When I was teaching High School English, I found that my lessons would often involve some discussion of a tangent, sometimes a tangent so tenuously linked to the core of the lesson that the discussion would conclude with much head-scratching about how we had ever wandered onto the topic. It was all good, of course, because the students were still learning something plus it was often the memory of the tangent that would trigger them to remember a key detail about the actual lesson. I am connected to many of my former students on Facebook and I find it amusing and interesting to learn what information from my lessons they still remember vividly all of these years on. I have found the same to be true of travel also. The most memorable episodes from our road trips and city wanderings tend not to be the things we planned in advance but the random encounters and the stumbled upon places. I argue, therefore, that tangents have merit, that tangents are worth exploring.
And all of the above is preamble rather than a tangent because it was a tangential thought that led to the creation of this week’s art journal page.
The prompts for the Documented Life Project this week were “cover up good stuff” and “going undercover” as part of the continuing theme of layering. I think the intention was that the group members should take an appealing base layer, something appealing, something effort had been invested in, and that layer would act as inspiration to be built upon through further layers until the original piece was either completely or almost all covered up. I can see that it would be an effective technique and could build a very dynamic page with a lot of depth. However, I am finding that extensive layering is not really my thing and the idea of using art resources for some “good stuff” and then using more resources to cover that up was somewhat anathema to me. That gave me something to ponder…
Layers. Covering up. Our visit to the Body World: Animals Inside Out exhibition at the Franklin Institute.
My mind was wandering along a tangent. The muse of contrariness was singing to me. I had my lightbulb moment. I decided I was going to create a page about animal anatomy involving layers of the body and layers of paper by constructing flaps.
I divided my page into three, cut along the top edge on two of those thirds and folded the left and right sides inwards so as to create three layers. On the top layer, I painted a bunny. A dead bunny. I seem to default to bunnies a lot. I produce a lot of zombie bunnies, whether in a horde of bunnies or among other woodland creatures, and then there was the worried bunny in the woods and the countless bunnies who appear here and there in my art journal, in ATCs, doodles and sketches. I seem to have bunnies on the brain. I was born in the Chinese zodiac year of the rabbit so perhaps the rabbit is my totem animal, to mix cultural traditions. Lifting the dead bunny flap, I drew an exact replica of the dead bunny’s silhouette since I had cut out a template from a scrap of cardboard. I drew internal organs onto the torso of the bunny. This was the muscle and organ layer. Vets and anyone with a grasp of animal biology may be bewildered and disturbed by my knowledge of rabbit anatomy. I did nothing to correct my ignorance, not even a quick google, and instead just shoved some human style organs and a daft love shaped heart into the abdomen. That layer painted, it was time for the final layer. This one was the skeleton layer and again I just drew whatever bones I thought would work for the drawing rather than actually investigating what a rabbit’s skeleton looks like. Daft bunny in all three layers. The final layer was, of course, flanked by the reverse of the other two flaps. I did not like them staying as blank spaces so I wrote “Anatomy of a Bunny” on one side and glued my ticket to the exhibition on the other side so as to document our family day out for the weekend and record an element of my inspiration for the page.
I hope my art journal page has made you smile on this very chilly weekend.