Using all of the media in my Art Snacks box was very much a challenge this month. There were two gelatos in colours labelled cherry and pistachio. I don’t have much success with red and green colour palettes and I have even less success with using gelatos. I know people who absolutely love gelatos and achieve a great deal of success with them. I meanwhile only seem able to achieve scribbly, scratchy, puddly messes. The box also contained an acrylic spray and sprays are again something I have no aptitude with. I tend to make an absolute mess with those. I was feeling very daunted about embarking on an illustration using these materials.
I received a peach hued marker in the box so I knew I would draw a human figure. I was using the three narrow paper samples provided so that format suggested the composition to me. I was actually surprised with how successfully I managed to create flesh tones using the beige base of the paper and the peach marker as I usually make a streaky mess with markers. And then it all went wrong.
I smooshed some gelato onto the paper and activated it water and moved the pigment around. However, no matter what I did, my initial scribbles remained visible and the pigment settled unevenly so it all ended up looking rather patchy. Evidently I need much more practice with using gelatos. And then I added the spray and made even more mess and really stuffed up the illustration. I drew on some branches dipped in the ink actually using the spray pump tube as my mark-making tool. When I tried to use it as a spray, however, I didn’t achieve fine mist but instead got large puddles and ugly drips. Such a mess. Time to step away and call this piece done. You can’t win them all.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to incorporate a mandala or something similar. I am no good at mandalas. I have tried them a few times but I just don’t have the patience or precision required. I like to draw things that are wonky, asymmetrical, that involve dribble and spatter. That’s my kind of thing. The mathematical precision and repetition of mandala are just not me. My workaround, therefore, was to think of something I could use that would create a repeated pattern for me. My eyes landed on my small alphabet stamps and I had my flash of inspiration. Stamping letters in concentric rings should have been simple enough but even that “cheat” defeated me because I did not line up the stamps with enough accuracy to create sharp rings.
I was going to keep the page black and white and let it sit like that for a while. I worried that it was a bit too boring, however, so I spritzed the page with yellow spray ink and spattered on some orange and red watercolour. It turns out that I much prefer the monochrome version.
***NOTE: This blog post is about my art work. This is not a political post and I am not inviting political discussion. You are, of course, entitled to hold different political opinions from me and I respect that. I, therefore, ask that any comments left on this post are similarly respectful and civil. Any nastiness will be deleted.***
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “Travel”. Normally my imagination would be sparking and fizzing with ideas about dream destinations and bucket list travel plans or else memories of wonderful travels from times past. However, the prompt happened to be revealed on the exact same day that President Trump issued his revised Travel Ban. As such, my creative impulses took me in an entirely different direction. As an immigrant, legal permanent resident in America, I felt compelled to follow that impulse. The result is a depiction of Lady Liberty weeping. I drew the face rapidly using black acrylic paint (having roughly mapped out only the proportions) and, once that was dried, I added some Dylusions spray ink in teal and turquoise to suggest verdigris and add some additional visual texture.
The second lesson of this week’s Life Book course was taken by Tamara Laporte and was a symbolic representation of leaving things behind in order to make room for greater positivity and attainment. It involved creating a vibrant background with spray inks and then drawing a butterfly shape filled with doodles. It was a really enjoyable project because it was so accessible. I have a love-hate relationship with spray inks: I love their intensity but I cannot get them to behave like I want them to. The great thing about using them in this random, splotchy way is that I did not have to try and control them and could just have fun with them without any frustration. Doodling inside shapes is something I have been doing for many years, long before I heard the term zendoodle. That concept makes sense to me, however, because it is very relaxing to doodle in that way. The sun shape is filled with what I would like to achieve which is greater self-belief and self-confidence while the trail behind the butterfly is filled with the things I want to let go off, particularly my fear of failure and my feeling of not being “good enough” in areas of my life. Essentially I need to set myself more reasonable expectations and stop nagging at myself, get that inner critic to pipe down a bit. We shall see how that pans out.
I love to draw jellyfish – as I have shared before in this blog – and I was recently inspired to draw more of them after looking at Leanne Cole’s superb photographs of jellyfish over on her blog. I was itching to get drawing jellyfish but could not seem to find time to make a start. Then the prompt for this week’s Documented Life Project prompt arrived in my inbox and I knew immediately what I wanted to create in my art journal: jellyfish, of course! The theme continues to be photography, which tied into me using Leanne’s wonderful images as the scaffolding for my drawings, and the prompt was silhouette, which I thought I could happily interpret as meaning the strong and black inky lines of my drawings against a bright background.
I usually only create one page in my art journal for my DLP challenges but this week I got entirely carried away and made three. Having sketched several jellyfish in my small sketchbook, I could not decide between the three I liked the most. Three drawings was a good excuse to experiment with different backgrounds – spray inks in different colours and watercolour – so I had a lot of fun playing around with the creation of the bright backgrounds and with drawing the jellyfish with a brush and my trusty pot of ancient India Ink.
Please do let me know which jellyfish and/or background you like best of the bunch.
This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte. The idea of the lesson was to reflect on the things we are most grateful for in life and represent those on a series of hearts which would be pinned together to form a sort of fanned book. We then had to make a background with a concertina envelope in which to store the hearts.
It was almost like a plenary lesson in some ways as we were encouraged to use a range of mixed media techniques in order to create variety in the hearts. I decided to make five hearts for no other reason than the fact that that was how many I could cut from my larger sheets of watercolour paper so I had to come up with four things I was most grateful for – since the fifth heart acts as the cover.
I asked my husband to pick his favourite from all of the hearts that I made in order to determine which would be the front cover. The one he chose had been decorated with washi tape. I used watercolour with finger painting and spatter for another heart, adopting the technique learned from the Jar of Favourites lesson. I then glued a photo of my kids to that heart. I used a page from an old dictionary for another heart. I used a page with the word “husband” on it so that I could clip out that definition and add it to the collage. I then added a photo of my husband and myself.
The other two hearts both made use of Dylusions ink sprays. One was simply two colours of spray that bled into each other in the centre. I used that one to represent my family and friends who live far and near. I used the globe image from a postage stamp for added interest. The other heart was covered with stamped ink to create a pattern and then sprayed with a single colour of ink. It was really difficult to settle on one particular thing for the final heart. There are so many things I am grateful for. I decided, therefore, to keep it quite broad and generic by having it represent all of the opportunities I have been given and might yet me given in future:
I used Dylusions ink sprays again for the background and envelope but this time it all went a bit pear-shaped. I thought the yellow and green would work well together. Neighbours on the colour wheel, colours of spring, the colour of leaves as Autumn arrives – but sadly also the colours of day old bruises. Oh dear. The lemon zest and dirty martini inks bled together to form a sludgy mossy colour that truly resembled nothing more than an old bruise. Yuck. Another lesson learned. And I also learned that I completely suck at spraying through stencils. Oh dear. Again I was reminded that all mistakes are part of the learning process so I determined to use the sprayed paper regardless. I stamped the title of the lesson on the top of the page and a trio of hearts on the concertina envelope.
Another week done and I am still managing to keep to the class schedule. Yippee!
There were two lessons on Life Book this week, both very different but both involving feathers. One was a success for me; the other less so.
The main lesson was taken by Rachael Rice. The object was to create a dimensional piece representing a dream catcher but – for a variety of diverse reasons, including not having all of the materials required – I chose to do something else. I seem to be making a habit of going my own way with LB lessons. I need to learn to steer a path between creating something that speaks to me, inspires me, meshes better with my style, and getting the most out of the lessons by following the instructions. Sometimes I find that path; sometimes I don’t. It was another valuable lesson in painting over collage. It ended up wrinkling a little but I actually quite liked that. I also enjoyed using the metallic paints, gold and bronze. I am not sure it shows up in the photo but they created a nice warm shimmer. My feathers look a bit more like leaves but I liked the technique involved in constructing them. Having no fabric to use in my collage, I ended up using white acrylic paint to produce what are fast becoming my signature dots. What I produced is not a disaster but it is just a bit meh. I will definitely use the techniques I learned in future projects, however.
In comparison, the bonus lesson completely inspired me. It was an Affirmation Feather tutorial taken by Tamara Laporte, the course organiser, and involved me using two new media I have never used before: Dylusions spray inks and Posca paint pens. I loved using both of them and will definitely use both again. My colour scheme for the piece was dictated by the few colours of ink sprays and aquarelle pens that I possess but I rather like the freshness of the lime and teal. The colours make me think of winter melting into spring. I am definitely looking forward to spring. I messed up a little when adding gesso because it smudged the ink but I managed to problem-solve it and recover. I love the whispy feather, really like how this piece ended up and really enjoyed the process of creating it. It definitely makes a difference to me when I engage with the lesson, inspires me more and gets me producing better results.
Tamara’s feather lesson was definitely my favourite so far.