This week’s Colour Me Positive theme was Opportunities. I did not have a clear idea for my page but I knew I only had a brief chunk of time in which to work in my art journal this week so I just set about laying paint down on the page and seeing what emerged. Somehow I feel better able to work intuitively in my art journal in a way that I just can’t with other, more focused art projects. I am still getting to know the Dylusions paints so I thought it would be a good idea to play with those. What I discovered was that, while the paints are wonderfully vibrant and bold, they don’t layer easily. Unless applied really thickly, the previous layer shows through too much. I also discovered that the white sucked up pigment from the previous layer. I still really like how thickly textured they are and how strong the colour is but it is useful to know the limits of these paints. Anyway, I just kept painting and printing and drawing and seeing what emerged which turned out to be a female face with a long trail of hair sweeping vertically up the page. It still had nothing to do with opportunities, of course, so I decided to chuck a quotation on the page – lines from a short poem by Emily Dickinson – using a Posca paint pen.
This year’s final Documented Life Project theme is “storytelling with the written word” and this week’s challenge was to use words front and centre. As you will have observed, I am not someone who tends to write much in my art journal. I much prefer all of the visual elements to the written word when it comes to my creative experiments and I also shy away from recording anything too personal in my art journal too so I don’t use it as a visual diary. Therefore, when I do use words, they tend to be very brief or else be the words of someone else.
I decided to focus on the word “centre” in the challenge prompt. A quick google turned up a quotation attributed to Karl Wilhelm Friederich Schlegel, the German philosopher and poet. That quotation spoke to me amid all the other quotations that google had turned up because it seemed to connect to my word of the year, which was “Balance”. I have worked really hard to restore some balance back into my life this year, making some time for myself, recharging my own batteries so that I can keep on investing in my family to the best of my ability. It’s not a perfect yin-yang balance, of course, because that would be both impossible and unreasonable but I am definitely starting to feel more level, more centred. Centre. Ta da.
I kept the page pretty simple as I was working on it in very short bursts throughout a busy day. The background is lots of liquidy watercolour. Playing on the idea of extremes and balance, I used cold colours at the top of the page and warm colours at the bottom so that they merged in the middle – or the centre as it were. I then sprinkled salt onto the page, more so on the left than on the right, just to create some visual interest and a subtle difference between the two sides of the page. I have used salt before with watercolour but have never had it stick fast to the page but it did so this time. Maybe it was because I was using watercolour paper before whereas my art journal is mixed media paper and is much less toothy. Maybe the pigment was just far too liquidy for this technique and I should have let the puddles dry a bit first. Whatever the reason, I am glad I have these oops learning opportunities in my art journal as that is the place for such experiments. I then wrote the quotation across the page using a black gel pen. The font is one I found on Pinterest which I thought would be fun to try out as the curls and tendrils of it appealed.
So another year of DLP prompts is almost over. I won’t be continuing with it in 2016 as the organisers are taking the challenges in the direction of planners rather than art journals and that’s not my bag. I will continue to work in my art journal, however. I find I enjoy the quick bursts of art I can achieve in my journal as well as the experiments and development of ideas. As the year draws to a close, I will also need to revisit my goals for 2015 and see which ones I achieved and which I need to roll forward into 2016 in my continuing quest for balance.
It is Week 51 of the Documented Life Project. The weekly prompts provided by the group have not only encouraged my experimentation with art journaling but have also given me the impetus to create at least one item of art per week. I have, therefore, decided to follow the Project into 2015 and will see where it takes me. I shall, of course, continue to share my output – the good, the bad and the ugly – on this blog. What will be fun next year is that my 7 year old son has decided to take up art journaling to and is going to respond to the prompts alongside me. He’s going to be my little creative buddy and I am sure his partnership will provide me with extra inspiration.
This week’s challenge prompt was simply “Arrows”. I personally was quite glad of such an open and vague prompt as it enabled me to produce a quick, simple page in a short space of time. Time is a rare commodity right now as there are so many festive treats and chores filling up my schedule. Perhaps because we are on the cusp of a new year, the word “arrow” automatically made me think of direction. Where will life take me next year? What will I find in my near future? What direction might my art take? What new challenges and opportunities will I face in the coming year? And perhaps because I am immersed in children’s literature or perhaps just because it really is a splendid quotation, my mind immediately settled on the lines from Dr Seuss’ book ‘Oh! The Places You’ll Go’:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
I used watercolour to paint a warm hued background and then used metallic and dayglo gel pens to doodle in a scribbly style all over the page. I wanted to be a bit looser in my style than I usually am but my scribbles were rather too unintentional and, therefore, too ugly so I grabbed some more watercolour and dribbled it down the page in an attempt to try and subdue some of the ugliness. In vain. Where dribbles failed, perhaps splatter would succeed. I grabbed some small pots of paint and flicked and spattered strong colours onto the page. Where some of the paint accumulated in large droplets, I decided to try and create some splattery dribbles by blowing at them through a straw. Alas, the paint was too thick to move much so all that I accomplished was the creation of some rather big blobs. I then took an arrow stamp and some black ink to create a line of arrows marching up the left hand side of the page and wrote the Dr Seuss quotation in the remaining space. Once more, the “font” is merely a more controlled version of my own handwriting but I figure I should just go with that for now until time allows me to properly practice typography. I allowed key words to be emphasised by their scale on the page and by having the other words in smaller, upper case letters.
Despite its messiness, despite all its shortcomings, I am quite pleased with how this page turned out. I certainly learned that creating aesthetically pleasing splatter is more difficult than it looks.
This week’s challenge for The Documented Life Project was to use an inspirational quotation. Since I am still transitioning into my life as an immigrant, having crossed an ocean six months ago, I settled on a quotation by Andre Gide that seemed apt to my situation. Creating backgrounds has been a personal challenge as I am used to working on stark white paper but I was pretty pleased with how the background for this page turned out. I created it while I was attending the Art Journaling meetup group and used a mixture of inktense pencils and watercolour pencils. What I am less pleased with is the typography. Despite my very neat and attractive handwriting – which is not what I used on this page – my ability to create an appealing, creative and interesting font is limited to say the least. I need to find time to research and practice different styles of typography. That is my next personal art journaling challenge.