Knowing me as you do, you may not be surprised to see the direction I took this week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt. The prompt was “Opening” which could be used in either a literal or metaphorical way or both. I immediately visualised a rib cage opening to reveal a heart.
I used Dylusions black marble paint to coat my page because it creates a really rich black with a lovely smooth finish which is perfect for drawing on with paint pens. The approach I took was the exact same as the one I used to create the Lady Death page in my other current art journal but this time I kept it the doodles much simpler because I wanted to get the whole thing done and dusted within one week’s rations of art time. I think it goes without saying that I did not use any references when illustrating the skeleton. Anatomical accuracy was not remotely going to happen. The rib cage I drew – however short of a few ribs – opens like window shutters to reveal the interior of the body. I knew I wanted to include the heart as a reference to the idea of opening up to someone, thus connecting the literal and metaphorical possibilities of the prompt. Having drawn the heart into the centre of the opening, however, I decided that there was too much empty space. I, therefore, added a pair of lungs. I repeated the pink and red colours elsewhere in the drawing of the skeleton to make the interior and exterior visually coherent.
I had a lot of fun creating this journal page and hope you find it fun to look at.
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.
***NOTE: This blog post is about my art work. This is not a political post and I am not inviting political discussion. You are, of course, entitled to hold different political opinions from me and I respect that. I, therefore, ask that any comments left on this post are similarly respectful and civil. Any nastiness will be deleted.***
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “Travel”. Normally my imagination would be sparking and fizzing with ideas about dream destinations and bucket list travel plans or else memories of wonderful travels from times past. However, the prompt happened to be revealed on the exact same day that President Trump issued his revised Travel Ban. As such, my creative impulses took me in an entirely different direction. As an immigrant, legal permanent resident in America, I felt compelled to follow that impulse. The result is a depiction of Lady Liberty weeping. I drew the face rapidly using black acrylic paint (having roughly mapped out only the proportions) and, once that was dried, I added some Dylusions spray ink in teal and turquoise to suggest verdigris and add some additional visual texture.
As a family, we Picts are usually in rude health. We rarely get sick and until this year one of my sons had never had a day off school ever. This Winter, however, has been a relentless battle against germs. While Mr Pict and I have escaped the various plagues, our four boys have been felled by one thing after another. My preschool students have also been dropping like flies. The whole community apparently needs to be disinfected. This week, my youngest son came down with a vomiting bug for the second time in six weeks. The only slight silver lining to having to take time off work for nurse duties is that, between looking after the little chap and bleaching and boil washing, I could grab some time to play around in my art journal.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to transform the edges of the page by shaping them. I was glad of this prompt as it represented a nudge to try something new. I usually operate pretty strictly within the boundaries of the page, neither extending it with a tip-in or subtracting from it by removing areas. I sat at my art table, struggling for inspiration, and saw the shape of my hands on the blank page. I decided that my hands should be the shape I created. I simply drew around my hands and cut out the shape. I painted both sides of the hands with black acrylic. Once that was dry, I used my Dylusions paints to add dots all over the hand shapes. I like those paints for the vivid colours and for the thick texture so they worked perfectly for this particular job. Now I just need to figure out what, if anything, to do with the reverse side of the hands.
This week’s Life Book lesson was way out of my comfort zone. The tutor was Wendy Brightbill and she demonstrated her process of creating an abstract work of art through layering of different media and finding the tipping point between working intuitively and pulling it all together with intention. Intuitive and abstract are both things I really struggle with. I am, after all, a control freak and more of an illustrator than anything else. But that is the point in following an art course that has such diverse teachers – it forces me to try new things and experiment a bit. My piece did not evolve well. I loved the first layer and then it just got uglier and messier and more incoherent rather than cohesive. The thing that finally killed it once and for all was that I was way too “blocky” when applying some acrylic paint. I tried some dribble to make it more organic again and then, rather inevitably for me, some spatter. All was in vain. Those chunks of colour were neither geometrically precise enough to be part of the intent of the piece nor random enough to work with the previous layers. My choices were to either scrap the whole thing and forget about it (since I had no time in which to start over) or to just keep trucking and at least produce a finished outcome. I decided on the latter so I grabbed my paint pens and started doodling. It was still an ugly mess of a piece but I did at least really enjoy the doodles. I was adding the doodles while making dinner which meant I didn’t have the time to overthink what I was doing which was actually quite liberating (if one ignores the stress of multi-tasking). That doodle layer was, therefore, enjoyable. I do like the colour palette and think that works and I may repurpose this painting as the cover of a completed art journal.
This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Misty Mawn. Misty Mawn is a mixed media artist I had heard a lot about so it was fun to experience a lesson with her and learn what her approach to art is. Hers is a much looser, much more painterly, much more intuitive style than I know I am capable of so the lesson really dragged me out of my comfort zone.
This is one of those pieces I regret not taking progress shots of because at no stage did it ever resemble or even predict what it was going to end up looking like. My initial sketch was actually a self-portrait (without glasses) and actually a rather good one so I wish I had thought to take a picture of that. It was, however, never my intention for the final painting to resemble me. Instead I was using my face as scaffolding to underpin the other layers. As soon as I started applying paint, with a large brush, the quality of the drawing disappeared and it became a mess. I was not happy with either my mixing of flesh tones nor my mark making with the brush. It was a complete and utter mess and I seriously doubted in my ability to refine that layer enough to make it worth persevering with and progressing. I managed to refine it a little more by switching to a medium brush and by improving the flesh tones but it was definitely in the “ugly stage” by then. I admit that it was then that I threw in the towel. I could not get the painting to emerge as anything worthy of escaping the trash bin using a painterly, loose approach and acrylic paint. What I decided to do, therefore, was use other media and revert to my drawing skills to pull out the facial details and make the painting cohere. That saved the day and saved the piece from going in the bin.
As an aside, the green and pink colour scheme definitely speaks to my longing for Spring. I am so done with Winter and its bleak, grey, dull days.
I had decided that this year I would play around in my art journal whenever possible but without recourse to prompts. However, some friends from my “art tribe” convinced me that I should check out Art Journal Adventure and I decided to participate in a dip in and out fashion. I recognise that I am someone who, in my present hectic circumstances, needs an occasional poke and a prod to actually find the time to just be playful with my art and that is something that journal prompts encourage me to do. However, I am also going to attempt a themed art journal for the first time and will dip into that when the mood and mojo arises. From time to time, I may well incorporate the Art Journal Adventure prompts into my themed art journal.
I got off to a good start as far as being flexible with participation goes because I did diddlysquat with the first week’s prompt. I did, however, make use of this second week’s prompt. It was pretty simple – the focus was to be on texture. I am not one for adding much dimension to my art work – I am definitely a 2D person – so I focused on creating visual texture as opposed to anything tactile. I had a half-finished page in my art journal that I hated. It had been malingering in the journal for several months but I opted not to rip it out because I rather liked the art work on the reverse side of it. A couple of months ago, when I had some surplus black acrylic, I smeared the paint across the page. I decided, therefore, to return to that page as the starting point for my “texture” page. I added some torn paper collage, spatter with pearl blue paint and white paint, printing with found objects, dribble, and finally some alphabet stamps. It was all a bit random and abstract so I chose to give it a focal point by adding the word “Focus” which is my word for this year. As art journal pages go, it is pretty mundane and mediocre but it is a massive improvement on what was beneath that black paint so I am happy.