This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was provided by my friend Jana. Jana has a way of creating wonderfully curated collages with mixed media elements and lots of visual texture. She produced one such piece as her exemplar for her guest blog post. I aspire to put together collages as wonderful as the ones Jana produces but I am not there yet. I don’t have a collection of ephemera to riffle through either, just random papers. I, therefore, decided to use Jana’s page as jumping-off inspiration rather than strictly adhering to the prompt.
I did technically start the page with a collage but it was just a case of roughly adhering some book page scraps to the journal page and then knocking the whole thing back with a layer of white acrylic. I loved the colour scheme in Jana’s collage so I too opted for a palette that was monochromatic and neutral with a pop of red. What I was really taken with was the use of stitching as a mark-making tool. I am not someone who has much skill or ability with fabric arts or textiles and my sewing skills are limited to hand-sewing and are very basic. I, therefore, would not normally think to add stitches to my art journal pages but that was precisely why I wanted to do so in response to this prompt. I really enjoyed it as a different way to add marks to the illustration and what it contributed in terms of a different visual texture.
The great thing about art journaling is that it allows me to experiment with new things on a small, manageable scale. I can mess around with new media, try a new approach, play with a new style and in doing so discover what things I enjoy, what things I am good at, what things are really not me and what things might have some potential for me. The thing I appreciate about prompts, therefore, is that they give me the shove I need to do something way out of my comfort zone or out of my field of knowledge and experience.
This week’s prompts for the Documented Life Project were just such a shove. The phrase was “All that I’m after is life full of laughter” and the art challenge was stitching. Stitching. Ugh. As I have shared before, I am not a textile artist. I can neither knit, sew or crochet. I have no aptitude for it and I consequently don’t enjoy it. I actually avoid sewing as much as possible. I replace buttons, take up hems, do minor clothing repairs but the whole time I am doing so I am aggravated which is not the mood I want to be in when I am doing something creative.
I could have avoided using textiles at all in my response to the DLP prompt but I decided to see what happened when I got out of my comfort zone this particular time because in the small scale of an art journal my potential frustration levels could be minimised. I could tell myself, “This will all be over soon”. I knew I did not want to make sewing a big deal on my page, however, and to just use it as an element. I mulled over the phrase prompt for a while but nothing came to me. I chose to just ponder the stitching element and what came to my mind’s eye was Frankenstein’s Monster – the Karloff version – all stitched together. ‘Frankenstein’ is one of my favourite novels and the 1931 film is one of my favourite movies of all time – and in fact both have featured in a previous art journal page – so I decided to go with that thought and see what came of it.
Perhaps because I have been working on my Crazy Critters series of 100 artworks, the idea morphed in my mind into a bunny version of Frankenstein’s Monster. I painted the bunny in watercolour on watercolour paper and then used some red thread from my sewing kit to stitch patterns into his body. I did not plan the position of the stitches so I just went with the flow, trying to maintain some sort of balance. I then adhered the watercolour paper into my art journal using some decorative tape. I think it turned out to be a pretty fun page.