Since I instituted a tradition of creating a sprite figure in each colour section of my Rainbow Art Journal, I decided upon a candy sprite for the pink section. I was thinking of what I call candy floss and Americans know as cotton candy. I personally cannot abide the stuff – the texture on my teeth makes me spine crawl – but it was what popped into my head when I was thinking of pink things that could inspire the illustration. As you can see, open mouth smiles are still an area of challenge for me. This has turned out as a bit of a rictus grin. Teeth are tricky too. Something to keep working on.
I think you can probably tell that I love vintage photos and old movies from the way I “style” the figures I draw. It is not a conscious choice on my part but I think those influences come through nevertheless. I wanted to try and draw a figure with a bit of a twist in the pose. It took me a while to get that curve to the body right and then I could not get the arms quite right. My solution was to put big puffy sleeves on the arms and to tuck one arm behind the body. Now I am wondering, however, if the arm on the right looks like it is missing its lower portion. I thought it would be fun to “explode” the form to create shapes and make it a bit more visually interesting. I don’t often use the Daniel Smith Opera Pink, even though I love it, because it is such an attention-grabbing colour that it can be difficult to use it among other colours. Using it in an otherwise monochrome, greyscale illustration, therefore, works perfectly.
Summer break has not gotten off to the best start in terms of the weather here in PA. We have had deluges of rain for several days on the trot and thunderstorms in the evening. No exaggeration, my street looked like a creek at one point on Wednesday. I did not emigrate from the rainy west coast of Scotland to America for this weather, no siree. * The only upside to this ridiculous level of precipitation is that largely being confined indoors means more time for art – and cooking and baking, which I don’t blog about.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was the letter “A” so really broad scope to do whatever I wanted really. Maybe it is the preschool teacher in me but “A” immediately made me think, in this order, “Apple, alligator, aardvark, armadillo” and that was as far as I needed to go in my mental dictionary because I determined “armadillo” was it. And not just any armadillo, oh no, but a pink fairy armadillo. My 12 year old did not believe me that those are a real creature so I forced him to google. I literally would not let him leave the room until he had googled and I had proved that pink fairy armadillos are indeed a real life thing. What pink fairy armadillos do not have in real life is fairy wings, or wings of any kind, but I wanted to add them just to accentuate the pink and magical quality of these wee critters. It is an awful lot of pink on one page but, on such a grey and miserable day, lashings of bold pink were welcome. It was also fun to do a more whimsical and childish illustration again.
*And I cursed myself by writing this blog post. As I was drafting it, we were walloped by another ferocious rainstorm and our basement flooded. We used our basement for storage (since our house has no attic) and as a playroom for the kids. We have lost a great number of possessions and only time will tell what the damage is – and what the related expense is to remedy it. I can only assume that the sump pump was overwhelmed and failed. I still feel like I jinxed myself.*
Have I mentioned (more than a zillion times?) that I am over Winter and yearning for Spring? A couple of weeks ago, I saw a rabbit bound across my yard and I thought that was a sure sign. Turns out that bunny was just a dimwit who needed to stay in his burrow a bit longer. I also noted that our daffodils were sprouting out of the dirt. That was another hopeful sign. Then the shoots got buried under a foot of snow. Spring has to be soon though. It has to.
My latest art journal page was, therefore, inspired by thoughts of Spring. The Art Journal Adventure prompt was S which fitted perfectly with my intention of creating a Spring themed art journal page. The idea is a personification of Spring waking from a slumber and starting to bloom. I must confess that this was a far better idea in my head than translated on the page. I had to work in a whole load of small rations of time which certainly did not help in terms of cohesion and the fact that I rushed through some of the elements is very visible. I like the idea, however, and might return to it when I have more time to accomplish a better execution. I will state that my art work is perfectly straight – it is my iphone photography that is squint.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was one I really struggled with. I had never taken a lesson with Lindsay Weirich so it was great to see a different approach to art demonstrated. The lesson involved using pearly paint and gouache. I have a little of the former but none of the latter so I improvised and used other media. Stenciling was involved and I suck at stencilling but I decided to force myself to not skip that stage. It started well enough with a pleasing blend of blue, pink, and yellow pearl paint; but then it entered an ugly phase and – when I tried to rescue it – into an even uglier phase until it looked like sparkling sewage. It took layer after layer of paint and more time and effort than I actually had available to try and eliminate the glittery poop stage and haul it screaming and kicking back into something half decent. Then, frankly, I was all out of time and all out of willingness to invest in this one piece. Time to stop flogging the dead horse and move on to new and less poopy pastures.
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 missed so many Life Book and Let’s Face It lessons while I was on the road trip that there was just no way I was going to be able to catch up and get them all done – especially not with kids with me 24/7. I, therefore, plucked out two lessons I was going to tackle from those I missed. The first of these was a Life Book lesson with Jane Davenport. I decided on it because the use of watercolour meant that it should not be too time consuming.
It all went wrong from the first step because I used coloured pencil for the sketching. The idea was that this would loosen us up as we would not be able to erase and make things perfect. After two weeks of no drawing, my draughtsmanship skills were seriously lacking. I was aiming for a more teenage face but the face I drew ended up being a bizarre mixture of teenage features with toddler proportions. Ugh. No time for a do over so I thought I would plough on and see if I could improve it with the watercolour layer. Nope. A little bit of black ink to pull it all together brought some features more sharply into focus but it was still a hot pink mess. What I do like about my painting, however, is the colour palette. The violet, deep pink, cadmium red, and a little touch of cobalt blue are a pleasing combination to my eye at least.
This week’s Let’s Face It lesson was taken by Karine Bosse. The idea was to paint a watercolour portrait of a mermaid. As per usual, time pressures and improvisation with materials meant I strayed a little from the tutorial but I tried to stick to the ideas presented as closely as I could.
If you have followed either of my blogs for long enough then you will know that I have a bit of a mixed history with painting mermaids from the good, the bad, and the ugly. I tend to be better when portraying them as deadly sirens than as delightful creatures. I wonder what that says about me? Anyway, this lesson was a chance to try and overcome my mermaid issue. It possibly helps that the focus was just on the face and hair with no fishy body to portray.
I used the Kuretake watercolours I received for Christmas and I love them. The pigments are so rich and vibrant and the paints are smooth and saturate the paper. The turquoise and dark pink made my painting quite punchy I think. Making the cheeks so pink freaked me out a bit but their warmth does, I think, balance out the turquoise.