This is the other page in my Rainbow Art Journal that I completed over Winter break. The page was covered in all sorts of collaged odds and ends. Essentially any scrap of blue leftover from another project, any blue postage stamp, any interesting labels ended up adhered to this page. One prominent label was from a wine bottle and the name of it – Capuchon – gave me the idea for the illustration. I made the hat wonky because that asymmetry is something I enjoy and the side benefit of the floppy brim was that I only had to draw one eye. No challenge of creating two matching eyes.
This page was another one where I had lobbed down scrapings of leftover paint and scraps of collage material. As with the majority of the pages in the green section of my Rainbow Art Journal, my brain wandered to plants. Because I was thinking about all of the weird bits of rejected odds and sods that made up the substrate of the page, I thought about weeds and that idea that weeds are just plants growing where someone doesn’t want them. The plant doesn’t know it’s a weed; the plant thinks it is a flower with as much merit as the one a human is caring for in a garden. So then I thought about the fortitude of weeds and their feisty attitude. I pretty much started identifying with weeds. So that was the theme and idea for this journal page.
I used a negative space painting approach to pick out the shape of a weed growing across the page. I then stamped “survive” and “thrive” on to some green paint chip cards I had. Unfortunately, I was distracted when gluing them onto the page and transposed the words. Oops. It didn’t bother me enough to either remove them or cover them up, however. Anyway, survival and being determined to thrive no matter what seem like good messages for these pandemic times we find ourselves in.
This page was one of those messy pages crammed full of pieces of collage, odds and ends of washi tape, and surplus gesso and paint. It was, therefore, very textured and incredibly visually busy. It has been in my Rainbow Art Journal for months waiting for me to finish it. I focused on on the wine label that reads “seaglass” and used that as my colour palette inspiration. I used to collect sea glass as a child. I had different jars for the different colours. I found some really cool pieces. I have a vase filled with sea glass from Scotland in my home now. I collected it when I went back home to Fife in 2015 so it’s a visual reminder to my childhood.
I struggled to pull this page together partly because the lumpy, scratchy texture made it hard to work with and partly because I was so sick of looking at this unfinished page for so long. The page was just annoying me and I wanted to get it finished so that I could move on and forget about it.
PS There is a weird colour caste in my photo of this piece, a sort of pinkish glow. When I try to adjust it, it just throws the greens and aquas out too much. The background colour is white gesso so that should give you some indication of the actual colours.
I had this page that was covered in smears and spatters of leftover green paint, washi tape, and offcuts of origami paper. I had placed the collage elements with the intention of them eventually becoming some sort of landscape. Once I began to draw lines around the patches, the drawing started to take form and I had the idea of where the cottage should be placed within the scene. The finished piece is reminiscent of a journal page I created in 2017 and a page from the orange section of this rainbow art journal. I guess this is my style and approach to landscapes.
This page is another example of me plagiarizing myself because I sketched this up from an ink and watercolour illustration I did just over three years ago. It is always interesting to see how I translate the same (or similar) drawing between mediums. This mixed media version was also an experiment in using a lemon yellow and lime green palette. I think the combination is as fresh as you would expect from citrus inspiration. I suspect it would have more zing to it if not dulled down with the flesh tones. I am finding that I really like to use text papers in my mixed media pieces. Maybe it is my love of books and reading but I also just like the sort of mark-making quality it contributes, all those shapes and forms.
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.
I had oral surgery just over a week ago – annoyingly two days before I took my Oath of Citizenship – and unfortunately experienced some complications which have prolonged my recovery process and caused an exceptional degree of pain. I am trying to be stoic but it has been really pretty miserable. I am very much looking forward to being pain free and being able to eat foods that are not liquid. Consequently, I have not been able to do much or accomplish much but I did think that some time spent pootling around at my art table would be restorative.
Not having much capacity for creative mojo in my current state, I decided to use a couple of Art Journal Adventure prompts to create an art journal page. I chose one involving altering an existing image and one that was the letter Q. I used a page out of a fashion catalogue as my starting point. The previous owner of our house must have been a big catalogue shopper as we still get loads of them in the mail, addressed to the occupant of the house, most of which I plop straight into the recycling bin but some I keep as collage fodder. I filled the gaps around the selected image with more scraps of catalogue page and some washi tape. Then it was time to add paint and start altering the image.
I decided that Q was be for Queen and from there I decided to make the figure a Queen Bee. Given the context of my physical condition, I kept things super simple. Just a layer of paint, enough to alter the image and suggest the bee idea. I had some washi tape with gold hexagons on it which was perfect for this project since the gold tied into the crown and the hexagons suggested honeycomb. And that was that. Quick. Simple. Done. And a welcome distraction from my agonising jaw.
It has been months since I completed a page in my Rainbow Art Journal but the winter break afforded me the opportunity to sit at my art table while my kids played video games or otherwise kept themselves occupied. This particular page has been progressing for a good couple of months now as I just kept adding on layers of collage and then of paint.
The background is a photo (by Yan Gao) from a National Geographic magazine depicting an aerial view of a town in Tibet. I thought the pattern of red roofs might prove to be an interesting background to a page in the red section of my Rainbow Art Journal. I then glued down a random face cut from a magazine, some raspberries, red butterfly wings and a lobster just to add to the red theme. Apart from ensuring the face was central, it was all placed in a pretty haphazard way. It then sat at that stage for many weeks until I could return to it and practice painting over collage.
It is interesting to me that the face ended up so flat. Having started with a photograph of a face as my scaffolding, one would assume that the face painted on top of it would be similar. I suspect I layered the paint too thickly and lost all sense of there even having been a face below. The wings and berries became a sort of headdress or headband and the lobster became a sort of outsized brooch I suppose – unless we choose to imagine that the woman is being attacked by a lobster. I painted the lobster a more vivid red, however, so he’d have to be an undead zombie lobster attacking the figure.
Not a very successful page by any measure then but I am glad to have finally completed this page after the journal being untouched and the page having been in stasis for so long. Onward and hopefully upward.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “opposites”. I ran through a lot of ideas in my head before choosing to depict Night and Day as female figures. This was something I had tried before in my Rainbow Art Journal but I had not been satisfied with the result. This was an opportunity to revisit the subject and hopefully accomplish a better outcome. Whereas before I had worked across two pages, this time I confined the composition to a single page. To further enhance the concept of opposites, I placed the figures top to tail as I knew I had liked that composition when I used it in my most recent Red Riding Hood page.
To create a bit more visual interest to the page, I adhered some collage materials as a first layer and ensured that those still showed through subsequent layers in places. While the composition and colour scheme places the Night and Day figures in opposition to each other, I also wanted to connect them, because they are cyclical, so I drew their hair swirling into the sector of the other and had the metallic dots sweep across the diagonal dividing line in places.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use a brayer or similar tool to apply paint to the page. I already had an idea for a page I wanted to create so I grabbed colours I thought would work well – grey, back, and pink – and scraped them across the page. I then added some white spatter largely because I love spatter but also because I thought it might suggest snowfall.
I had been reading National Geographic magazine and spotted a trio of portraits of Japanese macaques. Their little faces really pulled me in so I knew I wanted to use them in an art journal page. I stacked them up like a totem and glued them down.
My personal challenge with this page was to try and disguise the edges of the magazine paper, make it look less “collaged” once I painted over it. I, therefore, applied some thick matte medium over the top of the collaged photographs. Painting over the photo portraits, I wanted to make the colours more stark so I made the fur white and the faces brighter pink. I think I managed to maintain the personality of the monkeys’ faces and I also succeeded in my personal challenge to conceal the edges of the collage.
I have decided that these macaques are queuing up waiting for their turn to bathe in the hot water as the snow falls down. I have always thought that looked to be wonderfully cosy and appealing.