Selkie – Art Journal Page

This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to take inspiration from mythology, folk stories, and fairy tales.  If you are thinking to yourself that the prompt seems right up my street that is because it is.  Precisely so in fact.  That is because I was asked by Bonnie and Barbara to be a guest artist this week.  I was flattered and honoured to do so and, of course, that meant it was up to me to choose the prompt.  You can find my post on the Joggles blog here and that outlines my process, illustrated with photos, in creating this art journal page.

I chose a selkie as the subject of my art journal page.  Selkies are creatures from my country’s mythology (and that of Ireland) and I grew up hearing tales of seals that could transform into people, of stolen seal skins, and wives who fled back to the sea.  I draw them quite often and have featured art work inspired by them twice on my blogs: once as a mixed media painting of a selkie in seal form and once in my altered book of monsters.  I think this is my favourite of the mixed media selkies I have painted so far.

Week 33 - Selkie21

Week 33 - Selkie23b


When life gives you lemons sit back and enjoy a margarita.  My response to this week’s Life Book lesson went messily wrong but I kept going and enjoyed the creative process regardless.

The lesson was taken by Jill Berry and was about using tissue paper and acrylic gel skins as materials in collage.  The process of creating the skins looked fantastic in the instructional video and I felt very inspired.  The fault was absolutely not in the instructions, which were very clear and looked fairly straightforward; the fault was definitely down to user error.  As soon as I started to peel the skins, I knew it had all gone horribly wrong: instead of coming off in nice sheets, the paint was stretching like elastic and snapping off into little fragments which then had a tendency to clump up and stick together.  Beyond frustrating.  But what to do with the utter mess I had created?

With no time in which to make new acrylic skins, I decided to just embark on the collage regardless.  Lemons into lemonade, right?  I had painted deli paper to incorporate into the collage too so I started laying down scraps of torn deli paper and the fragments of acrylic paint all over the watercolour paper.  My vision for the piece had been an owl soaring across a dusk sky but my piece was becoming far too “textural” for that to be a feasible plan.  I looked at all my black, blue, purple and silver collage materials and decided that a choppy sea would work.  Upon settling on that idea, I immediately decided upon making a painting of a selkie.  A selkie is a creature in Scottish and Irish folklore that lives as a seal in the sea and then transforms into human form on land.  A sort of wereseal.  I think I got the idea from my 8 year old who created some selkie art a couple of weeks ago.

The ugly phase lasted a long time for this piece but I determined not to give up and just keep ploughing onwards, making the best I could out of my flawed materials.  I added spatter to the piece not just because I love spatter but because it helped unify all the little scraps of deli paper and dried paint and I think it did make it more coherent.  I am not sure how well it shows up in the photographs but the texture of the piece is actually quite interesting and is certainly different for me and there are lots of metallic and sparkling elements which hopefully contributes to the magical aspect of the selkie.

Week 38 - Acrylic Skins - Selkie - A

Week 38 - Acrylic Skins - Selkie - B

Week 38 - Acrylic Skins - Selkie - C

I don’t think I snatched success from the jaws of failure but I also don’t think this piece is a disaster either.  It might be a while before I try making acrylic skins again though.

Now where’s that margarita?