Roots and Branches

For this week’s Life Book lesson, the tutor was Effy Wild.  The visual elements of the lesson were connected to some introspection but I mostly choose to gloss over the more art therapy aspects of Life Book and just focus on the art.  I also did not have time to view the video demonstrations so I relied on the accompanying PDF to provide me with an understanding of the steps involved.  As always, my finished outcome looks little like that of the tutor but I utilised techniques and approaches that she demonstrated.  I think the finished treeis reminiscent enough of a plump baobab tree that I wish I had thought of the resemblance sooner in the process and made it completely like a baobob.  It was at its core an exercise in patchwork collage and negative space.  I used bronze paint over the collage layer for the tree trunk and gold for the leaves so that it would glint in the light and because I look for any excuse to use metallic paints.  The tutor’s version incorporated text.  I wasn’t feeling that way inclined but do feel my piece lacks a focal point.  I just need to ruminate on it for a bit and return to it once I have an appropriate epiphany.

10a Roots and Branches

10b Roots and Branches

 

Rainbow Art Journal – Honey Bee

This is the second completed page in my “rainbow art journal”.  Right now, of course, it isn’t very colourful since I decided to start with absence of colour in the form of black.  This page was inspired by my friend Krisje over at her blog, Art is my Favorite Color.  She recently blogged about an art journal page where she painted over collage which reminded me that I have not attempted that sort of approach – using a collaged figure as scaffolding – in ages.  I, therefore, decided that would be the technique used on this page and I actually remembered to take progress photos.  First I laid down a pretty random collage comprising the interior of a security envelope, washi tape, text pages, a figure clipped from a magazine advert, and the labels from a bottle of wine I had consumed that week.

2a Honey Bee

What became evident fairly quickly was that the collage elements became all but lost beneath the black paint, even when it was thinly applied.  I just went with it and made a mental note to revisit this technique when using a lighter colour of paint.  Perhaps because of the nature of the material, the Honey Beast wine labels were the one collage element that really came through the collage.  I was glad because I loved that honey bee design and that then provided me with a theme for my art journal page.  I picked out the bee design a bit more by filling it with white gel pen.  This was definitely the “ugly stage”.

2b Honey Bee

Once the base layer of acrylic paint was dry, I used other media to layer, refine, and add detail.  An art friend had passed me a collection of little stamps on an insect theme and among them was a bee.  I stamped this throughout the hair of the figure to tie her to the honey bee and then I used white Posca paint pen to give her bee-like wings.  While the technique was not wholly successful, it was fun to do something I had not done in a while and useful to learn that painting over collage does not work so well with very dark colours.  That is what my art journal is all about after all – experimentation through fun.

2c Honey Bee

2d Honey Bee

Female Form Silhouette

It has taken me almost two weeks to complete this Let’s Face It lesson but I’ve done it.  It took me almost a week just to find time to watch the lesson video and then, despite skipping some steps of the process demonstrated, it took me a further week to get the piece completed.  The lesson was taken by Deanna Strachan-Wilson and was about creating a simplified form of a female figure in a layered piece.  One of the corners I cut was in not drawing a figure based on a photograph and instead drawing from my imagination.  As such, my proportions are not realistic and I very much simplified the profile of the face plus I added a wing to balance out the composition.  I actually preferred my piece before I added gesso to the figure but I wanted to try and stay true to the methods of the lesson where I could since I had jettisoned other steps.  I do, however, like the warm, grungy sepia, vintage tones of the piece and especially the washes of bronze and the spatters of gold.

Week 41 - Figure Silhouette 1

Week 41 - Figure Silhouette 2

Bespectacled Angel

I managed to scrape together some time in which to tackle last week’s Life Book lesson.  I did, as I often do, skip some steps and take some short cuts but I did follow the essence of the lesson.  The lesson was taken by Ivy Newport whose encaustic artwork has impressed me for quite some time.  This particular lesson functioned for me as an introduction to encaustic art but – as eager as I am to give that technique a try some time – there was absolutely no way I was going to eke out the time and organise the resources to incorporate that layer.  Some time I will have to give it a whirl but that time is not now.

The idea of the lesson was to fuse a self-portrait with the figure of an angel and it was also another opportunity to try paint over collage.  I find sometimes painting over collage works well for me and other times it really doesn’t.  I have to get better at observing why my process goes one way or another.  As it happens, this one fell somewhere in the middle – I didn’t get any annoying bubbles or ridges in the wrong places but I wish I had fewer straight edges among the collaged papers and instead had rougher torn edges.  I have not worked in pink or orange for a while so I challenged myself to use those colours.  I also challenged myself to keep the spectacles in the self-portait instead of cheating and depicting me in a way I only look when sleeping or showering.  When my husband came home and saw this piece on the easel, he congratulated me on the strong likeness I had achieved in my self-portrait.  I had to laugh.  Of course it is a good likeness: I painted over a photograph of me.

Week 39 - Be Your Own Angel 1

Week 39 - Be Your Own Angel 2

Girl with China Blue Hair

Last week’s Let’s Face It tutorial was a paint over collage lesson.  It was taken by Toni Burt and we had actually been led through her process for creating a collaged background as a mini-lesson a few months ago.

I really liked the collaged background as it was a bit more thought through and intentional than my collages tend to be.  Instead of just tearing up and sticking down paper, I was actually thinking about relationships between elements.  I should have thought a bit more carefully about the eventual composition, however, as I ended up with a significant bump under the figure because of the ticket stub.  Never mind.  Another learning opportunity.

The object was to paint a whimsical figure on top of the collage layer.  Burt used oil sticks in her piece but I neither own or have a desire to own oil sticks so I improvised and used Neocolor II crayons to shade the face.  It was a welcome break to be working in this more illustrative style again, not having to be concerned about accurate proportions and facial features and all that jazz.  I may be guilty of over-simplifying but time is ever my nemesis.

Week 36 - Paint over Collage

Intuitive Self(ish) Portrait

Last week’s Life Book lesson was with Annie Hamman.  Between Life Book and Let’s Face It, I have watched a lot of Hamman’s tutorials and have done most of them.  I really like her style and approach to her artwork.  She strikes the perfect balance between working purposefully and intuitively.  While my style is completely different from Hamman’s, I do aspire to a balance between those two modes of being intentional and being intuitive so I do enjoy her lessons.

This lesson was essentially one about painting over collage.  Hamman referenced the fact that we often tend to construct faces that mirror our own features and that is something I have noted about my artwork and have made mention of on this blog.  I, therefore, decided to run with that idea and started with a sketch of my face (sans glasses) and then worked on the face more intuitively so that the traces of my face remained yet it was not a true self-portrait because other elements had drifted away from replicating the proportions of my face.  It was me yet not me.  It was a self-ish portrait.

I am making a real effort to be much more positive about my art work experiments, a little more gentle on myself, striving to focus on the successful rather than flawed elements within each piece.  I will, therefore, state that I am happy with the collage background for this piece, a mixture of origami papers, washi tape and postage stamps.  I was also pleased with the skin tones I mixed as I actually managed to get the shade and tones to align with my own skin colour.

Week 36 - Intuitive Self Portrait

Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte and demonstrated a paint over collage technique.  The subject of the painting was to be a figure with an animal and we were encouraged to choose an animal companion that reflected an aspect of ourselves (I think – I skipped that bit of the lesson).  Laporte’s exemplar depicted a wolf and as soon as I saw that I had a notion to paint Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.  For some reason, that is a subject I return to time and again with my art.  I have even shared a couple of examples on my blog, one in my art journal and one in an altered book.

My collage layer was a bit of a mess and I was not altogether happy with the scale of the wolf but my oldest son needed to use the computer so I had to use the picture I had already printed out.  It was not as if I was aiming for realism anyway.

Week 24 - Red Riding Hood and Wolf- Collage Layer

For some reason, whenever I paint over a collaged face, the chin and jaw always ends up too heavy.  So odd.  Indeed, I think the only trace of the original image is the eyes and the lips.  The Wolf also ended up looking a bit smiley.  I don’t think he was intimidating Little Red Riding Hood or anyone else on the path through the woods. Incidentally, the moon disc behind the figures is silver.  It just does not photograph well and looks flat grey.  I have definitely done better paintings over collage in the past but, ho hum, another lesson ticked off the list nevertheless.

Week 24 - Red Riding Hood and Wolf