching her process but it is a style and methodology I can never get to work for me as I am neither painterly or loose enough in the way I handle paint. I have, therefore, really enjoyed the previous Annie Hamman lessons I have worked on but I always end up with something much more rigid and controlled than the anticipated outcome. This lesson was no exception.
I enjoyed all of the techniques deployed in the lesson, such as painting over collage and painting negative space, but I was neither intuitive or loose enough in my mark making. That’s OK though. That way of creating just isn’t me. What was disappointing was that my choice to use blue for underpainting and layering up the shadows of the face didn’t dissipate enough in subsequent layers and the flesh tones ended up sallow and sickly looking as a result. (Incidentally, the phone photo makes the colours much paler than they are in real life because the light levels have just been so dreary here lately.) I am, however, happy with the negative painting around the antlers, the pushing back of and forward from the collage layer, and the gold of the halo. I think this is another one of those lessons I will attempt again, perhaps in my art journal, as I liked the approach and have hopefully learned something from the underpainting oops.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to incorporate a silhouette as part of the art journal page. Some weeks I read a prompt and have no ideas and some weeks I read a prompt and am overwhelmed by too many ideas at once. This was an example of the latter. There were so many ways I could have taken the idea of a silhouette.
I had a page already underway in my art journal that was going nowhere in particular but where I had plonked a wine label slap bad in the middle. I had actually intended to glue the wine label into my rainbow themed art journal but I guess I was rushing and it was late at night so it ended up in my regular art journal. There were also some scraps of text paper already adhered to the page, leftovers from some other project. I decided that should be the background of my silhouette page. But then I realised that the wine label would likely end up completely covered up. That was when I decided I would create a reverse silhouette with the surrounding area being black and the chosen shape emerging in negative rather than positive.
Something you may not know about me is that I love sharks (and whales). It has been a lifelong thing. I would actually dearly love to dive with sharks but its the claustrophobia of scuba gear underwater that deters me. Despite the fact – or maybe because – I doodle sharks frequently, a shark has only put in one solitary, rogue shark appearance in my art journal. It was a messy collage of torn paper that resulted in a rather dorky looking shark. After adding a light paint layer over the collage, therefore, it was just a case of quickly drawing out a shark silhouette shape and then painting black into the negative space. Quick and easy.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Donna Downey. It was all about being playful with colours and mark making, and layering with paints and shapes, to create a colourful and abstract piece. I managed to keep my control freakery in check and let my inner child go wild with colour but I maybe got a bit carried away and the result was a tad messy. I also struggle with creating abstract art because I get too stuck in my head and end up with strong visual ideas that lend themselves to more representational or figurative art. That was precisely what happened with this piece too. I, therefore, just went with it and produced a more whimsical female figure whose form contains the shapes of a whale’s tail, leaves, and a heart while the space around her head contains two birds. I always enjoy painting negative spaces so that the background becomes the positive image so that was the element of this lesson that really appealed to me and made me feel relaxed.
This week’s Colour Me Positive theme was “Enough”. Immediately the word “enough” made me think of all of the things I am sick to the back teeth of whether personal or global in scope. However, I like to keep my arting positive because it helps me decompress from life’s stresses rather than it being a visual catalogue of those stresses and frustrations. I, therefore, decided to take the sentiment intended – that each of us is enough – and work with that in my art journal.
I did not have a precise idea in my head so I made a messy, painty background using those vivid Dylusions paints while my thoughts evolved. What emerged was a combination of some of my default techniques and forms – people as matyroshka dolls, negative shapes, ink over acrylic – and a little character who represented me, not dissimilar from another recent “selfie” page. I like that the background shows through the ink in a way that suggests a night sky. That was a surprising act of serendipity.
This week’s Colour Me Positive was on the theme of Hope. My kids and I are all mythology nerds so, for that reason, when I read the word “hope” in isolation and free of context, I automatically think of Pandora, opening that box and unleashing all the nasties and leaving only hope inside. It is not that long since I drew Pandora, however, so I did not repeat that subject but it definitely inspired me. I focused in on the idea of managing to keep hold of hope, keep it safely enclosed within that box, and that phrase – holding on to hope – then informed the way the page evolved: a visual representation of holding on to hope even in dark times.
I wanted to have another attempt at the technique I used in my recent portrait for a Let’s Face It lesson, of painting over a background and carving out elements of the painting as negative shapes. In doing so, I was also able to surround the figure in darkness. The black paint carving out the blue shapes helps, I think, for the gold to be a more emphatic element in the page. I like this negative space technique. I think I am going to keep experimenting with it.
It’s Week 48 on the Life Book course and what a busy week it is. I cannot believe it is Week 48 already. Where on earth has this year gone? It has absolutely whipped by. Aside from everything we have done and accomplished in Pict family life, I have crammed a lot of art into this year. That makes me happy. As this year draws to a close (because – seriously – it is week 48 already!) I am already making plans for the arty bit of my life for next year. I am signed up to do Life Book 2016 and I just learned a few days ago from the lovely Julia Osterc of Loving Road that I have won a place on a Mixed Media Mythology course. How cool is that? I am also considering signing up for another course called Let’s Face It. Meanwhile, I still have my Altered Book of Monsters project on the go and I will probably embark on another 100 Artworks Challenge having completed my Crazy Critters. Hmmmm. That’s quite a lot now that I am looking at it all listed. It’s good to have goals and challenges though, right?
So with the prospect of a busy year of art ahead, this week was a busy week for art. I was playing catch up with Life Book and Week 48 had three elements to it. First up was a lesson with Donna Downey about using what she calls a “smush book”. I have been using one for a few months now but I call it my sidekick journal. It is a small journal in which I smear my unused paint and other media so that they don’t go to waste. I then use that journal for quick wee sketches when I am out and about, such as when I am sitting outside my 8 year old’s guitar lesson. Downey demonstrated using the random smears in her “smush book” through painting in the negative space. Her resulting image was about muses. I used the excess paint from my Autumn Fairy to create a more harmonious random page. I must have still been in a fairy frame of mind as that was the muse figure I carved out when I began painting in the negative space. I like using negative spaces so this was a fun technique and one I am sure I will use again in my “sidekick journal”.
The other two bonus lessons this week were from Lynzee Lynx and Tamara Laporte. Tamara’s lesson was an introduction to gelli plate printing. I don’t get my gelli plate out too often but when I do I really enjoy it and produce print after print after print which I can use as backgrounds in journal pages or as collage papers. I didn’t get my gelli plate out for this Life Book lesson but instead dipped into my file of collage materials and selected a gelli print. It was one I had just filed away, a ghost print from the fish journal page I had just created. I decided to use this gelli print as the background for Lynx’s lesson, thus combining the two, saving me time and helping me catch up a bit with my art projects. Lynx’s lesson was about playfully fusing words to create new, fun words that can be used in art journalling and other creative projects. I am familiar with portmanteau words because my husband and oldest son deploy them all the time, much to their amusement. As I happened to be drinking a mug of tea while I was thinking about art, I decided to fuse the words “Art” and “Tea”, two simple things that make me happy. My definition of “ArTea” is “Tea in which a paint brush has been dunked mistaking the cup for the adjacent jar of water”. That is something I have done several times. I am pretty sure most arty tea drinkers have done the same.
And now I am all caught up in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
This week’s Documented Life Project prompt encouraged participants to use tea bags as a substrate. I have written before about how much I love tea and my love of tea has even inspired an art journal page or two before. Putting my hands to tea bags, used or unused, was not a problem. I watched a few YouTube tutorials about working on tea bags, got an idea mulling around in my head and set to work. The result was more than lacking. It was hideous. Truly. You know I am just as likely to share my artistic disasters as successes on this blog so the fact I didn’t even stop to take a photo of it before lobbing it in the bin should convey something of how totally and utterly ugly it was. Thankfully I had been concerned enough about the tannins from the tea doing nasty things to my art journal that I had worked on a separate piece of paper I was going to attach to the journal. Getting rid of it was, therefore, quick and easy.
Back to square one, I decided to ditch the whole idea of painting or drawing on top of tea bags and decided to just use tea as my inspiration. It has been some time since I properly practiced my typography skills so I decided to play around with text and with negative space. Right at the beginning of Life Book, a lesson from Joanne Sharpe had inspired me to embrace using my own handwriting and I was pleased with the outcome. I decided, therefore, to deploy some of my learning from that lesson in my art journal. I found the quotation online (it’s from Mary Lou Heiss but I failed to add that to the page before taking the photo) and used very wet watercolour around the letters to create colourful, bleeding puddles around the text and imagery.
The Documented Life Project theme continues to be concerned with adding texture to art journal pages. This week we were encouraged to use modelling paste. I do not own modeling paste as I doubt it is something I would make great use of. The Art to the 5th ladies had helpfully suggested some alternatives for those of us who do not possess that product. However, I did not have an appropriate substitute nor the time to learn how to make my own modeling paste courtesy of YouTube tutorials. I decided, therefore, to just focus on the phrase prompt for this week which was “rising to the occasion”.
Mulling over the phrase for a while as I went about my chores, I happened to be tidying up around a sculpture I own which is titled “If I Rise on the Wings of the Dawn”, taken from Psalm 139. Ping! That was my idea.
I created a rough bird shaped mask from a piece of scrap paper and placed it on my art journal page. I then used watercolour paint to spatter all over the page. Mr Pict says that spattering and dripping is becoming very much my “thing” with art. I definitely enjoy it. All that spatter left behind the negative space of the bird. I then drew in a little female figure using a light blue pen. I kept the figure quite simple, almost naive, and wanted to create the impression of soaring.
I rather like how it turned out and I think I will use the spatter technique to play around with negative space in future too.
May is a new month so the theme on the Documented Life Project has changed to texture so this month is going to be all about tactile elements. The prompt for this week was fabric and the phrase was “the fabric of your life”.
I am not a textile artist, not remotely, so I neither have the skills or the material for incorporating fabric into my art journal. If you have followed my blog for long enough you might recall that my last foray into using fabric was when I used my husband’s discarded underpants to make pyjamas for a hibernating bear. It was fun to create and certainly amusing but I decided not to repeat that experiment. So I interpreted the prompt more broadly and decided to construct fabric from a non-textile medium.
Using a piece of scrap photocopy paper as my substrate, I used clippings from magazine pages to construct a long dress and hair for a female figure. I then used a craft knife to cut out hands and a face so that those features became the negative space within the collage. When I glued the whole piece into my art journal, the white of the journal page became the hands and face. As someone who loves to draw and tends towards illustration, I had to resist the impulse to draw in the fingers and the facial features. Whether that would have improved the whole piece or detracted from it, I don’t know. Feel free to offer your opinion. I swithered over it for so long that I ran out of time (having given myself half an hour for this DLP page) so the blank negative space became the default. It’s an experiment at least. I did some line work with paint pen on the hair and dress just to give both a bit more definition.