“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley”. Robert Burns might as well have been writing about my summer. We pulled off the travel plans but all my other schemes either went totally pear-shaped or just entirely withered on the vine. I do a sort of homeschooling, educating by stealth, summer project with my kids ever summer – have done since my oldest was a preschooler – but this summer the project had to be abandoned because pretty much everything else got derailed by so many stupid things plus my flipping awful oral pain. Anyway, in early June I had this whole vision that I would have so much art time – so very much art time – over the summer break. Ha! Yeah. Didn’t happen. In fact, I have probably spent less time on art this summer than in previous summers. Sigh.
For that reason, I desperately had to eke out whatever art time I could to make sure I don’t rust up to the point of my creative joints being totally seized up. I wanted to do something really loose. There was an Art Journal Adventure prompt from a couple of weeks ago about “doodling”. I thought that would be the perfect thing to do for some super-quick art time in my art journal. Determined to be loose and not fuss about perfection, I decided to draw with my non-dominant hand (which is my left) and – for a bit more challenge – using the blind contour technique. I opted for a self-portrait because I figured I would be familiar with the shapes, forms, and proportions of my own face so that the drawing didn’t get too abstract and crazy.
I used pencil just to avoid making a total mess while not looking at my page but I did not erase a single mark. What I did was go over those pencil marks with microns in three different sizes, just for a bit of variety and interest. Then I added watercolour and – to keep the challenges coming – I painted with my left hand. I am actually stunned by how well I painted with my non-dominant hand. Certainly I achieved keeping things looser than normal. For other people, this drawing probably is not remotely loose but, believe me, for me this is loose.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “wing it”. Finding time for art this week was a major challenge. We are all adjusting to a new routine. My four kids are in three different schools; the oldest has to catch a bus half an hour earlier than last year, which means pulling our morning routine half an hour earlier. It’s a chaotic transition period. I feel like I am either chasing my tail constantly or trying to catch myself up throughout the whole day. Exhaustion is the dominant theme of my life right now. We will keep tweaking things until we get the schedule running like a well oiled machine but, until then, my free time for art is severely curtailed.
Therefore, “winging it” is exactly what I did with this journal page. I decided to not put much thought or planning into it, to just use my art journal as a decompression tool and enjoy the process rather than focusing on the outcome. Winging it made me think of bird wings and feathers so that gave me my subject. To ensure that I didn’t get too fussy or tight with my drawing, I decided to “wing it” again: I dipped a chubby paint brush in black acrylic and drew the wing with my non-dominant hand. In retrospect, using my left hand maybe wasn’t the best idea. After filling in the negative space with black acrylic and letting the whole thing dry, it was time to add colour. I did so by just splashing some pigment rich watercolour paints into the feather shapes and letting it run all over the place.
It is just as well that I was not focused on the outcome because the outcome is pretty rubbish really. My ten year old tactfully told me it was “not the best”. I like the idea of a wing made of rainbow feathers and might return to that at some stage. This page, however, is what it is. I “winged it” for sure.
What a difference from one week to the next – last week was an art time famine and this week I have managed to squeeze in three different doses of art time. This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt to use colours outside your comfort zone. Since I had enjoyed the abstract lesson from Life Book so much this week and had found it so quick and easy, I decided to take a similar approach with my art journal page. I again chose to use my non-dominant hand and used a wooden skewer dipped in ink. I could tell just by glancing at my set of watercolours which colours I used least because they had barely been touched: green and orange. I decided to throw in some yellow for a third colour and to connect the green and orange. Not wanting to create another abstract and not knowing what else to draw, I settled on a self-portrait. I really enjoyed working in this way. It was quick, easy, and relaxing. I will be squirreling away this approach so I can use it again in future.
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.