This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to incorporate a silhouette as part of the art journal page. Some weeks I read a prompt and have no ideas and some weeks I read a prompt and am overwhelmed by too many ideas at once. This was an example of the latter. There were so many ways I could have taken the idea of a silhouette.
I had a page already underway in my art journal that was going nowhere in particular but where I had plonked a wine label slap bad in the middle. I had actually intended to glue the wine label into my rainbow themed art journal but I guess I was rushing and it was late at night so it ended up in my regular art journal. There were also some scraps of text paper already adhered to the page, leftovers from some other project. I decided that should be the background of my silhouette page. But then I realised that the wine label would likely end up completely covered up. That was when I decided I would create a reverse silhouette with the surrounding area being black and the chosen shape emerging in negative rather than positive.
Something you may not know about me is that I love sharks (and whales). It has been a lifelong thing. I would actually dearly love to dive with sharks but its the claustrophobia of scuba gear underwater that deters me. Despite the fact – or maybe because – I doodle sharks frequently, a shark has only put in one solitary, rogue shark appearance in my art journal. It was a messy collage of torn paper that resulted in a rather dorky looking shark. After adding a light paint layer over the collage, therefore, it was just a case of quickly drawing out a shark silhouette shape and then painting black into the negative space. Quick and easy.
The two prompts for this week’s Documented Life Project page(s) were to use under paper and the phrase “what lies beneath”.
I am actually a very neat and tidy artist. The exception was that time when I got gold ink splatter and spray all over the kitchen but I learned my lesson from the tedious elbow grease involved in cleaning it all up. I only started using under paper in the last few months and although I have been using the same sheets for all that time there is hardly anything on them. Nothing about my under paper, therefore, was going to inspire me creatively. So I had to think on a tangent. I could have used the papers I create when cleaning my brayer but I decided to use magazine pages instead. Still recycling something that would not primarily be considered an art material. I wanted to set myself the personal challenge of creating a collage without using a pencil, scissors of craft knife. Just torn paper and glue.
Having just visited the Adventure Aquarium, the phrase “what lies beneath” immediately made me think of the water and all of the life beneath the surface of the earth’s water. Of course, one of the highlight’s of our trip to the aquarium was the shark tank. I have always loved sharks. It probably started with seeing ‘Jaws’ (still my favourite film) at an impressionable (very young) age but I then watched every shark documentary I could find and borrowed shark books from the library. Whenever I stayed overnight at my Grandad’s house, the book I would select from his book case every single time was a book of photos from an expedition of Jacques Cousteau’s and my favourite photos were of the sharks. So I decided my collage would be of a shark.
I used gelatos to add some blue pigment to the art journal page. I have a love-hate relationship with gelatos. I want to love them completely, because they are so creamy and smooth when worked with water, but I do not get good results with them. Since I know people who rave about them and get gorgeous results, I know the problem is the workman rather than the tools. Still, it created a background. I then tore some primarily blue pages out of a magazine and then tore those into rough shapes and adhered them to the page with gel medium. I think the only skill I can claim is that I spotted a blue venetian blind on one page and I tore that so that the lines of the blind became the gills of the shark. I could have torn up some teeny tiny pieces of white paper to make the teeth and then the eye but we had book shelves to construct and Super Bowl food to cook so I took the easy option (cop out) of using paint pens to add those details.
My shark makes me chuckle and that has some merit on these grey days of ice rain and slush, cold noses and toes when mirth can be in short supply. I also found it really liberating and fun to construct a collage just by ripping and tearing paper with no scaffolding, preparation or structure so I think I will keep trying that approach in future – perhaps with less goofy results.