This illustration is based on a photo shared as part of the #Tekenuurtje challenge on Instagram. I was drawn to the billowing, triangular shape of the clothing and the polka dots. I really enjoyed working on this illustration and found painting all of those polka dots very meditative.
This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to use polka dots. Remember how I felt about neon? Well I feel much the same way about polka dots. I think 1980s ra-ra and puffball skirts killed polka dots for me. I also have an odd visual tic when it comes to dots in that they go blurry or vibrate making it difficult for my eyes to focus on them. That’s one of the reasons why I found it too challenging to learn to read music fluently and why I read the spots on dice through pattern rather than the dots themselves. Polka dots are not my friend.
As I am still embroiled in my drawing a day challenge and also had lots of chores to plough through, I decided to take what I thought would be a quick and easy path to making a polka dot page in my art journal. I decided to create a circle filled gelli plate background which I intended to then collage over with a circles cut from a second, complementary gelli plate. Well, despite sticking to three paint colours – turquoise, lime and hot pink – which looked good together in the bottle, all I managed to make in layering up my prints was mud. It looked like melted ice cream. In the worst way. One gelli print was so ugly, I decided to not waste any more time and paint trying to rescue it. I plumped for using the other print, however, on the basis that I was running short on time. Setting myself up for more disaster, in other words. I cut down the print to page size, thus chopping off the most offensively ugly part of the print. Then I used various discarded household objects – an empty sticky tape roll, the end of a pencil, a wine cork, a pencil top eraser – and used those to stamp on top of the gelli print using black, white, the lime and the pink. My last effort with it was to stick down a piece of dotty washi tape along the edge where I had cut down the print because it was slightly too narrow for my art journal page. Certainly printing with the various circles helped punch back some of the worst effects of the pastel mud I had created but still there is no denying that my response to this week’s challenge is not cutting the mustard.
I am, therefore, chalking up this week to a learning experience. I have learned that polka dots are probably still not my thing but I actually quite like the effect of the circles stamped from all those found objects. I have learned that colours that look lovely together in their bottles don’t necessarily look lovely when layered into a print. I enjoyed having a break from the focused, controlled style of drawing I have been doing for my Greek Mythology challenge by doing something that was just “go with the flow” and an experiment without a vision of the outcome but I have learned that maybe a little more thought is required than the pretty much zero thought I invested if such a freestyle approach is going to ever be successful.
I feel as if I am taking two steps forward and one step back with this year’s foray into art journalling and mixed media but that’s still progress I suppose.
Here’s a photo of my polka dot disaster. In real life it is much brighter and more vivid but for some reason the camera on my phone has made it go more insipid just to rub the salt in.