I have had an exhausting week, physically and mentally. Being crazily busy is my norm but this week has been beyond the norm. I almost fell asleep on the sofa one afternoon. Whenever everyday life gets a bit overwhelming, I know I have to try and scratch out some art time as a way to find balance and decompress. That is why I decided to tackle this week’s Life Book lesson. This week’s lesson was taken by Annie Hamman. I have viewed and responded to a few art lessons taken by Hamman by this stage in my exploration of mixed media and I decided some time ago that her style of painting, her technique, was not something that was going to work for me. I want to hone and develop my own style of art, after all, so pushing myself to try a mode of painting that prevents me from achieving that goal makes no sense. I, therefore, pick and choose elements from the lesson that I can utilise for pushing my own creativity while ignoring the aspects like layering paint with a palette knife.
When I thought of a figure who was serene and peaceful, I thought of one whose arms were crossed because she was not busy doing something. Hands at rest. In my busy week, idle hands would definitely be a luxury. The female figure I painted ended up looking a bit huffy because of the pose but that doesn’t matter to me because I know what made me choose that position for the hands. I tried to keep the colour palette light and pale to suggest calm. The finished piece makes me think of my Twilight Garden painting from last year. I take that as a good sign that I am developing my own style – or at least one of many of my styles.
While my art time is limited, I am still beavering away with my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook project, approaching the half-way mark. You can see what I am up to on my other blog and on Instagram.
As I mentioned previously, in addition to taking the year long Life Book and Let’s Face It art courses, I was also lucky enough to win a spot on a course titled Mixed Media Mythology. Happily this course is much briefer and is self-paced so I can fit it around my other art commitments which, in turn, have to fit around life. The subjects of the lessons are goddesses from a variety of cultures. As suggested by my 40 Drawings of Greek Mythology challenge and many of the monsters in my altered book project, I LOVE mythology so this course was very much my cup of tea.
The first lesson I chose to tackle was based on the Greek goddess Eirene. The lesson was taken by Lucy Brydon and I must say it was a joy to watch video instructions delivered in a Scottish accent. Brydon likes to incorporate monoprinting with the gelli plate into her paintings so it was great to see that in action. I have used gelli plate prints in my mixed media work but as a collage element. This time the printing was done as a layer of the painting. I really loved the effect and can see me using that again in future. I also learned a lot from Brydon’s approach to painting hair.
I actually used a recent ink drawing as the inspiration for this painting. I wanted to challenge myself to meld my style of drawing with mixed media painting, experiment and see how it turned out. As Eirene was the goddess of peace, my intention had been to incorporate a dove into the painting. However, I chickened (or doved?) out of it when the time came, too concerned I would paint a goofy looking pigeon and thereby wreck the whole piece. I, therefore, indicated the idea of peace through using pale, harmonious colours and some olive branches in her hair.
I like how the painting turned out except that the facial proportions went a bit Modigliani on me. I have thought so before but I definitely need to get an easel so that my perspective in relation to the paper is more accurate. My standing easel did not survive emigration. I am considering a table top easel because of the way I work, in fits and starts, as that would allow me to leave it set up longer.
The theme is still “Words” for the Documented Life Project’s prompts. This week the challenge was to use quotations or lyrics and the prompt quotation was from actor James Earl Jones: “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter”.
I pondered using favourite songs or poems, even developed the ideas in my head, but I just did not feel inspired by any of my ideas. I decided I should think of something that really articulated my thoughts and feelings right now, thinking that the additional meaning might inspire me. Lately I have been thinking a lot about the state of the world, about my job as a parent trying to raise children in this world. Bloody conflicts; terrible acts of terrorism and other atrocities: massive numbers of people being displaced and desperate; individuals campaigning on manifestos of fear, hatred, and intolerance; division and selfishness… Some days it is hard to focus on the good in humanity. It is there if we look for it, of course, but the cruelty of the world is much in evidence at the moment.
So that was my inspiration for my art journal page. I used watercolour to write words associated with peace – as well as the word peace itself – and used those to fill the shape of a dove, a recognised symbol of peace.