Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “change” and I immediately thought of the changing seasons because Spring is finally – finally! – here. We have (I assume and hope) seen the last of the snow, there are buds on the trees, small wildflowers are beginning to appear among the blades of grass, the bird song is louder in the mornings, and there was tree pollen all over the bonnet of my car this morning. I have seamlessly segued from snuffling because of winter colds into snuffling because of seasonal allergies but I will embrace it because I am so ready for Spring.
My Art Journal page is simple: an abstracted and silhouetted tree divided into four sectors, one per season. I have a mild OCD about needing things to be clockwise (I also have one about even numbers) so I tried to force myself to depict the seasons cycling anti-clockwise. It’s a sort of “flooding your fears” kind of theory that obviously has no substance to it because it failed miserably as therapy. I felt twitchy as soon as I finished the page. Now it is supremely annoying to me that I have the seasons cycling anti-clockwise. I almost wanted to repaint all of the sectors to make them clockwise but I don’t have time for that so, instead, I am just going to turn the page in my art journal and pretend my psychological experiment never happened.
There were two lessons last week for Life Book, one taken by Whitney Freya and one by Samie Harding. There was absolutely no way I was going to find time to tackle two different lessons. I thought I would choose to work on the one that appealed most to me but, in actual fact, neither really chimed with me enough to stand out. One was abstract and one was very “art therapy” in its approach and neither of those things really inspires my creativity. I almost decided not to work on Life Book for the second week in a row but then I had an idea: I could combine the lessons. I could use some of the approaches from the abstract lesson to create a background and could use the concept of a totem animal from the other lesson as a jumping off point for the subject matter. Of course, being me, I had to put my own twist on things and – as such – I turned my bear into a silhouette contain a skeleton. You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but I did have a quick google to have a photo reference for the bear’s skull. I actually had a lot of fun creating this painting so I am glad I found the mojo and the time to actually work on Life Book after all.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use a hand on the page. Well pants! I used my hand shapes a few weeks ago in a different journal page. My challenge, therefore, was to come up with a quick, easy, simple idea that neither duplicated or echoed the page I had created before – or any other journal pages where I had used my hand as inspiration. Since the previous page had started with my hand shape and built up from there – using masses of colourful dots – I had the idea of doing the reverse and starting with the hand silhouette and peeling away a layer. Skeleton hand! I have a bit of a thing for (not anatomically correct) skeleton drawings at the moment so I was enthused by the idea.
I had to create a background for my page. Wanting a bit of a macabre feel for the skeleton hand, I opted for a red and green colour scheme, connotations of flesh, blood, putrefaction, and decay. Having so recently had such a sucky result from using my gelli plate, I decided to give it another whirl and see if I could get a better result. This time I used my miniature gelli-plate in the hopes it would provide me with a bit more control over the placement, slow me down a bit, and make me think. I used it to build up a patchwork of red and green rectangles. The red and green looked a bit bogging together but that was, after all, part of the point and the feel I was aiming for.
When it came to the hand, I drew around my own hand and filled it in with black acrylic paint. I used Dylusions paint as I find that black gives a really rich black, smooth, velvety finish which is ideal for drawing on top of. Once that was dry, it was just a case of using a white paint pen to draw in the bones. I had a quick glance at a photo of a skeletal hand but clearly did not make my drawing anatomically correct.
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.
I rarely ever work across two art journal pages. The fact that I use a spiral bound journal does not lend itself to double spreads. I thought, however, that I might attempt a sort of diptych, two pieces on two different pages but somehow visually linked. I am glad I tried something new but the results didn’t leave me feeling I had accomplished much. There is a strong visual connection between the two pages, which could be regarded as a success. I introduced colour in order to differentiate between the two pages. One of my kids suggested the idea of blue and yellow to represent night and day so I opted for those colours but otherwise did not pursue the idea of different lighting conditions. I wanted to maintain the monochromatic theme and to connect the figures through use of silhouette. Not being overly keen on the outcome of this pair of paintings, I kept circling back to these pages in my art journal, adding a tiny bit more here and there. But I have now reached a point where I no longer feel inspired to tinker with the pages and want to call these pages done and set them by. So done they are.
Another of our summer “pot luck” activities was a study of shape and colour. The idea was to create a silhouette, divide it up into sections, and then fill it with different shades of the same colour.
My ten year old, a comic book fanatic, decided to draw the recognisable silhouette of Batman. Green is his favourite colour so he filled Batman with shades of green and that made us think how cool it would be if farmers could make their fields into silhouettes so we could all enjoy the fun shapes when flying overhead.
My nine year old kept things simple and symmetrical with the clean shape of a butterfly. He used gold and silver gel pen to colour it in which gave it a very pleasing shimmer in the sunlight.
My thirteen year old chose a love heart and filled it with mostly metallic blue gel pen ink. The glossiness of it made me think of a faceted gem stone.
My seven year old went off piste a bit. That is OK. It is all about being creative after all. He drew funny little monster characters and divided them up using lines and then coloured them. One is a wee weirdo guy he called an “Igor beetle” and one is – as he explained – a “vampire butterfly”.
I drew the silhouette of a pig and coloured it using watercolour pencils in neutral, stone shades. It kind of looks like a patio shaped like a pig.
This week’s main lesson on Life Book was taken by Jane Davenport, a mixed media artist famed for her paintings of women. I found undertaking the lesson to be intimidating at points – I felt sure I was going to mess up at every stage – but completely enjoyable. The lesson was essentially about using collage and carving out a figure using the negative space. I also had the opportunity for some much needed practice at painting faces and improve a little more as a result. I also finally cracked open my tin of inktense blocks for the wash over the hair and I love them. I wish the collage I had created that became the hair had been a bit more random. It was supposed to be constructed out of things that appealed to me so I had to make conscious decisions as I raked through my files of paper and ephemera which then led me to be a bit too intentional with their placement in the overall collage. But that is the only thing I would alter if I had a do-over. I really loved the process and am pleased with the final result.